Back last night from a whirlwind day of ethics in NYC, and leaving today on an auto safari to Washington County, Pennsylvania, where I will address bar members to kick off their annual meeting. See Facebook? THEY don’t think I should be muzzled! Meanwhile, I will be celebrating the non-birthday of the pirate apprentice hero of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Pirates of Penzance,” who was, you recall, indentured to a pirate band until his 2ist birthday, and since he was born on Leap Year, legally committed to a life of crime until he was 84 years old.
1. Nah, Democrats don’t automatically default to race-baiting… Well this was certainly ugly and embarrassing. During House Oversight Committee hearing with Michael Cohen, the fallen Trump fixer accused the President of making racist comments about African Americans. Let me interject here that this was obvious pandering to Cohen’s new pals in “the resistance.” It would have no probative value as hearsay even if the speaker wasn’t testifying with his pants on fire. Thus there was no need for Rep. Mark Meadows to try to rebut Cohen by asking Housing and Urban Development staffer Lynne Patton, who is black, to silently stand before the committee to (somehow) disprove that Trump is racist. Meadows (R-N.C.) said that Patton had told him there was “no way that she would work for an individual who was racist.”
Then Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) characterized Meadow’s stunt as racist, saying, “Just because someone has a person of color, a black person working for them does not mean they aren’t racist,” Tlaib said. “And it is insensitive that some would even say — the fact that some would actually use a prop, a black woman in this chamber in this committee is alone racist in itself.”
“You’re one of my best friends,” Cummings said to Meadows. “And I can see and I feel your pain, and I don’t think Ms. Tlaib intended to cause you that, that kind of pain.”
Tlaib then apologized to Meadows, saying it wasn’t her intention to call him racist. She just said that what he did was racist.
2. Stop making me defend the Northam family! Gotcha! Just as Virginia Governor Northam was beginning to extract himself from the embarrassment of having to confess to being a Michael Jackson imitator via shoe polish, an enterprising black legislative page decided to nab her 15 minutes of fame by accusing Mrs. Northam of the dreaded “racial insensitivity.” It appears that Virginia’s First Lady, while narrating a tour of the Governor, triggered her my alluding to slavery.
“When in the cottage house you were speaking about cotton, and how the slaves had to pick it,” the teenaged page’s letter says. “There are only three Black pages in the page class of 2019. When you went to hand out the cotton you handed it straight to another African American page, then you proceeded to hand it to me, I did not take it. The other page took the cotton, but it made her very uncomfortable. I will give you the benefit of the doubt, because you gave it to some other pages. But you followed this up by asking: ‘Can you imagine being an enslaved person, and having to pick this all day?'”
“The comments and just the way you carried yourself during this time was beyond inappropriate, especially considering recent events with the Governor. From the time we walked into the mansion to the time in the cottage house, I did not receive a welcoming vibe.”
Ah. Now we see why Bernie Sanders was attacked by Democrats for saying that race shouldn’t matter. Mrs. Northam treated the black pages like she treated the rest, and that made this page feel unwelcome. And if Virginia’s First Lady had only given the cotton to the white pages? That would have been insensitive too, I’m sure.
To her credit, the Governor’s wife has not apologized. She responded that she has given “the same educational tour to Executive Mansion visitors over the last few months and used a variety of artifacts and agricultural crops.” Her intent is to illustrate “a painful period of Virginia history.” She said that she began last year to tell the “full story” of the governor’s mansion, including the Historic Kitchen. “I believe it does a disservice to Virginians to omit the stories of the enslaved people who lived and worked there — that’s why I have been engaged in an effort to thoughtfully and honestly share this important story since I arrived in Richmond. I regret that I have upset anyone,” she wrote, but she reiterated that she is still committed to chronicling the history of the Historic Kitchen, and “will continue to engage historians and experts on the best way to do so in the future.”
Now, if she had given the tour made up as Janet Jackson, that would have been inappropriate.
3. My own private boycott: I will not buy products that continue the coarsening of our culture by employing juvenile references to gutter language to sell their wares. Now Mr. Clean joins the list, with the ad for “his” Clean Freak Mist. Today’s TV ad screamed out “Big freaking news!” As with Booking.com’s evocation of “fucking” its ads, this is neither clever nor novel. Shrug it off if you like.
4. Negotiation competence. Watch how many in the news media mock the president for walking away from the North Korean negotiations, apparently because Kim demanded an end to sanctions BEFORE committing to ending the country’s nuclear program. I won’t concede that Trump is competent in many things (other than making his enemies expose themselves as petty and irrational), but his negotiation skill is undeniable. When I was being taught negotiation by Adrian Fisher, who negotiated the SALT Treaty, he kept emphasizing 1) that if you go into a negotiation wanting a deal too much, you will get a bad one and 2) that you have to be willing to walk away, and the other side has to realize that you are willing. The failure to understand either of those principles is how Obama ended up with the Iran deal.
5. Here you have it: a New York Times article that illustrates how thoroughly group identification minority spoils have polluted the culture. It’s a review of the academy awards by the Times critics, who appear not to care one bit about what the Awards are supposed to be honoring. Some quotes:
MANOHLA DARGIS: It was a pleasure and often moving to see all those women rise up to take their rightful place on that stage…there were all the female winners, including two for “Black Panther”: the costume designer Ruth E. Carter and the production designer Hannah Beachler. Both were hired by Ryan Coogler, the director of “Black Panther” and one of the heroes of last night. He doesn’t just hire women to work on his movies, he hires them to head departments (like cinematography, a male-dominated field), putting them in positions of power. His hiring practices represent the kind of real activism that few other moviemakers embrace, as the parade of men thanking their wives last night continues to affirm.
But did they deserve their awards? Once it is established that the Oscars are going to be judged based on their demographic mix rather than merit, what’s the point? Who in their right mind looks at competitive awards for artistic merit and thinks, “I hope the black wins!” or “I hope the woman wins!”
Bigots, that’s who.
A.O. SCOTT: Spike Lee won an Oscar. So did Regina King and Olivia Colman. Alfonso Cuarón won three. All of that sparked joy.
See, it sparked joy because they are all black. It doesn’t speak joy when whites win awards, apparently, or if it does, it must be racist somehow.
He continues (Full disclosure: To me, A.O. is the epitome of the critic who places being woke and pandering to progressives above professional integrity)..
“And in the year of “Black Panther” and “BlacKkKlansman” — and of “Sorry to Bother You,” “Blindspotting,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and “Widows” — the best picture trophy went to a movie whose best friend is black, a movie that doesn’t see color, a movie about how all lives matter. “Green Book” believes itself to be a movie about racial progress, but its victory smacks of backlash.”
It only smacks of backlash if your position is that the Oscars are a political event rather than a non-partisan artistic one. People liked “Green Door.” It gave them hope while “the resistance,” the media and Hollywood are trying to exacerbate racial divisions. And succeeding.