Rainy Day Ethics Warm-Up, 8/12/2020: More Ethics Thoughts On Kamala Harris [UPDATED!]

I always thought Glenn Yarbrough was the B version of Gene Pitney, who was better. Did you know that Gene Pitney wrote “Hello, Mary Lou (Goodby Heart)” and “He’s a Rebel”? He’s a singer we don’t usually think of as a songwriter, but like the great Bobby Darin, he was a prolific and a successful one who is in the American Songwriters Hall of Fame. Unlike Darin, however, Pitney didn’t record his own songs, saying in one interview that as weird as it sounds, his best songs were not ideal for his own voice and style.

The melody of “Baby the Rain Must Fall” was the creation of Elmer Bernstein, the acclaimed composer of so many classic film scores, like “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape.” And thus endeth the pop culture sermon for the day….

More on the scary-horrible Kamala Harris…

1. Well that didn’t take long! Already the narrative is starting that criticism of Kamala Harris is based on racism and sexism, and not her dreadful personality, sketchy past, and career baggage.  Wholly predictable, and designed to keep the public just getting to know Harris from really learning about her by stifling critics. Journalists, of course, can be counted on to muzzle themselves when a Democrat has a problematical record.

2. More spin...Dumped “Meet the Press” host David Gregory actually went on the air this morning to say Harris was “the safe choice.” Biden had no safe choices once he was trapped into naming a check-box candidate.  What Gregory meant, I assume, was that she was the least risky in a slate of horrible options. That is true.

3. “How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky?“…I neglected, in last night’s post, to recall this example of Harris’ hypocrisy, from April 2019, when Harris was widely regarded as frontrunner for the Presidential nomination:

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that she believes women who say they felt uncomfortable after receiving unwanted touching from former Vice President Joe Biden.

“I believe them and I respect them being able to tell their story and having the courage to do it,” Harris said at a presidential campaign event in Nevada.

 

Then, after Harris’s run for the White House flopped and she began stalking the Vice-Presidency, Harris supported Biden and dismissed the accusations of Tara Reade, though she had savaged Brett Kavanaugh based on Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s far more dubious accusations. I can’t wait to hear how feminists explain that one.

I wonder: Who has the greater integrity vacuum, Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris?

Luckily for Harris, if you are “of color,” you can’t be a  hypocrite, or at least no white critic can point out you’re one. Those are the rules… Continue reading

Observations On Biden’s Choice Of Kamala Harris As His Running Mate [UPDATED]

1. Ethics Alarms readers called it! Among those who were willing to choose the least bad of the three choices remaining to Biden, given his mandate to choose a black woman, Harris was the winner.

2. How objectively awful is Kamala Harris? This is the woman Joe Biden placed a heartbeat from the presidency, from the post here of December 3,  2019:

Let us stipulate: the failure of Kamala Harris to thrive in the race for the Democratic nomination for President was not because Democratic voters are racist or sexist.  It is because she was a lousy candidate from the beginning. Checking off boxes is never enough, thank heaven. She is a woman, “of color,” a lawyer and a Senator from a large and powerful state. To top it all off, Harris is relatively young, and attractive. Perfect!

Except it was easy to see that she was an empty suit with a penchant for saying stupid things, often things she couldn’t possibly believe and that contradicted her record as a prosecutor. She said that it was “outrageous” that the Trump administration wanted to deport illegal immigrants who had committed crimes. [Me: “It is not and cannot be “outrageous” to say that any illegal immigrant, criminal or not, qualifies for deportation. To maintain otherwise is to say that the United States cannot enforce its immigration laws, and not only that, it is “outrageous” to enforce the laws. Is that the position of the Democratic Party? “] She said that she supported legalizing pot because it brought people “joy.” You know, like heroin, rape, and child molesting. She said, when Joe Biden correctly pointed out that a President could not ban “assault weapons” by executive order, she responded, “Well, I mean, I would just say, hey, Joe, instead of saying, no, we can’t, let’s say yes, we can.”  Horrified when she saw the exchange,, law prof Ann Althouse wrote, “The transcript cannot convey the feeling and expression in Kamala Harris’s  [ response]. It is so awful, so lightweight and dismissive of constitutional law (and without any of the dignity of constitutional critique.”

There are plenty more catalogued here, and it is hardly exhaustive. Harris flopped because she proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was unqualified to be a Senator, much less a President. As if that wasn’t enough, she couldn’t manage her campaign, which had disintegrated into finger-pointing and defections. When Barack Obama was challenged in 2008 over his lack of leadership experience, he cited the success of his campaign. Slim indeed, but  Harris couldn’t even say that.

As the writing on the wall began to be undeniable, Harris stooped to race- and gender baiting, expressing doubts as to whether a “woman of color” could be elected President (in such a racist, sexist nation, she implied.) No, Senator it’s just that you can’t be elected.

Continue reading

Update: The Times’ Manipulative “Those We’ve Lost” Feature

Tomorrow we will see yet another New York Times “Those We’ve Lost” installment, the paper’s not-so-subtle propaganda and fake news feature in which the deaths of selected citizens from the Wuhan virus (maybe) are given a full page of the kind of  expanded obituaries usually reserved for best-selling authors and former senators. Last week was especially annoying. The Times isn’t the only media outlet playing this morbid game, but as usual, it’s more blatant about its biases than most.

The conceit of the weekly spotlight that implies that some deaths are more important than others. The  four chosen for August 4 included one African American and three citizens born in Puerto Rico and Guyana, plus a Filipino-American. Message: the Wuhan virus is especially destructive to minority communities. (More whites have died from the virus than any other group, but never mind: the idea is Trump is responsible for the outbreak, he’s a racist, and minorities are his victims. ) Of course, an unspoken message in the era of “White People Suck” is that it’s the “people of color” whose losses really hurt. Continue reading

Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 8/11/2020: The “Preparing To Welcome A New Dog” Edition

My wife and I will finally be welcoming a new dog into the family tomorrow. It’s been more than a year since we lost Rugby, and it was time–for me, way past time. We met “Spuds” yesterday, who was being cared for by a wonderful woman who rescues and fosters abused and neglected dogs. Poor Spuds was given up to one rescue organization by his owner as a puppy, then adopted by a horrible woman who kept him in a tiny room and seldom fed him. A month ago, when he was removed from this monster’s home, he was about 20 pound underweight and suffering from malnutrition. You wouldn’t know it to meet him. Spuds is all white with a brown spot over one eye and flip-over ears, obviously some kind of pitbull-terrier mix.  He’s 2 and a half year’s old, and, incredibly, trusting and eager to make friends with all dogs and people. He still has some rehabilitation to go through, but he’s a lively, athletic, loving dog with a sweet temperament, almost Rugby-like, but twice the size. Perfect.

1. “Nah, teachers aren’t out to indoctrinate children!”  Matthew Kay, who teaches English at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy, wrote on Twitter that he is concerned about parents over-hearing their children’s Zoomed instruction from teachers like him:

“So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators — parents, siblings, etc. — in the same room. We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the (somewhat) secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability? How many of us have installed some version of ‘what happens here stays here’ to help this? While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment — I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the host conversations about gender/sexuality.” And while ‘conservative’ parents are my chief concern — I know that the damage can come from the left too. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want their classmates’ parents piling on?”

I have long advocated parents auditing their child’s classes just to prevent the kind of “teaching” Kay apparently engages in. It’s a basic tenet of practical ethics that if someone is a afraid of conduct becoming known, they know what the are doing is wrong, or may be viewed as wrong. Teachers have no justification for hiding the content of their classes from parents.

When Kay’s sinister comments prompted what should have been predictable criticism, he made his Twitter account private. Of course he did.

2. I saw this, thought it was too silly for words, then reader Michael sent me a link, and now I have to flag it.   I’ve seen “Kindergarten Cop” several times; it’s one of my wife’s favorites, and one of “Ahnold’s” best. The unlikely story of a huge police detective with an Austrian accent going undercover as a kindergarten teacher to catch a criminal before he can  kidnap and harm his estranged wife and their child, it’s funny and sweet, and intermittently exciting. However police-o-phobia is rampant during The Great Stupid, especially among hysterics and anarchists. So now that benign film has been declared dangerous.

Willamette Week reported that the movie was pulled from its slot at the Northwest Film Center’s drive-in summer cinema series in Portland after it was called offensive by deranged local author Lois Leveen. “There’s nothing entertaining about the presence of police in schools, which feeds the school-to-prison pipeline” she tweeted. Yes, that’s all it takes now for spineless administrators to cancel people, art, entertainment, anything.

Leveen even provided a perfect opening to shut her down with a curt, “You need help, Lois. Really. Trust us on this. This is pathetic” when, in an email, she compared “Kindergarten Cop” to “The Birth of a Nation.”

Right, Lois. And “Toy Story” is like “Triumph of the Will.” Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethics: The Conflicted Pitcher

Mike Clevinger: star pitcher, loyal team mate, jerk.

It’s baseball meets the Wuhan virus in today’s ethics showdown. Not surprisingly, since baseball players have the approximate ethics acumen of a typical member of Congress, the virus wins.

Essential background: Major League Baseball is desperately trying to complete some semblance of a season, with the key word being “semblance.” There are no fans in the stands; double headers games are only seven innings, and teams have NFL-style “taxi squads” instsead on minor league teams. Baseball has also installed strict protocols involving masks, social distancing, and players avoiding physical contact. One team, the Florida Marlins, has already had a virus breakout that took almost half the active roster out of circulation. This resulted in lots of canceled games and the reworking of other teams’ schedules. (Ironically, the Marlins taxi squad players have done almost nothing but win since they took over. That’s baseball, Ray!). Now a second team, the S, Louis Cardinals, has had multiple players test positive because a player came in contact with an infected non-team member, than joined the other Cardinals on a plane. St. Louis has missed two weeks of games. MLB knows that much more of this will make continuing the season, weird as it may be, impossible. Teams have been warned of dire consequences if they don’t  keep their players—you, know, millionaire morons with the emotional maturity of Adam Sandler—in line.

Now, the rest of the story. Continue reading

From The “Res Ipsa Loquitur” Files: The Presidential Ranking Survey

One of the more depressing developments during the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has been how virtually all of our professions have proven unable to remain objective and trustworthy, instead descending into bias and submitting to peer pressure—exactly the kind of behavior professionals are supposed to have the training and integrity to avoid. Journalists have been the worst in this respect of course, with politicians close behind. However, judges, lawyers, educators, academics, psychiatrists, health officials, performers and, yes, ethicists have also disgraced themselves, among others.

One persistent example of a corrupted profession is historians, and a useful measure of their ethics rot has been Presidential rankings. Here’s one I missed from 2018, when “172 professional historians” were asked to rank the POTUSes from first to last, using a 1-100 scale. A Jimmy Kimmel writer who ran out of current Trump-bashing material circulated this on Twitter, and it is, as they say, “trending.”

Continue reading

Yes, I’m Blaming The Victim: Ben Gravolet Is An Ethics Dunce. And A Jerk

You may have missed it, but Ellen DeGeneris, the queen of daytime talk shows whose brand has always been her niceness, has had her once impeccable  reputation sullied lately as employees of her show have complained about a “toxic environment” that the star did nothing to address. There’s an investigation now, and Ellen is rumored to be considering leaving “Ellen,” meaning that instead of toxic employment, her staff and production crew will have no employment at all.

In the midst of this crisis for DeGeneris, sensing a cheap opportunity to grab some publicity, kick her when she’s down, and apparently seek vengeance for a slight that he has obsessed about for more than 40 years, a man named Ben Gravolet has come forward to tell the world that…..what, that DiGeneres sexually molested him? That she was secretly working for Fidel Castro? No, Ben accused Ellen of being mean to him when he was 11 years old.

We should have seen this coming, for it is the dangerous slippery slope Christine Blasey-Ford’s dubious accusation against Bret Kavanaugh greased. Continue reading

OK, What’s Going On Here?

In the Washington Post yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sunday “Outlook” section included an op-ed in which  Lawrence Downes,  a former member of the New York Times editorial board, enthusiastically wrote about his new pastime:

[I have] right-wing culture war books from the Fox-News-angry-White-person’s superhero universe. Besides Hannity, I’ve got Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik. The list is not comprehensive. It includes Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt but not Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump…The Fox folks seemed so bilious and out of place in that pleasant company, like toadstools among the daffodils. So I’d buy them up and take them home. Not for reading, which brought no pleasure, but for quarantine. The books are dispatches from a phony war, the one Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes helped gin up and got obscenely rich on. If you believe, as I do, that the plutocrat propagandists of Fox, talk radio and the GOP are lying liars who have vandalized our politics and country, then finding a Hannity or Ingraham book is like finding one of their bricks. The books piled up in my basement, out of circulation (which was the point) but always naggingly present, like asbestos. I wanted to be rid of them. And yet I paused, because even contemplating destroying books felt terrible…

I hit on the answer…. About once a week, I tear them into strips. I add them to the coffee grounds, potato and carrot peelings, onion and avocado skins, asparagus stubs, the papery bits of garlic, eggshells and dead flowers, and let the worms do the rest…

Turning propaganda into worm castings is not going to measurably reduce the amount of Fox News-iness in the environment. It is not strictly necessary. But if Hannity and company want to keep telling us that we are all at war, to keep stoking the flames and fanning the fear, then, for the good of this country, the people we love, the democracy we might lose and the world we want, so be it.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/10/2020: Stelter Gaslighting, “Neither Rain Nor Snow,” A Good Lawsuit, And Orwellian Marketing [CORRECTED!]

Goooood Morning!

The song is from one of my favorite Broadway cast albums. The show (which I directed in college) is something of a mess, but the songs are terrific. Anthony Newley was a talented songwriter (with writing partner Leslie Bricusse) and a triple threat performer who was just a little bit too intense for some people. Among his best known songs with Bricusse are “The Candyman,” “Feelin’ Good” (from “Greasepaint,”) “Gonna Build A  Mountain” and “What Kind of Fool Am I?” (from “Stop the World, I Want To Get Off.” “On a Wonderful Day” is sung on the album by Cyril Richard, whom older readers will remember as the definitive Captain Hook, menacing Mary Martin in the live TV versions of “Peter Pan.”

1. This is wonderfully hilarious. Brian Stelter strikes again. From his CNN show yesterday:

STELTER: “When you see entire media companies essentially exist to tear down Joe Biden, is there an equivalent of that on the left, tearing down Trump?”

GUEST: “There really isn’t.”

Do any CNN viewers really believe this? How much gaslighting can a CNN talking head get away with?

2. Res Ipsa Loquitur. Running a small business trying to struggle through the lockdown when our main income is from live presentations, my wife and I are finding cash flow tougher than ever. Today we were alerted by the USPS that a large check we have been waiting for was delivered two days ago. (It wasn’t.) A few weeks back, we received what looked like an important letter addressed to someone in Spokane, Washington. Yet I will be encouraging voter suppression if I suggest that mail-in ballots are a disastrous idea.

It’s interesting: the same people who insist that the United States is out of step if it doesn’t emulate “other developed nations” in such matters as government health care and banning capital punishment are oddly silent about the overwhelming hostility to voting by mail in Europe. Paul Bedard points out,

Most developed countries, especially in Europe, ban mail-in voting to fight vast fraud and vote buying that had threatened the integrity of their elections, according to an exhaustive review of voting rules and histories in over 30 major nations. In the European Union, 63% have put a ban on mailing in ballots except for citizens living overseas. Another 22% have imposed a ban even for those overseas. And most of those that allow mail-in ballots require some form of photo ID to get one, according to the report from the Crime Prevention Research Center shared with Secrets. “These countries have learned the hard way about what happens when mail-in ballots aren’t secured. They have also discovered how hard it is to detect vote buying when both those buying and selling the votes have an incentive to hide the exchange,” said author John R. Lott, the center’s president.

Meanwhile, we don’t have to rely on Europe’s example to figure out this is a terrible and dangerous idea. From NBC:

More than 1 in 5 mail-in ballots were rejected in New York City during the state primary June 23, the city’s certified election results revealed this week. City election officials rejected 84,000 ballots — 21 percent of all those received by election officials. More than 403,000 ballots were returned to election officials, according to city data, but only about 319,000 absentee ballots were counted, the certified results showed… The U.S. Postal Service, unused to the deluge of prepaid mailers, reportedly left postmarks off ballots, leaving thousands of them to be rejected because it was unclear they were sent on time.

If I were conspiracy-minded, I’d suspect that Democrats want chaos in the November election–all the better to reject the results and take to the streets. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month (And I Vow To Flag This Lie Every Time A Politician, Journalist Or Facebook Friend Attempts It): Joe Biden

Stipulated: The likelihood that Joe Biden really tweeted this is slim. Nonetheless, poor Joe is still accountable for his social media accounts and  the employees he  hires to represent him in cyberspace. This lie is his lie, and his lie is also six years old. Biden is stuck with the lie, because 1) he has no integrity and will say anything he thinks will get him elected and 2) because this lie still constitutes part of the foundation of Black Lives Matter, the organization most responsible for the riots disrupting cities across America along with the special bonus that anyone with the sense to reject their scam is immediately tarred as a racist, and maybe fired or forced to resign.

The use of the “Mike Brown was killed by a racist cop” lie is, at this point, smoking gun proof that an individual is  trying to aggravate and exploit racial distrust and hate to advance their own agenda. That makes them, to be blunt, scum.

During the depressing Democratic primary season, three Presidential hopefuls—Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren, employed the lie, and I’m pretty certain every one of them knew it was false. The Democratic Party, which has cynically embraced Black Lives Matter, is, by extension, promoting the lie. Continue reading