Failed Late Thursday Ethics Review, 11/19/2020 Turned Early Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/2020: Let’s Play “Stupid or Not Stupid”!

Unrelated to any kind of stupid: Yesterday was the anniversary of the demise of my old friend, Glenn White, in 2013. I never got to attend a funeral or service for Glenn; his family didn’t see fit to let me know he had died, despite our association of thirty years. This is what I always will remember about Glenn: He knew what it meant to be a friend. We knew each other through theater, though he was a Fairfax City, Virginia politician. Glenn used to say, “If you need me, Jack, you just have to ask. I’ll be there.” And he always was. When he was in his late 70s, I needed someone to play an old man in one of my theater company’s shows. Glenn used to call himself The American Century Theater’s resident geezer, but he had moved to the Virginia countryside, and it was more than a three hour commute, round trip, to rehearsals and performances. My plight was barely out of my mouth when he said, “Sure, you can count on me.”

How many people do you get to meet in your life who are like that?

1. I really hate this...I spent precious time, as I was trying to get a post in before the clock struck 12 last night, writing about this story, published yesterday and passed along credulously by a aggregator, only to find that the events described happened in 2019. I have encountered this before: some website is light on material, so it uses an old story for click-bait without stating the time frame until the very end.

2. Today’s inexcusable, biased, partisan and unethical headline from the New York Times front page: “Trump Targeting Michigan In Ploy To Subvert Election.” Clearly, the Times isn’t even trying any more. The use of “ploy” and “subvert” is not only editorializing, it’s irresponsible editorializing. There were certainly a lot of strange things going on in the Michigan voting and vote-counting;the state should be targeted. (There are strange things going on in Michigan generally.) If the Michigan vote was corrupted, discovering how and how much doesn’t “subvert” anything. If it turns out that Michigan actually was won by Trump—admittedly a remote possibility—then that discovery prevents the election from being subverted.

The Times’ job is to explain what the Trump campaign’s challenges to the election are in factual terms, not to speculate on diabolical motives, to trigger violence and subvert democracy.

3. What does this display remind you of?

Belgian phallus

Christmas, right? What, you say? You have a dirty mind! No, you’re normal; it’s the officials in the city of Oudenburg in the Belgian province of West Flanders who have mind problems. These are the new Christmas decorations recently installed in the municipality and several local boroughs. 

Officials were originally thinking of putting up giant candles, but then decided a mere flame at the top of the white column would be a cliché. They put in a blue ball instead. And not a single person involved in the decision had the guts or competence to say, “Uh, I don’t think we want to do this.”

Mayor Anthony Dumarey apologized, saying “Of course, it was not our intention to install Christmas lights that remind people of a penis.” The mayor said that the decorations did not appear quite so phallic until they were turned on.

“‘I only realized it myself when they were illuminated. But we have to see the humor in this,”he said.

Yes, having incompetent decision-makers running your city is funny!

Wait, let me check….maybe this really happened in 1987. No, it’s okay.


4. Andrew McCarthy explains why “the legal battle over the 2020 election is over.” As usual, the former prosecutor—just like Rudy Giuliani!—is reasoned and persuasive. You should read his article.

Meanwhile, the Trump legal team soldiers on. At yesterday’s press conference, Jenna Ellis described their press conference as “basically an opening statement so the American people can understand what the networks have been hiding and what they refuse to cover.”

Sure enough, most of the news networks refused to cover the event, which is more signature significance for pure partisan motives.

She continued,

“Let me be very clear that our objective is to make sure to preserve and protect election integrity. President Trump has been saying from day one, that this is about maintaining free and fair elections in this country. It is not about overturning an outcome…I would strike 99% of you from the jury and I would be allowed to, because of the fake news coverage you provide. You’re not unbiased jurors.”

I have one note of caution to anyone tempted to mock the Trump lawyers. These are not stupid people or inept professionals, and they are being very aggressive in their public assertions. It is incomprehensible that any of them would do this if they didn’t have a good faith belief that their evidence wouldn’t at least demonstrate substantial fraud. Giuliani, as most of his current critics are too young to recall, was a brilliant prosecutor and a politically astute mayor. He’s 76 now, but it’s pretty weird for the same people who voted for Joe Biden to use that against him.

5. And some baseball ethics news: Robinson Cano is an idiot.

The New York Mets second baseman, who would be a likely Hall of Fame admittee if he wasn’t a proven cheat, tested positive for the performance-enhancing drug Stanozolol, his second positive test. Cano was suspended 80 games under MLB’s banned substance policy in 2018; strike two means he is out for the next 162 games, which could be two more seasons if the 2021 is like the weird season past. Cano is 38, and will be 39 at best when his career can resume, if anyone wants him. Realistically, he is probably through.

“We were extremely disappointed to be informed about Robinson’s suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program,” Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “The violation is very unfortunate for him, the organization, our fans, and the sport. The Mets fully support MLB’s efforts toward eliminating performance enhancing substances from the game.”

Weasel words. The violation wasn’t “unfortunate for him”: he broke the rules. It’s not even unfortunate for the Mets, who won’t have to pay Cano over $2o million in salary because of the suspension. A player has to be really stupid or really desperate to use steroids now—“really unethical” is res ipsa loquitur—and getting caught twice is a special distinction. Of Hall of Fame caliber players, only the spectacularly lunk-headed Manny Ramirez is in this Hall of Stupid with Cano.

16 thoughts on “Failed Late Thursday Ethics Review, 11/19/2020 Turned Early Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/20/2020: Let’s Play “Stupid or Not Stupid”!

    • You know, I looked at that photo, and first thing I thought was NOT that the things were “phallic.” I was puzzled by the location of the colors, thinking of the things as giant candles: “Wouldn’t it make more sense for the columnar part to be blue, and the pointy part to be white? THAT would be a candle.”

      And then…I figured correctly what the fuss was about, and then…”Wouldn’t it make more sense for the columnar part to be pink (or brown), and the pointy part to be at least a little shade of deep red? THAT would be a phallus.”

  1. He’s 76 now, but it’s pretty weird for the same people who voted for Joe Biden to use that against him.

    I think they’re using the heavy drinking against him.

  2. As the McCarthy article makes clear, the difference between what Trump’s legal team is saying in press conferences and in court is remarkable, which could account for the fact that the Four Seasons Press Conference was more heavily covered than yesterday’s. The quiet edit of fraud charges in Pennsylvania, while meanwhile alleging fraud on TV, is not a good way to present a good faith belief that a massive fraud has been perpetuated.

  3. #3: Perhaps they could put a couple of oversized round Christmas ornaments beside each display to sort of distract the eye and break up the appearance.

  4. As a consolation (/sarcasm), here is a recent story:
    “The Limestone County Board of Education accepted the resignation of a local coach Monday following an investigation into allegations that he engaged in sexual activity with a student.”

    Why people, other than the teacher’s unions, keep defending public education is a mystery.

    • Yes, Cano’s case makes me wonder about the fortunes of Carloaf, er, Carlos Lee, slugger for the Houston Astros in recent years – left fielder par incompetence. If I recall, he ceased playing in MLB after raking in something like $18 million in his final season – at the time, had a huge ranch in Panama, or someplace down there. Not that I wish him ill, but also, not that I expect him to be doing well, either. Reminds me: must go enter at Publishers Clearing House for the…I think it’s a $2.5 million prize…yeah…

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