Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/30/2021: Oh, The Usual…Race-Baiting, The Pandemic, Betrayals, Journalism

SCOTUS Morning

Late reflections on this morning’s first post:

  • The story of how the only official to be referred for criminal prosecution as a result of the illegal Justice Department machinations to cripple the Trump administration was reported on page A20 of the New York Times front page this morning. Thirty stories were considered more important for Times readers to know about, including the discovery of  200-year-old fort built by indigenous Alaskans.
  • From the Times report: “The Justice Department has said it no longer believes the full range of evidence available to it by the final two extensions met legal standards to invade Mr. Page’s privacy.” This is deceptive: the purpose of the FISA warrant was to surveil the Trump campaign. meaning that the surveillance was illegal. Page was a means to an end, and the end being sought was redolent of the Nixon dirty tricks that spawned Watergate. The Times is burying the significance of what Clinesmith did. Similarly, the headline “Ex-F.B.I. Lawyer Who Altered Email in Russia Case Is Sentenced to Probation” is deliberately deceptive. The objective of the “collusion” claims were to sink the Trump Presidency, not to punish Russia.
  • A single day’s riot that breached the Capitol and had no tangible effects of the government at all is being routinely labelled an “insurrection,” while a two year effort to cripple a Presidential administration using false evidence and involving the Justice Department, the FBI and news media  is reported as an inconsequential legal matter.

1. Finding systemic racism where it wasn’t. Cicely Tyson died at the age of 96. Like Charlton Heston, the African-American actress became an icon by playing iconic roles. She had by any standards an acting career an actress should be proud of, and most performers would envy: she appeared in 29 films; at least 68 television series, mini-series and single episodes; and 15 productions on and off Broadway.  She  was honored with an Oscar, three Emmys, many Emmy nominations, a Screen Actors Guild Award and a Tony, and accomplished it all while being a non-beautiful woman in a profession that values beauty above all, mostly limiting her to character and historical roles.

Yet Times critic Wesley Morris, an African-American who  has a narrative to advance, writes in an appreciation, “Let’s face it: the great parts were always headed to someone whiter anyway… Consider the parts she could have played if the movies were fairer.” This is approximately equivalent to saying, “Imagine the parts Mickey Rooney could have played if the movies were fairer.” Tyson was unique and talented, and the movies were sufficiently fair for her to play major roles in major projects throughout a long career. There are undoubtedly African American actresses who consider it unfair that when a black female character was being cast in a hsitorical film, Tyson was ha the right of first refusal.

Might she have been cast in “The Jagged Edge” in place of Glenn Close? Sure—so could Faye Dunaway. Or Ellen Burstyn. The difference is that those actresses can’t use racism as the reason they weren’t cast.

In addition to her stellar career and reputation, Tyson died with an estate worth at least 10 million dollars. Hollywood has been racially biased for decades, but Cicely Tyson shouldn’t be cited as a victim. Like so many of the individuals she played, she rose above racism by strength of character and ability.

2. Well, the New York Times is still hyping the Wuhan virus. Many have noticed that the “we’re all going to die!” theme in the news media during the run up to the election suddenly moderated once Biden was elected. Coincidence? After all, the vaccine had also arrived. Indeciding whether to view this as another example of journalists manipulating public opinion,  I was curious to see if the “Those We’ve Lost” feature, where the Times cherry-picks alleged victims of the virus to emphasis minorities, younger victims and celebrities, survived. So far, the answer is yes. As under President Trump, the list is still dubious. Last week, one of the four pandemic victims listed was almost  hundred and one years old. A second, actress Barbara Shelley, had been hospitalized for two weeks, and caught the virus while being treated for other problems. She recovered from the Wuhan infection, but after she returned home she died of “underlying issues.”

I wonder how many of the 400,000+ deaths being listed as being caused by the pandemic are like hers.

3. The NRA’s sleezy ethics. Earlier, I wrote about how the NRA was getting away with filing for bankruptcy while it claimed to be sound financially. It appears that it won’t get away with it, and good.

Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman, and an awful one admitted in a TV interview.  that the finances of the groups remained strong, and the filing was “simply is a legal vehicle to move under protection of federal laws, to escape the abuse by the New York authorities.”

The idea is to use the bankruptcy process to circumvent regulators in New York, where the state’s attorney general, Letitia James, sued the association seeking to close it down for mismanagement and corruption. Might she have other, political motivations? Maybe, even probably, but it sure looks as if the NRA is a mess. It disclosed in its most recent tax filings that Wayne LaPierre, its CEO, had repaid it hundreds of thousands of dollars. Non-profits are not supposed to act as banks for their officers. This alone would justify closing down the association. There were also revelations of hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on  LaPierre’s suits, the NRA paying for  travel on the N.R.A.’s dime to luxury resorts, and the  group even explored buying a $6 million mansion  for his use.

Apparently all of the turmoil within the NRA left it unable to play its usual  influential role in the 2020 elections. This is rank incompetence, a breach of the association’s mission, and a betrayal of its membership. Knowing that it is under relentless attack and vilification by the enemies of gun rights, the NRA had to stay squeaky clean and above reproach. Instead, it seems to have proven itself to be just as despicable as its enemies claimed, but for entirely different reasons.

4. New York’s Attorney General isn’t only going after the Right. Oh, she’s a partisan assassin for sure, but this week she took a serious shot at Governor Cuomo. She deserves some integrity points for that, I think. In a damning, 76-page report, James revealed that New York’s nursing-home death toll from the pandemic may be more than 50 percent higher than officials claimed because Cuomo’s administration has covered up how many of those residents died in hospitals. Some nursing homes apparently underreported resident fatalities to the state Department of Health. More than 20 are currently under investigation for not following safety protocols. The findings could push the current tally of 8,711 Whuhan virus deaths to more than 13,000.

The report notes that at least 4,000 residents died after the state issued a controversial, March 25 Cuomo administration mandate for nursing homes to admit “medically stable” Wuhan virus patients.

5. And it will probably win. Today’s res ipsa loquitur fact: Black Lives Matter has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

9 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/30/2021: Oh, The Usual…Race-Baiting, The Pandemic, Betrayals, Journalism

  1. A single day’s riot that breached the Capitol and had no tangible effects of the government at all is being routinely labelled an “insurrection,” while a two year effort to cripple a Presidential administration using false evidence and involving the Justice Department, the FBI and news media is reported as an inconsequential legal matter.

    What Clinesmith did was more damaging to public trust in the political process and law enforcement than any riot.

  2. #3 – The NRA needs to die. I’m an ardent supporter of the second amendment, and hate what the NRA has become. It feels like many political machines that are ultimately set up to benefit those in power at the organization (see corrupt unions, corrupt foundations, etc). The biggest supporters I know of the second amendment are also the biggest critics of the NRA. LaPierre and his cronies need to go.

    • “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.” ― Eric Hoffer

      • Tell you what, I’ll trade you the NRA for the ACLU and the SPLC. Any takers? Didn’t think so. You would think that these organizations would have gotten a clue decades ago when the United Way got taken to the cleaners.

    • I’ve been an NRA member for decades, but now when they call to solicit contributions from me, I tell them that all my pro-2A charitable contributions will be going to groups like the SAF or GOA for as long as Wayne LaPierre is a part of the NRA. Those groups are still on the front lines fighting legal battles all over the country while the NRA is forming wine-of-the-month clubs and giving LaPierre and his cronies lavish lifestyles. The NRA still serves a useful function as a lightning rod that attracts all the leftist authoritarians’ ire while the real work gets done by SAF, GOA, and state-level groups, but they can serve that function without spending my money to buy caviar for Wayne and his buddies.

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