Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2021, To A Chorus Of Cicadas

Cicada Ethics: Sweep up all the disgusting things (and their husks) that have accumulated on your front walk at least twice a day so people don’t have to walk on them and their dogs don’t eat them.

1. Charles Grodin (1935-2021): Thanks a lot! Charles Grodin was a talented and versatile actor who was extremely good at playing dislikable characters. We can blame him (not Jon Stewart) for creating the unfortunate cultural phenomenon of the allegedly funny TV talk show host who decides he is qualified to bombard viewers with partisan rants. It’s a self-indulgent abuse of power, position and trust, but it’s also now the norm, with every late night talk show host (and Staurday Night Live) but the generally sweet James Cordon using their show as a platform to bash Republicans and conservatives and extoll progressives no matter how mockworthy they are. Grodin started the bait-and-switch (He’s funny! Wait, why is he so angry and preaching at us?) in the mid-Nineties, and though it eventually killed his show (not soon enough), the template was born.

Grodin made Ethics Alarms in 2014, with his campaign against the felony murder rule.

2. Speaking of staying in one’s lane…Yet another ugly result of social media is the phenomenon of people publishing uninformed opinions that they are unqualified to be so emphatic about. A baseball writer and recovering lawyer, Craig Calcaterra, whom I have referenced here before, has migrated from NBC Sports to substack, and is asking me to subscribe to his newsletter. Craig is funny and smart, and his baseball analysis is superior to most. But he is addicted to making political pronouncements, and while he has a right to his biased and often ignorant opinions on things he’s far from an expert on, I’ll be damned if I’ll pay to read them. For essentially the same reasons I object to watching football players “take a knee” during the National Anthem, I expect sports writers to stick to sports. Here’s a tip to anyone peddling a newsletter to me: I regard referring to the January 6 Capitol riot as a “deadly insurrection” as Democratic Party propagandist and signature significance for a pundit who is not concerned with facts.

3. Still fearmongering...The New York Times is apparently running out of cherry-picked sort-of victims of the Wuhan virus they can use to keep Americans masked, shuttered and terrified. Yet it still is running its dishonest “Those We’ve Lost” feature, with expanded obituaries and photos of nicely diverse people who may have died of something else but who the CDC will count as a pandemic fatality anyway. On May 11, for example, the entire section was devoted to people who died in India, expanding the concept of “we” to the breaking point. (One victim, the youngest at 35, was an American whose mission was to get a “Will and Grace”-type TV show produced in India.)

4. Why I do not belong to the American Bar Association: The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recently approved proposed revisions to law school accreditation standards.These included making Standard 206, which states that law schools should have diverse student bodies, faculty and staff, a “core” standard requiring public notice for noncompliance. This means that a law school that has completely color-blind admissions could be singled out for non-compliance with accreditation standards if the result of fair and objective admissions didn’t produce the required “diverse” student body. The approved proposal also suggests replacing “concrete action” with taking “effective actions that lead to progress” and replacing the term “minority” with “people of color.”

5. Funniest and most encouraging headline of the week: “Democrats Bewildered at the Unpopularity of Kamala Harris.” One thing you can count on with totalitarians: they are convinced they can make a sheep-like public believe whatever they need them to. This, of course, is one of their many Achilles heels. (Can you have more than two Achillies heels? I’ll have to think about that.) A recent YouGov poll (I know, polls) indicates that Harris’s net approval rating is ten points in negative territory among all voters and 25 points down among independents, 44% of whom say they have a “very unfavorable” opinion of the Vice President. Why would that be a surprise? Despite unrestrained cheerleading from the mainstream media, Harris flopped badly with Democratic voter in the primaries, and it was, or should have been, obvious why. As

Charles W. Cooke writes in the National Review Online, Harris “somehow manages to combine into a single package a transparent insincerity, an unvarnished authoritarianism, and a tendency toward precisely the sort of self-satisfied progressivism that helped the Republicans to limit their losses at the last general election.” He adds that while her defenders can continue to argue that “the reaction Harris yields is ‘gendered’ or ‘systemic’ or ‘inequitable,’… they must know that America isn’t the problem here. The problem is that Harris is a phony. It remains the case that, throughout her entire public career, almost nobody has looked at Kamala Harris and thought, “Yes, she’s the person we need to lead us.”

Of course. But Democrats and progressives really do seem to believe that all one needs to be qualified to lead—or hold any other job— is membership in the “right” groups.

11 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2021, To A Chorus Of Cicadas

  1. I wonder, regarding your very last point, if they genuinely believe that all one needs to lead is membership in the right groups, or if it’s more accurate to just say “whatever we say is good enough to lead.” For as tightly as they cling to race and racialism, they still barely walk the walk when it comes to actual respect and diversity.

    • Or membership in the right group, including being a, ahem, protege of a Democratic operative like Willie Brown.

    • Part of the progressive push towards diversity is the idea that anyone could perform any function if given the opportunity and support. It’s not true, intelligence isn’t distributed equally, people are physically different, charisma is real… But I think that there was the real idea that if Harris was just allowed to function in the job, she would be able to do the job, and people would adjust to the reality.

      More importantly, at least to them, I think, is that Harris greased the right palms. I don’t know that, but it makes sense. If anyone can do the job, why not put the anyone that offered you the right things? In the absence of that, why not pick any other black woman? Why not Stacy Abrams? At least Abrams lost her run by a plurality instead of a blowout. This wouldn’t be the first time for this kind of corruption… Hell, it wouldn’t even be the most blatant: Hillary Clinton literally had to buy the DNC to win her primary.

      • We never hear “the Peter Principle” any more these days. I’d say both Obama and Harris are exemplars of the Peter Principle. They’re both products of affirmative action educations and have risen far beyond their capabilities.


    The left used to resist the cry of “America, love it or leave it,” or “if you are not with us you are with our enemies,” tooth and nail, saying diversity, room for disagreement, and “some just practice a different form of patriotism.” They did not want Reagan to accuse them of helping the USSR by being useful idiots, or GWB to tell them to get on the right side or be accused of being apologists for Al Qaeda. They would bend over backwards to make sure cowards disguised as pacifists like Barbara Kingsolver, anti-patriots like Katha Pollitt, and apostles of race hatred like Leonard Jeffries got their say.

    Some of them accused those who opposed Obama vigorously of being traitors or racists, but the accusations never caught on outside their own circles, most of America knows political business as usual when it sees it. Now, however, they see this last election and the Capitol riot as a chance to be the bully, the dominant figure, the intolerant asshole, the OPPRESSOR, who gets to say we’re doing it THIS way, and if you don’t like it, you need to leave. I can only say in response: be careful what you say and be careful what you ask for. It wasn’t too long ago that you folks were talking about separating the races because the one was a cancer, and saying a pipe upside the head or an armor-piercing bullet was waiting for anyone who oppressed too hard. We on the right can get fed up too.

    • Amen, Steve! Joe S. needs to get out of that bubble he’s in, come down here to flyover country and try to insist that some “Trump supporters” – that’s code for “conservatives”- leave the country. I believe he would gain a new understanding of the word “unworthy.”

    • Still using that new computer? Just checking in case the same happened as in a previous comment. Of course, once it’s done it’s done but not everyone will notice.

  3. 1: There are few celebrities I outright detest, that I would prefer watching paint dry than see them on the screen, but Grodin was one of them. He did not have the genius of a Rickles to know when to shut up because he’d crossed a line too far. He truly believed what he said was gems more important than others also on stage with him. When I was more of a dumb kid I thought he was funny, later I could read body language better and realized he was an ass who enjoyed being cruel. I always treasure rewatching when one of the other guests took him down a peg after Groden had been especially rude to their host. (I believe it was Richard Pryor) There is a line between razzing people and being cruel to those who cannot reply in kind. Grodin didn’t care about others he was on stage with, it was all about himself and looking clever. He didn’t take receiving the same as he was giving. If you can’t take it, don’t do it, basic golden rule…

    • Marie
      I too found Charles Grodin unfunny and not particularly entertaining but he is gone and I will let him rest in peace.

  4. About cicadas: I was living near DC in 1987 when I experienced an “emergence” of 17-year life-cycle cicadas. My back yard was next to a golf course, with a forested “green belt” of 100 yards or so width in between. I recall falling asleep – and waking up – to the “whir” of millions in the trees.

    Those emergences are one of the wonders of nature that render my belief in God unshakeable.

    That faith was only strengthened by the fact that no golf ball ever pelted us in that back yard.

    Jack: Is that 24/7 “whir” going on around your neighborhood again this year? (checking my math)

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