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.