You could yesterday, September 6, “Moral Luck Day.” On that date in 1901, President William McKinley was shaking hands at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him with a pistol in his hand wrapped in a handkerchief, and fired two bullets into the President’s chest. Touchingly, McKinley’s immediate thoughts were of his wife, Ida, who was in poor physical and emotional health. “Be careful how you tell her!” he whispered to an aide. Eight days later, McKinley was dead. But what Czolgosz intended as a strike to the heart of America’s government had the opposite effect, making Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican considered too independent, radical and uncontrollable (unlike McKinley) by his own party to be in the White House, exactly what GOP leaders never wanted him to be. Teddy made the United States a world power, greatly expanded the power of his office and the government itself, and was, in short, an anarchist’s nightmare.
1. Baseball ethics: The Boston Red Sox recently completed a disastrous collapse that dropped them from first place in the American League East to third. As they went into battle with the two teams now ahead of them, their hottest hitter, Alex Verdugo, vanished on a four game paternity leave. Shortly thereafter, another hot hitter, Hunter Renfroe, was lost for five days on bereavement leave after his father died of cancer. T’was not always thus: in the days before the Players’ Union bargained to add such mid-season leave as a new benefit, if a player’s wife was in labor or a loved on died, it was at the team’s discretion whether he would be permitted to leave the team. OK, I can appreciate the need for the benefit, but both players abused the right. These guys both earn millions of dollars a year. They both routinely talk about the team’s quest to win the World Series, yet when their team really needed them, they absented themselves for many days because they could. That’s a betrayal of the team, team mates, and fans. I’ve been there. My grandmother, a major influence in my life, died while I was in tech week for a major production I was directing. I flew to Boston for the wake, and flew back early the next morning. I couldn’t do anything for my grandmother. My family didn’t need me as much as the show did.And I wasn’t being paid a cent for directing that show, never mind millions of dollars.
2. Curtis Flowers is suing. Good! Curtis Flowers, whom I wrote about here, filed a lawsuit last week against Montgomery County District Attorney Doug Evans, who prosecuted him six times for the killings of four people at a small-town Mississippi furniture store. He was finally released in December 2019, about six months after the U.S. Supreme Court tossed out the conviction and death sentence from his sixth trial, which took place in 2010. Justices said prosecutors showed an unconstitutional pattern of excluding African American jurors in the Flowers’ six trials, which kept him in prison for 26 years despite never being found guilty in a fair trial. This wasn’t a prosecution, it was a vendetta. I would like to see a bar prosecution of Evans, who abused the ethical duties of a prosecutor.
3. Also good: Time’s Up’s time appears to be up. Time’s Up revealed itself as a hypocritical, toothless and partisan champion of sexual harassment victims when it refused to back Tara Reade after she accused Joe Biden of a decades old sexual assault charge after supporting the dubious sexual abuse allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in 2018. That was signature significance, but the group’s fans ignored the hypocrisy since Abortion Good and Orange Man Bad. But even they couldn’t ignore the blatant betrayal of the organization’s mission when it was discovered that Roberta Kaplan, the chairwoman of the anti-harassment group as well as a co-founder, reviewed a draft of an op-ed letter that was designed to discredit Lindsay Boylan, the first woman to accuse Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The group’s CEO, Tina Tchen, also advised Cuomo.
Time’s Up also had a series of financial improprieties, but never mind: the mainstream news media along with the group’s female celebrity donors—like Oprah Winfrey, who lobbied the group in 2020 into dropping support for the HBO Max documentary “On the Record,” detailing the sexual assault allegations against music mogul Russell Simmons, a Winfrey pal—was happy to carry on the fiction that it cared about women more than politics.
But over the weekend several celebrity supporters officially withdrew from the organization. Shonda Rhimes, Eva Longoria, and others including Time’s Up’s interim board chair Nina Shaw with a statement posted to the organization’s website over the weekend. Five other board members including actress Ashley Judd said they would remain on the board for just a while longer “to help ensure a smooth transition.”
4. From the “Books I Think I’ll Skip” Dept...Harvard philosopher Lee McIntyre has written “How to Talk to A Science Denier,” and it is nicely mocked in a review by scientist Tom Chivers here. He writes in part,
“McIntyre constantly wants to make a clean distinction between “science deniers” and non-deniers. So, for instance, he says that there are five “common reasoning errors made by all science deniers” [my emphasis]. They are: cherrypicking, a belief in conspiracy theories, a reliance on fake experts, illogical reasoning and an insistence that science must be perfect. If you don’t make all five of those errors, you’re not an official McIntyre-accredited science denier. Hang on, though. A “belief in conspiracy theories”? McIntyre spends a lot of time talking about the tobacco firms who manufactured doubt in the smoking/lung cancer link, and the oil firms who did the same with the fossil fuel/climate change link. He says that the spread of Covid denialism through the US government was driven by Republican desire to keep the economy open and win the election. Aren’t these conspiracy theories?…[T]here’s not some clear line between “real conspiracies” and “conspiracy theories””
In short, the critic concludes,
“McIntyre’s big question, as mentioned, is asking: What evidence would it take to change your mind? But at no point does McIntyre ever ask himself what it would take to change his mind…the near-total lack of introspection renders the whole grand project largely meaningless. I am right, you are wrong, the only thing we need to discuss is how to make you realise how wrong you are.“
5. I hate to repeat myself, Charles M. Blow really is an embarrassment to the Times. The official Times op-ed race-baiter and anti-Trump hysteric’s latest is so transparently dishonest and unhinged that even Times editors should be able to tell they to hold an intervention. In his latest effort, he compares supporting Donald Trump to supporting the Ku Klux Klan. Blow, blowing…
“Many of his supporters view America not as a grand idea, malleable and expandable, but as a white man’s invention in which the displacement and slaughter of Native people and the enslavement of Africans was a necessary evil.So they demand a strict deference to that idea of America because, to them, it promises a society bowing at their feet, a nation defined by its reverence for whiteness….At one of the Klan’s initiations, members were told to say, “All men in America must honor that flag — if we must make them honor it on their knees!” Anyone else remember how Trump supporters treated Colin Kaepernick?”
He goes on to find exact equivalent between the Klan’s hatred of immigrants and Trump’s dedication to ensuring that those who immigrate here do so legally, and between the Klan’s anti-Semitism and Trump’s wariness of Islamic extremists, since they, you know, have a tendency to kill non-believers.
This kind of illogical, fact-free and distorted reasoning would deserve an F in an 8th grade essay, and yet the Times gives it to readers every week.