One of them has got turn up eventually, right? RIGHT???
Attention should be paid to this date, September 20, for a couple of reasons.
Chester A. Arthur, one of my favorite Presidents and ethics stories, was sworn in today after the death of President James Garfield, who looked like he might have been a great one. I already have reposted this year the story of how a disabled, middle-age woman nobody had ever heard of secretly turned Arthur from a corrupt hack (he had never held elected office before becoming President of the United States) into a principled and courageous leader. I was tempted to put it up again when I saw the PBS documentary based on “Destiny of the Republic” by Candace Millard, which was the best-selling history that revealed the impact of Julia Sand. Incredibly, the documentary failed to mention Sand at all! Having studied Garfield and his murderer, Charles Guiteau, I was familiar with most of the information in the book but not the Sand episode, which I felt and still feel was the most important part of the book both historically and ethically.
The other ethically significant event to occur on this date was the 1973 tennis match between top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, and Bobby Riggs, 55, at that point in his career a self-promoting huckster and loud-mouth, but not much of a tennis player. Somehow, this obvious mismatch was dubbed “The Battle of the Sexes,” enabling it to attract a huge TV audience, and King’s victory became a tipping point in the women’s equality movement. I liken it to the George Floyd fiasco in that respect: the contrived symbolism of the event overwhelmed the facts. Riggs, who one was a highly-ranked male tennis pro, had been shooting off his mouth about how even a broken down senior player like him was better than the best women in the sport. He was trying to get a play-day and a resurgence of lucrative fame by goading a female pro into a match, and it worked: Australian Margaret Court, then #1 in the female pro ranks, took the bait and choked, playing horribly while losing to Riggs’ soft serves, spin shots and lobs. Her friend King set out to redeem her, and won in straight sets, proving that one of the best female players in the world in her prime could defeat a male player almost twice her age. Wow.
The lesson: when enough people really, really want something to be true, they’ll decide it is true regardless of the facts.
1. From the “How Stupid Do They Think We Are?” files: The New York Times gives front page attention to First Lady Jill Biden’s (I’m sorry, Dr. Jill Biden—and she can call me “Dr.” too, since I’m as much one as she is) determination to make Joe’s campaign promise to bring “unity” back to the U.S. a reality. The promise was offensive when it was made, and if FLOTUS really thinks it is achievable, she’s a Doctor of Delusion. The recent revelations about how the Clinton campaign conspired to create a false conspiracy narrative that crippled Donald Trump’s Presidency while Democrats accused the Americans who voted for him of being racists, xenophobes, fascists and morons establishes how shamefully the Axis of Unethical Conduct set out to divide the public in order to regain power. It’s impossible to govern effectively without some measure of national unity, as they knew when they shredded any hope of such unity to sabotage Trump. Now that they are hobbled by the very conditions they set out to create, the sadly inadequate leader they foisted on the nation wants unity back. Gall, chutzpah, naivete, cynical, hypocritical, ethics estoppel, stupid, insulting—I can’t find a word or phrase sufficiently harsh to describe such a goal. They can’t be trusted with unity, and they don’t deserve it either. Good luck, Jill.
2. Nicky Minaj Ethics Train Wreck update! It is unclear what wag first said “Never wrestle with a pig: you just get dirty and the pig enjoys it,” but few public controversies illustrate the wisdom of the statement better than the ongoing drama over Nicki Minaj’s failure to toe the progressive line on vaccines, which I wrote about here (Item #5) and here. The parties being muddied last week by fighting with Minaj for expressing her opinions include MSNBC’s Joy Reid, “The View,” Twitter, Harvard, and the White House. Then Minaj used Instagram, where she hasn’t been banned yet for siding with Republicans, however narrowly, to call out a reporter from The Guardian and another from the UK’s Daily Mail, writing, “They’re forcing my family to hide out. This is what speaking up looks like. Millions of poor people are treated this way by the ppl you think are ‘the good guys.’ This is unconscionable.”
Then she posted messages sent by Guardian reporter Sharlene Rampersad to Minaj’s cousin—you know, the one who claimed a friend had been rendered impotent by a Wuhan virus vaccination, demanding to speak with him and his friend with the swollen testicles. Rampersad threatened Minaj’s cousin, writing that “CNN is in the country looking for you” and that the network “won’t hesitate to reveal” personal information including the locations of Minaj’s cousin and “anything and anyone who is tied to you…if you speak to me, we won’t reveal those details.” Nice! Not so nice was Minaj’s response: “Sharlene Rampersad BTCH YOUR DAYS ARE FCKING NUMBERED YOU DIRTY HOE.”
Do conservatives really want to make a First Amendment hero out of this low-life?Apparently so.Tucker Carlson and Fox News tried to embrace Minaj, which also results in metaphorical muddiness. She wrote that Carlson should interview her cousin’s friend and “talk with that gentleman and find out why it is that his, you know, future wife left him and just how large these melons were. I think he should go and find out. It’s an investigative report that we need. Go and do it, Tucker, I know you wanna. You really, really wanna.”
This is the kind of civil, articulate, clear-thinking and ethical individual both the Right and Left are placing at the center of our public discourse regarding such crucial issues as health, personal liberty, free speech, race and culture. Good job, everybody!
3. Oh yeah, this is responsible commentary...In the featured editorial in this morning’s Times, a journalist who Focuses on the economy,” Bryce Covert, is given center ring to make this recommendation, highlighted as the essay’s cutline: “Focus on what the infrastructure bill gets us, not its price tag.” That’s all you need to read, is it not, to know that this guy has no more business opining about public policy than, say, Nicki Minaj?
True, this appears to be the approach Democrats are hell-bent on adopting, and not merely regarding infrastructure. (Not that infrastructure in progressive-speak is infrastructure: the Associated Press reported late last night that the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that Democrats cannot include a “pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens” in the their massive $3.5 trillion social-spending bill.) It is nonetheless fiscally irresponsible if not suicidal. That logic could be used to justify the government paying for everything—health care, housing, education, income, clothing, food, transportation, entertainment, porn! None of this stuff matters! Inflation schminflation! Debt schmept! Deficits schmeficits!
This isn’t just a crackpot socialist theory the Times allowed in its op-ed pages to be provocative. This is a position the Times is highlighting as its own.
4. Buyer beware! Mehrdad Sadigh, a New York City antiquities dealer whose Sadigh Gallery has been a fixture near the Empire State Building for decades has been indicted for counterfeiting antiques, especially antiquities from the Middle East. “For many years, this fake antiquities mill based in midtown Manhattan promised customers rare treasures from the ancient world and instead sold them pieces manufactured on-site in cookie-cutter fashion,” Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., said in a statement after Sadigh was arrested last month. Investigators found hundreds of fake artifacts displayed on shelves and inside glass cases, while thousands more, including scarabs, statuettes and spear heads, were found in the rooms behind the gallery in various stages of preparation.
5. That’s what a female pro golfer calls “vulgar”? Recently retired female golf star Michelle Wie West ranked a puff piece in the Times that willfully contrived a false narrative aimed at further smearing the image of Rudy Giuliani. The story is that West delayed her retirement out of indignation because the former NYC mayor had said in an interview in February of last year discussing his playing a round of charity golf with the late Rush Limbaugh and Wie West. Giuliani said that Limbaugh complained about all the “paparazzi” trailing the group.
“On the green is Michele Wie, and she is getting ready to putt,” Giuliani said, in part. “Now Michelle Wie is gorgeous. She’s 6 feet. And she has a strange putting stance. She bends all the way over. And her panties show. And the press was going crazy. … I said ‘[Rush], it’s not me, it’s not you.'”
Ooohh, he said “panties!”
The Times called the comment “vulgar.” ESPN called them “objectifying.” CNN called the story “disgusting.”
Ethics foul. First and foremost, the idea that mentioning women’s panties is risque was on the way out in 1959, when the judge in “Anatomy of a Murder” feels he has to warn the jury and spectators that the word “panties” will be used in presenting the evidence. The courtroom giggles like children when he mentions the word. This struck me as weird when I first saw the film in the Seventies, and now “panties” is taboo again? Apparently, if a Donald Trump ally says it.
Moreover, female golfers are ethically estopped from complaining that men are paying attention to their bodies and outfits rather than their golf prowess. The sport has always used sex to attract male fans whenever a female golfer was able to exploit it. Typically, when an unusually comely player used her curves to attract attention and endorsements, some less comely competitors objected. I wrote about one such example here, Paige Spiranac…
Female golf pros owe a substantial potion of their prize money and sponsorships to the golfers who men find attractive, and throwing a hissy fit when a Republican states a fact is attempting to have their cheesecake and eat it too.