Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Hoping For A Good Day…Fake Unity, Fake Antiques, Fake Indignation, Fake Tipping Points

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…

Paige2

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.

10 thoughts on “Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Hoping For A Good Day…Fake Unity, Fake Antiques, Fake Indignation, Fake Tipping Points

  1. #4: Sadigh Gallery has long been known to real collectors as an ongoing high-end scam outfit that preyed on the gullible and inexperienced. They even ran ads in otherwise reputable archaeology magazines and such, despite objections from much of the readership.

    It’s about time the authorities stepped on them; but the market, especially online, is still flooded with fakes and misrepresented items. The US is woefully behind Europe in policing art and antiquities fraud.
    Only tangentially related, but, but funny:
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/bruegel-painting-theft-fake-church-police-italy-art-a8823151.html

  2. Asking for unity at this point is a joke. The last time this country was truly unified was right after 9/11, when the Senate was singing “God bless America” in unison on the Capitol steps, the firemen and the cops were everyone’s heroes, and GWB was saying “Let’s roll!” Even then we were hearing bleats of disunity from the far left and the blue pacifists (who say nothing when Democratic presidents try to stop the Balkans from falling apart or launch wars to topple North African dictators, but are out there with the rent-a-mobs when GOP presidents respond to attacks on America), but most people ignored them.

    The very next year, when the occupation of Iraq started to go south due to some poor decisions at the Pentagon, the Democrats were squawking and pointing out every little thing (and admittedly, quite a few big things) that went wrong, and pushing John Murtha and company to the forefront, with his idea to cut off funding and starve the war effort. Then came the mess that was hurricane Katrina, and they stuck a chisel in the crack created by that and broke it wide open. It worked too. Then came 2008, and the Democrats were all-powerful…for two years. For the next 6 years they tried to slime their opponents with the all-purpose charge of racism. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work too well when you have to level it at multiple targets. Legislators can fade back into the greater body, governors are not big enough targets to tag an entire party with. Still, after 6 years of accusations of racism, xenophobia, police brutality, and so on, a lot of folks were beginning to believe it.

    This plowed the ground for after the 2016 election. Although the Democratic party had lost the White House, it had gained one all important thing, a target big enough to focus every attack and every dirty trick in the book, and more than a few that were not in the book until now, against. You know the rest so I won’t repeat it, until we get to 2020 and a very unique set of circumstances that combined to give the Democratic party enough ammunition to destroy Trump completely. What could he do, after all, against a pandemic that the other side weaponized against him instead of helping him with and against another party that waged a de facto race war on him and his supporters?

    Here’s the thing, though. The conditions that were created by all of this did not blow away like smoke as soon as Joe Biden was inaugurated. The pandemic is still a problem, and it’s actually becoming a bigger problem with the appearance of these dangerous variants. The economy is still in the dumper, and some of the aid that the Democratic party pushed for is helping make sure it stays in the dumper. Why look for a job when you are making more on unemployment and aid then you would at a job? The de facto attack on the middle class is also helping the economy stay in the dumper, because, although a small businessman who’s been put out of business can’t write that check to the local Republican party or get involved in local politics, he also can’t hire back the three people he had to let go because he had to close down. A relatively small landlord who can’t push to collect the rent and can’t evict non-paying tenants is probably going to be out of the landlord business pretty soon, and then his income doesn’t go into the local economy. The eviction moratorium without a corresponding guarantee that eventually the landlords would be paid was flat out unfair, and those hurt by it are going to remember how unfair it was, and who did it to them, mostly in the hopes of securing the tenants’ votes. Crime has spiked, and it doesn’t appear to be going back down, especially in urban areas as the police forces shrink, not just by regular attrition, but by officers retiring early, transferring to other departments where the job will be less dangerous, or just deciding to go into another line of work, because the Democratic party has painted targets on their backs. Yet the Democrats stand there with their hands in their pockets and say they can’t understand why this is, like summer 2020 didn’t happen. The thing is, no one except a dyed in the wool Democrat is willing to pretend that’s the case.

    Unity? From the store owner that is out of business because of democratic stay-at-home mandates? Unity? From the family that poured their savings into a building that they thought was a nice safe investment who have now lost everything because of the moratorium? Unity? From the ordinary person who is now afraid to go for a walk or go to the store to buy groceries because the chances that they’ll get mugged or killed are now much greater? Unity? From the police officer who is having to go out at 20 years instead of 25 and have his pension cut by one third, because he thinks it could be the only way he’s going to be there to see his grandchildren? Unity, from the ordinary white person who is now standing in the dock everyday expected not just to not act in a racist way, but to prove he or she is actively anti-racist, at the risk of being doxed, attacked, or worse? Unity indeed.

    You know where there was really strong unity? In Nazi Germany, where if you were considered not to belong, and organized mob might destroy your house or business, and the local police and fire brigade wouldn’t do a thing, because they had been told not to do a thing. If you were considered to belong, the chances are good that an SS officer might show up at your house, bringing cake, which was a luxury when a lot of families barely had bread, and saying to you that he was hoping to see those fine children of yours at the meeting on Wednesday night, and implying very strongly that if they did not make it, he’d be back, but not with cake this time. You know where else there was unity? In the Soviet Union, where the apparatchiks in Moscow forced Russification on probably about a dozen peoples who wanted no part of it, weaponized psychiatry to put anyone who dissented into hospitals that were really no more than prisons, and closed and repurposed houses of worship into warehouses, theaters, or anything but churches and synagogues (or mosques, in Central Asia). You know where else there was unity? In Hungary and Czechoslovakia, after they dared demand freedom or even just “socialism with a human face.” You are very motivated to conform when tanks roll over your country. The unity of forced conformity is no better than the knowledge of propaganda or the peace of the grave.

    We’re not there yet in this country, however, as I stated in another post, there is always the danger that those with the power will tire of trying to get you to change your thinking, and merely settle for changing your behavior. If their primary goal is not winning your heart and mind, but getting you to do as they say, and demanding, scaring, and bullying you are not doing the job, eventually there’s going to come the point when they’re just going to say fine, you have forced us to use brute force, and they won’t hesitate to use it, just like in those Eastern European countries, just like in Cuba, just like in a few other places. This isn’t limited to the left either, has someone else pointed out on another thread, sometimes the right will not allow the left to get this heavy-handed or will push back against the left getting so heavy-handed, and you get a Franco, a Pinochet, a Suharto, a Mobutu Sese Seko. Even as a right winger, I would not want to be identified with any of those men, and I sure is the devil wouldn’t want someone like them to “save the Republic” by declaring a state of siege and doing who knows what with that power.

    Unity? The left destroyed the possibility of unity in this country when it deliberately fractured it along every fault line possible to bring down one man. It also set the precedent for how to concentrate your efforts to bring down one man if you deem that man important enough. The left has nothing to complain about if someone else uses the same tactics to bring one of their presidents down. I might add, that a nearly senile, bumbling, low energy old man who is obviously not up to the job, obviously trying to avoid anyone asking too many questions about what he’s doing, and obviously barely able to be bothered with the job, and whose first year in office has produced almost nothing except failure, is a lot more vulnerable than a president with much higher energy and all of his marbles, who can deliver a rousing speech without going all over the place, who can answer questions, and who obviously was trying to stand up for this country. That’s the kind of person who could have and should have been able to inspire unity, and who could have inspired a lot more of it if he had been allowed to. This one can’t, and he can’t claim that anybody who doesn’t rally to his banner is racist. Even if he were to go, and his vice president were to step into office (please no) I think enough people saw through that ruse that they will not let her play Stumbles McGillicuddy and zip it for fear of being called racist or sexist.

    This is where we are, and this is where we have put ourselves. How we get out of this I don’t know, and even if I did know the way out, I just might keep it to myself since I am apparently disliked in this new order.

      • Thanks. I really wonder what would happen if the US took a hit a la 9/11 now. Probably not much. What if a few of bin’s acolytes who managed to escape or were deemed not important enough to hunt down started to rebuild and became al-Zalami. Sounds funny, even mockable, but it means “the dark” or “the darkness.” Following the dispersed model that has been successful (so taking out one unit can’t affect others), their people make their way to the US in “cells” of two and three, not knowing other cells, each cell with a mission, to execute upon receipt of a code word texted from one of a series of burner phones held by other agents who know no others. Their task is to transmit the code, then toss the phone and get the hell out of the area, out of the country if possible, once they have. For this reason a lot of them are stationed either far north or far south, so as to be able to get across a border quickly.

        For a while, nothing happens. Then, on Veterans’ Day 2022, the codes go out. In New York the cell detonates a small charge in a trash can, then, while everyone is distracted, a suicide bomber blows himself up in the middle of the Veterans’ Day Parade. At the same time in San Francisco another cell crashes a barge loaded with explosives into the Golden Gate Bridge, taking out one of the girders. The president quickly leaves Arlington National Cemetery when word arrives of these actions, but he is not the target, the Tomb of the Unknowns is. In the confusion another suicide bomber detonates, badly damaging the structure. Finally, a truck bomb in Boston takes out the Old North Church and much of the surrounding area, while another one hits Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

        Frankly, I don’t see Biden really doing anything about this, nor do I see both parties rallying to him. I think he might suffer a mental collapse, unsure of what the hell to do. I have to say, that would be a lot worse than a rumor that he was crazy.

        • The Left would continue to blame President Trump, and the current President would continue to rub his index finger back and forth across his lips rapidly while trying to making a sound.

          So pretty much the same embarrassing “business as usual”…

  3. 3. Perhaps the only thing that could unify us at this point is that no one can comprehend the amount that is $10 trillion in actual and proposed spending from the last two years or so… they have spent six or so trillion already and want to spend the rest in these bills and our normal budget bill. Barely anyone can wrap their minds around how much that is, minus maybe a few people with the space program.

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