Morning Ethics Warm-Up, On The Day That Will Live In Infamy, 2021 [Broken Link Fixed In #5]

There’s not much I can write or say about Pearl Harbor that hasn’t been explored already, except that it all should be said, every December 7, as long as Old Glory waves. What I wrote last year is still apt:


At 7:55 a.m Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber emerged out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. 360 Japanese warplanes followed in a devastating attack on the unsuspecting U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor. The U.S. Pacific fleet was nearly obliterated: Five of eight battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged; more than 200 aircraft were destroyed; 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded. Japan lost just 30 planes and fewer than 100 men. By the sheerest luck, all three Pacific fleet aircraft carriers were out of the harbor and at sea on training maneuvers, allowing the U.S. to use them to turn the tide of the Pacific war against Japan at the Battle of Midway six months later.

I always felt connected to the tragedy at Pearl Harbor through my father. At the dedication of the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., Dad introduced me to a veteran who had survived the attack, and just shaking his hand was a moving experience I shall never forget.

I should have added that the sneak attack finally drew us into a war that had to be fought, one that cost 400,000 American lives. ( In this post from 10 years ago, I lamented the mainstream media’s neglect of the date’s significance, though because this anniversary ends with a zero, it is getting more attention than usual.  Sigh. With the exception of Michael West, none of the commenters who weighed in on that post drop by any more.)

Other housekeeping notes:

  • I am still planning on holding a Zoom discussion of “Clickbait,” the Netflix series about social media and cyber activity gone horribly wrong. If you want to participate and haven’t watched the show, get cracking. I also welcome ideas about topics raised by the series.
  • Yesterday, for no discernible reason, was a banner day for the blog, with four new followers and 30% more traffic than Mondays this year. Ethics Alarms sometimes goes weeks without any new sign-ups.
  • This morning I had my first radio interview since NPR blackballed me for explaining why sexual harassment accusations for many years-old conduct were not always what they seemed. The host was Maine’s Mike Violette of The Mike Violette Show, and we mostly discussed the Hilda and Jesse eatery’s anti-cop and gun stunt. Mike is that rarity, a fair interviewer who gives his guest a chance to talk. (EA commenter Arthur in Maine was another in his radio days.)

1. I’d like to see this challenged in court. It is being called a “victory for conservatives” that the routine drafting of women is being stripped from the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act, even though both the House and Senate versions of the bill would have expanded the Selective Service System beyond men. No, it’s a victory for double standards and incoherence. Either we discriminate on the basis of gender or we don’t, and institutionalizing one form of gender bias allows others to flourish. If women can meet the requirements for combat, then let ’em fight. Otherwise, there are plenty of ways they can serve. Conservatives look like Victorians in aspic when they object to obviously just advances like this. Exemptions should take care of any concerns about mothers and related issues.

2. Why is not horse racing dead in the U.S. yet? Three-year old Medina Spirit, the sort-of 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, died of an apparent heart attack while working out at the Santa Anita Park racetrack yesterday. This just added to the already messy scandal surrounding the horse, whose Derby victory in the Kentucky Derby is still under challenge because of a failed post-race drug test. That scandal came hot on the hooves of the 2019 mess, when the New York Times reported that Justify, trained by Bob Baffert, the same trainer that handled Medina Spirit, had failed a drug test after winning the 2018 Santa Anita Derby in Southern California. Justify went on to win the racing’s Triple Crown, though the rules dictated that Justify should have forfeited the win at Santa Anita and thus have been barred from racing at the Kentucky Derby a month later. But Justify’s failed test was investigated for four months, a stall that allowed the horse to keep competing long enough to become the 13th Triple Crown winner. And…surpise! The California Horse Racing Board’s chairman at the time, Chuck Winner, used Baffert to train his horses.

Not only does the sport abuse and kill horses, it is corrupt to the core. Why would anyone follow such a sport? Heck, it’s like pro football….

3. Gee, how could something like this happen? Yesterday the news was teeming with stories about how VP Kamala Harris’s staff was in revolt or getting ready to quit, which all sounded similar to the stories about her Presidential campaign while it was crumbling last year. All sorts of back alley leaks are being reported about the Veep’s alleged insecurity, bullying, laziness and ineptitude….you know, all of the characteristics anyone paying attention knew about years ago. Meanwhile, her polling numbers suggest that she is approximately as popular as Biden’s Afghanistan pull-out. Isn’t it obvious to everyone that this is the risk you take when you give someone a job based entirely on her gender and race? Maybe the Harris fiasco will finally convey the unpleasant truth that affirmative action is irresponsible, and the more important and challenging the job, the more irresponsible it is! Maybe…oh, who am I kidding? No matter how awful Harris’s performance is, progressives will never admit the logical and ethical deficits in basing hiring and promotions on group identity.

4. Today’s stereotype-confirming billionaire is… Michael Steinhardt, the hedge fund pioneer and a noted collector of antiquities. Let’s make that “a noted collector of stolen antiquities,” for a four-year multinational investigation proved that he had blithely acquired valuable artifacts that had been looted and smuggled out of eleven countries, by at least twelve smuggling networks. Then they were sold on the international art market without lawful paperwork to Steinhardt, who knew they were stolen but didn’t care because he’s RICH! Rich I tell you! He can make his own laws!

“For decades, Michael Steinhardt displayed a rapacious appetite for plundered artifacts without concern for the legality of his actions, the legitimacy of the pieces he bought and sold, or the grievous cultural damage he wrought across the globe,” District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said. So, he’s going to jail, then? Oh, of course not. After all, the 81-year-old is a major contributor to New York University and to numerous Jewish philanthropies. the Metropolitan Museum of Art has a Steinhardt conservatory at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a Steinhardt Gallery. People that wealthy don’t go to prison. Steinhardt just had to give his ill-gotten loot back, and will be subject to an unprecedented lifetime ban on acquiring antiquities.

Laws are for the little people.

5. Never mind Smollett, what about his lawyer? Jesse Smollett went on the witness stand under oath in his criminal trial yesterday and appeared to lie his head off, metaphorically of course, to try to rebut charges that he staged a fake hate crime and lied to Chicago Police about it in January 2019.

Smollett told police he had been attacked, but after interviewing the alleged attacker and finding other evidence, authorities determined that Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the fake hate crime against him so he could get publicity and a career boost. Smollett was then indicted on 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct by a Cook County, Illinois, grand jury in March 2019, but Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx decided to drop those charges. A special prosecutor then took over the case, and a grand jury indicted Smollett on new charges in February 2020.

In his testimony, the former “Empire” star contradicted earlier statements and admitted such details as initially removing the noose he claimed his attackers had placed around his neck then replacing it for the benefit of police. His defense attorney Tamara Walker, fed him questions, which a lawyer may not do under the ethics rules when a client is lying and the lawyer knows it. She, however, is evidently special, as she has asked for a mistrial on dubious grounds, sobbed in court and then asked for another mistrial on the grounds that the judge had “lunged” at her during a sidebar conversation.

Added: I recommend reading this hilarious summary of Smollett’s “defense” by Kyle Smith.

24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, On The Day That Will Live In Infamy, 2021 [Broken Link Fixed In #5]

  1. I wish I had time because I would love to participate but I haven’t been able to sit down long enough to watch the show. December is always the busiest month for me.

    Anyway, I was wondering if you had seen that Marie Callender pie thing that happened. The meme’s are really funny, perhaps maybe unethical? Would like to know your opinion on it.

      That almost almost too stupid for my time, but some of the comments were mildly amusing.

      I have followed baking directions on the package to a tee, only for the result to resemble the pile of pumpkin ash that was the subject of the complaint. The company offering sympathy, and maybe getting useful feedback about the directions is perfectly ethical. Mobbing up against the baker risks becoming unnecessarily mean, and thus unethical.

  2. #3 In an obviously prompted attempt to shore up appearances after weeks of several rats jumping ship, Harris lackey David Gins embarrassed himself here:

    • He’s stiff.

      There’s a picture no one would hang in an office hanging where no one would hang any picture. There’s text that reads like a jihadist hastily put together a forced confession for a future beheading victim to read.

      Nothing about this reads as anything other than Harris telling staffers to “make it look like you’re happy or else”.

    • He is blinking “Send help. Please.” to his zoom meeting attendees.

      The fact that Harris is losing staff members should be a big story, ¿right? Every time a Trump or Pence staffer resigned, quit, or somehow went missing, the news media were all over it, declaring that people were abandoning a sinking ship. Here, staffers are merely looking to expand their experience or, like SImone Sanders, going to work for Stacey Abrams and her bid for another term as Georgia Governor.


  3. Regarding Pearl Harbor, I went to Hawaii a good while ago, and while there, I visited the Arizona Memorial. It can be a very moving experience as one peers down into the water and sees the top of the rusting ship. I had read a book about Pearl Harbor when I was in high school and visiting the Memorial brought a lot of it back. I wasn’t born until after that war, but visiting that Memorial, as well as the Viet Nam memorial in Washington (where I did know a fair number of the fatalities whose names are listed) and having read a very realistic book about Washington’s troops at Valley Forge, makes me wonder about the American people today. Would we have the guts to stick it out as a nation, or are we too far gone down the divided highway on which we are going. The last of the “Band of Brothers” brothers passed away in Virginia Beach earlier this month, and I’ve read about Bob Dole’s service and the wounds he received, and I wonder if there are among us men and women of similar fortitude and willingness to sacrifice. I take hope in the memory of our my community came together after the 9-11 attack–hundreds of people–all colors, all walks of life gathered at the Hampton Coliseum to donate blood to the Red Cross. But that, too, was long ago, and times have changed. Thank you, Jack, for remembering Pearl Harbor.

  4. Fort Sumter, 1861, Pearl Harbor 1941, 80 years.

    Pearl Harbor 1941, Today 2021, 80 years.

    History is never as far away as it feels.

      • Yorktown ended the war… ish–there was still some fighting but not at scale–Pearl Harbor and Sumpter heralded America’s entrance into wars so I wouldn’t call it a pattern but as a point about distance it’s apt.

        I have a whole schtick I do where I pull out a 100-year-old penny and ask if it’s old, then I take out the Victorian coins, then the Georgian, then my third century bit of glass, and then finally some fossils collected from the shores of Lake Michigan (Crinoids) asking in turn if each qualifies as old.

        • “fossils collected from the shores of Lake Michigan”?

          If those fossils were harvested from its 407 mile/655 km WESconsin shoreline, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Antiquities Sequestration Syndicate (commonly referred to with its acronym) which lists one Cornelius H. Gotchberg as Chief Cook-n-Bottle Washer.

          Fossil filching is not taken lightly in America’s Dairyland, however, a coupla grand in Bearer Bonds or Bitcoin might just make that disappear….

          • I took them from Loyola beach in Chicago and if you take issue with it then time travel back to the Regan administration and try to talk little valkygrrl out of digging up and taking home shells and fossils.

            I don’t like your odds of convincing that pig-headed kid though.

        • Nevertheless, civilization sometimes operates in loose cycles, and the +/-80 year violent-clarification-of-American-values cycle is one that should be eyed warily given the math. Though it can’t be 100% confirmed that this cycle exists since the only “confirmer” of the cycle was driven by external pressures, not internal.

          While 100 years ago is not as long as 200 years ago, let alone 1000 years ago – my favorite trivia is that Cleopatra is closer in time to the present day than to the construction of Khufu’s pyramid – as a matter of recognizability, 20 years may as well be an eternity. 2001 America (and it’s global context) is completely different America than 2021 America (and it’s global context), and an American in 2001 would say the same of America of 1981.

          Another fun perspective statement is that we are fast approaching a time where the first colony of European-America has been an entity in some form or another closer in time to the Norman Conquest than to the present day (with the discovery of America having long past that tipping point).

  5. On point 1 regarding the inclusion of females subject to the draft. I felt the same way as you regarding the appearance of looking like Victorian era men who need to protect women. I have always felt there is a gross unfairness about compulsory national service.

    What most of the conservative pundits don’t know is that men who fail to register for the draft by a certain age will be forever banned from any educational benefits such as Pell grants or Federal employment opportunities. Not so for women. There are plenty of non-combat roles for the delicate who may be XX or XY chromosomal units. Even if we drafted women to work in making ammunition or aircraft for a war effort would be far more equitable than the current situation.

  6. Regarding your post from 10 years ago — I just checked my email and this month is my 9th anniversary of having posted on this blog.

    A lot has changed…..and very few of the things I was reading back then are still on my list today (to be fair, a good many of the things I read today didn’t exist).

    One thing that hasn’t changed — I still don’t go on Facebook, even though I used that id to register here (I’ve also figured out how to use the credentials without ever logging in to Facebook).

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