Well, there I was last night, showing my wife my favorite “Schoolhouse Rock” segment (“Interjections,” a Grammar Rock episode) and getting ready to post an evening ethics potpourri when the Disney Channel, which I only have because I wanted to see the “Get Back” documentary, kicked out. The snow storm’s aftermath had caused an outage in our phone and internet connection (at least we had power, and weren’t stuck on I-95 like hundreds of motorists in Northern Virginia were last night), and Comcast didn’t get everything back up until a few minutes ago. A totally lost day for ProEthics and Ethics Alarms, but the sage words of my friend Tom Fuller kept echoing in my brain like all the Tara lines coming back to Scarlet after Rhett walks out on her. “When you have no options, you have no problem,” Tom always says, and this was a classic example. We were snowed in, and had no communications (not even a newspaper since the second); might as well relax: Snow day!
I was able to get a head start on some items, at least. I apologize for the void…and for any comments marooned in moderation (as well as the inevitable mermaidmary comment unjustly spammed).
But at least I’m not dead.
[That’s the correct Mark Twain quote above, incidentally. He also said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”]
1. Apparently conservatives really want J.K. Rowling to be cancelled so they can complain about it. First, we had this fake news debacle, where the Guardian was falsely accused of killing a reader poll when it threatened to lionize the celebrated author-turned-pariah in the eyes of the LGTBQ lobby. Then there were the reports that Rowling had been cut out of the HBO “Harry Potter” reunion special, which, pundits assured me, was because the ungrateful brats who her books made movie superstars and others had betrayed her for maintaining that trans women and biological women were distinct. But Rowling did make an appearance on the show, albeit in a previously recorded segment.
2. And this is the apparent culture at the nation’s “newspaper of record”: In the year end review of 2021’s “comedy highlights,” Times critic Jason Zinoman lauds as the “Best Opening Bit” a Roy Wood, Jr. routine on his Comedy Central special about “things that feel racist but aren’t,” like “when white people use the term “forefathers,” and when there are “too many American flags.” “How many American flags equal one Confederate flag?” Wood asks. That’s easy: none, unless you’re an anti-American race-baiter like Wood, in which case the answer is probably “one.”
The routine that the Times critic thinks is so hilarious is, in fact, based on a false premise: there is no distinction on the left between something “feeling racist” and “being racist.” All it takes is for one opportunist to decide that something “feels racist,” and whoever is responsible will be quickly tarred as racist. Examples include wearing dark make-up to portray a “character of color” on stage or screen, reading a Supreme Court opinion that quotes someone using a racial epithet, and wearing a MAGA hat.
3. New York City got what it deserved. Bill de Blasio left office last week widely decried as New York City’s worst mayor yet, but he was no worse in his second term than he was in his first. New Yorkers kept voting for him because of his socialist rhetoric and non-stop pandering to minorities, even as the city turned back the clock to the ugly days of the 1970s, when Times Square was a cesspool and the murder rate soared. Now we learn, not that it comes as a shock, that de Blasio was corrupt as well as arrogant and incompetent.
Right from the start, in 2014, de Blasio called two large real estate developers and strong-armed them to “contribute” large sums to his non-profit slush fund, “Campaign for One New York.” It was an outright violation of the city’s conflicts of interest laws, which prohibit a mayor from requesting funds from people and entities with which the city does business. This attracted a formal warning from NYC’s Conflict of Interest Board, with de Blasio told never to try the “pay to play” stunt again. But de Blasio kept the warning letter (and a subsequent one) from becoming public, and continued to shake down government contractors.
Typically, the companies he pressured to contribute were fined, but no action was taken against de Blasio himself. Laws are, after all, for the “little people.”
Oh! I almost forgot to mention that de Blasio is planning on running for Governor of New York.
4. Sadly, this is not a surprise. Veteran trial attorneys told the ABA Journal that jurors today, particularly those younger than age 40, are much more likely to be forgiving when a witness is caught lying that in days of yore. Why wouldn’t they, when they have observed one national leader after another lie flagrantly, only to be excused by their party, supporters, and the news media?
It probably also helps that the definition of “lie,” like many other words (such as “racism,” #1 above!) has been so spun and stretched from misuse that it doesn’t leave the stain it once did. A broken promise isn’t a lie. Stating something that turns out to be untrue isn’t a lie, unless the speaker knew it was untrue at the time.
5. However, this trend was no help to serial liar and con artist Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO and founder of failed blood-testing startup Theranos, who was found guilty on four of 11 federal charges related to fraud and conspiracy. Good.
6. How low can they go? The Dallas Morning News published a story last Thursday claiming that Texas Senator Ted Cruz was in a “predicament” because his daughter had said on a social media account that she disagrees with “most of his views.” Caroline Cruz is 13 years old. Not only is it hardly newsworthy for a teen-age daughter to disagree with her parents on anything, a 13-year-old has insufficient knowledge, experience or wisdom to have respectable opinions on almost anything. For a major city newspaper to deliberately use a child to set up conflict with her public figure father is unfair and irresponsible to everyone concerned. But then Cruz is a Republican and a conservative, so it’s OK.
Some natural Cruz-haters had the decency to blow the whistle on the News:
- “I cannot imagine any reason why media outlets would write a story about a politician’s 13 year old child—especially when it pits child against parent for political purposes,” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough said.
- “Public officials are fair game. Our children are not,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.) said.
- “Dumb & divisive. The notion that it’s news when someone’s views differ from their parents’ is bizarre. I’m a 32 yr old autonomous person w/a decade+ career in politics & some reporters still refuse to accept my views cd possibly differ from my father’s. Lol (it’s also sexist),” CNN commentator Alyssa Farah Griffen wrote.
- “What a 13-year-old says about her dad on TikTok — in an account that had been made private prior to publishing this story — is not newsworthy, absent some extraordinary revelation. And I say this as someone who despises him,” former Obama administration official Eric Columbus said.
7. Didn’t everyone see this coming? Speaking of Cruz (who I’m not too crazy about either), he said on last week’s episode of his podcast, “Verdict with Ted Cruz,” that there would be “multiple grounds” to impeach Old Joe Biden if the Republicans take back the House in 2022.
Great. This is 100% the fault of congressional Democrats who essentially removed impeachment as a serious and necessary Constitutional measure to deal with genuine Presidential malfeasance by using it as a destructive weapon of partisan warfare against Donald Trump. The disreputable Maxine Waters actually said that all a party needed to justify an impeachment was a majority.
This virtually guaranteed that Republicans would use their first majority to apply tit to Pelosi’s tat as a matter of pure payback. It would be constructive if the GOP could be better than that, but it almost certainly won’t.
8. An Althouse note: Ann ran a poll on her blog asking Trump supporters (which I am not and have never been) to vote on whether they think he should not run himself but rather support the younger, ascendant Ron DeSantis. Almost 70% of those who responded said they wanted Trump to “stand down” and give the Florida governor a clear road to the nomination.
- I have a related post in the works, but that’s encouraging. Another four years of Trump would be disastrous in too many ways to count.
- You know: polls.
- There’s a long way to go. I wouldn’t bet on DeSantis being the GOP front-runner when the primaries start.