1. Stop making me defend Nancy Pelosi! Many pundits on the left, notably the notoriously pro-China New York Times veteran Tom Friedman, declared that Speaker Pelosi, currently on an Asian tour, should heed China’s warnings and not visit Taiwan. Friedman’s column, headlined “Why Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Is Utterly Reckless,” argued,
“Nothing good will come of it. Taiwan will not be more secure or more prosperous as a result of this purely symbolic visit, and a lot of bad things could happen. These include a Chinese military response that could result in the U.S. being plunged into indirect conflicts with a nuclear-armed Russia and a nuclear-armed China at the same time.”
The Biden administration, as usual, has been sending mixed and incoherent messages. Not Pelosi. She not only is visiting Taiwan, she is reaffirming what the Biden administration has been hesitating to state straight out. “Our visit reiterates that America stands with Taiwan: a robust, vibrant democracy and our important partner in the Indo-Pacific,” Pelosi said on Twitter. What her visit says is just as unequivocal: the United States of America doesn’t take orders from Chairman Xi, or any foreign despot. If there was any question whether Pelosi should land in Taiwan, it should have evaporated the second China started saber-rattling. And mirabile dictu, it did!
Pelosi’s actions say, “Bite me!”
2. Never trust anyone in a rat suit, and other life lessons. I had decided not to discuss the story about the African-American mother who has accused Chuck E. Cheese of racism because one of the costumed characters appeared to snub her little girl while interacting with the white children nearby. It amazes me that theme parks and places like Chuck E. Cheese trust the low level, minimum wage employees who agree to suffer in those horrible animal costumes, and, on the other side of the ledger, that parents expect anything but inadequate customer service from poorly trained, immature hires who would agree to perform such a humiliating job. Steve-O-in-NJ, however made these provocative observations as he sent me the link:
Is it just me, or is stuff like this setting a REALLY bad precedent for entertainment venues that rely at least partially on costumed characters interacting with children? Does this mean that every time a character in a costume with limited visibility misses a handshake, or characters have to leave before the last couple of kids are tended to either because their time is up or they have a genuine issue (it gets potentially dangerously hot in those costumes) it’s going to become a basis for a race-based complaint? A two-year-old isn’t even going to remember what happened in an incident like this. I’d hate to think that eventually this is going to result in the end of these kind of experiences because one too many relatively harmless mistakes offended one too many of the wrong kind of people.
Full disclosure, I’m still annoyed, 20 years later, at PBS station WLIW and promoter Princeton Entertainment for a botched meet-and-greet experience during a Christmas tour, in which one of the performers simply refused to show and those of us who paid a good price were simply herded out past the others with a dismissive “no photos, no autographs.” I didn’t take it lying down and I think one representative’s ears are still scarred from the chewing out she got from me (you know what I’m like when I get angry). The fact that WLIW has not failed since (although meet and greets are only slowly returning after COVID) doesn’t erase that bad impression.
I’m amazed the demise of these costume characters hasn’t occurred already. Yes, it would be a loss: I’ve seen the look on kids’ faces when a giant Mickey or Donald Duck hugs them. I also saw the infamous video in which a mean kid kicks Pluto in the shin, and the big dog chases the screaming child with mayhem on his mind…
3. Who says baseball doesn’t have a heart? The Boston Red Sox today surprised me by making a completely illogical decision that was bad business and bad management, but that would make most fans happy. This is the trade deadline, and ever since free agency, teams that are out of contention for the post-season trade away their looming free agents and older veterans to the play-off bound teams, who pay dearly in talented prospects for such “rentals.” The Red Sox have had a star-crossed season, streaky, a lot of fluke losses, and a wave of injuries to key players. They are stuck at .500, and based on the horrible month just passed, no sure thing to end the season even that well. But they are only a few games behind in the play-off slot race, and fans do not like to see their team wave a white flag with two months left in the season. And so it is that head of baseball operations Chaim Bloom, instead of making the smart, practical move of using today to trade off players the team will like lose to free agency anyway, chose to trade to strengthen the team instead, and to still try to win against tough odds. The players are happy; the fans are happy. I think it’s a mistake strategically, but ethically, it was the right thing to do.
4. Words Have Consequences Dept.The View has been in the new a lot recently, primarily because it is rapidly reaching peak stupid. The show recently invited Florida governor Ron DeSantis to be a guest on the show, saying that the ladies would be “honored” if he would accept. DeSantis’s office replied,
Do ethics require a public figure to be gracious and accommodating to people who have called him a racist, a fascist, a bigot and a misogynist? I wouldn’t associate with anyone who claims that they would be “honored” to have a racist, fascist, bigoted misogynist as a guest, would you?
5. Now here’s a family ethics scandal that isn’t…Country Western star Naomi Judd killed herself in April Her last will and testament revealed that her famous daughters, singer Naomi and actress Ashley, are not mentioned. The will designates her husband, Larry Strickland, as executor, and gives him “full authority and discretion” over any property with value to her estate “without the approval of any court.” This is supposed to constitute some massive snub, a strike from beyond the grave against Naomi’s daughters. In truth, it is not that unusual for a married could to agree to pass their estates to each other, and leave the ultimate distribution to the survivor’s judgment, often based on private discussions between the two. Moreover, Ashley and her sister are hardly hurting for wealth: Winona has an estimated worth of about $12 million, and Ashly a couple millions more.