Unfortunately, the king I woke up feeling like is King Canute. I was reviewing the trends in the past ten years of ethics posts, and there is no question that the nation’s ethical bearings are worse, not better. Fewer people read the blog than five years ago.
Ethics blindness in national and political matters seems more advanced among my neighbors, colleagues, friends and relatives than ever before (although almost none of these read Ethics Alarms or have ever read it, which says something about me, though I’m not sure what,)This was a particularly depressing week from the ethics perspective, but then they’re all depressing. The unfolding Joe Biden document scandal kept getting worse, and rather than admit Biden’s hypocrisy and the dangerous double standards applied to Trump, partisans invested in a weak, corrupt, mentally deficient President shifted into denial mode. Evidence of Virginia schools deliberately sabotaging superior students in pursuit of “equal outcomes” for those who don’t do their homework, come to school stoned and disrupt classes kept on coming, and the DEI-converted dealt with the matter by denying it. A Democratic Congressional leader introduced legislation criminalizing not just speech, but thought. Facebook chilled MY speech because its bots didn’t understand what I posted.
The signs of rot were (are) everywhere, in matters large and small. I learned that a lawyer received professional discipline because a judge thought “Gadzooks!” was a dirty word, or something, reminding me that we rely on judges who have the same level of literacy as Michael Steele.
I received the always welcome “Bill James Baseball Handbook” for 2023, and a featured article by Joe Posnanski, much revered as an intellectual giant among sportswriters, demonstrated that the intellectual giant among sportswriters is as ethically inert as all the others. There were lots of outbursts like this one, by a much-honored African-American writer whose work has appeared in the The Atlantic, New York Times, the Washington Post, TIME, ESPN, NPR, CNN, and more:
It’s worth mentioning, I guess, that the way we use the tale of King Canute the Great (985 to 1035) who was real king of England and a successful one, is unfair to him, making him out to be an idiot. If he did have his throne placed on the banks of the Thames and futilely demand that the rising tide subside (and there is some evidence that the incident really occurred), it was not because he was arrogant or a fool, as the typical telling of the story implies. As “the rest of the story” shows, as related in one of the earliest accounts ( by Henry of Huntingdon in his “Historia Anglorum”):
“But the sea carried on rising as usual without any reverence for his person, and soaked his feet and legs. Then he moving away said: “All the inhabitants of the world should know that the power of kings is vain and trivial, and that none is worthy of the name of king but He whose command the heaven, earth and sea obey by eternal laws”.
The ones who should heed King Canute are the allegedly smart people like John Kerry (Sorry, I couldn’t write that without giggling) at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
1. I admire Brooke Shields in many ways, but…in her new documentary “Pretty Baby,” the former child star/actress/model reveals that she was raped in her twenties by a still current Hollywood insider. She refuses to name the rapist, who is presumably still raping, or was until his testosterone ran out, and she waited decades to even reveal the assault. I thought #MeToo was supposed to have changed the Hollywood culture! No, I really didn’t think that: it has become increasingly clear that #MeToo was a partisan cynical feminist ploy to clear out some powerful men—many of them pigs and criminals, to be sure— and replace them with women who were no upgrade in many cases, while giving the Left a strengthened weapon to shiv foes like Brett Kavanaugh.
In related news, the other organization spawned by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Time’s Up!, announced it was shutting down, the inevitable result of two of its founders secretly assisting Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to discredit his sexual harassment victims.
2. This is actually funny, if screaming hypocrisy can be funny. As the Department of Justice found six more items with classification markings at President Joe Biden’s personal Delaware residence two days ago after conducting a search, Fox News (no other news source would do it, of course) dug up this bit of history: In the late 1970s, Senator Joe Biden got President Jimmy Carter’s nomination of Ted Sorensen to head the CIA rejected because his home contained classified documents from his days in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. Sorensen kept the material for a book about the Kennedy administration. During Sorenson’s confirmation hearing, Biden said the “real issue” was “whether Mr. Sorensen intentionally took advantage of ambiguities in the law, or carelessly ignored the law. . . . If he did so, can he now bring the activities of the intelligence community within the strict limits of the law?” He insisted that the head of the CIA must be held to a “high standard.”
As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy notes, U.S. Presidents should be held to at least as high standards as CIA chiefs.
3. See? Nancy Pelosi really is a devout Catholic after all! True, she doesn’t observe that funny Catholic thingy about not killing babies in the womb, but still. Pelosi’s daughter Alexandra, the New York Times reported yesterday, had priests perform a cleansing of demonic entities at her San Francisco home over Thanksgiving as a response to the still-mysterious hammer attack on her husband.
4. Let’s play another round of “Stupid or Lying?”! Robert Reich, an alleged academic and public intellectual, tweeted this:
The debt ceiling would indeed restrain spending and force the nation to pay down the debt if it were taken seriously and obeyed. Of course if we completely ignore it and keep raising it ad infinitum it will have no effect, but that’s the whole point of the dispute. Reich’s logic is like saying that a daily calorie limit won’t make you lose weight. Sure it won’t—if the way you handle it is to say, “Gee, that pie looks yummy: I guess I’ll raise my caloric intake limit by 2,000!”
5. Here’s some good news: The Great Stupid is even stupider in Norway. Well, just a bit. The Research Council of Norway is spending over $1.2 million on discovering how the country has contributed to the spread of “whiteness.” The research project, “How Norway Made the World Whiter (NorWhite),” is being run at the University of Bergen, which describes “whiteness” as “one of today’s key societal and political concerns.” One of the topics of the study—I’m not making this up—is that Norway “has played a globally leading role in establishing white as a superior color” through, notably, the efforts of Norwegian chemists to perfect white paint in 1916, developing a type with far better coverage than what was previously used, leading to many notable buildings around the country being painted bright white!