Today, February 9, has several important ethics and cultural markers. It was the date in 1964 that Ed Sullivan presented the Beatles to American television, and nothing was ever the same. How wonderful it was to have a single national meeting place every Sunday night where popular culture could be shared and passed on to multiple generations! That’s impossible today. I watch tapes of that episode of Ed’s show laughing and crying at the same time. The screaming! The crazed joy on the faces of those girls! It was nuts, and it was somehow marvelous—such innocence, such magic, stupid though it was. We will never, never see anything like that again.
Another marker was in 1971, when the Hall of Fame put Satchel Paige on the ballot, leading to his eventual admission after being voted in by sportswriters. He was unquestionably a great pitcher, but he didn’t make it to the majors until he was far past his prime, indeed 42 years old, making him the oldest rookie in MLB history—and he was still excellent, serving in relief for the World Champion 1948 Cleveland Indians. Baseball’s color line, of course, had kept Paige locked in the Negro Leagues, along with many other players who could have been stars in the big leagues, until Jackie Robinson integrated the sport in 1947. Other Negro League greats followed Paige into the Hall despite never playing in the majors. It is often forgotten now, but it was Ted Williams, in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech, who started the movement to recognize the Negro Leagues players by making the point that their omission continued a great injustice.
1. The rest of the story...Curmie alerted me that Cardinal Local Schools reversed its administrators’ unethical decision to cancel the high school musical, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” because of aspects of the show that those same administrators should have been aware of when the show was was chosen for production. Music Theater International, which owns the licensing rights, and the show’s authors agreed to 23 requested revisions including a different song to take the place of the controversial “erection” number. Curmie writes, tongue firmly in cheek, “I’m sure the national humiliation they endured was completely irrelevant to this change of course.”
I like to think, in its small way, Ethics Alarms helped; the big assist goes to the original production’s cast members who spoke out.
I personally hold the position that if a school is going to have to make 23 substantive changes in a show to find it acceptable for its performers and audience, the school should find a different musical. Samuel Beckett would agree with me.2. Stupid Republicans, dumb conservative pundits, disgraceful Media… I knew the stupid Republicans were going to behave like unruly 7th Graders at Biden’s State of the Union, further debasing the already rotted tradition and giving Democrats and the corrupt news media the opportunity to make “those disrespectful, crude Republicans” the story. Ethics Alarms explained why this was both unethical and foolish, but most House members can’t spell “ethics”—they certainly aren’t going to read this blog. Morons. I have seen story after story declaring the speech a “triumph” for Biden, completely ignoring that little matter of his lying his head off throughout the night. The fiasco made Marjorie Taylor Greene the face of the Republican Party. Nielsen says that most of Joe’s TV audience, the smallest ever recorded for the SOTU, was over 65. Perfect. They are the ones most attached to the tradition of showing the President respect no matter who he is; they are also the demographic most likely to be spooked by Biden’s lie about Republicans seeking to “sunset” Medicare and Social Security. Yet here is conservative PJ Media’s star columnist Steven Kruiser writing in “Forget Decorum—Republicans Need to Be in Street Fight Mode”…
To a man and woman, Republicans in Congress need to be far less decorous, especially until November 2024. Put more plainly: less Mitt Romney, more Marjorie Taylor Greene. Decorum and bipartisanship should be anathema to any Republican in Congress who is serious about kicking the Democrats’ creeping commie threat squarely in the groin and slowing this nonsense down a bit. When you are in a street fight, you don’t worry about what people are going to think afterward.
Yeah. And how has that idiotic riot at the Capitol worked out for you? Conservatives can’t decry Black Lives Matter bullying and violence while encouraging “street fights.”
3. Speaking of Mitt: Cameras caught Senator Romney telling Rep. George Santos, if indeed that is his real name, that he had no business sitting with (relatively) respectable members of Congress at the SOTU and should be ashamed of himself. Good. Kevin McCarthy should have done that. Santos, classy as ever, appeared to say to a colleague “What an asshole,” according to an ABC News producer. (It takes one to know one, George.) Later the jerk tweeted to Romney, “just a reminder that you will NEVER be PRESIDENT!” , a witticism he reportedly settled upon after considering, “I’m rubber and you’re glue…”
4. And speaking of the biased media…The Biden Administration’s lame explanation for why it allowed China’s spy balloon to fly across the U.S. before shooting it down was insulting: the argument that it wanted to get the device over water made no sense, since the balloon had been picked up and tracked while it was over the Pacific before it ever reached our shores.
The episode was another Biden administration botch, so the news media tried to cover with “whataboutism,” a “What about Trump?” narrative after a Defense Department official was trotted out to reveal that Chinese spy balloons briefly traveled over the United States at least three times on Trump’s watch. Then Gen. Glen VanHerck, commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, spoiled the ploy by confirming what the Wall Street Journal and Fox News had reported, being conservative publications and thus not part of the Biden propaganda squad like the New York Times and the network news. At least three Chinese spy balloons did cross over the U.S. in the Trump years, but went undetected.
The truth also undermines Trump-supporters’ claim that China would never have floated a spy balloon if tough guy Trump were President instead of weenie Joe Biden.
5. Well, duh!...Polls show that Florida governor DeSantis is the strongest GOP presidential contender at this point but would lose to Trump in the primaries if the anti-Trump vote is split, which it will be. We didn’t need a poll to tell us this. It is how Trump won the nomination in 2016 too. He has a hard, immovable base of blind support constituting about 30% of the public, and Trump’s joke about them not caring if he shot someone in broad daylight in Times Square isn’t much of an exaggeration. The party, if it was smart and responsible—and it isn’t—would require that there be a run-off in all primaries this year, or, in the alternative, meet with all of the aspiring candidates not named Trump and make them sit in a smoke-filled room, making deals with each other, until a single challenger emerges. But, hey, why go through all that trouble? As Ben Bradley (Jason Robards, Jr.) says in the last line of “All the President’s Men,” “Nothing’s riding on this except the First amendment to the Constitution, Freedom of the press, and maybe the future of the country.”
2 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/9/2023: Trying To Whistle A Happy Ethics Tune, And Failing Miserably…”
The screaming! The crazed joy on the faces of those girls! It was nuts, and it was somehow marvelous—such innocence, such magic, stupid though it was. We will never, never see anything like that again.
Such a great memory. And you’re right, things like that have been consigned to the past. The most memorable thing, especially in retrospect, was the innocent, almost risible naivete of not just the young girls, but of the country at that time. We truly believed that such moments would continue forever, and that Communism would never be accepted in America.
The Satchel Paige moment is another good memory. I don’t remember it well, because I wasn’t a big baseball fan at the time, but baseball back then was a much bigger influence on the zeitgeist, so nobody who watched sports of any kind or the network news could’ve missed it.
The fiasco made Marjorie Taylor Greene the face of the Republican Party. Nielsen says that most of Joe’s TV audience, the smallest ever recorded for the SOTU, was over 65. Perfect.
Indeed, “perfect” for the Democrats. They don’t call the Republicans the “stupid party” for nothing. I’ll leave the ethics of this to you, because “ethical” and politicians of any stripe rarely belong in the same sentence. Almost never, in fact. But if it was unethical for Nancy Pelosi to tear up Trump’s SOTU, it is at least as unethical for the Republicans to heckle Biden, especially since it was transparently an act of vengeance.
I guess “taking the high road” just isn’t a thing anymore.
As to the pundits, well, I blame Trump for some of it. He helped poison the culture to the point people feel comfortable saying things like what Kruiser said, and time has not made him one bit wiser. Alas, he is not alone …
The party, if it was smart and responsible—and it isn’t—would require that there be a run-off in all primaries this year, or, in the alternative, meet with all of the aspiring candidates not named Trump and make them sit in a smoke-filled room, making deals with each other, until a single challenger emerges.
Yeah, well, the problem is that if the Republicans managed to game the system against Trump, he’d just run as an independent an spoil the porridge the same way. There is no chance in Hell he is going to clear the way for any nominee that is not him. There really is no escape for Republicans absent an untimely death or possibly (but not certainly!) imprisonment.
At this point, for the Republicans, it looks like Trump or bust. But things change, so there is some hope.
I actually looked into the whole balloon thing over thirty years ago, as it was practical and under consideration in some quarters even then. It’s worth bringing out the following:-
– It’s not about single balloons but about a system. Single balloons just don’t give the right coverage reliably. But that means that it makes sense to make most of them decoys, i.e. genuine weather balloons with just enough extra or dual use capability to report crucial details of where, when and how they get disabled, which is valuable intelligence (“something interesting here”). That may be part of the reason why this one wasn’t dealt with earlier. Another part may have been fears that there might have been radio-isotope batteries on board.
– More importantly, this sort of system can be used to get medium range cruise missiles into the right general area (again, ideally after getting a pattern of decoys accepted – the repeated false alarms trick to penetrate physical security). That’s pretty much pointless for the likes of Russia and China, but a real consideration for lesser powers like North Korea. This harks back to certain attempts at Arctic exploration over a century ago.
– Among the many scenarios I looked into was using radio-isotope batteries to extend the range of drones or cruise missiles in a similar way. The two problems are that those disrupt electronics and that they may be more detectable than fairly passive balloon delivery. The former is easily solved by putting the radio-isotope part in a wire guided tow unit with a long tether and no electronics, with all the clever stuff towed far enough back not to be materially disrupted (using a ram air turbine for on board power during towing). Of course, this gives other, ground handling problems.
I will not go into the other areas I found, even now.