Stop Making Me Defend Stacey Abrams!

tucker-stacey-abrams

Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson thought it would be cute last night to have his senior producer “perform a dramatic reading of the most titillating moments” from one of the pulpy romance novels Georgia politician Stacey Abrams wrote before she started running for office. The excerpt was objectively awful, but that’s irrelevant: Carlson’s stunt was an unethical cheap shot, and the equivalent of an ad hominem attack. Abrams’ bad prose tell us nothing about the validity of her political positions, and bringing them into the discussion is designed to mislead.

I hate this tactic, and I have condemned it before regardless of who was the target and who was the slime artist. Minnesota Republicans tried to discredit Al Franken when he was first running for U.S. Senate by digging up a sexually-provocative humorous piece he had written for “Playboy”—you know, the epitome of evil—eight years before when he was a full-time comedy writer. “When Republicans do things like this,” I wrote on the old Ethics Scoreboard, “they insult voters by assuming that they are narrow-minded and illiterate, celebrate humorlessness, and willfully blur the difference between entertainment and public policy.”

Continue reading

Weekend Ethics Frolics, 5/9/2021: Birthing Persons Day Edition

Frolicking

Surely you have heard by now that a few addled Democrats in Congress have begun using the hilarious term “birthing people” to describe mothers. This is in order to pander to the trans population, because the special problems of this tiny minority are worth turning the entire culture inside out and upside down. So far it’s three certifiably silly people on the Hill whose credentials as ethics dunces are unusually strong, even for Congressional Democrats (the links go to signature significance EA posts: Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker , certifiable Rep. Ayanna Pressley, previously heard arguing that “girls” have a right to attack other girls with knives “uninterupted”, and the spectacularly unqualified Rep. Cori Bush, who was supposedly on Biden’s short list for VP, which is terrifying—yes, even more terrifying than Kamala Harris:

birthing person tweet 1Birthing person 2

This is fascinating from an ethics perspective, specifically the slippery slope. The Great Stupid that has descended over the land, with special focus on progressives, has led to vocal support for so many ridiculous ideas—defunding the police, paying people more to stay out of work than to have jobs, open boarders, electing Joe Biden, packing the Supreme Court, and more—that the once fairly bold line between “progressive” and “batshit crazy” appears to have been erased. At some point, and maybe “birthing people” is it, even left-tilting Americans will wake up and say “Whoa! These are wackos!”

And indeed they are.

1. Also from the “What an idiot!” files…On baseball and Giants’ Hall of Fame immortal Willie Mays’ 90th birthday last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter account posted a picture of Willie McCovey. Willie Mays is a national icon, probably the greatest African-American baseball player of all-time, and any American, especially any American elected official, who does not know what he looks like is too ignorant of America’s culture and history to serve competently. (I’m only exaggerating a little.) Not only is this an insult to the Say Hey Kid (What does that nickname mean, Nancy? Huh? Come on, you represent San Francisco!), it’s the kind of “they all look the same to me!” mistake that white officials are typically savaged for, as when Senator Rubio mixed up Rep. John Lewis with Rep. Elijah Cummings. At least Cummings and Lewis looked a little bit alike. McCovey, who was also a Hall of Fame slugger and who also played for the Giants,

Willie McCovey Holding Baseball Bat

looked nothing like Willy Mays…

Willie-Mays-US-2155529

…and to make the distinction easy for baseball ignoramuses, Willie McCovey is DEAD.

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Afterthoughts, 5/7/2021: On Quitting, Cancelling, Lying And Deflecting

brain

1. The dignity and integrity to quit. The big news in baseball yesterday was that the California Angels finally released Albert Pujols. Pujols is in the last year of a terrible 24 million dollar a year+ contract he signed as a free agent. For the last several years, he had negative value, meaning that the Angels would have been better if they just stuck a utility infielder in his slot in the line-up. When Pujols left the St. Louis Cardinals, he was already a lock of the Hall of Fame, much like Mike Trout today (also on the Angels) who could quit at 30 and still be regarded as one of the greatest players of all time. In 2019, I wrote about another washed up batter holding on to collect his exorbitant salary when he was no longer capable of earning it, the Orioles’ erstwhile slugger Chris Davis. I wrote in part,

[He] should call a press conference and do what some baseball players better than he have done when they realized they could no longer play at the level they were paid to. Quit. Retire. Say that he has too much respect for the game, his team mates, Baltimore, the Orioles, its fans, and himself to keep on with the embarrassing futility of trying to play major league baseball when he no longer has the skill to do so while receiving millions to fail. Then he should walk away, an Ethics Hero, and a model of integrity.

But Davis didn’t, of course. Davis earned $23,000,000 that year, and last year. He will earn the same amount this season and the next, to add to the 165 million he’s banked already. His OPS (On Base % plus Slugging %) the past three years: .539, .601, and .331. The average OPS in the Major Leagues is about .750. Nothing yet this year: he’s been injured. The Orioles hope he stays that way.

What Pujols is owed if he stays active is virtually monopoly money to him: he already has a third of a billion dollars from his baseball salaries alone, and many millions more from endorsements—and that’s just assuming he keeps his money in a sock. Reportedly Albert is greatly admired as a man of character, but if he was truly that, he would have the character to quit. Now.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Here’s a fun link: conservative pundit David Harsanyi traces (some) of the egregious media bias since Biden took office.

Continue reading

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 5/5/21: Toyota, Patents, And The Cheating Homecoming Queen

Frozen-Jack-Nicholson

I don’t want to over-use the “This Date In Ethics” concept, but attention must be paid: this was the day, in 1961,that Navy Commander Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr. boarded the Freedom 7 space capsule to becoming the first American astronaut to travel into space.

In these times where so many aspects of our culture are working to imbue Americans with fear of living, when people wear masks in their cars and teachers are willing to cripple both the economy and children’s education to minimize their risk of catching a virus, it should be remembered that a young, healthy man risked his life and the chance of a fiery death to advance America’s science and the spirit of exploration.

1. For some reason (Cognitive dissonance?) I haven’t been checking Althouse as often since she decided that her readers were hogging too much attention on her blog by insisting on posting comments. She still has an admirable talent for cutting through the BS. Reacting to today’s announcement that Facebook’s “quasi-indepedent” board upheld FaceBook’s partisan and anti-democratic ban on Donald Trump’s posts. Ann writes, “I’m not surprised. If the decision had gone the other way, Facebook could have found some new offense and banned him again.”

Not could have, though; would have.

2. How is this fair or equitable? Once again, Toyota is giving a special discount to “recent college graduates.” This is, of course, ham-handed pro-college virtue-signaling, but wouldn’t you guess that non-college grads of the same age need such discounts more? In the TV ad, we see a nice, upper-middle class white girl from childhood to college—it sure looks like her parents can afford a car…or she can afford a full-price cheaper car. Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few TV ads running now that dares to feature a white character who doesn’t at least mitigate her ingrained evil by being part of a mixed-race family.

Special deals on products and services for special categories of Americans—yes, even veterans—are divisive and incoherent.

Continue reading

Ellen DeGeneris Meets The Cognitive Dissonance Scale

Ellen DeGeneres’s brand and reputation have always been built on the illusion that she was nice. She was called the “Be Kind” Lady. Then, last July, BuzzFeed reported that several of her popular daytime talk show’s former and current staff members said they had been subjected to “racism, fear and intimidation” on the set. Other staff members said producers had sexually harassed them. Warner Bros. investigated the complaints and concluded that there were major problems. Three of the show’s producers were fired. When DeGeneres returned from the show’s summer hiatus to open its 18th season, she began with a vague and deeply unsatisfying apology. “I learned that things happen here that never should have happened,” she said in part. “I take that very seriously. And I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected.”

Well wait a minute: whose name is on the title card? Who believes that Ellen DeGeneres had no idea what was going on in the management of the Ellen DeGeneres show? How is that even possible? And if it is possible, it’s still unforgivable. She is accountable.

There were also increasingly frequent accounts suggesting that Ellen herself wasn’t so nice. (I am reminded of my late night conversation with the late Broadway choreographer Thommie Walsh, who said, “You have to remember, Jack, that virtually all star performers are horrible people.”) Among the disturbing allegations was the claim that staff on DeGeneres’ show were instructed not to talk to her. She supposedly tried to get a waitress fired who chipped one of Ellen’s nail. There were leaks that she expressed contempt for her audience behind the scenes.

Sometimes the public surprises me: after all, it voted for Joe Biden to be President, and Joe has a completely phony nice-guy image that has been exposed again and again as a cynical facade. Yet in Ellen’s case, her hypocrisy was rejected. “Ellen,” the ratings companies report, has lost more than a million viewers since September, averaging 1.5 million viewers over the last six months, down from 2.6 million in the same period last year.

Continue reading

Undercovers Ethics, 4/27/21

Well, here I am trying to write a post in bed. This never works our well, but it’s this or nothing. I have clients waiting, my dog is mad at me for not walking him on a gorgeous day, and I wish I could just soldier through it all. I can’t, though, and feel like an utter failure. I’ve in pain in more than one location, a lower back strain being the latest addition, I’m in the midst of an allergy attack, and all the drugs have made me nauseous and dizzy. But ethics waits for no one, and it certainly isn’t going to wait for the likes of me.

1. This is what “systemic racism” propaganda produces…an op-ed by a civil engineering student from the University of California, Los Angeles, written for the the College Fix documents some of his discussion with the woke-infected on campus. He says he recently took part in an online debate about “systemic racism” during which some UCLA students complained that automatic soap dispensers are racist. One student said the dispensers “don’t see her hands” because of her dark skin. Another student claimed that the dispensers force “black and brown” people to show their palms, “the only light areas of the skin,” before the liquid soap comes out.

Both students are delusional, but this is how the current “racist America all the time everywhere” makes gullible and insecure blacks paranoid and miserable.

2. Blame Mitch McConnell for the “court packing” rationalizations. Last week, a Georgetown law student—poor bastard— confronted Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) when he accused Democrats of making a “power grab.””You didn’t see Republicans, when we had control of the Senate, try to rig the game. You didn’t see us try to pack the court,” he said. The law student protested, “How is court packing any different than what the Republicans did in 2016 and 2020?”

“We filled vacancies, that’s not packing the court,” Cruz insisted, as the law student insisted there was no difference between what Republicans refusing to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia, did and what Democrats are now trying to do by expanding the court. “They’re doing something that’s allowed under the Constitution,” the student countered. “It’s not an obstruction to the rule of law if it’s in the law.”

Ugh. Mitch McConnell’s unethical—not illegal—gambit to bury the Garland nomination under a contrived election year rule may have worked, but Republicans will be suffering for it for generations—and they deserve to. No, what the GOP did wasn’t “court packing,” which has had a specific, well-understood meaning since FDR tried it. But the laws student is already adept at the progressive craft of redefining words and concepts to meet whatever goal they are seeking to justify at the moment.

Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Day: Tyler Perry

“Stand in the middle, because that’s where healing happens.That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens. It happens in the middle So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you, too.”

—Tyler Perry, African-American playwright, screenwriter, producer, director and actor, in his acceptance speech for the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award at last night’s Academy Awards

Perry was one of the few attendees at last night’s Oscars who could make such a contrarian speech without looking like a hypocrite. He has always been defiantly politically incorrect in his plays and screenplays, which critics frequently attack on the grounds that he employs negative black stereotypes. (What Perry has proved is that African -Americans can laugh at themselves, at least as long as the satirist is the right skin-shade.) He is also extraordinarily wealthy and powerful within the industry, and doesn’t have to signal his virtue to anyone. At another point in his speech, Perry said,

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month (And A Candidate For Ugliest Statement By An Elected Official For All Eternity): Speaker Of The House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

“Thank you George Floyd for sacrificing your life for justice. For being there to call out to your mom — how heartbreaking was that? — to call out for your mom, ‘I can’t breathe.’” But because of you and because of thousands, millions of people around the world who came out for justice, your name will always be synonymous with justice.”

Nancy Pelosi, apparently trying to kill as many people as possible by making their heads explode.

I know I promised to save all of today’s Derek Chauvin verdict-related notes for Part 2 of this morning’s post, but the sheer awfulness of Pelosi’s words, the astounding tone-deafness, the massive stupidity it must require to think for a millisecond that such a sentiment is anything but revolting, and the ick!–yecchh!–gag!–ACK!–pitui! pandering and shamelessness a human being would have to possess to vomit up such a statement demands a free-standing rebuke.

Those flames are for you, Nancy.

Apparently enough people on the “Let’s hang Derek Chauvin from a sour apples tree!” side of the matter were similarly horrified by Pelosi’s latest that we cannot say that her quote fairly stands for the moral, ethical and intellectual rot of the entire Democratic Party and progressive movement. That’s small mitigation. This woman has been leading the Democrats forever (or it seems that way), and such a sentiment is signature significance. If you think something like this, never mind say it out loud, never mind say if for for public consumption, you are not qualified to hold public office. For years we have seen public figures, professionals and celebrities cancelled for less. Much less.

And if you’re capable of saying something this stupid, you’re not qualified to eat with anything sharper than a spoon.

To begin with the obvious, it isn’t a sacrifice when someone has no choice in what happens to him or her. Way, way down the scale of those who cannot be thanked for a sacrifice are those who are victims of crimes or the negligent acts of others.

Continue reading

As The Chauvin Jury Finds The Defendant Guilty As They Were Ordered To Do, The President And Rep. Waters Deny That They Said What They Said

But when Yogi Berra denied that he said what he said, it was funny..

In Minneapolis, the jury found Derek Chauvin guilty of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in his role in the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

It would be a defensible verdict if he had received a fair trial, and the jury didn’t fear that they would spark national riots, property destruction and death if they found reasonable doubt. It would have been more defensible if the otherwise competent judge hadn’t botched his obligation to sequester the jury when another Minnesota police officer shot a black man, and riots did occur, with more on the horizon.

It is not a fair trial when a nationally known Congresswoman and the President of the United States publicly declare that, in the words of the Congresswoman, a defendant is “guilty, guilty guilty!”

So now, after polluting the trial and the verdict, both the President and the Congresswoman are engaging in a wretched display of “I didn’t really say what I obviously said and meant to say.”

Yogi Berra this ain’t.

First, here’s Maxine’s hilarious “translation” of what she meant when she told some potential rioters, ““We’ve got to stay in the streets, and we’ve got to demand justice,” Waters said. “I am hopeful that we will get a verdict that says, ‘guilty, guilty, guilty,’ and if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”

“I wanted to be there kind of as Auntie Maxine, to show them that not only do I love them and I support them, but they can count on me to be there with them at this terrible time in all of our lives,” Waters said in her own defense. But she is not their aunt. She is an elected official of the United States of America, and is sworn to uphold the Constitution, which means, among other things, not using her position to urge members of the public to break the law, and not using her influence to deny an American citizen a fair trial.

In another interview, she tried rationalizations instead of masquerade:

Continue reading

Ethics Irony: The Day The Author Of The Declaration Of Independence Sold An American To The Author Of The Constitution

John-Freeman-sale-to-JM-LOC

April 19 is a pretty bad day in U.S. history generally. In 1775, the Revolutionary War started with a rout in Lexington, Massachusetts, just a few minutes by car up Massachusetts Avenue from my childhood home in neighboring Arlington, then Menotomy. 700 British troops, having shot up that hamlet and its defenders on the way, found 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker opposing them on Lexington Green, now a large traffic circle. It took a just few minutes to kill enough of the barely trained Colonists for the ragtag army to disperse, but the British marched into a much larger force at nearby Concord Bridge, and a much worse result for the Empire. In 1993, a botched siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas ended with 22 children and almost 80 adult religious cultists burning to death. In 1995, the U.S. was introduced to domestic terrorism on a grand scale with the Oklahoma City bombing. But none of those events create the ethics trauma of considering a little noted financial transaction between the former third President and the newly sworn in fourth.

On April 19, 1809, Thomas Jefferson, seemingly always lacking cash, prepared a contract to transfer ownership of an indentured servant with the ironic name of John Freeman to freshly installed President and fellow Virginian James Madison.

Continue reading