Political Cartoon Ethics: No, There Was Nothing “Racist” About Bill Bramhall’s Andrew Yang Cartoon

Yang cartoon

Some day, in a more mature and enlightened America, we will have non-male and non-white candidates for elective office as well as elected officials whose supporters do not use the politicians’ race or gender to unethically intimidate critics by crying “Bigotry!” when there is none. Some day. Or maybe not. Right now, it is clear that such politicians and their supporters just can’t help themselves. It’s cheap, it’s unfair, it’s dishonest, but as Harry Reid ( or Niccolò Machiavelli) might say, “It works!”

It needs to stop working. I consider the routine use of that tactic to stifle legitimate criticism as an valid, if not necessarily decisive, reason not to support female or minority candidates.

The latest despicable example of the practice arrived in New York City, where a mayoral race is heating up. Evelyn Yang, wife of candidate Stephen Yang, attacked New York Daily News’ cartoonist Bill Bramhall for a characature she called a “racist disfiguration” of her husband.

Bramhall, a boringly predictable progressive cartoonist who draws Donald Trump to look like he ate Orson Welles, mocked Yang by exploiting the common complaint that he’s not a real New Yorker, but a carpetbagger who is naive about the ways of The Big Apple. Mrs. Yang, however, tweeted,

“I can’t believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of @AndrewYang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew has lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%.”

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Assorted Ethics Items, 4/23/2021: I Can’t Talk Or Eat, But I Can Still Write. And Think, Sort Of…[Finally Corrected!]

Well, THAT was certainly unpleasant…made a root canal seem like the warm embrace of a succubus by comparison…

1. An alternate juror in the Chauvin trial gave an interview. She seems like a pretty rational sort, but two comments support the contention that the trial was not a fair one:

  • “I did tell them that I saw the settlement run across the bottom of the screen one day…I was not surprised there was a settlement, but I was surprised they announced it beforehand.” She also said she understood that civil trial and criminal trial standards were different, but the fact that the city essentially announced that its police were liable for Floyd’s death cut the legs out from under Chauvin’s defense.
  • “I did not want to go through rioting and destruction again and I was concerned about people coming to my house if they were not happy with the verdict.” If any jurors feel that way, it’s not a fair trial.

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The Andrew Yang Affair

Andrew Yang, as of this week the front-runner for mayor of New York City, did nothing unethical.

Well, allow me to modify that. Allowing yourself to be placed at the mercy of a stranger while being videoed is political incompetence. And his fake laugh was too convincing.

The video above, since the news media no longer allows the public to hear or read essential aspects of such stories because journalists regard themselves as public censors, is confusing, so here is what transpired.

The whole, unblurred, unbleeped video is on TikTok, and WordPress won’t let me embed TikTok. Someone the candidate to let him take a phone video as another stranger, a smiling and giddy black man, asks Yang whether a man, “while he’s fucking bitches, can he keep his Timbs on?.” — a reference to Timberland boots. Yang’s answer, under the circumstances, is pretty deft: “I think it’s purely up to your partner.”

Then the classy New Yorker asks Yang whether he “choke[s] bitches,” and Yang laughs—convincingly, I must say— and leaves.

Gotcha!

Yang’s polite engagement with the man after he used the word “bitches” and his apparently hardy laughter after the “choke bitches” line made him an inviting target of feminists and his rivals.

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Wednesday Ethics Windstorm,11/11/20: Liars, Knaves, Fools And Birds

Great Tit

1. Incompetent headline dept. Someone at a newspaper has to be alert enough to catch a risible headline like this:

Great tits

A Great Tit is the pretty bird above.

2. Who believes that MSNBC didn’t know this? (I don’t.) MSNBC was shocked—shocked!—to discover that the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jom Meacham, who had been a regular on MSNBC’s 24-7 anti-Trump barrage, never told them that he was working for the Joe Biden team. on speeches, including his victory address. Meacham appeared on MSNBC following the speech to comment on the speech he had written but didn’t disclose to viewers that the speech he loved cane from his own laptop as he said,  “Tonight marks — the entire election results mark — a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality,” said Meacham. “It’s taken us too long, our work has been bloody and tragic and painful and difficult and, Lord knows, it is unfinished, but at our best we try.”

MSNBC announced that due to this “discovery. Meacham would no longer be a paid contributor, but he would be welcome to appear on future panels, thus showing the high regard for integrity for which the network is famous. If Meacham lied to MSNBC and its viewers while withholding a crucial conflict of interest, why would he be allowed back on the air in any capacity? Why would anyone trust him?

I believe that MSNBC knew that Meacham was working for Democrats while he was bashing Trump. And this is yet another example of how unprofessional the profession of historian has become.

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Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate

I just spent 20 minutes or so trying to find a complete transcript of last night’s debate, and I failed. If I can find a link or someone sends me one, I might revisit the post, but probably not.

It was a dull and repetitive debate; I, at least, didn’t learn anything I hadn’t observed before.

  • Yang was irrelevant, occasionally making obsrevations a politician never would make, but too passive to stand out: he spoke about half as long as Joe Biden, and the moderators barely noticed him.
  • Steyer continued to concentrate on race-baiting and diversity virtue-signaling.
  • Warren, as usual, made promises of passing sweeping laws she knows are impossible.
  • Klobuchar is still playing the long game, holding her niche as closer to sane than anyone else in the field and hoping that centrist voters migrate to her once Joe Biden drops out.
  • Buttigieg employs his supposed prodigious intellect to appear to take multiple sides of issues simultaneously; how anyone who can remember Bill Clinton would be fooled by his act escapes me.  Chris Christie, now reduced too being a “contributor” to ABC, said after one of Pete’s answers, “My goodness, he uses more words to say nothing than anyone on that stage!”
  • Sanders repeats his socialist talking points relentlessly while using “climate” like priests use “God.” I want that transcript to check the number of times he did this last night.
  • Biden, as he did in the very first debate, has the stench of metaphorical death about him. Anyone serious and honest knew he wouldn’t make it from the day he announced he was running. Joe was never a viable Presidential candidate even when he was younger: too transparently dim-witted, too smarmy. Now, in addition to those features, he is enervated, washed out, seemingly on the verge of full-fledged dementia. As a group, the seven show how tragically devoid of talented aand compelling leaders of character and courage both parties are.

So this won’t be too long. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Respite, 2/5/2020: On Accountability, Karma, Never-Trump And Mookie

What a delightful afternoon!

It never fails. After a stretch where I am especially pleased with the quantity and quality of Ethics Alarms content, I lose followers. Occasionally someone has the courtesy to contact me and tell me why they are dropping Ethics Alarms, but usually not. I know I obsess about such things, but it is like being defriended: I deserve the courtesy of a direct contact and an explanation. One well-remembered exit was by a woman who was very active the comments but always regrading formal ethics theory. I know that stuff, I studied it, and it bores me to tears. I also view the academic approach to ethics as substantially responsible for the public’s general disinterest  in ethics generally. When I finally told the ethics enthusiast that this wasn’t the kind of ethics blog she was looking for, she sent me an email that announced her departure.

1. Of course, the big news yesterday…was that the Boston Red Sox traded their best player, Mookie Betts, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two young players and the willingness to take on the ridiculous contract of an aging, injury prone ex-ace, David Price. Boston being Boston, this was a story of much more consequence in the Hub than the State of the Union, the Democrats continuing inability to run  caucuses in Iowa, or the resolution of the impeachment washout. This shows, as I have always known as a born and bred Bostonian, that the city has its priorities straight.

Betts is that rarity, a young, great player who can do everything well, and do it with charm and modesty. He should be the face of the franchise for the next decade, but there’s a problem: Mookie wants to test the free agent market after this season, when he is eligible to do so. The Red Sox have offered him a long term deal in each of the last two seasons, and he recently rejected an offer in excess of 300 million dollars for ten years. On the open market Betts might get 30% more than that, and the Sox are loath to get into a bidding war. Thus, to avoid the fate of the Washington Nationals, who allowed their similarly young superstar Bryce Harper to flee without getting more than a draft choice in return (Mookie is better and nicer that Bryce), the Red Sox swallowed hard and traded him to the Dodgers.

Ethics notes:

  • In the trade, Boston gave up the best African American player in its long prejudice-stained history as well as its single African American starting pitcher. It says something about the team’s progress in this area that nobody has seemed to notice.
  • In trading Betts and Price after firing Alex Cora, the team’s manager implicated in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal, the Red Sox just happened to bid farewell to the three most vocal boycotters of President Trump’s invitation to the team to be honored at the White House for the its 2018 World Series victory. Red Sox cohesion was never the same after the grandstanding “Orange Man Bad” explosion that split the squad down the middle. Mookie never seemed quite as nice after that; Cora never seemed as wise, and Price always was a jerk.
  • Betts has told anyone who would listen that he wanted to stay in Boston, that he loves the city and fans, and that the Red Sox were just proving that baseball is a business. That’s disingenuous spin, and clearly so. If you really want to stay with a team, then you accept the paltry wages of more than 30 million dollars a year to do so.

2. Since there seems to be a strong disagreement among the commentariat on this question, I need to poll it:

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Monday Ethics Left-Overs, 11/25/2019: Dog Dissonance, Chick-Fil-A’s Surrender, Yang, And Yar

Happy Holidays!

1 Trivial Ethics. In an old episode of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent,” the nautical termword “yar” came up. This was a Jeff Goldblum episode, and he remarked, in the odd, ironic, strangely reflective manner that is Jeff’s trademark, “Yar! Katherine Hepburn used that word in “The Philadelphia Story,” right? Yar? Who did she say that too?” His partner replied, with great certitude, “Jimmy Stewart.”

WRONG. Tracy Lord (Katherine) has two “yar” discussions, one with her fiance, played by John Howard, and another with ex-husband Cary Grant, who built boats. These scriptwriters are in show business, dammit. “The Philadelphia Story” is a classic. Nobody working on the TV show knew the right answer? Nobody bothered to check? This is how America’s collective minds get clogged with ignorance.

2. Now I can begin my personal boycott of Chick-Fil-A. Last week Chick-fil-A announced that next year it is officially cutting ties with the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), the charitable organizations that have sparked protests and boycotts against the chicken restaurant chain because they, and the chain’s CEO, Dan Kathy, are known to oppose same-sex marriage on religious grounds.

According to the chain, in 2018, its foundation donated $115,000 to the Salvation Army and $1.65 million to FCA. This is a big blow to both organizations.

“We made multiyear commitments to both organizations, and we fulfilled those obligations in 2018. Moving forward you will see that the Chick-fil-A Foundation will support the three specific initiatives of homelessness, hunger and education,” a representative said.

Translation: They capitulated to viewpoint bullying, and now others will feel empowered to use totalitarian methods to extort other organizations and businesses.

This issue was deftly covered in a major thread in last week’s Open Forum: Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

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