I tried to restrain myself, I really did. I have a heavy backlog of ethics topics and some Comments of the Day from all of you languishing. But a post headlined “The Worst Actors of All Time, Ranked” on a website called Definitions.org sucked me in, and I’m annoyed.
To begin with, the clickbait headline is a lie, several lies in fact. Since every actor in the list of 50 “worst actors” is alive and was active in the 21st century, it can’t possibly be an “all time” list. Then, once you click on the title, the list magically becomes “the 50 actors the critics can’t stand.” Well, at least that explains why Natalie Portman didn’t make the list of 50 Worst.
I’m not even sure what criteria one could or should use to decide on the “worst actors.” Most over-rated (like Portman)? Narrowest range? If an actor plays a particular type better than anyone, even if he or she never tries anything else, that doesn’t make them bad actors. As a director, I have always maintained that at least 85% of the public could play at least one role in a major movie well.
“CNN Poll: Democrats’ Hold over Congress Has Grown Increasingly Fragile”
What would you assume that a poll justifying such a headline would show? You would think that it polled likely voters, and that it showed a majority of them currently planning on voting Republican in the upcoming 2022 elections, right?
“By far-left CNN’s estimates, congressional Democrats are not in very good standing for the 2022 midterm elections,” the article begins. Then we learn that “When asked, ‘If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district?’ 45 percent of registered voters chose a Democrat candidate and 44 percent chose a Republican candidate.” The current partisan divide on Capital Hill has both the House and the Senate divided almost 50-50, with Democrats and Republicans being evenly divided in the Senate, and only holding a margin of 10 in the House, which has 435 seats. That’s a margin of 2.2%.
You can play with the figures, but essentially the poll shows exactly the same partisan split that currently exists.
I spent a half-hour searching for ethics stories that made me feel good. All I found was more sources of gloom and depression. I have a headache, and no matter how many times I play, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart!,” it doesn’t male me want to laugh, gambol and frolic….
1. Normally the baseball season’s impending approach would cheer me up, as it has for more than 50 years (and that’s another damn thing—I can’t possibly be that old), and this time, nothing. It’s like I’m dead inside. The twin curses of the Boston Red Sox pandering to Black Lives Matter and the team’s rehiring of a proven, and as far as I can see, unrepentant cheater as manager have apparent sucked all of the joy out of what has been a lifetime passion. Now I’m bothered more by the flaws that once I would have shrugged off, like this one: Ian Desmond, a 35-year-old outfielder with the Colorado Rockies, has “opted out” of playing for the second straight season.
“For now, I’ve decided to opt out of the 2021 season,” Desmond wrote on Instagram. “My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I’m going to continue to train and watch how things unfold.” Between the two seasons, the player has now walked away from a combined $13.56 million. He was owed $8 million this year and was set to make $5.56 million of his prorated $15 million salary last season, though the Rockies have a $2 million buyout for 2022.
Desmond, 35, hit .255 with 20 homers in 140 games in 2019. He’s not special. Yet he has made so much money in a slightly above average career that he can afford to toss away millions of dollars. An industry that pays its workers so much that they have no financial incentive to work makes no sense, and any team that would keep a player like Desmond, whose attitude is, “Eh, I don’t feel like playing baseball…maybe later,” is foolish. He’s healthy, relatively young, and his risks of serious health problems from the Wuhan virus are slim: my grocery store clerks face greater risks by far. Yechhh.
2. Slippery Slope Warning! The slippery slope is both a phenomenon and a fallacy, as when someone objects to something benign by arguing that it creates a theoretical slippery slope that is not benign. Of late however, the assault of the Woke has made slippery sloping a national pastime, particularly involving slopes that lead governments to dictate all manner of conduct that should be none of its damn business.
For example, in California, good little brain-washers Evan Low and Cristina Garcia introducedAssembly Bill 1084 to require gender neutral retail departments. The bill would add Part 2.57 (commencing with Section 55.7) to Division 1 of the Civil Code, to be titled “Gender Neutral Retail Departments.” The bill would enact a regulation based on “legislative findings” that there are unjustified differences in similar products traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys. Thus the bill, on the theory that it will be easier on the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor, mandates eliminating gender distinctions in clothing sales. In addition, keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate, the bill claims/
Ah! Illegal implication. Can’t have that!
I would assume that even an idiot could see that this is government indoctrination and has zero to do with serving consumers. If a retail company chooses to market clothing as unisex, they should go for it, but it is not the role of government to dictate how merchandise is displayed.
California is a contagious carrier of terrible and infectious ideas. The other states should be wearing big masks…
1. The good brother. It’s not worth a full post, but Ron Howard deserves a call-out for being a good brother. Last night I finally watched “Frost/Nixon,” and wondered if, since it was directed by Ron Howard, Opie’s hideous younger brother Clint Howard would be in the cast. Sure enough, he was. Clint, like Ron, was a child star, most prominently in the TV series “Gentle Ben.” Unlike Ron, Clint was not treated well by the puberty fairy, and once his goofy looks stopped being cute, he had a face that was usable, if at all, in cheap horror flicks and in bit parts playing various creeps and thugs. Clint’s not a bad actor, he’s just not very versatile, and relentlessly hard on the eyes. He would probably not have an A movie to his credit were it not for the fact that his brother, the rich and famous star director, puts him in the cast whenever he can.
Well, good for Ron. Sure, it’s nepotism, but Clint is serviceable, and certainly capable of playing the parts he’s cast in, like one of the NASA guys in the control room in “Apollo 13,” or a referee in one of the less important Jim Braddock fights in “ Cinderella Man.” Getting such roles in Ron’s prestige films make Clint more attractive for the parts he’s up for in his usual vehicles, like the upcoming “Hell of the Screaming Undead.”
2. On a related casting issue, I watched the Netflix production “Enola Holmes.” It was fun, but the “anti-racism” casting was already in evidence: African Americans were scattered through Victorian London in odd and ahistorical places. It didn’t undermine the quality of the productions: all of the black actors and actresses were pros, but it did make the piece seem set in some fantasy land that never existed. If you know history, it is jarring; if you don’t, then it has no impact at all. I did find the non-traditional casting half-hearted: in virtually all cases, the actors “of color” were relegated to extremely minor roles a step above the extras. You know—like the parts Clint Howard plays in his brother’s movies.
…perhaps exacerbated by the fact that I am trying to keep all the plates spinning at home and office despite caring for my temporarily disabled wife and business partner, the urgent need to disassemble the driest Christmas tree in Alexandria (still looks spectacular with the lights on, though!), the sudden breakdown of two crucial appliances, and the fact that I’m incompetent at a lot of the small and crucial tasks that Grace does well.
By the by, the spinning plates act is my favorite metaphor for leadership, management and life…
1. Trump tweets…“Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man. He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!” tweeted our Chief Executive yesterday. What grade level does that one rise to? 6th? 7th? Surely reasonable people are inured to these embarrassing (for him, for us) outbursts after all these years and thousands of stupid tweets. And yet here are Schiff and the Democrats, bellowing that Trump “threatened” him. This, from a shameless demagogue who recently yalked about putting Republican Senators’ heads on pikes.
Essentially Trump’s “threat” consists of “he’ll be sorry!” That’s not even a veiled threat. It isn’t actionable, it isn’t clear. It may refer to karma, or a sudden attack of conscience. Stipulated: It’s wrong for a President to express such sentiments. The knee-jerk impulse of the “resistance” to react to everything the President does like it was proof of treason is self-indicting.
2. The alleged hypocrisy of jet-setting climate change activist celebrities is often overplayed by conservatives, but this is ridiculous. Not to be outdone by whatever she is these days semi-royal Megan Markle and her submissive hubby, Prince Charles polished his climate change alarmist creds by taking three flights on private jets and a helicopter to hang out with Joan of Arc wannabe Greta Thunberg. Then, after being blessed by the teenaged saint and making an impassioned speech, the Man Who Has Been Waiting To Be King took a fourth private jet from Switzerland to Israel, making his flight total over 16,000 miles in less than two weeks. His carbon footprint for this odyssey was estimates as being more than 18 times that of the average British citizen’s output for a calendar year.
This is dead ethics alarms on display. A 41-year-old NBA legend, his 13-year old daughter and seven other human beings die in a helicopter accident, and less than six hours later, a Washington Post reporter, involuntarily abetted by The Daily Beast, issues a tweet about the low point in his life and career.
Is Sonmez going for #MeToo brownie points? It sure looks like it. Let’s get a jump on canceling Kobe Bryant, womyn! It’s never too early.
No compassion for the family, no sorrow for the dead. Gotta trash the man, because there won’t be enough time in the future to rehash the 17-year-old rape allegations that Bryant, with the assistance of the King’s Pass, managed to avoid having destroy his career.
Has social media made people so cruel? Is this just the natural ethics void political journalists and progressive websites slip into after a few years of peddling hate against the President, day in, day out?
How can ethics alarms not ring out, loud and strong, when the idea is floated to attack a dead celebrity the same day he and his daughter are killed?
Update (6:50 PM): After being excoriated on Twitter, Sonmez deleted her tweet.
Further Update:The Post suspended Sonmez. Good.
Notice of Correction: I originally included The Daily Beast in the headline, failing to notice that the article Sonmez linked to was from 2016. The Beast is blameless, and I apologize for the error. Thanks to VPJ for the note.
Is it still clickbait when a link virtually screams “CLICKBAIT!”? Maybe, but if someone is going to claim that they have made a “perfect list,” he had better do a better job than this. My earlier comments today about Pauline Kael apply: some of this guy’s assessments of what is “definitive” disqualify him as a useful or credible authority. For example, Field, who reveals himself as an Ella Fitzgerald fan boy, chooses Ella’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” as ‘the best, saying, “If you think Garland’s rendition is better than Ella’s, you’re probably also a Liza Minnelli fan.” Well, I’m not a Liza fan; she sounded nothing like her mother, and Garland’s rendition is better, indeed the “definitive” version. Old Blue Eyes’ rendition finishes second for sure, but Judy’s tumbling scales were never more affecting or emotionally eloquent, and this is her song. Similarly, Field picks Andy Williams’ version of “Do You Hear What I Hear?” as “the best.” That’s ridiculous. I know this song especially well: I watched “The Hollywood Palace” as a kid the night Bing Crosby introduced it. I’ve written about it on Ethics Alarms, researched it, put it into a Christmas revue and staged it. Crosby’s version is the only one that manages to give the song sufficient heft and gravity: he shifts deep into his chest baritone in the final verse, and decades after hearing the song for the first time, Bing still gives me chills. Lots of male singers, including Williams, have done respectable covers, but they are all chasing Bing.
Look, anyone can have a preference for any professional version of any of the Christmas standards and carols, and there is no point arguing about it. However, if one is going to use the descriptor “definitive,” it has to involve more than personal taste. What is the singer’s connection to the song? Why is it identified with him or her, or is it? Do other singers obviously evoke that singers’ performance? Generational familiarity aside, is the version generally recognized as being definitive? Has the singer’s version become iconic? If one were describing the singer, would the song immediately come to mind?
Here’s my definitive list of the definitive versions of Christmas standards:Continue reading →
1. Oh-oh...I was worried about this. Early in the baseball post-season there were rumors flying that MLB had deadened its baseballs after a 2019 season that saw records shattered for homer frequency. I wrote (somewhere this month: I can’t find it) that if the sport really did mess with the balls at this point it would be a massive breach of ethics, changing the conditions of the game when the games mattered most.
Baseball researcher Rob Arthur revealed in a Baseball Prospectus report on October10 that after nearly 20 postseason games, home runs were occurring at at half the rate the 2019 season’s homer frequency would predict. Arthur allowed for the fact that better pitchers and hitters made up playoff teams, and still concluded that the ball was not flying as far as it did during the regular season. “The probability that a random selection of games from the rest of the regular season would feature as much air resistance as we’ve seen so far in the postseason,” he wrote, “is about one in one thousand.” A follow-up report by Arthur again found significant variation in the flight of the ball this postseason.
This isn’t good.
2. It’s not even 2020, and the New York Times isn’t even pretending to be objective. Two examples from today’s Times:
In a story about Tulsi Gabbard announcing that she would not run for re-election to the House, the Times spun for Hillary Clinton, writing, “Last Friday, Hillary Clinton suggested that Republicans were “grooming” her for “a third party run”, though Ms. Gabbard has denied any such plans.” What was notable about Clinton’s smear was that she said that Gabbard was “a favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.” This is a variety of “fake news” that the Times excels at, telling only part of the story to manipulate public perception.
Headline (Print edition) :“Speaking at Black College, Trump Ridicules Obama For Effort on Racial Equity.” Wow, what a racist! Attacking efforts at racial equity! In fact, the President criticized the paltry results of Obama’s efforts to advance racial equity. He in no way ridiculed Obama for making those efforts. Again, the Times is now a master at playing to its anti-Trump readers confirmation bias.
I love “Onward Christian Soldiers,” of course, but this is my favorite Arthur Sullivan-composed hymn…
1. Reminding me of the basic unethical and cynical nature of state lotteries...A middle-aged African American woman sits outside of our local 7-11 pretty much all day, seven days a week. I’ve written about her before, most recently when she let the door slam in my face despite our family occasionally giving her food, cigarettes and a ten-dollar bill now and then. This morning she bought 40 dollars worth of lottery tickets.
And if she hit the jackpot, she’d be back sitting out front and begging for money in a year or less.
2. My Facebook. theory. You noticed, I’m sure, that Facebook took a 100 billion dollar hit to its paper value in less than 48 hours last week. It all could have been avoided by honesty, transparency, humility, avoidance of virtue-signaling, and fealty to free speech.
Users should have been told, in automatic emails and in big, bold letters in disclaimers on the site, since too many of them are too dumb to figure it out, that anything they put on the free platform was fair game to be harvested, sliced, diced, used, sold, analyzed and exploited for any legal purpose, by any group, party, nation or organization, and if potential users didn’t like the terms, nobody was making them post.
Facebook should have avoided pretenses of virtue. It provides a useful means of networking and communication as well as cost-free mini-blogs to people unwilling to maintain real ones. It does so to make money, not to make a better world…especially since social media arguably makes a worse one.
It should have denied responsibility, in court if necessary, for “fake news” regardless of who created it. Any ad or “sponsored story” should have been so labelled, with Facebook’s position being “read and believe at your own risk. Check “facts” before you spread them around. It’s your responsibility, not ours.”
Facebook should have had faith and belief in the freedom of expression and speech, and not attempted to censor “hate speech” or “fake news,” neither of which are subject to precise identification and analysis without the corrupting influence of bias. Indeed, Facebook was obligated to support the First Amendment, as a major cultural force.
Facebook should have stayed apolitical. Instead, it joined the “resistance” freakout over Hillary Clinton’s loss, and signaled its virtue by agreeing with absurd and unsupported claims regarding the importance of fake and risible news stories on Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
Mark Zuckerberg is a classic example of a narrow, limited, juvenile savant whose one big idea gave him more power and influence than he was qualified to handle. Maybe losing all of that money will make him appropriately humble, but I doubt it. Such people almost never learn.
3. Is the U.S. State Department intentionally hassling trans women?This story makes a prima facie case that it is, and if that’s really what is going on, it is petty and wrong. It also is a classic Rashomon situation. Government bureaucracies are inherently inefficient, incompetent, and screwed up beyond all reason or toleration. (Oddly, progressives want more such agencies, with more employees. Go figure.) The story linked appears to show the system trying to make things difficult for a particular group, but the individual targeted only sees how she is being treated, so it appears like obvious discrimination. That, however, is a very subjective assessment.
A member of my family is in jail for a few months, and had been granted work-release privileges so he could continue his job and career. However, those in charge of the program were openly hostile to his efforts to complete the paperwork and arrangements. They kept changing the rules, increasing requirements, threatening him, and delaying the process. When he contacted his lawyer, he was told, “these people can do anything they want to, and get their satisfaction from boring, low-paying jobs by abusing people like you, meaning anyone who would normally be their equals or better, but who is now under their thumbs. You have no choice. Do what they want, or you will suffer. Simple as that.”
My jailed family member is white, male, educated, well-spoken and polite. Eventually, after he grovelled enough, everything was straightened out. “You know,” he said ,”It I were black, there is no way you could have convinced me that I wasn’t the victim of racism.”
It could be the same with the alleged trans discrimination in the passport system. When one of the alleged victims says, “Make no mistake, this was an intentional action by the State Department to withhold recognizing my gender,” she is being sincere and perhaps naive. It may have been an intentional action by low level State Department employees to be assholes because they could be. [Pointer: valkgrrl] Continue reading →
Let’s clear the runway; flights are being delayed…
1 Please, somebody do me a favor and read Fattymoon’s Medium piece on why he doesn’t comment here any more. Let me know what it says. I don’t know if it’s another “I hate Jack” web piece, but I have feelings too, and miles to go before I sleep. He should have posted it here, and assuming it is as quirky and thoughtful as many of Fatty’s posts were, I might have made it a Comment of the Day. Posting it elsewhere without a heads up is a Golden Rule breach.
2. Jamelle Bouie’s racialist demagoguery in Slate is an ongoing embarrassment to the once readable web-mag, and in a recent exchange on Twitter, he showed that he’s not too quick on the uptake either. Tweeting about the planned hit job on the President plotted by Rep. Wilson and an angry, grieving anti-Trump Gold Star wife. Bouie wrote,
“Trump and the White House have an unmistakable pattern of going after prominent black women.”
Quick! Hands: who believes that if the Democratic Representative who accused the President of being insulting on his condolence call had been a white male, Trump would have behaved any different? Anybody? This is Bouie personified: he will engage in race-baiting no matter how forced, unfair and absurd it is.
I’m not a Ben Shapiro fan, but the conservative pundit knows a hanging curveball in his wheelhouse when he sees one. He responded,
“Yes, McCain, Hillary, Barack Obama, Cruz, Jeb!, Rosie O’Donnell, Kim Jung Un are all black women”
And he didn’t even mention Bob Corker!
Exposed, owned, embarrassed and squashed, a wiser, smarter progressive would know enough to shut up and allow his idiocy to be gently wiped from cultural memory by the sands of time…like in about ten minutes. But no, Bouie shoots back,
“Nice. A retweet from Honest Conservative Ben “The genocide of Native people’s was Actually Good” Shapiro”
YES! A perfect example of a real, genuine, ad hominem attack, the kind that says, “I have no rebuttal for your devastating argument, so I’m just going to say that you’re personally horrible, so your arguments don’t count.” I’ve gotten so sick of explaining to commenters that their accusations of ad hominem are mistaken and ignorant that I put a warning in the Comments guidelines. “Your argument is idiotic, so I think you are an idiot” is not ad hominem (not nice, but not ad hominem). “You’re an idiot, so your argument must be idiotic” is ad hominem. Now I have a perfect example–from an editor at Slate! (If you think ad hominem is logical, then you are unqualified to be an editor, even if you aren’t a race-baiting anti-white bigot.)
Not surprisingly, Shapiro knocked this one out of the park too, tweeting,
“Thanks for the ad hominem non sequitur, guy who says every Trump voter is an evil racist”
3. If there was any doubt that John McCain’s recent escalation of his anti-Trump, burr-under-the-saddle, “I’m going to make you rue the day your denigrated my prisoner-of-war heroism” campaign is personal and motivated by revenge, his gratuitous swipe at the President’s deferment from the draft almost 50 years ago should eliminate it. That is personal, it is a cheap shot, it is intentionally disrespectful, and it is deliberately throwing raw meat to the President’s enemies.
It is also a Golden Rule breach: how would McCain react if Trump referenced the Keating Five scandal just to impugn McCain?
A lame duck who may well be dying, McCain has apparently decided that he can misbehave, settle scores, and undermine his party’s President with impunity. Somebody should tell him that he is dismantling his own reputation and legacy in the process, revealing himself as petty, vindictive, and willing to place his own vendetta over national interests and his duty as a U.S. Senator.
4. While we are mentioning embarrassment, it appears that the news media is not yet embarrassed by treating as substantive news the self-evident set-up and subsequent escalation of a non-incident into another manufactured anti-Trump race scandal . It should be. Imagine: yesterday all of the Sunday talking head shows gave far more time to this transparent hit-job than to the revived Russian influence allegations involving the Clintons. ABC and NBC have yet to mention that story at all; CBS, five days after it broke, gave a few seconds to it on “Face the Nation.” The excuses for this from journalists sound an awful lot like “Hey! We buried this story once; she shouldn’t have to report on it now.” FACT: As of this moment, there is more public evidence suggesting that Hillary Clinton was colluding to help the Russians than there is to suggest that President Trump did anything improper in that regard.
Back to the Rep. Frederica Wilson smear-job: The Congressional Black Caucus called for Chief of Staff John Kelly to apologize for his remarks defending the President. “We, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus, proudly stand with Congresswoman Wilson and demand that General Kelly apologize to her without delay and take responsibility for his reckless and false statements,” the female lawmakers said in a statement.
The wife of the late La David Johnson, meanwhile, has been making the rounds of talk shows. To recap: a woman who was determined to hurt Trump made sure that a Congressional Black Caucus member who had boycotted the President’s Inauguration was listening in on his condolence call, then collaborated on accusations of disrespect. When Trump denied their characterization–at best an example of likely confirmation bias if there ever was one —he was accused of racism, since both women are black. Then other members of the Caucus expanded the attack to Trump’s Chief of Staff, implying that he is racist as well.
This might have been a bit more convincing if the entire Caucus hadn’t declared their revulsion at Trump before he took office. Who believes that any criticism from this quarter is anything but cynical, political, and unfair? Meanwhile, as this was going on, esteemed CBC member Maxine Waters declared that she was going to “take out” the President, presumably not meaning that they were going on a date.
I note that even many of my Democratic, anti-Trump Facebook friends are rolling their metaphorical eyes at this one. Some of them—many, in fact— are still capable of feeling sympathy when a President is being mistreated.
5. I’ve been getting better at suppressing my head explosions, and just in time: Harvey Weinsteinhas supposedly completed rehab for his sex addiction already. What was that, less than a week? What an insult to everyone’s intelligence for Weinstein to say he was getting “help” for his “problem.” It couldn’t have been too much of a problem if it could be fixed in few days. The other side of the ethics coin is this: going into rehab has been the routine PR response whenever a Hollywood figure misbehaves. We should thank Harvey for making it clear for all time that this is often, perhaps usually, a cynical sham. Continue reading →