Fixing Elizabeth Warren’s Voice

In a post yesterday about the Democratic candidate’s debate this week, I wrote, as a coda to the usual observations about Elizabeth Warren (that she’s a demagogue, that she’s a relentless populist panderer, that she advocates things in public that as a law school professor she knows are impossible or unconstitutional…that sort of thing),

Maybe its just me, but she talks through her nose, and has one of the most annoying voices in the history of politics. Do you think that doesn’t matter? It matters. It’s also fixable.”

I’m a professional stage director (at least when someone’s willing to pay me to direct a play, anyway), and fixing bad speech habits is part of the job. Most of the time, it is just a matter of making an individual listen to themselves. I could fix Elizabeth Warren in a few hours.

Commenter Jeff, however, raises an interesting point, as he writes,

I think the window on “fixable” might have closed. If Warren took voice lessons and learned to speak with a more pleasing voice, wouldn’t it feed the perception that she’s phony? She’s already got an authenticity problem, and if her voice suddenly became non-annoying, it would be quite noticeable. Had she done it before getting all the press coverage of the primary race, it might have gone unremarked, but I think it’s too late now, especially as she takes the front-runner spot (and its attendant scrutiny from the other candidates) away from Biden.

Can you imagine the hay Trump would make with that? Sample tweet:

“Liz Warren, the Fake Indian, is such a phony she doesn’t even talk with her Normal voice anymore! So sad!”

Continue reading

“No, No! That’s NOT How You Use The Cognitive Dissonance Scale Tactic, You Idiots!”

From Newsweek:

As President Donald Trump attacks House Democrats heading an impeachment inquiry of him, The Democratic Coalition is countering with a new “Impeachment Task Force” studded with liberal celebrities to protect lawmakers seeking to hold Trump “accountable for his betrayal of America.” The task force, designed to lead rapid response to Trump during the impeachment inquiry, has confirmed members including comedian Rosie O’Donnell; actors Tom Arnold, Ron Perlman and George Takei; and actresses Debra Messing and Alyssa Milano, The Democratic Coalition’s co-founder Scott Dworkin told Newsweek. The task force launched a fundraising effort and basic plan on Thursday. The group has already started meeting and is set to go live with its website next week.

Oh, God.

See, the theory behind attaching “celebrities” to political advocacy is to force the adversary target down the cognitive dissonance scale because the celebrities have so much credibility and are so beloved that the target, in this case President Trump, lowers himself on the scale below dimply by opposing such icons, who have daunting positive values. This is Dr. Festinger’s invaluable scale right-side-up….

How many of those named celebrities are on the plus-end of the scale to most Americans, if they are recognized as celebrities at all? Tom Arnold? Rosie O’Donnell?Anyone taking their political, moral, or ethical guidance from these fools and jokers have bigger problems to worry about than impeachment, like not getting their heads stuck in loving cups, or avoiding setting their crotches on fire.

Some questions that come to mind… Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/20/2019: Fake History, Fake Photo, Fake Assassination, Fake Native American

A dramatic good morning to all.

1. Let’s see which news media outlets report this. Because, you know, the President is the one encouraging violence…State senator Martin Sandoval, who represents Illinois’ 11th District, had a  fundraising event last week that included a mock assassination of  President Trump for the enjoyment and edification of Sandoval’s supporters. Photos posted by a woman at the event show someone pointing a fake machine gun at a man wearing a Trump mask. “Trump” is acting as if he has been shot, grabbing his chest and leaning back. In another photo, Sandoval can be seen standing next to the person holding the gun.

Thus busted, and under fire from officials of his own party, Sandoval released a statement over the weekend apologizing for the incident, which he called “unacceptable.” “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else,” Sandoval said. “I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

Oddly, he didn’t take any action indicating those sentiments at the event.

2. Now THIS is police misconduct! Wow. Portland police suspected Tyrone Lamont Allen of robbing four banks and credit unions. Yet none of the tellers noticed Allen’s  facial tattoos, and he was not wearing a mask. To address that problem, the police photoshopped out the tattoos on Allen’s face before including his picture in a photo line up.

Then the witnesses identified Allen. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/17/2019: The Deluded, The Narrative, “The Squad,” The Hedgehog, And Other Things…

PERK UP! There’s ethics to think about!

(I’m talking to myself here…I’m sure you’re fine)

1. Today’s ridiculous note on the heartbreak of  Self-Awareness Deficit. Republican Mark Sanford, the defeated  former U.S. congressman from South Carolina who is best known for having to resign as governor after going AWOL to visit his South American mistress, said yesterday that  he is considering mounting a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. (Psssst! Mark! The RNC has already said that there would be no debates, and the primaries are a mere formality.) Sanford says he will decide in the next month or so whether to oppose Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The basis on which to run against Trump is character and ethics. Of the entire universe of legitimate potential challengers, an ex-governor who escaped impeachment by resigning after making a spectacle of himself has to be near the bottom, if not lying on it.

Somebody tell him.

2. Update: The Red Sox and the late Ken Poulsen’s son are still resisting common decency, I’m sorry to report. I wrote about the on-field presentation to Brett Poulsen last week, when he was awarded the 1967 World Series ring that his father had inexplicably never received despite being part of the that magical Red Sox season. Then we learned that the Sox infielder’s daughter Kendra had never been contacted by the team or her brother, so she and her children, Ken’s grandchildren had been left out of the ceremony. I’ve tried to alert the team and have passed the story along to a baseball writer friend, so far to no avail. Last night, NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network, interviewed Brett in the stands during the Sox-Blue Jays game. Once again, the false impression was left that he is the only offspring of Ken Poulsen.

I’m sorry Kendra. This is wrong. I’ll keep trying. Continue reading

“Reputation Laundering” And The Dirty Money Fallacy

Meharry Medical College is a 143-year-old historically black institution in Tennessee. Last week it announced that it had received the second-largest grant in its history, a $7.5 million gift to study public health issues that affect African-Americans.

But the gift has prompted attacks from African-American health experts and activists. The source of the funds, Juul Labs, is the fast-growing e-cigarette company and partially owned by the tobacco giant Altria. “Juul is cozying up to the black community, and that makes it harder for some parts of the black community to call them out on their targeting of African-Americans,” says Sharon Y. Eubanks, who is an advisory board member of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California. By “targeting African-Americans”, she means that the company and Altria market its completely legal products to blacks (among other groups), who choose to buy them. [Full disclosure: I worked as an ethics consultant for Altria for many years, and enjoyed the relationship tremendously. Altria was the reason I shaved my head.]

According to the NAACP’s Youth Against Menthol campaign, about 85 percent of African-American smokers aged 12 and older smoke menthol cigarettes, compared with 29 percent of white smokers, and Juul markets menthol pods while Altria markets menthol versions of its cigarettes, like Marboro.  And how, exactly, is the African -American community helped if Meharry,  the nation’s largest medical research center at a historically black institution, refuses the Juul grant to demonstrate, well, something?

You got me. This, however, is part of a growing fad among the virtuous and the “woke”—refusing to allow organizations, entities and families that they have decided are bad from using  alleged ill-gotten gains to do good. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/23/19: War, Law, Silly Names And Silly Movies

Hi!

1  Every President should be hesitant to go to war.  It is amusing watching Democrats and the news media (B.I.R.M.*) trying to thread the needle and criticize the President for pulling back on the decision to retaliate against Iran with a military response, when the Left virtually always protests military action of any kind. It is particularly amusing since the whole Iran confrontation exposes how irresponsible, dishonest, cynical, and cowardly the “solution” to the Iran problem was that President Obama secretly engineered: the “Let’s give Iran billions of dollars back to cause terrorism and chaos throughout the world in exchange for a promise not to nuke Israel until I’m rich, retired, and can’t be expected to do anything about it” plan.

2. About the Massie case. Nobody took the bait and wrote about the Massie Trial in last week’s open forum, so allow me to explain why it’s relevant.

The legal and academic world is still reeling from Harvard’s punishing law school professor Ronald Sullivan for representing Harvey Weinstein, who, the supposedly educated student citizens of Harvard have apparently been taught to believe, doesn’t have a right to a fair trial and a zealous legal defense. In the Massie case, Clarence Darrow  came out of retirement in 1932 to defend Grace Fortescue, a rich Southern heiress who had traveled to Hawaii in order to seek justice for her wild and unreliable daughter, who accused five Hawaiian men of raping her. The trial resulted in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury,  ramping  up racial tensions between whites and native Hawaiians. Fortescue paid to have one of the native Hawaiians her daughter accused, Joe Kahahawa , kidnapped and brought to her home in Honolulu, where he was tortured and shot. Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, and Edward Lord. Deacon Jones were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. Darrow, 74 and long absent from the courtroom, agreed to defend Grace even though she was obviously guilty, a racist, and the kind of rich, privileged bully that he has spent his career opposing.

L to R: Clarence Darrow, Edward Lord, Deacon Jones, Sheriff Ross, Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie, Thomas Massie, and George Leisure

Why would he do it? Two reasons, said Darrow: he had been wiped out by the Great Depression and needed the money (he was paid $30,000) and he had always wanted to visit Hawaii. Darrow, you see, knew that every defendant deserved the best possible defense, even rich racist murderers. Continue reading

ARGHHH! Worlds Are Colliding! Baseball Jack Is Being Consumed By Ethics Jack! The Boston Red Sox Board The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck!!!!

Oh, great.

One of the odious ways “the resistance” and Democrats have “violated democratic norms” in order to destroy the Trump Presidency is to rob this President of his traditional ceremonial role in national life, the so called “king” function, which exists to unify the nation. The king function comes from the acknowledgment that the President is the head of state and holds the people’s office as the only official (along with the VP) elected by every citizen. Beginning with their substantial boycott of his inauguration and continuing, indeed accelerating, with such insults as encouraging boycotts by recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors if the President participated and the White House Correspondents Dinner’s elimination–just for Trump, of course, of its tradition of a holding a good-natured  one-night truce with whomever was President, this is a deliberate assault on national unity and the office itself.

The politicizing of the once routine and uncontroversial tradition of the President hosting a visit to the People’s House by championship professional and college athletic teams has been a particularly divisive part of the deligitimization strategy, putting teams and athletes into the position of rendering judgments on matters they are generally unqualified to consider, and encouraging grandstanding and virtue-signaling. With no previous President has accepting this honor been  confused with endorsing the President’s character or policies. Women’s teams continued to accept invitations to be honored by Bill Clinton, for example, and if there were any critics of their decision, they had small megaphones and few adherents.

With this President, every invitation has become politically charged, and presented an opportunity for teams and athletes to insult the President of the United States. This irresponsible smear of the President and weakening of his office was neatly seeded by one of the many Big Lies weaponized, Goebbels-style, in pursuit of this President’s overthrow and destruction: “Donald Trump is a racist.” This one (there are others, and I hope to finish my survey of the lot today) has endured by being repeated so often, and by so many, usually without any supporting evidence because there is no evidence. Continue reading