The Great “Les Miz” Bait-And-Switch

“Les Misérables,” the bloated faux opera based on the Victor Hugo novel, has been running continuously in London’s West End, the theater district, since December 1985.  It holds the Guinness World Record for the longest run of a musical in London. In the U.S., the musical held on for a somewhat less embarrassing  16 years, running from 1987 into  2003, closing after 6,680 performances.

It was always a cynical project, as so many Broadway musicals have become since the genre became a nostalgic invalid in the 1970s. The show itself is derivative crap, and obviously so to anyone who has a passing familiarity with its superior sources. The translated from French lyrics have the resonance of Hallmark cards; there literally isn’t a clever or memorable pack of words in the whole three hour extravaganza. What “Les Miz” has, or rather had, is spectacular stagecraft, thanks to the original staging by Trevor Nunn that mounted the series of scenes on a massive raked turntable that allowed quick transition and the illusion of excitement. The musical didn’t exactly disprove the old Broadway saw that “Nobody leaves the theater humming the scenery”—the TV ad jingle-like earworms in the score assured that—but it came close.

When I saw the touring company version of the show, I realized immediately that the production could never have a life in high school, college, community theater or even in regional professional theaters, because the turntable, and the special effects it permitted, were essential to the production. Not only are stage turntables extremely expensive, they are notoriously risky, since a mechanical breakdown means the performance must be cancelled. Sure enough, after the Broadway production closed in 2003, there were no productions of the show other than the three professional touring companies owned by the Broadway producers. Then the show’s owner had an idea: let’s see if we can eliminate the turntable and get away with it! Continue reading

Oh, Great. ANOTHER Fake Stat That Everyone Will Cite As True For A Decade Or More: The $400 Emergency Expense Lie

“Good news, Fake Campus Sexual Assault stats, Fake Gender Pay Gap stats, Fake Gun Violence stats, and the rest of the club! You have anew member!

Senator Kamala Harris cited the stat in April, and if someone doesn’t stop her, it will become part of the pro-socialism “narrative” during the 2020 election campaign.  “In America right now today,” she said, “almost half of Americans are a $400 unexpected expense away from complete upheaval.”  Naturally the statistic appealed to Top Demagogue Senator Elizabeth Warren, who echoed Harris last month: “The gap between incomes and costs is so gaping that 40% of Americans can’t come up with $400 in an emergency.” Then there is  Bernie, or course,  who says: “Four in 10 [Americans are] unable to afford a $400 emergency expense.”

I’m sure the rest of the field will come around to using the stat too; dishonesty loves company, especially when the idea is to frighten the members of public who trust what politicians say. And why shouldn’t they? Warren was a Harvard professor—she must know what she’s talking about! She wouldn’t use a statistic like that without checking it, would she? Nah! Warren and Harris are both lawyers too, and lawyers have enforced ethics rules that say they must not lie. All three—Warren, Harris and Sanders—are U.S. Senators. Surely three distinguished Senators wouldn’t all use a false statistic to deceive us! Would they? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/19: Confirmation, Computers, Clinton, Cruz, And Comments

Good morning.

Trying to get used to my new computer, Microsoft 10, files I can’t find and many other things. Everything is going sloooooowly. Be merciful.

1. More on the Martin Luther King revelations. Yesterday I wrote about King biographer David Garrow’s article revealing the some disturbing and previously unrevealed results of the  FBI’s (illegal) surveillance of Martin Luther King. Predictably, Garrow is under fire for daring to sully an icon’s reputation, and because the source of the material is Hoover’s attempt to undermine King, that is the mode of attack. Garrow won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bearing the Cross,” his 1986 biography of King, and has said in the past  that FBI files should be treated with skepticism. However, he is obviously so disturbed at the new revelations that were inadvertently released that he is performing what he sees as his duty as a historian. He told the Washington Post that the summaries made by FBI agents who were spying on King are accurate, noting that different types of records warrant different levels of trust in their accuracy. The files claiming King was communist, he said,  “are coming literally third- or fourth-hand from a human informant,”so their accuracy is “highly dubious…But with the electronic surveillance records, those are very highly reliable, other than when the FBI can’t understand who’s talking.”

Confirmation bias is the key here. Garrow has none that I can see: his reputation is at risk if he is wrong, and he was an admirer of King, though not blind to his previously known flaws, like his epic infidelity. So far, the reflex deniers of Garrow’s conclusion all appear to be “keepers of the flame,” or at least invested in keeping King’s reputation intact.

It is encouraging to see the Post, which apparently refused to publish Garrow’s article,  covering the story. Most media sources are not, and that is signature significance. Many of the same sources have assumed that Donald Trump engaged in wilful sexual assault based solely on his recorded hyperbolic boasts to Billy Bush. The integrity of journalism in the U.S. could not be at lower tide.

In my case, I know enough about history and the important figures who stroll, dash and charge through it not to be surprised when any of them are revealed to have engaged in objectively horrible conduct at various points in their lives. Given King’s documented sexual appetites and epic infidelities, the likelihood that he was a sexual predator is strong. Again, my position is that King’s personal, even criminal conduct shouldn’t affect the assessment of or national gratitude for his public achievements at all. This isn’t the “personal conduct” dodge that Bill Clinton’s enablers used: his conduct with Lewinski and others was related to his job, his position, and in fact occurred in his office. That’s professional, workplace conduct, not personal.

I assume this will be another story inconvenient to the news media’s favorite causes,  that journalists and editors will attempt to bury, muddy, and minimize. Yes, and anyone who attempts to raise it, analyze it and verify it will be tarred as a racist. Perhaps I am naive and optimistic, but I don’t think that will work here. Just as eventually we had to face the truth about Thomas Jefferson and Bill Cosby, even those who want to deify King will have to deal with his private character, and decide whether they really want his statues and memorials, street signs and holiday, to come down.

Of course, there will be some good people on both sides of the argument. Continue reading

And This Is Why We Have No Trustworthy News Media: The Phantom Somali Hammer Attack.

A week ago, conservative writer Matt Vespa wrote,

There’s media silence in Minneapolis over an attack executed by a group of Somali teens that reportedly attacked bystanders East Bank Light Rail station last Friday. It looks like it was racially motivated. According to reports, anyone who was white or looked like they had money was targeted. The teens used hammers and bars as weapons. … [T]here’s been literally no media coverage of this attack. The only outlet to even mention or ask about it was the crime watch site “2ndPrecinct  Minneapolis Crime Watch and Information. They posted on their Facebook page to note that this attack did happen and that “We were told that we were the ONLY media to inquire to MPD about it. Further proof of our “incurious” local lamestream media”

Several conservative sites, including the frequently dubious Red State and the Granddaddy of Them All, Instapundit, passed on the story in the same vein, hinting darkly that the news media was burying this story because it evoked Muslim-on-white “hate crime”, and because the Left is circling the wagons around besieged Somali immigrant, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

The episode began with a police call, in  a police dispatcher states:

“[University of Minnesota Police Department] is asking for assistance from Metro Transit [Police] and Minneapolis [Police] for a group of eight to 10 males at the East Bank light rail station chasing people around with hammers. They do have some people injured. They’re sending us more information, but they’re requesting assistance.”

The rest of the story seems to have been based on an alleged eye-witness report posted on Facebook  by“Jay Hall,” who  wrote “… It was a group of Somali young males with hammers and bars. They were attacking anyone who looked like they had money or were white.”

However, by the time the episode had played out, police were describing it like this in the  report on the incident,:

Around 9.45 p.m. on Saturday 17 May, UMN police officers were dispatched to the East Bank train station on Washington Avenue Southeast, next to the University of Minnesota, after receiving reports of a group of Somali youths with weapons.

Officer Amanda Carlson:

“Upon arrival to the East Bank LRT I saw a group of Somali juveniles running away from officers traveling westbound on Washington Ave SE and turn southbound between Moos Tower and [the] Molecular and Cellular Biology building. I ran after them and heard officers yelling at the juveniles to stop. I turned onto Delaware St SE where officers had several Somali juveniles lying prone with their arms spread out. I placed a male….in handcuffs and performed a search incident to arrest. All other parties were placed in handcuffs and detained by other officers that had arrived on scene…Through further investigation, it was found that …[they were] the two individuals brandishing metal pipes towards others on the light rail platform. Dispatch sent recorded images of the incident on the East Bank LTR which showed [them] holding a metal pipe and handing it to [each other] [They] were placed in the rear of a squad car and transported to UMPD by Officer Brackett….All other parties that had fled on foot and were detained were ultimately released from police custody at the scene. I issued a citation … for disorderly conduct as he engaged in offensive, abusive, boisterous and noisy conduct tending to arouse alarm, flee police as he attempted to evade or elude peace officers, who were acting in the lawful discharge of official duty, by means of running, and false information to police as he provided a fictitious name and false date of birth.”

Carlson further wrote that two metal pipes were taken from the two young men who received the citations. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce, Cultural Dunce, Journalist Dunce—Yes, These Are Our Elite Journalists, Folks!—Times Reporter Maggie Haberman

This would have a KABOOM! tag, but my head is all exploded out today.

But think about it as you read: Haberman has been the primary reporter for the New  York Times on “Russiagate,” and she is obviously Trump Deranged, infected by crippling confirmation bias, and to be crude because sometimes crudity is called for, a total dumb ass.

New York Post reporter Nikki Schwab tweeted today, “Edelweiss” was being played as we walked into the @WhiteHouse”

The woke and culturally literate Haberman responded in horror, “Does…anyone at that White House understand the significance of that song?” Yes, Haberman, who has been crippled by the “resistance” narrative that the President is a Nazi, thinks “Edelweiss” is a Nazi anthem, because, well, see the descriptors above.

No, you lazy, biased, musical theater-challenged moron, “Edelweiss” is the anti-Nazi anthem sung by Baron Von Trapp at the climax of “The Sound of Music,” the artistic creation of two Jews, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, Jr. The  paternal head of the singing family defiantly sings the song as a sentimental salute to Austria before the Nazi’s took over, as the Austrians sing and the Nazis scowl. It’s a scene much like the famous Marseillaise scene in “Casablanca.” Maybe Maggie also thinks the French national anthem is pro-Nazi. Why not? It’s no more ridiculous than her misunderstanding of “Edelweiss.” Continue reading

Newsweek’s “Big Lie” cover (From The Ethics Alarms “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump!” File) [Part II]

Let’s finish the survey of the allegedly racist statements the “resistance’s” Big Lie strategy requires us to accept as part of its efforts to denigrate and marginalize the duly elected President of the United States.

Next up for debunking….

  • “Shithole countries.” This isn’t just a contrived race-bating gotcha, it’s a  hearsay contrived race-baiting gotcha. I wrote about this one enough here.

It’s pure crap, ironically enough.

  • Very fine people on both sides.” The Big Lie purveyors will flog this one forever. Once again Trump’s inability to use his native tongue with nuance gave his critics a club to beat him with when he declined to accept the “good vs evil” characterization of the Charlottesville riot that was being pushed by the media.  He should have said there were horrible people on both sides, for there certainly were. The protest march organized by a white supremacist group to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue by the history-censoring Left undoubtedly had non-white supremacists in the group: I, for example, strongly object to tearing down Lee’s statues, and I’m a very fine people. The group that arrived to turn a peaceful an d Constitutionally protected march into a battle did not deserve the blanket endorsement the Left insisted upon: they were in the wrong, and precipitated the violence. Moreover, the President stated clearly that there was no excuse for white supremacy or bigotry. Once, admitting the humanity of your adversaries and those you disagree with was regarded as virtue. Now, it makes one a racist.

Continue reading

Newsweek’s “Big Lie” cover (From The Ethics Alarms “Stop Making Me Defend President Trump!” File) [Part I]

[And before I begin, let me say: what a despicable, juvenile, vicious, unprofessional cover, even for Newsweek. Why not just run a photo of the President with a moustache, goatee, mean eyebrows and horns scrawled on it by a 5th grade member of the “Resistance”? Do these pathetic President-haters realize how gutter-level their constant assault has become, and how it it harms the nation, society and our institutions? If they do, they are betraying their country; if they don’t, they are too ignorant and badly socialized to regard as serious critics.]

The most persistent Big Lie narrative as part of the “resistance” soft coup effort is that President Trump is a racist. This week’s Newsweek cover is amusingly inept in its efforts to advance that libelous and slanderous narrative, because it demonstrates how weak their case is. The cover is plastered with the allegedly “racist” statements the President has made that prove his bigotry. None of them are racist. Big Lie-style, however, Democrats, complicit journalists and assorted Trump-haters have been citing these quotes so long and repetitively that Newsweek apparently thinks they are res ipsa loquitur—that the speak for themselves. What speaks for itself, or should, is that Newsweek thinks, or wants readers to think, that these quotes constitute evidence of any racial animus at all, and hasn’t a metaphorical leg to stand on.

When I challenge Facebook friends to back up their “Trump is a racist” claims, all they usually can muster are these same quotes. Sad.

Let’s examine and analyze them, shall we? Continue reading