Week-Launching Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2021: A Happy Ending To A Pit Bull Saga, A Congressional Leader Makes My Head Explode, And More [Updated]

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Singer Janis Joplin died of a heroin overdose on October 4, 1970. The anniversary prompts me to make an unkind observation that I was tempted to make after reading all of the tributes and expansive rhetoric praising “The Wire” actor Michael K. Williams after he died of an overdose of fentanyl and heroin on September 6. For at least a hundred years, anyone who takes heroin does so knowing that it is addictive and frequently fatal. My attitude toward Joplin, Williams, John Belushi, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Billy Holliday, and many other artists who have killed themselves this way involves more anger than sympathy. The world was robbed of their gifts because they were reckless. In the case of black artists, they endanger their admirers by creating a romantic aura for what is, in the final analysis, stupid and irresponsible conduct. How hard can it be not to start using an addictive substance that you know might kill you? The fact that the drug is illegal should be a big clue.

1. And speaking of the joys of recreational drugs...In a new study published in Psychological Medicine, researchers in the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health and the Institute of Applied Health Research found a strong link between “general practice recorded cannabis use” and mental ill health. Senior author Dr. Clara Humpston said: “Cannabis is often considered to be one of the ‘safer’ drugs and has also shown promise in medical therapies, leading to calls for it be legalized globally. Although we are unable to establish a direct causal relationship, our findings suggest we should continue to exercise caution since the notion of cannabis being a safe drug may well be mistaken.”

Continue to exercise caution? Who’s exercising caution? Popular culture and upper-middle class whites have been issuing pro-pot propaganda for half a century, while mocking government efforts to discourage widespread use and acceptance of another destructive recreational drug. Now nearly every state is on a path to legalize it, especially because they smell tax revenue.

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Afternoon Ethics Julep, 8/24/2021: Harry Truman Revelations For The Dog Days…

Mint Julep

1. Good Harry, bad Harry. I recently watched the 1961 interviews David Susskind did with Harry Truman in 1961. You can see them on Amazon Prime streaming. I was very impressed; I could not remember any President in my lifetime who appeared so candid, open, and sincere about his principles, certainly none of our recent POTUSes. Truman is not one of favorite Presidents; I regard him as a mediocre man thrust into a job far above his abilities who managed to do better than anyone could have predicted. He rose to the occasion as best he could, and that is deserving of respect. The interviews elevated Harry in my estimation.

Then, yesterday, I read a scholarly paper by Prof. Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School that shattered my newly grown regard for Harry. The Former Presidents Act (FPA), a 1958 statute provides ex-Presidents with millions of dollars in future taxpayer-funded benefits. One of the motives behind the House’s “snap impeachment” of Donald Trump was to ensure that he not be a beneficiary of the Act. (They failed. As Nelson Muntz would say, “HAHA!”) Campos’s research shows that while the FPA has always been explained as a response to former President Truman’s financial struggles in part because he refused to exploit his status as a former President cash in (like some Presidents of recent vintage), this was not just a false narrative, but a spectacularly false narrative. Campos writes,

Using recently released and until now unexamined archival evidence… in a complete contravention of the existing standard historical record, [it appears that] Harry Truman was, as a direct result of being president, a very wealthy man on the day he left the White House, with an estimated net worth, in relative economic terms, of approximately $58 million in 2021 dollars. …[T]his wealth was a result of both Truman’s enormous presidential salary — several times larger, in real terms, than the current salary for the office — and, more problematically, of the evident fact that Truman misappropriated essentially all of the multi-million dollar — in 2021 terms — presidential expense account that was set up for him by Congress at the beginning of his second term….[A]gain contrary to the current historical understanding, Truman made another fortune after he left the Presidency, by doing precisely what he claimed he was not doing, that is, exploiting his status as a former President to maximum economic advantage. Indeed, by the time Congress passed the FPA in response to Truman’s various claims that he was at least teetering on the brink of potential financial distress, Truman’s net worth was, in relative economic terms, approximately $72 million in 2021 dollars.”

Well, there goes that newfound respect! Truman was a member of the corrupt Prendergast political machine in Kansas City before entering national politics, so this isn’t as much of a surprise as it would be for some other icons.

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This Ethics Alarms Rebuke Of Instapundit Is Brought To You By Spuds

Spuds head small

Proving once again that dog ignorance and breed bigotry knows no partisan, ideological nor erudition boundaries, a bunch of conservatives are spreading false anti-pit bull propaganda. As is often the case, they don’t know what the hell they are talking about.

The impetus was an anti-pit bull abuse organization citing the work of Ann Linder, a Legislative Policy Fellow with Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Program, who wrote a paper, “The Black Man’s Dog: The Social Context of Breed Specific Legislation,” that argued that pit bulls have been unfairly tied to “gang violence by urban youths, as well as the hip-hop music scene.” The group then made the leap to arguing that anti-pit bull restrictions in the many American cities that have them are racist. Well, that’s demonstrably idiotic: the reason for all of those ignorant laws isn’t racism, but that the legislators passing them know zilch about dogs and are pandering to public hysteria. The hysteria is spread by the news media, popular culture, and a lot of otherwise intelligent people who should know better but don’t, and are too lazy and irresponsible to educate themselves. This group includes Conservative law prof and conservative pundit/blogger Glenn Reynolds. Shame on him.

Here’s the way it goes: since the pro-pit bull group cited a race-baiting Harvard scholar, that meant that the group must be made up of progressives, and thus wrong about everything in Instapundit Land. Conservative site College Fix posted about the foolishness of the “racism” claim. Instapundit host Reynolds snarked to his millions of followers:,

“Academics say fear of pit bulls is linked to… racism? I thought it was more about the biting: “Despite accounting for just 6.5% of all dogs in the United States, pit bulls were responsible for 66% of total fatal dog attacks between 2005 and 2017.” Why aren’t these academics following the science? I think they should be banned for “spreading misinformation.”

HA HA HA! Good one, Glenn! Why isn’t this academic checking his sources before making a high-profile ass of himself by spreading misinformation? As anyone with a smattering of canine education knows, there is no breed called a “pit bull,” but anywhere from four to eight distinct breeds that are lumped together as “pit bulls” by people, apparently like Reynolds, who don’t know a dog from a garden hose.

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Ethics Dunces: “Social Influencers” Dan And Nikki Phillippi, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows Them, And, Come To Think Of It, Anyone Who Follows ANY “Social Influencers”

But I digress, though I will continue that digression later, and maybe in an upcoming post.

Dan And Nikki Phillippi are “YouTubers,” meaning that have monetized successive facile and smarmy videos via Instagram and have made a million dollars out of it. Read about them here: if you see anything that suggests to you an IQ over 110 or any special expertise or wisdom, let me know. Nikki’s YouTube bio reads, “WELL HELLO! My name is Nikki. I used to make videos growing up just to show them to my family…now I make them and upload them to YouTube. HAHA I love all things girly, acting, singing, dancing AND helping people be the best they can be! I hope you feel inspired and happy when you watch my videos and I invite you to join me on my weird and crazy journey through life! LOL”

As far as I’m concerned, ending a bio with “LOL” is signature significance for someone I wouldn’t allow to influence me to come in out of the rain.

Dan and Nikki just put down their dog, a nine-year-old Bull terrier named Bowser, recently, and, since this is how they live, they monetized it with a video. [ Full disclosure: There’s a fair chance that our rescue dog Spuds is part Bull Terrier] They had previously been “sharing” about their new baby, Logan, now 1. The baby apparently grabbed at some of Bowser’s food, and the dog nipped him. Logan was not badly hurt, but they killed the dog anyway.

Bowser had apparently had a few aggressive incidents in the past, but that’s irrelevant: anyone who allows a baby or toddler to be in close proximity with their dog (or any dog) is 100% responsible if there is an episode like this. Moreover, any dog might react badly when a child tries to take away its food. In fact, you must not allow children and dogs to have food near each other.

In fact, I might react badly if a child tries to take away MY food…

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Introducing The Ethics Alarms “Weenie Of The Week”! The First Recipient: Jay Leno

edible dogs

“The Weenie of the Week” will recognize those who enable censors, political correctness mobs, totalitarians, cancel culture terrorists and the rising fascist tide in America by prostrating themselves and groveling for forgiveness when in truth they have done nothing wrong.

Although the term “weenie” is light-hearted in its terminology, the conduct earning the title is serious and despicable. These are not only pathetic cowards, though they are certainly that. They are the modern, domestic versions of “good Germans,” who, for their own self-interests and nothing more, are willing to reject our nation’s core rights and liberties, weaken them, and indeed join the increasingly ominous effort to suffocate free expression, dissent, creativity and humor.

Comedian and former “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno begins what I fear will be a long line.

Yesterday he issued an apology for making jokes in the past about Koreans eating dog meat after a 15-year campaign by the activist group Media Action Network for Asian Americans (MANAA).

“At the time I did those jokes, I genuinely thought them to be harmless,” Leno said in a joint press release with MANAA leader Guy Aoki: “I was making fun of our enemy North Korea, and like most jokes, there was a ring of truth to them.”

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Tuesday/Wednesday Ethics Sandwich, 3/9-3/10/21: Movies, Megxit, Major And More

Dagwood sandwich

1. Worst “review” of the Year, and other Megxit Ethics Train Wreck developments :

  • I hate to end one day (and start another) with something so nauseating, but a Times “Critic’s Notebook” entry by Salamishah Tillet titled “Taking On Royal Life’s Racism” (online, “Prince Harry Finally Takes On White Privilege: His Own”) is both incompetent and dishonest. This is no review. It is a black studies professor with an agenda using a media stunt by Oprah Winfrey and the breakaway Royals to serve as her own soap box. Using a mixed-race American who achieves some success in a difficult profession (performing), then marries a British prince with the automatic money, glamor and influence that status confers as an example of racial persecution is ridiculous on its face. This is a confirmation bias classic for the ages: the black feminist activist saw what she wanted to see in one of the worst possible settings to see it. The “review” could have been written before the interview was broadcast; I bet most of it was.
  • The U.K.’s media regulator ( that is,censor and political correctness enforcer) Ofcom is investigating Piers Morgan because 41,000 people wrote to complain about the then-ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” host stating the obvious about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s joint whine with Oprah Winfrey. On “Good Morning Britain”, which Morgan quit mid-show after being attacked by his co-host, Morgan said he did not believe Markle’s statement that she had approached the Royal family for help because she had suicidal thoughts, and was turned down. “Who did you go to? What did they say to you? I’m sorry, I don’t believe a word she said…I wouldn’t believe it if she read me a weather report,” Morgan said. Neither would I, especially when such tales were attached to no details whatsoever. Morgan is a media low-life to be sure, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t right in this case. It’s a problem, though, when the most vocal and accurate critic of a manufactured narrative is so easily discredited.
  • In the U.S., the Left will sanctify the Duchess of Sussex because she’s female and blackish, thus meaning that to question her word or character is per se racism. (She’s like a Kardashian with superpowers). The Right is mostly anti-monarchy, so any harm she does to the Royals is regarded as a plus. One poll indicates, however, that the British public is less gullible: Meghan is now the least popular Royal, even behind Jeffrey Epstein pal and likely defiler of under-age girls Prince Andrew.

It’s only because the Brits are racists, of course.

2. Is there a media critic in the United States that isn’t a partisan hack? David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun certainly fails the test. Imagine writing a column titled “If Fox News wants to be a political tool, it should be treated as such and not given access meant for journalists” after the performance of all the other news organizations from 2016 on and expecting to be taken seriously. Has the mainstream media ever committed itself to a single partisan political objective more brazenly than the propaganda campaign against President Trump? Zurawik’s claim is either delusional or a lie aimed at the deluded….of which there are many.

3. White House dog ethics. Apparently the mysteriously reported “incident” that resulted in President Biden’s two German Shepherds being banished to Delaware was more than a mere nip: the victim of a bite by Major, a rescue dog, was really hurt. “There Will Finally Be Dogs in the White House Again,” was the headline in Harper’s in January, over one of many stories cheering the fact that the new “normal” President would have a dog, unlike the weird, mean, non-animal lover on the way out. In truth, the modern White House is no place for a dog—too stressful, too many visitors and strangers— and many First Pets have been acquired as PR props rather than out of genuine love for canines. Getting a rescue dog is admirable, but they often come with behavioral problems and special sensitivities that must be addressed, or they can be dangerous. My sweet rescue dog Spuds, for example, has night terrors, and woe be to any human that wakes him up while he’s recalling past abuse.

4. Governor Cuomo is now up to SIX accusers! Who could have predicted…oh, right. I did. But I’m sure it was all just a misunderstanding, like the Governor says. Sarcasm aside, I doubt Cuomo is a threat to Bill Cosby’s total, but I didn’t expect the Cos to top 50 either.

Added: Various conservative blogs and commentators are chiding Kamala Harris, who led the unethical smearing of Brett Kavanaugh as a sexual predator based on a vague high-school incident, for not weighing in on Cuomo’s alleged conduct. Harris is a two-faced hypocrite for sure—she agreed to run with a serial sexual harasser whose wrongful conduct is a matter of photographic record—but it is not a VP’s place to get involved with state government issues.

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Comment Of The Day: “The Throw-Away Puppy”

puppy-for-christmas

Here is JP’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Throw-Away Puppy”

It seems like every holiday I see a post that is similar to this. Don’t give a new dog for Christmas. Don’t give rabbits/ducks for Easter. Don’t get turkey’s for Thanksgiving (apparently a thing out here in rural Missouri). So when my oldest son asked for a turtle for his birthday this year, I immediately said no. Of course, in his mind, this wasn’t fair. His younger brother had bought a beta fish with his birthday money. As such he thought he deserved something similar. I told him there was a big difference between a fish that lives for a few years at most and a turtle that can live up to 50+ years. If he was getting a turtle, he was in for a life-time commitment and he was too young to make that decision (at 37 I think I’m too young to make that decision).

Too many people live in the now. They want instant gratification. When that gratification wears off, they tend to move on to the next thing. This is the main reason why pets make terrible gifts: they are long term commitments. For context, lets look at how long.

The average life of a dog and a cat depending on a breed is 12 years. This assumes they are healthy for most of their life. For a horse 25-30 years. Rabbits are 10 year commitments. Hamsters and Guinea pigs fall into the 2-5 year range. Snakes, depending on the breed can live between 15-20 years. Goldfish are a lot harder to tell. Though most don’t live past a year, many have lived for decades with the oldest one in captivity living to 43. The lifespan off all of these pets illustrates the same thing: if you take on the responsibility, you should realize you are in it or the long haul.

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The Throw-Away Puppies

That was a Facebook post relayed for comment on Reddit. I read it with a large, happy rescue dog snoring on my lap; he had already been given up to shelters twice in his young life. I found myself wondering how many innocent, loving, trusting animals would be experiencing the same cruelty, not just after Christmas but after a pandemic in which shelters have been depleted by people seeking companionship while they are stuck at home.

I suppose it is a good thing the Facebook user who composed this had her name redacted: some crazed PETA members–or my wife—might have tracked her down with mayhem on their mind. I have known people like the writers—still do, in fact—and they all regard themselves as decent, ethical people whose values are in order. In truth, they have the same ethical vacuum as dog-fighting enthusiasts, just from a different socioeconomic perspective

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Rainy Monday Ethics, 11/30/2020: Statues, Dogs And Lies

Also getting me down, Karen Carpenter songs. As with great movies with O.J. Simpson or Gig Young in them, these are hard to enjoy now, at least for me. One of the most lovely natural voices in pop music history was silenced by the pernicious disease of anorexia, exacerbated by, among others, her brother, her family, and music industry executives, who made Carpenter so self-conscious about her weight and appearance that she slowly starved herself to death before her 33rd birthday. I wish I could hear her sing—and I will do that a lot in the days approaching Christmas—without thinking about that, but I can’t.

1. Proposition: any nation’s historical figures who had the impact on those nations that Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain over a significant period of time deserve to be memorialized with statues, absent some cataclysmic disqualifying act, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even in Nixon’s case, I would support a public memorial to such a historically influential figure.

In the English town of Grantham, where Thatcher grew up, an 11-foot pedestal awaits the arrival next year of a large statue of “the Iron Lady.” Apparently many in Britain, and a large proportion of Gratham’s working class residents, disapprove of Thatcher’s conservative politics and policies, and thus oppose the statue, which will be in immediate danger of toppling the minute it is erected.

Morons. One doesn’t have to personally agree with a historical figure’s position or even admire her to appreciate the impact that figure had. The criteria for memorializing prominent citizens should center on whether future generations need to know who they were and what they did, not whether their achievements and conduct are approved of according to often fleeting political, social and cultural values. Charles Moore, who wrote an authorized biography of Mrs. Thatcher, says, “It’s obvious there should be statues to Britain’s first woman prime minister. But…but…George Floyd! The New York Times’ article on the controversy says that statue toppling has become a world-wide phenomenon since the death of George Floyd. Now that makes sense: one of Great Britain’s most successful and important leaders should be robbed of her legitimate honors because a rogue cop accidentally contributed to the death of a black criminal in Minnesota.

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