Brittany Griner, the WNBA superstar, has finally been sentenced by a Russian court for illegal drug possession. Absent the intervention of other agents and factors, she will serve nine years and six months in a Russian prison. She’s already been detained in the country since her arrest in February. It is obvious, however, that the tale is far from over.
The announcement of the tought sentence prompted President Biden to emit a typical bit of futile grandstanding, as he tweeted, “…Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney. It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates.” It is pretty hard to be more blatantly futile, disingenuous and incompetent in a tweet than that. Biden doesn’t know that she was “wrongfully detained;” all indications are that she violated Russian law. “It’s unacceptable” implies that the United States won’t accept it, but as Biden well knows, the U.S. can’t and won’t do anything to force Griner’s release. Calling on a foreign nation to ignore its laws and law enforcement system to give an arrogant foreign violator a Get Out of Jail Free card is about as serious as ordering a foreign country to use Pig Latin, but that’s our Joe: talks tough, looks pathetic. The last part of the manifesto is especially silly. If being reunited with friends and family were a justification for releasing convicted criminals, then we should empty our own prisons. (To be fair, that is what a lot of Joe’s supporters want to see happen…a lot of Democratic district attorneys, too.)
In ancient Greek mythology and drama, the state of hubris inevitably led to disaster, usually at the hands of an annoyed god. If only we had appropriately annoyed gods on a mountain somewhere who would tale aim at Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel and Trevor Noah. All are alleged comedians who have been gifted with long-running platforms on television, supposedly to make Americans laugh. All have also, with the exception of Corden, spent the past five years or more using their platforms to mount a one-way attack on approximately half the nation and its values, as well as, of course, the previous President. In doing so, these six (again, Corden really has tried to be apolitical) have spread misinformation and hate, exacerbated national division, and deliberately made topical comedy unbearable for millions of people who desperately needed a laugh.
To put it in technical terms, they suck. I wouldn’t cross my yard to meet any of them, and the sooner every one vanishes from the American scene, I don’t care how, the healthier the country will be. Their primary error is confusing being smart with being smart alecks. It’s an easy mistake to make…if you aren’t very smart.
Now, I could be wrong, but when you give “priority” to some groups of Americans over others, that doesn’t seem like being a President “for” all Americans to me. That sounds like bias, favoritism, and discrimination.
I know: objecting to white, male second class citizenship makes you a sexist white supremacist, but I just can’t reconcile these two tweets. Can you?
All facetiousness aside, I think this is hilarious. The Democrats don’t even think they have to try to make sense, be consistent or not blatantly lie. The arrogance is magnificent. They really think everyone is stupid. They need to read more Greek tragedy. Hubris kills, and the joke will very likely be on them.
I wasn’t paying attention in 1975 when this episode occurred: it was a big year for me. I graduated from law school, took the bar, moved back to Massachusetts and then back to D.C. Most of all, the Red Sox went to the World Series and I had prime seats to see Carlton Fisk hit his immortal homer in the 12th inning of Game 6, waving the ball fair, but barely. The Country Music Awards (CMAs) were nowhere on my radar. They still aren’t: there isn’t a sock drawer in America I wouldn’t rather color-code that watch that show. But on October 13, 1975, 45 years ago to the day, an ethics drama unfolded with many lessons.
Charlie Rich, the soulful country music singer they called the Silver Fox (Even I had heard “Behind Closed Doors”) had been voted Entertainer of the Year by the Country Music Association of America one year earlier, and thus was chosen to announce that year’s winner of the CMA’s greatest honor at the televised 1975 show. He opened the envelope, appeared to read the name on the slip of paper, and instead of announcing it, Rich reached into his pocket, took out a cigarette lighter and set the slip on fire. While the paper burned, he finally announced that the winner was “my friend Mr. John Denver” Denver was only available to accept the awards via satellite linkup, so he made his acceptance speech with no knowledge of Rich’s gesture.
The audience was horrified, and many country music fans—and obviously John Denver fans— were furious. Charlie Rich was blacklisted from the CMA awards show for the rest of his career. His popularity crashed: from that moment until the end of his career in 1992, Rich had only one more #1 hit in those years, though a couple of songs reached #3 on the country charts. By any standard, his career after flaming John Denver was greatly diminished. Denver, universally regarded as a nice guy, was seen as the victim of a jerk. (The “my friend” seemed like a particularly nasty touch.)
What was going on here? The assumption was that Rich was taking a stand for country traditionalists against pop music turf invaders like Denver and Olivia Newton-John, who had won the Most Promising Female Vocalist award in 1973. To this day, some even see his uncivil attack on Denver as courageous. The Saving Country Music blog opined in 2013:
…feeling like the last living cell in a dead body…
1. I don’t know about you, but I’m just reaching out to random friends to see how they are doing. Some aren’t doing that well, but they appreciate the contact.
2. More of the name game: From a PR release from two members of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gail Heriot and Peter N. Kirsanow…
The Commission makes the ill-advised suggestion that referring to COVID-19 with terms like “Chinese coronavirus” is somehow fueling “[t]his latest wave of xenophobic animosity toward Asian Americans.” It is common to refer to infectious diseases by their geographic origin. Examples include Asian flu, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, Brazilian hemorrhagic fever, Ebola, German measles, Japanese encephalitis, Lyme disease, Marburg virus, Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), Pontiac fever, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, Spanish flu, Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever, and West Nile virus…It is counter-productive to hector the American people (or its leaders) about describing the COVID-19 as “Chinese” or as having originated in China. It did originate there. Ordinary Americans—of all races and ethnicities—who harbor no ill will toward anyone don’t like to have the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights imply that that they are fueling the flames of xenophobic animosity. We can’t blame them. It is insulting.
Our colleagues on the Commission close their statement by writing under the current circumstances no American should be “ostracized solely because of their race or national origin.” That is certainly sensible enough. We would add that Americans should not be ostracized on account of false accusations that their conduct has been racist, xenophobic and hateful. The promiscuous use of those terms needs to stop.
That’s fine and well stated. My position is even more basic. I refuse to participate in mind-control based on the assertion that a factual statement is “racist,” or that someone is the cause of unethical conduct because others choose to behave unethically. Any more Alyssa Milano comments or complaints about Kung Flu jokes, and I’ll be calling the damn thing the Wuhan Virus from the Capital of the Hubai Province in That Big Asian Nation Called China That Endangered The Entire World By The Dishonest, Paranoid Manner In Which It Withheld Crucial Information.
The President wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.
The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.
It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?
Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?
Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.
In my opinion, it would’ve been better if Spielberg had just left the original 1961 film version of West Side Story alone and created his own film with a similar theme, an homage to WSS, instead of trying to update and remake it.
I have seen pictures of the cast, examples of Justin Peck’s choreography of the dancing, and the scenery settings, and how colorful they all are. I don’t like what I’ve seen, at all.The backdrop scenes look far more like wealthier, tonier parts of the city, as opposed to the impoverished, rough-and-rundown parts of the city that served as a backdrop in the original. The colors are too jarring.
The Jets, the Sharks and their girls in Spielberg’s reboot/remake of the film “West Side Story” look far more like wealthy suburban prep-school kids who are dressed to the nines for partying all over town than two street gangs who are at war with each other. The Jets, the Sharks and their girls in the original 1961 film version of “West Side Story” look way rougher and tougher than the ones in Spielberg’s movie.
Justin Peck’s choreography looks too hyper, and more like hip-hop or rap dancing. I’ve seen pictures of that. Simon Oakland’s Lt. Schrank, William Bramley’s Officer Krupke, and the late Ned Glass’s Candy Store owner, Doc, also look rougher than Spielberg’s Lt. Schrank, Officer Krupke and “Doc,’ who has been given a sex change in the new script. [JAM: This was a gimmick to get Rita Moreno, the original film Anita, into the movie] Continue reading →
Baseball philosopher, iconoclast and analyst Bill James is one of my heroes for his amazing ability to look past conventional wisdom with an open mind. Beginning as essentially a self-published pamphleteer writing out of his basement, James’ counter-traditional explorations of baseball statistics eventually changed how baseball was watched, assessed, scouted and played, simply on the strength of Bill’s ideas and his facility in explaining them.
His talents could be used in many other fields–James has recently branched out into examining famous unsolved murders—but it is also true that many of the ideas he has developed in relation to baseball have wider applications. For example, James was the source of the concept of “signature significance,” which is a staple here at Ethics Alarms.
His writing also taught me that bias makes us stupid, and about the insidious power of rationalizations. Many of James’s observations seemed intrinsically obvious once he made and explained them, and the fact that baseball executives, writers and players could have been so wrong about their own game for so long seemed incomprehensible. But the reasons were what they always are, in all fields. People are biased toward what they have always believed —confirmation bias–and the “It’s always been this way” variation on the most powerful rationalization of them all, “Everybody does it” breeds blindness and intellectual laziness. Continue reading →
“World leaders are still trying to run away from their responsibilities but we have to make sure they cannot do that. We will make sure that we put them against the wall and they will have to do their job to protect our futures.”
—Climate change demagogue Greta Thunbergto cheering protesters somewhere or other; it doesn’t matter, and I don’t care.
Maybe the hubris-poisoned Swedish teen doesn’t know that “against the wall” is a violent and threatening allusion, but then she has forfeited the normal leave I would grant a high-schooler by going around the world pretending to know more than one. She doesn’t of course. She has just been programmed to lecture adults as a surrogate for adult activists, as they use her as a human shield against critics, kind of like when Curly of The Three Stooges would don glasses and shout “Can’t a man with glasses!” Can’t be mean to a teenaged girl!
Greta might as well be a Muppet, like Kermit or Miss Piggy, except I have a hard time believing that a Muppet would every threaten to line up world leaders against a wall.
World leaders have many responsibilities, among them being the duty not to pay any attention to indoctrinated children with a false sense of their own wisdom. For Time to make this obnoxious kid its “Person of the Year” is the height of pandering and unseriousness, which, com to think of it, pretty much decribes what Henry Luce’s baby has grown into in its twilight years.
Thunberg makes Cindy Sheehan look like Gandhi. As for anyone who cheers Greta’s rants, they are enabling a slow-motion tragedy. She’s a female Marjoe Gortner now, and likely to end up angry, bitter, emotionally disturbed, a drug addict, a hustler, dead before her time, or worse, a reality show star.
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.