Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/7/2019: The Duke’s Revenge, Biden’s Integrity, The VA’s Incompetence, And A Teacher’s Cruelty [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

Last night we managed to watch both “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan,” which especially amused me as I recalled the places my father shouted at the screen. Especially after “The Longest Day,” the complete absence of any sense of what the D-Day invasion was about or why we were fighting at all is particularly irritating, but then that’s Spielberg all over.

I also recalled the story about John Wayne’s participation in “The Longest Day.” (The Duke is really good in it, though if there is a star of “The Longest Day”, it is Robert Mitchum as  Brigadier General Norman Cota, Assistant Commander, 29th Infantry Division, the man who was also a primary hero of D-Day itself. )

You who else is surprisingly good? Paul Anka, in his small role. He was only in the movie because he wrote the title song, but the singer shows a genuine talent for projecting his character on screen.

[Correction note: I originally wrote, “As far as I can determine, it was Anka’s only film appearance.” Wrong, Ethics Breath!  Reader VinnyMick points out that Anka has several other, less successful, screen appearances. I regret the error.]

This was a passionate,  emotion-and-patriotism- driven project by Darryl F. Zanuck, and he was betting everything on its success: the studio, his personal finances, his love life (Zanuck’s girlfriend at the time had the only female role in the movie), everything.  The producer realized that he had to have Wayne in the film for credibility, as the Duke had been  the Hollywood face of the American fighting man in World War II.  Wayne knew it too, but was angry with Zanuck, who had mocked Wayne’s equivalent project of the heart, “The Alamo.”

He refused to do the film for scale (then $25,000) like the many other Hollywood stars in the film, and insisted on receiving $250,000 as an expensive crow-eating exercise for Zanuck. (That was what Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Rod Steiger, Red Buttons, Richard Burton, Peter Lawford, Eddie Albert,  Jeffrey Hunter, Robert Wagner and Robert Ryan received combined. ) Even though the producer had Charlton Heston lined up to play Wayne’s role if no deal could be struck, he agreed to the punitive fee, as well as giving Wayne special billing in the credits, an out-of-alphabetical order “and John Wayne” at the end.

Yes, that was revenge…but Zanuck didn’t have to agree to it. The lesson is worth remembering: don’t spite anyone gratuitously, or make an enemy casually. You never know when you might need them.

1. Biden flip-flops, but at least he flipped in an ethical  direction. Joe Biden is not modelling a lot of integrity as he desperately tries to appease the radical Left in his party so they might hold their noses and vote for an old, sexual harassing white guy to run against President Trump. His latest reversal was to repudiate the Hyde Amendment, which he had once supported and indeed voted for in the Senate. That’s the law that forbids any taxpayer funds from being spent to fund abortions.

The Hyde Amendment never made any sense. If abortion is a right, and it has been one for decades, then government support for access to that right ought to be no less a requirement than with any other right. The Hyde amendment stands for the proposition that if enough Americans don’t agree with government policy, they should be able to withhold financial support of it. That, of course, wouldn’t work as a universal principle, so the Hyde Amendment is an ethical and legal anomaly. I doubt Joe’s flip-flop is one of principle rather than expediency, but it’s still the right position to have.

2. Nevertheless, Joe’s not going to make it. The New York Times—it wants someone else to get the nomination, so it is reporting negative things about Biden that it might bury with another candidate—revealed once again that Biden repeatedly lied about participating in 1960s civil rights marches,  despite being warned by aides not to do it. Such straight-out falsehoods are debilitating for a candidate who will be claiming to be the champion  to elevate the Presidency beyond the incessant petty lies of Donald Trump; this was one reason Hillary Clinton was unable to exploit candidate Trump’s mendacity. She’s a habitual liar too.

So is Joe. It happens when you will say anything to get elected. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/29/2019: “It Depends On What The Meaning Of _____ Is” Edition

And as May sinks slowly into the west, we wave farewell…

(All in all, it’s been a discouraging month on the ethics front, and I will not be sorry to see it go.)

1. I just unfriended someone for political reasons, which I never have done before. Not because of what the guy’s stated beliefs are, because I emphatically and unalterably hold that ethical adults should be able to resist cognitive dissonance and maintain good relationships with those whom they believe are obviously, tragically, dangerous wrong about anything from baseball to abortion, but because he demands one-way dialogues.

He wrote me requesting that I not challenge his posts or the assertions of his seal-like followers, yet routinely comments on my page, and his many dubious positions pop up on my feed routinely. Essentially he wants me to be complicit in his enabling the largely Leftist bubble that Facebook has evolved into, and to allow people to cheer on illogical and biased posts without having to defend their barely-thought out screeds.

To hell with that.

2.  What a surprise! From Jezebel:

“…Biden still seems unable to keep his hands to himself.Indeed, at an American Federation of Teachers town hall in Houston on Tuesday night (where he unrolled a pretty decent education plan, to be fair) Biden pulled out another Classic Biden Move, per Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez .“In a somewhat odd moment at tonight’s AFT town hall, Biden tells a 10-year-old girl, ‘I’ll bet you’re as bright as you are good-looking,’” she tweeted. “He takes her over to the assembled reporters, then stands behind her and puts his hands on her shoulders while he’s talking.”

To anyone who believed that Biden had instantly reformed from a career- and life-long addiction to touching, hugging, sniffing, and otherwise behaving disrespectfully, presumptuously and assaultively to women and, ick, young girls, a) I told you so, and b) you’re too gullible to go through life without a keeper.

Is the feminist-dominated Democratic Party really going to let this creep represent it in the 2020 elections? I find that impossible to believe, polls notwithstanding, but maybe I’m giving Democrats credit for integrity that they long ago proved the party no longer values or possesses. Continue reading

This Is Sexual Harassment, And Until Hollywood, The Media, And the Public Realize It, The Harvey Weinsteins (And Joe Bidens) Will Roam The Workplace Like The Buffalo Once Roamed The Plains

Frasier now and then. Psst! Brendan! You can’t ambush actresses with kisses any more! At least not unless you’re running for President as a Democrat…it’s complicated. Give me a call.

This drives me crazy. I’m preparing a sexual harassment training seminar for an association, and this story just went into the introduction.

A nice cheery puff piece is up at E!On-line. about reminiscences by actress Leslie Mann (make that feminist, woke, #Me too-supporting actress Leslie Mann)   about the time she shot a movie with actor and one-time stud-muffin Brendan Frasier. A sample:

“Every morning before work we were in the hair and makeup trailer getting ready. And he would come in and kiss me on the lips,” she tells host Busy Philippswith an ear-to-ear grin. “Just like, ‘Good morning!’ And kiss. You know, like he’s European or something.”

Leslie got used to those morning smooches—earlier in the clip, the actor cheekily notes that since her character was supposed to fall for Brendan’s onscreen, she just went ahead and “fell in love with him in real life”—so it was pretty jarring for her when the kisses stopped suddenly one day.

Frasier didn’t ask permission for these spontaneous kisses, which #MeToo emphatically calls sexual assault in principle, just not when they like the assaulter. It is sexual assault, just like this is… Continue reading

The Integrity Void That Is Joe Biden…and His Progressive Supporters

Since announcing his candidacy for the Presidency, Joe Biden has obliterated whatever small respect I had for him—it was small indeed—and established himself as the official expediency candidate of the Democratic Party.

There was a time in 2016 when I had resolved that if Biden threw his hat in the ring, I would hold my nose and vote for him. He was less offensive to my ethical values and priorities than Donald Trump— few would not be—and less cynical, manipulative and untrustworthy than Hillary Clinton (see interjected comment above.)

If he had been the Democratic nominee, would I have still concluded, as I did late in the campaign, that the Democratic Party was as unsupportable as an institution as Trump was as an individual, being so corrupt that it was increasingly willing to abandon core American rights and principles in its pursuit of power? I wonder. As it has turned out, I was more right than I knew. Now Joe is proving it, and leading Democrats to prove it as well.

Astoundingly, he is the runaway leader in all polls of the contenders for the nomination, though not all are really “contenders.” In part this is the predictable consequence of being Vice President for 8 years: the order of the top  candidates tracks almost exactly with the national awareness of who the candidates are, with the exception of Elizabeth Warren, and thank God for that. Most Americans still aren’t paying close attention to Presidential politics, meaning that they can’t pronounce Buttigieg, don’t know that he’s gay, couldn’t pick Amy  Klobuchar out of a line-up, and get Cory Booker confused with Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Another reason Biden may be ahead is that he’s the only recognizable candidate who  doesn’t sound like he’s running for President of Venezuela, although he has also made it crystal clear that if sounding like a socialist is what it tales to get the nomination, he’ll sound like a socialist.

In other words, Biden displays the exact opposite of what is arguably Donald Trump’s best trait. The President is consistent in presenting himself as who is is, and takes positions that many disagree with, perhaps violently. In contrast, if Joe Biden has any integrity at all at this point in his career, please point me to it.  More disturbingly, no progressive who supports Biden can plausibly regards integrity as an important ethical virtue (It may be the most important ethical virtue, especially for leaders.)

Listen to this classic late stage Trump Derangement rant that Joe was confronted with by a woman  at a campaign stop: Continue reading

Althouse Ethics

Blogger Ann Althouse, who doesn’t write an ethics blog but does a good job flagging ethics issues and outrages, had an unusually ethics-centered day of blogging. Here are brief comments from me on four of her posts, which you should read. I had two of these in my queue, and I’m grateful to Ann for saving me some time I desperately need,

Ann notes how, in the Post comments to the article, which has nothing to do with Donald Trump, some people cannot help using the topic to attack the President, as she writes, “Trump Derangement Syndrome, symptom #1: When things aren’t at all about Trump, you visualize violence against him and get off on your vision.”

This is, in a nutshell, what Facebook is like, every day. I could spend all my time writing, “Do you listen to yourself? You’re completely consumed by blind hate of the President of the United States. Get help. You’re embarrassing yourself, and making  society divided and ugly. You, and everyone like you. Not him. YOU. “

This is why Democrats are deluding themselves if they think poor Joe is a viable candidate. They can’t possibly attack President Trump for being dumb, inattentive, incompetent, old or mentally unfit with Biden making gaffes like this—or worse—almost daily, and he will make them almost daily, Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Points, 4/30/2019: New Developments In Old Stories

Pardon if I sound distracted—I’m still giggling about Kate Smith.

1. Kate, Robert E. Lee and the King of Pop. It’s ironic that this comes up as I am debating on Facebook with rabid Robert E. Lee statue-topplers, because this episode perfectly illustrates why they are wrong, and not just wrong, but stupidly and obnoxiously wrong. No historical figure is honored for everything in his or her life. They are honored for their importance, influence, good deeds, finest moments and best traits. The growing totalitarian mob on the Left wants to erase the memory of anyone who failed to meet their current standards of virtue decades or even centuries before those standards existed, when many of the standards  are unreasonable even now.

Great achievers are, with the tiniest sliver of exceptions, flawed, strange, obsessed and abnormal people, and those who would hold them to impossible levels of perfection guarantee a hollow culture, a sanitized and boring history, and a shallow society.

Thus I found myself surprising myself by sympathizing with the decision of an elementary school in Hollywood to keep Michael Jackson’s name on its auditorium, despite the growing likelihood that he was a child molester, as the Los Angeles Times reported. The majority of parents and staff of Gardner Street Elementary School, which Jackson briefly attended, voted to keep his name above the auditorium. Ick, but maybe that was the right decision. Jackson was a great and influential performer, and that’s what he’s honored for. Continue reading

Quick Ethics Takes Because I Don’t Have Time For Longer Ones Right Now: More Facebook Wars, Buttigieg Gets #MeTooed, And An Ethics Mess…

—Pete Buttigieg has been accused of sexual assault. Of course he has. No white male will be allowed to threaten the presumed right of a woman—some female Democrat to try to accomplish what Hillary could not. When did I first point this out? It was a long time ago. #MeToo is now a political weapon that has less to do with exposing sexual assault and harassment than it does with giving women and progressives a way to destroy anyone they need to.

—More on the Facebook wars….This morning I wrote about my infuriating back and forth with Facebook SJWs who claimed that the President calling Robert E. Lee a “great general” was a white supremacy dog whistle. Others have joined in, citing the fact that 31 states have statutes honoring  Lee as “proof” that the only purpose of the honors were to “intimidate blacks.” “Why not just the Confederate states?” they asked. Why? Because Lee isn’t just important because he was a Confederate general, that’s why. He was an important figure in American history, ethics, education, and military innovation.

Until Lee was targeted by the Left, he was nearly universally regarded as a complex, perhaps tragic, major American force and role model for since 1865.  I’m not a Lee fan, but he deserves to be honored if for no other reason than because he personally vetoed the plan to take the war into the hills, and use guerilla tactics to make  defeating the Confederacy too long a process for the North to sustain. His noble acceptance of full responsibility for the defeat of Pickett’s Charge, exonerating his men (“It was all my fault!”) is a military and American leadership cornerstone, emulated by General Eisenhower in his note, never used, accepting full responsibility for the Allies defeat at D-Day.

—-But here, as they say, is the beauty part. At the same time, elsewhere on Facebook, I was chastising a friend who said that he couldn’t support Biden until he publicly apologized to Anita Hill. Of course, nobody should apologize to Hill, who engineered a despicable  ambush designed to run the career and reputation of her long-time patron, Clarence Thomas, because he dared to be a conservative jurist. To make my friend’s statement even more ridiculous, while there was never any confirmation of Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment, Biden has been blithely going through life, harassing one woman after another, but meaning well. But I digress. Continue reading