Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/28/17

Good Morning!

Ready for an ethical week?

1. In a comment thread about Joe Arpaio’s pardon, the absurd assertion was made that Chelsea Manning was “tortured” at Leavenworth. In knocking down this anti-U.S. propaganda, courtesy of the U.N. and others, I noted that even the U.N. accuser based that assessment on the weird conclusion that Manning was “never convicted of a crime.”

Translation: military courts martial don’t count. Thanks for that opinion, U.N. guy! Why don’t you start your own country?

The other part of the phony torture accusation is the assertion that being held in solitary confinement is torture. Under international law, it is considered “cruel and unusual punishment,” not torture, but… surprise! The U.S. is not governed by international law, much as the globalists wish it were!

Solitary confinement has (rarely) been found by U.S. courts to violate the 8th Amendment when it is of indeterminate duration and without good cause, but that has nothing to do with Manning, who was considered in danger as a traitor in a military prison, and was in solitary for her own protection. The Supreme Court determines what is cruel and unusual punishment in this country, not the U.N., and not international law.

2. I also (I admit it: I knew I would) triggered a freak-out here, and some unfair insults that I will gracefully ignore, by stating that I would have supported execution for Manning, who was and is a traitor. (President Obama commuted her sentence, making the anti-war Left happy but oddly triggering a fraction of the condemnation in the news media that has followed President Trump’s pardoning an 85-year old man facing a minimal jail term. ) The U.S. has been historically reluctant to execute traitors, and in the era where a cyber-leaks can give more aid and comfort to the enemy than Julius and Ethel Rosenberg could have managed in a hundred years, a re-evaluation of that kind, merciful but dangerous policy is over-due for reconsideration. Manning avoided conviction on the worst of the charges against her (then, him) because prosecutors didn’t prove intent sufficiently. Manning claimed that she was just trying to start a “conversation’ about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and was willing to put classified information into the hands of terrorists in order to do it. If she knew she would be facing the death penalty with some certainty, it is likely that Manning would have thought twice, at least. It’s called deterrence, and in an age where self-righteous low-level types like Manning and Edward Snowden can get U.S. intelligence personnel exposed and killed with a few keystrokes, serious deterrence is called for.

3. Remember when I asked readers to alert Ethics Alarms when the first talking head suggested that out first major hurricane in 12 years was the result of climate change? It took longer than I expected, but the first reported fool was CNN anchor John Berman. He  was interviewing  Bill Read, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, and asked,

“Is there a why to this? Why there is so much water associated with this storm? One thing we heard from scientists over the last 10 years is that climate change does impact the intensity of many of the storms that we see.”

To his credit, Read assured Berman that the heavy rains had nothing to do with climate change, and everything to do with the typical behavior of this kind of storm. The episode shows 1) how little many journalists (I won’t say all, but it is very close to all) understand the science of climate change, but promote it anyway because it aligns with their partisan politics, and 2) how they will try to generate fake news, which is what “Hurricane Harvey Deadly Rainfall Possibly Caused By Climate Change, Expert Tells CNN” would have been. If Berman was interested in promoting public understanding of the climate change controversy, he would have asked, “Climate change models and Al Gore’s documentaries predicted more and more violent storms as a result of global warming, yet this is the first major hurricane we have seen in more than a decade. How do you account for this?”

4. In the teeth of this renewed attack on U.S. history and culture during the Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, I asked how long it would be before “Gone With The Wind” was banished from the airwaves. The Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee just withdrew its annual screening of the classic 1939 film  out of concern that some may find it ‘offensive’.

If no one has the courage to stand up for art, expression and history as “the offended” try to strangle cultural diversity out of existence, then Orwellian thought control will be the inevitable result. I don’t blame the “offended” for trying to suppress speech, thought and history as much as I blame the cowards who capitulate to it. Next in the line to oblivion: war movies, movies with guns, “Gettysburg” and John Wayne.

5. Bravo to the Washington Post for its headline, Black-clad antifa attack peaceful right wing demonstrators in Berkeley. Since the Charlotte riots, much of the news media has taken the position that right wing demonstrators are inherently the inciters of violence, and the “counter-demonstrators” are virtuous warriors for good who sometimes get carried away. Of course, the Berkeley riots over the weekend would have been pretty hard for even the Post to spin.

6. Related: I am perplexed and torn regarding the proper ethics analysis of President Trump’s decision to reverse the Obama executive order halting the military from selling military equipment to police departments. He will sign an executive order to restore “the full scope of a longstanding program for recycling surplus, lifesaving gear from the Department of Defense.  The gear recycled through the Department of Defense’s 1033 program includes everything from ammunition and vehicles to office supplies… Under that program, assets that would otherwise be scrapped can be repurposed to help state, local, and tribal law enforcement better protect public safety and reduce crime.” I assume that the timing, as various police departments have conspicuously avoided confronting rioters of late, is not coincidental.

National police groups had been pushing for Trump to rescind Obama’s ban, to ensure that local and state police departments aren’t put in danger when responding to active shooter situations and terrorist attacks. Obama’s order, coming after the Ferguson police looked like an invading force when rioting broke out over the Michael Brown shooting, seemed to be a statement that police departments couldn’t be trusted to have such fire power. Can they all be trusted? I wonder if a police department should have to receive permission from a governor to break out the tanks.

Conservative blogger Liz Shield had a disturbing response to the order:

“If you are comfortable having this equipment turned on you, then, by all means, sell military equipment to the police. The police in Berkeley and Charlottesville didn’t use the means they did have to stop or subdue mob violence by lefties. You can bet their equipment and new military toys will be used against you. The next Democrat president will make sure of that.”

7. The MTV music video awards were almost non-stop Trump hate last night. None of it was substantive; most of it was emotional grandstanding and virtue-signaling. If an award show wants to brand itself this way, that’s the choice of the producers and the performers, but they are modelling uncivil, ignorant and hateful conduct, and any future appeals for the nation to “come together,” “talk to each others” and “reject the hate” from this crew will be laughable.

Host Katy Perry began the televised affair with a juvenile skit about her returning from space to discover that the world is “on fire” and that we’re in the midst of a “apocalypse” because Trump won the election. (Maybe you should have come back from “space” in time to vote, Katy!) Then Paris Jackson, having no credentials for a national platform for her infantile political opinions besides being daughter of the late Michael Jackson, called on our young  to “resist” the “Nazi white supremacist jerks.” The band 30 Seconds From Mars saluted the violent antifa movement as lead singer Jared Leto wore a ski mask. Pink accepted her Michael Jackson Vanguard Award wearing a ribbon that read “Wake The Fuck Up!” on one side and “Fump Truck” on the other. (During a commercial break and thus not on the air, the song “Fuck Donald Trump” echoed through  the arena.) Presenter Pete Davidson from the Saturday Night Live cast wore a t-shirt that read “Dead Presidents.”



Sources: Mediaite

61 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/28/17

  1. 3#

    The hurricane had a lot of water in it because it came from the ocean.

    Which has a lot of water in it.

    My preschooler understood this.

    Why does it seem like Harvey had more water than usual?

    Because, unusually, Harvey just sat in the same location for a much longer time than most hurricanes do…so for the area it sat on top of, yes, there was a greater volume of water than would be expected of a hurricane.

  2. #5 It’s a good thing that California has infringed the 2nd Amenment, otherwise the peaceful right-wing protesters might have shown up able to defend themselves from what can be expected by any rational and objective observer: ‘antifa’ & friends initiation of violence.

    But then again, if the right-wingers had been able to defend themselves, the headlines would have been all about violent right wingers.

  3. I shrug at #7. MTV has come a long way since the days when they played Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf” over and over. They’ve always been liberal, where else would you hear about “rock the vote” and have a legit candidate answer a question about his underwear, but at this point they have sunk into hate, bitterness, and anarchism. The popular music industry has always catered at least in part to young people’s feelings of alienation and aggression (witness the various punk movements) but now they have absorbed that themselves. My dad used to scoff at MTV as worthless because it was a time-waster when my brother and I should have been washing the car or vacuuming the floor or bettering ourselves academically, but now it’s dangerous. I don’t have kids, but I would have long ago moved the family over to country if I did. Yes, Lone Star’s facile paeans and Faith Hill’s ballads all sound the same after a while, but I’ll take them over these ridiculous rants and Britney’s moaning and panting.

  4. “Climate change models and Al Gore’s documentaries predicted more and more violent storms as a result of global warming, yet this is the first major hurricane we have seen in more than a decade. How do you account for this?”

    I think it is at least a bit deceptive to say that “we” have had no major hurricane in a decade.

    Hurricane Sandy killed one person in Puerto Rico, and killed about a hundred throughout Haiti, Cuba, and Jamaica. It caused flooding and wind damage across the East Coast without itself touching land, and hit New Jersey as a “as a post-tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds”. It is entirely a few words difference in the dictionary that it was not technically a “hurricane” when the main body of the storm hit the Northeast.

    Having watched hours of torrential rains, an 80 foot tree knock of electricity, phone and internet (and come inches from crushing our car); Having more trees blocking roads than at anytime since Gloria (before my time), and looking from ground as worse than the last hurricane I did live through, I find it a pretty tedious argument to repeat over and over that we haven’t had a major “hurricane” in a decade. If Sandy wasn’t a hurricane, only the academics care.

    • Okay, so we had one, Sandy.

      Still a fairly long haiatus. Which is not at all unprecedented. Hurricanes seem to come in waves and then drop off over the course of a few years or a decade or so. Hurricanes were sinking Spanish galleons well before the advent of the Industrial Revolution and green house gasses.

    • 15 years ago, my parents bought a cabin out at a local lake. It was a dump, but we lovingly renovated the entirety of it from something we bought for $15,000 to something we sold 8 years later for $120,000. Part of that renovation was landscaping. We drove rebar through railway ties stacked on top of each other as a quasi-decorative retaining wall for a couple truckloads of fill, so we could have some real, green grass…. Which at the time was unique along the strip.

      Why does any of that matter?

      Because our third summer there, we had a month of flooding punctuated by the most violent storms I’ve ever seen outside of news coverage. The water rose about five feet, not only covering the 40 feet of beach between our yard and the normal waterline, but also ripping the ties out of the facade, washing away all that fill and obliterating our carefully cultivated pride. Our neighbor-lady, who the kind of lovable, crotchety, octogenarian bitch that I find hilarious told us bluntly that we were idiots for putting that much effort into our wall and NOT building it out of stone, because that happened every ten years.

      Regardless, lesson learned, we rebuilt more sturdily, and life moved on.

      Ten years after that… Something like four after we sold, Sure enough, almost like clockwork, another flood season happened, but this time there was a new development, and it drove the decorative trees that had been planted in the front yards of some million dollar “cabins” right through their full frontage glass windows.

      This was attributed to climate change. Of course. It had never happened before, ever, in the history of the development, what else could it be? Unfortunately, Mrs. H wasn’t there to call them idiots.

    • To be technical about it: the US NHC classifies hurricanes of Category 3 and above as “major hurricanes”.

      Sandy was a cat 3 at peak, but a cat 2 when it made landfall on the US.

      Jack is technically correct I believe (way to lazy to sift through the data on named stormed from 2007 onwards), though I would argue that if you were wanting to look at an increase or decrease in storm activity related to climate change you would want to look in the Atlantic in general, and not just major storms that hit the US in the past decade.

      • He is technically correct, but it is tedious to argue over “major” hurricanes, when Sandy did more damage than many lesser hurricanes (70 billion, comparable to Katrina at 80 billion).

        I will also back track, and state that I was personally remembering Irene, not Sandy. Irene knocked down all the trees, leaving little for Sandy in Connecticut. Still Irene hit only a year before Sandy, and cost 15 billion, making it the seventh most damaging in US history. Irene also killed 50 worldwide.

        I am making no argument with regard to climate change or increased frequency of storms. I just think it is misleading to state there were no “major” hurricanes, for a decade, when at least two of the top seven most destructive storms in US history occurred during that interval.

        • I’ll go you one further, Rich. I think it’s irrelevant to view hurricanes that hit the US as at all meaningful to a discussion of hurricanes. All we need to look at is Atlantic hurricanes if we want to know anything about historic precedents and trends. Also, damage numbers are useless unless they are adjusted for inflation. They also have to be adjusted for the huge increases in population and structures in hurricane areas since the 1930s or even the 1890s. Not to mention the distortion of property loss and loss of human life in the US compared to that in poor countries without building codes and communications infrastructure.

  5. I don’t think any police departments are going to be using tanks. Perhaps surplus armored vehicles to deal with full scale riots or terrorist attacks. A fifty caliber machine gun could be quite useful in dealing with terrorists (but not rioters).

    • If we want to get technical, it is only a tank if it is a tracked vehicle. The police don’t have tracked vehicles because they damage pavement. They use things like Strykers, MRAPs and other heavy, armored wheeled vehicles.

      We had an incident a few years ago where they used them against one of their own. They had a local SWAT officer was molesting his 13 y/o stepdaughter. They decided to take him at home. I’d much rather have seen them do it at roll call, department locker room, etc… but they decided to do it in the middle of the night at the officer’s home. Concerned about the fact that he had SWAT weaponry at his house, they ran over the neighbor’s fence, crossed the yard and entered the officers back yard and parked two armored vehicles in his back yard to cover a rear escape while the SWAT team hit the front of the house. They refused to cover the damage to the neighbor’s yard since it was a coincident to a lawful arrest.

  6. I stand by my statement that Chelsea Manning was tortured, regardless of whether the legal definition in the U.S. has caught up with that fact or not. I would not want anyone involved in her treatment to be prosecuted for torture, as what they did was, as of now, legal. But it was still torture by any reasonable definition, and our current legal definition is not reasonable.

    • You can stand by it, it just makes you look unreasonable. I can’t think of a world where being left alone is equivalent to having hot bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails or the simulated drowning of yesteryear’s black sites. What a joke.

      • #22, “It isn’t the worst thing.”

        I’m sorry that you cannot fathom being aware of the psychological research about solitary confinement, but that doesn’t make it ridiculous or untrue.

          • And I don’t plan on it. As I said, the research on solitary confinement and what it does to the human mind is out there, and speaks for itself. We’re all intelligent people here. If you’re not aware of it, it’s because you don’t want to be aware of it.

        • Chris wrote, “I’m sorry that you cannot fathom being aware of the psychological research about solitary confinement, but that doesn’t make it ridiculous or untrue.

          I’m sorry that you cannot fathom being aware of the psychological research about solitary confinement, but that doesn’t make it ridiculous or untrue.”

          There is psychological research about all forms of punishment and certainly prison in general and “what it does to the human mind”; so should we have prohibition against all forms of punishment?

      • I spent 9 months of my 4-year sentence locked up 23/7 in a supermax cell. Years before, I was waterboarded, put in stress positions, etc in SERE school. Neither amounted to torture.

        • Those 9 months – were they before or after trial?

          Does this accurately describe your treatment before trial?

          “Once in Baltimore, Pfc. Manning was loaded into a car and transferred to the military base in Quantico, Virginia. There he was held for nine months in maximum custody in a cell smaller than the one he saw overseas—just 6′ x 8′. For only 20 minutes a day, Pfc. Manning was left to see the sunlight while shackled in chains. Other times, he found that if he arched his neck and angled himself just right he could catch the reflection of the sun from a window that was mirrored into his unimaginable concrete hellhole. Once inside his isolation chamber for the customary 23-and-a-half hours or so, he was deprived of just about everything, including contact with other inmates and often his clothes. He was forced to sleep from 1 PM to 11 PM, naked, and was allowed to do so only when facing his lamp.”

          “His commanders at Quantico were put on the stand this week and testified that the soldier was regularly stripped of his underwear and flip-flops because he was classified consistently as prevention-of-injury, or POI, a status that made his imprisonment essentially on par with the strictest of solitary confinement sentences on the basis that he was a suicide risk.

          Pfc. Manning was”as normal as a max prisoner would be,” Lance Corporal Joshua Tankersley told the court. Normal doesn’t necessarily have the same definition with military detention personnel as others.

          “You would look in the mirror at yourself or stare at the wall.” That, said Tankersley, was normal behavior.

          In the brig, Pfc. Manning was only allowed to make contact with the detainees directly on either side of his cell; for the duration of his extended stay, both rooms on the left and right remained vacant.

          Sometimes, said Tankersley, POI status inmates were found snoozing. “And we catch them and wake them back up,” he said. “There’s basically nothing to do.”

          “Upon further questioning, Quantico staffers acknowledged that the severity of the aiding the enemy charge—although not formally introduced yet by the government—also warranted harsher imprisonment. ”

          “During his turn cross-examining the Army’s witnesses, Coombs made it clear that his client was not accommodated like any other inmate at Quantico. Sgt. Fuller told that court that in his 17 years in military corrections, most inmates were listed POI for “a few days. No more than a week.” Manning was held in maximum confinement for nine months.”

          ” When a forensic psychiatrist was eventually commissioned to assess Manning at the brig, repeated recommendations were made to remove him from protected watch, which left him forced to cover himself with only a suicide smock and bedding that resembled something between a cardboard box and a liquidation sale rug. Those professional suggestions were all ignored in favor of the guards’ own instincts. Many of those staffers testified that they were trained in corrections for one month at an Air Force base in Texas and rightfully admitted that the guidelines for dealing and assessing with a suicide case they were taught there were thrown out the window when Private Manning arrived.

          On Saturday afternoon, five days into the latest round of hearings, Quantico Staff Sgt. Fuller acknowledged that he routinely signed off on keeping Pfc. Manning a max custody detainee, and cited his reasons specifically for the court.

          “Those times that I actually did have interaction or communication with Manning, it seemed he was distant, withdrawn, or isolated. That gave me cause for concern,” he told the court. When asked him to explain why he was worried, Fuller said, “I’m not sure why. You really couldn’t get him to talk.”

          Quantico guards also testified that for initial health evaluations, a dentist was the qualified physician tasked with assessing Manning’s mental wellbeing.”

          At Quantico, Pfc. Manning treatment wasn’t by the book: the sleep depravation and stripping of clothes; the humiliation; the taunts and mockery; the nine months of putting Pfc. Manning in protected custody citing concerns over suicide—concerns that were rebuffed relentlessly by both Pfc. Manning himself and qualified psychiatrists.

  7. #4. Next in the line up of the social justice center for reeducation..

    Father’s Day (Men seem to be easy targets for SJW, some are racists, some beat their wives, some are misogynists, some drink, some curse, and of course some men are married to women therefore subjugating women (how evil can you get), etc.  We cannot celebrate fathers because they are men and men are terribly flawed)

    Groundhog Day (Waking a hibernating animal is cruelty to animals)

    Secretaries Day (Might offend some women)

    Thanksgiving Day (Might offend some Native Americans)

    Christmas (It offends people, celebrate it in your private lives but keep all references to it out of the public to avoid invading the safe space that surrounds all people in public)

    President’s Day (Presidents are imperfect, some are more imperfect than others e.g. Trump; therefore, we should not celebrate any of them)

    Mt. Rushmore (Clearly some of those Presidents don’t fit the modern day social justice mold and their faces should be stricken from that mountain)

    Jefferson Memorial (Jefferson was a slave owner, we should let the memorial rot into oblivion to show our collective disgust for slavery or better yet let the modern day social justice warriors destroy it with their bare hands)

    Monticello (Jefferson’s home is where Jefferson owned slaves, he raped slaves and fathered children with one of them, he earned money off slave labor; this place is a disgrace and should be leveled)

    Washington Monument (Washington was a slave owner, enough said.)

    Mount Vernon (Washington’s home should be leveled, there were slaves there)

    World War II Memorial We launched the first ever nuclear attack on innocent civilians and for that our country, our military, and our citizens should forever be condemned as evil.

    Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (should be abolished, they were written by flawed people, some were evil slave owners, that do not fit the modern day mold of social justice warriors. Nothing good can ever come from such evil people.)

    This list can go on, and on, and on…

    Am I being sarcastic, absolutely not, this is how the thoughts of these people morph.

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