Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/2/18: Democratic Dinners, TV Weatherman Edicts, Truth As Racism, And More

Good Morning!

I see that the October jobs report this morning is spectacularly good, with 250,000 jobs added. It is amazing that so many Americans are going to vote against Republicans in the midst of such a strong economic surge following the end of Obama’s recovery-strangling policies. The lesson for future leaders, perhaps, is that the public cares more about a President constantly acting like an asshole than they do about what he accomplishes. From an ethics point of view, I would see that as a positive development, if I didn’t strongly suspect that the real reasons for apparent votes against self-interest are 1) that the news media isn’t reporting the economic news with anything like the enthusiasm it would if this were a Democratic administration, 2) that people really believe the ridiculous spin that this is somehow an Obama recovery, and 3) that so many young Americans have been indoctrinated into socialism that even as Venezuela crumbles, they are still buying the fantasy.

1. Next try: The Oprah-Jennifer Lawrence Dinner. This is pretty funny. Following the lead of other Democratic state organizations, The New Hampshire Democrats insulted the party’s two founders, Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, also two of the nation’s greatest leaders, by removing their names from the annual party dinner.  For 2017, the event was renamed…wait for it!…the Kennedy-Clinton Dinner! Yup, two serial sexual assaulting misogynists, assuming it’s Jack and not Teddy being honored, in which case it’s a negligent killer, for the Party of Women. What a brilliant choice! How can anyone not vote for a party capable of a decision like that? But for some reason, as the Harvey Weinstein Train Wreck rolled along, the new name came under criticism. Who could have foreseen that? So the dinner has been renamed again; now it’s called the Eleanor Roosevelt Dinner, after the cruelly-treated wife of another Democratic icon.

2. Who makes these rules? Why, Al Roker, that’s who! After he was called a hypocrite on social media for dressing up as “Doc Brown,” the Christopher Lloyd character in the “Back to the Future” films—Al, you will recall, helped get Megyn Kelly fired for saying that a white person could impersonate a black character using dark make-up without engaging in racially offensive conduct—tweeted,

“I’m going to say this one last time, but the folks who get it, understand and the ones who DON’T, won’t. I can be Doc Brown, and I wear the outfit and wig and not change my skin color if you’re white , you can be President Obama if you want. Just don’t color your skin!”

Wait: what about hair, Al? I’ve read that it’s racially offensive for a white person to wear a black-hair wig, like an Afro or Bob Marley hair. But it’s okay for you to wear a crazy old white guy wig?

Why, Al? For that matter, why isn’t wearing make-up that allows someone to actually look like the person or character he or she is portraying acceptable? Who makes these rules? Oh! Right! You do!

When I first saw that picture, I didn’t know who the hell Al was playing. I thought it might be Michael Jackson if he had lived, let himself go, and grew his nose back.

3. Relevant context: Trial lawyers are among the biggest contributors to Democratic candidates. In Frank v. Gaos, which had its oral argument before the Supreme Court this week, the issue is whether it should place limits on class-action settlements in which the plaintiffs’ lawyers receive millions and their clients get nothing. Courts often reject such settlements as unjust, but a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld this crazy settlement, with all three judges agreeing that trying to pay compensation to the class would be inefficient, as the individual payouts from the defendant, Google, would be about 4 cents. So the plaintiff’s lawyers, under the settlement,  were paid more than $2 million, but members of the class received no money at all, only the warm glow from knowing that Google would make contributions to institutions concerned with privacy on the internet, including centers at Harvard, Stanford and Chicago-Kent College of Law, and the AARP.

Sounds fair to me! Actually, it doesn’t, but it does apparently sound fair to Ruth Bader Ginsberg. The ancient justice defended the deal, saying that the plaintiffs got “an indirect benefit.” What benefit? The justification for such settlements is that the defendant’s tortious conduct is curtailed and penalized, and that benefits the class while justifying the attorney fees. How does making tax-deductible charitable donations–including to organizations Google gave to anyway—punish Google? Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. asked, “Don’t you think it’s just a little bit fishy that the money goes to a charity that Google had contributed to in the past?” Meanwhile, some of the lawyers in the case had degrees from schools receiving the mandated contribution. Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh  was concerned about “the appearance of favoritism,” but he’s a serial rapist, so never mind.

4. To be fair, the administration’s position is that the U.N. is worthless. Apparently ex-Fox Blonde Heather Nuarte has been offered the job of U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., a job for which she has no apparent qualifications whatsoever.

She also had no qualifications for her current job, Acting Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, which she has held since June. To recall my previous post, this international whiz actually cited D-Day as evidence that the U.S. has a long-standing relationship with Germany.

5.  I don’t care whether they are criminals and dangerous or not. They are lawbreakers. The Homeland Security website emphasizes that the “caravan”—you know..


… include “over 270 individuals along the caravan route that have criminal histories, including known gang membership.  On October 29, the Mexican ambassador to the U.S. described some of the caravan members as “very violent:”  “Unfortunately, some of the people in the caravan have been very violent against authority, even though they have offered the possibility of entering in compliance with immigration law and refugee status.”

So what? It shouldn’t matter if they are the Central American Care Bears: they don’t have any right to force their way into the United States. Apparently the President and his administration feel that they have to keep emphasizing that these are potentially dangerous illegal immigrants, because so many Americans have been brainwashed by sentimental progressive cant and mainstream news media propaganda into believing that simply violating our laws and borders isn’t enough to make these people undesirable. It is.

6. And speaking of mainstream media propaganda: The Washington Post has this objective, non-partisan headline (sorry, feeling sarcastic this morning) : “Trump revives ‘Willie Horton’ tactic with ad linking illegal immigrant killer to Democrats.” The story begins:

Pinned at the top of President Trump’s Twitter feed Wednesday was a video. The man on the screen has a shaved head and a mustache and long chin hair. Smiling, he announces, “I killed f‐‐‐— cops.”

The man is Luis Bracamontes, a twice-deported Mexican immigrant who was given the death penalty in April for killing two California law enforcement officers in 2014. At the time of the shootings, Bracamontes was in the United States illegally — and now, with the midterm election approaching, he’s the star of the GOP’s latest campaign ad.

“Illegal immigrant, Luis Bracamontes, killed our people!” reads text on the 53-second video, which is filled with audible expletives. “Democrats let him into our country. . . . Democrats let him stay.”

The text is superimposed over videos of Bracamontes appearing to show no remorse for his crimes, and even declaring, “I’m going to kill more cops soon.”

“The Willie Horton tactic” refers to an effective ad used by George H.W. Bush’s presidential campaign to defeat Mike Dukakis, who had championed a controversial prisoner furlough program as governor of Massachusetts. One of the inmates furloughed was Willie Horton, who was serving a life sentence for murder (without the possibility of parole!)  did not return from his furlough. He was too busy committing assault,  armed robbery and rape. Because Horton was black and the ad showed his photo, this was called a “racist ad.” Of course, there is no reason to believe that the ad wouldn’t have been just as effective if Horton had been as white as Elizabeth Warren. The furlough program was irresponsible and reckless, and Dukakis deserved every bit of the criticism and distrust the fiasco engendered. It wasn’t a racist ad, but even back in 1988, Democrats were redefining racism as “saying anything critical about blacks whether they deserve it or not.”

The Bracamontes ad isn’t racist either. It is arguably unfair, because Republicans share the blame for our porous immigration enforcement system.

24 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/2/18: Democratic Dinners, TV Weatherman Edicts, Truth As Racism, And More

  1. Since you haven’t posted that your head has exploded in a while, a Facebook friend of mine keeps posting things like, “These aren’t illegal anything. They are asylum seekers and instead of fighting them, we need to send them some lawyers to get the process started efficiently.” Other quotes involve talking about how our grandparents came over in boats, just like these caravans. The final head exploded for you, is plan…P, Q? Donald Trump’s mother wasn’t a citizen until after she had him, so he can’t be a citizen, so he can’t be president. As a note, his “anchor baby” policy would deny citizenship to several of his kids because their mother wasn’t a citizen until after they were born.

    My head hasn’t survived the assault, and I have gray matter to scrub off of the ceiling now, but I thought it would help you understand why the administration keeps referring to the lawbreakers.

    • My favorite rationalization is, “People aren’t illegal”. That’s disingenuous. Nobody is saying their existence is illegal, but their presence in the U.S. is.

        • Nothing I say will make you consider if you’re slipping into a pattern of simply dismissing or mocking contrary arguments, so after this reply I don’t plan to engage with you baiting me with sarcastic references in unrelated posts.

          • Now, see, that’s a dodge. Do you have an example in mind or not? It’s a fair and reasonable question. If there is an exchange where I dismissed a real argument as “stupid,” then I’d like to see it: it would prove your point. I was not “baiting” you at all. My point is that as far as I know, because you haven’t pointed me to a counter example, I call out bad arguments as bad when they are bad, like “People aren’t illegal.” I’m sorry my playful call-out to make the point offended you. Touch touchy. That was not my intent.

            • And because I am eager to reform if necessary, I just searched all the comments into mid-June. I call myself stupid a couple of times. There is no comment, so far, in which I denigrate a commenter’s opinion as stupid, or the equivalent. But I’ll keep searching.

            • Touchy, perhaps. I’m also a bit wary of it here. “Playful callouts” of the once-valued Chris ended up with him as a progressive boogeyman, poked at harder and harder until he eventually went off the deep end and then was indefinitely suspended for how hard he returned fire.

              • Oh, balderdash, Luke. Before Chris decided to insult me (I had allowed him to attack me many times) he had made himself a parody of a knee-jerk leftist. I received email from multiple commenters asking me to ban him as a troll, that he was impossible to debate with, and that he was making people avoid the blog. I valued his contrarian, if predictable, stands, because he was civil articulate, and provided a useful glimpse of the hive mind. He crossed a line that I care about, and refused to apologize. He was not indefinitely suspended.He responded to a serious comment of mine with derision and mockery, in your words, and he had the choice of apologizing for it, or not getting to comment again. He was NOT suspended for “how hard he returned fire.” He was suspended for refusing to apologize, meaning that I could not trust him to use similar tactics going foreword.

          • And that’s an insult, by the way, and wildly unfair. If you give me an example where a fairly argued point was dismissed by me as “stupid,” then I will immediately concede that I denigrated a legitimate argument. Don’t say “nothing you can say” will convince me. That’s not true. Show me what you say exists, and I will concede it exists. I don’t deserve that kind of contempt.

            • From one week ago. Now I’ll concede you don’t use the word “stupid,” but I’d say this is a solid example of you dismissing an argument out of hand as malicious and/or disingenuous. You did eventually go back and clarify the post- then again, you also left the name calling up without comment, so I’d call that a wash.


              Related to England’s proposed pizza calorie count rule (in your summary you described it as a requirement to list calorie counts, but referred to it as a “pizza ban” in the quiz):

              Valkygrrl: “You’ll have to explain to me what exactly is wrong with having to show calorie count, Informed choices. To then refer to it in your quiz as a pizza ban… you frequently call such mischaracterizations fake news.”

              (Andrew points out that the linked article clarifies that the law would require displaying calories AND put a cap on the calories allowed)

              Jack: “Checking the facts is always anathema to knee-jerk defenders of progressive incursions on liberty.”

              • Boy, if ever one of my most trivial inclusions was pounced on and misrepresented, that was it.

                OK, I was excessively snarky to Valkygrrl, who can take it, and my ambiguous characterization (which I fixed) included a link to the entire article, so there was no intent to deceive. (I did not mention a requirement to list, as you state here.) Yup, I object to gotchas, which this was. And I still maintain that if I have a link, and the poll’s wording (like twitter, there are restrictions,) used ban in tandem with a reference to calorie count, it could be discerned that pizzas above a certain calorie count would be banned under the provision. As the link would explain to anyone who clicked on it.

                My statement suggested that Valky was so eager to criticize that she couldn’t bother to check what the post was referring to. And referring to what I did as “fake news” was unfair, as was my “Checking the facts is always anathema to knee-jerk defenders of progressive incursions on liberty.”

                This episode does not meet the requirements of showing that I am habitually “dismissing or mocking contrary arguments.” There was no contrary argument. Just an unfair characterization of an innocently ambiguous post, in which the clarifying information was readily available at a mouse click, but the commenter preferred to grab the cheap opportunity for a “gotcha.”

                If that’s the worst you can find, I submit that your complaint is unsupported.

                • This is, by the way, who 99% of bloggers don’t respond to commenters, and just allow them to write whatever dubious stuff they choose without replying. I know the risks. And my responses are written quickly, by necessity. I assume people would rather me engage than play it safe to avoid occasional excess on my part. Whether they do or not, that’s how I run the blog.

                • I submit that you, not being a bad person, aren’t intending to be dismissive. My point of the original comment was that to at least some subset of your commenters you may appear that way, and that it’s unfair to declare in that they left merely because they were so thoroughly wrong but unassuming to admit it. Make of that what you will – as Ken white so aptly analogizes, this is your living room. Just an observation.

    • “As a note, his “anchor baby” policy would deny citizenship to several of his kids because their mother wasn’t a citizen until after they were born.”

      That’s…. Not true…. In fact, it’s so facially untrue that I can’t even think of the part of the policy that you’re trying to misrepresent that would apply. Changing the anchor baby policy would affect the *mother* not the children. Whether or not the mother of his children were American wouldn’t change the fact that Trump’s kids, by dint of Trump being American, would be American, just like Donald Trump’s father was American, so regardless of whether his mother was American, Trump is American. This isn’t even close to unclear.

      • Yep, as I said, head explosion worthy. However, this, plus the fact that Trump’s mom wasn’t a citizen when she had him according to the libertarians and Democrats on my feed, is the latest plan of some weirdos to get him out of office, because that means that he is not a citizen of the US, and thus not eligible for the Presidency. When some of us more sane folk pointed out about his father, and the fact that his citizenship reflects on his children, they started demanding DNA tests, proving that Trump’s dad was who he said it was instead of some illegal immigrant milkman. The far-left, as well as the libertarians who are on this bandwagon have lost so much to TDS that it may need to become a true medical diagnosis to explain the loss of their gray matter. RTTDS (Responding To Trump Derangement Syndrome) may need to become a diagnosis for the rest of us to explain why our heads are in the shape they’re in.

        • Obama’s father was Kenyan! Even Trump wasn’t so deranged in the throes of his birther hysteria to suggest that his father’s nationality was the problem, Trump’s derangement was the assertion that Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii.

  2. Can anyone remember that the 14th Amendment was designed to reverse the awful Dred Scott decision and affirm that blacks born in America were in fact citizens with all the rights of them? Although Trump’s talk about ending birth citizenship by executive order will go nowhere, Congress must do something to reverse birth tourism as a means of gaining all the rights of citizenship for economic reasons.

  3. Jack,
    There were two ads and only one of them became the target for racist criticisms. For one, in the “revolving door” ad only the black man in the video looks menacingly at the camera (or at the camera at all), the ad itself was shot in black and white, and the subject’s name was changed from “William” to Willie” despite him never having gone by that name .

    • I’m not sure I understand. The “racist” ad was “racist” because “Willie” was shown, and was black. He was a scary-looking dude, and not because he was black. If the thug had been white, the theory is that it would have been a racist ad. The criticism never made any sense: he was chosen because of what he did, not because of his color.

      • ”He was a scary-looking dude”

        I’ve found most…um…seasoned criminal mugshots to be less than flattering

        ”…and not because he was black. If the thug had been white”

        The countenance of the late Whitey Bulgar is/was no less menacing, not to me leastways.

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