Saturday Ethics Warm-Up. 11/3/2018: Cohen Does What He Does, Ocasio-Cortez Mongers Hate, And Hoggett Goes Rogue

I’ll give you a morning golden and true…

1 .Regarding Michael Cohen. The news media, Trump-haters and “the resistance’ are all giddy over Michael Cohen claiming that President Trump made racist comments in his presence. Lawyers who say such things about clients get disbarred. They get disbarred because it is proof that they lack the honesty, trustworthiness and integrity to be trusted professionals.There is no reason whatsoever to trust Michael Cohen, so relying on his account of anything is just an exercise in confirmation bias. He is not a reliable source, and what he says at this point should be taken for what it is: the latest effort by a desperate crook to somehow survive the consequences of his own low-life ways.

2. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez easily makes my list of the dozen most unethical candidates seeking election next week; I hope to get that up soon. Here is the fundraising email the New York socialist sent out:

“Six days from now, we can defeat the brutal white supremacist forces of anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant nativism, and racism.We can hold accountable the cold-hearted monsters who have repeatedly attacked our health care. We can send a message to the bigots and billionaires that this country belongs to all of us. We can win if we show up on November 6. We must end Republican control of Congress and begin to reclaim our nation. A Democratic majority will not bring back the eleven Jewish people in Pittsburgh, massacred while they prayed. Or the two Black people gunned down days before at a Kroger grocery store in Kentucky. It won’t fully stop the relentless attacks against immigrants in America. But on Sunday evening, Pittsburgh mourners—angry and broken-hearted like us—chanted ‘Vote! Vote! Vote!’ They understand the magnitude of the midterm election six days from today: that it affords us the chance to forge a powerful bulwark against Donald Trump’s hate and hold accountable the Republicans who have been complicit in every step of his toxic, self-serving, and destructive agenda. We must offer a path out of the darkness….This is our chance to take action in solidarity with everyone whose lives are threatened by the hate-filled policies of Trump and the GOP,” she says. “Our chance to push back against white supremacist forces across our nation, against the xenophobes who are militarizing the border, against the bigots who seek to erase our transgender families, against the apologists for sexual assault and the Islamophobes who sow hate to divide us.”

I considered doing an ethics audit of this screed—remember, she’s supposed to be a rising star of the Democratic Party—but decided that any objective reader here is more than capable of doing so without any help from me. Res ipsa loquitur.

How should we characterize someone who would vote to give power to a candidate willing to sign such a message?

3.  By all means, let’s believe all female accusers...Judy Munro-Leighton, who as “Jane Doe” accused Brett Kavanaugh of rape in an email to Senator Kamala Harris, was treated as a credible accuser and caused the Judiciary Committee to question the SCOTUS nominee about her claims. Now she admits that it was all a partisan-driven lie.

Who suspected that?

She confessed to Committee investigators that she “just wanted to get attention” and that “it was a tactic.” She said she had called Congress during the Kavanaugh hearing process before the Blasey-Ford  accusation multiple times  to oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination. Regarding the false sexual-assault allegation sent to the Committee through Harris, she said: “I was angry, and I sent it out.” Asked  whether she had ever met Judge Kavanaugh, she said: “Oh Lord, no.”

Her false rape allegations against Kavanaugh had exactly as much corroborating evidence as Blasey-Ford’s: none whatsoever. Yet, still, to this second, an astounding number of smart, reasonable Democrats, especially women, argue, and presumably believe, that such an accusation–in Blasey Ford’s case, one that is three decades old and dates from high school— should disqualify a man with an unblemished adult and professional reputation from high office. And they are indignant about it, too.

I don’t get it.

Reportedly, the Senate received over a thousand claims from women claiming that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted or harassed them.

The Senate has asked for criminal sanctions against Munro-Leighton.


4. Unethical…but funny! Hoax Twitter accounts are as unethical as hoax news websites. If people believe that they are honest, if they can’t detect the satire, then such accounts are agents of disinformation. It doesn’t matter if the joke is funny to those who know it’s a joke. It’s still deception.

This is especially true of satires of recent progressive/leftist/woke positions, some of which are so extreme that they defy parody. Poe’s Law applies: without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create satire or parody that it cannot reasonable be mistaken as a sincere expression of the parodied views. That being the case, such satire is unethical.

One such hoax Twitter account is that of the pseudonymed Titainia McGrath, who describes herself as “Activist. Healer. Radical intersectionalist poet.” Here is what she tweeted about the above episode:

“This is bullshit. Just because they never met, that does NOT mean that Kavanaugh didn’t rape her.

Until I read some other tweets, I assumed she was serious. This happens because tweets are quoted elsewhere, out of context. The same happens with hoax websites.

This was Titania’s tweet that made it all clear:

We must like Deborah Ramirez. I too once survived having to look at a penis.

5. I like James Cromwell’s acting. It’s a shame that he’s an idiot. Actor James Cromwell, who will always be “Hoggett” to me, said during his acceptance  speech at  the fourth annual Carney Awards, which recognized his body of work as a character actor (I just watched him as the bad guy in “L.A. Confidential”),

This is nascent fascism. We always had a turnkey, totalitarian state — all we needed was an excuse, and all the institutions were in place to turn this into pure fascism,” Cromwell told Variety on Sunday night. “If we don’t stop [President Trump] now, then we will have a revolution for real. Then there will be blood in the streets.”

In a later trip to the podium, he said,

“…[S]something is coming up which is desperately important to this country and to this planet, and that is an election, in which hopefully in some measure we are going to take back our democracy,” Cromwell said. “We will have a government that represents us and not the donor class. We will cut through the corruption, [and] we won’t have to do what comes next, which is either a non-violent revolution or a violent one, because this has got to end.”

First of all, actors like Robert deNiro, Meryl Streep and Cromwell obscure their positions and platforms by transforming awards shows into their own personal soap boxes in front of captive audiences. (Boy, how many times have I made that point?) Cromwell is the son of two actors, dropped out of college to act, and has been acting for most of his life. He’s also a Sixties era activist, a PETA member, a socialist, and, he says, a pacifist, which is to say that he takes “Imagine” seriously.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I would have the respect for my audience not to rant about the virtues of the Boston Red Sox when I received an award, and Cromwell promoting his non-professional passions is no different.

He’s also a coward and a liar. When social media and others criticized his “blood in the streets” rhetoric, he denied that he meant what he said, tweeting,

“Not promoting violence, voting against it. You will never see me raising a fist. I’m a pacifist. My words were taken out of context. I’m worried about the blood of the dissent, protesters, more children shot at school, people shot while praying, for who they love and who they are…The @Variety article used an out of context quote 4 a headline and got just what they wanted – @twitter fired up. It would have been nice if they included the context of that statement in the article. I’m sure I would still be getting death threats but they would be more ironic.”

The problem is that Cromwell’s compatriots very well might resort to blood on the streets if the “Blue Wave” doesn’t materialize. Democrats have been calling for direct street harassment of Republicans for months, and have been increasingly taking the form of an angry mob. They have also quietly shrugged off the antifa. Those who seed violence with inflammatory words but insist that they personally abhor violence are hypocrites on the vilest kind.

That’ll do, Hoggett.

That’ll do…


8 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up. 11/3/2018: Cohen Does What He Does, Ocasio-Cortez Mongers Hate, And Hoggett Goes Rogue

  1. 1. Yup, the guy’s a slug who’s low-life ways have caught up to him. He has little left to bargain with and soon he will have nothing left to bargain for.

    2. It’s a rant, nothing more, and not even a very good one at that. There are plenty of substantive reasons for giving the opposition a chance this time out. This rant contains none of them. However, it doesn’t need to. It’s designed simply to appeal to feelings; anger, hate, outrage, and hope that will drive voters to “dump Trump.” Those who would vote for someone like this want to govern with their glands and not their brains.

    3. Every great social change begins as a movement, becomes a business, and ends as a racket. #MeToo just got there faster than most such movements. Brett Kavanaugh will be remembered as the rock on which the wave that was this latest incarnation of feminism broke.

    4. No surprises here.

    5. Cromwell is probably too much of an idiot to “get” it but this builds on Point 2 above. A lot of the left and what the modern left stands for is built on feelings and passion, not logic or wisdom or even principle. As I’ve pointed out a few times, passion is like fire. It can be harnessed to do great things, but if it burns out of control it becomes incredibly destructive. History is replete with examples of passion burning up those who stoked it: Robespierre dragged to the scaffold and Marat stabbed in his bath by those who’d once worshiped them, Michael Collins shot in an ambush by those who thought he’d betrayed the cause, Stalin left to convulse his last hours away by lieutenants who’d seen what he did and knew he was about to do it to them next. It’s also replete with the history of what these ultimate passionists did to others before the fire got them: guillotining for any reason or no reason, a civilized state almost reduced to the Third World, and the biggest democide of the 20th Century. That said, at least some of these folks, including Collins and Stalin, weren’t afraid to pick up a gun and fight themselves, and didn’t pretend to be nonviolent while advocating or rationalizing away violence.

  2. Unfortunately, Ocasio-Cortez is just the leading edge of the twenty- or thirty-something congressional candidate class. Might as well get used to all the Authentic Frontier Gibberish. It’s essentially the Democratic Party platform. Arizona’s own Krysten Sinema is another one, although she’s in her forties and is hiding her standard issue lefty bona fides.

  3. “This is nascent fascism. We always had a turnkey, totalitarian state.”

    The complete intentional lack of self awareness is appalling.

    Let’s describe a Fascist state.

    A fascist state is one in which you will find the largest and most influential industries either under direct control of the party in power or fully beholden to the party in power.

    A fascist state is one in which you will find the reporting and news industry either under direct control of the party in power or fully beholden to the party in power.

    A fascist state is one in which you will find the educational apparatus from youngest child to doctorate level either under direct control of the party in power or fully beholden to the party in power.

    A fascist state in one in which you will find popular culture generators and entertainment industry pumping out messages under direct control of the party in power or fully beholden to the party in power.

    Essentially, in a fascist state, the vast majority the major power-brokers are personally and politically linked to a particular party and the rest of the would-be power brokers are held in positions where they have to play ball or else.

    Now, I know we don’t have any political party calling itself “Fascist” because that would be too much of a giveaway. But do we have any political parties that do have the kind of binding relationships with particular sectors of society as described above?

    I can think of one, but since they aren’t currently in power, they’re only a key turn away.

    Oh, another interesting facet of nascent Fascist parties is when they are drumming up the final push to get power, they often single out a segment of the population and they often describe their own need to be in power as one of “saving the nation” from an imminent danger. Often they’ll describe the imminent danger in terms of the very society they will inevitably enforce once in power.

    Are there any current political parties or media wings of those political parties describing the current state of affairs as one of a republic in emergency?

    Hm… nascent fascism indeed.

    • The foundational idea of fascism is that we should sacrifice our individual liberties so that the state can take care of the whole of society. Free speech impairs the ability to have a caring society. The fourth amendment makes it more difficult for the police to solve crimes. A presumption of innocence and a requirement for a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt means that some guilty people will escape punishment. In other words, the nanny state is fascism. Fascism begins as a democracy, but eventually the people make the wrong choice for society and the government must ‘correct’ them.

  4. 4. I thought both tweets you quoted were sufficiently clear and self-contained as satire. It took me a second to process the first one, but I concluded that it couldn’t be serious.

    I don’t think we can let the stupidity of the public dictate what we can and can’t broadcast. I still think Twitter is a terrible medium, but satire seems to suit it. If people are actually getting their opinions and “facts” from tweets, as you suggest, then maybe they need to get unambiguously burned, and fall for something that turns out to be explicitly satire, in order to learn that they can’t trust everything they read. If they don’t check their sources, that means they have terrible epistemological hygiene, but it doesn’t mean we should limit all of our public opinions to soundbites that can’t possibly be taken out of context.

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