Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/6/2019: State of the Union Ethics, And More

Hello, Austin!

At least, that’s what I’ll be saying later today, as I arrive in the Texas capital to give my country music ethics seminar, sung by the remarkable Mike Messer, to a group of over a thousand corporate lawyers. It’s certainly better than lying around coughing, which is what I’ve been doing lately.

1. Update: Facebook still won’t accept Ethics Alarms links. This is seriously depressing me. I can’t get Facebook to respond or explain, and so far WordPress hasn’t been any help either. In the past, posts here have attracted tens of thousands of Facebook shares; most got at least a couple. Now there are none. This affects traffic, it affects everything. On one level, I’m tempted just to leave Facebook entirely. It’s not a very pleasant place these days, and the company is despicable. That doesn’t solve the problem though. After all the work and time I have spent trying to develop the blog, watching its readership and circulation go backwards is infuriating. I also don’t know how paranoid I should be about all of this.

2. State of the Union notes. The speech is always political theater, and largely irrelevant unless it is botched or something weird happens, like “You lie!” or Obama attacking the Supreme Court. I find it amazing that so many pundits couldn’t keep their cognitive dissonance in check, and give some semblance of an honest, if grudging, analysis of what one would have to call an excellent performance—and that’s all the SOTU speech is, a performance— by Donald Trump standards, and a wise performance from a Presidential perspective. At a time of near maximum divisiveness, the speech was upbeat, optimistic, and patriotic. You have to really, really hate the man to condemn that speech….and that’s how most of journalists and pundits feel. I especially liked Salon’s “Donald Trump 2019: Same lying racist he was last year.”  CNN’s Van Jones was also self-indicting, saying,  “I saw this as a psychotically incoherent speech with cookies and dog poop. He tries to put together in the same speech these warm, kind things about humanitarianism and caring about children, and at the same time he is demonizing people who are immigrants in a way that was appalling.”  On the other side of the wacko divide, Ann Coulter called the speech “sappy” and was upset because Trump didn’t talk more about the wall. Is there anyone other than Coulter than wants him to talk more about the wall? We need a special confirmation bias clinic for these people. Also:

  • Speaking of theater, singing “Happy Birthday” to the synagogue massacre survivor was terrific touch. Funny comment on the web: “Worst Nazi President ever!”
  • Who convinced female legislators that dressing the same sends anything but the message that they still think they are in high school, or the Congress is a sorority? Personally, I was embarrassed for them.
  • Here’s typical “objective reporting,” a “Fact check” from NPR:

How is that a fact check? It is NPR making a partisan point. The President just stated a fact and that it was a positive development.

  • I don’t care what Nancy Pelosi was reading during the President’s speech: it was disrespectful and rude. I’m sure her “resistance” supporters would have been happy to see her sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes while the President was speaking too, but there is no excuse for this. I refuse to believe that Democrats acting like assholes wins more votes than it loses, but obviously Pelosi et al. disagree.

3. Should a rehabilitated murderer be allowed to be a lawyer? I was tempted to write a full post about the odd story in the Times about a Tulane law grad who raises the question, but I don’t have much to say, other than “No.” Apparently murderers have been admitted at least a couple of times; one I know of was ultimately disbarred. I could argue that murder has less relevance to honesty and integrity than some other crimes lawyer have committed before being admitted. Georgetown Law Center has a law professor who served time for multiple bank robberies, for example. Depending on the circumstance surrounding the murder, I might trust the murderer over the robber.

4. “Rent” spent. I just learned that Fox’s “live” performance of the musical rent wasn’t live, because a lead actor broke a bone right before the scheduled telecast, and, incredibly, there was no understudy. Fox showed a taped dress rehearsal in place of the live performance, except for the last scene. This is stunningly unprofessional; it is standard practice to have an understudy ready for such contingencies, which are completely predictable in theater. It shows how little Fox is committed to the product and the art. The network just wanted ratings, and as cheaply as possible.

5. I can’t let this pass. The Washington Post released this, her registration card for the State Bar of Texas:

Warren has  denied that she ever attempted to use her claims of Native American heritage to gain any advantage in employment or career advancement, or that she ever claimed to be a “person of color.”

70 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/6/2019: State of the Union Ethics, And More


    Time to close the borders after his plane lands… we now have everything we need to become an independent nation.

    (Back later to comment on the content of the blog, which I have not read yet)

    • She worked in Texas at Houston and UT, d_d. From her wiki page:

      Warren started her academic career as a lecturer at Rutgers University, Newark School of Law (1977–78). She moved to the University of Houston Law Center (1978–83), where she became Associate Dean for Academic Affairs in 1980, and obtained tenure in 1981. She taught at the University of Texas School of Law as visiting associate professor in 1981, and returned as a full professor two years later (staying 1983–87). In addition, she was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan (1985) and research associate at the Population Research Center of the University of Texas at
      Austin (1983–87).

      • Is the right place to recall the old saying: “Those who can, do; and those who can’t, teach.” [I do not intend in any way to demean our trusted host with this item.]

        It appears that there is not a lot of actual lawyering in that wiki.

  2. 1. Trump’s speechwriters and publicity team foresaw the criticism they’d get, and preemptively made it look ridiculous. No value judgments here, but the craft is impressive.
    4. I didn’t realize the whole performance except the finale was the dress rehearsal: I’d thought it was mostly live with some dress rehearsal scenes spliced in. I feel much less charitable toward Roger now. Before I assumed he was performing on pain meds.

  3. 1. Facebook is run by biased, ignorant, capricious children. Accepting whatever they want and rejecting whatever they don’t want.

    As a marketing professional, they have accepted campaigns in one month and rejected the same exact campaign one month later. Why? No answer, because they don’t need to answer us.

    The revenue gained from advertising is a tiny fraction of the money being made by selling user data. Any question or argument puts the individual requesting rationale on their pay-no-mind list.

    2. Anyone to the right of AOC speaking on public policy is now instantaneously one of the -ists and to be hated, shamed or otherwise threatened or ruined by the resistance, media, never Trumpers and Democrats.

    How long can this go on? Compromise within a social contract requires each side to listen and consider the other. Definitely not going to happen in the current environment. If anyone to the right of AOC is immediately castigated and demonized by the parties mentioned above, avoiding open conflict in the future is difficult to imagine.

  4. 2- Was it just me, or did SanFranNan look like she was sucking on a whole lemon when Trump was talking about the wall?

    You’d think that someone that knows they’re in the money shot would be a tad more cautious, or at the very least cognizant, of how their countenance/facial expressions appear.

    Say what you want about Pence, but the guy is about as collected-n-photogenic as one could be.

    3- Senator Warren gots some ‘splainin’ to do! Sheesh! How can anyone, and I mean ANYONE, with a basal sense of self-awareness, and a functioning mirror, be that self-delusional?

    • She was absolutely aware that she was on camera, and that sourpuss mugging was intentional. Pelosi is under the hilariously mistaken impression that she can out-asshole Donald Trump. This is, of course, impossible, because Donald Trump isn’t an asshole as a side effect of being a politician with a bad personality. He is a professional asshole. His entire career and persona has been built on that foundation. You’re not going to beat him in a being-an-asshole contest. Can’t be done.

      Pelosi knows her “resistance” base expects this of her, and enjoys watching her do this, but it is an ineffective weapon against this guy. Taking the high road would do so much more to bring middle-of-the-roaders to her side, but she can’t help throwing that red meat to the 15% or so of far-left moonbats and die-hard Trump haters who eat it up.

  5. Here is an article worth writing about.

    I have not, traditionally, held entirely orthodox liberal opinions on the issue of gun control. For political reasons, for practical reasons, even in part on principle, I never thought a far-reaching gun ban was realistic, or even necessarily desirable, in the United States. (A strictly enforced ban would necessitate massive, nationwide police action, for one thing, and would assuredly also involve disproportionate policing and additional incarceration of people of color.) I continue to believe that, as Democrats attempt to win victories across the entire country, there will be tough trade-offs and brutal internal arguments on gun rights—much more so than on other hot button issues, including even abortion access.

    But it’s obvious that we, as a nation, need to disarm.

    And people didn’t walk around in public openly displaying handguns, because that is lunatic behavior in a civilized society.

    But we can’t get back there—we’re too far gone. The decades-long intentional derangement of white conservatives and the unchecked profit-seeking of arms manufacturers brought us here, and now “gun culture” is a grotesque death cult.

    And here is the money comment.

    Even if you accept the (obviously, stupidly, grandly wrong) conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment, there’s still no actual right to sell guns. So why not ban that?

      • Thanks! I’m often amazed at how much bad logic and misinformation writers can pack into one article. This is a fine example.

        • Even if you accept the (obviously, stupidly, grandly wrong) conservative liberal interpretation of the Second Amendment, there’s still no actual right to sell guns perform an abortion. So why not ban that?

          Fixed that for him.

          I do not that he blames these murders on white conservatives. I am thinking that for the spokeshole and perhaps much of the rank-and-file, hostility to private gun ownerrship is rooted in hostility to white, male Americans.

          These people hate white male Americans because they perceive that these people personify the values they hate (much like why the Nazis hated the Judenvolk. Private gun ownership is what they perceive to be a white, male trait.

          That is why the stereotypical caricuture of a gun nut is not a stereotypical black gangbanger.

          • Americans literally did walk around carrying guns. Less than 100 years ago you could be 12 and buy a Tommy gun through mail-order. No background check. Amazingly no one tried to massacre their classmates. As long as they can keep lying and framing modern sociopathy as a gun problem, they avoid responsibility for the social maladies they themselves caused.

            • The main point of gun control is that you can’t form a Communist of fascist society in a culture where people commonly own their own, effective, firearms. No gun control measure I have seen for 20 years addresses gun crime. They are all focused on law-abiding citizens. The authorities don’t even charge criminals caught illegally with guns. Gun wielding criminals are a tool used by totalitarians to force you to give up your rights. Look at England. Their crime rate has only increased as they have effectively banned firearms ownership. They also effectively extinguished any liberty Britons had. Career criminals typically serve minimal sentences in Britain, but those who try to defend themselves or speak out against the government are targeted for aggressive penalties.

              Chicago suburb requiring residents to turn in their legally owned guns

              Chicago authorities ignore gun possession by dangerous felon

              Chicago gun control advocates want guns for them, not for you

              British sentence for beating your wife, pouring bleach down her throat, and ordering her to kill herself

              British Sentence for self-defense

              • This fits in with an exchange I had on another blog.


                Sam I Am:

                Put the CDC numbers in front of BIL. Asked him to decide how many lives were saved as a result of however many DGUs he believed actually happened. He was at a loss, so I recommended he accept that the number of lives lost to gunfire was at least equal to the number of lives saved (~33,000). He could not accept that number of lives saved. So I asked that if he could accept the CDC low estimate for DGUs, and that at least one life was saved for each DGU. BIL said that could not be because if there had been 250,000 successful DGUs, it would have been all over the news. I responded that the CDC was a trusted source for so much health data, why would he doubt their estimate of DGUs. BIL said CDC was the premier source for disease, but they were completely inept about guns. Then I asked him to explain what the purpose of 250,000 DGUs would have been, if not to save lives. He said that not all the DGUs saved lives, some number were unsuccessful. I asked him to pick any number of successful DGUs he believed actually occurred, and the number of lives saved he believed. BIL declared that no more than 1000 DGUs actually happen, and less than half saved a life. Seizing the opening, I noted that without firearms for self-defense, those 400 (or less) people who successfully saved their own life would be dead, and that people like him thus had blood on their hands for wanting even those 400 to be dead. BIL then raged that no one has the civil right to be judge, jury and executioner; everyone has a right to a trial, so those 400 who remained alive were guilty of murder and had no right to be walking around, avoiding jail. Then I asked, “What happened to ‘if it saves one life’, a process or action was worth it’?” Finally BIL said those actions saving a life were actions that did not result in taking another life. Finishing my slice of pizza, I pushed away from the table and said, “You and all the gun grabbers are declaring that it is mandatory for innocent people to submit to being murdered because you would rather more people be dead than admit firearm self-defense is an individual, human right.” I had to forego a number of family gatherings of pulling his strings after that (wife was livid about me making her brother say stupid things).

                And my reply.

                You have revealed the base motivation of the anti-gun cult.

                Your BIL sides with violent, aggressive criminals, like those who murdered Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, who murdered Jamiel Andre Shaw, or who murdered those students at Stoneman Douglas High School, or those who murdered people in Nanking in the 1930’s, or people in Auschwitz in the 1940’s.

                Now check out this video.

                “I was raped every single day. Sometimes, twice a day. And it was every bit as horrific as you can imagine”- Elizabeth Smart

                It is fairly easy to deduce what your BIL thinks about that. He thinks Smart should not have even thought of escaping, that she should have just lay back and enjoyed it. He thinks Smart should still be laying back and enjoying it.

                I frequently participate in discussions in Usenet newsgroups. I remember over a decade ago reading someone writing that gun control is based on dishonesty, invincible ignorance, and sheer malice.

                Your BIL proves that statement.

          • The level of intelligence shown by the commentariat on this anti-gun screed is reminiscent of what an AOC fan club meeting must be like.

    • A second order quotation:-

      Even if you accept the (obviously, stupidly, grandly wrong) conservative interpretation of the Second Amendment, there’s still no actual right to sell guns. So why not ban that?

      I remember a minor point that was made when I was taught about “The Merchant of Venice”, that Shakespeare was actually wrong on the law. If the law authorises something, e.g. a pound of flesh, then it implicitly authorises anything necessary to that, e.g. as much blood as getting the pound of flesh takes.

      In the same vein (if you’ll pardon the expression), if the only practical way for people to bear arms is for other people to sell guns, then yes, authorising the former implicitly authorises the latter. This only fails to hold if there are other realistic pathways that get to the same result, e.g. one day printing guns may be practical enough. (Oh, and you can’t bar path A on the grounds that path B works, then bar path B on the grounds that path A works – the joint effect is used as the test.)

  6. 2. A screamer of a headline from the always lucid and incisive Sally Kohn: “Donald Trump pretends to be presidential during State of the Union to con the nation.” Hilarious.

  7. 5. That is literally cultural appropriation. This is far worse than a white kid wearing dreadlocks or dressing up as Zorro for Halloween.

  8. 1. Facebook has decided to be evil. They are exactly everything progressives say they are against. The faster they lose ANY content and users (read “data revenue sources”) to another platform, leaving them with only echo chamber rantings, the faster they go out of business.

    The more monolithic the data they sell, the less value it has.

    2. Anything Trump says must be wrong. Anything Trump does is wrong, or out of wrong motivations. Anyone supporting Trump is evil.

    There. I bracketed all of the comment the press made.

    3. I have no opinion on who should be a lawyer, other than we should assign such by lottery: like politicians, anyone who volunteers should not have the position. (Just kidding… there are good ones like in anything else. Lawyers, that is. Politicians I am not so sure about, as I have never met one I would trust to babysit my grandkids… but they must exist, right?)

    4. Fox is about making money. Anything else must be viewed through that lens.

    5. Anyone surprised the Warren abused the system to gain advantage? She still is, after all.

  9. #2 Back on November 20, 2018 I wrote that “I don’t think we are done seeing Stacey Abrams for the foreseeable future. I expect to see her being trotted out and promoted nationally in/on far left leaning media outlets.”, “Seriously, I think the political left has way too much invested in promoting Stacey Abrams to let her fade into obscurity.”

    Well guess who the Democrats put in front of the cameras to give the rebuttal speech after Trumps State of the Union speech?

    I’ve also heard that Democrats are trying to get Abrams to run for Congress.

  10. On the other side of the wacko divide, Ann Coulter . . .

    You made a sound criticism of Tucker Carlson sometime back was enlightening to me.

    But why do you see Ann Couter as being ‘among the wackos’?

    • She’s rejecting attempts by the President to work with Congress (read: Democrats) on this shutdown v. border wall issue. Now she’s calling him soft for trying to unify the country.

      • Interesting perspective.

        I was reading more about her here.

        Having listened to her talks (YouTube), I am pretty certain that she is a crypto white-nationalist. More or less like Pat Buchanan. And I tend to these positions myself. Simply put: the super-majority must reclaim its overall power and increase itself demographically. If it does not do this, all is lost. (And I think I can define what I mean by *lost*).

        But what I have just said, unless I am mistaken, has placed me outside the pale. It is a form of radicalism or extremism that is not permitted. It is illegal thought.

        There is no presidency that could ‘call for disunity’, and since the SOTU address is ‘political theater’, calls for unity can only be seen in that unreal context (it seems to me). It is a rhetorical strategy and nothing more.

        What if, Mr Golden, what if the unity that is spoken about and longed for is not possible? It is an up-front question. I am curious what you think.

        (Myself, I am uncertain. But what I do know is that to agree to the *terms of America* as defined in the present dispensation must mean and can only mean surrendering to the liberal-progressive current).

    • Oh, I’m sure I’ve written about Ann’s shtick here before. Someone recently wrote about how Donald Trump is a professional asshole. So is Ann. She is a political performance artist whose job is to infuriate people. As a pundit, she’d rather make a joke than make a serious point. She’s a lawyer, but there’s nothing in her resume to indicate that she has any actual expertise or experience that would lead someone to take her seriously. I don’t think she expects to be taken seriously. She does expect a pay check.

      After 9-11, she wrote that that the US needed to take over these Muslim countries and convert them to Christianity. It was a JOKE! Signature significance for a professional asshole.

  11. I’m paranoid I had something to do with the Facebook blocking, because I shared some of your posts in a group with some people who were convinced Hillary Clinton was a paragon of virtue, and they used confirmation bias to reject the evidence because it didn’t support their conclusion. If they were misguided enough, they may have tried to get it censored. On the other hand, that may have happened with somebody else’s share.

    I’d still like to get Ethics Alarms to become more influential, so I think it’s worth looking into affiliation with nonpartisan movements.

  12. I’ve checked my Facebook history for the Ethics Alarms links I’ve posted in the past, and their is ONE still up on my timeline; the December 23rd “Importance of Christmas” post.

    The rest have been marked “This violates our Community Standards and only you can see it.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.