All’s right with the world..
…despite all evidence to the contrary!
At least for today…
1. Psst! HLN! It’s called “stealing,” you morons. According to a recent survey, 14% of Netflix users share their passwords to the streaming service. That’s about 8 million people. I just watched giggling news-bimbo Robin Meade on HLN and her sidekick Jennifer Westhoven go on about how they hoped Netflix didn’t “crack down” and how this was like “ride-sharing.” No, it’s not like ride-sharing at all. If you want your friend to have Netflix and they can’t afford it, pay for their subscription. This is theft. Talking heads that rationalize dishonest behavior on TV is one of many cultural factors that incapacitates the ethics alarms of a critical mass of Americans.
And Robin? Being beautiful doesn’t excuse everything.
2. The Alternate Reality solution to race relations! Professor Chad Shomura of the University of Colorado at Denver has banned discussions of any white men in his course on American political thought. No Locke, no Jefferson, no Rousseau, no Madison, no Hamilton, and no President before Obama . Such an irresponsible approach to his course’s topic can’t be prevented by the university because of academic freedom, of course: if a professor thinks he or she can teach physics by playing with puppies, that’s up to them. I would suggest, however, that any student incapable of figuring out that such a course is an extended con is a fool and a dupe. What’s the equivalent of this? Teaching the history of baseball without mentioning Babe Ruth?
3. Pop Ethics Quiz: Is this fair? After legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ” will forever be known as the ‘woman who put children in cages,” conservative pundit and ex-Justice Department lawyer T Beckett Adams tweeted, “I doubt it. People have short memories. There’s a reason we don’t call Toobin the “married man who knocked up a former colleague’s daughter and had to be taken to court to pay child support.” Adams’ description is fair, but is using it in this context ethical?
I tend to think not, but it’s a close call. [Pointer: Althouse]
4. Legislative incompetence. A while back I labeled Steve King an incompetent elected official for his clueless questioning of Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
I owe King an apology—this was an example of allowing my dislike of the man for his other ethical issues—like being a racist—influence my judgment. For King might be one of the more competent members of Congress in his age group when it comes to technology. In a horrifying article that reveals that Senators Chuck Schumer, Lindsay Graham, and Richard Shelby all have an aversion to, or complete ignorance of, e-mail, Washington Monthly reveals that “when Paul Ryan paid a visit in 2014 to Jim Sensenbrenner, who at the time was a senior member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, he found the congressman tapping out letters on an IBM Selectric II.” Grace Gedye writes,
“These old-fashioned habits may be charming coming from your grandparents, but your grandparents aren’t charged with legislating on cryptocurrency, regulating autonomous vehicles, or protecting consumers from data breaches….This lack of tech savvy causes problems well beyond wrangling with the Facebooks and Googles of the world, for the simple reason that tech is baked into all policy areas. Regulators worry that software installed in medical devices could be hacked. Lawyers and activists are concerned about bias in the algorithms used to assess bail. Legislators who want to fight climate change need to know which renewable energy sources are ready for commercialization. But the dearth of expertise hamstrings Congress throughout the entire policy process—from deciding which issues to prioritize, to drafting bills, to exercising oversight.’
No wonder so many members of Congress were sympathetic to Hillary Clinton’s e-mail machinations. I include a section in every one of my legal ethics seminars about how basic competence requirements mandate that lawyers keep up with technological developments affecting their work and their clients, including how social media operates, its uses and its perils. Who’s explaining this to law-makers?
5. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” note of the day: Vox hack Matt Yglesias, who describes himself as a “neoliberal shill,” actually tweeted this:
“Nobody likes to give themselves credit for this kind of messaging success, but progressive groups did a really good job of convincing people that Trump raised their taxes when the facts say a clear majority got a tax cut.”
Matt and I have different understandings of the word “good.”
6. Yes, I blame Trump for this problem. It’s fine to say that any American child can grow up to be President, but it is not ethical for everyone to run for President. Way back in 2010, when Trump was making noises about running, I condemned it as dangerous and irresponsible for people like Trump to use the important process of running for President for “branding,” and ego gratification. Now that his 2015 candidacy, thanks to chaos theory and a series of unpredictable and unfortunate events, actually got him elected, everyone seems to think they have a chance, and in fact, they might. Swinging all the way from the rigged 2016 nomination/coronation process that made Hillary Clinton its nominee without ever earning it, the Democratic Party is now experimenting with a the GOP clown car method that worked out so, so well. The Democratic field of potential nominees is 19, and that doesn’t even include Creepy Joe Biden, who is now walking, talking proof of the Democrats’ #MeToo hypocrisy. The latest Candidate Who Has No Business Running But More Than Donald Trump So He Actually Does Have Business Running is California Rep. Eric Swalwell, who announced his candidacy on CBS’s Colbert Trump Hate Show. Swalwell, in a burst of rhetorical excess, once exclaimed that gun-owner efforts at resisting a Second Amendment repeal by the government would be futile because “the government has nukes.” He is essentially the anti-gun candidate, spouting “do something” nonsense like he did last night, to barks of approval from the Colbert seals in the audience:
“I talk to kids who sit in their classroom afraid that they’ll be the next victim of gun violence. And they see Washington doing nothing about it after the moments of silence, and they see lawmakers who love their guns more than they love their kids. And none of that is gonna change until we get a leader who is willing to go big on the issues we take on, be bold in the solutions we offer and do good in the way that we govern. I’m ready to solve theses problems. I’m running for president of the United States.”
If students are really afraid that they will be victims of gun violence, it’s dishonest scare-mongers like Swalwell who are responsible for it.
When I hear pols like Swalwell (You can name others, I’m sure) use gross generalities as if they were actually policy specifics to con the rubes, I am always reminded of this scene from “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”: