Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2020: As Fact Begins To Imitate Outrageous Fiction, For Some Reason

Be careful out there…

People appear to be going nuts….in many cases, the exact same people who have, in the recent past, pressed Impeachment/Removal Plan E, ”Trump is mentally ill so this should trigger the 25th Amendment.” Ironic.

This week I stumbled across a comedy now playing on Netflix starring Stephen Yeun, most memorably seen on “The Walking Dead” with half his head caved in and his eyeball hanging out. The movie is called “Mayhem,” and is about a kind of flu that removes people’s impulse control, causing them to do and say whatever they feel like doing or saying, no matter how inappropriate or illegal. The illness strikes a BIgLaw firm, which is quarantined and locked down while its employees go bananas. It’s an excellent metaphor for what is going on right now, but much funnier.

And so far, at least, bloodier.

So far.

1. And now for something completely stupid...Even after being warned at the Golen Globes by Ricky Gervais that they know nothing about the real world and should avoid making political pronouncements, Best Actor winner Joaquin Phoenix announced after the award show that in order to help save the planet from climate change, he would wear the same tux to all the awards shows this year. He really said that. No, seriously, he really did, and he was not engaging in satire (but if the Babylon Bee used that as a story, everyone would assume it was satire.) Then designer Stella McCartney company, also apparently seriously, tweeted (because that tux the actor will be wearing is one of theirs), “This man is a winner… wearing custom Stella because he chooses to make choices for the future of the planet. He has also chosen to wear this same Tux for the entire award season to reduce waste. I am proud to join forces with you.”

I’ve worn the same tux for ten years. Phoenix doesn’t even pay for his tuxes (I pay for mine!), like his female colleagues who get their designer gowns free. There have been some funny jokes about the actor’s ridiculous virtue signaling, many involving underwear, but never mind: what I want to know is, how can anyone take people who think like this seriously, or respect anyone who solemnly nods when they hear about such pompous nonsense, “Hey, right on, man. Save the planet”? Yet a substantial chunk of an entire political party appears to be this far gone.

2.  Wait—are they trying to make our heads explode like those robots and computers that Captian Kirk would destroy by making them think about a contradictory statement? Is that their plan? I admit: I don’t understand this at all. A “Saved by the Bell” reboot, sequel, whatever you want to call it, is on the way. Starring original stars Mario Lopez (who now hosts celebrity gossip shows) and Elizabeth Berkley (whose career never recovered from her starring in the camp classic “Showgirls,” the plot sounds nauseatingly ‘woke,” as it involves now California Govetnor Zack Morris (the gown up character in the original played then by Mark Gosselaar, who actually has a career and doesn’t need to stoop this low) being criticized for closing too many low-income high schools, so he announces that the affected students will be sent to the highest-performing schools in the state, including  his old stomping grounds, Bayside High. Hilarious! I smell a hit! But here’s the beauty part: playing the role of the cutest, most popular cheerleader at Bayside, the role originally played by Tiffany Amber Thiessen, will be played by Josie Totah, a transgender female ( transgender male? I’m still unsure of the right terminology. She began life as a male). Isn’t this just a stunt? On one hand, I’ll fight to the death for the right of any actor to play any role, wear any make-up, use any device, as long as the vehicle itself doesn’t suffer. On the other hand, by casting a transgender actress who has made a point of publicizing her biological origins, the production guarantees that nobody will be able to watch “Lexi” without thinking about things that have nothing to do with “Saved by the Bell.”

So what is this casting choice? Political grandstanding? Sacrificing the show to make a point? Bold, non-traditional casting?

3. In a post dedicated to stupidity, I have to mention the View, I suppose. White nationalist Richard Spencer, whose statements and views interest me even less than George S. Kaufman’s interest in Eddie Fisher’s sex life, announced that he no longer supports President Trump. He also tweeted, “To the people of Iran:There are millions of Americans who do not want war, who do not hate you, and who respect your nation and its history. After our traitorous elite is brought to justice, we hope to achieve peace, reconciliation, and forgiveness.” Well…

Now remember, the fact that Spencer supported Trump for President was routinely cited by “the resistance” as justification for Big Lie #4, “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist” because obviously a Presidential candidate has complete control over who endorses him. So when Spencer The White Bigot announced he did NOT support Trump, what was the reaction from “The View” and its lobotomized audience? Head Idiot Joy Behar raised her arms in triumph, and the audience cheered.

What were they thinking? That the President losing one vote will make a difference? That Spencer is now a good guy, no matter what else he does, because he hates the President? That a white supremacist’s support for a President AND his withdrawal of support both reflect badly on that President? How stupid are these people?

Or is it a virus?

4. Hmmm…maybe the virus began in the House. In a typically well-reasoned article in the Hill, Prof. Jonathan Turley described the Democratic impeachment fiasco as an almost inexplicable botch. He writes in part,

Representative Eric Swalwell, who seeks to be a House manager at the Senate trial, recently declared that not only should a sitting president be impeached if he goes to the courts rather than submit to Congress, but that contesting demands for evidence is actually evidence of guilt on all of the charged offenses. In a complete denial of the critical concepts of the rule of law and due process, Swalwell claimed “we can only conclude that you are guilty” if someone refuses to give testimony or documents.

It is unclear if his concept of due process would be extended to President Obama, who refused both critical witnesses and documents to Congress on the basis of claims that were eventually dismissed by federal courts as untenable. Likewise, former Vice President Joe Biden has made headlines by declaring that, if subpoenaed, he would defy the Senate. But someone must have explained to Biden that the man he seeks to replace was just impeached for defying the House, even without a subpoena, because he clarified his earlier remarks by stating the opposite in a later interview…

and concludes…

The nation will likely witness the collapse of a Senate trial on an incomplete record, as the witnesses and documents are still coming forward. Those Democratic voters who supported this premature act will be left to wonder, as did Doctor Seuss, “How did it get so late so soon?”

That’s assuming those voters are still able to think at all.

31 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/9/2020: As Fact Begins To Imitate Outrageous Fiction, For Some Reason

  1. #1: Jeez Joaquin – try renting a tux. You don’t have to buy a tux and reduce the supply and increase the demand. You can just rent a used one and then it goes back into the system for other people to reuse.

  2. On Spencer, I didn’t make the connection, but Alizia’s rambling crystallized this for me; I didn’t
    quite understand why Spencer was so upset with the attack on Iran, assuming it might be an anti-war stance, but then I put it in the paradigm of “The Joos”, and it all made sense…

    The reason Spencer is so bent out of shape on Soliemani is because his death, and America’s new attention on Iran, is good for Israel. Trump has “capitulated” to “Zionist interests”, right Alizia?

    • On Spencer, I didn’t make the connection, but Alizia’s rambling crystallized this for me; I didn’t quite understand why Spencer was so upset with the attack on Iran, assuming it might be an anti-war stance, but then I put it in the paradigm of “The Joos”, and it all made sense…

      The reason Spencer is so bent out of shape on Soliemani is because his death, and America’s new attention on Iran, is good for Israel. Trump has “capitulated” to “Zionist interests”, right Alizia?

      I think you are baiting me!

      I request that you look at the infantile way you have framed your assertions.

      I posted a conversation below — I reckon it was recorded in 2011 because Bowden died in 2012 — in which they discuss at length their views on the issue. It is illustrative of a general (dissident, questioning, probing) view of those (like my fine self) who are not happy with conventional ‘conservatism’ and who struggle to try to come up with stances that *make sense*. I make efforts — heroic efforts! — to enlarge viewpoints by explaining that there are people like me, and like *us*, all over the world now. And *you* will have to deal with us.

      As I have said and always say: We are forced to *interpret* this world and because so much in it impinges on us, and about which we are powerless, the dial of concern, and hysteria, and paranoia, is turned up. So everyone is sending up their interpretations. Some get close, and some fall into absurdly conspiratorial views. But the important thing is to get close to truth: clear seeing, clarified understanding.

      It is worthwhile to allow oneself to come in contact with other viewpoints and to try to understand them.

      What I find interesting is that you thoroughly miss the only point that should be considered about Iran and also Iraq. I find you despicable for this reason. On the basis of this I dismiss you: you fail to mention that the Iraq War was thoroughly unjustifiable by any standard and resulted in at least 100,000 and up to half a million deaths and, as a result, did the sort of harm that is irreparable to a country. If Spencer offered an apology he offered a sane and justifiable apology for 40-50 years of meddling in the region which can be seen as a cause, perhaps the cause, for a good portion of social unrest, chaos, and upheaval. You see I see this and many others see it. I do not force you to agree, how could I? but I state my views. They are as valid and in many ways more valid than yours if only because they are reasoned.

      The war was waged on false pretenses. It was engaged in because lies were constructed. On this basis alone a responsible person, and a people with a relationship to value and honor, should condemn the war. A tremendous harm was done and had there been more people opposed to that war perhaps it never could have taken place. But obviously this has some bearing, Monsieur Floripondio, on the present embroilment with Iran. This entire situation has a long causal chain and the US has presence in it that goes back decades. All this must be seen, registered, and considered.

      And what you try to do here, you rat-like creature! is to provoke me to make the kind of statement about Israel’s influence over US policy and through the Neocons that you believe have no merit and are ‘antisemitic’. In Spencer’s talk with Bowden there was not one drop of ‘antisemitism’. And if you and people like you continue to frame any critique of the State of Israel in that way you will, in the end, do a disservice to Israel and to Jews.

      If you dismiss and drive underground those views and ideas that you simply cannot understand and ‘hate’ you make a grave mistake. If they are genuine ideas and if there are genuine ethical issues, then suppressing them is really wrong and bad.

  3. I’ll confess to a morbid curiosity on how rewearing a single tux saves the planet, when many of those elite stars flew in on private jets, and nearly all arrived in gas-guzzling limos. The nation should be rendered speechless at this level of ignorant pandering.

  4. How does a Senate “trial” work? Who is the prosecutor – the House of Representatives as an institution, or the Democratic members of the Senate? How is evidence verified? What does the presiding judge even do? Does he (Roberts) have the right to dismiss the case for failing to establish a chain of evidence? Does he have the right to reject hearsay? Does it even matter if the Senators hear the “evidence” anyways?

    One thing I think would be amazing would be for Roberts to recuse himself, and seat one of the Democratic judges as acting chief. Let the Democrats have their case and eat it, too. Somehow, this also seems like a stunt beneath the dignity of this honorable court.

    • Roberts cannot recuse himself. The Constitution specifically states that “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside…” and offers no wiggle room on this point.

      Interesting fantasy, though.

      • There are any number of plausible scenarios, such as the Chief Justice being a relative of the President, that could make recuse appropriate. It would ultimately be up to… the Supreme Court to decide if recusal were permissible. In Roberts case, I can see no real or implied conflict of interest that would make recusal appropriate.

        It is only a matter of time before the Democrats demand Roberts’ recusal. (Can you tell my faith in this party?).

  5. “Swalwell claimed “we can only conclude that you are guilty” if someone refuses to give testimony or documents.”

    Oh my God! This man is a lawyer (or an American citizen, for that matter)?

    • I’ll raise you one: he is also a former prosecuting attorney in Alameda County, CA. Or so I am informed.
      Not that this is some kind of immunity to foolishness. These guys will sell their souls to keep on the good side of Pelosi.

    • Well, to be fair to Swallwell, juries are allowed in civil cases to draw adverse conclusions regarding liability if a civil defendant invokes his Fifth Amendment rights.

      If an impeachment’s nearest legal analogue is a civil trial, then neither Swallwell nor Senators are necessarily forbidden from drawing a negative conclusion from Trump executing his privileges, although in a civil trial, drawing such inferences requires an affirmative ruling from the bench. So I suppose, if Chief Justice Roberts were inclined to try to apply federal civil rules, he could rule that Senators may conclude that Trump’s invocation of executive privilege (which is functionally similar to the Fifth Amendment) allows the jurors to infer in favor of removal.

      Of course, impeachment is not actually a legal proceeding at all, civil or criminal, but rather something more similar to a board of directors action than anything under our legal system. The only penalty for impeachment is removal from office. There is no civil or criminal penalty available. A separate vote of the House and Senate may be taken to forbid a removed president from serving in an office of trust under the US Government, but that is not part of impeachment itself.

      Ultimately, when we demand “due process” under impeachment, applying the bones of the Rules of Federal Criminal Procedure are a fun arguments and sound convincing, but they don’t really survive close scrutiny. FR of Civil procedure would be a closer fit, but even they fall far short of the reality.

      So really, “Due process” in an impeachment is, literally, what the House and Senate says it is, respectively.

      • Maybe I’ve been misinformed over the last 50 years, but the 5A does not apply to civil cases, only criminal. Yes, if a defendant in a civil case does not testify the jury is free to draw from that what they will. In a criminal trial they are instructed specifically that they can attach no significance to a defendant’s choice to not testify in their own defense.

        Please correct me if I have been misinformed.

        • You have been misinformed. The 5A does apply in civil cases — if it did not, the government, when faced with evidentiary problems, would simply institute a civil suit against a putative criminal defendant in order to obtain a confession, or provide enough evidence to a harmed party so that they sue, eliciting a confession at trial which could then be used in criminal proceedings.

  6. Jack writes:

    White nationalist Richard Spencer, whose statements and views interest me even less than George S. Kaufman’s interest in Eddie Fisher’s sex life, announced that he no longer supports President Trump.

    I haven’t bothered to google George Kaufman and Eddie Fischer yet. I may not after all . . .

    It is — in my overly humble opinion — necessary to have first-hand knowledge of what Spencer thinks, even if it is only general, and the same is true of all those figures who are part of the so-called *underbelly* of America. For example David Duke and George Rockwell. There are many such figures like these. Randy Weaver is another figure in that genre.

    It seems to me that in the absence of a will to understand, one would more often than not have to resort to the framing that the Media provides. They more often than not get it wrong, and often extremely (and deliberately) wrong. Sometimes deviously wrong.

    I suggest that it is a citizen’s responsibility to understand their discourse — because of the larger currents occurring in America, in Europe and other places — and then why they think the way they do. The reason is because their thinking is shared by many millions — perhaps tens of millions — of fellow Americans. (I argue the same for the Left extremists).

    I first became aware of Spencer — without knowing who he was — when researching Jonathan Bowden. A correspondingly Black Sheep of the English variety. Bowden definitely is possessed of genius, though of a disturbing sort.

    In this talk Spencer and Bowden talk about the Iraq War and those machinations from a critical angle. Each of them make many respectable points.

  7. Yes, I suppose that I agree. If the issue is strictly limited to what Joy said and did.

    I must admit ::: sheepishly ::: that in relation to “He’s obviously an idiot, but we knew that” I took the bait as it were. I do not think he is an idiot, and the conversation with Bowden proves that.

    I have, I think, a genuine ethical concern: that of using too broad terms to characterize people, or name-calling in general.

    My other ethical concern (or is it a philosophical, a political, or a sociological concern?) is in excluding people from dialogue. That is why I say that I think it important to know something, and perhaps a great deal, about those who we are opposed to.

  8. I’m counting the talented Megyn Kelly amongst the unimpressed:

    My husband and his coworkers wear the same firefighter outfit when they go into burning buildings to try to save people. But yeah, good for you Joaquin and Stella.”

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