Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2020: In Which The Conundrum Is Posed, “Can A Warmed-Up Warm-Up Still Be Called A Warm-Up?


Well, that was strange. Yesterday’s warm-up turned into the long post about Judge Staton’s disturbing dissent, and by the time I had finished it and the previous “fake news” compendium, my window for getting the Saturday Warm-Up up had slammed shut. Today’s Warm-Up is largely made up of the items that were wiped off the board by the Obama-appointed judge’s “whenever the courts really, really think national policy should be different from what it is, they have the power to change it by edict” opinion.

1. Sausage biscuit ethics. I’m fond of sausage biscuits for breakfast, but the 7-11 variety have a garbage-y taste, and the sole local McDonald’s that I’m not boycotting for ethics transgressions is mobbed in the morning. Of the frozen variety, I will not patronize a company, Jimmy Dean, which uses its dead founder as a TV spokesperson without pointing out that he’s dead. Over the holidays, I tried a lesser and much cheaper brand of frozen sausage biscuit, Tennessee Pride, and they were good enough.

Yesterday I bought another box. When I pulled out a bag of two “sausage biscuits,” I saw that the sausage was sitting between two small buns, unlike the contents of the previous box. Buns are not biscuits, but the label on the box read in large type, “Sausage Biscuits.” I did notice, however, that the photo on the box showed buns.

Would that fact be a complete defense against an accusation of false labeling? I doubt it, but it doesn’t matter. “Fool me once” is once too many.

2. Res Ipsa Loquitur: “an informed public.” Twitter user @Golfergirl2018  shared a post she saw on Facebook, written by someone who sympathizes with antivaxx parents (you know…morons) who don’t want to put “chemicals” in their kids. “I think instead of chemical shots the doctors should give a small piece of the virus, so the body can build immunity,” he wrote.

BRILLIANT! Why didn’t someone think of that long ago?

Yes, it is unethical and irresponsible to publish opinions on topics you haven’t researched, don’t understand, and know nothing about. I wonder how many social media posts would survive if this were recognized as a rule of commentary?

3. NBC actually published this on its “Think” page!  Long. LONG time reader Michael Ejercito passed along the link to “Trump voters motivated by racism may be violating the Constitution. Can they be stopped?” by Noah Berlatsky, the editor of the comics and culture blog “The Hooded Utilitarian” who has been inexplicably allowed to make readers dumber on Slate, Reason, NPR, and The Atlantic, among others. This is an unethical and an ill-informed piece designed to mislead anyone not alraedy so biased that they can’t detect the many tells that should alert readers to an unprincipled activist at work.  No, you hack, Trump never said that “Mexicans are rapists.” No, you Big Lie agent, it was NOT “clear” that “Make America Great Again” meant “America was greater when white people’s power was more sweeping and more secure.” No, you shameless propagandist, opposing illegal immigration is not being “anti-immigrant.” No, you logic-challenged boob, the fact that 58% of white voters voted for President Trump does not mean they approve of your absurd translation of MAGA, nor does it mean the President was favored by racists, nor does it even mean they approved of him or his stated policies. It means they preferred him to the horrible alternative. No, the fact that you think voting for Trump was obviously an irrational choice doesn’t mean it was. No, you Constitutional ignoramus, you cannot prevent citizens from voting their values and conscience by labeling them racists.

This is one of the increasing number of “resistance”-inspired “there has got to be some way to take over the government without having to cope with people who disagree with us” articles, books and speeches polluting public discourse. You don’t have to be a racist to vote against their candidates, or their agendas.

4. To be fair, this is worse, and it’s from Harvard: In “Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation,” some un-named Harvard scholars propose to divide the District of Columbia  into 127 states (that all voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic party in the 2016 election), and then once the new teensie-weensie states join the union and can dominate the old 50, it can force a Constitutional convention, junk that archaic document, and lead the newly progressive U.S to Nirvana. “Radical as this proposal may sound, it is no more radical than a nominally democratic system of government that gives citizens widely disproportionate voting power depending on where they live,” the lunatic authors write, apparently unaware that their argument embodies the infamous Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.”

As with Noah Berlatsky’s incoherent blather, this ridiculous plan makes no sense, in unconstitutional on its face, is motivated by ant-democratic motives, and has no chamce, zip, zero, of ever being taken seriously by more than a handful of educated and sober Americans outside of a padded cell, much less implemented. The District of Columbia can’t get approval for itself to be admitted as a state, and these Harvard wackos want it to be divided into 127 states, with 127 governors, 254 Senator…riiiight.

Luckily my Harvard diploma is already turned to the wall.

5. And speaking of the Pro-Totalitarian Party:

  • Joe Biden said in an interview with the New York Times‘ editorial board that he favored revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, a federal law that’protects online platforms from being legally liable for content produced and posted by third parties. “Section 230 should be revoked, immediately should be revoked, number one. For Zuckerberg and other platforms,” said Biden. “… it should be revoked. It should be revoked because it is not merely an internet company. It is propagating falsehoods they know to be false, and we should be setting standards not unlike the Europeans are doing relative to privacy…There is no editorial impact at all on Facebook. None. None whatsoever. It’s irresponsible. It’s totally irresponsible.” Biden argues that both Zuckerberg and Facebook should be held civilly liable for “false information” posted on the platform, and even suggests that Zuckerberg could somehow be held criminally liable.

Notes Reason: “Free speech online has given voice to everyone and cracking down on that right, as with all forms of censorship, would most hurt those who have less political or social power.” I might also note that Facebook, even now, censors me. Conservative writer David French adds, “Repealing Section 230 would — in practical reality — result in the single-greatest wave of censorship in the modern history of the United States.”


By the way, did you know that the autocrat Donald Trump is a threat to our rights?

  • Tweets Elizabeth Warren: “We have a student loan crisis—and we can’t afford to wait for Congress to act. I’ve already proposed a student loan debt cancellation plan, and on day one of my presidency, I’ll use existing laws to start providing that debt cancellation immediately.”

“We can’t wait for Congress to act” means “we can’t follow the Constitution and get what we want.” This is the anti-democratic logic of The Green New Deal, of the Harvard usurpers above, of Judge Staton. 

Forget for the nonce that massive student loan forgiveness proposal is a terrible  proposal burdening  taxpayers with paying for at least $640 billion in debt that millions of students freely accepted (while others paid for their own tuition, or paid back their loans.) This is unconstitutional. Warren has offered some convoluted arguments justifying this dictatorial move, but like the 127 states scheme, it can’t and won’t happen.

23 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2020: In Which The Conundrum Is Posed, “Can A Warmed-Up Warm-Up Still Be Called A Warm-Up?

  1. I find it interesting how many people wish Section 230 gone, or at least amended. In my experience, the problem comes when people try to explain the platform vs publisher argument. Even senators have fallen victim to this, such as when Sen. Cruz was asking Mr. Zuckerberg about Facebook. Section 230 does not distinguish between a publisher and a platform, providing equal protection to all sites on the internet.

    Many people wish sites like Facebook and YouTube to lose that protection because of what they feel is a publisher role. Despite my disagreement with those sites, I still believe that they should be afforded Section 230 protection, just like any other site. If you’re wanting a different way to share videos or communicate with friends, the better option would be to start or support a site that more closely adheres to your values. But that’s impossible, because YouTube and Facebook are too big and it’s too hard for people to compete against them. So it’s better for government to force them to operate the way we want them to run.

    This trend doesn’t just involve the internet. I hear many people complaining about how they don’t have control over how their taxes are spent, and wish to have a direct democratic method of tax planning. I try to explain to them that we’re not a direct democracy, and that if you want your tax money spent differently, support a candidate that aligns closer to your values, or run yourself. But that’s too much work to them. They’d rather have government take care of everything. And this is coming from both left and right folks.

    I’m of the opinion that the less government involved, the better the end result. If you care enough about something, you’ll put in the work to fix it. If you don’t care enough about something, why should the government care about it in your place?

  2. I’m amazed that we’ve had precisely the same experience regarding Tennessee Pride breakfast sausage biscuits. Naturally, I swore a blood oath against the company as a result of being duped into eating those fraud buns, and I’ve found that, should you successfully purchase the biscuits which are actually biscuits, they have a marginally inferior texture to the Jimmy Dean variety. I drastically altered my rapid breakfast routine as a result, forgoing microwave meat patty sandwiches altogether. I’d be interested to know if anyone has found a more viable alternative. I do miss having a hot, convenient, meaty breakfast.

    • I enthusiastically support the later comments about Hardee’s sausage and biscuit, but as far as the frozen varieties are concerned, a least the last time I checked, the Tennessee Pride sausage and buttermilk biscuits were still made with actual biscuits as opposed to the buns described with the “non-buttermilk” style product.

        • HEB has a decent variety of breakfast options. None of them use a bun.

          They rival the Owens varieties. However, HEB also gets major manufacturers to package the same products which are then sold at a discount. Mission Tortillas is an example of this.

          So Owens may well be making the HEB biscuits.

  3. 3. Are his appearances on the woke media cited really inexplicable? I don’t think so. In fact, at this point it should be expected. Air time and print space belongs the wokest. We all know that.

    5. Biden’s problem is Facebook isn’t silencing one side enough. The deep state government he has profited from so handsomely will tell you what is fake and what is real. Trust him.

    • Bingo on #5. It’s not that they hate the Constitution because it guarantees Freedom of Speech, but because it guarantees Freedom of Speech to their opponents.

      • It was no mistake, but it was a propagandistic joke on the people that the Soviet Union’s media was called Pravda (Truth) and Izvestia (Justice). This is the kind of media crazy Uncle Joe Biden can get behind, just like Uncle Joe Stalin.

  4. Jack, thank you for your continued charge against stupidity, bias, and idiots at large. Your blog, and the thoughtful replies from many, make a difference to this reader.

    Did you see the recent news about a federal government agency blurring an image of the 2017 march for use in an exhibit? and the apology given? Would like to see your analysis on this issue.


    apology –

  5. 5b. If Senator Warren were somehow to force all the other Americans to pay off college debt, what then? That debt would simply begin accumulating on Day 2 of her Presidency. So I’m guessing Warren’s plan doesn’t stop with a one-time “back-to-zero” Christmas gift. It’s probably the start of letting college students run up whatever debt they want, then having everyone else pay the bill. Or we are asked to subsidize college tuition. This is staggeringly irresponsible and sends a horrific message to students.

    I listened to Ben Stein talk about college debt years ago – 10 years or more – when the issue was parents taking on college debt for their children. He said (not an exact quote), “Your child reaps whatever benefit he or she gains from the education. Your child should pay for that benefit…no one else.” I think Stein believed that it was unethical for anyone other than the student to pay for his/her education.

    It teaches students to place value and pride in their education, to work hard, and to demand personal excellence. Well, it may not do that for every student, but I can guarantee you that a great many more students will NOT place value in an education they know someone else will simply pay for.

    And what about car loans that people can’t pay back? What about gambling debts?…after all, compulsive gambling is a sickness, so how can those poor folks be held accountable for that?

    Where does it end?

  6. 3 and 5. When I read pieces like this and see stuff like what Biden said, it actually cements my resolve to vote for Trump’s re-election. Did I like his personal life? No. Is he someone who tends to get too personal an ugly, especially when punching back? Yes. Is he a bull in a china shop? Yes.

    The problem is that despite those failings, he is all that stands between us and something worse.

    In 2016, free speech was, for all intents and purposes, on the ballot. In the NIFLA and Masterpiece Cakeshop cases, it was whether speech could be compelled. Senators and attorneys general wanted to use RICO against those who dissented from certain environmental policies. At least one Hillary staffer questioned whether Breitbart News should even have a right to exist.

    Thankfully, Trump won, but since then, it has gotten worse. Andrew Cuomo has openly declared his desire to use government pressure to get banks and insurance companies to not work with the NRA. Elizabeth Warren wants the IRS to go Lois Lerner on the NRA. Now, there’s Biden trying to get Zuckerberg to fall in line with other companies that censor, with a big “or else” coming.

    We’re not even touching Kyle Jurek – that Bernie Sanders field organizer who Project Veritas caught on tape supporting the gulag.

    At this point, Trump is the ethical choice, despite his flaws.

  7. No, you logic-challenged boob, the fact that 58% of white voters voted for President Trump does not mean they approve of your absurd translation of MAGA, nor does it mean the President was favored by racists, nor does it even mean they approved of him or his stated policies. It means they preferred him to the horrible alternative. No, the fact that you think voting for Trump was obviously an irrational choice doesn’t mean it was.

    Trump was also elected in reaction to what Matthew Yglesias called “The Great Awokening”.

    Berlatsky is also the author of the Berlatsky doctrine.

    So, under this Berlatsky doctrine, civil rights can be infringed if its exercise hurts people’s feelings.

    Same-sex marriage hurts people’s feelings. Why not ban same-sex marriage?

    What about gay pride parades? Do they not hurt people’s feelings? Why not ban gay pride parades to protect their feelings?

    What about shutting down Islamic mosques because they hurt the feelings of terrorism survivors? Or shutting down Catholic churches because they hurt the feelings of sexual abuse survivors?

    And, of course, is not public safety a greater interest than protecting people’s feelings?

    Why not arbitrary searches and seizures at the whim of the police?

    Why not reducing the burden of proof in criminal trials to a preponderance of the evidence?

    The question is not what civil rights violations could be justified under the Berlatsky doctrine.

    The question is what could not.

  8. Another answer I found on Quora.

    When will gun advocates understand that the current gun laws allow the same freedom for mad men to buy and own guns that not only violate the civil rights of fellow Americans but also kill or injure innocent people and children in innocent venues.

    Here was my comment.

    Indeed, why have civil rights at all?

    Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures? Street thugs and gangbangers use this to hide evidence of their crimes from the police. How much easier would it be to catch them if the po po could just search them on a whim?

    What about the right against self-incrimination, the right to a fair trial? How much harder would it be for street thugs and gangbangers to get away with their crimes if the po po could make them talk?

    Or execute them or imprison them after judging them guilty, without the benefit of a lawyer.

    And what about the right to confront witnesses? Would it not be harder for street thugs and gangbangers to get away with their crimes if they could not confront witnesses? Why do they need to if the cops could just judge the credibility of witnesses in criminal cases that they are investigating?

    Or the right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. would not the prospect of torture deter people from becoming street thugs or gangbangers in the first place.

    These seem to be common sense, sensible measures to deal with the street thugs that mug us in the streets and the gangbangers killing our kids, right?

  9. Why are we surprised? The administration he served in as Vice President sicced the IRS on the Tea Party. But that is just in keeping with his party’s evolution, which is going at an accelerated rate since 2016 – when Donald Trump pulled off the biggest political upset since 1948.

    The Democrats have become more and more overt in their efforts to silence opposition. It used to be crying “racist!” worked – but when it instead became the punchline of the joke “How do you tell when a Democrat has lost the argument?”, they made adjustments. They tried to use the threat of legal action to force gun manufacturers to accept gun control they couldn’t pass through the legislature, and that failed.

    They’ve pushed campaign finance reform as a way to muzzle voices, and ever since Citizens United and McCullough, they want to amend the Constitution to allow Congress to muzzle certain voices.

    They are also using governmental power against their opponents. Look at what Andrew Cuomo is doing to the NRA. Elizabeth Warren is campaigning on siccing the IRS on the NRA. Gee, what happens if the NRA has to defend itself from abusive government probes instead of being able to promote the protection of Second Amendment rights? We have the 2018 midterms and 2019 Virginia Legislative elections as examples.

    That is the future the Democrats have in mind. And if that doesn’t work… well, Project Veritas has the next step, courtesy of Kyle Jurek, field organizer for the Bernie Sanders campaign: Bring the gulag to America.

    The authoritarian and totalitarian trends among the Democrats are accelerating, and only the biggest possible repudiation at the polls has a chance to stop this before it gets very very ugly.

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