I Hereby Declare An OPEN FORUM!

Lots of reasons—I’m doing a three-hour Zoom legal ethics seminar for government lawyers in about an hour, I’ve been wrestling alligators for three days, and even WordPress has turned on me, showing readers a discarded paragraph in the last post that never showed up for me on two computers. It’s a good time for cooler heads to take over.

The usual ground rules apply: keep comments substantive and on topic, and make me proud.

I may be back if I have any enthusiasm left after 9 pm.

36 thoughts on “I Hereby Declare An OPEN FORUM!

  1. OK, no takers yet? Avoiding the Supreme Court elephant, let me try this…Facebook has said it will restrict posts after the election if it think they will cause “unrest”.

    https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2020/09/22/facebook-says-it-will-restrict-posting-if-elections-cause-unrest/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_term=daily&utm_campaign=20200922

    Is this likely to be a responsible calming action, or something that will be wielded to serve a particular narrative? What might the fallout be under various post-election scenarios?

    Further evidence that Facebook et al. should be forced to choose to perform as either a platform or a content provider, and live with the consequences?.

  2. I’m trying to figure out how to deal with otherwise-reasonable people who have been taken in by manipulative media and refuse to consider information from conflicting sources. A friend earlier today wanted me to provide a credible source to support my claim that ex-offenders tend to vote Democrat, but refused to even look at an article I found on Fox News’ site. He recommended that I instead look at something in The Atlantic…

    • The fact that Bloomberg, Lebron James, Ben and Jerries have ponied up millions to bribe them by paying off their fines so they can vote is evidence enough. Ask your friend if he thinks any of those benefactors would help someone vote for Republicans let alone Trump.

      Anyone who can think critically would see that and does not need to be Sherlock Holmes to deduce that fact.

    • The first thing I would ask myself is why it’s important to me that it be established that ex-offenders tend to vote Democrat. Is that an important piece of information in and of itself, or is a proxy for something that can be established through less contentious means than determining which news sources and articles are trustworthy?

      • Extradimensional Cephalapod, I had alleged that Michael Bloomberg’s offer to pay the fines, fees, and restitution owed by 32,000 ex-offenders was inappropriate, counterproductive from a rehabilitative standpoint, and bordered on buying votes. My friend was not aware that ex-offenders tend to support Democrat candidates much more than they support other parties. (80% or more of ex-offenders who have had their rights restored vote Democrat. A study in one state found that 96% reported voting Democrat.)

        Florida’s legislature felt that ex-offenders who had successfully completed their time on community supervision and who had made the effort to pay their debts, restitution, and fines, had shown that they deserved the voting privileges of citizenship to be restored to them. Mike Bloomberg’s “gift” to ensure these ex-offenders would be able to vote this year undermines the point of that whole exercise, since it requires no particular effort or responsibility from the offenders. Even worse, this specifically benefits those lucky ex-cons who happened to not have paid what they owed yet. That actually provides a disincentive for offenders to pay reparations, creating the impression that if they can drag their feet a while, they may be the next winners of the “Bloomberg get-a-vote sweepstakes”.

        Bloomberg’s “gift” is also clearly meant to buy their allegiance, much as politicians once did before private ballots became the norm, paying people to get their vote.

        • That sounds like a reasonable take to me. And the counterpoint is that he was doing it out of the goodness of his heart, to enfranchise people? (Ignoring all the far more useful things he could give them with his money than the ability to vote immediately?)

          I tend to take these issues back to questions of incentives rather than questions of empiricism. Ironically, it’s far less contentious to talk about feelings rather than facts. I might ask, “what would motivate this rich Democrat to spend all this money to restore the ability to vote to so many people? Do you think he would have done it if he expected most of them to vote Republican?”

          First, though, there’s a three-step process that I use when discussing contentious topics:
          1. Identify one’s own values.
          2. Identify the other person’s values.
          3. Frame the situation constructively.

          If you know that your value is to prevent corruption, and you can fulfill that value by leading people to acknowledge the corrupt use of money to meddle in elections by bypassing rules, then that’s a good first step going in.

          The next step would be to listen and ask earnest questions about what they consider the most important aspects of the issue. If they never agreed in the first place with the idea of denying convicted felons the ability to vote until all their societal debts are fulfilled, then this may not be the best issue to challenge them on. In that case, it would look to them as though Bloomberg were simply “doing the right thing” in order to ensure they have a voice and representation in an election year that people are even more on edge about than usual.

          Values have to come first, and then we have to frame the situation in a way that lets us work together towards all of our values, and then we can bring in facts to help us do that.

          That’s my take on the situation, at least. Does that make sense?

          • EC
            They are only paying the fines in Florida. That should tell you a great deal about motivation.

            The purpose of the fine is to impose a cost on the individual. It is not restitution. Can a third party do the time in prison. Assume Bloomberg is convicted of a felony and gets ten years in jail can he pay someone 100K a year to do his time. The answer is no.

          • EC
            One has to ask why Bloomberg et al did not use the gift to help enfranchise all those poor people without photo ID’s. Seems to me that if he wants to give a gift of enfranchisement he would start by tackling the impediment so many claim suppresses the vote. By doing so, he would also help those same people become able to fully participate in the economy at large that comes from being able to produce a photo ID.

            • That all makes sense to me. For people who don’t see why it’s a problem, I suspect it’s because there’s something they value that they feel is threatened, which leads them to think that such wrongdoing is an acceptable price to pay in order to protect it. In order for them to admit this instance of corruption, it’s necessary to make them feel comfortable that we do appreciate the value that they feel is threatened.

              Mostly I delay talking about the merits of individual public figures as long as possible, unless it’s to sympathize with someone else’s point of view. In general I try to avoid empirical assertions until the last minute. It’s a holdover from my engineering education: set up the equation, and plug in all the variables as the last step.

          • First, though, there’s a three-step process that I use when discussing contentious topics:
            1. Identify one’s own values.
            2. Identify the other person’s values.
            3. Frame the situation constructively.

            I’ve done some additional work here. Tell me if you think this is a progressive step:

            First, though, there’s a four-step process that I use when discussing contentious topics:
            1. Identify one’s own values.
            2. Identify the other person’s values.
            3. Frame the situation constructively.
            4. Aim for the center of the forehead.

          • First, though, there’s a three-step process that I use when discussing contentious topics:
            1. Identify one’s own values.
            2. Identify the other person’s values.
            3. Frame the situation constructively.

            Values have to come first, and then we have to frame the situation in a way that lets us work together towards all of our values, and then we can bring in facts to help us do that.

            This is a sort of *Mr Rodgers strategy* (the TV children’s program). It could possibly work on the child’s playground and there is a good way to proceed. But there has to be a situation where there is an agreed system of values. Such as: All the balls and toys are here for everyone’s use. We all must share. No child could say “My value system does not include sharing with anyone, ever. All is mine.”

            In our world it is possible to clearly identify our own value in some category, and fully understand how the other person frames her or his values in respect to the same, and realize that there is absolutely no way to bridge the value-difference nor to be able to *work together towards all our values*.

            Take the example of abortion. On one side you have (as is generally the case) a Christian who believes in the soul and that killing a child in the womb is a sin. On the other side an atheist whose view does not include that basic understanding and instead constructs a very different value-system. Now the values that arise from that second person’s view can certainly allow that person to excise a life. There is no moral problem.

            What part of this essential value-conflict is to be framed constructively?

            In fact I could go right down a line and place the major moral and ethical conflicts of our day within this frame.

            Take the example of the Progressive Mobs who go house-to-house in mostly white (European-American) neighborhoods and who say “You come out of your house now and support our cause or we will burn down your house”.

            How is that view, which is certainly based in some *value-system*, to be reconciled with that person who thinks differently from that mob and does not wish to cooperate with that mob?

            Can you indicate how this value-conflict would be worked out. How could we then *work together towards all our values*?

            Now what is morally and ethically challenging is to attempt to frame a widely-held social value where abortion is really considered a recognized moral evil and is forbidden. If you held to that value, and if you really believed it was ‘valid’, how would you react if certain people, or lots of people, broke the moral law (that defined abortion as an intolerable act)?

            There you have an interesting problem because you have defined a moral value, and one assumes that you do not see it as ‘negotiable’ or as ‘relative’. You have *identified your value* and you can explain it and defend it intellectually.

            How will you go about ‘identifying the other person’s values’ when you see, and you believe, it is non-defensible?

            So, we have these conflicts and I am not sure they are ‘supposed’ to be bridged. We are actually called to highlight them even more, to bring them out into the open, even though that will result in social conflict.

  3. Jack, with your many Zoom Conferences, I’m starting to miss your regular “Airport Travel Episodes and Complaints!” Guess there’s an upside to being stuck in your office confines with pajama bottoms, shirt and tie (?).

  4. A couple months ago now, I was in the midst of moving. The night before moving day, in the midst of packing and sorting through items left behind by an irresponsible freeloading roommate, I made a quick run to the supermarket to buy some bottled water for the movers and one other small item I don’t recall. I took a 24-pack of bottled water from the shelf, along with the other item, carrying them in my arms without using a cart. I went to the express lane, where there were two men ahead of me. The first one was pulling out coupons for what seemed like each individual item, so it took awhile, and of course I had to maintain my social distance. The checker started scanning the items for the second man, but because I had to remain 6 feet back, I couldn’t set my items on the belt behind his, so I was starting to get a little fatigued holding the pack of bottled water. At this time, an older lady came up behind me with a small cart load of items. “Excuse me, I was next in line,” she said.

    “No, you weren’t,” I replied.

    “Yes, I was!”

    “No, you were not,” I said, becoming terse.

    “I was! I was in line behind that man.”

    “She was in line behind me before,” said the man in front of me.

    “You weren’t in line when I got here, and I have only two items, so you can wait,” I told the lady.

    “That’s not fair!” she protested. “I was next in line! This isn’t fair!”

    I didn’t respond further, the man in front of me said nothing more, and the checker never intervened.

    I felt bad about how this played out, because I was already short on patience when this happened, and I was very terse in my refusal. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have refused—but I rarely have heavy items in my arms when I go to check out, and I had already been waiting patiently for several minutes before she came up behind me. Had I been in her place, I would never have made such a demand; if I leave the checkout line I consider my place in it forfeit.

    So, was my refusal ethical?

    • Maybe the following two propositions help as stepping stones to answer your question.

      It is ethical to say “No!” to an unethical demand.

      It is unethical to say “Yes!” to an unethical demand.

      • This is basically my take on the matter, but since my conscience still bugs me about it, I thought it worth bringing here. Had it not been a demand from her, but a request (in consideration of her age?), I suppose I wouldn’t think it unethical; but of course, it wouldn’t be unethical to have declined, in that case. Thanks, Zanshin.

        • I think your feeling around your conscience is just showing your discomfort with being assertive. In the past year, I’ve really started exploring this and have actually started to enjoy being assertive in situations where I normally would have minded my own business.

          I’ll relate 2 of them: I was driving home on my street and came across a guy on a bike “walking his dog”. He was stopped and the dog was pooping and it didn’t look like he had any intention of dismounting his bike. I parked, observed from a reasonable distance and saw him pedal away when the dog finished. I turned my car around, got alongside him and asked “Are you going to go back to pick that up?” This pissed him off and he yelled “Yes I am.” Which was a fine response for me. My goal was met – he knew people were watching him and knew who he was; even if he didn’t go back later after his trip around the block. I left it at that but that really set in me that I wasn’t in the wrong. I didn’t escalate it beyond what was necessary and I made my point.

          The second was this past weekend. I entered the mall through Macy’s and as I got to the mall, a black man had set off the alarms and was in a bit of a confrontation with security and police were arriving. The gentleman was not keeping his cool and was making his displeasure known. Police put his hands in cuffs as he was jerking and resisting (a little bit.) I stopped walking and was a safe distance away and just stood there to watch and observe, saying nothing and not involving myself beyond being a good witness. A woman tried to get me to keep moving and leave. I said very tersely: “Why?” and proceded to ignore her. She was obviously Loss Control for Macy’s and didn’t want a crowd to gather, but tough shit. My view was that I was in a place I was permitted to be and something was happening that I felt I should witness should things go awry.

          Back to my main point: Don’t let other people make you feel “less than” because they accuse you of violating some imaginary social norm. There’s no social norm that says we can’t be assertive or even confrontational. I may believe we have a responsibility to not escalate, but standing your ground in the face of escalation is, in my book, correct.

          Sure you might have been a little less terse, but I think people’s level of “terse” is dependent upon how the confrontation presents itself. In your case, you were becoming exhausted and were obviously in the right position and she tried to assert an invalid claim. Tough cookies. She got out of that exchange exactly what she put into it. I think you’re just fine.

    • If the woman wasn’t anywhere to be seen when you got into the line, then your refusal was ethical and proper, and I’ll go so far as to say that she was being the jerk. If you leave the line, you have no further claim to that place in the line. This has been a bedrock rule of queueing for as long as humans have been standing in lines, and the only way that woman didn’t know this is if that was the first time she’d ever stood in a line before. Even young children have an innate sense of these (admittedly unwritten) rules.

      One thing I’ve noticed in the past few months is that people have become less patient and more irritable in public situations like this. I suspect it’s largely due to the face masks. They’re uncomfortable, and when you’re in a situation where you are doing nothing but waiting, with no task to distract you, it can become quite irritating and oppressive.

      • Thanks, Jeff. Indeed, she was nowhere to be seen when I got in line, and she didn’t show up till I had been there for several minutes. Moreover, no one mentioned that she had a spot saved line till she came up behind me. To be honest, I think the checker ought to have intervened, but that’s another issue.

        I’ve definitely been less patient with all of the various pandemic restrictions. At the same supermarket, on another occasion, I had brought my reusable bags, and the checker told me I couldn’t use them. Upon scanning my items, he asked if I’d need to buy any bags, to which I said, “What do you think? Yes, of course I will. That’s a stupid question.” And it was a stupid question, but I ought to have considered that he probably asked it out of habit rather than intending to insult me.

        • Connecticut charges a $0.10 tax on disposable plastic bags. This was suspended briefly, but of all the inane restrictions, they reimpose this one because the science theoretically says that reusable bags don’t transmit covid. Yet many stores refuse to allow reusable bags and go so far as to discourage cash.

          So now people are effectively forced to pay the fee, because everyone is too cranky to carry their jumble of items without a bag.

          (When the fee was implemented in the fall of last year, it utterly failed to generate any revenue for the state, because people refused to pay for bags out of principle. People juggling items in the parking lot because a common sight until the virus hit. Worse, the tax was meant to be temporary until plastic bags were banned altogether. Thus, a temporary tax that cost an undisclosed amount to implement did not successfully generate any revenue until a goddman global pandemic intervened. At least the permanent ban has been suspended indefinitely.)

          • “Single-use” plastic bags are banned here, and the typical charge for paper bags is 10¢. Now the supermarket has reusable plastic bags (coronavirus!) for sale at 25¢, and no paper bags. Fortunately I’m allowed to bring my reusable bags again!

    • Your refusal was perfectly ethical, but could have been a bit more tatical.

      “Excuse me, that’s my place in line!”

      (Pretending not to have heard, and louder so more people hear) “Oh, thank you, you’re too kind!” (Then set the heavy case of water on the front edge of her cart.)

      This flips the script from selfishness to generosity. Now if she continues her demand, she looks like twice the jerk, and to more people.

  5. Chuck Schumer is guiding Democrats to throw temper tantrums in each of their committees and is taking his toys and going home in key Senate business.

    If the Democrats truly do believe this election is going to go their way, as mandate-establishingly as they seem to be boasting about, they shouldn’t care one iota if Trump gets another SCOTUS justice.

    If the Democrats really get the power they’ve been salivating over…they can literally do what they want, if they’ll just wait.

    But, ho, what is this? Democrat benefactors are reduced to buying the vote of felons?

    Democrat media allies are going into full gear to smear who they believe is the leading contender for Trump’s nomination for…having a large family…?

    And slinging themselves to the floor of Congress flailing their arms and legs?

    What portents to the rebels against the Union see in their secret polls?

  6. Unrelated to almost ANYthing…but hey, this is an open forum!…

    Follow-up to “The Name Game” thread posted some days or weeks ago…
    https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/51489/posts/2908792221

    In this blog, I promised I would document an old joke related to names – more specifically, about a technique to aid in correctly spelling, if not also pronouncing, long names. The technique is actually usable, even handy, for spelling any multi-syllabic word; it employs a kind of vaguely hip-hop or rap style. Teach the technique to kids of today (using appropriate examples); they will love it.

    Tell this joke to an all-adult audience; make double-sure no Democrats or leftists are present, because it is doubleminus “unsafe.” It does, however, speak volumes relevant to current events, including cultural rot and racism-obsession. The way I tell it attempts to “integrate” certain facts of history, including stereotypes and desegregation of public schools by “bussing” between formerly segregated schools.

    BACKGROUND: I heard a classmate tell this joke in one of my undergraduate classes. (So just in case you think the joke is “sophomoric,” well, there, you have it.) I only heard it told that one time. 40-plus years ago. I “got it” immediately. It was a “good one.” So what did I do? I started telling the joke. It takes a bit of practice to apply the technique in a way that is both entertaining and (potentially, at least) educational.

    I told this joke at least 100 times during my 20s. Mostly at parties and small private gatherings. I probably told it at least 50 times during my 30s, including to some rather large, diverse, and otherwise significant gatherings – back when I “gave speeches.” It was well-received EVERY time. By the time I reached my 40s, I became too damned responsible to be ethical, and too busy to bother with telling jokes. So now, having somehow survived to the later years of a seventh decade, I have to DOCUMENT the damned thing, before my memory fails.

    MS HARTMANN’S SPELLING LESSON aka ARCHIE LEARNS TO SPELL

    Second-grade teacher Maribelle Hartmann was conscientious. She made every effort to enable her students to succeed in their academics. When bussing began to impact the demographics of her student population, she decided that it was time to update her teaching methods. She was especially concerned about being effective in her instruction of English, of which vocabulary-building and correct spelling were priorities.

    On the first day of the school year, Ms. Hartmann (hereinafter, “MH”) greeted her class cheerily. She called out each student’s name to confirm attendance. Each student responded to her call with “Here.” MH noticed that her students were no longer “all white,” like in all previous years. She also noticed that a couple of names were longer than the others. She did her best to pronounce each student’s name correctly. Each student seemed to understand when MH was calling his or her name. Done with roll call, MH immediately began to strive to “connect” with her “new crop:”

    “Class: Today we are going to learn how to spell words. Would you like to know how to spell words?” The obedient class responded in unison, “Yes, Ms. Hartmann.”

    “Okay. I will tell you how to spell words. There is a special way to spell.” (She had devised this new technique, and while she was confident that the kids would like it, she was still slightly anxious.) “Since you already know your ABCs, and you learned those last year with a song, and you know that words are made up of those ABCs, those letters, now you are going to learn to spell! But, this time, not with a song. With a special way. Are you ready to learn the special way?”

    Again the students answered in unison: “Yes, Ms. Hartmann!” All the kids were so enthusiastic, so obedient, so attentive! This was going to be a GOOD school year!

    “Okay. I’m going to show you that special way to spell. I will spell my name – my whole name – my first AND my last name…” (MH wrote out her name on the whiteboard, one syllable at a time, with the letters of each syllable separated by a little extra space.)

    The kids remained riveted with curiosity.
    MH turned back to face her students. Using a long, thin stick for a pointer, pointing to what she had written on the whiteboard, she spoke slightly more loudly than usual:

    “My name is Maribelle Hartmann, and here is how I spell my name:

    “Ya gotcher M-a-r, Ya gotcher “MAIR.” (MH had to pronounce correctly, too.)
    “Ya gotcher i, Ya gotcher Mar-EYE.”
    “Ya gotcher b-e-l-l-e, BELL, Ya gotcher EYE-belle, Ya gotcher MAR-i-belle…

    “Ya gotcher H-a-r-t, HART, Ya gotcher BELLE-Hart, Ya gotcher I-belle-Hart, Ya gotcher MAR-i-belle Hart…

    “Ya gotcher m-a-n-n, MANN, Ya gotcher HART-mann, Ya gotcher BELLE Hart-mann, Ya gotcher I-belle Hart-mann, Ya gotcher MAR-I-BELLE HART-MANN!”

    The classroom erupted in laughter and applause! All the kids LOVED it! MH smiled and drew a deep breath followed by a BIG sigh of relief…

    Well, almost all the kids loved it…MH did not notice the “silent minority.”

    Janie Smith and Joey Jones, for example – graduates of their all-white first grade – were ecstatic. Janie and Joey laughed and clapped perhaps the most loudly. They were going to learn how to spell! Learning would be FUN!

    However, two of MH’s students were a little uncomfortable, after hearing their teacher demonstrate the “special way.” A boy whose family was newly arrived in town – Mario Bastardi – was comfortable in the all-white neighborhood where he lived. But, he knew that his name was longer than most of the other kids’ names. Spelling might not be as easy for him as for the other kids.

    And then, there was Archie…poor Archie! He had been bussed from his familiar school and neighborhood and classmates, to this new place, with all these new kids and none of them looked like him at all, or talked like him. It was a very nice school – the desks, and teachers, and the CAFETERIA!…and the big things to climb and swing on at the playground, were all so new and nice, and so clean, he felt like he had been sent to school in Heaven. Even the boys’ bathroom was clean and neat and didn’t smell bad, and all the stuff in the bathroom WORKED. There was even PAPER to use in there!

    Archie knew he had a long name. That’s why everyone called him just Archie. That new, special way to spell sounded a little like some of the talk he heard every day in his neighborhood. But he had never heard anyone in or near his home do ANY spelling.

    Then, things in MH’s classroom went from bad to worse for Archie.

    MH asked the class, smiling, now very confident that she was “on a roll:”
    “Did everyone like that special way to spell?”

    “YES, Ms. Hartmann!” (Mario and Archie just mumbled. Again, MH did not notice.)

    “Okay! Now: I want each of you to use that special way to spell your own names. That is your homework for tonight. Learn how to spell your name out loud. Tomorrow, I would like to hear each of you spell your name with that special way. Do you understand your homework assignment?”

    “Yes, Ms. Hartmann!” (said almost all the students)

    Mario and Archie were quiet, but inside themselves, they were in a PANIC! This was going to be TOO HARD! Doing this with their names, for homework, would be IMPOSSIBLE! Still, neither boy wanted to disappoint their teacher, nor embarrass themselves in front of the other students by failing to complete their assignment.

    All the way home on the bus, at times tearful but sitting quietly and withdrawn, Archie fretted. “How can I DO this?!” he kept asking himself. He wanted SO badly to do well in the new school! So far, no one had been mean to him. No one had spoken to him, but no one had teased or hit him, either. (The truth was, all the other kids were afraid of Archie and thus afraid of being mean to him, because clearly he was the biggest kid.)

    When he arrived at home, Archie went straight to his room. His Mom knew when Archie was tense and needed space, so she did not even try to talk to him about his first day at the new school. She would speak only after he spoke first. She became a bit worried when Archie did not come to the table for dinner. Still, she let him be.

    Archie decided that he was going to work harder than he had ever worked in his life! He was determined to spell his name that special way Ms. H. had taught and demonstrated – and spell it right. He did his homework. He became quite confident that he could spell the next day, just as the teacher was expecting of every student. He slept like a baby.

    Archie was still quiet at breakfast, but his Mom still did not start any conversation, even though he was obviously not as tense as he had looked yesterday. She figured, “It was his first day, a tough one, but today is a new day, and my Archie is gonna be all right.”

    Archie quietly practiced and practiced his spelling, all the while he rode the bus.

    In school, MH asked her class: “Did everyone learn how to spell their name?”

    “Yes, Ms. Hartmann!”

    “Okay. Good! Each of you will come up to my desk and spell your name for me, one at a time, when I call your name. But, before I do that…would anyone like to stand up in front of the class and spell their name out loud for EVERYBODY?”

    At first, the whole class was silent. No one spoke up. MH added an incentive:

    “Anyone who spells their name correctly gets an extra dessert at the cafeteria!”

    Still, all the students were shy, and sat quietly, fearfully.

    Except for Archie! He almost jumped out of his seat, raising his hand and exclaiming (but not “playground loudly”): “I will! I’ll do it Ms. Hartmann! I’ll spell my name in front!”

    MH was completely taken aback. Her eyes almost popped wide with shock. “ARCHIE!” she exclaimed, half-excited, half in fearful disbelief.

    The rest of the class started to squirm in their seats and murmuring. Janie Smith mumbled, “He has the LONGEST name!” Joey Jones giggled and sneered, “I bet he can’t do it!” Other students said things quietly like, “I’m glad I don’t have HIS name!” New kid Mario Bastardi breathed a sigh of relief, thinking: “Now I can sit this one out!”

    After a brief moment, the class became quiet again, and MH paused for a moment more. She wasn’t sure she had pronounced Archie’s official name correctly at roll call, so she wanted to hear him say it, so she could be sure. She had actually thought about Mario, and had been worried that he might volunteer to spell out loud for everybody. She did not think it would be wise for the whole class to hear Mario spell his last name, because…well, THAT name was too much like a bad word that she did not want her second-graders to learn. So MH was relieved that Archie had volunteered to spell – still surprised, because of the long name, but, impressed.

    “Okay, Archie. Please come to the front of the class and spell your first and last names.”

    Archie rose slowly from his desk, and walked to the front. His gait slowed as he neared the front, as he thought to himself, “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked to do this.” He became nervous. He stood in front, staring at the floor and licking his lips over and over. The other students squirmed a little in their seats. Archie glanced nervously at Ms. Hartmann a couple of times, then, cleared his throat one last time. He took a deep breath, then raised his head and gazed, unblinking, across the seated crowd at the wall at the back of the classroom, as if in a trance, his face taut with tension.

    He began in a loud, angry-proud voice:

    “My name is Arch’bald Bear’shoal (that’s what it sounded like), and here is how I spell my name:

    “Ya gotcher A-r-c-h, Ya gotcher ARCH;
    “Ya gotcher i, Ya gotcher Arch-EYE;
    [He spoke slightly faster with each added syllable.]
    “Ya gotcher b-a-l-d, BALLED, Ya gotcher EYE-balled, Ya gotcher Arch-i-BALD…

    “Ya gotcher B-a-r-e, BEAR,
    “Ya gotcher BALD Bare, Ya gotcher EYE-bald Bare, Ya gotcher Arch-i-bald BARE;

    “Ya gotcher a-s-s, ASS; Ya gotcher BARE-ass, Ya gotcher BALD Bare-ass;
    “Ya gotcher I-bald Bare-ass, Ya gotcher ARCH-i-bald Bare-ass;
    “Ya gotcher h-o-l-e, HOLE; Ya gotcher AS-shole,
    “Ya gotcher BARE-as-shole,
    “Ya gotcher BALD Bare-as-shole,
    “Ya gotcher I-bald Bare-as-shole,
    “Ya gotcher ARCH-I-BALD BARE-AS-SHOLE!”

      • Thanks, Chris. I was starting to feel a little like I believe Jack feels on a “low-traffic weekend” for EA. As I said, that joke has been well-received EVERY time I have told it. Now, maybe that fact is supposed to say something bad about the people I hang out with. But, I generally strive, and succeed, at hanging out more often with people (if and when they let me) who I am convinced are better than me; doing that kind of hanging-out, I figure, equips me better to practice the Golden Rule. That is, if somebody comes to me for help, I like to be confident that I am that “better person,” for a moment at least, whom the other person needs. So now, I can move on. I shared. I can fantasize that a whole new bunch, a “new generation,” of joke-tellers has silently and secretly added a “new arrow to their quivers.” My family will discover the joke in my files, and perhaps “carry the torch” for the sake of oral history lessons.

  7. https://www.bakersfield.com/ap/national/seattle-city-council-overrides-mayors-veto-of-policing-cuts/article_7a36d266-297d-5e04-82d3-caa575ae0458.html

    Further proof that you get the government you elect. If Seattle is going to push forward with this stupidity, they have no one but themselves to blame when the businesses pick up and leave, as a lot of them are already in the process of doing. The same is going on in Minneapolis, where the police chief has had to deliver a sobering message to business owners that the police department, which is losing officers to greater attrition and having academy classes cancelled, no longer has the resources to help them fend off burglaries, break-ins, etc. The businesses leave, the jobs go with them, and Minneapolis and Seattle become the Camdens (after Camden, NJ, which overtaxed major employers to the point where they left, and subsequently experienced a complete collapse of the middle class and subsequent failure as a city) of the Midwest and the West Coast.

    I’ve seen depressed cities, I’ve seen depressed cities come back, and I’ve seen depressed cities without home of coming back. No one wants to spend any time, leave alone live, amid graffiti-covered bridges, crumbling brick buildings, blocks where everything except the liquor store, the payday loan place, and the cash for gold shop are boarded up or in ruins, parks that are nothing but depositories for empty beer bottles and soda cans, dog crap, used condoms, and globs of phlegm, and alleys that no one in their right mind will enter, with no one in sight but drunks, drug-addled or mentally ill homeless people, and gang members. No one under forty remember this, but this was almost every city in this country during the bad old days of the seventies, after LBJ shattered the black family with the Great Society and the perfect storm of the sixties tore a huge hole in the fabric of society, and a succession of three feckless presidents (Nixon the criminal, Ford the cipher, and Carter the incompetent) proved unable to reverse the damage.

    It’s unethical to let a city get that way. It’s doubly unethical to push a city in that direction. It’s unethical and stupid to wonder why it got that way after you pushed to make the city unsafe for ordinary people. Whatever your grand vision may be, it takes ordinary people to make it happen.

    By that I don’t mean students on their third degree and fourth student loan. I don’t mean homeless people who are too disabled to contribute. I don’t mean single moms who don’t want to remarry because it means they would lose that easy government check. I don’t mean people here illegally who stay out of sight as much as possible because they know damn well they aren’t here legally and could find themselves on the first plane back to wherever very quickly. I mean people with jobs, families, work ethics, and some kind of desire to get things done and do better. The thing is, those people aren’t going to want to live where they aren’t safe and their children aren’t safe, and they can’t live where there are no jobs. They aren’t going to want to have a business where they could lose everything they put into it in one night of rioting, and the authorities won’t lift a finger to prevent it.

    Ordinary people won’t even want to enter these places. I used to go to three parades a year at least in NYC. If and when they resume, I’m going to think really hard about going again, and a lot of the organizations that get invited, especially those that involve students, will think twice about accepting invites. I used to go to museums and to other events there too. I am just not inclined to risk getting mugged or who knows what else to say whatever the Met’s latest offering is, and I am not risking a late night journey home to go to some show (when THEY resume, if they resume). I don’t want to see addicts shooting up in Central Park and I don’t want to see homeless people taking a dump in Times Square. And this is talking NYC, which still has many attractions, no matter how bad it gets. These other places have nowhere near that.

    A lot of this is starting to smack of Marx and Lenin and their grand visions of a workers’ paradise. They never took shape, and by the time the initial upheaval had finally died down, they were nothing but tyrannies maintained by force, where ordinary people did all the suffering. This is the Democratic party’s vision of the future, and if you vote for it, you vote for it knowing full well what comes next.

  8. Ahem.

    Click to access HSGAC_Finance_Report_FINAL.pdf

    “Key Findings

    -In early 2015 the former Acting Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, Ukraine, George Kent, raised concerns to officials in Vice President Joe Biden’s office about the perception of a conflict of interest with respect to Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board. Kent’s concerns went unaddressed, and in September 2016, he emphasized in an email to his colleagues, “Furthermore, the presence of Hunter Biden on the Burisma board was very awkward for all U.S. officials pushing an anticorruption agenda in Ukraine.”

    -In October 2015, senior State Department official Amos Hochstein raised concerns with Vice President Biden, as well as with Hunter Biden, that Hunter Biden’s position on Burisma’s board enabled Russian disinformation efforts and risked undermining U.S. policy in Ukraine.

    -The awkwardness for Obama administration officials continued well past his presidency. Former Secretary of State John Kerry had knowledge of Hunter Biden’s role on Burisma’s board, but when asked about it at a town hall event in Nashua, N.H. on Dec. 8, 2019, Kerry falsely said, “I had no knowledge about any of that. None. No.” Evidence to the contrary is detailed in Section V.

    -Former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland testified that confronting oligarchs would send an anticorruption message in Ukraine. Kent told the Committees that Zlochevsky was an “odious oligarch.” However, in December 2015, instead of following U.S. objectives of confronting oligarchs, Vice President Biden’s staff advised him to avoid commenting on Zlochevsky and
    recommended he say, “I’m not going to get into naming names or accusing individuals.”

    -Hunter Biden was serving on Burisma’s board (supposedly consulting on corporate governance and transparency) when Zlochevsky allegedly paid a $7 million bribe to officials serving under Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Vitaly Yarema, to “shut the case against Zlochevsky.” Kent testified that this bribe occurred in December 2014 (seven months after Hunter joined Burisma’s board), and, after learning about it, he and the Resident Legal Advisor reported this allegation to the FBI.

    -In addition to the over $4 million paid by Burisma for Hunter Biden’s and Archer’s board memberships, Hunter Biden, his family, and Archer received millions of dollars from foreign nationals with questionable backgrounds.

    Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million wire transfer from Elena Baturina, the wife of the
    former mayor of Moscow.

    Hunter Biden paid nonresident women who were nationals of Russia or other Eastern
    European countries and who appear to be linked to an “Eastern European prostitution or
    human trafficking ring.”

    Now, before, my question was:

    “What do you believe? Do you believe that Hunter Biden was an extreme example of a legal sort of nepotistic pay for play scheme, OR, or, or…. Do you believe that Hunter Biden got the job on his merits, that the Government of Russia, through a national corporation filled a position that paid millions of dollars to have an uneducated, inexperienced, coke-addict who doesn’t speak, read or write the local language?”

    And that still stands. While it’s not illegal to employ the children of foreign executives, and everyone should be able to work for a living, this is obviously corrupt. Now… There are actual laws being broken: Hunter Biden accepted 3.5 million dollars in cash from the wife of the mayor of Moscow, and I’d love to hear the humina humining on that, but more egregious, he paid for hookers that were part of a human sex trafficking ring. He literally bought the hookers to go with his blow.

  9. Breonna Taylor’s killing, a situation wrought with ethical conundrums, has set Louisville, KY on the edge. I used this CNN article (yeah, I know) as a source, https://a.msn.com/r/2/BB19lc3s?m=en-us&referrerID=InAppShare . The issues involved (not in any particular order):
    1. The use of no-knock warrants. “Jamarcus Glover was the focus of the Louisville police narcotics investigation that led plainclothes officers to execute a “no-knock” warrant on Taylor’s home. He had previously dated Taylor on-and-off for seven years, Walker told investigators. The detective who wrote the affidavit [for the warrant} said he saw Glover walk into Taylor’s apartment in mid-January and leave with a package before going to a “known drug house.””
    2. Conflicting stories. “Walker [Taylor’s current boyfriend and was with her in the apartment at the time of the raid] told investigators he heard banging at the door and assumed it was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Jamarcus Glover. Taylor, who had awoken, shouted, “Who is it?” but Walker said there was no response. He said he and Taylor scrambled to get dressed and that he grabbed his gun, which his attorney has said he legally owns. He said both he and Taylor were yelling, “Who is it?” but received no response.” They both approached the front door and it “blow off its hinges.” Walker fired once, not knowing who was entering. There is no police body camera video of what transpired in the moments after officers broke through Taylor’s door. Police said they identified themselves and didn’t knock the door off its hinges but did use a battering ram to open the door. I am not an expert, but I thought the whole purpose of a “no-knock” warrant was stealth and surprise.
    3. Taylor’s death. After Walker fired his weapon, hitting Sgt. Jonathan Mattingly in the leg, Mattingly returned fired (six shots), striking and killing Taylor.
    4. Additional shots fired. “[Officer] Hankison was standing outside Taylor’s apartment and fired 10 rounds through a closed and curtained patio door, police said. The police chief ordered his termination months after Taylor’s death, saying some of his rounds penetrated a neighboring apartment and endangered the lives of three of its occupants, according to the police department. “I find your conduct a shock to the conscience,” the chief wrote in a letter to Hankison. “Your actions have brought discredit upon yourself and the Department … and demands your termination.” Hankison is appealing his termination.” If Hankison’s action were so shocking, why did it take months for the Department to take action?
    5. I was only-following-orders defense. Mattingly’s attorney, Todd McMurtry, has defended his client’s conduct saying the officer “was following orders of superior officers, was not involved in the planning process of the arrest, and at all times followed established police procedures. In a mass email to the department, Mattingly defended his actions and slammed the city’s leadership. “I know we did the legal, moral and ethical thing that night,” Mattingly wrote in the email. “It’s sad how the good guys are demonized, and criminals are canonized.”” Criminals? At that point, the only alleged criminal was Taylor’s ex-boyfriend, Glover.
    6. Released on bail. Five raids were schedule that in a concerted effort to capture Jamarcus Glover (Taylor’s seven-year on and off ex-boyfriend). He was arrest that morning and then released on bail. “Glover told the Louisville Courier Journal that police used misleading and wrong information to obtain the warrant, during which Taylor was fatally shot. “The police are trying to make it out to be my fault and turning the whole community out here making it look like I brought this to Breonna’s door,” Glover told the newspaper. “There was nothing never there or anything ever there, and at the end of the day, they went about it the wrong way and lied on that search warrant and shot that girl out there. He was arrested [again] in late August after failing to pay bail on separate drug offenses in July.
    7. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, “the first Republican to be elected Kentucky attorney general in seven decades, is a protégé of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. He served as McConnell’s general counsel from 2015 to 2017, a role that included leading Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation process” (thank you CNN, what does this have to do with the situation), is leading the investigation into Taylor’s death, and is expected to announce charges at any time, setting the city on edge. They have close off downtown Louisville, boarded up the courthouse, blocked off intersections, and dispatched the National Guard, all in fear that riots will ensue if the charges brought do not appease the “mostly peaceful” mob who is only looking for justice, of course.
    This situation encompasses all that the left say they hold dear: police reform, POC targeted for arrest, questionable use of deadly force, especially toward POC. It also, ultimately, will bring into focus what the right fears, unhinged violence against anybody who disagrees with their view of reality and the demise of the rule of law to the mob.

  10. On the Ethics of Single Issue Voting: The Abortion Dilemma

    When I was in college, a semester of speech class was required. My class was relatively small. When the time came for each student to give an issue speech, the instructor made a special request of us. “Please, please, please, do not choose abortion. We’re all getting along so well in this class…”

    We are a contentious society where abortion is concerned, aren’t we?

    Which brings me to a memory even further back: The 1991 Indianapolis mayoral election. For the first time in my memory, we were going to have a new mayor. The local prosecutor was running for the Republicans and a state senator named Louis Mahern was running on the Democratic ticket.

    Mahern ran a campaign commercial about how his opponent was opposed to abortion and then named several prominent Democrats (I believe Presidential candidate Bill Clinton was one of them, as well as Indiana Governor Evan Bayh), including himself, who supported woman’s right to choose (Something along the lines of “Bill Clinton, Evan Bayh and Louis Mahern all support a woman’s right to choose.”) The entire commercial was about Mahern’s pro-abortion stance.

    Then I read a newspaper article that pointed out that, while Mahern’s opinions were very nice, the mayor of Indianapolis has no power to change or maintain abortion laws.

    At the time, as a relatively new voter, it stunned me that a campaign commercial would imply that an elected official could do something about a particular issue that, in fact, he really couldn’t. Abortion was certainly an issue, but what did it matter what Mahern thought about it under the circumstances? I learned that day about single-issue voters.

    There are very few issues so significant that a candidate’s position on one thing or another should be the sole reason to cast a vote for that person. I do allow that there is a tipping point on some things.

    Over the years, as I’ve learned more about how the U.S. Supreme Court operates and what it is and is not designed to do, I’ve realized how very unlikely it is that Roe v. Wade is going anywhere. It’s not impossible, but, even if the dreams of the right and the nightmares of the left come true, it won’t eliminate legal abortions. And, yet, nearly every candidate for elected office feels a stated position on the issue is essential.

    These candidates pander to those citizens who will vote solely based on the abortion issue and nothing else. I am suspicious of any candidate that makes promises regarding abortion. No Presidential candidate can truly say, “I will nominate Supreme Court justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade” nor can a Senatorial candidate promise to “confirm justices that will overturn Roe v. Wade”. They have no idea what specific cases will hit the SCOTUS or how any particular justice will vote. They are relying on ignorant and fanatical voters to make emotion-based decisions that correspond their own personal beliefs. The same is true of those pandering to anti-abortion voters. This is unethical.

    After all, just how many abortion bills go through Congress each year?

    Just once, I want a candidate to say, “I oppose/support abortion, but you need to be aware that the U.S. Congress handles innumerable pieces of legislation every year, most of which have little or nothing to do with abortion. As earth-shattering changes to abortion laws in this country have a slim to zero chance of being enacted, these are my positions on issues that I actually will have the opportunity to affect.”

    It won’t happen because candidates need those single-issue voters and because the parties have now made abortion one of their hills to die upon. This is why Supreme Court confirmation hearings are now battlefields. It’s how we end up with lazy and dishonest officials who return to office election after election to enrich themselves. People like my sweet aunt who declare, “I only vote to save the babies” are contributing to this mess, despite their best intentions.

    I oppose abortion myself. If a candidate also happens to oppose it, then, like Louis Mahern agreeing with Clinton and Bayh, that’s very nice, but I will not vote solely based on that candidate’s position on that single issue. Abortion may be one of many issues I will consider, but it will not be the only one.

    The U.S. electorate is woefully ill-informed and poorly educated about how our system of government works and candidates in both parties have no motivation to improve the situation while they can rely on core groups of citizens to cast their ballots based on a single issue that is not likely to undergo significant legal changes.

    This is why I think most instances of single-issue voting are unethical.

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