Afternoon Ethics, 11/5/2020: Submarines, California Stealing, Nate’s Lament, And Something’s Rotten In Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Welcomes You road sign

1. Here’s an 1995 ethics movie to while away the time while waiting for more voter fraud theories: “Crimson Tide.” It has long been a favorite in the Marshall household because of the nuclear submarine captain’s (Gene Hackman) Jack Russell Terrier. Sometimes focusing on a film’s ethics lessons makes it new again, and that was the case when we revisited the film after several years.

The plot involves an ethics conflict with bite: should the sub’s Ex-O submit to his captain’s call that a previous order to launch nuclear missiles at Russia must be followed even though an incomplete message that may be a retraction of the order is in hand? The anti-war second-in-command, played by Denzel Washington, believes that the non-launch scenario must be the default assumption. Different ethics systems and military principles point to different choices, and in the end, all we have is moral luck. If the Russian rebel commander has launched missiles at the US, as he has promised to do, before the sub’s preemptive attack can take them out, Washington’s values have killed a million Americans. If the order was retracted and Hackman launches as the original orders directed, he’s started World War III in error.

One criticism that doesn’t give away the ending: I do not like Hackman’s final reaction on the sub when the truth is revealed. It’s petty, and less than I expected from his character.

2. And now, the rest of the story. The mess we discussed here over San Francisco’s planned memorial to poet Maya Angelou ended this week with the original design being re-approved, after some judicious playing of the Race Card.

3. California stupid. California’s voters will overwhelmingly be the cause of President Trump winning  re-election without winning the popular vote, if he does win, which is very much in doubt. Here is one of the reasons I don’t really care what Californians think, since they reside in a parallel and unethical reality.

Store managers in California are telling their employees to not interfere with looters—because we all know if the President wins, the riots and looting will follow— for fear of being branded as racists on social media. Thus businesses are shutting down permanently, like the latest Walgreen’s to give up. The reason: shoplifting killed it. The Golden State decriminalized the crime and retailers who stop petty thieves can be sued. A customer of the exiting Walgreens in San Francisco—the seventh to close in 2020 after its shelves were cleared by looters— told the San Francisco Chronicle,  “I feel sorry for the clerks; they are regularly being verbally assaulted,” he said. “The clerks say there is nothing they can do. They say Walgreens’ policy is to not get involved. They don’t want anyone getting injured or getting sued, so the guys just keep coming in and taking whatever they want.”

This all started with the passage of Proposition 47, in which voters decided that stealing less than $950 worth of goods should be only a misdemeanor, entailing  a small fine that often was less than the value of the merchandise stolen.

Morons. Their similarly deft analysis of national policy issues couldn’t interest me less.

4. Stay classy—and accountable!—Nate! Here was 538’s Nate Silver’s response to a podcaster’s question about the widespread criticism of the polls and prognosticators regarding the election. “If they’re coming after FiveThirtyEight, then the answer is fuck you, we did a good job!”

It’s bad enough not to own up to the fact that you failed, but adding “fuck you” to the response is signature significance for an arrogant asshole.

5. This is what awaits, and why. Andrew McCarthy, a former U.S. Attorney who has consistently distinguished himself by “calling tripe when tripe is served” for this entire four-year train wreck—regarding the Mueller debacle, the Flynn  prosecution, the FISA fiasco and more—has provided an excellent analysis of what is going on in Pennsylvania. A sample,

To be clear, the Pennsylvania court’s post–November 3 ballot-counting ukase has not been validated. If the election is close, and those ballots could affect the outcome, there will be bitterly contested litigation — bank on it…. As champions of “ground-up democracy,” the political Left maintains that every vote counts. Sounds noble . . . except they mean everyone should vote, no matter how uninformed people may be regarding civics and policy issues — because in identity politics, voters are just numbers, members of the herd who will vote that way provided you can just get them to fill out ballots.

More significant for present purposes, by “every vote counts,” the Left means each vote must be tallied regardless of whether the voter is lawfully qualified to vote, and regardless of whether the vote was cast within the properly enacted rules of the election. This is why Democrats fight tooth-and-nail against every proposal to require voter identification, to match signatures, to outlaw vote “harvesting,” etc. Just as the Left takes umbrage at the term “illegal alien” on the nonsensical ground that “no person is illegal” (as if there were not patent differences between legal immigration status and human dignity), they would have you accept, on a “social justice” rationale, that there can be no illegal votes in a “true democracy.” For Democrats, the task of courts is not to follow state law but to tweak it as necessary to enable voting outside the state legislature’s rules.

And of course, the only things progressives may prefer to pliant courts is unelected, “expert,” “apolitical” bureaucracies — such as election boards dominated by Democrats, which presume to alter state law under the guise of administering it. In stark contrast, the Right wants the Constitution and state laws followed. We acknowledge that every qualified voter has a right to vote within the rules established for doing so, and we would not obstruct such voters. But frankly, we are not at all bothered if ill-informed citizens who are not committed to our constitutional order choose not to vote. More to the point, we believe that if the vote tally includes ballots from voters who are not legally qualified, or ballots that are not legally cast, this unlawfully disenfranchises voters who are qualified and who follow the rules.…

But here is the rub: The political Right, particularly its Republican Party representatives, is intimidated by the Democrats’ media megaphone. Conservatives fear being seen as opposed to the nostrum that “every vote counts.” That is, the hostile media filter has convinced them that, though it is perfectly obvious that every vote should not count, they cannot make that case unscathed. “Every vote counts” is yet another semantic battle the Left has won before the right even realized it was on. And winning the semantic battle usually means winning the policy battle.Of course, it is not suppression to oppose the counting of votes that should not count because they are not lawful. Yet Democrats succeed in putting Republicans on the defensive because Republicans do not want to be smeared as vote suppressors . . . especially when, inevitably, Democrats and the media will intimate that any effort to enforce election law as written is suppression driven by racial animus….

Read it all.

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Source (Item #3): The Blaze

38 thoughts on “Afternoon Ethics, 11/5/2020: Submarines, California Stealing, Nate’s Lament, And Something’s Rotten In Pennsylvania

  1. Just listening to a podcast from an overnight radio show — so it’s from about 12 hours ago, which may be an eternity for this week.

    But, they’re discussing Pennsylvania, amongst other things, and relaying some information they say came from the Trump campaign. Apparently the Trump campaign is working on the assumption that Philadelphia mail-in ballots are going to be 95% for Biden, but they believe that the mail-in ballots from the rest of the state — which definitely favor Trump — will be enough for Trump to carry the state by around 30k.

    Lots of assumptions there — and I’ve got my fingers crossed that they are correct.

    If Trump loses Pennsylvania, it’s over. But assuming he does carry Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Alaska he’s up to 252 EV. Add in Georgia and Arizona and he’s in.

    If he loses Georgia, but carries Arizona and Nevada — well, that puts him at 269 EV. I am not a fan of that scenario, but I don’t imagine the Republicans lost any delegations (since they gained seats), so hopefully they still have 26.

    One final note, and then I’m off to more pleasant topics. According to Fox and the WSJ all precincts in Georgia have been reported, all counties are 100% complete. Trump has a razor thin margin. Wonder if anyone will be asking for a recount?

    • If the Electoral College is a tie it’s thrown to the 12th Amendment, and from what it seems, if you read some of the fine print towards the end of the 12th Amendment, if there’s a tie in the House of Representatives it looks like the two candidates have to resolve the issue via Roman Candle Fight or Russian Slap Fight – it’s up to the Supreme Court which means is chosen.

          • Maybe your involvement with acting productions, including your current work, has arranged your synapses to better recall such things. And/or maybe you watch a lot of TCM?
            I may have a couple of years on you (being barely, that is, a few months, under 70) and I only vaguely remember the movie and plot, and couldn’t quote a single line. Have a younger friend who seems to retain in his head an encyclopedic store of lines, from all sorts of movies, that he can drop on you in a heartbeat, so maybe it just depends on how you’re wired.

            I think I’ll watch movies today instead of news…or just read, or wash the car, or…anything else.

  2. 1) But Denzel is correct that the entire purpose of having dozens of nuclear subs is that if some of them can’t launch for various reasons – such as busted communications or sinking, etc – that enough survive fully functioning to still launch a lethal barrage.

    If all the subs are in 100% working condition, what Russia really faces is a massive overkill scenario.

  3. All of a sudden, the gloom is lifting! What could be better. You kick out the deeply unethical bum of a President but lock up the Senate with a Republican majority. The Supreme Court is already ‘fixed’ so the ‘commies’ and other weirdos have nowhere to go! The senile old guy can do good ceremonials and won’t insult war heroes. And the wonderfully competent US ‘deep state’ experts can get back to running the place. In comparison with the last 4 years this might seem boring, but wouldn’t that be good?

    • Senate isn’t locked. Dems know the game plan in Georgia now. They’ll pick up two more seats in the Senate in January.

      But you are correct, America is actually better with divided government. Too bad we won’t have that for the next 2 years, while one of the tightest and most questionable races in history will be quickly forgotten as the media screams “mandate! mandate!” from the mountaintops.

      • Purdue is not going to lose, MW. Especially after what is going on in Georgia now, the scrutiny of the run-offs will be massive, and candidates who win 50% in multiple candidate races almost never lose in run-offs, though it has happened. There are miles to go before they sleep, but the GOP will have the Senate.

        • I guess I just don’t have faith in people who openly hate the Constitutional order. I somehow feel like maybe if you hate the game you play and have said you want to change the game and you hate the rules by which it is played and said you want none of those rules to matter, you really have nothing holding you back from doing whatever the hell you feel like doing to win the game.

    • “…wouldn’t that be good,” you say?

      No. I’m not anxious to be alive to find out what damage Kamala will do with Nancy pulling her strings.

  4. Re the sub movie that shall remain nameless. I was actually serving on the platform at the time the movie was released. The consensus of the crew was that Denzel was WRONG. So much was technically and thematically wrong for me. The job was to follow valid orders, which sounds simplistic, but that was the position we were in. By the time that first order was sent, there wouldn’t have even been the thought of getting a recall order. That isn’t how it worked.

    • Of course, I think the fundamental flaw of Crimson Tide is the situational set up.

      The Russian break away General threatens nuclear strike if America *OR* Russia confront him. The condition to launch our own *nuclear weapons* is on the appearance of the Russian general *merely fueling* his missiles.

      1) If we can see Russians *fueling* their missiles, then their missiles are exposed, and a less-than-nuclear preemptive strike would be sufficient. No reason to Nuke a Russian base when cruise missiles and strike aircraft would be sufficient.

      2) If this is a Russian breakaway general in the 90s…while on the surface Russia and America would likely not openly demonstrate cooperative action against the mutineers but certainly would be partnering behind the scenes to ensure an effective response that doesn’t confuse either nation’s actions as being towards the other, but only towards the rebel general. And shoot, by the 90s, the two governments probably wouldn’t care if their cooperation were seen publicly either.

        • How though? Ethics never operates in simplicity. The order of values we think we have determined in a hyper-simplified scenario can change wildly as new conditions are added.

          It’s why the trolley-car problem of “do you willingly kill 1 or let nature kill 5” scenario is almost always useless for greater evaluations.

          It’s why when people talk abortion and say silly things like the burning building problem “do you save the woman in one room or the briefcase of frozen embryo’s in the other room” are really just fundamentally flawed word games.

          • It’s good practice, though. And the “Crimosn Tide” scenario proves the Ethics Incompleteness Principle: the rules don’t work here. Thus when Jason Robards says, “You were both right, and you were both wrong,” we see the problem, and why we leave the launching of missiles entirely in one person’s hands, not a “Chain of command” (well, theoretically.)

            • If they are ethics Kobayashi Maru’s where there is no right answer but they are merely exercises to force to think in depth about everything then sure. But, as they have no right answer, they shouldn’t be seen as prescriptive.

              • That’s why the film needs ethics perspective. It makes it seem like Denzel was ‘right,’ when the result could have been disastrous, and then Hackman would have been “right.” I like the fact that he refuses to say that he was ‘wrong’ at the end. The system, in this case, doesn’t work. It happened to reach the best result, but that was pure luck.

    • Because the state-callers have been so accurate and trustworthy so far.

      I suspect that when the smoke clears, you’ll be right, but there’s a LOT of smoke to clear—especially in the state that just flipped.

      • I think Valky’s already indicated she’s cool with Democracy dying in the darkness though. She already said she would celebrate the killing of national guardsmen who were only around to secure neighborhoods from what would have been rioting.

      • Honest analysis, Jack, do you think that the President should just give it up right now, or should he continue his quest for irregularities?

        • He should pursue everything as best he can but he should fix his rhetoric pronto.

          It’s better tactically to let Biden have this presidency because it’ll be the shakiest foundation Democrats have stood on in living memory. (another discussion another day is that it may not be better strategically for Biden to win – in the realm of foreign policy we do NOT need another squish who legitimately thinks the post-WW2 order is still the appropriate view of geopolitics and in the realm of regulations and law enforcement, we already know that Biden was part of an administration that underhandedly persecuted conservative groups nation-wide, expect 4 years of that to inflict significant damage, never mind the nation basically gave a pass to the one of the greatest criminal enterprises of the past decade – a criminal enterprise that literally mirrored exactly the false accusations leveled against Donald Trump for 4 straight years)

          The GOP should use all the litigation to expose the flat out awful methods some of these States use to hold elections and should expose the absolute unreliability of the mass vote harvesting schemes the democrats have pushed.

          • It’s better tactically to let Biden have this presidency because it’ll be the shakiest foundation Democrats have stood on in living memory.

            See? You partly answered the question you posed a few comments back. This election is a disater for the democrats. Trump blew apart the Big Lie about him being a racist, and showed identity politics to be a failed road. Since the GOP WILL keep the Senate, the Democrats may be torn apart—if they keep pushing socialism and race spoils, they will be wiped out in the midterms. Second terms are almost always bad, and Trump’s would to be especially tough. Yes, there will be backtracking in some crucial areas, but on balance, a win for Trump and conservatives.

          • I think foreign policy is in incredibly dangerous water right now. ALOT of key progress made due to Donald Trump’s actions will be reversed or left undefended. Donald Trump’s unpredictable bluster – which is actually a real tool in America’s historic foreign policy set – will now settle in on soft spined predictability.

            Iran will be unleashed again.

            Europhiles everywhere will crow about everything being managed expertly by the professionals when their main problem is they just want palliative care of being told everything’s fine as they continue to wither into weakness and domination by nefarious world powers.

            Russia may finally have it’s opening to move on the Baltics like it did on Crimea and Donbass during the Obama years.

            No need to even discuss the consolidations China can accomplish given Biden’s bought and paid for relationship with them.

          • Not entirely. Having to run for re-election in a pandemic where you are being absurdly blamed for a disease AND the economic effects of trying to limit the disease is also a significant factor. So is having the vast majority of news sources report nothing but insults and negative stories for four years.

              • Absolutely. Glorious leader will cure covid also. And propagandists like Brian Stelter will periodically put out pieces like “Is the media being too hard on Biden? Read for insight on how much scrutiny your president is under right now.”

        • Oh, absolutely, he should expose the irregularities to the bitter end. Thus we will never again have to hear the lie that “voter fraud is a conservative myth.” And if this shadows the Biden presidency, well good. Unlike the fake Russian collusion hoax, this SHOULD undermine Biden’s administration.

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