Ethics Shadows At Dusk, 1/25/2022: The Meming Of The President

I hate political memes as a rule, and thus was awash with self-loathing when the one above, which somehow I had never seen before, made me laugh out loud in light of yesterday’s Steve Doocy incident. I hate political memes for the same reason I don’t like political cartoons: they are almost always over-simplified, and aim for bias, stereotyping and emotion rather than making valid points. Trump was memed and made a caricature of himself as unfairly as any President, extending all the way to the “Trump Baby” balloon. It is healthy for a nation to be able to joke about its leaders, but relentlessly diminishing them is self-destructive. I think the public would have united behind Obama in a crisis; we saw the public unite behind Bush, even with the unusually denigrating ridicule he was subjected to. The nation, led by a permanently hostile media, would not have united behind Trump in a crisis, and I doubt that it would unite now behind Biden. Eventually, the mockery affects the office itself.

This week I saw this sticker on a gas pump for the first time (in Northern Virginia).

In addition to its obvious failures on all fronts, this Presidency is dying a death of a thousand cuts.

Therefore I was surprised to see the latest Gallup poll findings that 60% of American surveyed regard Biden as “intelligent,” the same percentage that find him “likable.” I guess relative: do they find him as or more intelligent than they are? I suppose that’s possible, maybe even accurate. Or is it just the old line, “If you’re so smart, why aren’t you President?” in action? I’ve seen a lot of Presidents, and I know the other ones pretty well. I’ve never seen a President who seemed as clearly intellectually deficient as Biden is now; he’s obviously been suffering from some kind of age-related cognitive decline for years, and he was never that bright to begin with. It was inexcusably unethical for any family, party or Biden himself to allow someone with his mental issues to be installed in the most difficult job in the country. At this point, is Biden the least intelligent President we have ever had? I’d say it’s a good bet, as frightening as that is to accept. The bottom group in my estimation would include Joe, Millard Fillmore, Andrew Johnson, Warren Harding, Harry Truman, and Gerald Ford. None were probably below average, although I wonder about Harding and today’s version of Biden.

The only saving grace is that the correlation between great Presidents (or great leaders in general) and superior intelligence is strikingly weak.

1. And speaking of “Old Viginny,” a state tax on plastic bags went into effect this month. It’s 5 cents to get a plastic bag to carry your purchases, easily a 500% mark-up over the retail cost of each bag. This was another legacy of mercifully retired Gov. Northam (D) who turned into a salivating far-Left ideologue to save himself from the woke mob when photos of him surfaced either in blackface or in KKK garb—it was hard to tell which. The tax is more useless climate change virtue-signaling, regressive, and just the perfect thing to inflict on Virginians when food and drug prices are skyrocketing (the bill was passed before “I did that!” stickers were a twinkle in Republican eyes.)

In addition, the arrival of the new tax was badly publicized, and most stores didn’t bother to warn their customers. Nor do most of them have alternatives on hand. CVS, of course, which is run by fools and incompetents, just sprung the charge on people: I watched one elderly woman with about a dozen items look helplessly as the clerk asked, “Do you want a bag for these?”

We have a lot of plastic bags hoarded for Spuds-droppings and other uses: my wife said that we should bring a bunch to the CVS and hand them out. And that’s what we will do!

2. A Baseball note: Here is an example of how an unethical development has ethical consequences. One of the main reasons Major League Baseball is moving to computerized ball and strike calling in games is because the sport has reversed its traditional opposition to sports betting. Greed, as it usually does, has trumped concerns about corruption and integrity; baseball is going into various partnerships with gambling (oh, right, gaming) platforms. As one gambler explained, since all the umpires’ pitch calling eccentricities are now tracked and documented. An umpire whose personal strike zone (there is supposed to be just one strike zone) is tight will cause bettors to assume a lower scoring game; a big strike zone points them to the “over.” Wild, hard-throwers figure to excel with a bigger, more inconsistent strike zones; control pitchers who “nibble” at the edges are helped by a consistent ump. The robo-umps will eliminate this factor.

3. An ominous trigger warning, no? The University of Northampton in England has issued a trigger warning on Georg Orwell’s “1984,” claiming that the novel with so many parrallels to the current slide into required political and social views and “it isn’t what it is” media gaslighting contains “explicit material” and that some student may find the work to be “offensive and unsettling.”

Tory MP Andrew Bridgen seized on the opportunity to question the indoctrination tendencies of British universities, but his words apply to U.S. progressive factories as well:

There’s a certain irony that students are now being issued trigger warnings before reading Nineteen Eighty-Four. Our university campuses are fast becoming dystopian Big Brother zones where Newspeak is practiced to diminish the range of intellectual thought and cancel speakers who don’t conform to it. Too many of us – and nowhere is it more evident than our universities have freely given up our rights to instead conform to a homogenized society governed by a liberal elite “protecting” us from ideas that they believe are too extreme for our sensibilities.

[Pointer: Sarah B.]

4. Payback is hell. Also unethical, though it couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch. Newt Gingrich told Maria Bartiromo on her Fox News show  that if the GOP gets a House majority, members of the hyper-partisan Jan. 6 select committee, aka the “Let’s see how much political capitol we can make out of riot by conservative idiots since we have nothing else” Committee may be prosecuted:

You’re gonna have a Republican majority in the House, a Republican majority in the Senate. And all these people who’ve been so tough and so mean and so nasty are going to be delivered subpoenas for every document, every conversation, every tweet, every email…It’s basically a lynch mob…I think when you have a Republican Congress, this is all going to come crashing down. The wolves are gonna find out they’re now sheep, and they’re the ones who are, in fact, I think, going to face a real risk of going to jail for the kind of laws that they’re breaking,

Gingrich—you can’t get much more unethical by nature than Newt,but he’s no stupid son of a bitch—is advising Republican leadership, so his predication can’t be easily dismissed. Criminalizing politics is a terrible trend for the nation, and though Democrats have led the way to this dangerous point, it is crucial that it does not become a cycle.

But the committee is, indeed, a virtual lynch mob.

5. I don’t want to hear any more American politicians pointing to Australia as a role model for the treatment of rights, thanks. Australian Open spectators were banned from wearing T-shirts asking “Where is Peng Shuai?” The shirts referred to high-ranked Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who took to social media in November to accuse Chinese Communist Party member Zhang Gaoli of pressuring her into sex. The former world No. 14 then vanished from social media, though she later made a “Manchurian Candidate”-style statement that she never meant what she said (and, presumably, now loved Big Brother). She has not been heard from since.  A spectator at the Open was made  was asked to remove the provocative T-shirt, and the video attracted world-wide criticism as kow-towing to China’s human rights bullying. Tennis Australia began by defending the censorship, but has now reversed itself. Good, but too late. The Streisand Effect kicked in. AGoFundMe page titled “Australian Open — Hand Out Peng Shuai Shirts” is thriving.

16 thoughts on “Ethics Shadows At Dusk, 1/25/2022: The Meming Of The President

  1. 1) Sometime back in the early 80s (maybe late 70s) before I went to college and was working as a grocery clerk at Safeway, plastic bags replaced paper bags. Back then it was to save the trees even though most of the paper bags claimed to be made from recycled paper.

    Here in New York there’s been a 5 cent charge for bags for about a year (Bag Waste Reduction Law, 10/19/2020). We use the reusable bags now with the handles. After using them for a while, I’ve grown to prefer them now. I’d rather shell out the initial cost for those reusable bags than give the state of NY more money.

    The same situation occured here – nobody really knew about the upcoming law until one day you go shopping and the cashier says, “Do you want bags?” After being told they were 5 cents each, we said no and just put everything in the cart and then into the trunk. Fortunately we had a few cardboard boxes in the trunk to keep the groceries from rolling around.

    I’m still wondering if you ever got that CVS customer service issue resolved.

  2. Connecticut passed transient $0.10 tax on plastic bags in 2019. The state was hoping for a huge surge in revenue before banning plastic bags outright in 2020.

    The tax was an abysmal failure; it cost more to administer than it collected in revenue. People simply did without rather than pay up. So often, I’d see people juggling groceries as they’d exist the store.

    I’d never been prouder of my fellow citizens.

  3. I’ll one-up you on bags my friends.

    Out here in the insane coast, disposable plastic bags have been banned (alongside with paper bags) and stores are forced to sell you reusable bags if you want one (because you forgot yours for example). The kicker is that reusable bags are just the same stupid disposable plastic bags, but instead have to be made thicker to meet the standard set in law to be reusable. I’ve seen more than half of the people getting the new – more polluting – bags rather than bringing their own reusables; and I have seen zero reuses of the new claimed-reusable bags.

    Virtue signaling at its finest!

    I wish you could sue the government for stupidity. I could retire on the proceeds of this one single law.

  4. Criminalizing politics is a terrible trend for the nation, and though Democrats have led the way to this dangerous point, it is crucial that it does not become a cycle.

    it will keep hapening unless a heavy enough price is exacted.

    • Michael
      I agree. The problem with trying to stop the trend of criminalizing politics is that on one hand you do not want to engage in tit for tat but doing nothing reinforces in those who do not care if they destroy our political scene in the name of getting power that what they are doing is beneficial to them.

      Bullies always back down when they can expect their opposition to go crazy on them. Whether it is a policy of mutually assured destruction in the nuclear world, Ralphie versus Scott Farkus on the playground, or simply the mugger on the street, the only way to stop the behavior is to inflict as much punishment as necessary to cause the opportunist to think long and hard about the consequences of their actions.

      • Bullies back down when they’re afraid of getting hurt. That’s why in school you had to be willing to jam your thumb into a bully’s eye or kick him so hard in the groin that the rest of the class would hear his testicles hit the inside of his skull. Bullies are also afraid of those they know they can’t win against, who are bigger bullies than them. That’s why Biden is happy to try to bully the Republicans every way he can, but he’s acting like a sniveling coward when confronted with a ruthless tyrant like Putin.

        We all used to think of the villains in movies as generally sniveling cowards who would collapse when confronted by their nemesis, the hero. Usually we were right. Sometimes the villain was a magnificent bastard who would go down fighting, but as often he was just a coward who would fall apart if beaten up badly enough or facing that. In this case though, the villain is the one with the spine, and the opposition to the villain is the sniveling coward, America’s version of Neville Chamberlain who is going to sell Ukraine down the river the same way Chamberlain sold Czechoslovakia down the river. The rest is history. And don’t start in with a b******* about how George W Bush did very little against a predatory Russia in the last year of his second term. That’s just a dodge, and we’re talking about now not then.

        Then again, the time to stand up against bullies is when you know others have your back. As pointed out, the American people would be very unlikely to have Biden’s back in a crisis because he has made himself so unpopular in the first year of his first term, hopefully his only term. The left could certainly haul out all those terms like treason and disloyalty, but, after what they did to make certain that the American people wouldn’t rally behind Trump, they really do not have a leg to stand on there either. The days of presidents having 60% or better approval ratings are gone for good, I think that started either with George Bush the elder or with Bill Clinton. We are at the point where there are two Americas and one can’t stand the other. Actually we’re divided into four Americas, two on each side, as an article in the Atlantic illustrated pretty well. On one side you have Free America of wall street, big business, and neoconservativism, and Real America of the blue collar, done carrying, leave me alone neo frontiersman. On the other you have Smart America, of the college professors and career politicians who think everything can be fixed by social engineering, and Just America, of the activists and rioters. Smart America thought it could harness Just America to become a militia against the other Americas, but it has become infected with their problems and issues. What needs to happen now is that Free America needs to harness Real America in the same way. Trump was almost there. It’s important that whoever is next move things the rest of the way.

  5. I actually make memes all the time, although I do not know how to post any here. I am, all modesty aside, very good with a camera and I have a little bit of a gift for writing. It is very easy to find the appropriate picture and add the appropriate slogan for maximum impact. It’s very easy for me to take a picture of a spitfire in flight and add a line about this generation says they’re going to create a revolution but this generation also doesn’t know what bathroom it wants to use. Pictures from colonial Williamsburg and other revolutionary War reenactments make very good backgrounds for pro second amendment slogans. Making the president, or some other public figure, look bad is not even going to work up a sweat. I have seen pages on Facebook that are composed of pretty much nothing but anti-trump memes, some of them quite elaborate and including one in which he is accepting an award in the form of a giant anus. The Democratic party has no leg to stand on complaining about memes used against its leaders. Yet now, just as always, they expect those of us on the other side to just meekly toddle off into the back benches and the wilderness and there stay quiet while they do their thing. It’s very easy to win a game if you don’t allow the other side to even field a team. That’s always been there thinking, but it’s only recently that they’ve started to say the quiet part out loud. What they want is a one-party state in which no one disagrees with them. One of the quickest ways to get there is by publicly ridiculing your opponent. One of the easiest ways to do that is by reducing him to an unflattering image and a bumper sticker slogan. The thing is, those of us on the right are waking up to the idea that that can cut both ways. Go ahead, call me immature if I take an unflattering picture of Biden and add a slogan about somewhere in Delaware a village missing its idiot. I’ll just remind you of all the unflattering memes of trump you posted. Of course you’ll say that’s different, but I say b*******, the only difference is that it’s your guy getting held up for the fool he is. While we’re on this topic, who’s the greater fool, the fool, or the fool who votes for him? That’s what I thought. The left may have started this game, but the right is going to finish it. The idea is to win, not to lose gracefully, and if winning means we have to use some dirty tactics that the other side is already used I’m not going to lose any sleep about it.

  6. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… ok not really, but the family owned grocery store, they’re ignoring the new fee. Nothing to see here. There’s been a lot of ignoring lately. There was the “gun sanctuary county” then the county agreed to ignore the red flag law citing reckless endangerment of citizens and officers, then the mask mandate was ignored and the order to close business for a second time. Now, the horror, they are ignoring the new plastic bag fee too.

  7. I went to a few airshows last summer where local law enforcement refused to enforce the mask mandate. Funny, I never heard of any superspreading happening as a result.

  8. On 1, I love that I started blogging, because it has REALLY curbed my writing time. All of a sudden, when we’re approaching territory I’ve written about before, I have a fairly easy go to on my position on the issue. Take, for instance: The 25th Amendment!

    https://humbletalent.substack.com/p/the-25th-amendment

    Nine months ago, I made the point that the people trying to remove Trump by invoking section 4 of the 25th amendment were huffing gas, but that there was a very slight chance that it might be needed under Biden. Basically none of the calculus has changed over the last year, although the line “we’re not sure if it’s Joe or Major biting the White House staff and pooping in the halls” might be seen in a different light after Joe literally shat himself in front of the Pope (They called it a “bathroom incident”).

  9. 1. We Canucks have been paying a nickel for plastic bags for a few years now. Recently stores have started dispensing them only on explicit request, and they’re being banned soon. I was surprised that the (horribly overpriced) plastic bags, that I’ve been using for years as garbage bags, were, as advertised, that much worse for the environment than (e.g.) chopping, hauling and processing trees for paper bags. I’m also somewhat in disbelief at whatever other benefits are claimed (obviously, I’ll now have to BUY bags to dispose of garbage, so…).
    Here’s a study, from the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food (EPA) in 2018, showing the estimated life cycle costs of various types of grocery bags. Enlightening results.

    Click to access Life-Cycle-Assessment-of-grocery-carrier-bags.pdf

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