I probably don’t pay enough attention to right-wing conspiracy theories, but I mostly find them so silly that it astounds me that anyone takes them seriously. Alex Jones? How could anyone take Alex Jones seriously, especially after he stated in court documents that he didn’t take his own stuff seriously? Long ago, I learned a lot from a fun tome called “Web of Conspiracy” by mystery writer/historian Theodore Roscoe. It was a detailed account of the evidence assembled by many Lincoln assassination conspiracy buffs, and I loved it, racing through its 800 pages or so and thousands of footnotes as fast as I could. But I was 11; my Dad warned me that the author was cheating, and I couldn’t see it. After the book was out of print, I paid a fortune to acquire a used copy and tried to read it again. I couldn’t get through the damn thing, it was so full of innuendo, and dishonest arguments.
I thought about that book when some well-meaning readers sent me a substack essay by Emerald Robinson asserting in Theodore Roscoe prose that Mike Pence was really trying to get Trump kicked out of office so he could take over. Let’s say I’m dubious, and I’m no Pence admirer. VP’s have been accused of that since John Adams; I walked out of “JFK”—and I’ll sit through almost anything—when Oliver Stone started telling audiences that LBJ was behind Kennedy’s assassination. Moreover, Robinson has long been on my “don’t waste time reading” list, as I view the tweet that got her fired from Newsmax as signature significance. She tweeted,
“Dear Christians: the vaccines contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked. Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.
Twitter removed the tweet as a violation of safety rules, which is the kind of stupidity that explains why I quit Twitter. Everyone needs to see tweets like that. Highlight them, don’t hide them. Otherwise you might take a nut like Robinson seriously.
Finally, her Pence theory contained arguments like,
Who Fired General Michael Flynn? Let’s begin with Mike Pence’s least favorite question: “Why did you insist that President Trump fire his National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in the opening days of the administration?” The official story is that Gen. Flynn had lied to Mike Pence about Flynn’s contacts with Russian diplomats. Nobody has bothered to ask Pence exactly how he was informed about Flynn’s private conversations. Think about it: somebody went to Pence with transcripts of Flynn’s calls, and told Pence that Flynn was a national security risk. Who would have access to such phone calls? Who would want to lie about the nature of those phone calls to get Flynn fired? It almost certainly must have been disgraced FBI agent Peter Strozk.
I almost believed that the ‘Web of Conspiracy” author was still alive and writing under a pen name. (Roscoe died in 1992.) That’s exactly how he wrote, except he wasn’t that sloppy. Pence didn’t have the power to fire Flynn, and “insisting” with Trump gets you nowhere, as we all know by now. There are many ways Flynn could have been exposed; he deserved to be fired in any case. And the article, “The Treachery of VP Mike Pence” gets worse from there. But I am grateful for getting the opportunity to read it. It brought back memories of when I was innocent and believed everything I read.
1. Huh. If the New York Times review of books ever has interviewed a conservative boo lover for its “By the Book” column, I missed it. This week, the voracious reader was author Jason Reynolds, an African American. When the Times got tired of asking the exit question, “What book would you want President Trump to read?,” teeing up for an insulting reply, it started using “You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, living or dead, would you invite?” Reynolds chose four (he excluded himself) and named four black writers. All of the white interviewees of late have known that they have to name at least one black writer and a female writer, which explains why Toni Morrison or Maya Angelou are at virtually every “party.” But I guess blacks are excused from mandatory diversity and inclusion. I find that fascinating.
2. The Ethicist gets an easy question, and botches it. Prof Appiah was asked this week if she was wrong not to be angry with her mother, as her sister is, over Mom’s revelation after the recent death of their father that she had been cheating on him with someone better in bed for the last ten years of their marriage, and never told him.
If from his point of view it was a perfect relationship and he died happy, does it really matter that he didn’t know all the details? I feel I am missing something in not being upset at my mother…But I am trying to think about whether the infidelity itself was wrong, because the fact that my sister and I see things differently is driving a wedge between us.
“The Ethicist” gets it right immediately. ‘Your mother betrayed your father,” he began. “Your parents didn’t have an open relationship; her actions were inconsistent with an understanding of their marriage she allowed him to believe in. The fact that he never found out — and let’s assume it is a fact — doesn’t make it OK. Dishonesty is not redeemed by remaining undiscovered.”
That should have been the end of it, but perhaps because he had a whole to pages to fill, he added,
But your mother valued her relationship with your father. I’m guessing she made the judgment that disclosing the truth — both her sexual discontent and her interest in sleeping with others who excited her more — would have embittered (and perhaps ended) an otherwise fortifying partnership, to their mutual detriment. Other things being equal, a life lived in the light of reality — the reality of what’s going on in your significant relationships — is better than one in which your happiness depends on ignorance. But other things are sometimes far from equal. Human lives are complicated. This, I think, is what you get right.
Ugh. Ethicists shouldn’t rationalize rationalizations. That’s all he was doing there.
3. Well this is disheartening. Tomorrow is the deadline to sign the open letter to Georgetown Law Center’s free speech and civic discourse-chilling Dean regarding the treatment of Illya Shapiro that I wrote about here.
I highlighted it on Facebook I must have 20 or more GULC alum friends. None have signed the letter. None have responded to the post. How depressing. Are they afraid of being “cancelled’ if they agree that objecting to race and gender discrimination in choosing a SCOTUS justice is not grounds for firing a scholar? Or have they been sufficiently marinated in the progressive stew that they Love Big Brother?
There is a positive development: two GULC adjuncts have signed the letter. They can be fired, unlike their tenured colleagues, who are hiding with my classmates. Their names are Bob Carney, Adjunct Professor in the Georgetown Law Graduate Tax Program, and Dave Jonas, Adjunct Professor with the Georgetown Law National Security Program. They are saving the honor, barely, of the GULC faculty.
4. Hoisted on their own petard! The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officially ended its system for hospitals to report what are being counted as pandemic deaths daily to the federal government. Good. This is being attacked, but it should be obvious what’s going on. The CDC and the rest settled on a way of counting Wuhan deaths that guaranteed inflated totals: if you died with “Covid,” you died of “Covid.” This allowed the media to panic the public and help bring down Donald Trump. Mission accomplished. Now, however, that (ridiculous) method of tallying pandemic fatalities is hurting a Democrat in the White House and allowing countries that did not count deaths that way to make the U.S. look bad. The method also has been a boon to hospitals wanting to avoid lawsuits. My mother died of exposure to C-Diff, a hospital bug that Medicare punishes hospitals for not eliminating when patients die from it. If Mom had the Wuhan virus while the relentless bug was eating through her colon, she would have been listed as a pandemic death, no question about it. Same with my Dad: he had heart problems, cancer and many other maladies when he died in his sleep at 89. His doctor called it “natural causes,” but if he had the Wuhan virus, that would have been the cause of death as far as the stats were concerned. The panic-mongers have been hoisted on their own petard.
11 thoughts on “Another Sunday Afternoon In The Ethics Park With Jack, 2/6/2022: Pence, Parties, Parents, Professors And Petards”
More died under FJB’s watch
At the risk of triggering a tangential thread, I don’t see how anyone could pick four guests for such a party. I would enjoy any combination among Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Clarence Darrow, Oscar Wilde, Gore Vidal, Malcolm X, Thomas More, and Mary Wollingstonecraft, as long as I got to pick the topic, and I hid all the knives and forks.
I think it’s a dumb hypothetical. Who wants to spend an entire evening explaining time travel and how the toilet works to a bunch of 18th century rubes who haven’t bathed in a week and were just abducted out of thin air by a time machine?
If some jamoke from the future yanked me out of my time stream and expected me to entertain him along with three other equally confused temporal captives, he’d get a fucking earful, and I’d probably throw the soup in his presumptuous, kidnapping face…
Instead, the Times should require that the list be of living writers, then start calling bluffs by actually arranging the dinner parties. I would pay to subscribe to a streaming video feed of people dining with a lineup of some combination of peculiar introverts, loudmouth egomaniacs, and at least one writer whose work the “host” has never read but whose name they chose to seem smart or cool. I’d pay 50% more if they could somehow spring this on the host in surprise.
That might be a viable reality TV show, although given the premise it would be tricky to make more than one season out of it, since after the first one people would catch on.
I concur with your opinion on the question. Every time I hear it I have to stop myself from considering what lost knowledge humanity would benefit most from and who might have had that information, and how to extract the most of it from the span of one dinner.
I promise I’m a better conversationalist when the stakes aren’t as high as once-in-a-lifetime time travel. On the other hand, I’m also a better conversationalist when I expect the person I’m talking to to keep existing in my future. If the guests are just going to be sent back to their own time, what’s the point? If they won’t remember me, then I’ll have to deal with that baggage. If they will remember me but can’t do anything differently from how history originally played out, then we’ll both have to deal with that baggage.
Now that I think of it, a better premise might be that the host has reached an afterlife with the rest of humanity’s dead. (Either by dying or just visiting.) That way there’s at least an expectation of a mutual future and possible ongoing friendships with the guests, eventually.
Luciferase is the glowing stuff in a firefly’s ass. It’s also found in jellyfish, copepods, sea pansies and other bioluminescent animals. It’s used as a biomarker for biotechnology. I don’t think anyone has ever definitively proven that the covid vaccines contain luciferase. I have a passing interest in knowing whether or not it’s actually used in them because I’m deathly allergic to the proteins in shellfish, mollusks and insects. The mark of the beast people are not helping anything, though, they just sound crazy.
0. (This rant may be less profound than what I usually submit, but it was fun to write and decent mental exercise.)
Wow, I wish Twitter had left this tweet up so that people like me had the opportunity to tear it apart publicly. How are people going to learn critical thinking if they can’t watch real critics in action? How are they going to learn how to address free speech they don’t like with more free speech?
1. Bioluminescence? Really? Making people glow is a terrible way to track them, because a) they can tell someone’s done something to them, b) it’s only effective in or near line of sight, c) you can’t tell different targets apart, and d) people already have infrared cameras. Making everyone glow doesn’t make them easier to track with modern technology; it just reveals that there’s an evil conspiracy. You’d have better results on all counts with something that makes people smell bad, let alone something that makes them emit an odorless pheromone. Whatever happened to the microchip conspiracy hypothesis? At least that one wasn’t completely stupid.
2. “Luciferase” just refers to the fact that the protein produces light. “Lucifer” just means “the bright one.” They’re both named that because they’re both associated with light. Unless now everything that emits light is Satanic? (Evil sun! Evil LEDs!) Furthermore, Lucifer started out as an angel in Christian mythology, and I don’t think it was the light that made him evil, since many angels and the Christian god are associated with light as well. (I don’t think Satan’s origins are referenced in the Bible itself, though, if I recall correctly.)
3. “Read the last book of the New Testament to see how this ends.” In addition to being completely insane unless read as a stealth allegory, the book of Revelations is about the end of days. It’s the story of how everything ends! That’s like a non-religious person saying, “I foresee this will end with us all dead. Oh, and the sun expanding and enveloping the Earth, before exploding.” Would Revelations somehow not happen if there were no vaccines? Would that be a good thing?
Also, what does Robinson want people who are already Christian to do differently under the assumption that the end times are upon us? I can see wanting to convert non-Christians, but don’t Christians just have to sit back and pray or something? What do they have to fear from the end of the world, under her beliefs?
(This is where I admit my ignorance of eschatology; there’s probably a decent answer as to what Christians are supposed to do, but Robinson didn’t bother alluding to it, so I’m mocking her for not doing the ethical thing and giving us heathens a courtesy “repent, ye sinners!”)
I’m glad you had fun tearing that tweet apart, EC!
On 2, I like the contempt you heap on the way “Luciferase” is utilized as a “scary” word. I think Robinson thinks every Christian is a shallow idiot who reacts badly at something that sounds like something evil. The niggardly principle at play: “That sounds like Lucifer, it must be bad!” But if her view of Christians is that shallow, then she deserves the scorn. It might be amusing to get people to sign forms to “Banish Hydrogen Oxide” or “End Women’s Suffrage”, but at the end of the day, all that does is act very uncharitably to people’s ignorance. Even more, it creates a ridiculous straw man. When confronting people you disagree with, you should always address their strongest arguments. At the very least it is more respectful and will actually have people willing to listen to you and engage with you.
For the Bible describing Satan falling, you can reference Luke 10:18 and Revelations 12:7-9. In Luke, Jesus states, upon the 70 returning from their first mission and celebrating their success, “I saw Satan falling like lightning from Heaven”, referring to Satan’s power being crushed by the grace exercised through the 70. In Revelation, the great war between the good angels and the fallen angels is described, and the devil is thrown down to the earth by Michael the Archangel.
On 3, I thought I’d address some of your Christian questions. There are eschatological elements in Revelations, and there are numerous schools of thought of how Revelations should be interpreted. The book can be broken down into several segments: the Letters to the Churches in Asia, the God’s Judgment on the world, the unleashing of the beast, and ending with God’s triumph over the beast and the wedding feast of the Lamb. All of these are addressed with the words “coming soon”, whether at the beginning of the book, which states “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants what must soon take place”, and at the end when Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.
One school of thought holds that all of Revelation has already happened, and was entirely focused on especially Emperor Nero’s persecution of the Church and the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. A second school of thought holds that (almost) everything in Revelation is yet to come, and speaks entirely of the end times. A third school of thought holds that there are elements that were fulfilled in the first century, and others that will be fulfilled at the end of time. A fourth (and the last I’ll mention) is kind of a mix of the other three, in which everything in the book had a first century fulfillment, and will also have a fulfillment at the end of time. Of course, each of these has dozens of variants that address what is meant by, say, the 1,000 year reign, or whether the 666 really refers to Nero or someone else, or who the Whore of Babylon is.
The general Christian profession holds that at the end of time, there will be an unprecedented apostasy and persecution of the Church, which will only be ended by the Second Coming of Jesus, at which point all the dead will be raised, all will be judged, and finally all the fallen angels and all the damned humans will be eternally separated from God and his elect. How this will all transpire is a matter of speculation, though, and when it will happen is a mystery. In fact, the surest way to know that the end isn’t coming at a particular date is when someone proclaims that the end is coming at or around a particular date.
What Robinson is referencing is the mark of the beast, as described in Rev 13:16-17. Chapter 13 describes a beast rising from the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, which uttered blasphemies and given authority by the dragon (Satan). Many interpreters believe this beast is the Roman Empire. The sea is often an allusion to either the forces of chaos or the pagan nations (or both), and the ten horns and seven heads refer to the Roman Emperors, ending with Nero. A second beast arose that made all the world obey the first beast, and this is often thought to be Jerusalem throwing in its lot with the Roman Empire. The mark then comes when the second beast “causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.” Endless ink has been spilled over what the mark of the beast might be, and there have been endless panicked outcries that this or that is the mark of the beast. The COVID vaccine has been labeled as such, especially when it seems that there is a big push to exclude anyone who hasn’t received the vaccine from commerce, public life, and society as a whole.
I’m guessing that Robinson is mocking those Christians who have been identifying the vaccine as the mark of the beast. So she’s sarcastically saying that the Luciferase supposedly in the vaccine is the mark of the beast, so all Christians should eschew the vaccine for fear of not being written in the Book of Life.
I’m pretty certain she’s not mocking anyone, Ryan. That’s Emerald, all the way.
1. I don’t know her from Adam, so I maybe made a few assumptions, and you know what happens when you assume…
2. I suppose my evaluation of her mocking people can be turned around to address her, with her being the target of the “Ban Hydrogen Oxide” and “End Women’s Suffrage” petitions. Aiyaiyai.
Thanks, Ryan! That helps put things into context. It does make more sense that people would be afraid to accept “the Mark of the Beast” if it affects their eternal fate.
Now I’m puzzled as to why people think a vaccine would count as the Mark of the Beast, though, since the Mark seems to be explicitly described as 1) visible and 2) on the head or hand, not to mention implied to be either involuntary or representing voluntary submission to evil, which a vaccine isn’t for most people.
The Book of Revelation does not describe the end of everything. Rather it describes the transformation of everything into a “new heaven and new earth.” This is taught not just in the final canonical book of Scripture, Revelation, but elsewhere as well. See Isaiah 65:17, 1Corinthians 7:31, Romans 8:20-21, and Revelation 21:1-5.
There are some who hold to a view that the New Testament teaches total destruction of this world at the end of this age, referring to 2Peter 3:10-13, but the key term in that text should be translated “laid bare,” not “destroyed.”