Comment Of The Day Double Feature: “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”… And Metaphorical Squirrels (1)

Incredibly, some media news sources are still blathering on about how Ted Cruz took his family to sunny Mexico while poor, normal, working Texans were trapped in their freeing homes. The Spectator had some wry words about this on Friday, describing the phenomenon as “squirrels”: distracting but inconsequential attractions the biased news media sends out to avoid covering stories that are unflattering to their client, the Democratic Party. Scott McKay writes in part,

Squirrels. What dog can resist chasing one? And if you don’t want a national discussion of a topic on which your side cannot hold its own, it’s best to set loose an arboreous rodent or two.

Like, for example, if Andrew “Sonny” Cuomo, the New York governor who played Grim Reaper to thousands of his state’s seniors by stashing COVID-19 patients in nursing homes where they resided, would suddenly find himself under scrutiny by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

That wouldn’t be a good look, would it? The Democrat establishment has done all it could to pump Sonny up as a potential national figure. Considering their bench is so shallow they had to present the decrepit and addled Joe Biden as their nominee for resident, er, president, Cuomo is what passes for a future ace in the hole when Biden has been put to pasture and the Democrats recognize Kamala Harris isn’t sellable to the country even if the dead can be made to vote again in strength.

If Cuomo didn’t offer a future presidential prospect, he would surely be someone to throw under the bus. He’s a gubernatorial Biden — a shameless clown devoid of credibility or competence who represents everything regular Americans despise about the political class. Cuomo is the very picture of our coastal elites: his success owes almost completely to the name he inherited from his father Vito, er, Mario Cuomo and his membership in the ruling-class club. Cuomo spouts all of the pieties of the managerial elite, and he’s mastered the art of faking sincerity when he does so. His abject corruption and incompetence in office is easy to paper over — the Cuomos have run so much of New York’s middle class out of the state there are no longer enough of them to ever vote a Democrat out of office, and therefore their party has perfected at the state level the Weaponized Governmental Failure that’s usually reserved for Democrat machines in the cities.

And of course, brother Fredo — sorry, Chris — hosts a show on CNN when he’s not engaged in pugilism with less-than-adoring viewers or faking a COVID quarantine. CNN’s management actually thinks it’s cute to have Fredo interviewing Sonny on its air despite the breathtaking affront to journalistic integrity that represents. That occasional moment of on-air fraternal bliss suddenly lost its luster when the G-Men began covering the set.

Later, he concludes,

Nor are the squirrels going back into the trees anytime soon, because it won’t be long before the Democrats and their compliant minions in the news media and pop culture recognize the urgency of air cover for all kinds of coming disasters.

There’s the unscientific failure to reopen schools as parents groan under the strain of trying to survive the COVID economy while becoming amateur homeschoolers. There’s the burgeoning failure to fulfill Dirty Joe Biden’s vaccine promises while Biden purports to have conjured the vaccines out of thin air. There’s the fact Biden is calling a lid on conducting foreign policy and delegating it to Kamala Harris. There is the looming disaster in China and Iran policy, and particularly the coming crippling shortage in rare-earth minerals. There is the growing recognition that the Brian Sicknick story, on which the Jan. 6 “insurrection” narrative has been built, appears not to have contained a wisp or a smidgeon of truth.

And on and on.

The problem with squirrels is eventually the dogs lose interest. What comes afterward could be fascinating, and not in a good way.

I feel complicit, a bit, in the squirrel problem, but it is a matter of focus. The cover-up that Cuomo has been credibly accused of is obviously unethical: nobody needs me to point that out. Cruz’s mess, which he blundered into, raised ethical issues, which is why it has been more evident on Ethics Alarms.

Two commenters, Null Pointer and Chris Marschner, have contributed Comments of the Day on the matter, one in response to the other, and they make an attractive matched set. First up is Null Pointer’s COTD on the post, “Ted Cruz ‘Scandal’ Significance: Another Smoking Gun”:

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quote Of The Month (Yes, It’s More Impeachment Analysis, And I’m Sick Of It Too, But This Is Important): Professor Jonathan Turley”

Sentence first

Here is Aaron Paschall’s Comment of the Day (he gets extra credit for the “Alice in Wonderland” quote) on the post, “Ethics Quote Of The Month (Yes, It’s More Impeachment Analysis, And I’m Sick Of It Too, But This Is Important): Professor Jonathan Turley”:

“Sentence first, verdict afterward!”

The nitpicking of “’Legally, due process only applies to life, liberty, and property,” she lectured. “A job is none of those.’” honestly terrifies me. This is the consequent of thought processes like the argument against Justice Kavanaugh: “It isn’t a ‘trial,’ it’s a job interview. Due process doesn’t apply outside a court of law.” Or the one which we see now extolled in defense of Facebook/Twitter bans: “Private companies can ban whoever they like – the government isn’t doing a thing. Freedom of speech has no bearing outside of the government.” In attacking Trump and more than Trump, they’ve whittled away virtually all defenses or niceties like fairness, decency, moderation, humility, justice, the benefit of the doubt and a million more. How they can bear to stand on such a barren plain of life and declare it rich and good is beyond me.

In C.S. Lewis’ “The Silver Chair,” Puddleglum the Marshwiggle was a gloomy sort. Near the end of their adventure, he and his comrades found themselves deep underground, with a fire emitting thick, bewildering fumes. The villain of the piece encouraged them to give up, that the surface world they were trying to escape to didn’t even exist – it was a figment of their imaginations. The sun, the sky, the wind – illusions, and one she was trying to save them from expending their lives in fruitless search of. At the last moment, when nearly everyone was convinced, Puddleglum stamps his foot into the center of the fire, putting it out – and filling the room with the scent of burnt Marshwiggle, which was not nearly so nice. And he addressed the witch with what is one of my favorite quotes ever:

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethical Quote Of The Month: Bret Stephens’ Critical Column About New York Times Cowardice And Hypocrisy That The Times Tried To Censor”

what-is-strict-liability

Comment of the Day auteur Glenn Logan (one of many at EA) has helpful thoughts about the intertwined issue of speech control/ racial epithets/ intent and political correctness. I’m behind on COTDs again, but jumped Glenn’s ahead in line because the blog has been active on related topics today.

Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on Bret Stephens’ discarded op-ed and the post, “Ethical Quote Of The Month: Bret Stephens’ Critical Column About New York Times Cowardice And Hypocrisy That The Times Tried To Censor’:

This is an excellent inquiry into the current state of political culture. The left has discovered one of the things it has historically eschewed — the concept of strict liability, and the power it brings them to redefine the English language in America, and by extension, the political environment. For years, liberals have found crimes which didn’t consider intent offensive, and for good reason. Alas, it seems that is no longer the case.

At the risk of being pedantic, strict liability — for those who may not be aware — is a type of crime or regulatory violation where intent does not matter. The quintessential strict liability crime example is statutory rape, where violation of the statute requires no general or specific intent. Regardless of whether the violator knew, had reason to know, or intended to have sexual relations with a minor person, the fact he/she/xe/them did is all that matters.The word “nigger” has now become, in the world of the Left, a strict liability offense when uttered in any form and for any reason. More and more, this is also becoming true of descriptive constructions like “n-word, ” “n*****,” “n—–,” or “n_____.”

The recent incident with the Times shows just how successful this effort has become, and is sure to become a model for other words considered to be offensive at some fundamental level. There is no reason to believe the proponents of this new morality will be circumspect in this expansion, either.Using the power of the mob, the Left has found that they can circumvent the First Amendment by ginning up social outrage and placing pressure on companies to do what the law cannot — punish speech.

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The Predictable Fate Of TIME’s Election-Rigging Scoop, And The Comment Of The Day On “You Know Why Real Conspiracies Are Always Discovered, Don’t You? It’s Because Someone Always Talks…Gee, Thanks, TIME!”

Uneven playing field

TIME Magazine’s surprising exposition of how the 2020 Presidential election was “rigged” was both a major media story and an important contribution to the public’s understanding of how their liberties are being extracted from them in stages. Unfortunately, nobody reads TIME any more—for good reason—and the mainstream media, among the conspirators indicted by TIME, had no reason to treat this any differently from the other inconvenient and counter-narrative revelations they buried or failed to report during the campaign and before. Their other tactic, as we saw repeatedly, was to discredit such news as “conservative stories,” meaning that they were contrived and the product of fanatic right-wingers. TIME’s story was a special problem, because TIME has been a dependable source of progressive spin for decades.

The solution wasn’t a problem, however. The mainstream news media just ignored TIME’s story. Problem solved! They didn’t try to rebut it—that would trigger the Streisand Effect. It was so much more helpful to the effort to marginalize Republicans, the ex-President, and conservatives to make the silly conspiracy theory-obsessed Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene the center of public attention. It was perfect, really; highlight a conspiracy theory wacko to discredit a genuine conspiracy the mainstream media participated in.

Of course, Fox News covered the TIME story, but you know...Fox. The New York Times took a clever counter-measure, publishing a three part series on “Trump’s efforts to subvert the election.” Whatever online discussion of TIME’s piece there was occurred on blogs like Ethics Alarms (See the PJ Media contribution, and Ann Althouse’s contribution.)

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “You Know Why Real Conspiracies Are Always Discovered, Don’t You? It’s Because Someone Always Talks…Gee, Thanks, TIME!”

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Comment Of The Day: “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”

censorship cartoon

This is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Oppressing The Twitter Troll”:

I always like to look at the law, and at the charges, to see if they are particularized and actually allege a violation.It seems to me the particular law at issue is 18 U.S. Code § 241 – Conspiracy against rights. The relevant text would seem to be paragraph 1:

If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; orIf two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—

What the government is alleging here, apparently, is essentially a conspiracy to cyber-bully. Attempting to convince others to vote a certain way or not to vote at all is called “electioneering” and is not only legal in the United States, but protected speech under the First Amendment, as well as widely practiced by all political parties 24-7-365, legally and peacefully. The law criminalizing conspiracies to deprive persons of rights was passed during the civil rights era and was plainly directed at the Klu Klux Klan and similar organizations.

As we all know, those groups would intimidate voters of all races, but primarily black people and their sympathizers, by burning crosses, lynchings, threats, and other violent actions to suppress or affect voting against the groups’ interests. Most of their methods were illegal under state and federal law to begin with, but the law in this case provided an additional tool to attack those who plannedlawless actions against the rights of others as well as those who carried them out. It is a bit like the Civil RICO laws, which were primarily aimed at those who directed corrupt mob actions but almost never participated in overt criminal activity.

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Comment Of The Day: “If Progressives Agree With Hate Speech, It Isn’t Hate Speech Any More…Do I Have That Straight?”

Pennagain responded to this post with invaluable background on our still complex attitudes toward gay and lesbian relationships. It is long, and essential reading.

Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “If Progressives Agree With Hate Speech, It Isn’t Hate Speech Any More…Do I Have That Straight?’:

For all who are getting into this “any woman (many women) can be lesbians if they want to” bag, recognize that you are confusing sexual liberty in today’s society with natural sexual-partner preference.

It’s an easy generalization to fall into. Another generalization, but one borne out by statistical evidence, is that you might even be able to transform your body to conform to another gender but you will still have the same sexual preference. Being lesbian (or gay) doesn’t come (nor will you, so to speak just by wanting or trying. The L and G of LGBT are as varied in as many ways as straight girls and boys. Wee just got along better until the wicked woke women turned up the heat.

Here us a handy review of things that have significant impact on everyone – you, me and the ones who aren’t sure:

Traditionally — that is, not so many decades ago, and most definitely in my memory — men socialized mainly outside the home and had access to individual activity that included sexual satisfaction elsewhere. Women mainly stayed in the home and, if outside, had fewer opportunities for engaging in social, much less erotic, activities. . Remember?

Women — of course — were supposed to have no (or far lower) need or desire for sexual activity. In a way that’s true, though not lessening the equal strength of the desire. Women’s emotions were and are often centered on their children. There wasn’t some magical extra feeling focused on the exploration of a sex object’s genitals: When the natural urge arose, women often tried to tamp down her own needs in favor of the needs of the family. A woman might cry on her friend’s shoulder, but it didn’t occur to most women to peer under her dear friend’s skirt.

Boys knew more about their own external genitalia (and as much as possible about girls’ as well) while girls had almost no knowledge of their hidden female anatomy. Most didn’t know how they got pregnant — many, it appears, still don’t. Some never learned they could have orgasms, and because they were so traumatized by blood, they rarely explored the matter.

If you were born in the post-war baby boom, your parents were still influenced (one way or another) by the 40s. Considerable confusion was taking place between diametrically opposing images like this:

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Comment Of The Day: “Crowbar, ProBar, Whatever…”

poke the bear

Disclaimer:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Ethics Alarms or ProEthics, Ltd.

I probably should post that before every Comment of the Day. I don’t choose a COTD because I necessarily agree with it. In the case of Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day below, there are some conclusions I don’t agree with and some assertions I am dubious about, but the over-all thrust of the comment is spot-on.

There is also an Ethics Quote of the Week in there:

“I read this quote on some Lefty site tonight: “’Pretty funny, no? …On Fox & Friends, the nitwit anchors can’t even agree on what is wrong or right!'”

Journalists aren’t supposed to decide what’s “wrong or right,” but it is clear that progressives, and that obviously includes most journalists and their editors, do, and that’s exactly why they are tending toward totalitarianism and away from democracy.

Here is Null Pointer’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Crowbar, ProBar, Whatever…

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Comment Of The Day: “Why Don’t College Students Believe In Free Speech? Because They Are Taught By Totalitarianism Advocates…”

Reich

Commenter Crella’s brief observation, which I just now read, is notable for many reasons. First, it was news to me. I spend a ridiculous amount of time (during much of which, my wife and business partner reminds me, I should be making money, writing one of the books on the drawing board, creating a new ethics seminar, writing legal ethics parody song lyrics, etc) tracking ethics developments, and I still miss so much. Second, it’s an example of so many themes here: the totalitarian tilt of the Left, the criminalization of politics, the beyond insane partisan divide, the Great Stupid. Third, the story is a collision of so many ethics train wrecks, its hard to sort the carnage out. I’ll be back at the end, but here’s Crella’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Why Don’t College Students Believe In Free Speech? Because They Are Taught By Totalitarianism Advocates Like Duke Professors Bill Adair and Philip Napoli. That’s Why”:

Robert Reich (just typing his name makes my blood boil) has a new video out, calling for prosecution of Trump supporters for infecting Congressmen. ‘They should be charged with involuntarily manslaughter if any of the Congressmen they infected dies! Two more tested positive as I taped this’

Greeeeeat idea! Prosecuting people because you think they might have given you a disease. The liberals on my Facebook page are lapping it up: “ I agree they should be prosecuted!”. So much for having any standard of proof. If they can prove unequivocally that any of the congressmen and women who get corona now and have tested positive this week didn’t have Christmas parties didn’t have New Year’s parties never left their homes didn’t have big gatherings, didn’t travel, then I might think it possible they were infected by the people who stormed into the capital. Otherwise, seriously!?

I’m back.

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Comment Of The Day: “Scared Yet?” [Corrected]

And now, a fearless Comment of the Day from Mrs. Q, on the post, “Scared Yet?”

Fear is understandable but not helpful in responding to this increasingly disturbing trend. Quite frankly, these people want you to be afraid. Don’t give them that power.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be steadfast in our discernment of the information MSM is putting out or the tech giants’ actions. In fact, I suspect some readers here have only scratched the surface of what these “powers and principalities” are capable of.

For example, it would be wise to research the reach a corporation like Alphabet Inc. (Google’s owner) has in the field of medicine. If you think Google having a say in what we say is intense, check out the medical patents these “well-meaning” folks are working on. Don’t forget that Google is already used to increasingly hold more of our digital medical records. Add to that our genetic information being held by 23 and Me, whose founder is none other than Google founder Sergey Brin’s ex-wife.

As we move towards a green new world order, consider the “smart” technology being inserted into controlling our water usage, household heating and cooling, and even our cars. Is it far fetched to wonder if the wrong opinions could get one cut off from use of resources through smart tech? I’m not sure it is anymore.

Then you have the issue of what you say being “heard” by way of Amazon’s Alexa or the Hey Google voice-activated search tools. If you’ve ever noticed that suddenly your mobile device is suggesting targeted ad products to you after a private conversation in which some issue is mentioned, then you might want to consider just what is being recorded. In parts of the UK, laws are being considered to punish those in private conversations at home or elsewhere, where wrongthink may be spoken. For that to work you need omnipresent informants everywhere or a device that records you.

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Comments Of The Day: “The Friday Ethics Alarms Open Forum” ( Forced Cultural Shifts Thread) [Corrected!]

Inquisition

This is really an Ethics Question and Answer of the Day.

Steve Witherspoon [ Notice of Correction: I erroneously attributed this to the wrong Steve, not that Steve-O-in NJ doesn’t also ask provocative questions. I apologize to Steve W, and thank Other Bill for the correction…] asked a provocative question in our last Open Forum, which is what the Ethics Alarms open forums are for:

When a large segment of a society wants to shift their culture in a very major way and in a way that has historically been widely opposed, is using propaganda and intimidation to “force” the desired cultural shift on a population ethical, in other words, when trying to shift culture does the ends justify the means?

Before answering, think about major cultural shifts in the USA’s history. A few examples of major cultural shift are when the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and the Constitution were written or when slavery was abolished or when electricity and phone lines were wired across the USA or when automobiles began to gradually take over the streets across the USA or when airplanes became common place or when the population began to shift from print media and word of mouth as their only sources of information to radios and then to televisions or the civil rights marches in the 1960’s. There are a multitude of examples of major cultural shifts in the United States.

So…

When trying to shift culture, does the ends justify the means?

Commenter Ryan Harkins provided an excellent and thought-provoking answer:

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