Comment Of The Day: “It Looks Like Donald Trump Was Betrayed By Another One Of His Lawyers, Someone Else…Or Himself”[Corrected]

I really don’t want to contribute to the Donald Trump glut in the media and the web, and if everyone else would just ignore the guy like ex-Presidents, non-elected officials currently in office should be ignored, I wouldn’t have to post about him at all. This video from the Ethics Alarms clip archives is relevant..

But the news media won’t stop, simultaneously fueling Trump’s continued influence and prominence and claiming that he is an existential evil who must be destroyed. This obsession was excusable, sort of, when he was President, but now it is pure hypocrisy. Trump, of course, publicity junkie and narcissist that he is, loves the attention, and it makes him stronger. The other side of this weird coin is that he has also been grievously mistreated politically, journalistically  and by the culture, to a historical degree. As with Bill Clinton when he was beleaguered by the Monica scandal, I have to grudgingly admire Trump for his resilience, endurance, and resolve. Clinton, however, only went through such travails for a year or so. With Trump, it has been constant since 2015. His defiance is Churchillian.

In his Comment of the Day, Steve-O-in NJ came up with something I’ve been searching for: a good analogy for the hate that Donald Trump has been subjected to. Tellingly, Steve’s analogy is a nation, not another human being. But in Steve’s example, only one man was demanding destruction, not whole institutions and sectors of society: Cato the Elder, also known as Cato the Censor and Cato the Wise.
Boy, I would much rather write about Marcus Porcius Cato ( Born: 234 BC, Tusculum, Italy; Died: 149 BC, Rome) than Trump. His best quotes alone should pique your interest, among them:
  • “After I’m dead I’d rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one.”
  • “An angry man opens his mouth and shuts his eyes.”
  • “Anger so clouds the mind that it cannot perceive the truth.”
  • “Grasp the subject, the words will follow.”
  • “He is nearest to the gods who knows how to be silent.”
  • “He who fears death has already lost the life he covets.”
  • “I can pardon everybody’s mistakes except my own.”
  • “I prefer to do right and get no thanks than to do wrong and receive no punishment.”
  • “If you are ruled by mind you are a king; if by body, a slave.”
  • “Patience is the greatest of all virtues.”
  • “The hero saves us. Praise the hero! Now, who will save us from the hero?”
  • “The worst ruler is one who cannot rule himself.”
  • “Those who are serious in ridiculous matters will be ridiculous in serious matters.”
  • “‘Tis sometimes the height of wisdom to feign stupidity.”
  • “Wise men learn more from fools than fools from the wise.”

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, It Looks Like Donald Trump Was Betrayed By Another One Of His Lawyers, Someone Else…Or Himself”:

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Comment Of The Day: NetChoice LLC v. Paxton (Item #4 In “Sunday Consequential Ethics Epiphanies, 9/18/2022”)

I am enmeshed in a disagreement with esteemed and long-time Ethics Alarms commenter Chris Marschner regarding Texas’ HB 20 signed into law last year. It prohibits social media platforms with over 50 million monthly U.S. users from censoring posts based political positions and viewpoints. To my surprise (although considering the Court, maybe it shouldn’t have been) the Fifth Circuit helding that the right to free speech didn’t include the right to censor speech, a privately-owned platform. That opinion is here. I wrote that I didn’t understand the opinion at all, meaning that while I find the way social media platforms employ bias and partisan favoritism to censor posts using double standards profoundly unethical, I also think the Texas law is screamingly unconstitutional, and is likely to be held to be so by the U.S. Supreme Court. However, I understand the opinion better than I did thanks to Chris’s advocacy.

Here is his Comment of the Day on Item #4 of the post, “Sunday Consequential Ethics Epiphanies, 9/18/2022: On Incompetence, Diversity, Censorship And More..”

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You and I are in complete agreement on the issue of viewpoint discrimination. I will counter that the service provided is not free. It is true that monetary compensation is not used but the Users barter for the service by providing valuable personal data and rights to the content they post online on an ongoing basis.

While Facebook does not sell users data directly it does so indirectly by serving as a middleman using its algorithm to serve up targeted advertising. That is the foundation of the business model from which the service derives its income.

One might argue that the perceived value of this trade is lopsided in favor of the user because of the billions of dollars needed to create and maintain the platform while all the user exchanges for access is giving the Service intelligence about the User. The problem with that argument is that it only appears lopsided because until the business model was developed the user has no individual means to collect financial compensation for them being subjected to an endless barrage of advertisements. Through this business model Users obtain an exchange of value by creating a social media account. In a sense, Facebook, et al serves as a medium of exchange which is the primary defining characteristic of money. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022…’ [Item #4: Ranked Choice Voting]”

Esteemed commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod spent an admirable amount of time and effort last week exploring and debating the desirability (or not) of ranked choice voting systems. As a special gift to Ethics Alarms readers, E.C. summed up all of the issues in a single epic comment, and I have added his addendum to that comment as well.

Here is his Comment of the Day on his own Comment of the Day on the post, “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?”:

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Alright, I’ve collected the arguments people have brought against ranked choice voting and condensed my counterpoints. What do you think?

1. RCV is more complicated than voters can follow.

Counterpoints: Not if we educate them competently, like we already sometimes do with regular ballots. If they’re not capable of comprehending ranked preferences and a ballot that accepts them, then their vote would be meaningless noise even under a first-past-the-post system. If that describes most voters, we’ve got a bigger problem. However, standardized testing indicates that many children can understand and fill out bubble-sheets correctly, so adults should be alright. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: On Queen Elizabeth’s Death (“Friday Open Forum)”

Steve-O-in NJ has some time on his hands, and he made Ethics Alarms the beneficiaries with this Comment of the Day, an excellent overview of the late Queen Elizabeth’s life, reign, and service to her nation.

I enthusiastically second virtually all of it, though I would have liked to see him mention Princess Anne in a positive light. She has been a tireless working royal for her entire adult life, and she has managed to avoid the scandals that tarnished the Royal Family at the hands of her siblings and aunt.

I also agree with Steve that the Queen earned a place in the The Ethics Alarms Heroes’ Hall Of Honor, which hasn’t had a new inductee in a while. I will add his essay to that page as soon as I can.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the life of Queen Elizabeth 1, in today’s Open Forum.

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Elizabeth II wasn’t born to be queen. She was the elder daughter of Albert, the Duke of York, second son of the formidable (although no brain-trust) George V, who led the United Kingdom through the Great War and the beginning of the end of empire. His eldest son, known as “David” among his friends, but whose name has gone down in history rarely as Edward VIII, more often as the Duke of Windsor, almost always as the Edward of “Edward and Mrs. Simpson” and without exception as a failure (sometimes even as a potential traitor) lasted no more than a year before he let an unprincipled whore pull him down from his throne and into the shadow of disapproval. Hearing the announcement, the precocious princess, barely 10 years old, remarked to her younger sister Margaret that “Papa is to be king.” Supposedly Margaret said something to the effect of “then you’ll be queen? Poor you.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Keep Talking And Tweeting, Sam: Eventually Almost Everybody Will Figure Out That You’re Ridiculous…Won’t They?”

I wasn’t able to get three Extradimensional Cephalopod Comments of the Day up yesterday as I said I was trying to do. Sorry. This is the intended #2: EC’s excellent outline of how to have a rational discussion with someone who is gratuitously calling people and groups he or she disagrees with “fascists.”

I strongly suspect that most people one would have this conversation with are too far over the metaphorical moon to respond in an encouraging manner, but the theory is sound, and as many have said in many ways, you never know unless you try.

Here is Extradimensional Cephalopod‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Keep Talking And Tweeting, Sam: Eventually Almost Everybody Will Figure Out That You’re Ridiculous…Won’t They?”

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As one of the tiny percentage of competent philosophers on this planet, I recommend that we start asking people to explain what fascism means to them–after putting them in a calm frame of mind, that is. It’s part of the deconstruction method: 1) make them comfortable; 2) make them think; 3) make them choose. In this case, we don’t have to make them choose. We can just gather information.

Example:

Step 1: Make them comfortable. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?” [Item #4]

Extradimensional Cephalopod might break an Ethics Alarms record today with three COTDs—I’m not sure yet: stay tuned. This one the earliest of the three, includes his cogent analysis of ranked choice voting systems, which I am on record as hating. As I have learned more about the Democrats donating to the nuttier Trump-endorsed Republicans in state primary contests, my hatred is even more entrenched. The more opportunities a system creates to game it, the less trustworthy it is. In my view, ranked choice voting asks the voter to try to game the system. Count me out.

Here is EC’s Comment of the Day on the Alaska special election item in “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?”

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At first I took issue with your characterization of the Alaska election, on the basis that ranked choice voting would have removed the spoiler effect. However, I realized that’s not quite true.

Under first-past-the-post voting, if 60% of voters preferred the Republican party but were evenly split across two Republican candidates, then the Democratic candidate would have won with a 40% plurality.

In the same scenario but with ranked choice voting, one of the Republicans would have been eliminated and their votes would have gone to the other Republican candidate, who would have won. In that situation a Republican wins, just like in the FPTP scenario, but also the Republican voters get to vote on which Republican wins without risking their party losing. That is, if they all have a Republican as their second choice.

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Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Quiz: Censorship At Northwest High”

Frequent commenter Here’s Johnny thanked me for choosing his analysis of the recent ethics quiz on school paper censorship as a Comment of the Day. Truly, the thanks goes in the other direction. Comments like his, which dig deeper into a story than my initial post has is a gift to Ethics Alarms and its readers. On the blog’s predecessor, The Ethics Scoreboard, I would generally post only a couple of times a week. Often that meant I could thoroughly research a topic before publishing (it also meant fewer typos, and almost no readers comments). I decided that a blog format that permitted covering more of the ethics landscape, which was (and is) vast and expanding, more quickly if less thoroughly was better suited to my mission. Nonetheless, as in this case, many of the ethics tales require more research, context and nuance than I have time to apply.

This commentariat is superb at filling the blanks. Indeed, for every Comment of the Day I post there are probably five that I could have posted. It is not so much of an honor for the commenter as a rescue for the blog. Most readers, I have found, don’t read comments to posts, for the same reason I usually don’t: on most sites the comments are useless, depressing, and horrifying. Ethics Alarms comments are, in contrast to all but a few other sites (Althouse comes to mind), are important supplements to the main essay, offering not merely a different perspective, but additional information as well

Heeeeeeeeere’s Here’s Johnny’s Comment of the Day on “Ethics Quiz: Censorship At Northwest High”…

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As is often the case, we are getting just part of the story and being asked to render an opinion based on incomplete information. Unless we dig a bit further, our decision would be either: it never is okay to shut down a high school newspaper, or, it is okay for administrators to shut down a high school newspaper.

In this case, one reason we are lacking information is that school and district officials seem unwilling to even talk about it. A columnist for “The Grand Island Independent” says he was hung up on by someone at the district about as soon as he said who he was. A couple of officials have commented, but they essentially are non-comments. Zach Mader, Northwest Public Schools board vice president, told “The Independent” he remembers talks of shutting down the student paper should the school district lose the ability to control what they find to be “inappropriate content.” The district superintendent would only say that it was an administrative decision. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Verdict: ‘Quiet Quitting’ Is Unethical. Next Question?”

[The caption on perhaps my favorite Charles Addams cartoon reads, “We never could have done it without him.”]

I thought that the essay on “quiet quitting” would spark a good discussion, and when I think that, I’m usually wrong. This time I was right, and among the excellent comments was this Comment of the Day by Tim Hayes, who focuses on the crucial aspect of the issue that I barely touched on at all: the responsibilities of management.

Here is Tim’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Verdict: “Quiet Quitting” Is Unethical. Next Question?”…

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So, full disclosure, I hate the terminology and discussions around “quiet quitting”, both as a manager, and as an employee. Part of this is because it is unethical – but also part of it is because a lot of current discussions seem to be about deflections and doublespeak, and they just frankly aren’t doing anyone any good.

Some instances of quiet quitting are simply laziness on the part of the employee – this shouldn’t surprise us (I can make a strong argument that laziness when possible is actually a biological predisposition, and furthermore beneficial to societies when channeled appropriately), and while performing excellently is a virtue, and should be a path to success, it is not a necessity in all things. The American experiment, and indeed all civilizations (Western and Eastern), have gotten along just fine with the majority of individuals being mediocre – the trick has historically lay in defining mediocre as still sufficiently productive to support a society when the majority of its members are at that level, while allowing those who wish to perform exceptionally to do so. So, in the situation where quiet quitting is about laziness, the only major question to be answered is what constitutes acceptable levels of performance in the role at hand, and have those been adequately defined and communicated to the person in that role.

This is why I hate hearing the discussions as a manager – they almost always ignore that there is a failure of leadership/management in these cases. If I have someone who is performing the job as I’ve described it to them, and is actually meeting my set standards for acceptable levels of performance, yet their performance of their responsibilities is insufficient in some way, then it is axiomatic that I have failed to define as acceptable the levels of performance that are sufficient to fulfill my need. If, conversely, I have described acceptable levels of performance and the person is not meeting them, and so my business needs are not being met, than I am failing to hold this person to the standards I have set. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Little League Cotton Fiasco: Good Job, Everybody! Now U.S. Race Relations Are In Ethics Zugzwang!”

In the Ethics Alarms post about this horrible example of how broken our race-relations are (I believe that the death-spiral was set in motion by Barack Obama, but that’s a topic for another day, when I get to him in the “Worst Presidents’ series), I did not sufficiently focus on one of the most disgusting aspects of the story.

As is usually the case, a reader was ready to remedy the omission. Here is E2’s Comment of the Day on the post, “The Little League Cotton Fiasco: Good Job, Everybody! Now U.S. Race Relations Are In Ethics Zugzwang!”

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Did it occur to absolutely no one that these are kids and kids do silly things? Emulating a Little League star is basically an innocent thing: expecting these same kids to equate pseudo-cotton balls to slavery and racism is asking more than is fair for their age. These are kids!

So no children can no longer be children, apparently And it is clearly up to the progressives to instill — from birth, I guess — a deep sense of guilt about America’s checkered history. That there many inspiring and admirable aspects to our history  are conveniently forgotten or treated as subordinate to the moral and ethical missteps.

If a kid wore his grandad’s WWII medal would that make him a little warmonger?

Kids live in the day, not in history as adults record and interpret it. And they remain innocent for an astonishingly short period of time. Can’t the Left just allow children to enjoy being kids before they are indoctrinated, brain-washed and turned against their nation and fellow Americans?

I guess not, as long as there are nasty, ill-intentioned, ultra-negative progressive adults out there.

Comment of The Day: “Saturday Night Ethics Fever, 8/27/2022: Davy Crockett, and Other Ethics Stories…”

This is an epic Comment of the Day by Steve-O-in NJ, really about three in one, and since it is so long and worthy of pondering, I’m not going to be my usual verbose self in an introduction.

Here is Steve’s Comment of The Day on the post, “Saturday Night Ethics Fever, 8/27/2022: Davy Crockett, and Other Ethics Stories…”

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Just a few late thoughts from a long time student of history who doesn’t like the way its pages are turning now….

I wouldn’t worry so much about the rhetoric that the President and his underlings are flinging around at this point. What I would worry about is the actions that will follow.

I thought that a lot of the rhetoric about putting supporters and members of the previous administration in jail or removing them from public life was just that, rhetoric delivered by overheated partisan journalists who ultimately don’t get to make decisions or try to make their overheated rhetoric a reality. I sneered at Jennifer Rubin, who is nothing more than a partisan hack who let Trump derangement syndrome melt her brain. I lashed back out at Leonard Pitts, who might bark viciously, but is ultimately no more than a barking partisan dog. I thought that ultimately these people were just loudmouth extremists who had been given undeserved megaphones, and their talk would ultimately go nowhere, as the Democratic Party settled into actually governing and trying to deal with the problems that this nation is facing, and they are myriad.

The thing is, the Democratic Party never really settled into governing, because governing in the nation’s best interest was not their primary goal. It has not been for probably three decades. Their primary goal has been ultimate power. A majority of the Democratic Party now really believes that this nation would be better off as a one-party state, with them as that one party. However, their failure to govern is producing some less than stellar results, and I don’t need to tell you what they are because you’ve seen them. If they continued on the path they were headed down at the beginning of this year, they would have been doomed.

However, instead of tacking to the center and trying to come up with some solutions to the real problems we face, which I won’t list because we’ve already listed them several times, they’ve decided this is the time to move to eliminate the opposition. You can say that’s silly. You can say that could never happen here. You could say this is a special case because Trump is just such a threat to make this country slip off the path it was intended to follow. However, if you said those things, you would just be fooling yourself and trying to fool those around you. The fact is that this attempt to put one’s political opponent in jail is unprecedented. Continue reading