Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/14/2019: Climate Change, Cuba, Con-Artists And More

Good Morning!

Why can I almost never can find a lot of encouraging ethics stories on a Sunday?

1. Climate change thought. I just watched a PBS round table consisting of non-stop doom-sayng and Trump-bashing on climate change policy. I don’t know if these scientists/pundits/activists are using climate change as a ploy to eliminate democracy and install a Leftist totalitarian (benign, of course) world government, or if they really believe that such a system is the only way to save the Earth. Either way, however, it is impossible to listen to them objectively and not think, “Huh. The only way the draconian [that’s a word named after a despot, you know] solutions that you claim are our sole chance at survival can be implemented is with a massive dictatorship. And after the solution has “worked,” if it works, that totalitarian government will of course dissolve itself and go back to supporting liberty and democracy.  Sure it will. How stupid do you think we are?”

If the only way to save the Earth is to forfeit liberty, I, for one, stand with Patrick Henry. The climate change radicals are good matches to the anti-war and anti-nuke activists in the late Fifties and early Sixties who chanted, “Better Red than dead!”, and who thought “Eve of Destruction” was profound prophesy.

2.  Cuba, Obama, Trump and Baseball. I don’t know what to make of this one.: it’s a fascinating utilitarian question.

President Trump cancelled an agreement negotiated by the Obama administration that allowed Major League Baseball teams to pay the Cuban Baseball Federation for Cuban players who would then join MLB teams. Under the previous system, only players who defected to the United States, often at great peril and sometimes using human traffickers, could ply their baseball talents in the U.S. and be paid accordingly.

The Trump administration saysthat the deal constitutes a violation of trade laws because the Cuban federation is part of the Cuban government. In other words, the Obama deal allowed the Cuban government to sell human beings to U.S. companies—baseball teams. “The U.S. does not support actions that would institutionalize a system by which a Cuban government entity garnishes the wages of hard-working athletes who simply seek to live and compete in a free society,” said Garrett Marquis, a spokesman for the National Security Council. “The administration looks forward to working with M.L.B. to identify ways for Cuban players to have the individual freedom to benefit from their talents, and not as property of the Cuban state.”

The cancelled deal was always suspect as one of several concessions President Obama gave to Cuba without Cuba instituting any human rights reforms in exchange.  And why were baseball players the only Cuban citizens allowed to escape to freedom this way? Why not doctors, scholars, and scientists? Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Senator’s Mockery

Arguing with apologists for the ridiculous Rep. Ocasio-Cortez makes me feel like I’m going crazy. They claim that the Green New Deal isn’t the same as the bizarre, silly, rapidly removed “FAQ” posted by the Democrat’s “It Girl, with its talk about rebuilding all of our buildings, eliminating air travel, and a living wage for those who “choose not to work.” Thy say that what almost all the Democratic Presidential hopefuls say they support is just an “aspirational” goal  of conquering  creeping climate change within the imaginary 12 year deadline (and I do mean dead.) “What is it they are supporting?” I ask. “The Green New Deal!” they answer. “What is the Green New Deal they say they are supporting” I ask, “if it isn’t the only printed description of the goals as defined by the Democrat who coined the phrase?” “That wasn’t what they are supporting,” these climate change alarmists “explain.” “There’s nothing in the Green New Deal about eliminating cows and airplanes.” “Then what is in the Green New Deal?” I ask. “It’s aspirational,” they answer. Round and around.

I wonder how Democrats and progressives feel about the fact that their party and ideological clan has abandoned all responsibility, professionalism, principle and common sense as it sinks into some kind of collective nervous breakdown triggered by Donald Trump, Obama’s failures, Clinton’s loss, its increasingly obvious hypocrisies, and the fact that it has embraced one irrational “do something!”position after another. Surely not all of them are sharing the delusions. Surely there are alert and uncorrupted Democrats who can see what is happening to a once honorable and trustworthy American institution. Following close on the fumes of the three year failed effort to remove the President between election while poisoning the public’s trust in him, the Democratic Senators revealed the  phoniness of party endorsements of Ocasio-Cortez’s juvenile delusions when none of them would go on the record and support a motion to advance the  Democratic Green New Deal resolution.

There wasn’t  a single “yea” vote from Democrats, not even from the 2020 wannabes whose names already appear as co-sponsors on the Senate version of the thing.  (Nancy Pelosi won’t permit such a vote in the House.) The final tally was 0-57, with forty-three Democrats voting “present,” and three Blue Senators from “red states” doing the expedient thing and voting with the Republicans. There’s no way to spin this, though in their infinite belief in the stupidity of the American people, Democrats tried, with the help of its captive media, of course. The vote was a GOP gimmick, you see. Ocasio-Cortez:

“The GOP’s whole game of wasting votes in Congress to target others “on the record”, for leg they have no intent to pass, is a disgrace. Stop wasting the American peoples’ time + learn to govern. Our jobs aren’t for campaigning, & that’s exactly what these bluff-votes are for.”

The woman has been saying and tweeting that there is no time to waste, and that the nation needs to take radical, society-shaking measures to prevent doom NOW, yet somehow voting on a resolution of her own making to weigh Congress’s position on her policy demands is a waste of time. Meanwhile, her colleagues in the House have announced that their top priority isn’t substantive legislation, but continuing to pursue endless investigations in the hope of justifying impeachment.

Is the public really so stupid that such obvious corruption and dishonesty…and disrespect  for those who they are supposed to represent…escape their notice? The Democrats appear to be betting on it.

Republican Utah Sen. Mike Lee delivered a speech on the Senate floor using pure mockery to illustrate  the Green New Deal lack of seriousness—which the subsequent vote confirmed.  No, Lee shouldn’t quit his day job, but his routine had its moments. He began, Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Question: How Do You Prove That The News Media Lies To You?”

I have been remiss of late posting Comments of the Day, and will be trying to catch up. Today produced one to get me going again: Isaac’s continuation of the theme of the post, the way the media reveals its bias and incompetence to anyone who reads a journalist’s analysis of a topic on which the reader has independent expertise.

In the thread on the same post, I learned something: that there was a name for the facially absurd phenomenon that the same people who recognize how thoroughly the news media botches topics that the readers understand well will still assume that the news articles, features and analysis on topics they don’t know well are accurate. Reader Alex posted this quote from a hero of mine, the late, great, Michael Crichton, MD, novelist, science writer, screenwriter, contrarian:

“Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them. In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Question: How Do You Prove That The News Media Lies To You?

Yup.

I thumbed through an issue of Newsweek years ago, when the cover was for an article called “Our Mutual Joy” and the premise was that the Bible was in favor of gay marriage.

Regardless of what you think about it, that premise ain’t true. The article, by Newsweek’s official religion editor, Lisa Miller, was just pages of total bunk, including this statement: “nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women.” Continue reading

Ethics Observations On “The Green New Deal,” Part II : What’s Going On Here?

In retrospect, waiting a couple of days before completing the Ethics Alarms analysis of the “Green New Deal” was a propitious decision. The results of the ethics, integrity and IQ tests that this fiasco represents can clarified considerably. The key question to begin most ethical analysis is “What’s going on here?” Well..what is?

1. Incompetence. The Ethics Alarms reader poll asking which of the provisions of the GND would, by themselves, mandate rejecting the leadership and judgment of any public figure endorsing them showed about 58% choosing “all of them,” with the infamous “providing economic security for all who are unwilling to work” coming in a distant second. I erred terribly in not providing a positive option for readers who see nothing wrong with Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s batty manifesto. Ethics Alarms gets 3000-4000 visits a day, and surely some readers must have flunked this test. After all, Democrats are counting on a large segment of the population being similarly obtuse. This is my own bias at work. There are some episodes involving ethics where I really cannot comprehend how anyone with all their faculties and raised a U.S. culture can possibly reach a different ethics verdict that I have. Ethics is hard, but it isn’t THAT hard. The fact that there are, apparently, progressives and useful idiots who can read the screed without giggling is itself ethics alarms-worthy. The culture, including crucial components like education, journalism, and the world of politics, is failing our society by allowing warped perceptions and unethical values to take root. If this were not true, no elected official would dare propose a document like the Green New Deal.

2. Dishonesty and deception. It sounds like a mad conspiracy theory, but it is difficult for an objective observer not to conclude that the GND is part of a long-term plan of propaganda and indoctrination to replace American democracy with a leftist totalitarian regime. The kinds of measures being promoted in the GND—forget for a moment that most of them are literally impossible—cannot be achieved through democratic means, except in the broad sense of the public voting to give dictatorial powers to the government. The process flows from eco-fascism, which employs fear-mongering about an inevitable environmental catastrophe to provide justification for sacrificing individual liberty in the pursuit of “safety.” This is, as readers of world history knows, the traditional trade-off sold by totalitarian regimes. Yes, it is true that the quality of life and personal freedoms of the American public would both be severely constrained by the car-less, plane-less, nuclear energy-less, combustion engine-less, money-less and cow-less future that the socialist Democrats propose, but the alternative, we are told, is death and destruction. Academy Award-winning actress Ellen Page ranted on Stephen Colbert’s alleged late night comedy show (It is a partisan propaganda program with jokes) that “We have been told…that, by 2030, the world as we know it, that’s it. That’s it!” Colbert, who has the undeserved reputation as a truth-teller and sage, nodded sympathetically, saying that “until the water started swamping Manhattan, or just washes away Mar-a-Lago,” the public and media wouldn’t take the existential threat seriously. “You don’t want to think such terrible things are going to happen!”

Oh sure you do, if it will give you leverage to gain power over the nation. Continue reading

A Quick Poll On The Green New Deal

I can’t resist.

Which of the following features of the proposal/manifesto, all by itself, should be sufficient to disqualify from office any politician who endorses it?

Ethics Observations On “The Green New Deal,” Part I : Res Ipsa Loquitur

The talk of the nation is the “Green New Deal” put forward yesterday. It has no policy implications or tangible real world impact whatsoever, since it is (pick an adjective), infantile, fantastic, intellectually lazy and impossible. However, the fact that the current political system could belch up such a noxious hairball and not immediately be greeted by universal expressions of horror or hysterical laughter is significant.

In case you missed it, here is the overview of the “bill” (it isn’t a bill, but a resolution, and it isn’t really a resolution, but just a statement of stream of consciousness extreme leftist ideological cant that appeared yesterday morning. The thing attracted enough expressions of horror and laughter to be pulled off the web shortly thereafter, but it is still one of the smokiest guns you are ever going to see. I’m going to put up the whole thing. You are obligated as a citizen to read it. I’ll argue that you are obligated as a citizen to force the knee-jerk progressives in your life to read it as well, and to give you an honest response.

In many respects it is a gift. This is the level of thought and seriousness one entire political party is willing to present to the American public as it argues to be given the power to determine the nation’s course and welfare. Such transparency is rare. This document reveals one party’s respect for the intelligence of the American people: none.  It helps explain the deteriorating skills of critical thought among our rising generations, since this is what passes for rational discourse at the highest levels of government. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring: The Virginia Cankerworm Bill (and a Poll)

At this point it is superfluous to name Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran an Ethics Dunce. That’s obvious, both from extreme her pro-late term abortion position, and her disingenuous, cowardly back-tracking once her callous and unethical views went viral on YouTube. This, however, requires not merely malfunctioning ethics alarms but dead political survival alarms, melted human decency alarms, and rusted-solid “How can I look at myself in the mirror?” alarms.

The same day, January 9, that Tran introduced “House Bill No. 2491 — Abortion; eliminate certain requirements,” she introduced House Bill No. 2495 – Fall cankerworm; spraying prohibited during certain months.”

No, the bills aren’t really related, except symbolically. Tran’s abortion bill aims to strip virtually all legal protections for the unborn in Virginia. Tran’s other bill adds protections for caterpillars, though the objective of the bill isn’t really the welfare of the bugs. Nonetheless, the juxtaposition is ugly and to some, telling. To full-throttle abortion advocates like Tran, unborn children might as well be worms, except that they don’t object to restrictions on worm-killing. Continue reading