Comment Of The Day: “High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees”

Just to prove that reader commentary doesn’t have to be over 600 words (Technically known as “Alizia-length” on Ethics Alarms) to qualify as a Comment of The Day, here is Michael West’s COTD regarding the Governor of Wisconsin’s decree that the state Christmas tree is a “holiday tree” and his call for the ornaments traditionally submitted by Wisconsin children be “science-themed,” from the post, High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees”:

What part of Christmas do they hate? The individual and spontaneous demonstrations of generosity, spawned entirely from personal choice free from central coordination and bestowed as private individuals see fit free from oversight?

or

Christ?

As If Another Was Necessary, Here’s Smoking Gun Evidence Of Politically-Motivated News Media Distortion

I am not certain any more which is more infuriating: the increasingly brazen abdication of American journalism’s duty  to inform the public fairly, objectively and without distortion and manipulation, or the refusal of members of the public whose personal political objectives are served by the abdication to acknowledge that it is occurring.

Yesterday, the New York Times carried a front page story headlined Kentucky Vote Drew Out Trolls In 2020 Omen. It contained numerous ethics alarm-ringers, such as…

A few hours after polls closed in Kentucky last Tuesday, a Twitter user writing under the handle @Overlordkraken1 posted a message to his 19 followers saying he had “just shredded a box of Republican mail-in ballots”…..just in case anyone missed the significance of the destroyed-ballots claim, @Overlordkraken1 added a final touch to his tweet: “Bye-Bye Bevin,” he wrote…Within hours of @Overlordkraken1’s tweet, as it became apparent that Mr. Bevin was trailing in the vote tally, hyperpartisan conservatives and trolls were pushing out a screenshot of the message, boosted by what appeared to be a network of bots, and providing early grist for allegations of electoral theft in Kentucky. High-profile right-wing figures were soon tweeting out their own conspiracy theories about the election being stolen — messages that were in turn pushed by even more trolls and bots — and the Bevin campaign began talking about “irregularities” in the vote without offering any specifics or evidence.

Yes, there we have an excellent example of how social media and the speed and reach of the internet can start rumors and facilitate disinformation, as well as serve the sinister objectives of those seeking to benefit from seeding untruths and distrust. Except..1. The Times has no idea whether or not the tweet was “trolling” and 2., The Times and other supposedly accurate news sources have been responsible for disinformation of their own that also started rumors and spread disinformation.

The Times also noted with approval that Twitter suspended the account, though there is no way Twitter could have determined that an anonymous poster had not shredded ballots. Never mind: the news media and social media are self-appointed guardians of the truth, at least the truth as they want it perceived.

Then we got this: “Kentucky is shaping up to be a case study in the real-world impact of disinformation — and a preview of what election-security officials and experts fear could unfold a year from now if the 2020 presidential election comes down to the wire.”

The message is insidious, implied but clear—Republican disinformation. We are told that…

“…allegations of irregularities echo the Trump playbook. Mr. Trump has sown doubts about a “rigged election” system since before his own election, including openly questioning the mail-in ballot process in Colorado. He then contended that fraud had lost him the popular vote (which Hillary Clinton won by 2.9 million votes). And he has amplified similar theories while in office, tweeting at least 40 times about unfounded voter fraud allegations, according to an analysis by The New York Times, including a claim after the midterm elections last year that “many ballots are missing or forged” in Florida.”

Then we get the pious lecture:

“Such divisive rhetoric after close elections has always risked shaking public faith in essential democratic institutions. But in a profoundly polarized country where narrow margins are hardly uncommon, sophisticated networks of social media users — human and bot — can quickly turn partisan rancor into grave threats, rapidly amplifying disinformation and creating an initial veneer of vast discord that can eventually become self-fulfilling….While the Kentucky election, held in an off-year, remains a sideshow to most people outside the state, election security experts see in it a worrying sign of what Americans may be forced to contend with next November.”

Damn Republicans. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Addendum!

  • I ran out of space and a few items came to my attention right after I posted, so here are additions to the Warm-Up:

5. The obvious weakness of the current field of Democratic challengers has revived the Presidential hopes of several wannabe who—correctly—judged themselves unqualified and unlikely to be elected President in 2020. The latest to say “Oh,hell,  why not?” is wan Obama-imitator Deval Patrick, the former Massachusetts governor.

In that other party, ridiculous Mark Sanford suspended his Presidential bid, making the much anticipated Sanford-William Weld debates a lost hope.

Has the United States ever had such a dearth of qualified and trustworthy political leaders, or two political parties so inept at meeting their obligations to the republic? I began re-watching the wonderful HBO miniseries “John Adams.” over the weekend, It was inspiring and depressing simultaneously. Continue reading

High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2019: Laser Eyes And Science Trees

Yyyyup!

Sirius XM already has two Christmas stations operating, emulating Hallmark, which is showing nothing but cheesy Christmas movies starring B and C list actors (Candace Cameron Bure is one of the better known ones) all day long. Is there some significance to this rush to get to Christmas? Is it because everyone is so nasty and hostile that there is some kind of collective yearning for peace on earth and good will toward men, womyn and non-binary trans-pan-sexuals to arrive by cultural fiat? My wife is betting that the effort will just make everyone thoroughly sick of Christmas by the time we get there. Elmo learned, in a Sesame Street Christmas Special, that if every day is Christmas, nothing is.

But I digress…The reason I noted this was that I just heard Kelly Clarkson’s “My Grown-Up Christmas List” on the “Holiday Traditions” channel (I deemed it a better bet than The Doors, and “:Please Mister Custer”) and finally listened to the lyrics:

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown up Christmas list
Not for myself but for a world in need
No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
And everyone would have a friend
And right would always win
And love would never end, no
This is my grown up Christmas list.

Yeesh. Those are grown-up wishes? They are if “grown up” means ten-years-old.

Or you’re John Lennon.

I. One more ominous example of the Left channeling old fashioned totalitarianism..I knew that San Francisco was erecting a mural dedicated to the Climate Change Bullies’ own  Joan of Arc, creepy Greta Thunberg, but I didn’t realize how huge it was going to be. The conservative satire site the Babylon Bee joked that her eyes would be equipped with lasers to zap SUVs, at least I thought it was a joke. Legal Insurrection writes, 

Instead of focusing on issues of sanitation, job creation, or at least ensuring there are more high school students than drug addicts in the city, activists have chosen to honor Swedish “climate crisis” activist Greta Thunberg with a giant mural that will grace the skyline.

Andres “Cobre” Petreselli, an internationally renowned artist, is painting the activist teen with big blue eyes and a Mona Lisa smile.

The mural is still a work in progress, as Cobre is spending his days hoisted high up on a platform about 10 stories above Mason street, on the side of the Native Sons building near Union Square.

Thunberg is the 16-year old from Sweden who has inspired young people all over the world to take to the streets and let older people know they want climate change to be taken seriously.

“What I want from people is to realize have to do something for the world,” Cobre said. “Otherwise, it’s going to be the beginning of our extinction.”

Yikes. Continue reading

There Were Many Good And Ethical Reasons To Fire Don Cherry

Canadian hockey commentator controversies are not usually news stories in the U.S.–thank God—but yesterday was an exception. Broadcaster (and former NHL `player and coach—I remember him from his days coaching the Boston Bruins) Don Cherry, 85, who has the fame and following that few U.S. sportscasters ever attain (Howard Cosell, perhaps? Curt Gowdy? Vin Scully, maybe?) talked himself out of a job by using his “Coach’s Corner” segment on the “Hockey Night In Canada” TV broadcast to criticize Canadian who didn’t wear poppy pins to commemorate  the nation’s Remembrance Day, the counterpart to Memorial Day in the states. Veterans groups sell the pins, which signify recognition of the sacrifice of soldiers who died  in service of the nation.

In typical rambling fashion, Cheery had said,

“I live in Mississauga [Ontario]. Very few people wear the poppy. Downtown Toronto, forget it. Nobody wears the poppy. … Now you go to the small cities. You people … that come here, whatever it is — you love our way of life. You love our milk and honey. At least you can pay a couple bucks for a poppy or something like that. These guys paid for your way of life that you enjoy in Canada. These guys paid the biggest price for that.”

The presumed translation of the brief rant was that  Cherry was criticizing immigrants (“You people”…”who come here”) for being unpatriotic and too cheap to buy a pin as a gesture of thanks and respect to fallen soldiers. Social media and most of the Canadian sportswriting community immediately condemned the remarks, and called for Cherry’s dismissal. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day #2 On “Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored…” (Item #4)

Jutgory registered  the second Comment of the Day spawned by Kansas City returning one of its historic boulevards to its original name, less than a year after re-naming it for civil rights martyr, Martrin Luther King.  The first COTD on the topic is here.

Looking at the re-naming question from a totally different, and interesting angle, is JutGory’s Comment of The Day on #4, the Kansas City Street Name Battle, in the post, “Evening Ethics Update, 11/7/2019: Dr. King Is Un-honored, Virginian Republicans Are Non-Functional, Fox News Is Pro-Darkness, And Joy Behar Is Still An Idiot”…

I have thought quite a bit about the MLK issue and this post seems as good a reason as any to comment.

First off (a disclaimer): I am not a huge MLK fan. And, what I mean by that is that I find Malcolm X to be a much more compelling figure. It is not that one has to have a favorite civil rights leader. They can both be good, but MLK seems to be the civil rights leader that gained the White People Stamp of Approval. That’s really not MLK’s fault, but I prefer Malcolm X’s harsh realism to MLK’s lofty idealism.

Next, names are important. But re-naming something, as the case in KC, is often more important. My area is embroiled in such a naming controversy of late. For those not in the know, a lake in our area was recently re-named (sort of). The Lake had been named after the Secretary of War when local soldiers were surveying the area for settlement. The Secretary of War also served as a United States Senator, and rose to the level of Vice-President of the United States.

The problem is that he was an all around horrible individual, so horrible that even Andrew Jackson hated him. And, not only that, he both owned slaves and defended slavery. That, of course, was John Calhoun, the namesake for Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis.

Well, in the climate of “cancel culture,” that cannot stand. The City Council, in a virtue signaling “two-fer” and without much of any public input, decided to re-name the lake to “Bde Maka Ska” (your pronunciation may vary), its original name given to it by our Sioux Indian predecessors. Other parties quickly came in to assert their jurisdiction over the name of the lake. It was quickly changed back to Lake Calhoun. But, the chattering masses of the Facebook mob would have none of that; with the cat out of the bag, they are committed to Bde Maka Ska; Wikipedia also seems to have expurgated Lake Calhoun from its pages. Continue reading

Veteran’s Day Ethics Warm-Up, 11/11/19: Wishing My Dad Hadn’t Died Before He Figured Out How To Comment On Ethics Alarms…[CORRECTED]

Pop Quiz:

How many military veterans are currently running for President in 2020?

Answer: Two…Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

[Correction notice: I forgot about Pete in the first version of the post. Thanks to Jutgory for the catch, and thanks to Mayor Buttigieg for his service.]

1.  Here’s that “violating democratic norms” Big Lie again. This one was flagged by Ann Althouse (Thanks, Ann!)

U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman,  an appointee of President Bill Clinton,  said in a speech at  the annual Thomas A. Flannery Lecture in Washington, D.C. last week, “We are in unchartered territory. We are witnessing a chief executive who criticizes virtually every judicial decision that doesn’t go his way and denigrates judges who rule against him, sometimes in very personal terms. He seems to view the courts and the justice system as obstacles to be attacked and undermined, not as a coequal branch to be respected even when he disagrees with its decisions.'”

Althouse comments,

How do you get to be a federal judge and think the expression is “unchartered territory”? That’s a written speech too (presumably). Did he visualize some entity that issues charters authorizing people to speak about the courts in a particular way? You don’t need a license to speak in the United States, and to require one would, ironically, violate our norms. The expression is “uncharted territory,” which would simply mean that Trump is venturing into a new area of speech that we haven’t previously explored and therefore have not mapped…Now, I agree with the idea that Trump’s speech about law is unconventional, but what determines that he has violated all recognized democratic norms? It’s often said that the judiciary is the least democratic part of the government, that it’s countermajoritarian. So what are the norms of democracy that say a President should not criticize the courts?! You might just as well call this purported norm a norm of anti-democracy.

Anyway… the weasel word is “recognized.” It takes all the oomph out of “all.” Trump’s speech about judges violates “all recognized democratic norms.” Who are the recognizers? The judges? Judges certainly have a role talking about democratic norms, which are often part of the determination of the scope of the judicial role: Judges refrain from doing what is left to the processes of democracy. But part of democracy is speech about government — which includes the judges — and that speech is not limited to flattering and deferring to them. It does not violate the norms of democracy to criticize and attack judges.

Bingo. And it is because of judges whot say these sorts of things that the President is not unreasonable to accuse the judiciary of  bias. Ann chose not to mention that this was also a “norm” breached by Barack Obama, more than once, but I will, the point not being “everybody does it,” but that to this judge and others, what Obama did was apparently only objectionable when Trump did it too—a common theme in the anti-Trump propaganda of the last three years. Continue reading