Ethics Warm-Up, 9/21/2020: The “Waiting To Hear What Democrats Will Threaten Next” Edition.

Does anyone else find it remarkable that Democratic Party leaders aren’t the least concerned with how reasonable Americans might react to them talking like mobsters and thugs? Yesterday, Nancy Pelosi seemed to say that they might impeach the President if he nominates a judge to replace Justice Ginsburg. I suppose it’s comforting that the party is finally being open about the fact that it now regards impeachment as a pure partisan weapon, but how do you you threaten impeachment if a President fulfills his constitutional duties? For that matter, how can Democrats scream that the late Justice’s “dying wish” must be respected when it would require contradicting her statement about final year SCOTUS nominations: “The President is elected for four years, not three. So the powers that he has in year three continues into year four… and that’s how it should be”?

Well, it’s a rhetorical question, of course. Democrats have abandoned any pretense of consistency and integrity in their destructive anti-Trump mania. I thought this arch tweet was on point, but incomplete:

The list is much longer.

1. Love it. Princeton, engaged in BLM suck-up grandstanding, confessed that systemic racism is embedded there, so the Department of Education asked if Princeton doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, as must be the case to continue recieveing federal funding.  The Education Department’s demand for an explanation got full huminahumina treatment in the statement Princeton issued in response. The excuse is that they aren’t at fault for the racism, since “everybody’s been doing it,” and at least Princeton acknowledges the problem.

Weak. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Joe Biden

“It’s estimated that 200 million people will die, probably by the time I finish this talk.”

—Joe Biden, Democratic candidate for President of the United States, speaking in Philadelphia over the weekend.

Yes, a man just stated on television that about 60%  of the United States’ population would die in seconds, and yet the vast majority of my Facebook friends are writing that civilization is doomed if he is not elected the leader of the United States.

As I think about it, this is only slightly less crazy than Joe’s statement. Maybe even a bit worse: after all, poor Biden is in the throes of progressive dementia. My friends are in the throes of progressive dementia. They want to have a sick man who is apparently unaware of what comes out of his own mouth leading the nation.

Biden has always said things that were careless, wrong or silly, because he’s just not very bright, and has never been. He had to repeat the third grade, you know. That’s just not a marker of future distinguished leadership. I remember my former classmates who had to repeat the early grades in elementary school, and they now are either in the custodian trade, unemployed, or teaching elementary school. Running for President was never in the cards for them, at least I used to think so. Yes, Joe’s career success is inspiring, in a way, kind of like Forrest Gump. But Forrest never ran for the White House. Not noticing that you have just falsely asserted that a national slaughter was underway is signature significance; a competent national leader simply doesn’t do that. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2020: Tales Of The Great Stupid [Updated and Corrected]

1. Yes, these are the people who want to have power over our lives. Imagine: this woman isn’t mourning the death of a human being, she’s angry because that human being can no longer serve her interests. The human being in question continued to work for the public long after she could have retired with dignity and comfort, and this woman is furious that she wasn’t physically able to do so “until 2021.” Not only that, she posted this repulsive video with no apparent comprehension that it exposes her as a horrible human being. She just assumes that most who share her political persuasion are just as  incapable of empathy and compassion as she is. Maybe she’s right.

Again I must ask, “How do people get like this?”

***

Okay, I just stumbled on some timely satire. I generally hate memes, but this is genuinely funny. Forgive me.

2.  Speaking of memes and The Great Stupid, what can you say about an adult who would post this on Facebook in all seriousness, as if it was profound or true?

Continue reading

Notes On The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck

To remind regular readers who may have forgotten, and newer readers who have not taken the time to review the list of Concepts and Special Terms (Shame! SHAME!!!), ethics train wrecks are “chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”

In no particular order:

  • It’s not called The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck for nothing. The individual responsible for this ethics train wreck is, aptly enough, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was irresponsible for her to stay on the court well past her shelf date, as it is irresponsible for any judge to deny the unavoidable effects of age on their acumen and ability. This would have been true if she were completely healthy, but the Justice had cancer, and that also had to sap her energy.

This was arrogance, and any harm to the nation that comes from her refusal to retire ten years ago is part of her legacy.

  • Everyone is a hypocrite. If Mitch McConnell is a hypocrite for treating the SCOTUS nomination by a sitting Republican President differently from his treatment of a Democratic President’s nomination under similar circumstances,  so are Democrats for insisting that he should again do what they claimed was unconscionable in 2016, because this time they think it will benefit them.

Althouse points out: “The strongest argument for Trump to go right ahead and immediately nominate someone is that President Obama made a nomination in the election year of 2016 when Antonin Scalia died. Obama’s nominee was not confirmed, but that was because the GOP controlled the Senate. There was nothing about Obama’s lack of support in the Senate that made him more willing to put forward a nomination in an election year. He made the nomination in spite of the lack of support. Why should Trump refrain when he has Senate support?”

Oh, you know: Because he’s different, and what other Presidents do or did is automatically outrageous when he does the same thing. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg'”

This is a working day for me, as I have to revise perfectly appropriate legal ethics course materials because a low level bureaucrat at a bar association CLE department literally doesn’t understand what she is charged with approving, Nevertheless, I will be writing here about the developing Dead Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck, or whatever I end up calling it because passengers are boarding at a rapid rate.

Zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg”is an ideal way to get that discussion started, and Behold!— Here it is:

McConnell is as right to expedite a hasty appointment of any reasonably acceptable Trump nominee in September 2020 as he was as wrong to deny a hearing to any Obama nominee whatsoever in February 2016.

To do so would reveal blatant foetid dishonesty and utter hypocrisy, but I see no good argument against it, other than the limited time available for a thorough vetting, 45 days vs 270. Doing so less than 70 minutes after RBG’s death was tacky, but fitting for this regime, and arguably such haste is needed.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore? Judicially qualified, would certainly shore up the softening Evangelical support, and, most crucially, would cause Democrats to have conniptions. But not on the current shortlist.

Ivanka Trump? Excellent test of personal loyalty, would embolden personal followers of Trump, would cause Democrats to lose their minds, but would do nothing to encourage Evangelicals, and again, not on the short list. Continue reading

Joe Biden, The Human Lawn Chair

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the President of the United States…”

I’ve been thinking about what would be the fair and expository Ethics Alarms nickname for Joe Biden, and I’ve settled on “The Lawn Chair,” or TLC for short.

In 2016, I wrote repeatedly in posts and comments that I would vote for a lawn chair over Donald Trump, using the same standard that I had applied in the past to first term Presidents who I had found unacceptably incompetent or untrustworthy (Nixon, Carter, Bush I, and Bill Clinton). Joe Biden, in his drastically diminished 2020 model, is the closest thing a U.S. Presidential contest has had to an actual lawn chair, and it is clear that those preparing to vote for him to lead the nation at this critical time would literally vote for a lawn chair over President Trump. In this there is epic hypocrisy.

Feminists who once proclaimed that sexual harassment and sexual assault, determined on the basis of unsubstantiated accusations, were sufficient to disqualify a man for high public office are supporting Biden, who has been photographed numerous times engaging in sexual harassment as Vice-President, and has been accused “credibly” (as they said about Brett Kavanaugh’s less than credible accuser) of sexual assault. Heck, one such feminist is his running mate. Soft coup proponents who have argued that President Trump is sufficiently cognitively handicapped that the 25th Amendment should be employed to remove him are supporting Biden, who is obviously more mentally impaired now than Trump has ever been even in the fever dreams of progressives.

Then there is the lying. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg

Another first: This Comment Of The Day, by Michael West, isn’t related to any post or previous comment. It was triggered by the death today of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), which has immediate political implications with ethical strings attached.

Some past Ethics Alarms posts relevant to the moment are:

and here is Michael’s timely Comment of the Day:

2) Leaders of every party have soiled themselves jumping straight into political maneuvers and demands within hours of Ginsburg’s body even beginning to cool.

3) They have a really really stupid nuclear armageddon countdown timer. If I were an enterprising political commentator, I’d establish a “civil war countdown timer”. No, not like the last civil war (which wasn’t a civil war)…but a real civil war, which would make the last one look like a boy’s nerf-war sleepover. And if McConnell does what he implies he’s going to do in his statement that came out like an hour after the news broke…I’d set that countdown timer to 5 minutes. Since it’s been at about 15 minutes since the Democrats refused to accept the 2016 election and 10 minutes since the riots began this year. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 9/18/2020: Boy, It’s Hard To Write About Ethics When What You Really Want To Do Is Run Amuck With A Bloody Sword

I don’t even want to talk about the last two days, except to note that what has me proto-homicidal has nothing to do with anything we’ve been discussing on Ethics Alarms.

1. Now THIS is incompetent phishing: “Verizon” contacted me to say,

Dear User :Your incoming mails were placed on pending status due to the recent upgrade to our database, and also exceeded the storage limit of 1 GB, which is defined by the administrator, are running at 99.8 gigabyte. You can not send or receive new messages until you re-validate your mailbox.

  • I no longer have any relationship with Verizon.
  • Verizon no longer runs an email service. It sold its email users to AOL.
  • The letter is ungrammatical.
  • I received that email, along with about 50 others at the same time, telling me I was no longer getting email.
  • “Verizon’s” address was “bavaria2@centurylink.net”
  • The “letter” was signed “VeriZon.”

If you fall for something like that, you are a walking, talking mark, and incompetent at life.

2.  Why doesn’t the public trust the news media? It must be all those Trump “fake news” lies!  CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell used a photo from a “Latinos for Trump”  event in Phoenix to accompany a report on Joe Biden’s Latino event in Florida. The CBS’s chyron read, “Biden pitches crucial Latino voters during Florida campaign stop.”

Here was what viewers saw: Continue reading

Constitution? What Constitution? A “White Lives Don’t Matter” Program In San Francisco

This is just one more Exhibit in the case to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt  that the current “movement” exploiting the death of George Floyd is not concerned with seeking equality of opportunity or eliminating “systemic racism.” Instead, it seeks to install a system that favors races it cares about over others. You have to admit, the evidence is damning.  If this were a trial, I’d request a directed verdict.

From the S.F. Gate:

Mayor London Breed Announces Launch of Pilot Program to Provide Basic Income to Black and Pacific Islander Women During Pregnancy …

Mayor London N. Breed, in partnership with Expecting Justice, today announced the launch of the Abundant Birth Project, a pilot program that provides targeted basic income to women during pregnancy and after giving birth. The pilot will provide an unconditional monthly income supplement of $1,000 to approximately 150 Black and Pacific Islander women in San Francisco for the duration of their pregnancy and for the first six months of their baby’s life, with a goal of eventually providing a supplement for up to two years post-pregnancy. Expecting Justice, a collective impact initiative led by Dr. Zea Malawa at the San Francisco Department of Public Health and supported by the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative, will study the resulting health impacts of the pilot program, which is the first of its kind in the United States….

The program is racially discriminatory on its face, and Breed, Dr. Zea Malawa, the San Francisco Department of Public Health,  the Hellman Foundation and the UCSF  are either civically ignorant, racists, dumb, hoping to get away with something they know is illegal, or some combination of two or more of these.  So are other funders mentioned in the mayor’s press release:Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Genentech, the Kellogg Foundation, San Francisco Health Plan, Tipping Point, Economic Security Project, Walter and Elise Haas, San Francisco Foundation, and the Friedman Family Foundation.

The program cannot withstand the inevitable legal challenge. Eugene Volokh, a Constitutional law specialist, explains, Continue reading

Now I’ve Actually SEEN “Cuties,”So I know What I’m Writing About…

What does Barbara Streisand have to do with “Cuties,” you ask?

And, from my perspective, I have been taught, once again, that I should not rely on the opinions of others. Why is that such a difficult lesson to process? I bet I’ve “learned” it a thousand times, and yet here we are.

I initially wrote about pundit Rod Dreher’s angry assessment of the Netflix hit (it is one of the most streamed productions in its history) in this post. I think it was clear that I hadn’t seen “Cuties” myself, but I should not have written that he was disgusted “with good reason.” Veteran commenter Humble Talent provided Ethics Alarms with his critical assessment of “Cuties” in his Comment of the Day; it was negative as well. Having now watched the film with my wife last night (I regarded the session as work, not recreation), I understand what Dreher’s perspective was, and  I cannot say that Humble’s critique is “wrong.”

I disagree with both of them, however.

My thoughts on “Cuties”:

1.  I did not enjoy the movie. I would not watch it again. I would watch “1918,” “Parasite,”The Circle“…even “JFK,” “Ghost” and “La La Land,’  all movies I felt were at best disappointing and at worst ridiculously over-hyped, before I would sit through “Cuties” again. (I would rather watch “Cuties” than revisit “The Deer Hunter,” but then I would rather have my fingernails  pulled out than revisit “The Deer Hunter.”)

2. That doesn’t not mean I think “Cuties” is a bad movie. It’s a very good movie, for the audience it was made for. (“Ghost” is not a good movie, and anyone who thinks so is a tasteless sap.) This isn’t just a “chick flick,” it is a flick that men should be warned not to see, and possibly banned from trying.

3. As a man, I felt like a voyeur watching these semi-pubescent girls try to navigate their emerging sexuality and the corrosive influence of the culture. It’s not that I’m uninterested in this aspect of a reality I didn’t experience, it’s just that…ick. My wife, on the other hand, who grew up with three sisters, kept asking, “So what was supposed to be so objectionable about this?”

4. If art is supposed to convey truth, “Cuties” succeeds, I suspect. Of course, just because a story is true or embodies truth doesn’t mean it needs to be made into a movie. This precise topic has been dealt with before, but never so directly, at least in any movie that has been widely publicized.

5. I agree with Humble’s complaint that the director—a woman, of course—focused the camera on the girl’s bodies as they gyrated and twerked to the verge of salaciousness. I’m sure she would have a good answer for why she made this choice, and why it was artistically valid, but it was still a troubling choice.

6. I thought the girls were all excellent, and several were remarkable. That does not mitigate one of my ethical objections to the film, which is that juveniles were given this kind of material to absorb and experience. It doesn’t matter that they performed it well, and it doesn’t matter that the movie could only be made with pre-teen actresses. Nor will it change my view if they all grow up to be well-adjusted and happy adults: that’s moral luck. The actresses were below the age of consent, and should not be asked to/ compelled to perform such material. The parents who consented for them are irresponsible and unethical, just as Dakota Fanning’s parents were unethical to allow her to be in a  graphic rape scene in “Hounddog,” just as Brooke Shields’ parents were unethical to allow her to appear as a pre-teen prostitute in “Pretty Baby,” just as Linda Blair’s parents were unethical to allow her to play the possessed girl in “The Exorcist.” I  may ask child performer advocate Paul Peterson to author a guest column on his view of “Cuties.” I think I know what he will say.

7. One of the major complaints about the film is that it will appeal to pedophiles. That’s an unfair reason to criticize a movie: the fact that sick people will like it for the wrong reasons. I refuse to believe that pedophiles are the intended audience, nor that either the director or Netflix were seeking to entertain men who have a sexual fixation on little girls. I’m sure “Seabiscuit” titillated some people who fantasize about having sex with horses.

8. The runaway success of “Cuties” is as fine an example of “The Streisand Effect” as we are likely to find. The only reason a film like this, focusing on a Muslim pre-teen coping with her family stresses by becoming obsessed with sexually provocative dancing that is rampant among girls just slightly older, becomes an cultural phenomenon is if it is controversial. Critics like Dreher guaranteed that many more people would watch “Cuties” than the subject matter would normally draw. It’s not titillating or enjoyable to watch 11-year-olds get into sexually provocative costumes and make-up and act like go-go dancers in a cage. It’s creepy, and it’s supposed to be creepy. But Dreher and the other would-be conservative cultural gate-keepers made sure that the pervs would find “Cuties” and settle down to watch with their lotion handy. Good job, everybody!