Kamala Harris, Signature Significance, And “The Right Side Of History”

Vice President Kamala Harris, in her speech delivered on the 50th anniversary of Roe v.Wade, didn’t babble incoherently as usual. She just invoked one logical fallacy, rationalization and intellectually dishonest statement after another. The highlight, however, was her claim to the abortion fans in her audience that “we are on the right side of history.”

That’s signature significance. Nobody makes that argument unless they are a con-artist, a demagogue, or an idiot. In Kamala’s case, all three are likely true. Saying one is on the right side of history is just an extraordinarily obnoxious way of saying, “We’re right and everyone else is wrong” without actually making a substantive argument. To quote myself in the description of the phrase (it’s Rationalization #1B. The Psychic Historian on the list):

Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

Abortion supporters have been working hard lately to argue that the Bible supports abortion because it doesn’t expressly condemn it. A text thousands of years old that predates all scientific knowledge about the unborn and the predates modern medicine is irrelevant to the abortion debate. More…

It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable… Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

Which nicely describes Kamala, if not all abortion advocates. Here is dishonesty exemplified: Harris, in her speech, said, “We are here together because we collectively believe and know America is a promise. America is a promise. It is a promise of freedom and liberty — not for some, but for all. A promise we made in the Declaration of Independence that we are each endowed with the right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Continue reading

Representative-Elect Santos Update: George Just Overtook The Field For The 2022 “Most Incompetent Elected Official Of The Year.” Wow.

Rep. George Santos (R-NY) really accomplished something here. At virtually the last moment, he came from nowhere tho snatch the coveted Ethics Alarms Award for 2022’s Most Incompetent Elected Official from an amazingly credentialed group of hacks, liars and fools. There are Joe and Kamala, of course, each with multiple nominations here. All the big city mayors who have fiddled while wokism allowed crime to fester and spread. EA nominees for the honor: Brevard County (Florida) Sheriff Wayne Ivey, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, GOP Reps. Scott Perry and Mario Diaz-Belart, Rep. Swalwell, of course, Senator Dick Durbin (as usual), Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, Rep. Louise Frankel, the ridiculous Rep. Matt Gaetz, twirking Rhode Island. State Senator Tiara Mack, Rep. Mary Miller, Mass. State Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa (who was horrified that the courts would stop unconstitutional uses of federal power), Senate Majority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, and Virginia House Of Delegates Member Wren Williams.

But emulating the “Immaculate Reception” that made Franco Harris an NFL legend, the 1968 Harcad -Yale game 29-29 tie (when Harvard scored two touchdowns with less than a minute left) and Bobby Thompson’s home run (“The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant!), Santos did the imposiible and made every one of his competitors look like Teddy Roosevelt. I posted last week about the emerging (and inexcusably late) discovery that many of the claims he made while running for office this year appeared to be false, concluding that he should resign his freshly won seat in Congress. Then Santos’ statements confirming the scandal, made after three days of thought, or the best he could do to approach thought, proved beyond challenge that he is even more of an ethics-free disgrace and menace to the public welfare than I initially thought.

“I am not a criminal,” Santos said during his interview with the New York Post, thus embracing Marion Barry’s infamous, “It it isn’t illegal, it’s not unethical” rationalization. “My sins here are embellishing my resumé,” he added, in a masterpiece of understatement. Since voters elect representatives based on their qualifications, “embellish” gives Santos too much credit. He HAD no credentials to embellish. He never graduated from college. He didn’t work at the prestigious Wall Street firms he claimed he had.

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There’s So Much Wrong With This Eric Swalwell Tweet That Ethics Alarms Can’t Categorize it [Expanded]

Over on his blog, Prof Turley was sufficiently disgusted by this that he has devoted two posts to eviscerating it in his usual professorial fashion, here and here. I encourage you to read both, though this is another one of those incidents where if it has to be explained to you what’s wrong, you probably are beyond help anyway. Still, Turley’s brief is impressive, and Ethics Alarms will just add a few (well, may be more than a few) points:

  • A really stupid tweet is typical of Swalwell; this one isn’t even his worst. In 2018, the same year he had the gall to announce he was running for President, Swalwell tweeted that any effort by gun owners to oppose gun confiscation by the federal government would be met with nuclear bombs. In another tweet, he wrote sarcastically, “It’s not like separation of church & state is in the Bill of Rights or anything…” This year, he tweeted, “The Republicans won’t stop with banning abortion. They want to ban interracial marriage.”
  • When I wrote last week about how there were so many unethical people running for office in 2022 that I couldn’t possibly narrow the list of the most unethical down to a mere dozen as I have in the past, I forgot to mention Swalwell. This the only member of Congress who somehow managed to have a sexual affair with a Chinese spy (in 2015, before he was elected to the House). Nonetheless, he was re-elected in his California district by a landslide. What Swalwell misses in all aspects of life and logic cannot be catalogued without devoting volumes to the task.
  • It’s astounding that anyone, even Democrats, would dare to evoke “experts” after the still unfolding pandemic fiasco and the near total failure of health “experts” to give competent advice.
  • As Turley also notes, the analogy matching teachers to doctors is absurd, though the professor is nicer about it than I am. Teachers aren’t “experts,” they aren’t professionals in the classic sense, and, to be cruelly blunt, like journalists they are nor recruited from among the best and brightest. There is no regulation of the teaching craft, just bars to entry. Professionals—those who devote themselves to the public good at personal sacrifice,  also don’t have unions, which by nature place the welfare of their members above the public’s interests…and no union has done this more flagrantly than the teachers’ union. The lawyer-client analogy is equally foolish. Lawyers are necessary because the have special training in laws and procedure. Children need to learn about how to navigate life, and parents have as much expertise in that subject as teachers.
  • Parents have been the primary teachers of their offspring, and successful ones, for eons. Comparing teaching to self-surgery is…well, it’s about what one would expect of a collectivist dim bulb like Swalwell.
  • Swalwell knows nothing about schools and little about parenting: his oldest child is just entering kindergarten, and probably at a private school. He has some nasty surprises waiting for him.
  • The educational institution culture has rotted through, with large numbers of teachers being motivated by peer pressure, ideology, and their own flawed education. It is easy to see this, unless the observer is deliberately ignoring the condition, or wants the condition to continue.
  • Parents passively and irresponsibly allowed schools to indoctrinate their children because they served as convenient child care after women finally could pursue ambitious careers. It was trust conferred by perceived necessity, not careful analysis. Now, perhaps not too late, parents are waking up and taking control.
  • Some teachers are genuinely intelligent, outstanding, capable adults who do justify parental trust. The problem is that 1) far more are not (yes, it’s anecdotal , but I find it telling that the most famously dumb member of my grade school class, with the lowest SAT scores I have ever heard of to this day,  became a career history teacher at the same school), 2) it is difficult to determine which, and 3) the administrators and school structures are overwhelmingly corrupt and incompetent, minimizing what even good teachers can accomplish.
  • That so many teachers and school administrators accepted the ideologically advanced revisionism that slavery was the primary motivation for the United States’ creation, and have engaged in the revolutionary endeavor of teaching young children to distrust other races while  deploring their own nation is strong evidence that these “experts” cannot be trusted, and that their judgment is terrible.
  • Teaching and public education has lost its way, and urgently need to be reformed and re-imagined. Those with the strongest ties to the well-being of rising generations must be the main architects of any reform, and that group is parents.

Finally, when someone of Rep. Swalwell’s amply demonstrated intellectual and ethical deficits declares anything “stupid,” the Cognitive Dissonance Scale comes into play. [ADDED: This principle should also apply to any journalist or publication who resorts to Swalwell as an authority or source. For example, we have Vanity Fair writing today, “The chamber under Kevin McCarthy, and with an emboldened right flank, may ‘exist exclusively as a vessel state of MAGA nation,’Rep. Eric Swalwell tells Vanity Fair.” ]

Ethics Dunce? Incompetent Elected Official? Unethical Tweet? Unethical Quote? Bad analogies? The Great Stupid exemplified? All these and more apply to Swalwell’s outburst. And this man is a lawmaker. Re-elected by a landslide.

It’s so depressing.

“What Color Is The Sky On Your Planet?” Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Andrew Wortman

You might well ask, “Who the hell is Andrew Wortman?” Fair enough, and I have no idea. He describes himself on Twitter as “Activist. Super-Followable. Gay AF. Dems are pro-U.S. The GOP despises America…. #BlackLivesMatter #ExpandTheCourt” which tells me all I need to know, but he has 186 THOUSAND followers on Twitter.

This is one of the realities that convinces me that I am a miserable failure.

This guy equates not getting a free lunch at one’s workplace with “starving.” He is an epitome of leftist delusion…and he has 186,000 followers. In addition to making me realize that I am a miserable failure, his tweet also reminds me that I never chose to work for  a properly ethical, humanitarian, generous, caring employer. Not one of them provided free lunches on a regular basis, and I just accepted it, like a submissive prole.

Even in my current job there’s no free lunch—and it’s my own company!

Worst Idea Ever: Donald Trump As Speaker Of The House

In “Jurassic Park II: The Lost World,” Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldberg) tells John Hammond’s ambitious and foolish nephew, “Taking dinosaurs off this island is the worst idea in the long, sad history of bad ideas.” Indeed, a T-Rex does run amuck in San Diego later thanks to the irresponsible scheme, eating several people in the process.

But taking a Tyrannosaurus Rex to the U.S. was still a better idea than the idea being floated by some deranged Republicans to make Donald Trump Speaker of the House. I’m not convinced that making a T-Rex Speaker of the House wouldn’t be a better idea.

Most Americans don’t know that the Speaker can be anyone—you, me—whether or not that individual is a member of House of Representatives. Every Speaker has been a member, however, for the obvious reason; bringing in an outsider is dangerous and an invitation to disaster. Making Trump Speaker would be infinitely worse. The chaos he would cause in beyond even my fertile imagination to consider. Any Republican that seriously suggests such a thing should be marked for shunning and political cancellation.

Here’s the scary thing: if Democrats want to destroy the Republican Party as surely as dropping them all in an acid bath, voting to give Trump the Speaker’s position would be the way to do it. Could they be that Machiavellian? Well, it’s the same party that spent millions winning primaries for the very same GOP “election deniers” they later declared to be clear and present dangers to democracy—and that cynical, hypocritical strategy worked.

I wouldn’t put it past them.

I wouldn’t put anything past them.

An Ethics Alarms Quote Verification Special Report: “Jacques Brel And ‘The Color Of Goose Shit’”

Guest post by Thomas D. Fuller

[Some background is in order before getting to Tom’s essay. Twice in recent days Ethics Alarms has cited the quote, attributed to the late Belgian singer, song-writer, actor and philos0pher Jacques Brel,  “If you leave it to them they will crochet the world the color of goose shit.” I had referenced the quote before, and Ethics Alarms has a category called “The Jacques Brel” reserved for those officious, censorious, miserable people who seem determined to leech all of the joy out of life. After the latest reference, esteemed commenter Arthur in Maine wrote me off-site to ask for the source of the quote, since he couldn’t find it. Indeed, when I Googled the quote, the only source listed was…me. Ethics Alarms. Now I feared that I was passing along “misinformation.” Can’t have that! 

I have the good fortune to have friend of over 50 years, Tom Fuller, who is a dedicated, one might even say “fanatic,” quotation investigator. He was a credited researcher for the superb “Yale Book of Quotations,” and has commented on Ethics Alarms regarding other quotes mentioned here occasionally. I asked him to do that voodoo that he do so well on the alleged Brel quote, which he remembered from the same source where I first heard it, the Sixties revue “Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris.” Tom generously agreed.

As an aside, I’ve been trying to persuade Tom to launch a blog on the fascinating topic of quotes, and if you enjoy his essay as much as I do, please encourage him.

I’ll have some additional observations after the post.]

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Introduction

One of the most memorable lines in the 1968 musical revue Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris – indeed, it is often the only line that sticks in viewers’ minds – is:

“Jacques Brel says, ‘If you leave it to them they will crochet the world the color of goose shit.’”

Jacques Brel (Belgian songwriter and actor, 1929-1978) wrote the music and lyrics to all the songs in this piece, but the “book” (and therefore, apparently, this line) was written by Eric Blau and Mort Shuman.  The line in question appears in the script between the songs “Bachelor’s Dance” and “Timid Frieda”, but does not seem to relate directly to the lyrics or sense of either song.  (See here.)

The question is:  Did Jacques Brel really say this, and if so, where?

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Ethics Dunce (At Least): ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith

I had become thoroughly sick of ESPN’s race-obsessed loud-mouth Stephen A. Smith long before I stopped watching the channel. Eventually I even eliminated it from our satellite package: ESPN, like everything Disney touches lately (except the Beatles), is unwatchable, and Smith is Exhibit A. His latest bit of gratuitous race-baiting would get him canned from any respectable network, but then there are no respectable networks. Naturally, he had to endorse Houston manager Dusty Baker’s biased and brain-dead assertion that Major League Baseball had some kind of vendetta against or racist avoidance of American-born black players (because foreign-born black players aren’t really black, or something). Just ponder this :

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Ethics Quiz: The Cartoon Quote

I would, left to my own instincts, categorize this as a “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” episode. But Legal Insurrection, a conservative commentary blog that I find to be usually reasonable, feels otherwise, so I’ll frame this as an ethics quiz.

Robert Ternansky, a lecturer at UC-San Diego, was interrupted by loud speaking  from the hallway outside his classroom. Ternansky walked into the hallway and seeing students he took to be Hispanic, immediately quoted the signature catch phrases of now politically incorrect Warner Bros. cartoon character Speedy Gonzalez, “The Fastest Mouse in All of Mexico”: “Sí, sí señor! Ándale, ándale! Arriba, arriba!”The video of the class also catches Ternansky  asking his students, “How do you say ‘quiet’ in Mexican?” One replies, it seems, “Caliente,” and the lecturer says,  “Caliente, huh? Help me. All I knew how to say was ‘Ándale, ándale, arriba, arriba.’ I don’t think that was — to be quiet? That’s like hurry up? Did I insult them?”

Apparently! Students complained, and the school responded with this statement:

UC San Diego officials were recently made aware of offensive and hurtful comments that a professor made in a chemistry class when video of the comments was posted to social media. At that time, the professor was engaged about his comments, and it was made clear to him that they do not reflect our community values of inclusivity and respect. The professor has since apologized to the students and will be doing so to others involved.

As a reminder to our community, and as was shared with media outlets who inquired, UC San Diego is committed to the highest standards of civility and decency toward all. We are committed to promoting and supporting a community where all people can work and learn together in an atmosphere free of abusive or demeaning treatment.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is, in the words of Legal Insurrection writer Mike LaChance…

“Does this strike anyone as a bit of an overreaction?”

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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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Ethics Quiz: The Children’s Fake Tattoos

This story comes to Ethics Alarms from New Zealand, but if it’s there now, it will be here eventually.

New Zealand-based tattoo artist, Benjamin Lloyd, specializes in realistic airbrushed tattoos for children. They look like an actual tattoos, though they are only spray painted on.

The average age of his human canvases is six.

“The kids are so amazed. As soon as they get the tattoo it boosts their confidence,” Lloyd says. “The only bad thing is that they don’t want to take a shower afterward.”

Is that really “the only bad thing?”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Is it responsible for parents to do this to their children?

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