Assorted Ethics Thoughts In The Throes Of Insomnia, 8/17/2019: The Foot-In-Mouth Edition

Started as a Morning Warm-Up, then it was a Mid-Day Update, then a Late Night something or other.

1. From the “Steve King is an idiot” files: Rep. Steve King, a Republican from Iowa whose avocation is sticking his foot in his mouth, told the Westside Conservative Club in Urbandale, Iowa that the unborn who result from rape are no less lives that other fetuses, and should not be subject to any “exception” to principled exception to abortion. “It’s not the baby’s fault,” he said.

So far, so good: King is right. Then he had to go and say this:

“What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape or incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rapes and pillages that’s taken place, and whatever happened to culture after society, I know that I can’t certify that I’m not a product of that. And I’d like to think every one of the lives of us are as precious as any other life.”

So when you really think about it, rape and incest are a good things, right, Steve?

That’s certainly how Democrats and progressives took his comments, and to be fair, his infuriatingly ham-handed rhetoric made it easy.  The position that unborn children are just as deserving of life regardless of how they were conceived is a powerful and greatly misunderstood ethical argument. It is not necessary to rationalize rape to make it; in fact, King’s dumb argument just muddles the issue. It’s also bad history and anthropology.

NBC has an article up claiming that King’s words show the “misogyny” at the heart of white supremacy. No, they just show that King is a moron, and we already knew that.

2. Nice. Here’s the title of a Gail Collins op-ed in yesterday’s Times: “How to torture Trump.” Continue reading

Evening Ethics Cool-Down, 8/12/2019: Invasion! Exaggeration! Extreme Injustice!

Did you have an ethical day?

Ethics are cool, you know.

(So was Bing…)

1. The New York Times this morning, apparently determined to double down on the deliberately dishonest assertion that El Paso’s Walmart shooter was channeling the sentiments of “right wing pundits” and the President, plastered a tiny print excerpt from the manifesto—which, last I checked, it has still refused to publish in complete or readable form—on the front page, with the word “invasion” highlighted every time it appeared. As I wrote in Part Two of the Ethics Alarms’ post about the screed (and the news media’s unconscionable conspiracy to withhold it from the public while journalists misrepresent its contents…)

“Yes, it is true that both President Trump and the shooter use the term “invasion,” and to many critics this single convergence is sufficient to claim that the President is “responsible” for the El Paso shooting. “Invasion” is a word, not a theory or a philosophy, and the two apply it differently. President Trump has used it to describe illegal immigration, for which it is a defensible, if inflammatory, description.

Describing legal immigration as an invasion is not defensible—invasions are not legal—and is materially different. Ironically, it is the President’s foes, who intentionally refuse to distinguish between the validity of illegal and legal immigration—just like the shooter!—who have spread the lie that the President has called immigration itself “an invasion.”

Invasion is a loaded and pejorative term, but still a fair and accurate one. Illegal immigration advocates don’t like it because the term frames the unlawful migration as destructive and wrong, which it is. The word is not misleading, as the illegal immigration apologists ‘ use of “immigration” to describe illegal immigration, and “immigrants” (or “migrants”) to describe illegals is. Nor is it deceptive, like calling support for ending the lives of unborn children support for “choice,” or calling the President’s statements “racist: when they meet no definition of racism, or calling thge standard law enforcement procedure of separating children from law-breaking parents when the parents have brought their children along as they breached the law, “putting children in cages.” The obsession with “invasion” is both hypocritical and petulant: it’s a more powerful and more accurate framing of an issue than the progressive cover-words. Yesterday a Level-5 Trump-Deranged Facebook friend started using the word “inaction” as a substitute for “The Second Amendment,” “individual rights,” and the refusal to pass useless, symbolic, incremental laws in hopes of eventually reaching gun confiscation—the real objective. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Representative Joaquin Castro (D-Tx) [UPDATED]

Well, unless he repudiates his brother, Julian Castro just earned himself a place on the next Ethics Alarms “Who’s most unethical Democratic candidate?” poll. An update on that: Warren well ahead, Harris is second, but with just half Warren’s “support,” and the rest far behind….

This is really slimy: Presidential candidate Castro’s Congressman brother, who also heads his campaign,  tweeted a list of San Antonio donors to the Trump campaign, along with the names of their employers, as well as the Twitter handles of several owners of local businesses in his district that donated to Trump. He added, “Sad to see so many San Antonians as 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump. Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Assholes like Castro are why people donate to Trump: Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2A, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

The transcript is here.

4. Asshole comment of the night: Pete Buttigieg saying that we have to ask how Donald Trump even got “within cheating distance of the Presidency.” The Democrats still refuse to admit that the election of the President was legitimate, without any evidence whatsoever. I don’t care who they are running for, the White House or mayor of East Podunk. I am not forgiving or trusting such a party until they recant, or are properly punished.

5. Do these people realize how ridiculous and irresponsible they sound regarding climate change? Beto O’Rourke: “I listen to scientists on this, and they are very clear. We don’t have more than 10 years to get this right.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of catastrophe when it comes to our climate.” How many times does the boy have to cry wolf before people catch on?

And, incredibly, there was support expressed by the two top demagogues on the stage for the absurd and totalitarian “Green New Deal.” Warren  (who proved her intellectual dishonesty and lack of integrity by co-sponsoring the Green New Deal bill, though it wasn’t worthy of a sixth grade science student, much less a Harvard professor): “Climate crisis is the existential crisis for our world. It puts every living thing on this planet at risk.”  Classic fact-free fear-mongering. Absolutely no scientist has suggested that “every living thing” is as risk even with the most dire climate chance models. As I have noted before regarding Warren, she deliberately tries to exploit public ignorance, and asserts things that we know she knows are not true. How can anyone support someone like that?

Then comes Bernie Sanders: “We can create what the Green New Deal is about. It’s a bold idea. We can create millions of good-paying jobs. We can rebuild communities in rural America that have been devastated. So we are not anti-worker. We are going to provide and make sure that those workers have a transition, new jobs, healthcare and education.”

The crypto-communist knows that what the Green New Deal is all about is, as Ocasio-Cortez’s guru, Saikat Chakrabarti, explained to the Washington Post,  the  Green New Deal isn’t “a climate thing at all,” but a stealth “how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.,” and, necessarily, a put government’s iron boot down on personal liberty thing, though neither Bernie, Liz, Saikat or the other aspiring totalitarians in the party will say so out loud.

6. When moderator Jake Tapper asked “whether the middle class should pay higher taxes in exchange for universal coverage and the elimination of insurance premiums,” Sanders rebuked him for using “a Republican talking point.” Thus was born a new progressive dodge. The next night’s debate participants quickly took up the task of distorting yet another term to make honest debate more difficult.  My favorite was Julian Castro’s “Open borders is a right-wing talking point.” Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/27/19: Updates And News!

Saturday morning came!!

At points yesterday I was beginning to have doubts…

1. A win’s a win, and right is right, but the ACLU outs itself again.  In the wake of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand the executive order reallocating funds for a wall to address the national emergency at the border and allow construction to commence, the ACLU flagged its own bias (though it is supposed to be non-partisan) by referring to the wall in a statement as “xenophobic.”

Its lawsuit was based on alleged environmental harm risked by the wall’s construction, but the use of that word, a deliberately dishonest characterization that can only mean an endorsement of open borders , proves that the lawsuit is a sham, using environmental concerns to mask a pro-illegal immigration agenda, which most of the public opposes….as they should.

Merits of the wall aside, the game Democrats are playing with this issue, calling for undefined “comprehensive immigration reform” while opposing enforcement and refusing to recognize a genuine emergency to keep the President from a political victory, is electoral suicide. (Yet most of the field of Democratic challengers have endorsed decriminalization of border breaching, which is like an invitation to invade. Madness. Even Hispanic-Americans oppose this.)

A blind pig can find a truffle or two, and on this existential issue, the President has law, history, sovereignty, the national interest and common sense on his side.

2.  A clueless harasser gets a second chance.   Neil deGrasse Tyson, the pop-culture astrophysicist who leads the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, has been cleared to continue in his job  after the museum competed  an investigation into three sexual misconduct accusations against him. Continue reading

More Cultural Literacy: The “Hard” Citizenship Questions.

In one of the many ways the news media tries to influence public attitudes (which is not its job), the New York Times is constantly including propaganda of various subtlety to bolster the case of illegal immigrants, or as the Times dishonestly calls them, “migrants,” “undocumented immigrants,” or just “immigrants,” the most deceitful label of all. One sally consisted of arguing how unfair it was that those applying for citizenship had to answer questions that current citizens would struggle with.

A recent example was a quiz, culled from the 100 questions that examiners pick from at random when an aspiring citizen is completing the application process. “With your American citizenship on the line, could you answer the following question?” the piece began. “Take a moment. Because, according to a 2011 study, this is the hardest of the 100 possible questions asked on the United States citizenship test.”

That question was “How many Constitutional Amendments are there?” (The answer is 27.) Yeah, that’s pretty difficult. It also isn’t especially meaningful to a citizen; I’m not big on specific dates and numbers: if you know enough to look them up, then you know enough. In other words, a citizen should know that there’s a right to legal representation, a speedy trial, to vote, to assemble, to worship as one pleases, and that a President can be removed from office if he’s physically unable to perform his duties without checking, but whether the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment is the 8th or 9th Amendment is essentially a trivial detail.

Not if you’re an immigrant trying to gain the privilege of American citizenship, however. There is nothing at all unfair about requiring new citizens to demonstrate the commitment and dedication necessary to learn about their new nation. Most lawyers couldn’t pass the bar exam now without studying again; it’s the same principle. It would be better if Americans didn’t take their nation and its history for granted, but that’s human nature, and they know that their citizen cannot be taken from them for mere ignorance, even if they don’t know where that guarantee is in the Constitution.

The Times:

One survey found that 64 percent of American citizens would fail the test…Immigrants taking the exam as part of their citizenship application tend to fare much better. The combined pass rate for the civics exam and an English evaluation performed in the same interview is 91 percent, U.S.C.I.S. reported in December.

Good. One of the privileges of citizenship is to become lazy and ignorant, but we don’t want you here if you start out that way.

Here are the rest of the hardest ten. (I got them all right, as I should have. They are not truly hard, or shouldn’t be.) Continue reading