Columbus Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/2020: Dumb Tweets, Rigged Reviews, Insane Academics, And Police Conduct Worth Protesting

Is it that time again already? Great, now we have to listen to more Statue Toppling rants from anti-Columbus zealots who don’t think changing the world unquestionably for the better and setting in motion the chain of events that allowed the United States to exist is worthy of a day of recognition.

1. I confess. Although I bailed out of following baseball this “season” when MLB’s groveling to Black Lives Matter became too much to bear, I do check the scores now and then, and thus am taking some pleasure in the fact that the New York Yankees were eliminated in the best of five Divisional Play-offs by the Tampa Bay Rays, making it eleven straight years since the Bronx Bombers got to the World Series.

2. Idiotic tweets that did not come from the White House. Whether one believes the Doomsday Polls or not, it is beyond question that President Trump’s prospects this November would be far brighter were he able to resist sending out dumb tweets, many of which I have highlighted here. (There is a Trump Tweets tag, if you want to reminisce. Like so many of his regrettable proclivities, this one is apparently contagious. Powerline recently flagged three head-exploders:

  • From Washington governor Jay Inslee:

Inslee tweet

  • From former CIA director and Deep State Trump saboteur John Brennan:

Brennan Tweet

Those who visit here often know that by Ethics Alarms standard, quoting “Imagine” as if this infantile doggerel by John Lennon is profound automatically wins any “Dumbest” competition.

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Comment Of The Day: “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”

I can’t fully express how gratifying it has been to see so many among the commentariat enthusiastically participating in a mass trashing of “Imagine,” John Lennon’s grandstanding ode to faux ethics Karl Marx-style. As I have mentioned here periodically, I have detested the song since I first heard it, and have had dire suspicions about the brain pan depth of any acquaintance who teared up when the thing played. Inspired and encouraged, I put “Imagine” torture among the punishment options in today’s poll on the best way to wreak societal vengeance on the teens deliberately coughing on supermarket produce,   and it’s doing surprisingly well:

A major assist for this Comment of the Day goes to Mrs. Q, who wrote,

Living in Portland it’s almost impossible to not hear this piece of shit song in every coffee shop, restaurant, and wherever else you’re trying not to loose your lunch. Once I was so aggravated at hearing it, I unethically told a fib to our waiter, that my (non-existent) sister committed suicide to the song. He turned it off and I enjoyed the rest of my meal…until Yellow Submarine came on. Karma indeed.

Imagine there’s no Imagine.

I was tempted to take up the challenge and compose an “Imagine There’s No Imagine” parody, but that would have required me to carefully listen to the song more than once, and I’d rather get the Wuhan flu.  Chris Marschner beat me to it, saving my sanity and earning his Comment of the Day on the post, “Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting ‘Imagine'”:

I have begun rewriting the lyrics and ask all to assist and improve.

Imagine there’s no Seven-Eleven
It’s easy if you try
No Big Gulps for the thirsty
Just whole wheat and rye

Imagine all the people
Living for today
So what else is new (ew ew)

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to plan or hope for
It’s just a fuckin zoo

Imagine all the people
Living life on the streets
They do (hoo hoo hoo)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
the Bernie bros will welcome you
And the world will be covered in pond scum

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
that means no one can steal from you
Cause your home’s under the bridge span

Imagine all the people
Huddlin to stay warm
(hoo hoo ooh ooh)

You may say that I’m a dreamer
I’m not the only one
There are other nuts among us
Just put your possessions in that box over there
and I will dispose of them when I can.

Life Competence Note: There Is No Way You Will Look Smart Or Competent Quoting “Imagine”

I would think that would be screamingly obvious, but apparently not. Then again—actors.

As regular readers here know, John Lennon’s pompous, simple-minded and hypocritical (a mega-millionaire extolling “no possessions”) anthem to the joys of anarchy is a lifetime irritation for me, and anyone who argues that it’s profound or moving has provided signature significance that they can’t be trusted with moderately complex tasks or, for that matter, to prevail in Trivial Pursuit games against 4th graders.

Now, as you can see above, a group of Hollywood celebrities, including Gal Gadot, who apparently organized it, Will Ferrell, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsden, Lynda Carter, Jamie Dornan, and Amy Adams , all mansion-bound,  made a video with each of them singing bits of  John Lennon’s disgrace.  People are guessing that the intended message was “we’re all in this together,” or “it will all be OK” or “if society is destroyed and nobody has any jobs, that’s a good thing” or “Ramalama ding-dong” or something.

Predictably, the “imagine no possessions” line  attracted the most venom on social media, considering the average income of this group, but that’s unfair. Personally, I’m happy to have any celebrity publicly announce, “I’m an idiot!” on the web. It’s useful information, especially when these same deluded dufuses start telling us about the Green New Deal.

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up: On Bans, Taboos, And Dreams

 

Good afternoon!

1. Answer: I’m thinking about it. A kind commenter asks when I am going to put up a full post about Facebook’s censorship of Ethics Alarms, which had harmed the blog’s traffic and, what is worse, made it increasingly difficult to carry the message of ethics over bias and rationalizations to the greater public.  One reason I haven’t made a bigger deal about this is that I am still unsure what’s going on, and why. Another is that this  all came down on me at the same time as this lingering cold/flu thing  that has required more rest and sapped more energy than is convenient, and in the grand triage of life, fighting with Facebook has had to yield to other priorities. I’m considering putting up a supplemental site to share Ethics Alarms essays. I’m thinking about launching an Ethics Alarms Facebook site. As I have said before, suggestions are welcome.

2.Happy Birthday, Tom! This is Thomas Edison’s (1847-1931) birthday, and celebrating it in the wake of the deranged “Green New Deal’s” plan to take us back to the Stone Age while financing the needs of those “unwilling” to work would be prudent. Edison personified the kind of creativity, industry, and risk-taking that America’s core values are designed to foster. He derided the label of scientist, insisting that he was “only” an inventor, meaning that his mission was to develop commercially viable advances in technology that made human lives better, richer, and more productive. Do they teach kids about inventors any more? My father made sure that I watched both “Edison the Man,” Hollywood’s biopic starring Spencer Tracy, and “Young Tom Edison,” starring Mickey Rooney, before I was twelve. I found the films inspirational then, and I find them inspirational now.

3. Another canary dies in the mine. Columbia University, long ago one of the cauldrons of student protest and defiant expression, followed the rest of academia by taking another alarming step toward constraining non-conforming student speech. It has substantially defunded the student band for defying the administration’s ban on “Orgo Night,”a Sixties tradition in which the students disrupted the sanctity of the library to lampoon the school’s oppressively serious culture. By itself, this is trivial. As part of a trend in American colleges, it is not. Many feel, I would say with justification, that the sudden squashing of the band’s irreverence  was sparked because it was “a liability in an age of heightened political sensibilities.” In other words, thoughts and ideas that the Left can’t control threaten the cause of enforced consensus. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/26/18: Spin! Hypocrisy! Heresy! Demagoguery! Idiocy! And Weren’t Those Sex Slaves Cheering For North Korea Adorable?

Good Morning!

Of course it’s a good morning…the 2018 Winter Olympics ended last night!

1 The Schiff Memo. The Democrat’s alleged rebuttal to the Devon Nunes memo regarding how Carter Page came to be the object of secret surveillance that extended into the Trump campaign should have been the big story of the weekend, along with the fact that government systems repeatedly failed to protect the students in Parkland from an unbalanced young man who had been repeatedly identified as a risk for exactly the kind of mad act he ultimately engaged in. But the left-biased news media downplayed it after trying to spin it, because the hyped memo did not rebut the key allegations in the previous Republican House document. The FISA court was not informed that the Russian dossier was created and funded by the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. The dubious dossier  was a key component of the evidence that led a secret court to remove the Constitutional rights of a citizen, while interfering with a Presidential campaign.

Amusingly, the Schiff memo spins that the Obama Justice Department application was “transparent,” and then describes transparency as a FISA warrant application that said that Christopher Steele, referred to as “Source #1,” was “approached by” Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson, referred to as “an identified U.S. person,” who

indicated to Source #1 that a U.S.-based law firm had hired the identified U.S. Person to conduct research regarding Candidate #1’s [i.e., Trump’s] ties to Russia. (The identified U.S. Person and Source #1 have a longstanding business relationship.) The identified U.S. Person hired Source #1 to conduct this research. The identified U.S. Person never advised Source #1 as to the motivation behind the research into Candidate #1’s ties to Russia. The FBI speculates that the identified U.S. Person was likely looking for information that could be used to discredit Candidate #1’s campaign.

Andrew McCarthy, in the National Review, concludes that the Schiff memo does the Democratic narrative more harm than good. I agree: it looks like a desperate spin attempt to me, so desperate that the news media abandoned the story as quickly as it could.

2. Segue Alert! And speaking of transparency…From the Boston Herald: Continue reading

California’s High Speed Rail Fiasco

The question posed by the unfolding California high-speed rail cataclysm is why the reaction to it should be a partisan or ideological issue at all. Are human beings capable of managing bias and learning hard truths from new information, or aren’t they?

High speed rail was promoted in California  as a green and virtuous way to propel commuters  from San Francisco to Los Angeles along at 220 miles an hour, completing the trip in a about  two and a half hours. It was going to involve minimal tax-payer cash,  with  billions arriving from private investors. It would be profitable, not requires state subsidies and be much less expensive than flying. Thus enthused and enlightened,  53.7 percent of approved the plan and a $9.95 billion bond.

It was a scam, a hustle, and a pack of lies.  Virginia Postrel writes at Bloomberg…

“California’s high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?”

Well said. I would add, “And will anyone learn from this fiasco?” Specifically, will anyone learn that ideologically-driven officials will always press policies in defiance of reality, if the public lets them, or more precisely, trusts them.

The Los Angeles Times published a stunning report on how corrupt this enterprise has been from the start. Here’s sample:
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The Syrian Refugee Controversy: For The US Government, An Easy Ethics Call

Syrian refugees

That does not mean that it is an easy call for Barack Obama, whose perception of his duties and the stakeholders in his decisions is often confused.

The Question: Is it competent and responsible (ergo ethical) for the  the U.S. accept 10,000 Syrian refugees (or 65,000, as Hillary Clinton advocates) in the U.S., knowing that it is statistically certain that some of them will carry the threat of Islamic terrorism with them?

The Answer: No. Of course not. How can a rational person advocate such a foolish policy?

The answers to the last question are fascinating to speculate upon, and range from 1) “A rational person won’t,” to 2) “Willful blindness to reality” to 3) “Because of a profound misunderstanding of  the ethical priorities of government and leadership” to 4) “That’s a rational policy if the policy maker-wants  terror attacks.”

The proper analogy is admitting a refugee population with members suffering from a highly-communicable, infectious, incurable and fatal disease. No responsible government would risk bringing a plague into its population without being able to make certain—certain—that none of the refugees carried it. Thus there would be a quarantine period imposed on the refugees showing no symptoms, and those infected would not be allowed to enter the U.S. population at all. This is the same situation, except that the infectious, fatal, incurable contagion is radical Islam.

Dishonest and manipulative politicians like Hillary Clinton tacitly acknowledge the plague model when they say that refugees must be admitted to the U.S. but only after they are “thoroughly vetted.” They cannot be thoroughly vetted, however. Records from Syria are neither reliable nor available. Thus what such politicians are really saying is either “I don’t support taking Syrian refugees, but want you to think I do” or “I’m hopeless detached from reality.” The first is Hillary; the second is Barack Obama, who said yesterday,

“Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values. Our nations can welcome refugees who are desperately seeking safety and ensure our own security. We can and must do both.”

We can’t do both. It can’t be done. His first sentence is pure demagoguery, and demonstrates, yet again, how shockingly ignorant the President is regarding the duties of his office. His essential duties are  to do what is in the best interests of the United States, its citizens, and its mission of promoting human rights in the world. When those objectives are in conflict, the President must put the welfare and security, long term and short term, of the citizens who elected him and the nation he leads above all else.

Why can’t Obama see that? I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to understand the man.

Objectively, the question of the Syrian refugees is an ethics conflict, when warring  ethical principles and systems contradictory results.On the side of accepting the refugees and the undeniable risks they carry, we have altruism, The Golden Rule, fairness, kindness, decency, tolerance, acceptance, compassion, and caring.

On the side of rejecting them, there is utilitarianism, responsibility, loyalty, process, competence, trustworthiness,  prudence, and due diligence.

For a leader, the choice is obvious, because for a leader, it can’t be a question answered objectively. The President of the United States is not permitted the luxury of altruism, or objectivity. He holds an office of trust, and is trusted to place  citizens above others. This decision involves more than values. It is a matter of leadership and government ethics.  However much Obama or anyone else believes that assisting the Syrian refugees, of any number, is objectively the “right thing to do,” the United States Government cannot regard it that way. It is bound by its own duties, standards and priorities to be partisan: this country comes first. The Syrian refugees present a real and existential peril that cannot be avoided, except by keeping them out.

Easy ethics call.

At least it should be.

Other points:

1. Nonetheless, it is Obama’s call. The 28 state governors who have announced that they will “not permit” Syrian refugees in their states are either ignorantly or for effect asserting a power they do not have. States cannot reject immigrants and refugees duly and lawfully admitted into the country by the Federal government. (According to the Obama Justice Department, they can’t reject illegal immigrants negligently admitted into the country by the Federal government’s incompetence and corruption, either.) These announcements of defiance are a bluff, but have undeniable political power. Continue reading