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 →
1. On torturing the homeless with earworms. The city of West Palm Beach, Florida has been blaring the horrible kids song “Baby Shark,” as well as another annoying song in the genre, “Raining Tacos,” outside an event center to drive homeless people away. Listen…
The homeless and their advocates object to the tactic as cruel and counter-productive. The city says it only wants to make them go to homeless shelters.
This is a case of “ick” rather than unethical conduct. Music is used to keep subjects of torture awake in some cases, and auditory assault by kids’ songs is only different in kind from high-pitched beeps and other more direct methods used around the country, such as recordings of chain saws . Some cities have even outfitted parks and public spaces with devices that blast a high-frequency sound that only teenagers and young people can hear.
The use of annoying songs passes the utilitarian test, I think. In this case, the desired end justifies the means. I will change that assessment of there is evidence that one or both of the two songs are literally driving the homeless insane.
That is a distinct possibility. Here’s “Raining Tacos”:
2. Let’s try to think of the least qualified, most objectionable candidates who would still be better than this trio...It’s official! Mark Sanford, who had to resign as South Carolina governor to avoid being impeached after going AWOL and conspiring to cover it up as he secretly visited his soul mate, a South American seductress, or, as such were called in less politically correct times, “firecracker,” has now declared that he will accept the GOP nomination for President. He now joins failed semi-Republican Senate candidate and Gary Johnson running mate William Weld, who is 74 and hasn’t held office in 22 years; he distinguished himself as a nominee of the Independent Party by announcing that he would vote for Hillary Clinton. Then there’s Joe Walsh, who spent all of one term in the House, and was reduced to being a radio talk show host after it was revealed that he was a deadbeat dad.
The news media is faking fainting spells because the Republican National Committee is not going to hold debates among this ridiculous crew, and is cancelling primaries as well. The RNC’s position isn’t unethical, it is responsible. I held in 2015 that the GOP had no obligation to allow Trump to run for the GOP nomination, and he was a more acceptable and serious candidate than any of these fools—which is not to say that he was serious or acceptable. These are three dead in the water political failures trying to use NeverTrump hate to breath life into the corpses of their careers.
Here’s how bad they are: I’d vote for Newt Gingrich (ugh) or Mitch McConnell (ugh X infinity) over any of them.
“Americans across party and demographic lines overwhelmingly support expanded background checks for gun buyers and allowing law enforcement to temporarily seize weapons from troubled individuals, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, as President Trump and Republicans face fresh pressure to act.”
“Allowing law enforcement to temporarily seize weapons from troubled individuals,” aka the “red flag” laws, is a violation of due process, the Second Amendment, and also a “pre-crime” measure. The public support sit because a) unscrupulous politicians demagogue the issue of gun control, b)the average American, thanks to our incompetent public school system, can’t distinguish a constitutional right from prickly pear, and c) limiting the rights of hypothetical “bad people” is so easy, compared to when one’s own rights are being infringed.
This is a useful poll, because it shows how vulnerable the ignorant are to politicians who want to take over their autonomy and weaken our democracy under the impetus of “do something.” Who is going to explain to these millions of inattentive people with weak critical thinking skills why “red flag” laws are the totalitarian camel;s nose in the tent? President Trump, with his junior high school level rhetoric? Me, with my essays that violate Facebook standards? The news medi-ack! Ack! Gag! Cough! I couldn’t even that ridiculous possibility out. Who?
And who gets to define a “troubled individual”? Anyone with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress? That describes 90% of the people I know. Those with irrational anger and obsessions? That’s the entire Trump-hating Facebook Borg, based on my reading this week. People with rocky marriages, conflicts at work with supervisors and co-workers; ranting bloggers? Charles M. Blow? Kurt Schlicter? Stephen Colbert? Alec Baldwin?
We have a dumb, ignorant, lazy, badly educated, civically incompetent electorate that the news media and politicians want to make worse on all counts, and work constantly to accomplish that goal.
1. Today’s ridiculous note on the heartbreak of Self-Awareness Deficit. Republican Mark Sanford, the defeated former U.S. congressman from South Carolina who is best known for having to resign as governor after going AWOL to visit his South American mistress, said yesterday that he is considering mounting a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. (Psssst! Mark! The RNC has already said that there would be no debates, and the primaries are a mere formality.) Sanford says he will decide in the next month or so whether to oppose Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination.
The basis on which to run against Trump is character and ethics. Of the entire universe of legitimate potential challengers, an ex-governor who escaped impeachment by resigning after making a spectacle of himself has to be near the bottom, if not lying on it.
Somebody tell him.
2. Update: The Red Sox and the late Ken Poulsen’s son are still resisting common decency, I’m sorry to report. I wrote about the on-field presentation to Brett Poulsen last week, when he was awarded the 1967 World Series ring that his father had inexplicably never received despite being part of the that magical Red Sox season. Then we learned that the Sox infielder’s daughter Kendra had never been contacted by the team or her brother, so she and her children, Ken’s grandchildren had been left out of the ceremony. I’ve tried to alert the team and have passed the story along to a baseball writer friend, so far to no avail. Last night, NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network, interviewed Brett in the stands during the Sox-Blue Jays game. Once again, the false impression was left that he is the only offspring of Ken Poulsen.
As we all know, do we not, Mark Sanford is weird. He is the former rising star in the GOP firmament who seemingly threw away his career and reputation to unite with his South American “soul mate,” going AWOL while governor as he went south of the border for an adulterous tryst (using state funds) while his aides told the news media, “Governor? Governor? I’m sure he’s around here somewhere!” He had to leave office, of course, but the forgiving (comatose?) South Carolina voters actually trusted him again and elected him to Congress, only to turn on him in the recent primary for being an outspoken NeverTrumper.
Now we learn that for Halloween, he left a basket of yummy holiday Constitutions outside his office, complete with a witch’s hat, tweeting,
Happy Halloween. Accordingly, Pocket Constitutions are at the ready for today’s trick-or-treaters.
1. The U.S. Constitution is not a Hershey Bar.
2. People who co-opt the tradition of Halloween to exploit their own interests and hobbyhorses, be it dentists who give out dental floss to the kids at their door, religious zealots who hand out Bibles, or those who guilt children into ringing bells for UNICEF or other charities instead of letting them have fun, really have an ethics screw loose somewhere. It’s the kind of thing Ebenezer Scrooge would have done, and maybe he did, except that Chuck never got around to writing, “A Halloween Carol.”
A special ethics demerit goes to every member of the lame duck’s staff, none of whom were able to talk their boss out of this stunt.
(Well, not just Vietnam, of course, but did you know Ethics Alarms has had 643 views from Vietnam in 2018, and three already this morning? I wonder how many of those readers suffer from anti-Trump derangement…)
Prelude: I would prefer not to let this topic dominate a Warm-Up, but the alternative is to keep posting on it separately, and then I would get more of those “why do you keep posting about this when children are being taken out of the arms of their mothers at the border?” messages. I post about it for the same reason I began posting on it two Novembers ago, and for the same reason 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck is one of the fattest tags on the blog: the organized, multi-institution hysteria focused on the elected President is unprecedented, destructive, dangerously divisive and threat to the stability of the nation and our communities. Moreover, it is getting worse, more shrill, and to my eye and ear, more desperate, as President Trump’s successes, much as the new media and “the resistance” denies them, increasingly makes the Angry Left and Hillary Bitter-Enders realize that all their protesting and screaming at the sky and biased news stories and leaks and unethical investigations not only aren’t working, but are, in fact, increasing support for the President and public distrust of his sworn destructors. As proof of further lack of hinges, the Deranged think the rational response to this is to become more shrill and more obnoxious.
Unrelated but still annoying note: On HLN just now, after Lovely Robin Meade reported on a Norwegian study that purports to prove that “we is getting dummer,” with an estimated 7 point drop in average IQ since the 1970s, her sidekick Jennifer Westhoven noted off camera that all 730,000 test subjects were all men, in a tone clearly designed to suggest, “so that explains it.” Then the two women laughed like the witches in “MacBeth.” See the recent post on this phenomenon, and reflect. Then imagine if an on-air personality had said “blacks,” “Norwegians” or even “women” in the same context. I’m not accepting such jokes as amusing or acceptable from people who won’t accept the same kind of jokes from me.
“Dear Robert De Niro, Samantha Bee and other Trump haters: I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy. Sometimes it’s a trap. When you find yourself spewing four-letter words, you’ve fallen into it. You’ve chosen cheap theatrics over the long game, catharsis over cunning.”
The rant was the most popular of the many responses it received from on-line Times readers:
“What are we supposed to do? Speak calmly while he’s praising neo-Nazis? Wag our finger when he walls us in? Abide his ignorance and hate with good grace? Tsk tsk when he embraces murderers and war criminals while berating honorable Democrats? We’re not going to win over the deplorable nincompoops who voted for this man. Do you honestly think that we will offend their delicate sensibilities? These are the people who witnessed the vilest displays of hate, including his encouragement of skinheads to beat up protesters. They heard him brag about groping unwilling starlets. They watched as he mocked a disabled reporter. And yet they went into voting booths all across America and pulled the lever for this narcissistic, unread, vulgar excuse for a human being. Robert De Niro expressed openly the disgust that I have been feeling in my den, sitting in front of the TV and pretty much yelling the same sorts of things when I encounter the daily outrages that ooze from this pustule of a president. Who’s to say that Democrats aren’t scoring victories because of the palpable feeling of disgust that attends this so-called president’s every utterance? This man body-surfed into the White House on a wave of resentment and hate. Maybe a bigger wave of righteous anger will flush him and his Republican enablers out, and down into the metaphorical swamp from which they came.”
Althouse’s readers are almost unanimous in pronouncing this as the Trump Derangement equivalent of your neighbor vomiting black blood into the street. The comment is an impressive compendium of resistance talking points, distortions, and hysteria, culminating in endorsing a vulgar jerk shouting “fuck” at a non-political award show. What are you supposed to do? Oh, by all means, shouting “fuck” and “cunt” are the best options. How about being a responsible citizen, engaging in civil civic discourse based on substance rather than emotion, and respecting your fellow citizens when they have different opinions than you do? Despite the fact that Althouse is a centrist, her commenters overwhelmingly see the folly of the Trump Derangement strategy. One writes, Continue reading →
Signature significance. It is the one act that shows that “anyone can make a mistake” is the confounding rationalization that it is. For there are single instances of bad conduct that tell you everything you need to know about someone’s character. If, for example, a state Governor disappears, leaving his aides to lie that he’s “hiking,” when he really is AWOL and cheating on his wife with his “soul mate” in South America, this is signature significance. This man can’t be trusted, and its a good bet that he’s not playing with a full deck, either.
I am speaking, of course, about Rep. Mark Sanford, once the Governor of South Carolina. His tenure in that high office was a casualty of his being stricken with overwhelming amorous feelings for Argentine beauty Maria Belen Chapur, who, he said, was the love of his life. The previous love of his life, Sanford’s wife, was understandably bitter, but not the forgiving, absurdly gullible voters of South Carolina, who after waiting a couple of years, allowed Sanford back into a position of power over their lives, electing him to the House of Representatives.
The Ethics Alarms review of a truly disheartening year in ethics continues with fallen heroes, ficks, fools and follies with Part Two of the 2013 Worst of Ethics awards….and there’s one last section to come. Be afraid..be very afraid:
Fallen Hero of the Year
Edward Snowden, whose claim to civil disobedience was marred by his unwillingness to accept the consequences of his actions, whose pose as a whistle-blower was ruined by the disclosure that he took his job with the intention of exposing national secrets, and whose status as a freedom-defending patriot lies in ruins as he seeks harbor with not only America’s enemy, but a human rights-crushing enemy at that. The NSA’s over-reach and mismanagement is a scandal, but Snowden proved that he is no hero.
Unmitigated Gall of The Year
Minnesota divorce lawyer Thomas P. Lowesnot only violated the bar’s ethics rules by having sex with his female client…he also billed her his hourly fee for the time they spent having sex , a breach of the legal profession’s rule against “unreasonable fees.” Yes, he was suspended. But for not long enough…
Jumbo Of The Year
(Awarded To The Most Futile And Obvious Lie)
“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”
USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan made what I assume will be a controversial argument that baseball players who have tested positive for steroids at any point in their careers should be permanently banned from being honored with inclusion on baseball’s All-Star teams. This is controversial, because a lot of misguided souls, including sportswriters, think that proven steroid cheats ought to be allowed into baseball’s Hall of Fame, a much greater and more significant career honor. The issue arises because Oakland pitcher Bartolo Colon, who last year tested positive for banned PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs)and was suspended for 5o days, has been selected for the American League All-Star squad. Brennan writes,
“Colon, and every other performance-enhancing drug user in baseball, should never be allowed to become an All-Star, or win any MLB award. No Cy Young, no MVP, no batting title, no nothing. It doesn’t matter that he was caught and suspended last year, not this year…The bottom line is, you don’t suddenly become a non-cheater once your suspension is over. Colon is 40 years old, yet he’s having his best season in eight years. Where have we heard that before? Even though last year’s illegal testosterone isn’t still in his system, it helped build the body that he is using today…Because Colon and his tainted body are in the All-Star Game, someone like (Tampa Bay pitcher Matt) Moore is not. He has the same record as Colon, 12-3, but with a higher ERA, 3.42 to Colon’s 2.69. We’re presuming, of course, that Moore is not on PEDs, which means his season is more impressive than Colon’s because it isn’t built on a chemical foundation as Colon’s is…It’s a privilege to receive these honors, not a right. They are extras, add-ons, awards to be cheered. They do not belong to the Brauns, A-Rods and Colons of this world. Those players should be given absolutely nothing to celebrate.” Continue reading →
Today some commenters on Ethics Alarms took the dubious ethical position that one ought to vote for a candidate’s “ideas” rather than his or her character, record, experience, values, talent or abilities. I surmise, then, that they now believe that those who voted for Mark Sanford because they agree with his political views were being responsible, despite the fact that the man is spectacularly, John Edwards-ly untrustworthy in every way. Continue reading →
Mark Sanford evokes that stirring Civil War battle, the Alamo.
The unethical and increasingly ridiculous Mark Sanford, now in the process of losing what should have been a sage House seat for Republicans in South Carolina, has added the public crime of “making Americans dumber” to his list of disqualifications for public office.
Sanford was the rising star South Carolina governor—married, with children— who went AWOL on the job to have a clandestine liaison with his South American mistress, using public funds in the process, and lying through his staff to cover his tracks. He didn’t have the courage or the decency to resign, nor did he have the common sense and decency to quietly disappear so he would stop embarrassing his wife, his state, Republicans, men, and Homo sapiens everywhere. Instead he returned to run in a primary for a House seat, and since Republican primary voters will apparently vote for anyone or anything, won. Now he’s running behind in the polls to a Democratic candidate whose key qualification is that her brother is a popular TV comic.