Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/6/2019: Snowflakes, Catnip, Coups And Fake Bills

Good Morning!

[Here’s a Warm-Up warm-up that has nothing to do with ethics. In “Ben-Hur,” which I watched again last week, Charlton Heston’s character is know by three completely different names. One, of course, is Judah Ben-Hur. What are the other two?]

1. Virtue signaling and pandering are both inadequate to describe this. If only it were a joke—but it appears to be proof of institutional  brain rot.  The British army is reaching out to “selfie addicts,” “snowflakes,” “me me me millennials”—remember, I’m not making this up!—“class clowns”, “binge gamers”,and  “phone zombies”  celebrating the alleged virtues these juvenile behaviors demonstrate, such as self-belief, spirit, drive, focus, compassion and confidence. Here are two examples of the new posters:

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Sick-Bed Ethics Warm-Up, 11/14/18: Ethics Among the Sneezes [UPDATED]

Good whatever it is….

1. Bottom line” Don’t trust Facebook. From the Times: “Facebook failed to closely monitor device makers after granting them access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of people, according to a previously unreported disclosure to Congress last month.” Surprised? As with Google promising moths ago that it was no longer reading our mail, then admitting months later that it had resumed the practice, the big tech companies have proven repeatedly that that we cannot believe what they say, or their motives, or their pledges of good will and public service. More from the Times story:

Facebook’s loose oversight of the partnerships was detected by the company’s government-approved privacy monitor in 2013. But it was never revealed to Facebook users, most of whom had not explicitly given the company permission to share their information. Details of those oversight practices were revealed in a letter Facebook sent last month to Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, a privacy advocate and frequent critic of the social media giant.

In the letter, a copy of which Mr. Wyden provided to The New York Times, Facebook wrote that by early 2013 it had entered into data-sharing agreements with seven device makers to provide what it called the “Facebook experience” — custom-built software, typically, that gave those manufacturers’ customers access to Facebook on their phones. Those partnerships, some of which date to at least 2010, fall under a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission drafted in 2011 and intended to oversee the company’s privacy practices.

Read the whole thing. I just assume that anything I put on Facebook, regardless of the alleged settings,will be sold to or otherwise obtained by potentially malign entities.

2. Just what we need now, a rogue First Lady. First Lady Melania Trump publicly called for the President’s deputy national security adviser, Mira Ricardel, to be fired.  In a word, well, two: Shut up. The felicitous circumstance of marrying someone who is later elected President of the United States confers no expertise or authority. The position of First Lady has no Constitutionally recognized duties, nor does it carry any real power. There is nothing anyone can do to diminish the influence and spouse may have with the President behind closed doors—and that is a problem—but she or the inevitable he must not confuse, confound or otherwise seek to influence affairs of state with public comments and opinions. Why Melania wants Ricardel fired is irrelevant. It’s none of her business.

I just want to point out that I sneezed six times while typing those last four words. Applause, please. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo”

Person voting

The weekend was awash with excellent comments, and this one, from three days ago, was inadvertently left on the runway. It begins with a quote from Pennagain’s COTD from 1/13, and continues boldly, as last year’s Commenter of the Year often does, into a related but different issue. The original topic was race relations in the U.S., and President Obama’s fantasy that they have improved under his stewardship.

The comment also has the immense virtue of not invoking Donald Trump in any way.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo””

“Meanwhile, back in the ghetto, Black Lives Matter gets a firm grip on the larger – and ever-growing larger – black underclass, those who couldn’t “discuss” their beliefs if they wanted to.”

That’s actually a very salient point, one that isn’t unique to any particular demographic, and that I think needs addressing.

I won’t even hazard a statistic, but I believe it to be likely that the vast majority of Americans (And Canadians, we aren’t immune) don’t actually understand politics, economics, or the law in much more than a cursory manner. I don’t think the average person at any protest would be able to with even a bird-taking-its-first-flight bumbling grace put into words the feelings that have them attending their event.

The language, I think, of Joe Protester is that of fear. Fear of authority, fear of corruption, fear of lethal forces, fear of economic hardship… They don’t know what the answer is, hell, they might not even know what the problem is, they might not even identify their feelings as fear. They just have feelings, and feel a need to do something about them.

It’s their right to do so, and I’d never say otherwise. But there’s a danger here… I find myself often drawn to the corrupting influence of having people agree with me. This might sound ridiculous, but it isn’t… If these people around me are those fearful people that don’t know what the answer is, don’t know what the problem is, and have feelings that just so happen to align with mine, it’s… hard…. to resist getting caught up in the tide and carried on to other positions those people have, just as ill informed, that I might not have come to on my own.

While the possibility of this is absolutely prolific on both sides of the argument, I think (and I’m sure I’ll get disagreement on this) that this kind of thought permeates the left more frequently than the right… I think that for two reasons:

First: The left often bribes their voters. Year over year, study after study shows that financial problems top people’s anxiety lists. More than terrorism, More than discrimination, More than death (sometimes, death usually wins.). And both of the parties have an answer for that! From the right, they say that reducing taxes will create jobs, and throttling immigration will reduce competition for those jobs. From the left, they say that they’ll do things like increase the minimum wage, regulate companies to pay better benefits, and lower welfare requirements. The reason I think that the left has a more appealing (if less convincing) case is because people are biased towards laziness and entitlements are much easier to collect than work is to earn.

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“Reasons To be Happy About The Election Of Donald Trump”?

half-full-glass

Ann Althouse published a link to this article linked by Instapundit, and Prof Reynolds distilled his own seven reasons “to be happy” about the election upset. Four of the seven reasons are dubious or premature—“he could still blow it,” writes Reynolds. Ya think? He hasn’t been inaugurated yet!—but three, at least, have validity:

1.  Killed off dynastic politics, at least for now. If Hillary had won, 4 of the last 5 presidents would have come from two families. That’s not healthy.

2. Kept Hillary out of the White House. She’s amazingly crooked even by DC standards, and amazingly inept even by DC standards as well. Debacles galore have been prevented by keeping her out. Plus, a Clinton presidency would have allowed the completion of the Obama Administration’s weaponization of the federal government and possibly ensured one-party rule for decades. And at the very least, it would have allowed the sorry gang that Obama and Clinton brought in (go read the Podesta emails!) to bore in for four to eight more years….

5. Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance: They thought they were going to hand this election to Hillary. Now they’re realizing just how few people like or trust them, while Trump bypasses them using Twitter and YouTube. As I’ve said before, in the post-World War II era, the press has enjoyed certain institutional privileges based on two assumptions: (1) That it’s very powerful; and (2) That it will exercise that power responsibly, for the most part. Both assumptions have been proven false in this election cycle. Like many of the postwar institutional accommodations, this one will be renegotiated under Trump. It’s past time. After getting spanked in 2004 over RatherGate, the press realized with Katrina that if they all converged on the same lies they could still move the needle. Now they can’t.

None of these should be enough to pronounce oneself “happy” that we have elected a President who prior to his election displayed no fitness for office whatsoever, and an absence of such basic requirements of competent leadership as self-control, judgment, decorum, the ability to speak clearly, and knowledge of the Constitution. However, since Reynolds got a start on a list of silver linings to the Trump election cloud, let me complete one. I’ll call the Instapundit’s #5 the Ethics Alarm #3 and take it from there. I reiterate that even the whole list doesn’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse, but Trump’s election still has  up-sides that we can identify immediately. Continue reading

Note To Conservatives On The “Hamilton” Cast’s Harassment Of Mike Pence: I’ve Got This. You’re Not Helping.

grandstand-hamilton

The problem is that, as you might guess, Trump-supporting Republican and conservatives are as ethically clueless as the Democrats attacking them.

Now there is a backlash against the “Hamilton” actors who singled out an audience member (who happened to be the Vice-President Elect) for specific abuse last week, because, the theory goes, elected officials who a cast doesn’t like shouldn’t be able to attend live theater without entailing the risk of being harassed. Ethics Alarms has been very clear about why this is wrong in every way, and all rebuttals have boiled down to “But we don’t like Mike Pence or Donald Trump, so we should be able to suspend ethics!”

Keep telling yourselves that.

Now it has been discovered that some of the “Hamilton” grandstanders probably didn’t vote in the election, and the actor whose mouth was used to issue the lecture to Pence had himself authored some Trump-like misogynist  rhetoric in a tweet or two. This is supposed to prove hypocrisy, and undermine the legitimacy of the cast’s ambush.

It doesn’t do this, because the cast’s stunt had no legitimacy at all, votes or not, hypocrisy or not.

Is the whole Trump term going to be like this? I fear so, since the incoming President literally is bewildered by all concepts ethical, and his defenders appear to be similarly disabled.

Look: if it is per se unethical and wrong for a theatrical production to turn on audience members without consent or warning to humiliate, threaten or accost them, the qualifications of the cast members engaging in this harassment can’t make the unethical act more or less so. Continue reading

Debate Ethics: Trump’s “Breathtaking Repudiation Of American Democracy”

debate3

Substance, of course, is officially irrelevant to the 2016 Presidential election. This is a bitter “be careful what you wish for” realization for Ethics Alarms and its author, as I have long argued that leaders’ values and character are more important and should be given more weight in any choice of candidates than their political affiliations or official policy positions. I did not foresee  a race in which both candidates have definitively proven that they are unfit for office and corrupt beyond repair or redemption, and one of those candidates is so unfit that even the epic dishonesty and democracy-corroding conduct of his opponent cannot begin to justify a vote for him by anyone with the sense of a bivalve mollusk.

Thus, once again as in the first two debates, the leading story coming out of last night’s snark-fest relates to character, not substance. In this case, it doesn’t even relate to practical reality. Donald Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace,

Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?

..and after talking around the question interminable, as usual, Trump finally answered,

What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?

Hillary Clinton immediately pronounced the answer “horrifying,” and her assessment is currently being echoed on editorial pages and by pundits and analysts as if Trump announced that he was raising an army of NRA members to take the White House by force. Gasped the Washington Post this morning, in an editorial titled, “Trump’s Breathtaking Repudiation of American Democracy,” “Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world….[Clinton’s flaws] fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.”The New York Times, in its editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Contempt for Democracy,” pontificated,

Mr. Trump’s meltdown in the closing weeks could be dismissed as a sore loser’s bizarre attempt at rationalizing his likely defeat. But his trashing of the democratic process, in service of his own ego, risks lasting damage to the country, and politicians of both parties should recoil from him and his cynical example.

It in no way excuses Donald Trump to take notice of the “breathtaking” dishonesty here.

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Comment Of The Day (A Deft Rebuttal!) : “Comment of the Day: ‘From The Signature Significance Files: Trump And The Teleprompter. Seriously, How Can You Even Consider Voting For A Guy Like This?”’

mcdonalds drive-thru

I posted Fattymoon’s lament regarding the state of America’s culture, politics and prospects late last night, and yet another deserving Comment of the Day arrived in record time, this morning at 8:41 PM.

Here is Tim Hayes’  rebuttal to FattyMoon’s Comment of the Day in response to “From The Signature Significance Files: Trump And The Teleprompter. Seriously, How Can You Even Consider Voting For A Guy Like This?”

(THE MANAGEMENT FULLY AGREES WITH AND ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENDORSES THE OPINION EXPRESSED HERE.)

“To this very day I call for armed revolution and don’t give a fuck who knows it. Maybe Homeland Security will make me a return visit at one in the morning. But, this time, I ain’t inviting them in. Ain’t got no guns”

This statement, right here? This is the symptom of so damn many of the problems facing our country right now. I’m not saying that to attack FM as an individual, here, but rather to reject a representative of a mentality that provokes the gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair. So please, when reading this post, understand that all directed comments towards a “you” are directed towards anyone sharing that mentality, not at a specific individual.

You call for armed revolution, but you don’t have arms with which to join one.

You call for changes to who is elected to office, but you then say “but I only voted twice” with the clear implication that you’re not to blame for how things are.

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