If Donald Trump lied any more often, he’d have to guard a door in a logic puzzle. He does not always lie. He’s not at the dry cleaners like, “I’m Marie of Roumania, and I’m here to pick up my dog.” But although he periodically speaks truth, he is so much more likely to disregard it that his defenders urge us not to take him literally—that is, as though his words had fixed meaning. Trump is a bullshitter. He might be the chief bullshitter of our bullshit age. So can you imagine being his lawyer? One pities such people. How much bullshit must Michael Cohen, Sheri Dillon, and the rest of Trump’s team of paid advocates wade through to convert his raw, jazz-style bullshit into something finished enough to bullshit a court of law? Today is Friday, and even the president needs fixers. Won’t you make this all go away with me?
Last night, a select few observed my birthday at The Hub Family Entertainment Center, where we played laser tag and drove go-karts. It was entertaining, and they let us in even without families. Even though I love it, I am terrible at laser tag and came in second to last, probably thanks to one of those five-year-olds who is operatively a stand for eyeglasses. But in my defense, one reason I got lit up so much was that a little girl followed me around the maze at a distance of about two feet, constantly pulling the trigger, not caring if I shot her and simply waiting until her gun reactivated to shoot me again. It turns out that’s a great strategy, in terms of maximizing points. But we didn’t come to laser tag to maximize points, to walk single-file and smile meekly at the person in front of us, even after he told us to go away, even after he tried to run off on his strong adult legs. So the big, important question:
- Is this little girl a dickbag, deserving of our censure? or
- Is this a structural problem of laser tag?
New York Times ethicist Chuck Klosterman recently fielded a question about why, exactly, we were so pleased to see Donald Sterling stripped of his franchise rights by the NBA. Is it because he thinks in a racist manner, as his recorded comments revealed, or is it because he said those racist comments aloud? In the question of whether it is wrong for Sterling to have racist thoughts or merely wrong for him to speak them, Klosterman opts for both. It’s a carefully reasoned answer, as usual, but it declines to address a larger question—perhaps wisely. To wit: if we accept that racism is bad, is it only unethical to express or act upon racist ideas? Or are the very thoughts themselves immoral?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its latest report on
intergovernmental panels climate change, and our situation does not look good. Contrary to a number of anonymously funded think-tanks who insist that everything is fine, the Yokohama panel warns that “nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change.” The good news, though, is that poor people are going to get touched a lot harder and in more uncomfortable places. The big warning from the panel is food scarcity, which will ironically starve people in undeveloped nations—the same people who contribute least to carbon emissions. Climate change is an ethical issue. The people who are doing it most are mostly doing it to other people, which makes it a kind of prisoner’s dilemma.
Perhaps this was massive, world-interrupting news yesterday and I slept/vomited through it, but a federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction against broad federal collection of cell phone data, saying that the program “surely” infringes on the Fourth Amendment. Blanket domestic surveillance from the NSA is by no means over, but it seems likely to suffer a serious blow in the next six months. DC District Court Judge Richard Leon stayed his injunction to allow the federal government time to appeal—something it almost certainly will do, so business as
usual recently revealed by a dude who has to hide in Russia. But Leon also called the programs “almost Orwellian” and said James Madison would be “aghast” if he knew about it. He meant to say “a ghost.”