Sniffs the Weekly Standard:
How Do You Spell Scapegoat? H-A-G-E-L.
Chuck Hagel, apparently fired as Secretary of Defense, was exactly who and what Obama wanted, a weak Defense Secretary willing to carry out the President’s plan of demilitarizing of the U.S. and reducing U.S. power abroad. But that plan has led to rapidly deteriorating stability around the globe, and with ISIS appearing to be winning while the U.S. has restricted itself to bomb runs and “advisors,” Obama had a choice. He could, as he has consistently done for six years, refuse to acknowledge that his policies were misfiring and that his team was failing, thus giving the public no reason to believe that he knew, or perhaps even cared, that his ideology didn’t translate into desirable real world results. He could continue blaming others—Republicans, bad luck, Bush—for failures, and keep his loyalists in their jobs no matter how incompetent they appeared. In the alternative, he could signal that he was not satisfied with the status quo, and let heads roll—you know, like real leaders do. Continue reading
I keep getting emails asking when I’m going to discuss Gamergate on Ethics Alarms. Several readers have sent me extensive links to bring me up to date. I’ve read them, or at least tried. Not since I was assigned the tome Peace and War by Raymond Aron has any text bored me more.
Gamergate appears to have all the markers of an ethics train wreck, but to me, at least, the train might as well be in Mongolia. I can’t contribute anything of value on this topic, because gaming is not part of my life, skill-set or interests in any way. This is a culture I don’t understand, and frankly, don’t have the time or interest to understand. I make a yeoman effort to keep up with popular culture, because I think once it gets too far ahead of you, your ability to understand the world around you is severely limited. But triage is essential. Just a few years ago, I knew who all the celebrity contestants on “Dancing With The Stars” were; this year, I never heard of half of them. More than half the stories on TMZ lately are about “celebrities” that are completely off my radar screen. I am confident, however, that in about six months, most of these stealth celebrities will be where Snookie and “The Situation” are now, which is obscurity, has-been Hell, or maybe jail.
There are ethics lessons to glean from this endless gamer scandal, but Ethics Alarms will just have to glean them elsewhere. For those who feel neglected, I highly recommend the recent post by Ken at Popehat, along with his links. It hits most of the salient ethics issues, and Ken, I gather, follows this stuff, as do his Popehat colleagues. My hat’s off to him, and them. But #Gamergate is one ethics controversy that I am not qualified to explore, and don’t want to be.
Monica Lewinsky fellow-cyber-bullying victim Hillary Clinton, who is widely-expected to be the Democratic Party’s nominee for President in 2016, proclaimed this week, while speaking at a campaign event for Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley:
“Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs. You know that old theory, trickle-down economics. That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly. One of the things my husband says when people ask him what he brought to Washington, he says I brought arithmetic.”
This statement is at least as much signature significance regarding Clinton’s competence to hold elective office as Todd Akin’s career-ending claim that victims of “legitimate rape” don’t get pregnant, “The View’s” former co-host Sherri Shepard confession that she thought the world might be flat, and Sarah Palin’s falsely reported—but funny! So who cares if it’s true since we hate her?—statement that she can see Russia from her house in Alaska. Some sources explained this jaw-dropping denial of reality as Clinton “moving left.” Actually, even Stalin wouldn’t try to deny that businesses create jobs, though he would probably suggest ways to stop people from telling you that, like, say, killing them. This isn’t “moving left.” This is called “losing it.” (I think Clinton looks drunk, personally.)
It is fitting that the statement came in support of Martha Coakley, whose last campaign in Massachusetts collapsed after her almost equally ridiculous statement that Red Sox icon, Curt “Bloody Sock” Schilling, was a Yankee fan. We shall see if Clinton’s denial of basic economic realities matters to her true blue supporters as much as Coakley’s admission that she knew nothing about the culture of the state she was running to represent in the Senate (she’s also on the say to losing her campaign to be governor, thank God. Yankee fan???) mattered to Bay State residents. Continue reading
On the 4th of March, 1933, newly elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, taking over the Presidency in the teeth of the Great Depression, intoned his famous words, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!” It was bravado, of course, and in essence a lie: there was a lot to fear. Roosevelt knew it, and the public certainly knew it. The whole economic system seemed to be falling apart. Anti-capitalist evolutionaries were looking for an opportunity to revolt. Nobody was sure what to do.
The statement was effective, however, in focusing the nation on the challenges at hand and riveting the pubic attention on solving problems rather than cringing in terror in fear of them. Roosevelt was a magnificent speaker, warm and charismatic, and that contributed to the force of his rhetoric, but what was most important is that he was trusted. Every new President can draw on a full, newly-replenished account of trust, or at least could, in FDR’s time. A new President’s promises haven’t proven to be air; his political skills and talents, honesty and character have not shown themselves to be inadequate or a fraudulent pose. In rare cases, and FDR was certainly one, they never do. The President, for good or ill, is the human face of the U.S. Government. If he is trusted, it is trusted. Continue reading
This week’s print TIME and the magazine’s website has a story titled “Astrologer Susan Miller On Why You Should Pay Attention to the Lunar Eclipse.” The TIME writer, Laura Stampler, promotes the astrologer as if she was Nate Silver, a reliable, respectable expert in a legitimate field who has something to teach us. Susan Miller is not a reliable, respectable expert. She is an astrologer, meaning that she is as legitimate as a palm reader, a douser, or the Amazing Kreskin. She is a fraud, in a fraudulent field, however ancient or popular. There is no scholarly controversy about this. There is more evidence of the existence of Bigfoot, Nessie, ghosts and flying saucers than there is that astrology is more than pseudo-scientific claptrap. Continue reading
“Certainly sir! We’d be honored to publish your opinion piece in the Washington Post! We welcome new ideas, whatever they may be!”
For some reason I’m not certain I’d be happy to discover, some editor at the Washington Post thinks what our world needs at this disturbing moment in time is a new form of injustice to address, one that most of us never considered an injustice at all. Thus that helpful editor decided to give a megaphone to someone named
, whom, we are told, is chief information officer of an NGO in Guatemala that promotes local governance in developing countries. This is itself interesting, because it provides a hint regarding why it is that developing countries have such a hard time developing. For Mr. , by the evidence of his opinion piece, deemed worthy of publication in a prestigious newspaper, is bats.
Essentially, his essay “Losing the Birth Lottery” asserts that life is unfair, so the only ethical thing to do is to make life chaotic and unfair. feels that it’s really, really mean that the United States doesn’t guarantee the same rights of U.S. citizens to every human being on earth, and insists that its refusing to do so is the moral equivalent of racism. He helpfully suggests the term “borderism” as the name for this heinous attitude, and writes:
“One could certainly argue that racial discrimination is worse than borderism because it excludes people from opportunities within their own countries. But how much worse? Many aspiring immigrants are born into nations where jobs are nonexistent, corruption is rife and indiscriminate violence plagues daily life. Being legally segregated into poverty and tyranny because of one’s ancestry is a cruel fate, regardless whether it’s because of race or citizenship.”
The recent thread regarding the supposedly racist Boston Herald cartoon has prompted me to ponder how much we are obligated to know what was, is and will be considered offensive, and whether the cultural rules or guidelines regarding this are fair or clear. That post is in the works, but this one interposed itself.
The latest issue of Canadian Lawyer magazine features a cover story about the lack of diversity on the Canadian bench. Above the Law joins outraged students, lawyers and civil rights advocates in being convinced that the cover is racist.
Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for today: