A Brief Note On The Site’s Background Images

Limp wrist O

The Ethics Alarms web design uses backgrounds to illustrate ongoing ethics issues in the news. For some time, the background has featured a photo of Donald Trump, whose candidacy I regard as a long-running ethics train wreck of uncertain destination. I could justify leaving it up until sanity regains control and he is finally subdued and returned to the Crackerjack box from whence he came. That could take eight years, however.

Sorry. I know that made you throw up in your mouth a little. Me too.

Lately, readers whose gorges react similarly to mine when forced to view Mr. Trump’s visage have been calling on me to take him down, which I have reluctantly done. I can’t promise that he won’t be back, but the new background is the very strange photo from yesterday of President Obama letting his hand and arm go limp as it is raised by Cuba’s dictator—but his health care is grrrrreat!— Raul Castro.

I’m not sure what exactly is unethical here, or who is the unethical one, but something is. I would only suggest that if an American President chooses to boost the credibility and prestige of a ruthless tyrant, he can’t simultaneously act like his host has cooties. It certainly looks like Obama is saying, “Oops! I don’t want to look as if I am friends with this guy!”

I would suggest that this awkward moment is something that should have been worked out well in advance, as it was wholly predictable.

30 thoughts on “A Brief Note On The Site’s Background Images

  1. This is so frustrating…. There are a slew of articles from Far-Left (I’ve decided to use that term in response to all these “Far-right” labels for everything the labeller doesn’t agree with, regardless of their actual position.)((I’ll probably never actually remember to use that again.)) saying that “far-right” news organizations are “losing their shit” over Obama’s Cuba visit. (Most of them actually hide behind euphemisms, but not you, TYT. Stay classy.)

    The thing is… I don’t think anyone is actually actively losing shits over this. Commenting? Sure. Dissenting? Absolutely. But what does shit losing look like? I think it’s annoying. This should be something that even the lefties can agree with: When Obama said that he wouldn’t work with Cuba until their humanitarian record improved, he had a duty to wait until he could point at SOMETHING…. ANYTHING that actually improved before giving them the endorsement a visit implies.

    And that’s basically as far as my give-a-shit goes. This is Obama. Fish Gotta Swim, Birds Gotta Fly, Obama Fucks Up Foreign Policy and I wait eagerly for better results out of the GOP’s brokered convention.

  2. Since when did great revolutionaries start wearing tailored (‘bespoke’ as the Brits and Anglophiles are so fond of saying) Italian suits? Makes me kind of wish Raul would have stayed with the annoying Maoist field jackets.

  3. I thought the photo was odd and I could figure out exactly what it meant, if anything. Others may dissect it at their leisure.

    The more troublesome photo was the Obama Entourage agreeing to the taking of a photo in front of the Che Guevara mural front and center in the background. As the Left is fond of saying, optics are everything. That seems to say it all, no?

    Here is a photo for your viewing pleasure:


        • It would be if you were Latino and had any knowledge of Latin American affairs. In all Latino history books there are references to and chapters on Cuban history, and certainly Cuban resistance to American power.

          It is really part of Latino culture. Its the hat and the beard which indicate the Cienfuegos icon. That famous image of Che shows him in a beret.


          Poor fellow, never made a dime off of it.

          I view the Castro regime (and certain Che Guevara) as Stalinist and bad news all around. Yet the Cubans have a certain presence in Latin American culture and mythology, and of course the music of Silvio Rodriguez and Pablo Milanes (which you likely have not heard of) was popular all over Latin America some years back. Same with Violeta Parra, Mercedes Sosa.

          It is general Gringo cultural illiteracy and lack of interest and concern for Latin America and the Caribbean that tends to provoke a little disappointment and some anger among Latinos. Ever heard of Simon Bolivar? Jose Marti?

          • Actually, I see different pictures with each of Cienfuegos and Che in the background. Since the link was to a search result, you may have to go to images and scan.

                • No worries. Che is just more iconic. Any Cuban revolutionary figure would amount to the same thing. What interests me more here is the subtle area in between the rightist condemnation of everything popular and social-revolutionary, and the leftwing overt support of such things, even when they are Stalinist and dictatorial.

                  In Latin America Obama’s visit to Cuba, and almost any popular gesture he makes or has made, is interpreted very favorably. Obama earned many many points by going to Cuba. I personally think it is like spitting in the eye of all those who held fast to a harsh isolationist policy for 50 years, and I think this all links to Obama’s ‘liberation theology’ training (and he is an admirer of Reinhold Neibuhr too (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reinhold_Niebuhr).

                  The Christians tend to think in social justice terms though they seem to forget that to do so is to exchange body fluids with Satan. (Some day they will wake up though, I have faith).

                  What interests me is the fact that ‘the right’ cannot even consider the democratic Christian perspective. It has no way to understand the nationalist desire in Latin America, nor has it any fair concept of sovereignty for others. Either political and much less individual. You ask essentially for slaves. That people simply hand over their sovereignty to you, no complaints.

                  I personally think the better option overall is, and has been, to maintain links with American neo-fascist economic structures and to have avoided all the nationalist and anti-Yankee fervor, but at the very least I can understand the concept of political sovereignty, and the way that people tend to want to define their own paths, not have them determined by a far larger and infinitely more powerful power-complex.

                  Even to speak in this way is heretical to right-wing ears. It must mean I am a subversive because I see and understand the other side.

                  You can’t be ‘ethical’ in this world when you deal in geo-political terms. You have to take a side for or against Power. Thrasymacus argued it and Plato undermined the argument, but Thrasymachus just needed to improve his rhetoric. 😉

                  • Why are the problems of every tin pot dictatorship south of Texas always the fault of the United States? Is the U.S. really that powerful? Mexico’s corrupt because of the United States? Carlos Slim is actually an American neo-fascist? Venezuela has gone its own way. Right over a cliff.

                    The entire former Spanish empire is a rickety mess. Just like the model upon which it’s built: Don Quixote, or Ricardo Montalban. Forget the Greeks.

                    • Simon Bolivar said: “All who served the Revolution have plowed the sea.”

                      I had to Google ‘tin pot’. But it starts right there, interestingly enough: wretched institutions with distorted political philosophies. Catholicism and its institutions would have to be brought on trial. Classic ‘ressentiment’ in the Nietzschean sense. Vast numbers of people who cannot reason. There is in truth an awareness that institutional failure or inadequacy has been, is, and will keep Latin America generally running in its typical ruts.

                      That ressentiment, and its power to distort reason and mold perception is best expressed by Eduardo Galeano in ‘Las venas abiertas de América Latina’.

                      The US got off on such a different foot, with excellent institutions, a powerful and articulate idea. It very certainly goes to show that it is ‘Idea’ that determines everything. If you start with the wrong idea, or a defective one, you are lost forever. Until you are forced to completely remodel from the ground up.

                      OTOH, it is a fact of history that in the Latinoamericano nationalistic renovation epoch – the post-war era – US power intervened consciously and ‘de modo maquiavélico’ in the political affairs of Latin America. When northern apologists perform their various rhetorical dances to justify all that it is often declared that the issue was ‘stopping Communism’. And it is not an altogether false claim. Seen in that light, the state terror which rounded up a generation of young students in, say, Argentina, or the same more or less in Chile (not very high levels of death and torture really, certainly not more than 50 or 60 thousand killed in this way in the Southern Cone in the whole period), and the US covert support of *all that* was a necessary gambit to ensure that communistic-socialistic republics did not come into existence on the continent.

                      The difficult part is sorting out the ‘communistic influence’ from that of nationalist and patriotic sentiment, self-identity, tied to movements in thinking which desired modification of the antiquated systems: reformism essentially. To me it is a ‘fact of history’ that the US sided with neo-fascist reaction, and indeed aided it, to suppress nationalistically-minded reform movements.

                      My entire conflict really originates here: I recognize that ‘power determines’, and that power organizes the narrative, and that to deviate from the will of power will often lead one to the abyss.

                      It is a better route overall (but not necessarily if one’s chief definition is ‘sovereignty’ and ‘spiritual identity’)(and this would all have to be carefully defined) to side with the US economic entity and to become a ‘junior partner in the region’. Any attempt to ‘secede’ is not looked upon kindly and is resisted.

  4. To be honest, it looks to me like Raul might have had a problem holding up the arm/hand due to the height difference.

    That doesn’t, of course, mean the photo doesn’t look funny. Or that the President should be there at all.

  5. Nixon went to China. We sometimes need to talk to these guys directly. Not North Korea, nit nie. But cuba? Si!

    The Castros are about 110 years old. SIn yhrrr wil be,major change. The Cuban people need to see us as future partners.

    You and Marco Rubio are still fighting the Cold War. Nothing unethical to see here. Move along.

    • Hahahahaahha. China’s economic and military strength makes them a soft world power. Their ability to interfere, compliment, and influence the world’s growth and stability dictates that we must maintain significantly more cordial relationship with them despite their horrible human right record. The ethical and existential fallout of our leaders snubbing China is far worse than the ethical and existential fallout of working with them. Cuba has no such leverage. Obama is implicitly validating a brutal anti-humanitarian and anti-democratic regime that has little to no influence in the larger growth or stability of US and world interests. In the ethics chess that is Presidential leadership, Obama has committed a fool’s move.

    • Like most Obama apologists, you have an annoying habit of ignoring the details to focus on the easy part and generalities I have no beef with opening up relations to Cuba. But competent Presidents don’t draw red lines (“I’ll go to Cuba when they make progress on human rights”) and reveal them as empty bluffs—countries like Iran are watching. If you don’t mean it, don’t say it, If you do say it, you look weak by breaking your vow. Nothing Cold War about that: its been leadership 101 for thousands of years. Similarly, if you DO fecklessly break your conditions and allow yourself to be a prop for a dictator, you have an obligation to think through how symbolic your support for a dictator will be. Improvising limp hands to show less enthusiasm is pathetic.

      I think it’s cute that you think “I’ll come when human rights policies improve” can become “I’ll come anyway because you’ll die soon and when dictators die, things always get better.”

      By the way, I would have fixed “SIn yhrrr wil be”, but I have no idea what it was supposed to mean.

      • I said pretty much the same thing to a buddy who brought up Nixon in China and Reagan in Russia. I don’t want the team that “negotiated” with the Mullahs negotiating with the Castros. Big difference.

        Sure, go ahead and talk to the Castros but don’t negotiate with them under the theory that if you’re nice to bad people they’ll be nice to you.

        • Id argue that Nixon and Reagan went to improve relations, while it seems Obama has announced they are improved and now he’s taking his victory lap.

  6. I think the wallpaper for your site instead of Obama now or the one you had of Trump, should be the teachers you post about .

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