Revelations From The John Oliver Video Post: What I Have Learned

light-bulb PREFACE: I have just returned from a crazy three day odyssey that had me lecturing on Massachusetts legal ethics in Boston, Washington, D.C. legal ethics in the nation’s capital, and, professional ethics, legal ethics and accounting ethics in Tucson, Arizona. Keeping pace with ethics developments was even more difficult than it usually is when I’m on the road, because I had almost no time in between flights, meetings and various hassles to get to a newspaper, surf the web, or watch TV. And my browser kept crashing.

I wrote the John Oliver post, frankly, as low-hanging fruit. His performance was vile and hateful, barely funny, self-indulgent, and disrespectful in a damaging way, and I didn’t think, and still don’t, that there should be much disagreement on that assessment. I expected the usual “lighten up,” “he was only joking “[he was NOT only joking], and “he has right to free speech” comments, because I always get those any time I point out that a comedian has been unfair and irresponsible. I did not expect,for the post to get more single day traffic than all but one previous Ethics Alarms entry, and so many comments, many of which with troubling social and political significance. I returned to my office to find more comments waiting for moderation than have ever been there at one time, and I apologize for that: I try to get them cleared withing hours if not minutes. Of course, a disproportionate number of them were garbled nonsense, or just invective with no point whatsoever. They didn’t make it.

I also had some tough calls, with repetitious comments that misrepresented the post, made irrelevant or factually mistaken assertions, and also were abusive. I fear that I may have been inconsistent, and perhaps less tolerant than usual, and I’m not referring to the occasional comment I allowed to be published just to show the kind of comments that weren’t being posted. The problem is that this site is a intended to be a colloquy, and poor quality comments just make the threads hard to read, and also undermine the site.

I may have to be more ruthless in moderating comments in the future. I’m thinking about it.

Ethics is all about processing new information. Here are some useful things I learned, or re-learned, from the reaction to the post, “Ethics Dunce: HBO’s John Oliver”….

1. Otherwise reasonable, fair, smart people really do think that Donald Trump justifies unethical conduct and that makes it okay.

This is just another version of what the New York Times did during the campaign, declaring that Trump uniquely justified the paper dropping all pretense of objectivity, and thus abandoning ethical journalism. Most mainstream news sources followed the Times’ lead (actually, they and the Times had been slanting coverage long before the Times announced that bias was the right way to go), but the Times is paying an especially steep price, as its subscriptions took a hard nosedive as a result. This prompted a strange and pathetic letter to readers from the publisher, promising in  a post-election letter on Nov. 11  to “rededicate ourselves” to good journalism, while still claiming the Times “reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign.” After critics properly noted that the letter was necessary precisely because the Times had not been fair, the paper quietly edited that sentence out of the official version.

The many commenters who wrote in various ways that Donald Trump is a horrible person and should be insulted, denigrated and abused for the offensive [“racist, misogynist, xenophobe”] things he said during the campaign have no ethical legs to teeter on. There is no system of ethics that suggests that it is acceptable to verbally abuse and publicly denigrate a President-Elect because of past statements, and all of them point to the opposite conclusion, as do basic ethical values and principles.

Doing this is a Golden Rule breach. Nobody in Trump’s position would want to begin such a historic and crucial task being mocked and insulted. It is also an absolute breach of responsibility, fairness and citizenship.  The tradition of always providing a honeymoon period in which the President Elect is treated as a symbol of our democracy and a rallying point for citizens to mend that bitterness of the political campaign is entirely positive, and satisfies common sense as well. Every American has a stake in seeing that our leaders make the nation stronger, more prosperous, safe and just. The simple symbolic act of support is necessary to maximize the chances of such success. Like it or not, Trump is President for four years. Undermining him now is like punching yourself in the face.

Finally, there is no utilitarian argument for not giving a new President this benefit. It can only make the nation more unified and strong, by  allowing a new leader  believe that the American people have his back. A period of respect for the office can help still irrational fears and prevent, or at least limit, embarrassing and expensive public tantrums like  the anti-Trump demonstrations now going on.

In contrast, what good and substantive results are there to balance the harm, if the nation withholds from Trump the courtesy that has been extended to every other President? Name one. One. There isn’t one, and none of the commenters offered any. “As a natural born, taxpaying, U.S. citizen, I say Donald Trump is an lying scumbag sociopath, and I say to hell with him,” says one esteemed commenter. Great. It’s all emotion rationalizations from the Trump haters, no substance.

Here’s their list, about a third of the whole:

1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it”
1A. Ethics Surrender, or “We can’t stop it.”
2. Ethics Estoppel, or “They’re Just as Bad”
2 A. Sicilian Ethics, or “They had it coming”
7. The “Tit for Tat” Excuse
11.(a) “I deserve this!” or “Just this once!”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
14. Self-validating Virtue
15. The Futility Illusion: “If I don’t do it, somebody else will.”
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
24. A. Free Speech Confusion
27. The Victim’s Distortion
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
29. The Altruistic Switcheroo: “It’s for his own good”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
32. The Unethical Role Model: “He/She would have done the same thing”
36. Victim Blindness, or “They/He/She/ You should have seen it coming.”
41. The Evasive Tautology, or “It is what it is.”
47. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense.”
50A. Narcissist Ethics , or “I don’t care”
52. The Hippie’s License, or “If it feels good, do it!” (“It’s natural”)
54. The Joke Excuse, or “I was only kidding!”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”
61. The Paranoid’s Blindness, or “It’s not me, it’s you.”
62. The Doomsday License

Look ’em up. Every single alleged defense of John Oliver has used one or more of these. There is no ethical argument for denigrating the nation’s next President before he takes office, and every ethical reason not to. The fact that so many people allow emotion and rationalizations to govern their reasoning at such times as this is why ethics skills and literacy is so important…and so elusive.

2. Most people don’t understand the Presidency or their own culture.

I assumed we all knew that the nation always puts negativity aside and gives a new President a positive, supporting beginning. That was naive, it seem. From the comments, I might as well have said that the moon was made of baba ganush. When I was researching this matter for a book long ago, I had scholarly texts explaining the phenomenon in every nook of my house. Okay, here is a footprint of the tradition, from Gallup: Since such polls were taken, no President-Elect, beginning with Eisenhower, was inaugurated with more than a 25% disapproval rate. Obama’s was 12%.  TWELVE. T-W-E-L-V-E.

Got that? I’m directing my comments at the 20 or so commenters who wrote the equivalent of this comment from “Jenny”, one that I let through the garbage filter::

“Were you absent from this nation when President Obama was elected?”

See, these people (‘these people meaning angry, hyper-partisan, progressive and Democrats) have their own imaginary parallel US history, where President-Elect Obama was reviled by a racist nation from Day One.  This has been repeated as a partisan Big Lie, so now people like “Jenny” believe it, and the news media repeats it. The imaginary denigration of the last President Elect justifies the actual denigration of this one!

Obama entered office with the second highest approval rating since WWII, slightly behind Jack Kennedy, whose treatment of women was about on par with Trump’s and whose father was a Nazi sympathizer (just putting things in perspective!). George W. Bush had the highest disapproval rating, but that figures, because Democrats were still telling everyone who would listen that he “stole the election.” Even then, 75% of those polled either approved of the new President Bush or had no opinion…in other words, they were willing to wait and see. Give him a chance. Be patriots. Be decent and fair, and treat him as they would want to be treated.

You know.

Ethical.

Gallup adds, in the commentary to their poll,

“In general, the American public rates all new presidents positively — all have received majority approval in their debut ratings — though Obama is clearly near the top of the list. The three presidents who took office after the death or resignation of their predecessors tended to start out with even greater public support, as the nation rallied around the new chief executive in times of crisis. These include Harry Truman in 1945 with an 87% approval rating, Lyndon Johnson with 78% in 1963, and Gerald Ford with 71% in 1974.”

Funny, I recall reading something about this tradition along those lines recently–oh, I remember!  In the post!

I eagerly await the apologies from all of those who accused me of “making it up.”

3. New commenters here, more often than not, haven’t read the post, and don’t know what the blog is about.

They also think that that random,  poorly written, sloppily considered, non substantive attacks and blanket assertions pass muster. They don’t.

4. No wonder the British tolerate the speech restrictions in their country.

They don’t even know about them, until they are put on trial for a tweet. More than one indignant Brit said I was making up  the statement about their free speech limits,too. Here’s a neat and upsetting summary of how much free speech is valued in Great Britain.

The last paragraph:

“America and Britain might be divided by a piece of paper guaranteeing free speech—you have one, we don’t—but we’re united by a shared new generation of aspiring speech-policers. And in Britain, it has often been the demands of these informal groups of heresy-hunters that have coaxed the state to take action against eccentric or outrageous speech. How long can the First Amendment hold out against America’s budding new censors? How long before the U.S. joins the U.K. at the funeral of free speech?”

Could this rather existentialist concern have motivated some Americans to vote for Donald Trump? Nah. Trump voters were only out to tell women, blacks and immigrants that they don’t matter…..or so goes the current divisive narrative issuing from the Left.

5. People who are governed by bias assume that everyone else is.

It was stunning to see the number of commenters who concluded that I was a Trump supporter, a Trump voter or worse, a misogynist xenophobe racist because I pointed out that every President Elect deserves to begin his term like every other President: with the campaign relegated to history, and a leader facing daunting challenges having the support of a unified nation.

83 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, U.S. Society

83 responses to “Revelations From The John Oliver Video Post: What I Have Learned

  1. Chris

    In contrast, what good and substantive results are there to balance the harm, if the nation withholds from Trump the courtesy that has been extended to every other President? Name one. One.

    I can think of one.

    Right now, the incoming Trump team is considering placing all American Muslims on a national registry.

    It is of the utmost importance that we do not treat such an unconstitutional and bigoted proposal as a legitimate policy. To do so would move the goalposts of mainstream political thought so far that our country may never recover.

    Of course, this is not the only unconstitutional and bigoted policy that Team Trump has put forth. The more respect and legitimacy we give Trump now–the more glowing profiles there are about his family, the more we say “Give him a chance”–the more normal he seems, and the more his brand of evil becomes accepted.

    • That’s a dodge. You don’t know what they are considering, and insulting a man based on what a transition team is allegedly considering is bats. I hope they are considering EVERYTHING under the law.

      • Chris

        You don’t know what they are considering,

        I do, because I read the news. You should know this too, since you do the same. Why don’t you know this?

        and insulting a man based on what a transition team is allegedly considering is bats.

        Except that Trump himself floated this idea while he was running for president. I know you have this weird idea that nothing Trump said during the campaign matters anymore, but that’s hardly reassuring.

        One of his advisers told Megyn Kelly yesterday that this was under consideration and cited Japanese internment as a precedent. To her credit, she condemned this.

        I can’t believe you’re not taking this threat to American citizens seriously.

        I hope they are considering EVERYTHING under the law.

        Of course, a registry of Muslim American citizens would violate both the first and fifth amendments to the Constitution, and thus would not be “under the law.”

        • Which is why, Chris, that it won’t happen, can’t happen, and isn’t worthy worrying about.

          And I can’t trust the news sources.

          • Chris

            Which is why, Chris, that it won’t happen, can’t happen, and isn’t worthy worrying about.

            I’m sure there were people who said Japanese internment would never happen.

            Regardless of whether it’s practical, it absolutely is worth worrying about that we have a president-elect blatantly considering unconstitutional actions against a religious minority. A president who wants to abuse our freedom in impractical, unlikely ways is almost certainly going to abuse our freedom in more practical ways whenever he can.

            This is why I refuse to offer him any kind of honeymoon period. The stakes are too high.

            And I can’t trust the news sources.

            Can you trust Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, a member of Trump’s transition team, when he flat-out said they were considering a registry of Muslims?

        • Chris said, “I know you have this weird idea that nothing Trump said during the campaign matters anymore, but that’s hardly reassuring.”

          Wasn’t there a very prominent elected government politician that said in recent years something to the affect of a candidate says what they have to to get elected and we shouldn’t really hold them to it?

          Chris,
          At this point what you and many others seem to be ignoring is that Trump is not King and he won’t have free reign in Washington DC to do whatever he wants, he is not alone in making laws, there is a vast system to navigate to get things done and there’s and a Supreme court to uphold individual rights then laws infringe on those rights.

          The sky is not falling in Washington DC.

          I’m much more worried about the freaking idiots that have leveled death threats against Trump and his supporters; they actually think Trump and his supporters deserve to die. I’m more worried about the illogical rioting in the streets and wide spread incivility because people cannot accept that Trump is going to be the President. I’m more worried about the freaks that feel their safe place has been invaded because Trump was elected and can no longer function like reasonable adults in society because of it. I’m more worried about we the people, not this particular Hollow Shell Airhead that’s going to be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office. These things are serious societal issues. Trump hasn’t actually DONE a damn thing in Washington DC yet.

          Nancy Pelosi was all for passing a law and then finding out what’s in the law; how about we use that kind of Progressive “logic” when it comes to Trump?

        • Steve

          You condescending ass, your going to tell jack he needs to read news and know what is going on but don’t know what the hell your talking about.

          The person on Fox was from a PAC and not a trump advisor. There is no list of AMERICAN Muslims, the campaign and transition advisors talked of a registry of refugees and others coming in from Muslim nations with ties to terrorism. Feel free to debate the merits of that but other than that go Fuck off and stop trying to scare people.

          • Chris

            You condescending ass, your going to tell jack he needs to read news and know what is going on but don’t know what the hell your talking about.

            It’s spelled “you’re.”

            The person on Fox was from a PAC and not a trump advisor.

            You’re right, but he was referring to comments made by a Trump advisor, Kris Kobach.

            There is no list of AMERICAN Muslims, the campaign and transition advisors talked of a registry of refugees and others coming in from Muslim nations with ties to terrorism.

            You seem to be right about this.

            That said, the program Kobach was referring to has itself been criticized for discriminatory treatment. And in the hands of someone like Trump I can easily see this program being abused to target Muslims generally.

            Feel free to debate the merits of that but other than that go Fuck off and stop trying to scare people.

            You should be scared.

            • Chris said, “You should be scared.”

              …and you “should” be more tolerant and not ginning up faux outrage.

              You know the statement I quoted from you can be read multiple ways and one of those ways is an implied threat.

            • Steve

              In contrast, what good and substantive results are there to balance the harm, if the nation withholds from Trump the courtesy that has been extended to every other President? Name one.
              One.

              I can think of one.

              Right now, the incoming Trump team is considering placing all American Muslims on a national registry.

              It is of the utmost importance that we do not treat such an unconstitutional and bigoted proposal as a legitimate policy. To do so would move the goalposts of mainstream political thought so far that our country may never recover.

              “You seem to be right about this.”

              Yep

              An apology to Jack would be appropriate.

            • Steve said, “The person on Fox was from a PAC and not a trump advisor.”

              Chris said, “You’re right, but he was referring to comments made by a Trump advisor, Kris Kobach.”

              So Chris, you’re intentionally presenting second hand information as if it were fact without verifying the validity of the information? That folks is exactly what Progressive Magical Thinking looks like.

              Thanks for presenting us with the perfect example Chris.

              • Chris,
                You should be ashamed of yourself and offer an apology to those you’ve smeared because of your own misrepresentation of the facts.

                • Chris

                  I apologize for misstating the proposal under consideration right now, which seems to be specifically about Muslim immigrants entering the country, not all American Muslims.

                  I do not believe I’ve “smeared” anyone; Trump has suggested a registry of Muslims before, and while he has walked this back, he hasn’t apologized for it or acknowledged that it was unconstitutional and bigoted. Just because he isn’t currently entertaining this idea–that we know of–doesn’t make my mistaken impression that he was a “smear,” nor is it a smear on his team, who all know full well what Trump has said on the subject.

                  I stand by my point that Trump campaigned on bigoted, unconstitutional promises, and it is not only ethical but necessary to avoid normalizing what will surely be a bigoted, unconstitutional presidency.

                  • Chris said, “I do not believe I’ve “smeared” anyone”

                    That’s some serious Liberal Magical Thinking.

                    Whatever helps you sleep at night.

                  • crella

                    From what I can see, what Kobach is talking about is the reactivation of a system that was used in the aftermath of 9/11. I post this source as it gives the least long-winded explanation I could find-

                    ” To implement Trump’s call for “extreme vetting” of some Muslim immigrants, Kobach said the immigration policy group could recommend the reinstatementof a national registry of immigrants and visitors who enter the United States on visas from countries where extremist organizations are active.

                    Kobach helped design the program, known as the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, while serving in Republican President George W. Bush’s Department of Justice after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States by al Qaeda militants.

                    Under NSEERS, people from countries deemed “higher risk” were required to undergo interrogations and fingerprinting on entering the United States. Some non-citizen male U.S. residents over the age of 16 from countries with active militant threats were required to register in person at government offices and periodically check in.

                    NSEERS was abandoned in 2011 after it was deemed redundant by the Department of Homeland Security and criticized by civil rights groups for unfairly targeting immigrants from Muslim- majority nations.”

                    It was in effect until 2011, which was during Obama’s term. it’s not a new version of Nazism.

                    • Chris

                      You’re correct, crella.

                      The program was condemned by the ACLU and others for targeting the Muslim community.

                      A call to reinstate this system is troubling enough by itself, but it is especially troubling to imagine it in the hands of someone who has said before that they would “absolutely” put all Muslims on a registry. Even though Trump is not saying that now, he has not acknowledged the wrongness of the original statement, and has shown a willingness to attack the Muslim community, such as his false claim to have seen non-existent video of “thousands” celebrating after 9/11 in New Jersey, his repeated smears against the Khan family including saying that the wife “maybe wasn’t allowed to speak,” and his nonstop fear-mongering about Muslim refugees.

                      The registry in and of itself is not a “new version of Nazism,” but in the hands of Trump I can see it leading to something like Japanese internment. It is of the utmost importance that Trump know he does not have America’s support in this.

                    • Jeez, Chris. There has been no “call” any more than Clinton’s statement that we should “look at the Australian approach was a threat to take everyone’s guns by force.

                    • And that, in all likelihood, would NOT be unconstitutional.

                    • zoebrain

                      There’s many unconstitutional laws on the books. Enforced too, until in 5, 10 or 20 years the challenge to them wends its way through federal courts, appeals, circuits, more appeals then certiori.

        • Frankly, I am really sort of sympathetic to Chris’ overall position.

          I have a feeling that I examine more far-flung sources of information and opinion than possibly anyone else on this blog, and what I *hear* out there, and what I see beginning, is a radical and forceful and even extreme turn to the Right. But it is different now. And it is a different Right. The reason it is different is because many of these people, they who have been seen and labeled as the ‘radical fringe’ and thus dismissed, have done a great deal of research and are now coming back with a far more articulate position. They seem to have a better sense of what they are fighting for. If *you* were aware of the full articulation of that position, and if *you* were aware of how disruptive it will be to the established doctrinal order, I think *you* would have more fear in your souls.

          I listened this AM to a broadcast by Christian white nationalists who define their struggle as white Christians for a white (and Christian) America in terms of its ethical sense and its moral basis. These people read at Counter-Currents, listen to and respect David Duke (as I do), and have informed themselves to the essence of the problem: the demographic weakening of white America by conscious socio-political choice. They know that they have enemies and they know that those enemies can do and have done them a great deal of harm. They seem to understand that it is a System which has been doing them harm and that the left-progressives are fairly allied with it.

          The level of articulation and self-awareness not only among these Christian people but almost all of the new and more radical right-leaning opinionators that I am aware of, shows another level of understanding, and another level of opposition. These people are also aware that Trump was just a door that opened but they can put no great faith in him or in the hope that he will solve their problems. There is really just a certain amount of time to educate enough people to what is really happening and to red pill enough people and ask them to become active. It is that serious.

          I can relate to this because, faced with both the zealous-indoctrinated who imagine they own the high moral ground, like Chris and Deery, I have really had to struggle to understand and to be able to articulate why their ideas and their will are destructive, and how it is that these Marxological ideologies have to be resisted. But it is not just the overt progressives. These ideas have also infected the conservatives.

          • I think we’re all “on alert” for that possibility. But as a possibility, it cannot be taken as “fact”. By jumping the gun, the protesters and rioters have done nothing but diminished their political and social clout. Their outrage could be about a hangnail at this point and it would make as much sense. What will they have to do to shock the country in 3 months’ time when it’s actually warranted? Protesting won’t be enough because we’ve set this s the baseline. They’re moving their own goalposts and now it will have to be full scale riots if they’re going to make a point in the future.

            When the election concludes, we hit the reset button for our own benefit, not just the benefit of the president-elect. We need to cast ourselves as rational thinking people so that others can take us seriously. It does no good to cry WOLF!!! when we know he’s there and licking his paws. You need to cry WOLF!!! when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing like breaking into the chicken coop.

            • Tim LeVier said, “When the election concludes, we hit the reset button for our own benefit, not just the benefit of the president-elect. We need to cast ourselves as rational thinking people so that others can take us seriously. It does no good to cry WOLF!!! when we know he’s there and licking his paws. You need to cry WOLF!!! when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing like breaking into the chicken coop.”

              I love the Boy Who Cried Wolf analogy; I think it is completely appropriate.

              Well Done!

          • Chris

            These people read at Counter-Currents, listen to and respect David Duke (as I do)

            This is what scares me. Trump has empowered and emboldened people like this.

            • And 8 years of divisive rhetoric empowered and emboldened Black Lives Matter AND the toddlers currently rioting.

              That should scare you.

              But it doesn’t. And yet it is REAL.

              I wonder why?

              • Chris

                No, police brutality empowered and emboldened Black Lives Matter.

                • You all don’t have control of the narrative any more. So please quit and start being honest.

                  • Chris

                    I don’t appreciate you presuming bad faith on my part, tex. I meant what I said and I said what I meant.

                    It’s nice that you think Alizia and all the other white nationalists who support Trump–some of whom have already committed hate crimes in his name–aren’t “real.”

                    • You see, I have to presume bad faith from you.

                      You put words in my mouth. Dishonest.

                      Two, “I meant what I said and I said what I meant.” has been discredited time and again in a dozen or so discussions.

                    • That is an unfair move, Chris. I am the only one on this blog who has ever mentioned ‘white nationalism’ or proposed white identity. It is ethically wrong to associate anyone else with what I think (but with many caveats of course). Everyone on this blog, as I have been able to tell, defends the classic Republican position of plurality and protections before the law. And they oppose what I stand for.

                      My ultimate position is meta-political in respect to the white nationalism position. For the European ethnias to continue to exist, and to prosper, an entire revolution in perspective needs to occur. It would amount to a Reformation really. It may be historically impossible.

                      You-plural (those you mostly argue with on this blog) can work out your differences pretty easily I think. That is why I say that I personally think you have very good reasons to construct *walls of complete diffference* between your position and my position.

                      I just think you should understand *our* position better. It will help you to understand a huge swatch of America.

                      (You are obviously unaware that ‘hate crimes’ as in black on white violence has been going on for many many years now. Just google it and spend an hour watching the vids. I do not think there is a corresponding white-on-black wilding-type violence. Black-on-white violence is the under and non-reported story of the decade though).

            • I think you have got it backwards to a large degree. I think it is a false myth that a leader comes on the scene and ’empowers’ people. What has happened, and it is a phenomenon of Europe as well, is that people have naturally, inside of themslves, come to certain positions and conclusions, and in this way they ‘turn against the present dispensation’. That dispensation is a ‘construct’ as they say. And they seek and gain information to look at it critically. It is a form of ideological disobedience I suppose.

              Even stronger ideologically than Duke (in terms of his articulation of an anti-Jewish position) is E. Michael Jones who comes at the question from a Catholic angle. Jones has a very interesting historical analysis which, of course, resists Jewish radicalism.

              I know that these are very tough and totally taboo topics (excuse the run of alliteration!) but they will all be coming out into the open. What terrifies people, I suppose, is that the foundations are shaking.

              • zoebrain

                Taboo? No. Seen it all before. Didn’t end well. Not for anybody.
                Better that it’s out in the open. Simplifies countermeasures, reduces collateral damage.

                • zoebrain

                  For example, from the website you link to.

                  Second, because of the leading role of the organized Jewish community in engineering the destruction of European peoples, and because the United States is the citadel of Jewish power in the world today, the North American New Right must deal straightforwardly with the Jewish Question.

                  “The Jewish question”.

                  There are few unambiguous touchstones when evaluating political philosophies. This phrase is one of them. See it, and the rest can be discarded unread, except to give clues to the thinking of one’s enemy. And I don’t mean enemy as a synonym for opponent.

                  • That website is as it says it is: a counter current. I first came across it 2-3 years ago and, I admit, had to turn away. I could not at all grasp how someone like Savitri Devi could be thought of as one to learn from. I thought the site interesting but too weird to take seriously.

                    But, and in my own case, because I had already begun an inner project of dismantling Judaism inside of my own self I persisted though it took me a year. Once you start that process (I assume you’d have no reason to as a post-Christian) it tends to gain ground as you go along. It is in a definite sense an awakening out of a programming. But in my own case that was more local and having to do with family, traditions, what is allowed and not allowed.

                    The larger questions are infinitely more complex. Possibly the larger influence on me was Houston Chamberlain. He has a level of analysis that is incomparable to any thinking I am aware of. But it is not Judenhass (Jew Hatred) despite what anyone says. You’d have to read him to understand. You likely never will so you’ll not ever understand!

                    To get an even more profound sense of the counter-current, the radical view, look up Jonathan Bowden’s talk on Savitri Devi. Or listen to some of the talks by E. Michael Jones. Then there is Kevin McDonald (whose book The Culture of Critique I have mostly read). He is not in any sense a bad man. He is a very reasonable scholar. And yet he spells out a view of Judaism and Jewishness that shows how it functions. E. Michael Jones is one who touches on many interesting points but I don’t trust his radical Catholic perspective.

                    But what must be understood — contradict this if you can — is that any Jewish critical position, even if it is benign, is not allowed. Effectively, there can be no critical position. Any critical position is suspect.

                    And that is one good reason to see one as necessary. All I have tried to do in the fairly tamed positings I make on this blog is to indicate a whole area that is going to be opened up for consideration/reconsideration. It has already happened. And that is why the Wiesenthal Center is alarmed and naturally the NY intellectual community through its primary organ the NYTs. The understructure of the present cultural battles and the alarmism that is vibrating through the System extends out of Marxian resistance. It has taken on a theatrical tone. Like a theatre within a theatre of the rehearsal of the theatre cast when Pence when to see Hamilton! (Did you see the NYTs article today and the video?)

                    An ideological war has begun. This is a very strange but a very important point in history. The mistake you will most likely make is to fail to see it and understand it. You will define it in terms of easily grabbed tropes and in that way fault to really see. Seeing has become a radical activity!

                    The nature of the *struggle* as it were is meta-political and meta-historical. To see it in a larger picture one has to see it in terms of decades. Sixty or seventy decades is nothing. To overturn and to reverse what is referred to generally as Jewish Radicalism (from Bolshevism to the machinations of the New-Cons) is part of a civilizational struggle. Despite the stigma and the ‘taboo’ against this understanding of things to see things in these terms is not evil.

        • crella

          If I recall correctly, Trump didn’t ‘float’ the idea, a Yahoo News reporter asked him if he would consider the idea. Trump, caught off guard, made an answer along the lines of ‘ not ruling anything out’.

          • Chris

            NEWTON, Iowa — Donald Trump “would certainly implement” a database system tracking Muslims in the United States, the Republican front-runner told NBC News on Thursday night.

            “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” Trump said in Newton, Iowa, in between campaign town halls.

            “There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases,” he added. “We should have a lot of systems.”

            When asked whether Muslims would be legally obligated to sign into the database, Trump responded, “They have to be — they have to be.”

            On Friday morning, Trump rival Jeb Bush called the comments “just wrong.”

            “You talk about internment, you talk about closing mosques, you talk about registering people. That’s just wrong. I don’t care about campaigns,” he said on CNBC. “It’s not a question of toughness. It’s to manipulate people’s angst and their fears. That’s not strength, that’s weakness.”

            http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/trump-says-he-would-certainly-implement-muslim-database-n466716

            • crella

              Thursday, Nov. 19

              It all started on Thursday, Nov. 19, when a Yahoo News reporter asked Trump about his position on increased surveillance of American Muslims.

              “France declared this state of emergency where they closed the borders and they established some degree of warrantless searches. I know how you feel about the borders, but do you think there is some kind of state of emergency here, and do we need warrantless searches of Muslims?” the reporter asked.

              “We’re going to have to do certain things that were frankly unthinkable a year ago,” Trump said.

              The Yahoo reporter then asked Trump, “Do you think we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID?”

              Trump responded, “We’re going to have to look at a lot of things very closely. We’re going to have to look at the mosques. We’re going to have to look very, very carefully.”

              Here, Trump didn’t reject the idea of a Muslim registry, but he also didn’t give an affirmative “yes” that he wanted to create such a database.

              It escalated the next day.

              Friday, Nov. 20

              The next day, an MSNBC reporter asked Trump, “Should there be a database or system that tracks Muslims in this country?”

              “There should be a lot of systems,” Trump responded. “Beyond databases. I mean, we should have a lot of systems.”

              Trump then digressed to talk about a wall along the southern border, before the reporter interjected, “But that’s something your White House would like to implement.”

              “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely,” Trump said.

              Here, we’re not clear if Trump is talking about implementing a wall or implementing a database.

              But a few seconds later, when asked how he would register people into a database, Trump said, “It would just be good management.”

              Finally, the reporter asked if Muslims would legally have to be part of the database.

              “They have to be — they have to be,” Trump said. “Let me just tell you: The key is people can come to the country, but they have to come legally.”

              While many headlines came out after this exchange saying Trump would “absolutely” require Muslims to register in a database, it’s not entirely clear that’s what he said. Trump was talking about building a wall along the border when the reporter asked if he would implement an unspecified policy — “that” — as president.

              Through the end of the conversation, it’s possible Trump thought the exchange was about illegal immigration.

              The same day, an NBC reporter also repeatedly asked Trump what the difference is between a registry for Muslims and the registry for Jews under Nazi Germany, to which Trump only replied, “You tell me.”

              Later that day, Trump wrote on Twitter, “I didn’t suggest a database — a reporter did. We must defeat Islamic terrorism & have surveillance, including a watch list, to protect America.”

              While that is accurate, Trump also did not dismiss the idea of a database.

              After Trump’s tweet, Fox News asked him about his position on a Muslim registry.

              “Let’s hear it directly from you,” said host Kimberly Guilfoyle. “Would President Donald Trump support a full Muslim database?”

              “Basically the suggestion was made and (it’s) certainly something we should start thinking about,” Trump said, repeating that the reporter presented the idea. “But what I want is a watch list. I want surveillance programs. Obviously, there are a lot of problems. … But, certainly, I would want to have a database for the refugees, for the Syrian refugees that are coming in because nobody knows where they’re coming from.”

              Guilfoyle followed up: “So to be clear, you are not saying anything with respect to a religious database. You are talking about the Syrian refugees in light of the national security development affecting this country as we speak here tonight.”

    • Steve

      Where is this proposal? Is there a draft executive order? A bill in congress?

      Stop being weak minded, immature and most of all stop being a chicken little.

      Your side lost, there is no reason to try and cause panic as some demented revenge against the country. It is just another big lie, next your going to tell us it is because of that anti Semitic Steve Bannon, although I really don’t like him, being an adviser.

    • Chris Marschner

      Chris,
      There is no evidence to your statement about Muslims bring placed on a list.

      We do have lists of all entrants to the US. Everyone crossing the border must check in with Customs and immigration. Your passport is stamped and a record of your travel or stay is recorded. Why should someone entering the US illegally not have to check in when even US citizens must be recorded when entering and leaving the US.

      Furthermore, if selective registries are of concern to you why are you not complaining about the list all men 18 -25 must register for or be subject to federal penalties. Only men must register. Females are not required to be placed on this list.

      • Chris

        Chris,
        There is no evidence to your statement about Muslims bring placed on a list.

        No evidence except for a member of Trump’s transition staff flat-out saying that they were considering this. Just because you haven’t bothered to inform yourself on the evidence doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

        • Joe Fowler

          Just for kicks, I defined a targeted advertising audience using my standard Facebook advertising tools, and I can define an audience:
          That is Muslim.
          That are immigrants.
          That speak a certain language.
          That live in a certain area.
          That are male.
          That are single.
          That are a certain age group.
          That have interest in Sharia law.
          That enjoy live country music. (Oops, that one is part of my standard ad targeting.)
          And on and on and on.
          Facebook knows just who these people are! Oh my God! I can find out who they are too!
          Online? You have no privacy. The ‘list of Muslim’s’ argument is moot. They’re all already on a list. How would you like it sorted?

    • Isaac

      “The more respect and legitimacy we give Trump now–the more glowing profiles there are about his family, the more we say “Give him a chance”–the more normal he seems, and the more his brand of evil becomes accepted.”

      Will you think about what you just said.

      • Chris

        I’ve thought about it a lot. What you really seem to want is for me to reach a specific conclusion. What conclusion would that be?

  2. Steve

    Jack just keep doing what you are doing, hopefully you will break through to some as you did with me.

  3. Alex

    I guess the good news is you’re getting nore traffic. Hopefully you’ll gain a couple of readers from that to balance out the crazies. (For the record I discovered your blog from a post criticizing you)

    • That’s cool. I have no problem getting criticized, though I must say most of the time it’s depressing. But it does get readers, and the fact that the blog is growing after seven years is encouraging. This month is on track to shatter all records.

      • Jack Marshall said, “But it does get readers, and the fact that the blog is growing after seven years is encouraging. This month is on track to shatter all records.”

        You’ve talked about some critical ethical issues related to this campaign season, growth is to be expected; however, since the election is now over you’ll probably see a downturn to a new higher level plateau. I’m sure there will be plenty of things to discuss over the next four years with Trump in office and Trump Derangement Syndrome in full gear.

        Keep it up!

  4. EXCELLENT POST!!!

    Jack,
    This is your blog; set the standards and stick to them to the best of your ability.

    I could see brief reflections of myself in that post, as I’m sure some others could. I know that looking in the mirror in an effort to be self-aware is a good thing. I learned a long time ago to make looking in a mirror a daily routine. There are little pieces of this post that will help me be a touch more self-aware.

  5. So Jack, will you ban me if, for some indefinite time, I refer to the President-elect in my comments as “the Apprentice?”

    I think ethically, that label befits Donald Trump entirely. It is not unfair at all. It is tailor-made for him, in fact, considering his previous public exposure as a “reality TV” star of a show using the same term. “Apprentice” befits him more perfectly than it befits any other person who has been elected at the national level in 2016. I consider calling him “the Apprentice” more respectful than “First Apprentice.” It’s a moderate way of expressing respectful skepticism, and a fair use of irony with respect to history. You may disagree on that; I would like to know. If you object to my use of that term, I will exercise basic courtesy and deference toward you by not using it on this blog. But I will still think of him as an employee in a position with a status of unproven competence precisely equal to what that term means.

    • It’s a GREAT name, and he might agree with it.

      Nobody has the guts, but if any new President did, it might be Donald. If I were President, I’d ask every living Ex-President to serve on a special advisory panel as resource. That would mean Obama, Clinton, both Bushes and Carter. I’d like to see it institutionalized.

      I was alwayts fascinated about the fact that Franklyn Pierce tried to convene a special meeting of ex-Presidents (there were five: Van Buren, Tyler, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan) to come up with a proposal to stop the Civil War. What a terrible group!!!

      • Chris

        It’s a GREAT name, and he might agree with it.

        Really? I think it would drive him nuts, which I must admit is part of its appeal.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        Thanks, I never knew that about Pierce. I am doubtful that a panel of former presidents that convenes face-to-face would be workable. But I would be most encouraged, if all former presidents continued giving unfiltered, frank person-to-person input to the sitting president – on the conditions that they would keep such input and dialogue appropriately confidential, with diligent avoidance of “showboating,” for lack of a better word. For a standard: It would be heartening to see all former presidents’ names at the top of the list of persons making the most frequent visits to the White House, far ahead of all other visitors.

      • A.M. Golden

        Like Harry Truman did after he took office, inviting, as David McCullough wrote in his great biography, the only living person who knew what it was like to sit in the Oval Office and to be constantly compared to FDR – Herbert Hoover – to meet with him. Hoover became extremely important to the post-war appraisal of Europe and it earned him a fourth nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

        That would be a great idea to have a panel of former Presidents.

      • Alex

        >to stop the Civil War.
        Crazy! That would be like putting a misoginist theocracy in a U.N. committee on Human Rights

      • valkygrrl

        Nobody has the guts, but if any new President did, it might be Donald. If I were President, I’d ask every living Ex-President to serve on a special advisory panel as resource. That would mean Obama, Clinton, both Bushes and Carter. I’d like to see it institutionalized

        I’ve always assumed this has been going on informally for as long as there have been ex-presidents. It is exceptionally easy in a world with telephones.

        • Trust me, it hasn’t. Maybe because Ike screamed at Jack Kennedy for about an hour after JFK botched the Bay Of Pigs.

          • valkygrrl

            Scolding the person in the hot-seat like an errant schoolboy would probably reduce the number of calls for advice.

            Be that as it may, I find it hard to fathom that Bush 43 never called dad or Bill to say, I’ve got a meeting with x, you had 12 meetings with the guy, any advice on the best approach?

            • We know that W called dad. Who was a poor President himself. Can’t imagine Nixon calling LBJ, Carter calling Ford, Regan calling Carter, or Obama calling anyone, since He Knows All. Can you?

              • valkygrrl

                A poor president is still a priceless resource.

                No I can’t imagine Nixon being willing to make a call till it was too late in several senses of the word.

                Carter has a certain humility, if not making the call, I absolutely see him taking the call from Ford.

                Second term Reagan, long enough, secure enough about Ford. Carter no but that’s on Regan, every president Knows Stuff.

                Bush 41 to the others, excepting Nixon, sure.

                Clinton absolutely, except from Carter. We all know the inter-mural tension between the Carter and Clinton wings of the party.

                Bush 43 would have been the moron he was portrayed as if he didn’t call dad.

                We know Bill Clinton came to the White House from time to time.

                • Steve

                  I don’t have the references right now but I thought w did consult with clinton?

                  Obama brought in both Bush and clinton for something, I don’t know if it was advice or just leveraging their power.

                  I think either Bush presidents would absolutely advise any president and not say anything about it. Love or hate them they are class acts in my opinion.

    • luckyesteeyoreman said, “the Apprentice?”

      That’s funny!!

      I’ve gotta add that ALL President Elect’s are apprentices withouyt exception until they are an experienced President running for their second term.

    • Alex

      I think that is a most appropriate moniker. 🙂

  6. Chris Marschner

    Obviously, the commenters who thought you were a Trump supporter clearly do not read this blog regularly.

    • Or even the post they were commenting on…

      • Wayne

        Well, although The Apprentist is a fair assessment of Donald’s qualifications to be president, there have been others who could be reasonably described with this term. For example Obama who had the unimpressive qualifications of having been a community organizer along with being a Senator who had accomplished basically nothing. Even Eisenhower who had planned and successfully executed the Normandy Invasion had no government experience except carrying out the Chief of Staff’s orders. So please, let’s give The Apprentist a chance.

        • Sam

          You left out Africa where Eisenhower earned his bones. He was seasoned by the time Normandy came around.

          • Wayne

            Yes I know that he had a very long military command with service in the Philippines under MacArthur, in North Africa letting Patton loose, in Sicily planning the invasion and having to deal with Montgomery, and so on. Still, no experience in Washington except under George Marshall.

            • Running the Allied Forces was spectacular management experience, involving leadership, diplomacy, restraint, negotiation, prudence, courage and strategy, as well as crisis management and decision-making. As a group, the generals gave us three great or near great Presidents, and only one dud, Grant, who wasn’t that bad. Ike looks better with each passing administration.

  7. In your original post, you said “Americans have always realized that the slate is cleared when someone becomes President,”

    I’m one of the people (possibly the only person) who accused you of making that up. In response, you quote polls about past Presidents’ approval ratings to show that people were hopeful that they’d do well. Your argument, however, is not just that people have done that (which is not terribly controversial) but that there’s a generally recognized ethical principle which says that people should do that. That’s what I’m saying you made up. I don’t mean that you’re lying about it — I’m sure you’re sincere — but I do think you’re seeing something that isn’t there. You’re stuck in an is/ought fallacy: Just because people have given Presidents a honeymoon doesn’t mean they always must.

    “Doing this is a Golden Rule breach. Nobody in Trump’s position would want to begin such a historic and crucial task being mocked and insulted.”

    I’m a little puzzled here, but I think you’re misusing the Golden Rule. Nobody who smokes marijuana wants to be in jail, but that doesn’t seem to stop you from advocating they be put in jail. I don’t think that’s how the golden rule works.

    “Every American has a stake in seeing that our leaders make the nation stronger, more prosperous, safe and just.”

    Broadly speaking, I agree. And I think that allowing Trump to pursue his stated agenda (and the implied agenda of those whose names he’s floated as top figures in his administration) will make the nation weaker, poorer, less safe, and more unjust. Therefore, I stand opposed.

    “Undermining him now is like punching yourself in the face.”

    No, undermining him now is a way to keep him from punching me in the face.

    “Finally, there is no utilitarian argument for not giving a new President this benefit. It can only make the nation more unified and strong…”

    You mention making the nation strong on several occasions, and I think that in doing so you are perhaps unintentionally smuggling in some assumptions by conflating our nation with its government. Those terms don’t mean the same thing. I want our nation to be strong, but I think one of the keys to a strong nation is a government that is not overbearing. Making the government less strong (at least domestically) has long been one of the stated goals of American conservatism.

    On another matter, why should we let Trump off the hook for his behavior just because he got elected? How is wiping the slate clean for a new President not a variation on the King’s Pass?

    Finally, you quote me saying “As a natural born, taxpaying, U.S. citizen, I say Donald Trump is an lying scumbag sociopath, and I say to hell with him.” And you respond by saying that “It’s all emotion rationalizations from the Trump haters, no substance.”

    Your quote strips my comment of context. I was trying to illustrate the flaw in the logic-free nationalism in this statement of yours: “I don’t care to hear smug foreigners tell us how superior they are, and how little they respect our leaders. This arrogance and rudeness personified. This is our President, and you’re our guest. Behave.”

    So, I’ve explained why I think that a strong and prosperous nation requires that we not allow the government to get too strong, I’ve pointed out your is/ought fallacy, your use of the King’s pass to imply we shouldn’t criticize our leaders, your strange misuse of the golden rule, and the ad hominem nature of your nationalist criticism of John Oliver. I hope you find this more substantive.

    • “Just because people have given Presidents a honeymoon doesn’t mean they always must.”

      They always have, and it has worked out for the best in every known case. Ethics is about experience: conduct that in routinely beneficent becomes generally regarded as ethical conduct. The conduct is unethical when it is obvious that it will not have good consequences. There’s no “must”—must is morality stuff, but there is a ‘should.”

      It isn’t an “is/ought” fallacy. Ought is what ethics is about. The burden is on anyone claiming that what has proven ethical is not in this case.

      You haven’t done it.

      2. “Broadly speaking, I agree. And I think that allowing Trump to pursue his stated agenda (and the implied agenda of those whose names he’s floated as top figures in his administration) will make the nation weaker, poorer, less safe, and more unjust. Therefore, I stand opposed.”

      Now it’s who’s been floated? In your job, if someone is hired that you wouldn’t have hired, do you sabotage her, or wait and see if you were right? Per se unethical to do otherwise, unless you KNOW she will harm the business. Same here. You don’t know. You’re only guessing. Moreso, since (as far as I know), you’ve never done any of those jobs in the cabinet, or anything like them. Neither have I.

      3. “I’m a little puzzled here, but I think you’re misusing the Golden Rule. Nobody who smokes marijuana wants to be in jail, but that doesn’t seem to stop you from advocating they be put in jail. I don’t think that’s how the golden rule works.”

      What? The Golden Rule doesn’t advocate substitute one biased position for another. It presumes reasonable parties, and integrity. Yes, if I broke the law, I would expect to be punished. Thus advocating punishment for law-breakers is not a Golden Rule breach. I would want to be given a chance to do a new job before I was condemned. So would anyone. Thus condemning Trump as President before he has started the job is a pure Golden Rule breach. GR 101.

      4No, undermining him now is a way to keep him from punching me in the face.

      No, because you are assuming, without valid evidence or knowledge, that this will be the result. Pre-crime is unethical. Shooting someone who poses no threat because you don’t like his looks is unethical. Sabotaging a leader before he has led is unethical.

      5.“Finally, there is no utilitarian argument for not giving a new President this benefit. It can only make the nation more unified and strong…”

      You mention making the nation strong on several occasions, and I think that in doing so you are perhaps unintentionally smuggling in some assumptions by conflating our nation with its government. Those terms don’t mean the same thing. I want our nation to be strong, but I think one of the keys to a strong nation is a government that is not overbearing. Making the government less strong (at least domestically) has long been one of the stated goals of American conservatism.

      Strong means effective at maximizing each citizen’s ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness. That’s the definition in our mission statement. Sorry, I should have been specific (but I’m sure you do know that.) The rest is methods. I really don’t care about the methods, as long as they are competent, don’t breach the constitution, and the work. Ethics is non-ideological. If a huge, affordable, trustworthy government could ensure everyone healthcare, a job, a home and a pension while doing the other basic functions of government like infrastructure, law enforcement and national defense, without sending the country into default and not stripping away the property and assets of citizens who took risks and worked for them without creating a class of free-riders and discouraging individual enterprise, risk taking, free speech and initiative, I’d be thrilled. Why wouldn’t I be? But we know its not that simple.

      You know the perfect way to make government work? You have my vote. I don’t. Different methods work different ways with different people at different times. Again, until you see what is tried and how it works, there is no ethical basis for defiance. (To anticipate a retort: the ACA couldn’t work as contructed, and thus it was responsible to oppose it. Same with Pickett’s Charge.)

      On another matter, why should we let Trump off the hook for his behavior just because he got elected? How is wiping the slate clean for a new President not a variation on the King’s Pass?

      Come on–again? This is simple. He’s off the hook for his pre-Presidency conduct. Thomas Jefferson was nearly impeached a Governor of Virginia. Andrew Jackson killed people in duels. Ulysses S Grant was a drunk and a failure. Chester A Arthur was a corrupt hack, So was Harry Truman. FDR was a playboy. Eisenhower lied to get into West Point. Nixon…well, I just wrote about that. There is no rationalization called “The Soon to be King’s Pass.”

      Your quote strips my comment of context. I was trying to illustrate the flaw in the logic-free nationalism in this statement of yours: “I don’t care to hear smug foreigners tell us how superior they are, and how little they respect our leaders. This arrogance and rudeness personified. This is our President, and you’re our guest. Behave.”

      It’s not logic free, and your comment is a cheap shot. Foreign citizens should be respectful of their hosts. They have no standing to make Oliver-style criticism, and it is rude and arrogant. I would never go to England and insult high officials on TV, no matter what the provocation. Your statement, however, is still “emotion rationalizations from a Trump hater, no substance.” But as an American, you are on better ground doing it than Oliver.

      So, I’ve explained why I think that a strong and prosperous nation requires that we not allow the government to get too strong,

      Irrelevant.

      I’ve pointed out your is/ought fallacy

      Incorrectly.

      your use of the King’s pass to imply we shouldn’t criticize our leaders

      That’s wrong, and a complete misrepresentation. I said we shouldn’t pre-condemn our new Presidents (not leaders) before he has a chance to it

      your strange misuse of the golden rule

      Ha! You’re killing me! I used the GR properly, you didn’t!
      ,

      the ad hominem nature of your nationalist criticism of John Oliver.

      ARGGH!!!! Could what I wrote be further from ad hominem?

      I hope you find this more substantive.

      I do. Thanks. Completely misguided and wrong, but well presented and substantive. I would expect no less.

  8. Jack wrote: “Every American has a stake in seeing that our leaders make the nation stronger, more prosperous, safe and just.”

    WindyPundit wrote: Broadly speaking, I agree. And I think that allowing Trump to pursue his stated agenda (and the implied agenda of those whose names he’s floated as top figures in his administration) will make the nation weaker, poorer, less safe, and more unjust. Therefore, I stand opposed.

    Jack wrote: “Undermining him now is like punching yourself in the face.”

    WindyPundit wrote: No, undermining him now is a way to keep him from punching me in the face.

    Jack wrote: “Finally, there is no utilitarian argument for not giving a new President this benefit. It can only make the nation more unified and strong…”

    WindyPundit wrote: You mention making the nation strong on several occasions, and I think that in doing so you are perhaps unintentionally smuggling in some assumptions by conflating our nation with its government. Those terms don’t mean the same thing. I want our nation to be strong, but I think one of the keys to a strong nation is a government that is not overbearing. Making the government less strong (at least domestically) has long been one of the stated goals of American conservatism.
    _______________________

    I am interested in what I notice coming up in this conversation. I wish I had more and better understanding. On one had, based on my limited grasp of American government, the office of the presidency has over a certain number of decades become more powerful than it was originally visualized. My understanding is that this has come about especially because of the World Wars. The nation in this sense sacrifices its regional sovereignty (government confined chiefly to the states) when it gives over executive power to a national government. But this is a dangerous and viscious cycle because the more power given over, the more inclined it is to extend its power.

    If I read WindyPundit correctly he is attempting to hold to a ‘conservative’ stance (in the former and original sense of the word and very much not to be confused with neo-conservatism which likely has more in common with Bolshevism and overt usurpations of public power by private interests than with any genuine conservative principles) and he is afraid of an Executive branch that will wield power in destructive ways.

    WindyPundit’s conservatism would have to be better defined I suppose. He might incline toward social-democratic forms and toward the liberal-progressive forms which seem to dominate the present scene. He might also take an anti-war-machine stance and a return to American quietism (if that is the correct term for avoiding getting ’embroiled’ in foreign wars and conflicts). Or, he might mean only that the power of the presidency needs to be consciously curtailed and government pushed back into the Senate and the House and that the presidency assume a more modest, a less Imperial, role.

    Myself, I wonder if it is best and most rational to see the Presidency as essentially the captain’s cabin. The ship has already been constructed and it is huge and complex and it is going forward at a tremendous momentum. You can certainly put someone else in the captain’s chair but that person can only do so much and can either apply brakes (so to speak) or accelerate the ship’s motion. But you cannot really modify the System. Obama, at least according to some of the narratives, applied brakes to American assertion of power. He ‘weakened’ America (as they say). But if one holds that view one implies that ‘making America stronger’ will be through a more militarily assertive America. Therefor, one is sort of in a box. You can’t back away but then there are vast problems with going forward.

    It seems to me that if one is going to play the game of neo-imperial power — and that game is certainly played in our world — you have to go in all the way or to withdraw. It seems impossible that America can or will withdraw and return to its limited and internal focus: government through the States (as was envisioned originally). Yet this would certainly be the best or in any case a better overall solution.

    A popular King-like president, who is yet hated and despised well before he even got started, who has vague ideas about ‘making America great (again)’ (it is the ‘again’ part that needs to be questioned: there is no such thing as ‘again’ when you think it through), and this King-like president taking power within a polity that does not any longer seem to know how to define itself or to be clear about what its values are, seems only a recipe for more trouble.

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