Holiday Ethics Reading Assignment: Ken White, Eric Raymond, And The New Republic

Mother And Daughter Reading At Fire Place On Christmas Eve

Each of these would sustain a separate post, but there are a lot of issues looming, and I promised myself not let the 2016 Ethics Alarms Awards get swamped by events, like what happened last year. (Oh–if you have nominations for the Best and Worst of the year’s ethics, send them in:

1. The New Republic published a transcript of what it calls a discussion among “five leading historians and political observers” regarding President Obama’s legacy. The group was really made up of two hard left journalists, two hard left historians, and Andrew Sullivan. No, balance was not a concern. Dropped in among the transcript were various other historian’s opinions, based on what appears to have been a questionnaire. I read it to learn: surely these devoted Obama supporters would be able to explain why Barack Obama should be regarded as a great President, a conclusion I find complete unsupportable. What I encountered was something very different: five partisans desperately spinning and distorting reality to try to manufacture what all of them appeared to know didn’t exist. In this respect, it’s a case study of how bias eats integrity. That none of these purportedly rigorous thinkers had the integrity to correct their colleagues when the self-contradictions and rationalizations reached toxic levels was shocking.

The big revelation for me was that when you come right down to it, the only major accomplishment the group agreed on was that being the first black President was his legacy. Stumped for substantive accomplishments, the discussion kept defaulting to Obama’s style. Infuriating but familiar for his failures were repeated ( Explaining the Trump election: “I don’t think it has anything to do with him personally, except that he’s a black man. The election of Trump was a gut-level response to what many Americans interpreted as an insult eight years ago, and have been seething against ever since.” Explaining Hillary’s loss: “I don’t think she was a lousy candidate. But for a candidate to lose to someone who’s never been in the military, who’s never held public office—he’s not like any candidate who’s ever run before. So there were other forces at play here, most notably her gender.” This is a petri dish to observe the mechanics of progressive self-deception.

Notably, nobody corrected certified myths, lies and howlers, like claims the Republicans vowed to make Obama a “one-term President” from “day one,” that its difficult for any party to win three straight terms (ARRGH!, and here’s the debunking of that convenient fiction), and the utter fake news that the Obama Administration was virtually scandal free, which is another way of saying that if the news media refuses to report your scandals or call them scandals, it’s amazing how easy it is to be “scandal free.”

There was also no serious mention of what I would finger as the single most destructive legacy of Obama’s years, the complete collapse of racial trust. Instead, we get this kind of self-parodying hagiography, and I’m not making it up, it’s really there:

ANDREW SULLIVAN: At some point in the future, with the possible bloodshed and civil unrest in this country that we’re about to engage in, he may be a key person as a post-president—a bit like a monarch who might be able to hold us all together.

NELL IRVIN PAINTER: [Applauding] Well said, Andrew, well said! 

ANNETTE GORDON-REED: That’s exactly right.

Good lord.

2. Blogger Eric Raymond has stern words for Democrats, excoriating them for the refusal to accept accountability for Clinton’ defeat, and recommending a sharp change of course to avoid “the possibility that the U.S. might become a one-party democracy.” He begins his open letter with tough love, writing,

If I were Donald Trump I would be cackling with glee at your post-election behavior, which seems ideally calculated to lock Trump in for a second term before he has been sworn in for the first.

Stop this. Your country needs you. I’m not joking and I’m not concern-trolling. The wailing and the gnashing of teeth and the denial of reality have to end. In the rest of this essay I’m not going to talk about right and wrong and ideology, I’m going to talk about the brutal practical politics of what you have to do to climb out of the hole you are in.

It may not exactly be about right and wrong, but Raymond certainly makes an excellent case that a lot of arrogant, negligent and wrongful conduct by Democrats caused everything to break right for Trump. Here he is, for example, on guns…

Today voter support for personal firearms rights is at an unprecedented high. This is revealed both in polls and in the wave of state-level liberalizations of concealed-carry laws.,,And yet, the Democratic Party line is still hostile to gun rights, and less than six months ago its leaders and captive pundits were talking up Australian style gun confiscation.

If you continue to do this, you will lose.

The Democratic line on gun policy is a perfect symbol of everything that has become disconnected about the party. It reads as corrosive disrespect for middle-Americans who like their firearms, think of themselves as a nation of armed citizens rather than cowering subjects, and use their guns responsibly. It reeks of class warfare, urban elites against flyover-country proles. It’s disempowering, not empowering. It is, in short, a perfect focus for anti-Democratic populist anger.

Read the whole letter.

But the real question is whether the leaders of the Democratic Party will read it.

3. Leaving the best for last, we have what will be awarded, in the upcoming awards, the title of 2016 ‘s “Best Ethics Essay Not Appearing On Ethics Alarms.” this superb post by Popehat’s Ken White. It is called “Deserving Trust,” and I wish I had written it. What matters, though, is that someone did.

Bravo, Ken, and not for the first time.


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Rights, The Internet, U.S. Society

23 responses to “Holiday Ethics Reading Assignment: Ken White, Eric Raymond, And The New Republic

  1. Wayne

    Here we come down again to the Aesop fable “The Emperor Has No Clothes” and far too many on the left refuse to believe it. I’m try to understand the pathology that underlies this belief. Maybe it’s the Stockholm Syndrome or something.

  2. Though the last rant is enjoyable…I really feel like he misses the mark.

    It *feels* like he’s essentially saying “Don’t change your policy vision for the nation, since I pretty much like them, sure they are a massive component of why people reject your message for which you in turn ridicule them mercilessly and cause more people to reject you…I’m not saying change those policies, just change the ridicule part of it when people reject your policies”

    Which to me, sees the HUGE problem, but then only barely describes the problem.

  3. Slick Willy

    Americans (and most people, but particularly Americans) in general dislike being talked down to and treated as if they are unintelligent (even if it is true).

    This treatment causes resentment which leads to a desire to strike back, to prove the description wrong, and to get even.

    Over the ages, politicians have crafted a fine art of hiding what they are thinking and not offending the masses. The Establishment has forgotten that skill set, making it a ‘lost’ art.

    They have sowed the wind, and the reaping is still going on.

    • Recumbent driver

      Americans (and most people, but particularly Americans) in general dislike being talked down to and treated as if they are unintelligent (even if it is true). Yo, Willy, you’re so intelligent? Fix my car. Fix my washing machine. De-bug my computer. As Will Rogers put it,”Everyone is smart. Just in different things.” A lot of these things don’t get you an Executive Mansion office, but they sure as hell are useful.

  4. Reading the New Republic piece literally made me sick; I could not read it all in one sitting, I had to walk away from it twice.

    The level of Liberal Magical Thinking from those political hacks is unbelievable! I found myself reading some things multiple times thinking to myself “they couldn’t possibly have meant what I think they did”, but over and over again I was wrong.

    These statements from Gordon-Reed jumped off the page at me; “Before he [Obama] had done anything: ‘We’re going to make him a one-term president’ “, “there were other forces at play here, most notably her gender”, “It’s clear that many people have a hard time paying attention to older women as anything other than mothers or grandmothers”, “For the first black president, there were all kinds of psychic things going on that just don’t apply for a ‘regular’ person”, “If you are an African American person and you are in this setting, you can’t maneuver like a white person”, “wrecked by the white nationalism”, “The difference between being angry because someone has oppressed you and being angry because you don’t think another person is a human being and belongs on the earth”. Really, really read what those things say a few times!!

    Aside: I had no idea who Gordon-Reed was until I read this New Republic piece and I had absolutely no idea she was a black woman until I got done pasting her statements above and I had to know more about this person. This lady has a couple of huge chips on her shoulder and she is teaching at Harvard; I feel for any student that challenges her.

    There were way too many Liberal Hive Mind moments, like the one Jack quoted in the blog, that just blew me away.

    The lies, lack of taking responsibility, passing the buck, innuendo, hive mindedness, magical thinking; rationalizations; dammit I’m getting that sick feeling in my stomach again. How is it that some people can be so intelligent and yet be so intellectually dishonest to the point of sounding ignorant; is it ideological blindness, is it brainwashing, what is it?

    It’s time to walk away from that New Republic piece knowing full well that “you can’t fix stupid”.

    • My favorite opinion was the expert who said that Obama’s killing of the Keystone pipeline was his greatest achievement! THAT’S a record for faint praise! Obama himself said that the move was symbolic, and wouldn’t put a dent in claim change, while losing jobs. That’s it, is it? A completely cynical, symbolic kowtow to radical environmentalists that has no real effects at all, was Obama’s finest hour. And this from a supporter!

      • The expert says, “Obama’s killing of the Keystone pipeline was his greatest achievement”

        Jack wrote, “That’s it, is it? A completely cynical, symbolic kowtow to radical environmentalists that has no real effects at all, was Obama’s finest hour. And this from a supporter!”

        Yup, that’s a rather skewed since of reality from an “expert”; it shows some serious Liberal Magical Thinking.

  5. The Dems’ focus on gun control was a bit perplexing, to write the least.

    Criminal homicide and other violent crime are at all-time lows. That is not a fact in favor of those who want stricter gun controls.

    So they had deny what could have been called President Obama’s signature accomplishment to do that.

    But then comes Black Lies Matter. What these same cops who habitually gun down unarmed black men are suddenly going to enforce these stricter gun control laws in an even-handed manner? How could anyone believe that?

  6. A brief summation of the Eric Raymond’s blog Hey, Democrats! We need you to get your act together! would sound a lot like what an old Army buddy of mine has been saying for years; since the ideology of the Democratic Party has failed, the Democratic Party has been trying drive people away from the Republican Party by dividing the nation and demonizing everything Republican; “the Democrats have been trying to win by default” as the last party standing and that is what I think Eric is trying to say.

    What Eric is ignoring it the fact that Liberals/Progressives are completely consumed by their ideology and will not change that ideology, they firmly believe they are right and anyone who disagrees with them is wrong – period. Everything must pass the Liberal Purity Test.

    • Nice and succinct and on point.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        I agree with Tex and Zoltar, with one exception: at the end of Zoltar’s summary, “Everything must pass the Liberal Purity Test,” the term is probably not in the Urban Dictionary, but I think Zoltar’s statement would be more accurate if it ended with “Leftist Authoritarian Statist Purity Test.”

        • luckyesteeyoreman said, “the term is probably not in the Urban Dictionary, but I think Zoltar’s statement would be more accurate if it ended with “Leftist Authoritarian Statist Purity Test.”

          You should submit a definition for it. 🙂

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            The term is so long, and the qualifications for it so encompassing, I doubt that the dictionary authorities would allow the term to be included. I was trying to give you a nudge, in case my suggestion of the term could lead a more sound mind to come up with a better term for the same general idea.

            • luckyesteeyoreman

              After all, WE are the TRUE liberals, right??

            • luckyesteeyoreman said, “I was trying to give you a nudge, in case my suggestion of the term could lead a more sound mind to come up with a better term for the same general idea.”

              There are at least two people that participate on this blog that can personally attest that I won’t submit definitions to Urban Dictionary that aren’t my idea, I’ll will try to help others submit their own sometimes but I’m not going to take credit for someone else’s idea.

  7. “Deserving Trust” by Ken White

    There is nothing I need to say about Ken’s post, it speaks for itself, other than it is an absolutely fabulous post!

  8. Lucky me, today! Just as I was reading this post and comments, over the radio came this song – a nice anthem for the non-Left, anti-Left, and pro-Trump voters to shout in rage against the stinking propcastmosphere:

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