Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/27/17

Good Morning!

1. Explain to me, Oh Ye Defenders of the Biased and Incompetent Media, why it’s unfair to call this “fake news.”

A Facebook friend whose entire output of late is posting links to anti-Trump screeds posted this one, which appeared on the feed as “Donald Trump’s behavior is abnormal”—ah, I see the “resistance” is transitioning again to the 25th Amendment approach to overturning the election, because the news on the impeachment front isn’t good–with a cut-line that referenced him “calling immigrants ‘animals'” at yesterday’s rally in Ohio.

No, Trump didn’t refer to immigrants as animals. Unlike most of those in my friend’s left-wing, Trump-hating echo chamber (she’s an artist and arts organization executive), I checked the speech. Indeed, it’s an ugly, undignified, over-heated, un-presidential mess that makes Trump’s Boy Scout speech look like Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. BUT HE DID NOT SAY THAT IMMIGRANTS WERE ANIMALS! He did say this;

“One by one we are finding the illegal gang members, drug dealers, thieves, robbers, criminals and killers. And we are sending them the hell back home where they came from. And once they are gone, we will never let them back in. Believe me. The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people, these beautiful, beautiful,innocent young people will, will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer,folks.”

Now, I don’t like that rhetoric. It is typical of  President Trump, but inexcusable in a public appearance. However, as muddled and incoherent as he often is, this section could not be clearer: he is calling violent and criminal ILLEGAL ALIENS animals, meaning that they lack respect for human life, are uncivilized, and dangerous. I hate that terminology, but violent illegal immigrants are not the same as illegal immigrants generally, and illegal immigrants are not the same as legal immigrants, aka, immigrants.

The column in question does quote the passage from the speech I just did, so the Chicago Tribune’s summary isn’t even accurate about the article it describes, though the pundit still writes,

“The intent of the tale that Trump told his rabid fans in Ohio was simple: foment hatred for immigrants. You present the innocent characters who are part of the “us,” and you have them ravaged and destroyed by the murderous “them.” You call them animals, something peddlers of hate have done for ages.”

False, and unquestionably false. An editor on a fair and ethical paper wouldn’t permit this to get into print. Trump’s intent is to demonstrate how dangerous and irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants to cross our borders confident that they can stay here. He’s not fomenting hate for violent criminals: who needs assistance hating violent criminals, whether they are illegal immigrants or not? He was, in a particularly inflammatory way, pointing out how irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants easy access to our streets, especially since some of them—the “animals”— are dangerous. That’s clear as a bell, and intentionally misrepresented by the Tribune, the columnist and my friend to foment more hatred for the President of the United States.

THAT’S perfectly all right, though.

2 I point out this blatant misrepresentation to my friend, who responds, “Argue with your friends on your own page; I have no intention of arguing with you on mine.” Oh, no you don’t. You post your virtue-signaling fake news as a substitute for making your own argument—appealing to authority, and the authority, Rex Huppke, is a partisan hack by the evidence of his column—making your little echo-chamber erupt in “likes” and seal flipper applause. Then this lazy excuse for an argument  it shows up in my Facebook feed, polluting it, and I’m not permitted to point out that the linked story is dishonest, misleading crap?

This is the epitome my dad’s favorite rejoinder to such people: “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” Then she went off on the President’s “using lies to obscure the truth”—you know, like the column she posted just did. Yet she could write this with no sense of the irony and hypocrisy at all. This is smart woman, and The Anti-Trump Hate Virus has her IQ points and integrity dripping out of her ears.

I don’t aspire to being the Facebook police, but if you just want echo-chamber cheers for dishonest and biased assertions, keep them off of my Facebook feed.

You are warned.

3.  The criticism of John McCain’s plea for a return to comity, compromise and bi-partisanship in Congress  was met with embarrassing criticism from the Right, some of it appearing on Ethics Alarms, authored  by people who should know better. Criticizing that speech is criticizing ethical government and a functioning democracy, and embracing  the “Everybody Does It,” “They are just as bad,” “They started it,” “They have it coming,” “It can’t get any worse,” “It’s for a good cause,” “These are not ordinary times,” “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now” rationalizations for wrongful conduct rather than agreeing that it’s time to start reforming the culture to reward responsible and professional conduct. This is, in short, adopting the state of war mentality promoted by the Ace of Spades in this revolting post, which I have condemned more than once.

4. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) needs to read George Washington’s 110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation, paying special attention to #89: “Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust.” Better yet, she should commit them to memory, like George did. Collins was caught on a live mike at a committee hearing this week mocking President Trump and Republican congressman Blake Farenthold, the sexist idiot  from Corpus Christi, Texas  who had told a radio interviewer that an “Aaron Burr-style” duel be used to settle disagreement over health care with “female” senators, meaning Collins and her Senate Sister from Alaska.

Collins was led down this unethical path by Democrat Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed, who began by opining the the President is nuts:

REED: I think he’s crazy.

COLLINS: I’m worried.

REED: I don’t say that lightly and as kind of, you know, a goofy guy. Uh, oof. And you know, the, uh, this thing, you know, if we don’t get a budget deal —

COLLINS: I know.

REED: We’re going to be paralyzed, D.O.D. [the Department of Defense] is going to be paralyzed —

COLLINS: I don’t even think he knows that there is a B.C.A. [Budget Control Act] or anything. I really don’t.

REED: No. He was down at the Ford commission saying, “I want them to pass my budget.” O.K., so we give him $54 billion and then we take it away across the board, which would cause chaos.


REED: It’s just, he hasn’t — not one word about the budget, not one word about the debt ceiling.

COLLINS: Good point.

REED: You’ve got [Office of Management and Budget Director Mick] Mulvaney saying we’re going to put in all sorts of stuff like a border wall. Then you’ve got [Treasury Secretary Steven T.] Mnuchin saying, “Oh no, it’s got to be clean.” We’ll be back in September and we’ll have crazy people in the House.

COLLINS: Yes. Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?

REED: I know. Trust me, you know why he challenged you to a duel?

[Senator Reed uses vulgar language in describing how Senator Collins would win.]

COLLINS: Well, he’s huge. And he is so — I don’t mean to be unkind — but he’s so unattractive, it’s unbelievable.


  • That’s it: any public figure who gets caught blathering near an open mike is incompetent, and I say this as one who has TWICE walked into a public bathroom wearing a mic that broadcast everything I did and said into an auditorium.  I have no sympathy for Collins.

Today, George would have updated Rule 89 to read, “Speak not evil of the absent, for it is unjust, and you never know when you might be recorded, you idiot!”

  • Is it ethical for a Republican to dish disrespectfully about the leader of her Party to a member of an opposing party that is dedicated not merely to opposing him, but destroying him?

No. It’s a betrayal.

  • Again with “he’s crazy” : the favored totalitarian method of discrediting and isolating opponents. That’s why the psychiatrists want to get rid of the Goldwater Rule: 76% of them are Democrats, so they can use their authority illicitly to help the Democrats claim that the President is “disabled” by his obvious narcissism. This is an ignorant and biased position that I have noted before. Trump is no more “crazy” than at least a third of our previous Presidents. He’s just “crazy” in his own way. Lincoln would go into periodic periods of semi-consciousness, staring off into space.

Would Trump continue to give a speech after being shot in the chest, like Teddy Roosevelt did? I think not.

  • Reed says that he’s not apologizing to Trump. Of course not! Being disrespectful to this President is a badge of honor to his constituency. (He should apologize anyway.)

Will Senator Collins apologize? I doubt it.

  • Notice that the Times and other news sources omit Reed’s vulgarities, which might embarrass the Democrat in the conversation.

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.

  • Collins says that she doesn’t mean to be unkind, then immediately calls Farenthold fat and ugly. How have Senator Collins and her feminist peers reacted when the President has fat-shamed Rosie O’Donnell? How would she have reacted if a male Senator was caught on a live mic saying what she did about Farenthold, but referring to recently retired Senator Barbara Mikulski?

Memorize George’s list, Senator.

You’ll be glad you did.

19 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/27/17

    • Boy, Pete, I don’t know what it is about “You’re banned from commenting” you don’t comprehend. There remains a route back—an apology and a promise to abide by the rules here, giving you a probationary pass. You haven’t taken it.

      • NOTE: Pete wrote back to protest that he didn’t know that he was banned. This can only mean that he was a hit-and-run commenter, dropping in his often nasty commentary, and never bothering to check how I or anyone else responded.

        That’s not how we operate here, but I know it is a common practice.

        I’ll edit the Comment policies accordingly.

    • It happens, Jack.

      That said, with regards to number 3, I think there is room to criticize McCain. The problem is that McCain, Nicolle Wallace, and Joe Scarborough have been far less willing to call out the Left when they claim that those who want to repeal and replace Obamacare. Remember when Barack Obama supporters ran ads claiming Mitt Romney gave a woman cancer? Or when ads were run showing Paul Ryan pushing an elderly woman off a cliff?

      The silence from those who criticize Trump for his actions was pretty deafening.

      For me, it was San Jose that was the tipping point. Attendees at a Trump rally were assaulted. The mayor of that city, rather than blame the rioters who attacked people who merely exercised their right to peaceably assemble, blamed Trump.

      Everything I am seeing over the last year and a half isn’t disproving the view of the situation Ace held. Riots have kept conservative speakers off campuses. The Democratic Party tried three times to overturn the 2016 election.

      People calling for an end to the Speech Wars have a good end in mind — most people would just love it if not every single minor consumer transaction were not politicized, if not every single public faux pas were not a call to the Social Justice Wolves to come and feed — but the current strategy, championed by most who want to get to this end-point, is not working.

      The dispute I have with them now is not over their preferred end-state — I deeply desire the end-state they seek, where people actually have freedom to think and speak as they want, and not every fucking mundane movie-ticket purchase is either a Cause or a Crisis — but the current policy of “unilateral disarmament, and hope that the Monster Babies will learn from our example” is a total, dismal, catastrophic failure.

      In order to learn at all, it is required that someone first believe that he has anything to learn at all, and we know that progressives do not see conservatives as people from whom anything can be learned — they see us as subhumans to be re-educated and reconstructed into civilized savages who at least won’t embarrass them as we tend their gardens.

      Can you prove Ace wrong, Jack? If so, then I’ll go along with McCain. But I don’t think you can. I think Patterico, a Never Trump conservative, also read the situation right. I’m not willing to unilaterally disarm against people who think I am some subhuman deplorable. That would be foolish in the extreme.

  1. WRT #2, someone I went on a few dates with in 2010 would fairly regularly make social media posts criticizing Governor Christie in rather simplistic ways that were one step above playground insults. When anyone would dispute them, she would just delete their replies, so that the thread was just her initial criticism and a few of her friends backing her. That’s how I knew I didn’t want a long-term relationship with her. Not that there isn’t plenty to criticize about the governor, but hurling insults and then not even engaging those who disagree, but just deleting them, is the mark of not just a closed mind, but a small mind. Then again, she only got as far as graduating high school, and I am a college graduate and a law school graduate, so maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised. I can count on one hand the number of social media replies I have actually deleted, since that’s the easy way out, and I only do that if someone is insulting or gloating.

    I do sometimes make use of the unfollow button, to avoid my feed being clogged with unnecessary garbage from “friends” whose views I already know and don’t agree with (this was a life-saver during the last election, when some liberal friends would post five political attacks on Trump before breakfast). I did issue a warning against coming on my page and starting a political fight during the last election on pain of deletion to make people think twice about doing that just to butt heads or play pigeon chess. I have also publicly and privately messaged those who have argued with me regarding posts not directly related to the election, telling them to end a discussion that was not going to change anyone’s mind and was going nowhere.

    The fact of the matter is, I am sorry to say, it’s pretty darn near impossible to change another adult’s mind once it’s made up on a lot of subjects. It can also be dangerous to try to challenge other adults on subjects that they are passionate about. If your friend is Mexican and has family members who are not all here legally, don’t be surprised if he isn’t interested in hearing anything about a change in immigration policy. You can wave policy considerations, rule of law, and a dozen other meritorious arguments around till your arms get tired, but he doesn’t give a damn, that’s his abuelita you’re talking about, and you attack her, you attack him.

    If your friend is gay or has gay friends, you can marshal the first amendment, 6000 years of history, and more than a few other doctrines that support, at the very least, someone’s right not to agree with the seismic change in social policy of the last five years. It won’t change a thing, your soon-to-be-ex-friend is going to tell you he doesn’t give a whatever about your God, your beliefs, your views, or your homophobic opinion. He gives a LOT about his or his friend’s right to visit a partner in the hospital, open a joint checking account, adopt a child, and do whatever without you knuckle-draggers getting in the way.

    If your friend is old-school Irish, you can do your damnedest to show that 800 years of history isn’t simple or black and white, including that an Irish ruler invited the English in initially, that the two peoples didn’t start to really diverge until the Reformation, that a lot of the fault for the really ridiculous villainy lies on the shoulders of a few individuals: Cromwell, Cornwallis, Trevelyan, not on those of the average Englishman, that those who couldn’t accept the idea of even one foot of Irish soil staying part of the UK rapidly descended into becoming gangsters who partnered with the USSR and other clear villains, and a score of other facts that show the whole question isn’t so simple. Your friend won’t even let you get past the second fact before he rips into you, tells you that it IS that simple, how members of his family died during the famine, were shot dead by the redcoats, were forced to flee mother Ireland, and he wants every Brit and Protestant either dead or out of his land, and he doesn’t give a damn which.

    Trying to engage people on things they are passionate about is a waste of time, because passion is the biggest ethics and intelligence blocker of all.

  2. Jack,

    It’s also a stretch to refer to what Farenthold said as challenging her to a duel. His blathering about settling the debate “Aaron Burr style” was beyond idiotic (and, depending on how one looks at it, sexist — Are women incapable of defending their own honor?), but it was an obvious joke and (given the resurgent popularity of Alexander Hamilton in the American zeitgeist) pop culture reference.

    In other news, Farenthold is unattractive. And so was Mikulski.

  3. Full transcript here, to get the context.

    ” And when you see these towns and when you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon — you just see them thrown in, rough — I said, please don’t be too nice. (Laughter.) Like when you guys put somebody in the car and you’re protecting their head, you know, the way you put their hand over? Like, don’t hit their head and they’ve just killed somebody — don’t hit their head. I said, you can take the hand away, okay? (Laughter and applause.)”

    Use of unnecessary violence in apprehension of the Blues Brothers . . . has been approved. By the President, no less.

    I had no idea the MS13 cartel had taken over multiple US cities, with massacres in the streets. I had no idea that they were recruited from unaccompanied minors who had crossed the border. And I guess the lack of reports of these cities being liberated by heroic Trump forces is all a Leftist conspiracy.

    And the police, exemplifying their degree of professionalism, applauded.

    Please read the whole transcript. Yes, I know it’s Trump, but these policies are actually being put in place while the words are dismissed as just more Trumpery.

    As for MS13? For once, there’s no exaggeration of how vile they are. Numbers though… ” According to the 2009 National Gang Threat Assessment, “The gang is estimated to have 30,000 to 50,000 members and associate members worldwide, 8,000 to 10,000 of whom reside in the United States.”

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