Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2017: Trump At His Worst, Justice Ginsburg At Her Worst, The Times At Its Worst…Yechhhh.

Maybe THIS will be good morning…

1  When I kept reading rants about President Trump’s comments in Puerto Rico, I naturally assumed this was just more of the same: the Trump Deranged seeking out the worst possible interpretation of his words to justify going on another orgy of Trump-Hate. Unfortunately, his remarks were arguably even worse than his critics made them sound. Ugh. Trump’s body language and tone were antagonistic from the start. The man couldn’t control his resentment of the flack he received, much of it unfair, from the mayor of San Juan, so he had a chip on his shoulder, and expressed his annoyance by being petty, arrogant, callous and insulting. It was embarrassing to watch it.

The man is an asshole. This is not news. Now and then I nurture hopes that he will learn, as other Presidents who were assholes—there have been many—have leaned, to suppress the worst of their proclivities in public. Doing this is in the best interests of the nation, and also is crucial to maintaining the power and influence of a Presidency. A display like this is like a face full of ice water for me.

I am officially certifying the Trump Presidency Ethics Train Wreck.

I agree: I’m about 9 months late.

2. Appearing before an audience at New York City’s 92nd St. YWCA, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked by CBS journalist Charlie Rose whether she thought sexism played a role in the presidential election results. She responded that anti-female bias was “a major, major factor” in Clinton’s defeat. As Jonathan Turley, who has repeatedly criticized this and other Justices for for making political statements that undermine the credibility and trustworthiness of the Supreme Court, takes pains to explain, this claim is unsupportable, except in Hillary Clinton’s tortured brain:

Hillary Clinton and her key aides have blamed the election in part on self-hating women who would not vote for Clinton — dismissing that women could have entirely independent judgment rejecting Clinton on the merits.  Indeed recent polls show that Clinton would still lose to Trump despite his unpopularity with many voters.  According to the New York Times, Clinton carried only 54 percent of the female vote against Donald Trump. However, nearly twice as many white women without college degrees voted for Trump than for Hillary and she basically broke almost even on college-educated white women (with Hillary taking 51 percent). Trump won the majority of white women at 53 percent.  Clinton’s continued criticism of women as being self-haters was denounced recently as itself a sexist argument.  In an interview with VoxClinton said white women just do what men tell them to do:

“All of a sudden, the husband turns to the wife, ‘I told you, she’s going to be in jail. You don’t wanna waste your vote.’ The boyfriend turns to the girlfriend and says, ‘She’s going to get locked up, don’t you hear? She’s going to get locked up. Instead of saying, ‘I’m taking a chance, I’m going to vote,’ it didn’t work.”

It is not hard to imagine what the response would have been to someone else dismissing female voters as just a bunch of clinging mindless voters following the directions of their men.  

Never mind: Ginsburg got her seat on the Court by being a woman’s issues advocate, and feminists have to bolster the narrative even when it is utter garbage, as this one is. She’s in her eighties, and clearly is well-into the “I don’t give a damn” phase of life. One of the things she apparently doesn’t give a damn about is judicial ethics.

The correct answer to Rose’s question, the George Washington University law professor points out, was “to say that justices do not, and should not, hold forth on political issues.”

Bingo.

3. It has come to this: Yesterday, the New York Time’s editorial was headlined “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.” It consisted of calendar graphs that claimed, for example, that there were 27 mass shootings in September, and implied that action from Congress could have reduced the number.

Here is an op-ed the same paper in December of 2015, before the Times went completely nuts and abandoned all semblance of responsible journalism:

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

Now the New York Times wants to contribute to the noise.

4. The Times’ biases have their uses, of course. They sometime blind reporters to what their own stories actually tell us, thus letting some ugly cats out of the bag for all to see and smell. There is this article, for example,  in which various film-makers and academics discuss how to employ mass-distribution films to change public opinion regarding climate change with.

The article is endorsing indoctrination and propaganda, without ever acknowledging that this is what it is really being discussed. You know, like “The Triumph of the Will.”

The ignorant sheep-like public must be led to believe what we believe, because that is what will result in the greater good. We have a shining example of the danger to democracy when entertainment, popular culture and media are committed to one political ideology.

59 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, Popular Culture

59 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2017: Trump At His Worst, Justice Ginsburg At Her Worst, The Times At Its Worst…Yechhhh.

  1. 1) Coupled with the idiotic paper towel gimmick, his agencies may be responding to Puerto Rico as well as they may, but the man isn’t going to learn anything to break past his “you’re my enemy, let me tweak you as much as possible” mold.

  2. 3) Yep. Fluid definitions are the nemesis of rational and clear discussion.

  3. Apparently, Justice Bader-Ginsburg delivered a short rebuke of the neophyte Justice Gorsuch in a gerrymandering case. Above the Law delivers a truly, remarkably, unbelievably review of the oral argument questions. It is masterful. Feast your eyes on this:

    https://abovethelaw.com/2017/10/ruth-bader-ginsburg-claps-back-at-neil-gorsuch/?_hsenc=p2ANqtz–crW10pMBbtKR2LqlXBe51ktYyDS2uCCvh_zsHTaYfUAYvTQuhv-u1UWwcGV92yA8I6-8LEse29jA8YovPBruhUbf_oGP9GRHgbS5BEYBAfAEBxpo&_hsmi=57006423&rf=1

    jvcb

    • JP

      I got half way through and had to stop reading. How is this person going to survive in law school writing this garbage. Read Ann Althouse post regarding this subject. It’s much more unbiased and level-headed.

  4. 1) “A display like this is like a face full of ice water for me.

    I am officially certifying the Trump Presidency Ethics Train Wreck.

    I agree: I’m about 9 months late.”

    You should be-still Chris’s fluttering heart, lest he interpret this as some sort of an endorsement of the Left wing media’s methodology since November 8, or some sort of endorsement of the inane Trump-Russia investigation train wreck.

  5. Wayne

    Justice Ginsburg SNL:

  6. 3. I believe this website is the source for the “mass shooting” numbers:

    http://www.gunviolencearchive.org/

  7. With regard to the definition of “mass shooting” and “noise”, I think the primary problem (in my mind) is that we even use the word mass to describe the event.

    When we use “mass” we’re trying to define the shooting event in terms of numbers. So, can we really complain about the discrepancy in definitions when NYT says it’s 3 victims and another source says it’s 4 or 8? We need to retire the term “mass shooting”.

    Here’s my recommendation: we need a new term that encompasses this concept “suicidal blaze of glory” or “I’m out and I’m taking everyone with me that I can.”

    By making this switch, we should also categorize the “Suicidal Blaze” by the implement used: Vehicular, Explosive, Firearm, Sword, Candlestick, Rope, Knife, Lead Pipe, or Ladder.

    If we want “good data”, we have to organize our typologies that are relevant and filter out the noise and bad data.

    So many immediately accept this as a firearm problem. Their motivations and biases are that they want it to be a firearm problem so they can have a gun control solution. When supporters of Gun Rights say that atrocities happen with knives and vehicles, the reaction is to say they are deflecting and using a strawman argument. It’s rarely seen as a positive, that it’s not deflection but an attempt at root cause analysis.

    Refocusing: with regard to the documentation of these events we should begin with all murder-suicides, failed murder-suicides, and events where the perpetrator would reasonably have expected to lose their life (Aurora). I would hypothesize that there is much more in common between 1) a man who seeks out his wife at work, kills her and turns the gun on himself and 2) this guy in Vegas. They both were checking out and they both had the same morbid goals, if only different in terms of severity.

    • Still Spartan

      Data always is a good thing. But this time we know it was Colonel Mustard in the Mandalay Bay with the revolver.

      I actually find it shocking that there is no national database that tracks crime at this granular level. How on earth are we supposed to create (or rescind) policy without this information?

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      Echoing slickwilly – especially:
      “So many immediately accept this as a firearm problem. Their motivations and biases are that they want it to be a firearm problem so they can have a gun control solution. When supporters of Gun Rights say that atrocities happen with knives and vehicles, the reaction is to say they are deflecting and using a strawman argument. It’s rarely seen as a positive, that it’s not deflection but an attempt at root cause analysis.”

    • Continuing on:

      I’d like to see a layman’s version of killer typologies. Imagine if you will a classic quadrant graph. I’d like to see a variety of killers placed onto this sliding scale to see if it’s informative.

      On the X-axis:
      Suicidal (wants) – “I want to kill, I don’t want to be here, & I don’t care who knows it.” [release, finality] (element of confronting justice)

      Survival (needs) – “I need to kill so that my life is better.” [freedom, power, status] (element of evading justice)

      On the Y-axis
      Punitive (targeted) – “I have reasons and my victim(s) deserve this.”

      Dissociative (random) – “Though I must ultimately choose a person or group, my victim(s) can be anyone.”

      Each quadrant becomes a mix of the x & y axis:

      Punitive Survival: “I’ll make an example of someone who’s made a mistake so I don’t go to jail and others won’t make the same mistake.”

      Dissociative Survival: “I’ll kill anyone who gets in my way to escape to safety.”

      Dissociative Suicidal: “Might as well go out in a blaze of glory.”

      Punitive Suicidal: “My life is over and those that caused me pain will feel my pain.”

  8. Chris

    1) Better late than never.

    2) The examples of “mass shootings” the Times uses are so far from what I’d expect the average rational person to interpret “mass shootings” to mean that I believe their headline qualifies as a lie. There may be no firm definition of the term “mass shooting,” but to quote Justice Stewart, I know one when I see one, and those don’t count.

    3) Not all propaganda films are bad, if you define it as using films to change public opinion about a controversial political topic. The comparison to “Triumph of the Will” is unnecessary.

    • I agree that not all propaganda films are bad, but to be ethical, they have to make their biases clear. I take propaganda to be entertainment pushing a political agenda in concert with those in positions of power. Agitprop can be legitimate entertainment (though I usually hate it); propaganda is a form of misinformation.

      Re #2: Do you have a theory why the Times would print that? Has its filters and checks broken down completely? Honestly, I would be expect that kind of editorial in a junior college newspaper,

      • Mrs. Q

        Chris & Jack- can you give examples of “good” propaganda because I don’t understand your reasoning?

        • Wayne

          Here’s an example of a good propaganda film:

        • All of the Hollywood movies designed to condemn the Axis and promote support of the war effort during WWII were “good” propaganda. Built morale, encouraged sacrifice. During WWII, Hollywood was essentially a propaganda arm of the government.

          • At its essence however, propaganda IS a distortion of the truth. This is achieved primarily by ignoring the negatives of what is being promoted while over-emphasizing the negatives of what is being “fought”. Therefore can ONLY be justified on utilitarian basis during threats that can be justifiably considered existential. Like World War 2.

            All other propaganda must be seen as unethical. Like the supposed Anthropocentric Climate Change.

            • Chris

              Certainly the people behind AGW propaganda believe that AGW is an existential threat, and that the negatives of it far outweigh the negatives of fighting it.

              • “threats that can be justifiably considered existential”

                AGW is NOT a justifiably existential threat. Their propaganda is unethical.

                • Chris

                  It is, and you’re wrong. So we’re at an impasse.

                  • Chris

                    By “it is,” I mean “AGW is an existential threat.”

                  • They certainly describe dire results of AGW. They no doubt feel like they are *existentially* threatened. Yet, they cannot justify that feeling.

                    Their models are hopelessly flawed. The data they rely upon is brutally cherry-picked and frustratingly incomplete and new.

                    Their propaganda is unethical. Remember, we’re discussing the propaganda pushed, not the belief held or the studies conducted nor the debates had.

          • Neil Dorr

            Jack,

            “… encouraged sacrifice …”

            So do ISIS videos. I’m not really sure we should “encourage” sacrifice anymore than someone should “long” for martyrdom. If you’re fighting a just cause (or one you believe is just) then sacrifice is an accepted risk, but it shouldn’t be sought after.

            • Good guy / bad guy dichotomy, no?

              It is good for the good guys to use violence to stop bad guys. It is bad for bad guys to use violence to stop good guys.

              I don’t think the sacrifice we encourage is that of men seeking out death but rather men willingly placing themselves in a situation that very likely can result in death.

              • Sacrifice, courage, fortitude, valor…these are all what I call activating virtues. They are often crucial to ethical conduct, but can be employed in furtherance of unethical objectives as well.

                • I agree. But it’s *good* for us to promote a willingness to sacrifice. It is *bad* for ISIS to do so.

                • Andrew Wakeling

                  I generally prefer ‘ridicule’ and ‘satirical humour’ aimed to undermine pomp and authority. As part of my marriage contract I have just had to sit through 2 more of my wife’s Gilbert and Sullivans: Pirates’ this year. I get why Queen Victoria hated it. Dr Strangelove was good too.

          • Mrs. Q

            Ok thanks I get it now. I just literally read this by Joost Meerloo…

            “Every culture institutionalizes certain forms of behavior that communicate and encourage forms of thinking and acting, thus molding the character of its citizens (WWII movies). To the degree that the individual is made an object of constant mental manipulation, to the degree that cultural institutions may tend to weaken intellectual and spiritual strength, to the degree that knowledge of the mind is used to tame and condition people instead of educating them, to that degree does the culture itself produce men and women who are predisposed to accept an authoritarian way of life (Nazi Germany, Maoism). The man who has no mind of his own can easily become the pawn of a would-be dictator.”

      • Chris

        I take propaganda to be entertainment pushing a political agenda in concert with those in positions of power.

        By this definition, wouldn’t climate change films not be propaganda? Our government is currently run by people who do not subscribe to the same agenda. Of course you could be defining “those in positions of power” to include the media and the major scientific organizations, in which case you’re right, and I’ve answered my own question.

        #2: Confirmation bias, and yes, the filters and checks have broken down completely.

  9. Rather marvelous propaganda, on why the war would be fought to unconditional surrender:

    • What do you think the Allies would have done, if the Axis had NOT unconditionally surrendered?

      • 1)Continued to bomb Japanese cities.
        2)Invaded Southern Japan
        3)If the war was still going on after that, in 1946 invaded Northern Japan overrun whatever was left of Tokyo and the other Japanese cities.

        Congressional elections in 1946 would still have been interesting.

        • 1. Conventionally: we had no more nukes and were months or years from having the material to make another

          2. Eventually. I think we really worried about another million casualties

          3. I think we would have bombed those cities into rubble first

          • Would you characterize such destruction as total?

            Also, do you think Japan would reasonably anticipate, if not surrendering unconditionally, and if not miraculously pulling off a victory, then America would follow on with such a total destruction?

            If so, could it reasonably be said, that demanding unconditional surrender of an enemy carries implicit in the demand a threat of total destruction?

            • Would you characterize such destruction as total?

              Yes, in that no government and a reduced civilian population would survive

              Also, do you think Japan would reasonably anticipate, if not surrendering unconditionally, and if not miraculously pulling off a victory, then America would follow on with such a total destruction?

              Given that we had demonstrated a technological superiority (air power, sea power, nukes, etc.) I would assume so

              If so, could it reasonably be said, that demanding unconditional surrender of an enemy carries implicit in the demand a threat of total destruction?

              Yup.

  10. Neil Dorr

    Jack,

    I realize the anti-gun crowd’s arguments haven’t changed since the last shooting, but that doesn’t let the pro-gun crowd off the hook by simply offering the same retorts. This is what BLM does every time there’s another shooting of another unarmed civilian — they rehash the tired Michael Brown/Tamir Rice/Fernando Castille narrative, which fits less and less each time it’s misapplied.

    In this case, all the left hears is the “same old gun defenses they always use” and ignore (or miss) the salient points. Do unto others doesn’t work well in rhetoric, because it just means both sides will be forever doomed to have the same conversation.

    “They started it.” doesn’t give you/me/anyone an intellectual pass.

    • Is there an obligation to come up with “new” arguments, if all the main ones are sound and logical?

      • Neil Dorr

        Yes, because soundness and logic are not always convincing. Is the goal to be right, or change outlooks?

        • If this debate has gone on long enough that the current arguments are the strongest ones available, and the real problem causing the inability to change outlooks is not weakness of argument, but rather close-mindedness and hard-heartedness, the problem isn’t with the one’s making the arguments, the problem is with the one’s refusing to listen or consider.

          How does adding new arguments fix that?

        • Pro gun is in the majority, has the law on their side, and has historical evidence that the anti- proposals fail. Why is it up to us to come up with new ways to cut our own throats?

    • Isaac

      As long as the Constitution is the same, then the pro-gun crowd’s retorts can stay the same.

      Besides, there is no “pro-gun” crowd. Technically they’re the “pro-right-to-own-guns” crowd. No one just unconditionally loves all things ever done with each and every gun.

      Whenever there’s a shooting the ignorant masses pop up with their “another one of your precious guns killed someone, what do you have to say about THAT, NRA?” comments. It’s the dumbest thing. I’m not an NRA member but if I was, it wouldn’t make all guns my children. Individuals are responsible for their own actions, and their own guns.

      • “As long as the Constitution is the same, then the pro-gun crowd’s retorts can stay the same.”

        I disagree. The pro-gun crowd can’t merely keep saying “Constitution says so”, because the core Left doesn’t like the constitution, and the Left base (at least those who are open to convincing) don’t know the “why’s” of the Constitution enough for “Constitution says so” arguments to work.

        No, until civic education is replenished, we must forever remind the anti-gun crowd WHY we have a 2nd Amendment in addition to our other arguments. And if the 2nd Amendment were ever repealed, that argument of WHY the body politic must be armed for a community to actually be free wouldn’t change.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s