Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping [Updated]

GOOOOOOD  Morning!

1 Well THAT took an excruciatingly long time! Ethics Alarms finally reached its high water mark in followers this week, and has held the line for a change. Traffic has been disappointing in 2017; this will be the first year in which visits have fallen from the previous one. I blame the anomalous lack of any viral posts, which usually number two or three a year, (and are completely unpredictable), and the Trump-and-Hillary-driven polarization of the web. I have seen a significant net drop in followers every time Ethics Alarms unequivocally criticizes one “side” over the other, no matter how richly the ethics criticism is deserved.

People really do prefer echo chambers. It’s dispiriting.

Update: Right after I posted this, EA lost a follower.

2. Speaking of echo chambers..It is incredible how quickly the Democrats and progressives on Facebook  started defending Sen. Al Franken in the exact same terms, excuses, rationalizations and fallacies used all week by Roy Moore’s unprincipled defenders. The timing is suspicious…it’s only one time…this is politically motivated…we need his vote regardless…I believe him, not her…it was a long time ago…why did she wait so long?…he wasn’t in politics then…What about Trump?...everybody does it. In many cases they  mocked virtually the exact same statements by Republicans spinning for Moore that they are now making themselves.

Those who aren’t quite so hypocritical nonetheless praise Franken’s deceitful and manipulative apology. I guess Al’s supporters and journalists are exactly as dumb as he’s betting they are. The news media has also swallowed that apology whole. If they would just read Ethics Alarms, they wouldn’t embarrass themselves. Well, not so much and so often anyway.

(I’m sorry. The traffic stuff is getting to me…)

3. Read this, and get a surprise! Here’s an interesting website: Your Morals. Org. It has a list of studies you can participate in online—there’s a registration process that isn’t too time consuming— that gather data while purporting to measure your values, political leanings, tolerance for opposing views, and “morality.” I took the political orientation and attitudes survey.

I scored almost exactly in the center, leaning juuust a smidge…Democrat!

4.  NOW they tell us! I’m sorry, but I don’t care to hear Democratic politicians say  that Bill Clinton should have resigned during the Lewinsky scandal. Senator Gillibrand, who brought “Mattress Girl” to the State of the Union, has the immense gall to say that, 20 years after the  issue became moot. Of course he should have resigned. He lied under oath, lied to the American people, directly, calculatedly and intentionally, and obstructed the investigation, legally and illegally. But Democrats and feminists threw their principles into a big bonfire for political expediency, and it is a cheap, transparent and nauseating tactic to reverse themselves after all the damage Clinton’s pass for his “personal conduct” —I remember all the doges and rationalizations–did to the culture.

Paul Mirengoff,  a prominent Maryland-based lawyer who handles labor and employment-law cases, does an excellent job debunking a current Democratic talking point being used to explain why the party’s disgraceful posturing and enabling for Clinton was the result of sexual harassment “not being taken as seriously as it is today.”  He concludes,

Given the history I’ve just described, the argument that feminists and Democrats shrugged off claims of sexual misconduct against Clinton because of “the times” is unsustainable. The argument that, if Bill Clinton were president today, feminists and Democrats would believe Clinton’s accuser, or even just treat them with a modicum of respect, is unpersuasive.

The claims against Clinton were brought at a time of intense consciousness of the problem of sexual harassment. If anything, that consciousness subsided after Clinton’s presidency, thanks to the unwillingness of feminists and liberals to take his sexual misconduct seriously.

That unwillingness cannot be defended on the theory that times were different.

An aside: I saw that Move-On.Org has called for Franken to resign. Hilarious. The organization was created to argue that the nations should “move on” from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and let Bill off the hook. I invoke the Ethics Alarms principle of Ethical Estoppel. This group, of all groups, may not argue that any politician should resign after allegation of sexual misconduct. Ever.

5. For the record: Senator Franken should not resign. That would set a chaotic precedent. His misconduct did not occur while he was in office, nor did he engineer a cover-up while he was in office. If the revelation of past misconduct is going to mandate resignations from the Senate, then the witch hunt torches will be lit and the nooses knotted, with contrived accusations being employed as political WMDs.

When Franken comes up for election, his past conduct can be considered by Minnesota voters, or not. That’s their choice.

6. Stop it. Some are saying that if Franken doesn’t resign, Roy Moore will win in Alabama. Such incoherent logic makes my head hurt. Moore would be a disgrace to the Senate if he had the sexual history and morals of Increase Mather. Remember my metaphor about his creepy teen stalking while an assistant DA being the equivalent of “poison frosting on a crap cake?” It is apt. Do not let Moore use this issue to brush his other problems under the rug: the fact that he’s an idiot, for example. He thinks the Bible trumps the Constitution. He supports religious discrimination. He defied laws he disagrees with. He was a lawless, fanatic judge. He is not merely a homophobe, but a proud and vocal homophobe.

It is an open question whether the Republican Party will be wounded more seriously if Moore loses or wins. In either event, nobody should feel any sympathy for this ship of fools. The Republican Party had inflicted on Alabama a corrupt, incompetent and horny governor who lied about an affair, then made a deal to make the Attorney General supposedly investigating him a U.S. Senator to get the law off his back, and that irredeemable hack, Luther Strange, betrayed the public by taking the bribe, which is what it was. The Senate seat was open only because our newly elected Republican President, whom an honorable and non-stupid party would not have allowed to be nominated, appointed the incumbent Alabama Senator, Jeff Sessions, a suspected racist, U.S. Attorney General in a terrible decision that led directly to the appointment of a Special Counsel pledge to hound the new administration, as if it wouldn’t have enough problems.  Sessions had been a member of Trump’s campaign team, thus infecting him with a conflict of interest in any Justice Department investigation of “Russiagate.”

This brilliant move created an opportunity for Moore, who, having been twice kicked out of office as a judge, would be shucking oysters on Perdido Beach for a living if Alabama had a sufficient proportion of voters who could count to six. One of the problems with being an ostentatiously unethical and idiotic party, however, is that such a party risks attracting unethical idiots as members. Thus, faced with a primary between Strange and Moore, Alabama Republicans apparently got confused and thought they were supposed to vote for the worst of two embarrassingly unfit candidates, rather than the better of the two.

The entire Republican Party membership should be walking around with paper bags over their heads after this sequence.

7.  Oh, great: the President called Franken “Frankenstein” in a tweet yesterday.

Ugh.

Given the level of sophistication and wit in the party I just described, I bet lots of Republicans are chortling over this. “Duh, Frankenstein! Uh-huck! Boy, Trump really nailed it!” When do you suppose little Al Franken had heard that infantile jibe for the thousandth time? By the time he was 10? 8?

If any other President had tweeted this, I would have assumed that he had suffered a stroke.

8. Be kind. We are now up to 8 women who have accused Bush 41, now in his nineties, diminished, wheelchair bound and not long for this world, of groping them. Is anything served by embarrassing the old man at this point? Other than giving satisfaction to hateful hyper-partisans, that is? Can’t we wait until, say, six months after he’s been buried and eulogized and then have a mass “In addition to being a weak and feckless President, George H.W. Bush was a privileged sexist pig” press conference, hosted by Gloria Allred?

 

41 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Social Media, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet

41 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/17/2017: Groping And Griping [Updated]

  1. valkygrrl

    6: I’m leaning toward resign on Franken but I’m willing to give the story some time, more than a day before I place myself firmly in one camp or another.

    As so Sessions, didn’t like the choice, don’t like the choice, pretty sure Christie or Giuliani would have also needed to allow a special consul. Also pretty sure Trump wouldn’t have chosen someone unconnected with the campaign for AG in any case.

  2. “I blame the anomalous lack of any viral posts, which usually number two or three a year, (and are completely unpredictable),”

    I’m the most consistent editor of a very obscure Wikipedia page that draws two to give views per day. Once every few months, there will be 25 views in a day, then it goes right back to pattern. All I can figure is that one professor somewhere in the world refers obliquely to the subject in a course, and that evening a smattering of students looks it up.

  3. It is incredible how quickly the Democrats and progressives on Facebook started defending Sen. Al Franken in the exact same terms, excuses, rationalizations and fallacies used all week by Roy Moore’s unprincipled defenders. The timing is suspicious…it’s only one time…this is politically motivated…we need his vote regardless…I believe him, not her…it was a long time ago…why did she wait so long?…he wasn’t in politics then…What about Trump?…everybody does it. In many cases they mocked virtually the exact same statements by Republicans spinning for Moore that they are now making themselves.

    Do you have any screencaps?

    • I am abashed to say that even after multiple instructions, I don’t know how to take them. Or how to use my android phone. Or how to use an app. Or how to send a photo using my phone.

      I can sing the Major General’s Song, though.

      • joed68

        “….,Or how to send a photo using my phone.”
        So that’s NOT you sending “dick- pics” to my wife?

      • Pennagain

        I can sing the Major General’s Song, though.

        But can you do it in one breath? Of course, you can. (That was an exercise in a radio class I attended in 1949. I can only get as far as hypotenuse these days. And the enunciation … oh, terrible)

  4. JutGory

    Re: #2

    I am no defender of Franken, though I hail from the State that Mondale Won.

    I think you are right in #5 that he should not resign.

    But there are excuses that distinguish him from Moore.

    The timing is suspicious?

    That is stupid. Everyone is coming out of the woodwork now. And, the timing on Roy Moore is suspicious (what with an election coming up); Franken has no similar timing issues.

    it’s only one time?

    Yes, and no. Franken has always been an obnoxious jerk, and this is one of many variations on that theme. So, yeah, it may have only been one time he did THIS sort of obnoxious thing.

    But, in that regard, people are characterizing this as sexual assault, which I think is pretty superficial. leaving aside the kiss and focusing on the picture, Franken’s behavior is not much more obnoxious than the many, many, many Frat-Boy style photos of a sleeping individual with a mustache drawn on his face with a Sharpie. Those are obnoxious and denigrating (and an assault), and Franken’s photo is more comparable to THAT than to Bush Sr.’s “feel-copping.” Calling what Franken did “groping” is a bit of a stretch, even if technically true. To me, this falls into the “prank” category.

    this is politically motivated?

    No real evidence of that. Do we know Tweeden’s politics?

    we need his vote regardless?

    Stupid. Conservatives need a Republican vote in Alabama, but they don’t NEED Roy Moore. Besides, in the State that Mondale Won, it is entirely likely that his vote could be replaced by someone comparable. Hell, with our record, Bob Dylan could be the next Senator from Minnesota. He is just about old enough.

    I believe him, not her?

    I don’t know about the “kiss.” Accounts can be very subjective. I could believe both of them. But, being as obnoxious as he is, I can fully understand her perception of him as an obnoxious jerk, and his perception that he was just being himself and playing the role as he thought it should go.

    it was a long time ago?

    Yes, sort of. It was 10 years ago, far more recent than the Moore fiasco and the Stacey/Rapp incident. More importantly, It was before politics, when he was supposed to be entertaining and funny.

    why did she wait so long?

    Same reason as everyone else. Right now is the right time.

    he wasn’t in politics then?

    This is the most important for me. Roy Moore’s allegations were 30 years ago, but they were at a time when he was a public servant. The allegations are that he abused his position. There is also an ICK factor to the age difference between him and the girls involved. Also, there is a demonstrated contempt for the law in his judiciary capacity that lends credence to the fact that he would have abused his power back then, making him an unfit public servant all along.

    Franken, on the other hand, was a comedian, commentator and entertainer before politics. If he has risen to the occasion (as many wish Trump would), his pre-political behavior should be judged against a different standard than Moore’s and in the context of his role.

    What about Trump?

    Yes, Trump should get a “pass” on his pre-political actions, in the sense that a public servant should be held to a higher standard. However, on the scale of comparison, from worst to “best,” I would put Moore (abused public trust), Bush, Sr. (still, technically a public figure obliged to maintain the dignity of the Presidency (assuming he has adequate faculties)), Trump (obnoxious, but not a public servant at the time he made his denigrating remarks, or took denigrating actions)(of course, this says nothing about his juvenile tweeting since he was inaugurated, but his tweets have not been sexist as much as juvenile); Franken (juvenile prankster pulling an unfunny prank in the long-tradition of SNL players doing unfunny things, but now a public figure that should answer for his behavior in order to maintain the public trust); Kevin Spacey/Louis, C.K/Harvey Weinstein. public figures who have no obligation to account to the public (unless in the criminal sphere, which would make Weinstein worse than Spacey or Louis, actually).

    I actually feel a little bit sorry for Spacey and Louis. Yes, both are jerks, but they owe me nothing. Just as I don’t care about their political beliefs, I don’t care about their personal lives. Of course, their behavior, if not criminal, is subject to market forces and those forces are particularly unforgiving right now. Their employers are too frightened of those forces to keep them on; but, their employers may be rightfully scared of potential future liability if they act similarly in the future; they are a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen at this point. (Damn Lawyers!)

    everybody does it?

    Not everybody does it. And, not “everybody” is the same. We have different standards for different people. Franken did not do this while he was a Senator, so he should not be held to the standard of a senator.

    -Jut

  5. LFW

    I don’t always agree with you yet you always make me really think as to why I don’t. As a Republican, I can tell you I do not find the President’s crude tweets entertaining and I am often embarrassed by them. The fact that I disliked Hillary so strongly and I agree with a portion of his agenda, such as cutting taxes, etc, is the only reason I was glad he won the election. Additionally, I am glad another Bush did not win too. It’s time the Clinton and Bush trains pull out of the station. With that being said, it appears as though the Democrat and Republican parties have reached the bottom of the barrel for candidates for any office. It just makes this old country girl’s head, as you say, EXPLODE! Keep on preaching the Ethics word and to the devil with those who can’t tolerate it.

  6. “Update: Right after I posted this, EA lost a follower.”

    I don’t doubt your analysis, but I can’t imagine your method.

    How do you know this outside of any particular follower directly emailing you with a big ole “screw you guys, I’m going home” email?

  7. #3

    If ONLY we’d saved the original website:

    https://ethicsalarms.com/2013/05/07/the-ethical-guinea-pig/

    You discussed it 4 years AGO!!!!!

    I wonder how much it’s changed.

    It was kind of crap back then.

    • It asks for my profession to register.

      It doesn’t have “Architecture”.

      I suppose my ‘aggressive’ response in the “Other” line may lower my morals rating…

    • “When you decide whether something is right or wrong, to what extent are the following considerations relevant to your thinking?

      Whether or not someone was good at math.”

      Hm.

    • “When you decide whether something is right or wrong, to what extent are the following considerations relevant to your thinking?

      Whether or not someone was cruel.

      OOOOO.

      Loaded questions like this make me want to resurrect the essay I began analyzing a variety of these internet quizzes and why their questions are often times crap.

      • “If I were a soldier and disagreed with my commanding officer’s orders, I would obey anyway because that is my duty.”

        Crap question.

        On one end of the spectrum, Private Shmedlap is ordered to attack a machine gun nest with likelihood of survival being 50% – 50%, but the individual effort will ensure overall mission success of 98%.

        Shmedlap disagrees with the orders but he better damn well obey.

        On the other end of the specturm, Private Shmedlap is ordered to rape a villager or two.

        Shmedlap disagrees with the orders and he better damn well refuse to obey.

        Crap question.

      • “When the government makes laws, the number one principle should be ensuring that everyone is treated fairly.”

        Define fair treatment…

      • “Compassion for those who are suffering is the most crucial virtue.”

        Then given a scale of six options ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.

        What???

        You’re going to ask me to rank in my imagination a litany of virtues (which every individual quiz taker doesn’t doesn’t even agree on), then select what you assume is a virtue in my imagination, then you are going to create a polar choice of most crucial vs non-most crucial, then expect me to select between 6 levels of agreement with a polar option…

        The hell?

      • “It is better to do good than to do bad.”

        What preschooler is putting this quiz together?

      • “People should be loyal to their family members, even when they have done something wrong.”

        Now there’s a good ethics question.

      • “One of the worst things a person could do is hurt a defenseless animal.”

        This is a dirtily worded question.

      • “It is more important to be a team player than to express oneself.”

        What’s the circumstance and context?

      • And at the end it asks me for a zip code.

        Gee, I wonder what political data aggregator receives these returns in order to create custom-tailored messages that just seem perfect for everyone in my neighborhood…

    • My quick assessment is they’ve done better since 4 years ago, but still have a lot of irresponsible questions.

  8. Jeff

    “I scored almost exactly in the center, leaning juuust a smidge…Democrat!”

    They must be using an older definition of “Democrat”, from the days before the party ground its last shred of dignity and principles into dust and descended into total farce.

  9. #3

    I took the political attitudes one and I don’t think I know how to read the chart.

    It seems to associate me with some sort of late Roman Empire sect that was viewed as heretical by the early church fathers….

    I really don’t get what the quiz makers are driving at.

  10. #5, 6, 7, & 8:

    We’re in a Cold Civil War.

    I was only hoping the battlefield would be fought in some other way than sexual harassment accusations…

  11. “I scored almost exactly in the center, leaning juuust a smidge…Democrat!”

    Can’t fool us like that!

    We all know you love Trump.

  12. Matthew B

    #4, last paragraph:

    This group, or all groups, may not argue that any politician should resign after allegation of sexual misconduct. Ever.

    I presume you meant of, not or.

    I wholeheartedly agree with your point.

  13. Chris

    An aside: I saw that Move-On.Org has called for Franken to resign. Hilarious. The organization was created to argue that the nations should “move on” from the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal and let Bill off the hook. I invoke the Ethics Alarms principle of Ethical Estoppel. This group, of all groups, may not argue that any politician should resign after allegation of sexual misconduct. Ever.

    Even if it’s another Democrat? That doesn’t seem right to me. Ethics Estoppel is based on hypocrisy, right? If they only asked for Republican politicians should resign after such allegations I’d agree this principle should apply, but since they’re going after a member of their own party, doesn’t that show that they’ve grown or learned in some way?

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