Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/4/2018: 500 Days Edition

Good Morning!

1.  In one respect, it is his fault. The most infuriating defenses of the Samantha Bee cunt-fest may be the rationalizations who pronounce her blameless (and thus Turner/TBS) because President Trump made her do it. (Well, maybe the second most infuriating: CNN fake-ethics commentator Brian Stelter actually referred to the episode in a tweet as the “feckless” controversy. You see, Brian, when your field is journalism ethics, you can’t play deceit games like that, because…oh, why do I bother?). To be fair, however, while Bee and the other potty mouthed resistance members and DNC leaders should be held responsible for their own ugly conduct, electing Donald Trump did give a cultural green light to incivility and assholery.

Since nobody else gives me credit and public recognition when I’m right before most of the chattering class (Ethicists Don’t Matter), I have to do it myself. Here is what I wrote in part on September 10, 2015:

We have elected Presidents without experience, who were narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths, who were not too bright, who were unjustifiably cocky, who spouted policy nonsense, who had only style without substance, who acted tough, who were the product of marketing rather than talent. Some of them turned out to be pretty good; some of them surprised everyone and changed their ways. None of them wrecked the nation. I am confident that even at this difficult time in our nation’s history, reeling from the serial incompetence of  the Bush and Obama administrations, the United States could survive a Trump Presidency as a nation.

We could not, however, survive it as a culture.

Placing a man with Trump’s personality and his rejection of the basic features of civilized conduct and discourse to an extent that only the obscenely rich or the resolutely misanthropic can get away with would ensure that American culture would deteriorate into a gross, rude, selfish, assault muck in which no rational human being would want to live…

Even if Trump was a policy whiz, a political magician and a foreign policy master who balanced the budget and restored American’s primacy in the world, it would not be worth what would be lost: dignity, fairness, civility, caring, respect.

2. On the other hand…As President, Trump has been far, far more effective and successful than there was any reason to believe, in September of 2015, and on November 8, 2016. “Effective” and “successful” can only be measured by a leader’s own stated goals and how he is able to achieve them, as well as unanticipated benefits of his leadership that surface over time. The analysis of Democrats and the “resistance” on this topic is literally useless. Any Trump initiative that defies leftist cant is by definition not an accomplishment, and anything that they have to admit is a positive development isn’t Trump’s doing. This is not just an example of bias making one stupid, but also of bias making Democrats and the news media unbelievable, petty, and ridiculous.

By the standards of every other President in recent memory, President Trump has had a very successful first 500 days, made more impressive by the unprecedented interference with his efforts engineered by “the resistance,” the judiciary, and the news media.  Naturally, Trump is making the absurd claim that he has had the most impressive 500 days of any President, allowing the news media and his critic to concentrate on that “lie” rather than substance. In the end, after all, what matters is what a leader does, not what he says he did.

Here is a partial list of this President’s accomplishments. (The fact that you, or I may not agree with the policy does not mean it is less of an accomplishment.)

  • The stock market is currently up more  a third the 2016 election.  The Dow hit over 26,000 points for the first time in its history.  It had more all-time closing highs in 2017, and the Dow increased more in 2017 than any year in history. President Trump enjoys 95 all-time highs since his election and 78 since his inauguration.  The Dow, S&P 500 and Russell 2000 all set record highs since the election.

It is intellectually dishonest not to give Trump (and the removal of Obama) full credit for this. Trump promised a more friendly regulatory environment for business as a formula for economic growth. He delivered. This increase in wealth certainly “trickles down” because Americans are seeing their401k’s increase in value dramatically.

  • May’s job figures showed that more  155 million people have jobs in the U.S. and only 6 million Americans are unemployed, the least since 2001.

One trusted prognosticator,  the Atlanta Fed, expects he GDP growth rate  to be 4.8% in the 2nd Quarter of this year, after  the 1st Quarter in 2018 reached nearly $20 trillion for the highest recorded GDP in US history. Consumer confidence is at a 17 year high.

Again, all Presidents before this one have claimed credit for good economic news, and have received it. Similarly, they are stuck with the blame for bad developments in the economy, most of which are beyond their control. Efforts to carve out an exception for President Trump, who predicted exactly what would happen if he were elected, are indefensible.

  • President Trump gets credit for, so far at least, defeating ISIS, which according to some estimates has fewer than 1,000  fighters now active.

Again, the news media has worked overtime to minimize public recognition of this.

  • There is hope of neutralizing North Korea, entirely due to Trump taking a dramatically different approach to the rogue nation’s saber-rattling than his predecessors. If, of course, nothing is accomplished in the end, then this will not count as an achievement. In leadership, as Yoda wisely told Luke, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

Remarkably, there is strong evidence that President Trump understands this, as the previous POTUS never has.

  • Trump ended the Iran deal, as he promised to do.
  • He appointed and had confirmed the most circuit court judges of any President in his first year in office, and secured Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.
  • He signed more than 90 executive orders.

Notable among them were dismantling Obama’s climate change edicts, regulatory reform, including requiring two regulations to be cut for every new one enacted; cutting funding for sanctuary cities, approving Keystone and Dakota pipelines, and addressing bureaucratic bloat by enacting a hiring freeze on federal employees.

  • He reversed the corrosive Obama policy of allowing illegal immigrants to assume that their crime in entering the country would not matter as long as they didn’t commit any “serious” crimes once they were here.

Trump’s resolve to stop providing perverse incentives for foreign nationals to enter our country illegally has bolstered the Rule of Law, and helped restore integrity to U.S. immigration policy. For this, he and his supporters have been tarred as anti-immigrant, racist, xenophobic , and bigoted. He deserves credit for not letting sound U.S. policy by warped by “Think of the children!” emotionalism.

  • His Education Department withdrew the disastrous “Dear Colleague” letter sent to institutions under the Obama Administration,  which dictated a policy that resulted in a collapse of due process in disciplinary proceedings involving accusation of sexual assault.

There are more that could be argued; for example, I consider it an achievement that  his election and refusal to be intimidated prompted Democrats and progressives into exposing their lack of core principles, increasingly totalitarian drift, anti-free speech inclinations, and ends justifies the means ruthlessness for anyone to see. I consider it an achievement that his election caused the news media to eliminate any shred of pretense that it is objective and trustworthy. He has also exposed the Republican Party as an empty, useless, self-sustaining racket uninterested in the public good, but only seeking power without purpose.

3. No, keeping Hillary out of the White House doesn’t count, but…The list also should include, perhaps at #1,  President Trump’s emphatic rejection of the naive and anti-American Obama dream of a United States compliantly participating in global government. Ann Althouse posted this excerpt from “A Clueless ‘Final Year'” by Roger Kimball:

“This was no mere election. It was a fight between good and evil. And they were in no doubt that they were the good guys. ‘Cuba, climate, Iran,’ Rhodes says, what will happen to those things now that Donald Trump is in charge? Note that he puts forward those items as if they were triumphs for the Obama administration and not disastrous missteps. ‘The irony of the Obama years,’ Rhodes mused, ‘is going to be that he was advocating an inclusive global view rooted in common humanity and international order amidst this roiling ocean of growing nationalism and authoritarianism.’ Got that? ‘Inclusive’ and ‘common humanity’ on one side versus ‘nationalism’ and ‘authoritarianism’ on the other…. The fascinating thing of ‘The Final Year’ is the glimpse it affords into the engine room of a certain species of elite bureaucratic presumption. It is earnest, articulate, educated, well-meaning, and utterly, dangerously naïve. When you review the series of foreign policy disasters over which Obama presided—the names Libya, Syria, and Iran offer a good start—and then contrast it with his warmhearted rhetoric, you begin to understand why Graham Greene could warn that ‘innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, meaning no harm.'”

15 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/4/2018: 500 Days Edition

  1. Plus, the Supreme Court found in favor of Jack Phillips today – on narrower grounds than I would have liked, but still a good ruling.

  2. Jack: Once caveat from your comments. Unemployment rates are only tangentially related to economic performance. If the labor force participation (LFP) rate was rising and unemployment was this low, that would something to herald from the housetops.

    Unfortunately. the labor force participation rate has been stuck at 62.7% or thereabouts for quite awhile. This rate is still at the nadir of LFP of President Obama’s years. This remains a concern both as a metric and anecdotally with the difficulty employers are having finding willing and able workers.

    • Why do you think that is? Serious question.

      Have we made welfare so attractive that you make more to sit on the couch?

      Have we made the pay too much for employers to remain competitive?


      • Slick:
        Let me take a swing at your questions.
        1. Whenever the social safety net is too high, you get lower LFP.
        2. Since the last recession, we have culturally redefined success downward toward the just getting by line.
        3. Financial success and profit have been equated with greed and theft.
        4. Items one and two combined beget a different category of the working poor (but counted as employed and part of the work force) by choice, who take just above minimum wage jobs and collect things like: Earned Income Tax Credits, Section 8 housing subsidies, Medicaid, Free School Lunches and Breakfasts, Utility assistance programs, Food Stamps and other programs. These programs, in my low cost of living home state, amount to a family with one income earner and two dependent children netting between $41,500 and $44,000. Not bad for a roughly $16,000 income.
        5. The reverse income tax needs another review as it applies to those getting public assistance. Something to encourage people to earn more and seek better employment more aggressively. (This does not apply to all working poor, but I see it as a member of a hospital board I serve on in the Certified Nursing Assistant category choosing to work fewer hours to retain government subsidies.)

        An improving economy offering real higher wages due to higher demand for labor will, in part, help solve this problem. How much will it help? Part of that answer depends on if we are willing to lower the safety net a bit and if market prices un-stick themselves to justify higher domestic wages.

        • I think we agree, so let me boil this into a sickly sweet syrup (all the better to swallow the medicine!)

          1. We give people too much for simply existing (and creating other ‘useless eaters’)

          2. Agree that the rich get richer while the middle class slips lower under the Establishment Elite. This is by design. Economic freedom (money) gives people choices, and allows them to exercise responsibility (fail or not). Remove any freedom and you can control the masses better.

          3. This tool is only used against the non Elite Establishment. You either join their club or you will be persecuted.

          4. The rich need workers who never rise above their place, their station in society. This trap is by design, and has been evolving since the 1960’s ‘Great Society’ programs. The goal is to maintain the illusion of freedom while choking the life out of it. Note the Patriot Act was another aspect of this trend.

          5. I have also observed this my entire life: folks cannot afford to be independent of the Government’s welfare. There is a new (ish) wrinkle I noticed lately: racism in how these resources are distributed. Whites are expected to be producers and minorities are expected to be takers, where they coexist. This is not across the board everywhere, but the attitude is becoming pervasive in our social services in Texas, much worse in our Blue cities. This will cause a problem in coming years.

          Thank you for the discussion!

  3. I believe the correctness of what I have stated about TRUMP in earlier comments is more evident now, 500 days into his administration: TRUMP is a transitional figure in U.S. history – with a significance to his transitionality that few presidents or other recognized national leaders in the nation’s history have exceeded to date. I beg forgiveness in advance of prophecy…

    There will never be another president even remotely like him. He’ll probably be one of the last (if not the last) white male presidents for at least a generation (but, in my estimation, quite a bit longer, once the white male “line” is “interrupted” once again, as Obama did to his all-white predecessors). There will be wealthy presidents, bellicose presidents, obnoxious and relatively inarticulate, crudely speaking presidents, presidents with higher and more rapid staff turnover…beleaguered presidents, impeached and almost impeached presidents, resigning and dying presidents. There even likely will be a genuine conservative president in the coming years, but, that president’s conservatism will be manifest in his or her obsession with conserving socialist statism and its necessary gargantuan, ever-expanding, ever more intrusive and oppressive federal government with power ever more concentrated under ever more centralized authority in the offices of persons holding federal jobs.

    I expect TRUMP’s successors to be ever more corrupt and corrupting. But of course, all presidents following TRUMP will be paragons of virtue (so we’ll be told), because candidates won’t even make it past the primaries without owning, and/or being owned by, the largest, “freest” media organizations. TRUMP will be the historic “antiChrist,” the Ultimate Evil incarnate, and all his family, too. Media and federal government will run scared of the biggest street mobs, but of course also will be in continual, intimate, fawning “partnership” with mob organizers, in that ever more obvious and crucial “kingmaker” role (excuse my sexism and monarchism). Epidemics and natural disasters will thin the herds somewhat, while further enabling consolidation of power in Washington DC, so that poverties can be multiplied, propagated, and sustained as needed, so that all (or at least, most) future, post-TRUMP presidents will be deemed GREAT. At least, great in comparison to TRUMP. Nothing in history that will be allowed to be called “good” in the future will be allowed to be attributable in the least to TRUMP.

    • Lucky:
      Do you see a public appetite for socialist statism? Here in the heartland I see increasing distaste for the concentrated power of the central State from the electorate. If you mean to say it will be thrust upon us by hook or crook rather than legitimate republican processes, I find that easier to understand.

      • Those ‘hook or crook’ methods are wearing thin within the Heartland, as more Americans wake up to the situation progressives have crafted. The same distaste for Socialism and statist control which peaked under Obama (water in a ditch is a Federal jurisdiction?!?) means that the well worn lies are less accepted by the peons, I mean, common middle class Americans.

        I pray they are not lulled back to sleep as has happened so many times the past century.

    • Lucky,

      Your really are Eeyore, or possibly (I fear, in the wee small hours of the night) Cassandra.

      Your analysis depends on the system remaining as it has been the past few decades, though. If a ‘disruptor event’ large enough occurs (national disaster, massive riots with burned cities, war on American soil, etc.) the Elite may be removed from power, at least in theory.

      So much of progressive power depends upon non life essentials, after all: Hollywood, Academia, Social Justice, and the media all depend on a stable economy to sell their products, which would fall by the wayside if the market fails. Conservative power remains rural, and largely focused on producing life essential products such as farming, ranching, construction, energy production, and so on. These things would have to continue if the nation exists at all. Without totalitarian control, progressives could never convert these to the feudal serfdom needed to maintain their power.

    • Trump considered as Julian the Apostate?

      By the way, I recently saw a joke on Australian TV that is new here: a photograph of Trump next to one of Obama, with the caption “Orange is the new black”.

    • Second try to post comment, using the same browser…

      adimagejim asks, “Do you see a public appetite for socialist statism?”

      Yes; I believe it’s obvious and pervasive, even predominant, despite the currents of antipathy to that appetite (and to socialist statism) which are also obvious but whose publics are not sufficiently organized to reform and sustain societal evolution in a direction opposite to the one-way totalitarian leftist path.

      I do mean to say that despite reasonable opposition to socialist statism (s.s.) and any increase in distaste for s.s. among the electorate, we all face a future of centrally decreed and administered cram-downs, or as you said it, “thrust upon us by hook or crook.” New “Dear Colleague” letters – their equivalents and their “betters” – will pop up all over. TRUMP will fail to rescue the courts from dominance by the left.

      Dear and esteemed slickwilly: I do not share your optimism that s.s. will fail or even falter due to any mass awakening in “the Heartland” or anywhere else. (While I acknowledge my Eeyore-ness (since it’s something my wife has pointed out, and she is a fair, accurate, and trustworthy observer), I at least feel a lot more Lucky than Cassandra (or, “a Cassandra”).) I was not clear in my earlier prophesying; I apologize. I meant to say that, whether or not there is a “disruptor event,” the pieces are now in place so that centralized power (including power over all conservative power bases) will only expand and become more secure in its dominance of all economic sectors. The sectors will perform poorly, but, the left will control.

      I gave up trying to understand P.M. Lawrence years ago. We are evidently two commenters, the understanding of the thoughts of whom is prevented by a common language. I don’t get the reference to Julian the Apostate, though he is easy enough to look up; I don’t even get what’s funny about “Orange is the new Black;” I know about that TV series, but that doesn’t help. Women? In prison? Color(s) of the disadvantaged and persecuted…or, of the advantaged and privileged??

  4. “Bee and the other potty mouthed resistance members” may have another explanation, though no whit of an excuse, for their untercivil language problems. My mother, born in 1905 of uberpolite immigrant parents who never talked about their bodies, learned to say “shit” when I was about 16 and she said it quite often … under her breath. One day, when I came home from college, she looked at me (in the middle of a conversation about nothing in particular) and said, loudly, with no expression until the last word: “You seem grown up. You will understand I can finally tell you: sometimes I feel like SHIT.” Thereafter, she seemed to make a point of inserting the word at least once into a sentence; it took me a while to realize it referred to something that really embarrassed her. I believe she had a health problem of some kind. Using the word over and over seemed to give her confidence and power, even if she never explained it. Of course, she never said shit outside the house, though perhaps within the wives’ gang she hung out with., I think the something similar could be happening with the women today who think magic words like “cunt,” used by successful men, lends her steroid-like strength and will lead to greater prestige among other women.

    It may.

    If so, be prepared for the deluge!

    • For someone who has made a living proofreading, I am dropping a lot of typos around the page. Sorry about that.

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