Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, “Welcome July And Hope It’s Better Than June” Edition [UPDATED]

Happy July!

(On an especially dead weekend on Ethics Alarms. But ethics never sleeps…)

1. But I thought everyone wants open borders! The Harvard-Harris poll on illegal immigration, North Korea, trade and tariffs, and the Russia investigation certainly isn’t reflected in the news reports. But then, we can’t trust polls, and we certainly can’t trust Harvard.

I suppose the theory behind yesterday’s protests is that the squeaky, angry wheel gets the insane national policy. My guess is that this particularly squeaky, angry wheel  gets a Republican Congress.

2. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! (Cont.)  Yesterday’s New York Times op-ed page managed to contain two of the more outrageous anti-Trump screed of recent vintage. One, by Dave Eggers, attacks “the cultural vacuum in the White House.” I suggest reading this one as a template for anti-Trump propaganda, and the kind of dishonesty underlying so much of it.  He begins,

Since his inauguration in January 2017, there have been no official concerts at the White House (the Reagans had one every few weeks). No poetry readings (the Obamas regularly celebrated young poets). The Carters began a televised series, “In Performance at the White House,” which last aired in 2016, where artists as varied as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patricia McBride performed in the East Room. The Clintons continued the series with Aretha Franklin and B. B. King, Alison Krauss and Linda Ronstadt.

But aside from occasional performances by “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band, the White House is now virtually free of music. Never have we had a president not just indifferent to the arts, but actively oppositional to artists. Mr. Trump disparaged the play “Hamilton” and a few weeks later attacked Meryl Streep.

Normally, this is where I’d quit reading—when the writer deliberately distorts the facts and employs deceit to make his case. The President disparaged the cast of “Hamilton,” not the show itself, after its performers unethically ambushed Vice President Mike Pence, who was then only another audience member, and should have been respected as one. I have launched (let’s see) three theater companies and two professional performing groups, and I disparaged that cast as well. Meryl Streep, the well-known pal of Harvey Weinstien, went on national television and gratuitously insulted the President, who does not turn the other cheek. He didn’t  attack Streep because she is an artist. He attacked her for being a grandstanding partisan shill.

He engages in this kind of deceit throughout, such as when he writes, in conclusion,

“Admittedly, at a time when Mr. Trump’s policies have forcibly separated children from their asylum-seeking parents — taking the most vulnerable children from the most vulnerable adults — the White House’s attitude toward the arts seems relatively unimportant. But with art comes empathy. It allows us to look through someone else’s eyes and know their strivings and struggles. It expands the moral imagination and makes it impossible to accept the dehumanization of others. When we are without art, we are a diminished people — myopic, unlearned and cruel.”

Funny: art hasn’t made Eggers less dishonest and deceitful. The illegal immigrants at the border were not “asylum-seeking,” because they didn’t follow the procedures for seeking asylum. They were apprehended foreign citizens trying to sneak into our country and claiming that they were seeking asylum to hamstring border enforcement,  and were using their children as human shields, placing the Trump administration into the Catch-22 of either waiving the laws or giving open-borders activists a club to beat it with—as the Times knows, since it has explained this dilemma itself. To attribute  pure law enforcement decisions to the dearth of piano and cello concerts in the White House is forced even by the Times’ standards. Mostly Eggers is just revealing the classist snobbery underlying much of the elitist attacks on President Trump.

As an artist, and someone who has worked in the arts and indeed would have made it my career if it were financially feasible, I could not care less how many concerts a President hosts, or how many artists he fetes. I want him to do his job, and I don’t particularly care to be paying for his glitterati  nights, either.

A President’s taste in art and culture doesn’t affect the public one whit. I don’t think I would pay a dime to hear any of President Obama’s hip-hop artists or rappers. Meanwhile, Clinton having “Aretha Franklin and B. B. King, Alison Krauss and Linda Ronstadt” at the White House didn’t make him empathetic enough not to exploit Monica Lewinsky. Jack Kennedy was a  stone-cold sociopath: what did he learn from dining with “Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams, Robert Lowell, Geraldine Page and George Balanchine”?

Hitler loved fine culture so much he had his Nazis steal thousands upon thousands of invaluable works of art across Europe, because he wanted a new explosion of creativity among the German people. Boy, if that made the Germans less “cruel,” imagine what they might have been like without their art!

And Nixon played the piano!

Believe it or not, the second of the two op-ed screeds is even worse. George Washington University Law School professor Paul Schiff Berman thought and thought, and came up with the definitive reason President Trump should not be allowed to name a replacement for Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court. After all, the next Supreme Court might have to rule on aspects of Trump’s impeachment! Besides the obvious objection that there is no legitimate evidence that could justify an impeachment of this President, every Supreme Court appointment might have to consider matters that would undermine the Presidency of the man who appointed him or her, and too many to count have.

Why would the New York Times publish such self-announcing junk? OK, never mind, we know why: it is so marinated in anti-Trump bias that the paper reeks of it, every day, in section after section. How about this: why is someone this intellectually dishonest and capable of such lame and biased legal analysis teaching at a law school?

3.  “Why don’t they trust us any more?” A man who had unsuccessfully sued an Annapolis newspaper, made repeated threats, and finally shot up the place, killing five, nonetheless had his mad act blamed on President Trump’s rhetoric by many in the news media. because they can, because they are unprofessional, and because the entire industry is committing suicide. In the latest example of this terrible phenomenon (for a democracy needs  responsible and trustworthy journalism), Conor Berry, a reporter at The Republican, a newspaper based in Springfield, Massachusetts, resigned Friday after publishing a false tweet indicating the Annapolis Maryland shooter, who killed five people on Thursday, was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. It was a pointed joke: it was also an outright false assertion by an alleged journalist. Berry resigned from The Republican after deleting the tweet.

Why didn’t the ethics alarms ring? It didn’t ring, I am convinced, because Berry’s news organization, like so many others, nurtures a culture of antagonism and bias against President Trump that obliterates necessary ethics analysis, and, naturally, disables ethics alarms.

UPDATE: And look ! Here is what NPR—you know, that neutral, unbiased news source?–tweeted about the stabbing attack in Boise:

The problem was, it didn’t happen. So NPR deleted the tweet. No harm done! [Pointer: Charles Glasser]



27 thoughts on “Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, “Welcome July And Hope It’s Better Than June” Edition [UPDATED]

  1. Having a private performance by artists is the height of narcissim. No one knows if Trump relaxes to the soulful sounds of James Brown, the complex melodies of Mozart or spends hours listening to the kars for kids jingle which I consider an earworm. Both my parents were active in community theater and were lifetime subscribers to Center Stage. Yet, I have very little interest in plays or what passes for culture. I do spend a great deal of time observing real human behavior so many of the timeless messages of playwrites is not totally lost on me.

    I really don’t understand the angst of those wanting to block a pro-life justice. SCOTUS would have to rule that abortion violates the rights of the unborn to ban it. As I see it the only way for the court to rule at all is if one state passed legislation that curtailed abortion. At which point the court would rule if the legislation was constitutionally valid. Even if it ruled that such a restriction was constitutional that would not be the same as ruling that abortion is unconstitutional. Now if all these folks want to protect a women’s right to choose go to your legislatures and pass a state constitutional amendment that protects that perceived right. It is that simple. More importantly, that is what Trump said when asked this question during the campaign . At the end of his answer which suggested tha conservative justices would overturn RvW he concluded with
    . . ” it would go back to the states”. That simply means that abortion is offered in states that allow it. It is not a ban.

    I have very little trust that media people can actually understand the issues on which they are supposed to report. Sometimes stupidity makes you biased.

    • “Now if all these folks want to protect a women’s right to choose go to your legislatures and pass a state constitutional amendment that protects that perceived right. It is that simple.”

      Not close to that simple. State legislatures cannot originate a Constitutional Amendment, all they can do is ratify one from Congress.

      • Dragin. Should have been more clear, a state can amend its own constitution protecting the womens right to choose. A SCOTUS ruling that a state can bar that perceived right is not a ban that all states must follow. Exactly, who would have standing to argue for the unborn. Only the state can argue that the unborn have 14th amendment protections which to my understanding that was not the issue in RvW.
        To ban abortion on a national level it would require the House and Senate to pass such a bill and signed.

      • Actually, a plurality of the states can originate a Constitutional amendment. It is one of the lesser known checks against tryanical federal laws. It’s difficult but not anymore difficult that getting 3/4 to ratify an amendment promulgated by Congress

        • If two thirds of the states call for one, the Congress “shall call a Convention” for proposing amendments.

          However amendments are proposed, whether by Congress or a Convention, it takes 3/4 of the states to approve one before it goes into effect.

          • Diego, when I wrote about plurality of the states I used thw word plurality because I often get the exact number wrong. The actual point I was making was that there is an alternative to Congress pushing for an amendment which what DD stated. Nonetheless, it does not matter who pushes the amendment to grant women absolute sovereignty over their bodies would effectively render RvW moot in terms of SCOTUS nominees.

            • Chris, we both were misunderstood by the other. For the record, here is the Article, Article V of the Constitution.

              Article V (Article 5 – Mode of Amendment)

              The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

  2. Jack said: “And Nixon played the piano!”

    Clinton played the saxophone (poorly) and demonstrated his lack of skill repeatedly on Larry King. VERY Presidential.

  3. A lot of art-related charities make outlandish claims about the ability of the arts to make you a better person. All without merit, of course. It’s just that hipsters want to believe that they can save the world by doing easy and fun stuff that they already enjoy.

    Art and music can help young people develop social skills and there’s correlation with improvement in school. But that’s true of almost any hobby whatsoever. Including hunting.

  4. esides the obvious objection that there is no legitimate evidence that could justify an impeachment of this President, every Supreme Court appointment might have to consider matters that would undermine the Presidency of the man who appointed him or her, and too many to count have.

    Not to mention that impeachment is not subject to judicial review.

  5. Maybe Trump should bring back Toby Keith rather than this high faultin’ stuff. But then again he’d be criticized for having low brow taste. Btw, bringing rappers to perform at the Whitehouse isn’t exactly high brow.

  6. Oh, as if the Times and its writers don’t know perfectly well that any artist invited to the White House would either A) grandstand and refuse the invitation to the cheers of their fellow artists or B) accept and be harassed into withdrawing by those same artists. The President can’t win. If he invites artists, he opens himself up to insults; if he doesn’t, he hates the arts.

    • Ugh…that was supposed to be in the post. I found a good ending, and forgot about it.
      Of course. The President was prevented from hosting the Kennedy Center honorees because several were threatening to boycott the party.No artist ever did that before. The problem is the artists, not the patron.

    • Bocelli wanted to perform for the inauguration, but received too many boycott threats and other kinds of threats.

  7. 1. The counterpoint to that saying is the Japanese proverb that says that the nail that sticks up must be hammered down. I think it’s best illustrated by this story here

    You don’t hear too much of this, but, when the local police in so-far-left-it-almost-fell-into-the-Pacific Portland refused to clear the entrance to the ICE facility of Occupy idiots, the Feds didn’t wring their hands or just say “I guess we can’t interfere with their peaceful freedom of speech.” They gathered their own police and moved in, breaking up this nonsense. This nation isn’t going to be ruled by mobs and rabble-rousers, I don’t think most of us want it to be, and it’s time we sent that message loud and clear. If these idiots want to go back to the age of pot-addled communes where the goats smelled better than the people, then let them. Excuse me if the rest of us choose not to let them take us along.

    2. Dave Eggers is a novelist, and he should stick to dealing in fiction. The President has enough to do with being Chief Executive, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Chief Diplomat, and a few other things, particularly when dealing with major problems. It isn’t his role to be chief arbiter of taste or promoter of the arts, and his lack of publicized interest does not make him a Philistine. I have to add, as someone who’s gone to a ton of concerts and interacted with several artists, that building an impressive autograph collection or album of photographs with artists doesn’t make anyone any better at their jobs or anyone a better person. I might add that the presidency isn’t supposed to be anyone’s personal path to a rock star lifestyle, but, even if it was, Trump’s been there and done that – he doesn’t need to host glitterati nights at the WH, because he’s already met almost everyone who’s anyone. Oddly, the same artists who were glad to attend his parties when he hosted “The Apprentice” now flee from him like he’s radioactive. AMG said it best, the president can’t win here, so why should he even waste his effort? I think the artist community has become worse than the public intellectual community in enforcing conformity. Music isn’t supposed to be partisan, and providing services isn’t endorsement, as the left has said over and over again, when it comes to gay weddings. Yet if one performer dares do anything for this President, even if he’s just treating it as he would any other paying gig, he gets attacked mercilessly. Of course, as I keep saying against and again, if it weren’t for double standards…

    I wouldn’t even waste my time discussing the New York Times’ approach to things, Jack. The fact that the paper published information that could have put American troops in danger during the War on Terror, hasn’t endorsed a Republican for president since 1956, campaigned actively for Hillary, and is run by a guy who said he’d rather see American soldiers get shot should tell you all you need to know.

    3. At least Berry had enough integrity to resign. Bob Cox at Reuters, who blamed the President’s anti-fake-news rhetoric for this murderous attack by an incel who was clearly off his rocker, not so much. He made a sorry-not-sorry tweet and would probably just say he said all he had to say if challenged on it. It would serve him right if somebody grabbed him by the nose and dragged it back down into reality.

    • Steve the protesters are still there but no longer blocking. They moved across the street & continue making some citizens too uncomfortable to patronize businesses nearby, including a local country music station & especially the food carts.

        • Wheeler makes our former mayor Sam Adams (who my wife & I called “King Baby”) look like an ethics hero. Wheeler just wants his name eternally shining among Progressive elites.

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