1. Yes, Merry Christmas, dammit. Those responsible for that moment of doubt and ethical uncertainty every time I encountered a stranger on my just completed Ethics Rock Extreme road trip to New Brunswick, New Jersey deserve to be entombed alive in peppermint and plum pudding. The greeting simply says, “I wish you to be joyful and happy in a season where people are a little less selfish and a little more ethical: I’m not trying to indoctrinate you into Christianity!” Much of this completely unnecessary addition to holiday stress is due to to jerks—yes, I think the word is fair—like Julia Ioffe, the author of “Please don’t wish me ‘Merry Christmas’/It’s impolite and alienating to assume I follow your religion.”
I thought Charles Dickens slam-dunked that nonsense definitively in “A Christmas Carol,” followed by almost all the Christmas movies that make the same obvious point except to deliberate holiday wet-blankets like Ioffe. No, jerk, the greeting is an expression of cultural unity among human beings, and the celebration of values that need have not be restricted to religious Christmas holiday because this is also a secular tradition as well. As soon as I get this post up, I’m going to re-post the Ethics Alarms Christmas commentary.
Somebody send it to Julia.
2. 2018 Hypocrisy Award, locked up! It doesn’t matter if you are happy or disappointed to see President Trump pull U.S. troops out of Syria and Afghanistan; you should still be able to marvel at the blatant, shameless, pandering, hateful and, really, laughable—if the cultural fad of denigrating the President of the United States regardless of what he does wasn’t so destructive and wrong— hypocrisy by news media Trump-haters, among others. Glenn Greenwald, who sees the world from a leftward perspective but maintains his integrity, called out MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who could be the symbol of the whole nauseating. He tweeted,
The most bizarre aspect of Rachel Maddow’s deep anger over troop withdrawal from Syria is that she wrote an entire book in 2012 denouncing illegal US Endless War without congressional approval – exactly what Syria is. I interviewed her about it here: https://www.salon.com/2012/04/04/interview_with_rachel_maddow/…Funny: citing that interview I did of Maddow’s book on the evils of Endless War without Congressional approval reminded me that she asked me to blurb that book, which I did. Here’s what I said – so ironic in light of her anger over Syria troop withdrawal https://www.amazon.com/Drift-Unmooring-American-Military-Power/dp/0307460983/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333568159&sr=8-1…
This upset Glenn’s loyal progressive followers, one of whom sent this fascinating retort:
“The most bizarre aspect of Glenn Greenwald’s inexplicable credibility is his ability to appear as first an advocate and then an opponent of almost everyone and everything. Can’t choose one perspective.”
See? To people like this—the commenter’s handle is IstandwithMaxine, which pretty much explains everything—is that they have been brainwashed to believe that is is bizarre unless adopts a single view—theirs. of course, otherwise you are evil–and never alters it or admits that it may need re-thinking when that view leads to dead ends, disasters and pitfalls, no matter what new information arises. Someone like Greenwald, who tries to apply the same standards of analysis and ethical judgment to all regardless of whether it advances an ideology, is just untrustworthy, a traitor.
This cartoon has been circulating online. It is 100% fair and accurate regarding Trump’s critics self-indicting reaction:
3. Oh, right—it’s the process, not the decision itself!…Even I am stunned at the complex pretzels the news media, Trump-hating pundits and the “resistance” are willing to twist themselves into to condemn Trump moves they advocated themselves. The current pretzel is the “process” complaint: it’s not what the President did, but how he did it. (It’s a lie: what they care about is who did it.) Greenwald tweeted this answer to a “process” complainer:
“If you believe that US military action in Syria is illegal under both domestic and international law – meaning unconstitutional and a violation of UN Charter, which it is – how you can possibly be simultaneously angry that it is ending? You support ongoing illegal war?”
A lengthier debunking of the “process” canard came from Andrew McCarthy, hardly a Trump fan, who pointed out the hypocrisy of members of Congress who allowed the Syrian mission to occur without following the process required by the Constitution complaining when the President ends it entirely within his Constitutional powers:
The Constitution is not a suggestion; it is our law. But this week, it is somehow not even a consideration. I hold no brief for Trump on Syria… But I find it remarkable that, as the president was rebuked across Capitol Hill — from Senator Lindsey Graham, who is a true believer in American adventurism, to Democrats, who will exploit any pretext to attack Trump — congressional critics never paused, ever so slightly, over the fact that the troops they want the president to keep in Syria were never authorized by Congress to be in Syria.
Some commentators sensed the problem but tried to finesse it, allowing that it would be good for Congress to have a “debate” about Syria because it would give clarity to the mission. That misses the point. The clarifying debate is a residual benefit we get from the constitutional necessity of obtaining congressional authorization before committing acts of war against other countries that have not threatened us. If the mission is not authorized, its clarity is immaterial.
…Want to declare war against ISIS? I’d be up for discussing that. Or, as a matter of honor, an authorization of military force to protect the Kurds for what they’ve done on our behalf? I could be persuaded. Or even a declaration of war against Iran — it wouldn’t require us to invade, but it might be useful as part of a real “maximum pressure” strategy, rather than just making mean faces at them in Syria. I’d be open to all of that; but not to more unprovoked military interventions that don’t have congressional authorization…The names change, but the enemy remains the same. And if you want to fight that enemy in an elective war, the Constitution demands that the people give their consent through their representatives in Congress.
4. I wonder–Do any of those anti-Kavanaugh hysterics who wrote on social media and screamed in their various protests that his confirmation to the Supreme Court meant that the nation would descend into apocalyptic darkness, with a monolithic extreme-right wing bloc controlling our laws for decades, feel just a teeny bit foolish now, after the Evil Serial Rapist Judge himself sided with Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan and the Immortal Ruth to stop an improvident abortion rights review, and THEN, seeing Chief Justice Roberts do the same to block President Trump’s tougher asylum rules?
Will they admit that their analysis was shoddy and simple-minded, that they were fearmongering, that they were spreading ignorance (Hmmm…wasn’t there an ethics blogger who wrote that it was likely that the Chief Justice would slide into Kennedy’s swing-judge roles and that he had the integrity to ensure that the Court would make decisions less on ideology than the law, as iy is supposed to? I seem to recall that...), that they were displaying disrespect toward the institution itself that it does not deserve?
Of course not.
5. Now THIS is Trump derangement! Confirmation bias, hatred, toxic partisanship, a jaundiced eye–there is a long list of explanations for how anyone could view this photo…
…and write THIS:
Multiple Christmas trees are currently a status symbol for the wealthy, but this picture shows the risks. Instead of a homely symbol of midwinter cheer, these disciplined arboreal ranks with their uniform decorations are arrayed like massed soldiers or colossal columns designed by Albert Speer…. Everything here communicates cold, empty magnificence. Tree lights that are as frigid as icicles are mirrored in a cold polished floor…Equally frosty illuminations are projected on the ceiling. Instead of twinkling fairy magic, this lifeless lighting creates a sterile, inhuman atmosphere…. It suggests the micromanaged, corporate Christmas of a Citizen Kane who has long since lost touch with the ordinary, warm pleasures of real life….In the centre of this disturbing piece of conceptual art stand Donald and Melania Trump. He’s in a tuxedo, she’s wearing white – and not a woolly hat in sight. Their formal smartness adds to the emotional numbness of the scene…Trump’s shark-like grin has nothing generous or friendly about it. He seems to want to show off his beautiful wife and his fantastic home rather than any of the cuddly holiday spirit a conventional politician might strive to share at this time….
I guarantee you that over half my Facebook friends would nod so vigorously their heads would be in danger of falling off if they read this, and also that if the exact same photo with the same composition and elements had the previous First Couple in the center, they would all be gushing over it.
A competent editor of an ethical paper would hand this biased tripe back to the writer and tell him to take a couple of weeks off. [Pointer: Althouse]