Ethics Hero: Joe Biden

I’m being generous; the original headline was “Joe Biden Makes Sense!” which I decided was too arch.

I stopped watching the Sunday talking head shows once all of them defaulted to “resistance” narrative-pushing-all-the-time, but every now and then I drop in for a few minutes of nausea. Today I caught “Meet the Press,” once my favorite of all such shows (when Tim Russert was practicing real journalism there), but now, with the embarrassingly dim Chuck Todd at the helm, a rotting symbol of how far the professional has fallen in ethics and quality, I avoid the program like an Alec Baldwin movie.

Joe Biden was being interviewed (I have excised here a good, fair but tasteless joke about what Todd interviewing Biden resembles) and Todd asked this despicable question:

“Do you think there’s already blood on the President’s hands considering the slow response?”

Hack. Asshole. Todd breached one ethics rule by stating as fact what has not been shown to be true and cannot be shown, that the President’s “response” was “slow.” Todd’s colleagues called Trump’s response of shutting down travel to China racist and precipitous. There is not a single death due to the Wuhan virus that can be attributed to the President; China, perhaps, but not President Trump. It’s hard to imagine a more inflammatory and unjustified, not to mention irresponsible, question. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole’”

Steve-O-in-NJ has given us his thoughts on the continuing assault on the President of the United States as he does his best to deal with the unprecedented Wuhan virus crisis. (Reader Pennagain has expressed a preference for “Pangolin virus.” The prejudice against scaly anteaters is wide and deep, and when we start hearing reports of thugs beating up pangolins while shouting anti-pangolin slurs, we’ll know who to blame. )

The inspiration for Steve’s Comment of the Day was Hillary Clinton’s mocking tweet that put her on the current Ethics Alarms Asshole List, though I’m not sure she ever left it. I’ll also mention here that no less a luminary than John Kerry has apparently joined those of us who believe that “asshole” is sometimes the only description that will do.  Commenting on GOP House member Thomas Massie’s absurd stand temporarily blocking passage of the epidemic emergency legislation, the former Senator and Secretary of State tweeted,

Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He’s given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!)

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “A Brief But Significant Addendum To “I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is ‘Asshole’”:

I am not at all surprised. I’m also not surprised at Joe Biden’s recent tweet in which he said that when he was president he would put science first, implying what many have stated outright, that Trump disregards science and is afraid of smart people (which all liberals are, of course, they only wouldn’t be liberals if they weren’t). Basic decency went out the window on the left when Trump was elected, although it had been hanging out the window for a while.

A lot of the open rudeness and contempt seemed to start in the Clinton era, maybe together with the rise of the internet. Now anyone could say anything he wanted and send it around the world in a few seconds. A lot of people did just that, no matter how dumb, how rude, or profane, or how unfair what they had to say was. Then the refrain was that your character didn’t matter as long as you were successful and had the right views. The other side of that, though, was that if you had the wrong views you were beneath contempt.

As we moved into the administration of Bush the younger a whole “anger industry” developed. I know, because my bookshelves are groaning under the weight of a huge number of anger-based books that I gleefully devoured at the time to feed my contempt of the other side. I’m not just talking Ann Coulter, either.

David Horowitz’ “Left Illusions: An Unholy Odyssey” and “Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left,” Daniel J. Flynn’s “Why the Left Hates America” and “A Conservative History of the American Left,” John J. Miller’s “Our Oldest Enemy,” and a lot of similar materials have all made my night table. On the other side there’s Al Franken’s “Lies and the Lying Liars who Tell Them,” Michael Moore’s “Stupid White Men,” and so on. People paid money to have their anger stoked and their reasons for being angry confirmed. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2020: Well, It’s Happened. People Are Going Nuts.

Good Morning!

I’m still sane!

For now….

1. Cultural literacy note. Ann Althouse, holed up and desperate for non-virus topics (as are we all), has been reduced to reading Woody Allen’s newly published memoirs and commenting on them. Today, reviewing a section where Allen said that his “literary heroes” growing up did not include Julian Sorrel, but did include comic book super-heroes like Hawkman and Submariner, among others. Ann, who’s a bit younger than me, openly admits that while she knows Julian Sorrel (“The Red and the Black”–yechhh). but never heard of Hawkman or Submariner.

Is that a girl thing? Admittedly, those are two relatively minor heroes in the D.C. and Marvel comic book universes, but Ann has had a long time to catch up. It reminds me that one’s perspective on so many matters—everything?—is affected by the shape of the culture one perceives, and holes, even little ones, make a difference. Althouse frequently reveals that she is weak on some popular culture (especially movies and TV). She’s a commentator on the American scene, and people are influenced by her opinions.  Nobody can know everything, but the fewer holes, the better.

2. Krazy Kollege Ethics...

At Slate, legal commentator John Culhane thinks Falwell is asking for lawsuits: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Billionaire’s Tweet

David Geffen, the American businessman, movie producer, film studio executive, and philanthropist, is perhaps best known for creating Dreamworks Studios with fellow billionaire Stephen Spielberg. I mean, the guy is rich. How rich is he? He’s so rich, no one can make a “How rich is he?” joke that makes him laugh, because they all are true applied to him.  Anyway, Geffen just got in trouble because of this Instagram message:

..showing his $400 million superyacht, Rising Sun,  off the coast of the Grenadines, a chain of small Caribbean islands in the lesser Antilles.

Indignation and anger erupted on the Left and Right. Here’s Market Watch snarking,

If ever there were doubts about how the superaffluent are faring amid a pandemic for the ages, media mogul David Geffen wants to make it abundantly clear that, for his part, he’s doing just fine — and he wishes us all the best… The self-made billionaire doesn’t owe the rest of the world anything, presumably, but his tweets and tone may underscore the yawning chasm between how the 1% can cope with isolation amid a pandemic that has deeply altered the normal patterns of society — perhaps, permanently. A recent New York Times article published on March 5 highlighted the lifestyles of the rich and famous amid the pandemic, which featured the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow en route to Paris Fashion Week wearing a pricey black face mask, while many health-care workers are struggling to obtain lifesaving masks for their jobs.

“The rich are sparing no expense when it comes to minimizing their experience with the coronavirus,” the Times story observed. The Guardian wrote that the wealthy are taking to private jets to escape the virus, while other affluent folk are fleeing to places like the Hamptons and Cape Cod, taking refuge in their posh summer homes or ensconcing themselves in luxurious rental properties…The expanding distance between the haves and the have-nots, however, isn’t sitting well with many.

“The View’s  Meghan McCain said, “David Geffen is worth 8 billion dollars! For God’s sake help this country get ventilators, our health workers masks and the medical supplies they need! Or no, just stay on your fucking yacht instagramming. This is just shameful and grotesque.” “David Geffen could have donated that yacht to NYC to be used as a makeshift hospital,” New York Times columnist Wajahat Ali tweeted. Film producer Robby Starbuck  tweeted, “David Geffen’s thought process: ‘Hey you know what, millions are losing their jobs, can’t pay their rent and they’re worried about a deadly pandemic, I bet they’d love to know how I’m doing. Fire up the copter so we can take some more pics of my yacht! They’ll love this!!!”

Geffen is a progressive and a contributor to Democratic candidates, so he got no passes from conservatives either. “David Geffen tacitly tells the rest of the world to get bent,” wrote conservative pundit Ed Driscoll. A commenter on Instapundit wrote,

Dear Mr. Geffen: Marie Antoinette voiced a similar tone during the French Revolution (although there is debate wether she said, “let them eat cake” or not) and she literally lost her head. Best you stay on your boat for awhile…..

Geffen has made his Instagram account private.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day…

Does David Geffen deserve all the abuse for his message and photograph?

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/28/2020: Well, In At Least One Respect, WW II Must Have Felt Like This…

“This” being that almost every single news item and media article related in some way to a single topic, the war then, the pandemic today. That’s one reason President Roosevelt asked major League Baseball to keep playing on, despite the fact that most of the game’s stars had enlisted or were about to,  leaving the teams to field old players, players who came out of retirement, minor leaguers, and such curiosities as Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder. 

Wait: the baseball season was supposed to start two days ago, and is postponed at least until May. In that regard, at least, this is worse than World War II…

1. Speaking of baseball: Red Sox ethics! Major League Baseball approved a pool of 30 million dollars (That’s $1 million per club) to compensate ballpark employees during the enforced suspension of games. That left out the employees of subcontractors like Aramark, the company that supplies Fenway Park with food services, among other things. The Sox announced that it would add a half-million dollars to the $1 million for Aramark, a move that is expected to shame the other 29 clubs into similar moves.

2. You wonder why America’s children are growing up to be Marxists? Well, this doesn’t help: The following articles appeared this week in Teen Vogue:

3. From the front page of the Boston Herald:

I’m not going to track down the article; it would just ruin the wonderful picture in my head. Continue reading

I’ve Looked And I’ve Tried And I Believe In Civility, But The Only Fair Descriptive Word For These People Is “Asshole”

That graph above dominates the New York Times front page this morning, but not in a normal way. The graph is at the bottom of the page and covers its entire width. The long bar representing current unemployment page runs up the entire right margin; it’s a full 18 inches. This wasn’t necessary to convey the information. It was necessary to alarm readers as much as possible. The Times publisher and editors are assholes.

I have been criticized for using that vulgar word here. I think the first time I used it, ironically enough, was to describe Donald Trump when he first said he was running for President in 2012. I used the word to describe the Christian minister who announced that he was going to burn the Koran at a time when Muslim crazies were murdering Christians in retribution for every perceived insult to their religion. I don’t use the word lightly. I use it when more socially acceptable descriptors like “jerk” are obviously inadequate.

An asshole is a person who willfully and often gleefully defies positive social norms for personal gain or just because he or she can, indulging the basest human motivations and non-ethical considerations to the detriment of society. Jerks can reform; usually assholes cannot. When someone acts like an asshole but is not one, often the simple device of  calling them what they are acting like will shock them back into more responsible behavior. This is why the word must remain among our ethics enforcement tools, like a gun, usually holstered, but still available when needed.

It is needed a lot right now.

As I keep reminding readers, in 2015 I wrote a post declaring that if Donald Trump were elected President, he would turn America into a nation of assholes. I was right about that, but completely mistaken about the process. I thought that Trump’s reflexive lack of ethics and civility would poison the young, who typically adopt the values and manners of prominent role models in the culture, and historically no individual exercises more powerful influence over our culture than the President. However, what we have witnessed over the past three years is an epidemic of asshole conduct by those who oppose President Trump, who actually despise him. I didn’t see that coming. The Wuhan virus emergency has especially brought their assholism (“assholery?” “assholicity?” ) into focus.

Ann Althouse said it nicely (without using the word) reacting to Joe Biden’s current strategy of tossing off incoherent insults and second-guessing regarding the President’s handling of the epidemic. She wrote in part… Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”

Reader JP, who is a minister, had a fascinating reaction to the post about the Australian cartoonist in the process of being “canceled” because he had the audacity to mock mothers who pay more attention to their cell phones than their infants. Australians, especially mothers and feminists, are furious…because he criticized conduct that nobody denies occurs.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, “From Australia, A Cancel Culture Chapter That I Don’t Understand At All”:

“Is guilt driving the attacks on Michael Leunig? Is that it? They are punishing a truth-teller for using satire and humor to hold a mirror up to their faces like satirists and social commentators are supposed to do? If that cartoon sparks such anger, what would these people have done to Swift, Voltaire, Gilbert, Shaw, Parker, Wodehouse, Vidal, or even Dave Barry?”

A few years ago,  I was teaching this class on 1 Corinthians. It had been going on for about a month at this point where we got to the section on marriage, divorce, and adultery. Most of the class focused on the marriage part. Very little was said about divorce and adultery. I didn’t focus on it too much. In a class like this, I tend to let discussion stay with the interests of the class. I did address divorce and adultery as real problems of the church and  said they should not be ignored.

After class, a women came up to me and let me have it.  According to her, divorce and adultery were “none of the church’s business.” She was pretty passionate about it, so I let it go. She wasn’t at the next class  I assumed she was making a point because she thought that I would never agree with her.

A month later, her husband dragged her into my office, saying she been committing adultery. He wanted to know what he should do about it. She wouldn’t look a me. I suggested a professional counselor, and that was the last time I saw either of them. Continue reading