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Comment Of The Day: “Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness”

Yes, but you have to understand the context…

Well, that was embarrassing. The following epic comment on divisiveness was stuck on the tarmac for a few days, and then I compounded the indignity by quoting a lesser pundit on the same topic in the previous post. If it’s any consolation, Jonah Goldberg gets more web traffic than I do, too. There is no justice.

Here is Chris Marschner’s excellent Comment of the Day on “Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness: 

“Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division.”

No truer words were ever spoken.

On the anniversary weekend of the incident in Charlottesville the media hammered home the point that I am not worthy to live in their civil ideal society. Why do I interpret their coverage this way you may ask? Perhaps it is because I reject the notion that any person’s opinion should be silenced and I stand with those that reject the proposition that select populations should have the ropes of past injustice be perpetually hung around the necks of those that have neither the personal history, desire nor ability to economically discriminate or oppress anyone. I have no problem with refutations of opinions – I would encourage them – but my tolerance for those that suggest that only they have the right to determine what is good and proper is waning; especially in light that those people often cast wide nets in their sanctimony; which is no different than the behaviors of others they claim results in their oppression.

Why would many marginalize me for my belief that I simply do not believe that because one gender or race is in greater or fewer numbers relative to their overall population than another in a given population it is prima facie evidence of discrimination and bias. For if I did, I would have to believe that males are discriminated against in teaching positions within the primary and secondary grades, in most health occupations today, and within the administrative support positions in many public and private institutions. I would also have to believe that white sports team owners discriminate against whites because they are under-represented on most teams with the exception of perhaps hockey and soccer. Numbers in any occupation are a function of human choices and capabilities. Even if one feels fully capable of running a fortune 500 firm as the CEO, one’s choice is the primary gatekeeper because if one never applies to reach that goal then only those that do stand a chance.

Bias is only ever seen in others and not in themselves.

No group sees bias when deriving benefits of bias as a group. For example, women see no bias when they are treated as superior care-givers and thus courts favor them more frequently in child custody cases. No one sees the abject bias in the violence against women act. Why is that? What makes an assault on a woman worse than an assault on anyone for that matter? I might be able to see different charges based on differential physical stature but not on gender. Why not a violence against the frail and weaker act? I see no outcry from women and minorities when most of the SBA programs favor women and minorities even though the data show that they are creating more new businesses than their white male counterparts for almost the last twenty years. There are no special programs to increase male enrollment in post secondary education even when their numbers are being outpaced by female enrollment and graduations. No one is running to change the selective service rules that create lifetime bars to federal employment, education grants and other federal benefits for failure to register for the draft by age 26 even though women fought for the right to be in forward combat so that promotional opportunities can be afforded to them. Commerce department data show that women control 60 percent of the wealth in the U.S. and 80% of all Consumer spending. One can see the evidence of this in the thematic content in most mass media advertisements. Each of us sees bias through our own lens. Therefore, if a group of white men protest what they think is bias against them that is their right. We can reject or accept their arguments based on the facts presented. When we begin to go down the path of silencing critics we find objectionable we will lose the right to petition for redress of grievances.

Is there any wonder why a growing number of white males may feel less sympathetic to advancing the current notions of progressive policies when the noose of a legacy perpetrated by others is believed to be unfairly tightened around their necks today; which brings me back to Charlottesville. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Round-Up, 8/16/18: Those Wacky Conways, And The Anti-Trump News Media Goes To The Dogs

Good morning.

1. A conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theorists...Last night, a CBS procedural that I am finally sick of, “Criminal Minds,” appeared to be taking sides in the Trump vs. the FBI wars, with a side-swipe at Alex Jones, not that there’s anything wrong with that. The episode set up a conflict between the Good FBI agents who are the stars of the show, and the crazy, paranoid, anti-government  “Truthers” who see government law enforcement as sinister and manipulative. (There was special focus on the ridiculous Sandy Hook conspiracy theory, with one of the tough serial killer hunter breaking down in tears remembering the massacre.) The most vocal anti-FBI character in the episode, who sneered out her every line about the series heroes (bad direction, in my view), was revealed at the end as the “unsub,” the psychopathic killer.

For some reason this was the first time it occurred to me how much prime  time network TV serves as a PR service for the FBI, with the virtue, bravery and unquestioned rectitude of the agency and its employees being central to multiple dramas. The propaganda is escalating too: Dick Wolf of “Law and Order” fame is launching a new CBS series called, creatively, “FBI.” You would think, would you not, that this would be an odd time to produce such a series, with the reputation and credibility of J.Edgar’s baby at an all-time, and most deserved, low. However, Hollywood and the entertainment industry now sees its role differently than seeking mere ratings.

There is nothing wrong with TV writers and producers bring their political agendas into our living rooms, and there’s not a thing we can do about it anyway, other than change channels. Rod Serling used to get awfully preachy sometimes on “The Twilight Zone.” This was mighty ham-handed pro-Peter Strzok advocacy, though by CBS, or at least it seemed that way to me.

2. Marital Ethics. This is weird. Ethics Alarms has discussed the unethical conduct of Kellyanne Conway’s husband George, who has become a popular “resistance” and #NeverTrump figure by tweeting virulent criticism of the President, who employs his wife. Now Kellyanne has escalated the problem with an interview criticizing her husband, telling a reporter that his sniping ” is disrespectful, it’s a violation of basic decency, certainly, if not marital vows.”  Then, according to an AOL report, she asked that her comments be attributed to “a person familiar with their relationship.” The reporter, correctly, refused.

It is a breach of loyalty and respect for one spouse to criticize the other in the news media. It is cowardly and a breach of honesty to criticize one’s spouse and to try to remain unaccountable for it by pretending the critique came from someone else.

What a fun couple! What a strange couple. What an unethical couple… Continue reading

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Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness

What time is it? I’ve lost track…

1. Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division…I trace the irresponsible efforts to divide the nation and unravel the bonds of society to the 2000 election, and the false partisan claims that Bush’s was a “stolen Presidency.” Divisive rhetoric became an 8-year strategy of the Obama Administration, with blacks, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGTB citizens and women being accorded special status as victims and groups in need of special consideration, while whites, men, straight citizens, wealthy citizens, Christians, and, naturally, conservatives and Republicans were consistently demonized and marginalized.  Critics of the first black President were racists, critics of illegal immigration were xenophobes, critics of Hillary Clinton were sexist, and opponents of gay marriage were bigots. The resentment over this long-term and cynical strategy bore misshapen fruit in the election of Donald Trump, and now, says a Zogby Analytics survey, 39 percent of the country support states breaking away from the national government and country, with 42% of Democrats, who have continued to escalate the divisiveness by refusing to accept the election of President Trump as  legitimate, leading the way.

This was where we were headed in 2000, and those who have been reading the Ethics Scoreboard and Ethics Alarms since then know I said so as forcibly as I knew how. Now we are at a point where one party’s leaders are calling for members of the opposing party’s administration to be harassed in public, an attitude that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

In the latest example , Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Houston last week and dines at two Mexican restaurants. The general manager of one of them posted on Facebook,  “We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.” The post attracted such an angry reaction that it had to be taken down. [Pointer: Neil Dorr]

2.  Of course! Why else would anyone not love Nancy Pelosi? The news media and its various pundits is deeply complicit in the unraveling of the bonds holding American together, as exemplified by the Washington Post’s jaw-dropping column claiming that Republican opposition to Democratic House leader Pelosi is entirely based on misogyny and sexism—you know, the same reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Paul Waldman wrote,

“Can we stop treating this lie seriously once and for all? We all know what’s really going on. The Republican attack on Pelosi is about conservative identity politics, full stop. It’s partly the same kind of ugly misogyny that has driven conservatives for years, and that comes out whenever the prospect of a woman wielding genuine power rears its head. Women who display ambition are judged harshly, particularly by conservatives; it’s no accident that Bernie Sanders, whose policy ideas are much more opposed to conservatism than Pelosi’s, inspires nothing like the venomous loathing on the right that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton do.”

Oddly, I have found many reasons despite her gender to regard Nancy Pelosi as an unethical menace, and I haven’t come close to covering all of them. Continue reading

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Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/5/2018: Abdication, Arrogance, Airbrushing

1. If you want to seed a civil war, this is how you do it…Why is this incredible story just an item on the daily ethics potpourri? For one thing, I don’t see why much commentary is necessary, or should be. I don’t typically  write about robberies or murders, or other outright unethical acts that all but the worst sociopaths can recognize in a trice as unethical.  I feel the same way about this, from the Wall Street Journal:

A mob surrounded ICE’s office in Southwest Portland June 19. They barricaded the exits and blocked the driveway. They sent “guards” to patrol the doors, trapping workers inside. At night they laid on the street, stopping traffic at a critical junction near a hospital. Police stayed away. “At this time I am denying your request for additional resources,” the Portland Police Bureau’s deputy chief, Robert Day, wrote to federal officers pleading for help. Hours later, the remaining ICE workers were finally evacuated by a small federal police team. The facility shut down for more than a week. Signs called ICE employees “Nazis” and “white supremacists.” Others accused them of running a “concentration camp,” and demanded open borders and prosecution of ICE agents. Along a wall, vandals wrote the names of ICE staff, encouraging others to publish their private information online.

Federal workers were defenseless. An ICE officer, who asked that his name not be published, told me one of his colleagues was trailed in a car and confronted when he went to pick up his daughter from summer camp. Later people showed up at his house. Another had his name and photo plastered on flyers outside his home accusing him of being part of the “Gestapo.”

Where were the police? Ordered away by Democratic Mayor Ted Wheeler, who doubles as police commissioner. “I do not want the @PortlandPolice to be engaged or sucked into a conflict, particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track,” he tweeted. “If [ICE is] looking for a bailout from this mayor, they are looking in the wrong place.”

The phrase, “particularly from a federal agency that I believe is on the wrong track” mandates impeachment on its face. It is not the mayor’s proper role to decide who deserves the protection of the city against lawbreakers. “There is no place for personal, political bias when it comes to providing public safety services to our communities,” Portland Police Association president Daryl Turner said in a statement on Facebook. “In that respect, our Mayor, who is also our Police Commissioner, has failed miserably.”

Also:

  • How many readers of Ethics Alarms saw broadcast news accounts of this incident and the Portland mayor’s conduct? It is the tendency to set out to bury and hide the worst examples of progressive and resistance excess that is the smokiest of smoking guns showing the degree to which journalists are actively attempting to indoctrinate and mislead rather than inform.
  • Do the citizens of Portland really condone this?

Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2018: “Thuggery, Double Standards And Hypocrisy…Actually, I Could Use This Title EVERY Morning”

Well, I think this is an Ethics Alarms record, and not a good one: this Comment of the Day, by prolific commenter Pennagain, is more than a month old. I have no defense, only a possible explanation: the subject of the comment is an unpleasant one, and was more than a little tangential to the main post. It was prompted by a commenter’s reference to comic Eddie Murphy’s anti-gay rants that would have pretty surely ended his career had he been rising in the social media mob-dominated environment of today rather than the still largely-closeted 80’s. That would have been a shame, because Murphy is–was?–a great talent when he wasn’t being a complete jerk, which, unfortunately, was far too often.

What reminded me that I had whiffed after more than a month? An article about Murphy’s “Delirious”  was published today in  “The Advocate.” So this is timely despite my ineptitude.

Moral luck.

I apologize to Pennagain. This wasn’t just a well-written ethics comment, but an important, educational and disturbing one. Maybe it can spark some discussion anew.

Here, very late, is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day, on the post,Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2018: Thuggery, Double Standards And Hypocrisy…Actually, I Could Use This Title EVERY Morning:

For the rest of you, respectfully, please understand that Eddie Murphy IS indeed unwelcome by queers everywhere. His so-called “humor,” brought to San Francisco in the mid-80s at the height of the AIDS crisis, was a no comedy show at all. It was a diatribe against gay white men in particular … but also a scarcely disguised order-from-On-High for black women (at that time finding partners in the big gay dance clubs) to get back in line behind black men … all based on perverted facts and misrepresentations – such as ‘if you go out dancing with a (gay) man, you will die a horrible death; you can never have children if you touch one of those (^!>?!)’ and assuring all black men in the audience that no black man in history had ever been, or ever could be queerhomofag, etc. The rant was preached to black audiences as gospel (Murphy was then at the height of his popularity; his every word came straight from the pulpit) and — god help them all, they believed him. His lies spread to the Hispanic/Latino community as well.

The results were apparent shortly after Murphy began his stint in the city. They are still tragically with us. The public health outreach had started to be effective across the board (including black communities) just before Murphy’s regrettable visit. Immediately afterward, AIDS/HIV education shut down wherever black people congregated: churches, groups, school speakers, distribution guidelines, and most disastrously, with many black physicians. Eddie Murphy said black men could not be gay, therefore could not get AIDS, therefore could not infect their partners (male or female … By extension meaning black children were safe from the “gay plague.” This is what happened: Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/29/18: (Yes, #4 Should Be A Free-Standing Post, But I’m In A Hurry…)

Good Morning!

I love “Onward Christian Soldiers,” of course, but this is my favorite Arthur Sullivan-composed hymn…

1. Reminding me of the basic unethical and cynical nature of state lotteries...A middle-aged African American woman sits outside of our local 7-11 pretty much all day, seven days a week. I’ve written about her before, most recently when she let the door slam in my face despite our family occasionally giving her food, cigarettes and a ten-dollar bill now and then. This morning she bought 40 dollars worth of lottery tickets.

And if she hit the jackpot, she’d be back sitting out front and begging for money in a year or less.

2. My Facebook. theory. You noticed, I’m sure, that Facebook took a 100 billion dollar hit to its paper value in less than 48 hours last week. It all could have been avoided by honesty, transparency, humility, avoidance of virtue-signaling, and fealty to free speech.

  • Users should have been told, in automatic emails and in big, bold letters in disclaimers on the site, since too many of them are too dumb to figure it out, that anything they put on the free platform was fair game to be harvested, sliced, diced, used, sold, analyzed and exploited for any legal purpose, by any group, party, nation or organization, and if potential users didn’t like the terms, nobody was making them post.
  • Facebook should have avoided pretenses of virtue. It provides a useful means of networking and communication as well as cost-free mini-blogs to people unwilling to maintain real ones. It does so to make money, not to make a better world…especially since social media arguably makes a worse one.
  • It should have denied responsibility, in court if necessary, for “fake news” regardless of who created it. Any ad or “sponsored story” should have been so labelled, with Facebook’s position being “read and believe at your own risk. Check “facts” before you spread them around. It’s your responsibility, not ours.”
  • Facebook should have had faith and belief in the freedom of expression and speech, and not attempted to censor “hate speech” or “fake news,” neither of which are subject to precise identification and analysis without the corrupting influence of bias. Indeed, Facebook was obligated to support the First Amendment, as a major cultural force.
  • Facebook should have stayed apolitical. Instead, it joined the “resistance” freakout over Hillary Clinton’s loss, and signaled its virtue by agreeing with absurd and unsupported claims regarding the importance of fake and risible news stories on Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

Mark Zuckerberg is a classic example of a narrow, limited, juvenile savant whose one big idea gave him more power and influence than he was qualified to handle. Maybe losing all of that money will make him appropriately humble, but I doubt it. Such people almost never learn.

3. Is the U.S. State Department intentionally hassling trans women? This story makes a prima facie case that it is, and if that’s really what is going on, it is petty and wrong. It also is a classic Rashomon situation.  Government bureaucracies are inherently inefficient, incompetent, and screwed up beyond all reason or toleration. (Oddly, progressives want more such agencies, with more employees. Go figure.) The story linked appears to show the system trying to make things difficult for a particular group, but the individual targeted only sees how she is being treated, so it appears like obvious discrimination. That, however, is a very subjective assessment.

A member of my family is in jail for a few months, and had been granted work-release privileges so he could continue his job and career. However, those in charge of the program were openly hostile to his efforts to complete the paperwork and arrangements. They kept changing the rules, increasing requirements, threatening him, and delaying the process. When he contacted his lawyer, he was told, “these people can do anything they want to, and get their satisfaction from boring, low-paying jobs by abusing people like you, meaning anyone who would normally be their equals or better, but who is now under their thumbs. You have no choice. Do what they want, or you will suffer. Simple as that.”

My jailed family member is white, male, educated, well-spoken and polite. Eventually, after he grovelled enough, everything was straightened out. “You know,” he said ,”It I were black, there is no way you could have convinced me that I wasn’t the victim of racism.”

It could be the same with the alleged trans discrimination in the passport system. When one of the alleged victims says, “Make no mistake, this was an intentional action by the State Department to withhold recognizing my gender,” she is being sincere and perhaps naive. It may have been an intentional action by low level State Department employees to be assholes because they could be. [Pointer: valkgrrl] Continue reading

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Integrity Check For “The Resistance” And The News Media (But I Repeat Myself)

“The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years. President Trump has been steadfastly claiming that his policies will catapult the U.S. economy into a much higher rate of growth — 4 percent over the next few years. That would be about double the growth rate in recent years. And it would almost certainly mean a big boost in the standard of living for many Americans, with higher wages and better public services as the government raked in more tax dollars from a booming economy.”

This isn’t from Fox News or Breitbart. It’s from NPR. (Sometimes even biased new sources have no choice but to just report the news.)

Stipulated: The anti-Trump deranged are now fully incapable of admitting that this President has done something right or that he is capable of doing something, anything, right.  The New York Times already started pooh-poohing the positive report before it was released, with this story, Why Friday’s G.D.P. Number May Be a Size Too Big. (Hard copy headline: Get Ready For Sizzling Growth Data. Then Take a Deep Breath.)

Now I’m obligated to note that if President Obama’s stumbling, growth-restricting policies had produced a leap like this, no mainstream media news source would have offered anything but unrestrained praise, though Fox News might well have said, “Well it’s about damn time!”

OK, that’s out of the way.

How long does “the resistance” think it can get away with the intellectually dishonest, obviously unfair, self-indicting strategy of insisting on a parallel reality where double standards reign and no good news or welcome developments will ever, ever, prompt it to concede that the President was right, succeeded or improved the nation’s status? Indeed, why does it think it is getting away with that destructive, divisive and dishonest strategy now? Half the nation doesn’t trust the news media, meaning it cannot change anyone’s mind even when changing the minds is crucial. Democratic opposition to Trump appears to be personal rather than substantive, and it appears that way because it is.

The Ethics Alarms position, since it is an ethics blog (and yes, “The Ethics Alarms position” means MY position, Tim…) is that every single one of the reasons I wrote so many posts explicating them that led me to believe that Donald Trump should never be President stands. Every one. Nothing that he has done, and especially the manner in which he has done what he has done, alters my analysis in any way. However, he is President, so analyzing whether he should be is moot. Now the questions are…

  • How well are his policies and initiatives working?
  • What good are they doing for the country?
  • What harm are they doing, or might they do, and how do we mitigate that?
  • If there are long term benefits of his Presidency, what are they?
  • If there are long term deficits, what are they, and and how do we mitigate them?
  • How does the nation, the public and its institutions best ensure that the results of the President’s tenure on the nation and the culture are as beneficial as possible?
  • What have I and other analysts been proven wrong about, and what does this mean for future analysis going forward?

None of these tasks can be done competently by anyone who is so soaked in hatred, partisan agendas and bias that they are determined to deny the President his wins and “I told you sos,” and there have been a surprising amount both. Nor is it helpful to be willfully blind to the President’s strengths when they become apparent, and some have become apparent.

For example, he cannot possibly be as stupid as I assumed in 2016, and had concluded many years before. President Trump is something else, and I’m not sure what the word for that something else is, or, I suppose, he’s the luckiest bastard who ever lived. I am relatively certain that in the grand cosmic scheme Donald Trump is what philosopher Isaiah Berlin, in his famous essay “The Hedgehog and the Fox” called a hedgehog, someone who, in words of the Greek poet Archilochus, “knows one big thing” as opposed to a fox, which knows many things. The thrust of the essay (and a later book) is that a lesson of history is that the hedgehogs tend to win out over the foxes.

Now I just have to figure out what the one big thing Donald Trump knows is. Based on the evidence so far, it is worth knowing.

_______________________

Pointer: Ann Althouse

 

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