Ethics Reflections, 1/19/2021: Good-Bye, Thanks, And On Behalf Of America, I’m Sorry, President Trump

Trump 2020

As I have said before, every American President is owed the thanks and gratitude of U.S. citizens. It is a hard job, a lonely job and a often killing job. Nobody takes it on without suffering and sacrificing a great deal. Nobody takes it on and accepts the massive responsibilities the job entails without wanting to do a good job for his country and fellow citizens. Those who say or think otherwise are broadcasting their ignorance, and failing their own civic responsibilities.

Donald J. Trump was a fascinating President. All 45 have been different, but he is a true outlier, in background, experience, and orientation. I was never a supporter of Trump when he ran, nor an admirer before he ran, nor an enthusiastic adherent when he was in office. As an observer, a presidential history fanatic and a student of leadership and presidential character, I found him to be infuriating, surprising, troubling, and in the end admirable in some ways.

He was also surprisingly successful, though the news media would never give him credit, and though much of what he was successful at upset progressives, to put it mildly. President Trump was unlucky, but many Presidents are; a game I used to play was naming a period in U.S. history when a great President would have failed and another when a “failed” President would have been great. Trump was ultimately defeated by a worldwide pandemic that ruined the excellent economy that his policies had largely created. I doubt that the despicable effort by the AUC to blame the extent of the pandemic on him was ultimately the reason for his defeat; American Presidents usually get the credit when things are good, and get the blame when they aren’t, regardless of the reasons. One of the Big Lies wielded by Trump’s foes was that everything was terrible when in fact things were remarkably good. The pandemic ensured that much was terrible for many months leading up to the election. Few, if any, Presidents could have been re-elected under such conditions.

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From The “Scared Yet” Files: The Rest Of The Story On The Persecution Of Professor Charles Negy

Nagy Tweet

As Ethics Alarms noted back in August (which seems like years ago), the University of Central Florida set out to destroy Professor Negy, who was tenured and has taught at the university for decades by inviting students to bring formal complaints against him “based on abusive or discriminatory behavior by any faculty or staff.” Students were already demanding his dismissal because he dared to post the accurate tweet above, but the institution knew it couldn’t fire him for that.

Negy’s lawyer,Samantha K. Harris, described the process:

Since June 4th, a litany (we don’t know the exact number, because they won’t say) of complaints has been lodged against Negy for his classroom pedagogy, for speech that allegedly occurred over a 15-year period from 2005 to 2020. The university charged Negy with discriminatory harassment on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, sex, gender identity/expression, and disability…while providing him with only a handful of “examples” of his alleged wrongdoing. … the university subjected Negy to an “investigative interview” that was one of the most Kafkaesque things I have seen in my 15 years advising students and faculty about campus disciplinary matters. For four straight hours, UCF’s investigator grilled Negy about accusations stemming directly from his classroom pedagogy, having made no effort to weed out the countless accusations that were obviously just critiques of his choice of teaching material….When Negy, physically and emotionally exhausted after four hours of interrogation, asked if the interview was almost over, we learned that the investigator had not even gotten halfway through her list of accusations. Another five-hour inquisition was scheduled for the following week.

This investigation was obviously undertaken in retaliation for Negy’s protected tweets… How many professors are going to be willing to speak out if the result is a nine-hour inquisition followed by an almost inevitable punishment?…Cases like this are canaries in the coal mine: if a public university—a government agency—can treat someone this way for deviating from the university’s orthodoxy, and face no accountability for doing so, then what (and who) is next? The answer, of course, is you and me. We are next. If decent people do not take a stand against these abuses, it’s not a matter of if the state-endorsed mob will come for us—it’s only a matter of when.

When, as we now can see, has arrived.

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Ethics Alarms Ethics Check: Did Joe Biden Call Ted Cruz And Josh Hawley “Nazis”? [Revised]

Big Lie

I don’t do factchecks, I do ethics checks. Both GOP Senators Ted Cruz and and Josh Hawley have leaped on a Joe Biden attack and said that the President Elect called them “Nazis.” Many conservative pundits and websites have similarly accused Biden of the ultimate “otherizing.”

Biden did not call Cruz and Hawley Nazis.

He told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe is God,

“They should be just flat beaten the next time they run. The American public has a real good, clear look at who they are. They’re part of the big lie.Goebbels and the great lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

Because Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler defined the Big Lie tactic–that’s what Biden is referring to when he says “Goebbels and the great lie”— and though they authored one of the biggest Big Lies of all time, saying that a politician or a political party is using the Big Lie tactic cannot be the equivalent of calling that politician Hitler, Goebbels, or a Nazi. The reason is that long before the two Nazi propaganda experts mastered the Big Lie, it had been used extensively for centuries, and it has been used ever since often with great effectiveness, always unethically, by parties and politicians who could not possibly be called Nazis in their beliefs, policies, values or methods. The Big Lie is now a standard political weapon. The idea is to make a public assertion that is so horrifying and outlandish that the public demands that it be denied by its target, and argued about. The genius of the Big Lie tactic is that forcing the argument itself gives the Big Lie credibility. The approach of simply ignoring Big Lies and saying by word or action, “That doesn’t even justify a rebuttal, and I won’t dignify it with one” usually doesn’t work.

I swear, the first example of this that jumped into my head was Harry Reid’s intentional slur during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the previous decade. When asked about his Big Lie after the election, Reid answered, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The Big Lie tactic is all about the ends justifying the means.

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“All They Have To Do Is Not Be Crazy, And They Can’t Even Do That” Observations

The quote in the title, in various forms, has been repeated as a running gag on Instapundit, the conservative mega-blog, for four years now. The idea behind it was that in light of the chaotic and intentionally obnoxious style of the President, Democrats only needed to behave in a statesmanlike, responsible, fair and judicious manner to prevail politically. Instead, they did exactly the opposite.

The problem is that acting crazy worked. The increasingly radical leftist base wanted to rain anger and hate down on President Trump while trying every avenue to remove him without having to brave an election. After originally resisting, the Democratic leadership eventually capitulated, bolstered by now completely partisan news media and the Republican NeverTrumpers, whose hatred of the President was as much driven by class as politics. Now that Democrats have won control of the Senate as well as the White House, they apparently see no reason to stop the formula that succeeded so well—at the cost of dividing the nation, risking violence, destroying trust in our institutions, and cementing a new normal of endless political warfare, but still. This has become the party of “the ends justifies the means.”

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Conclusion: The President Will Pardon Himself, And Should

POTUS pardon

For a party that has throttled down on the Big Lie that President Trump has been unusually disrespectful of crucial democratic norms, Democrats are remarkably fond of obliterating some of the most crucial norms established since 1792, norms that have served us well. They began by defying the norm of an opposing party accepting the election of a President and beginning his term with a demonstration of good will, loyalty and cooperation. They continued with the abuse of impeachment, dispensing with the requirement of a high crime or “misdemeanor,” seeking President Trump’s removal for conduct indistinguishable from that of his predecessors. Now it is clear as crystal that the party intends to prosecute Trump after he leaves office, criminalizing politics and following the practice of totalitarian regimes like the Soviet Union, which often imprisoned—or killed— political opponents as soon as they lost power.

Democrats have come close to doing this before. They would have prosecuted Nixon, whom they hated almost as much as they hate Trump, had Gerald Ford not courageously taken that opportunity away. Many in the party wanted to prosecute President Bush for “war crimes.” Now there is little question that, driven by a Trump-deranged base and supported by a legal establishment that has abandoned any semblance of objectivity or restraint, as well as a poisonous news media lacking prudence or perspective, Democrats will seek the imprisonment of Donald Trump as a matter of pure revenge. Whether they can prove his guilt of actual crimes is a secondary matter. They want to destroy him as a warning to any other outsider who dares to challenge what they believe is the inevitable progressive ascendancy.

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Comment Of The Day: “On Revenge, Tit-For-Tat And The Biden Presidency”

Donkey-vs-Elephant

I assumed today’s post about Republican revenge would generate some interesting comments. There aren’t many readers of the blog over Christmas week—odd, because one would think this would be a time to think about ethics—but to quote Spencer Tracy in “Pat and Mike,” “what there is, is cherce.”

Here is Steve Witherspoon’s Comment of the Day on the Post, “On Revenge, Tit-For-Tat And The Biden Presidency”:

Jack wrote…”The second most ethical course is now the only ethical course available, and that means that Republicans should give no quarter to Joe Biden, his agenda, and his allies. Not as revenge, mind you, but as the kind of tit-for-tat response that game theory teaches is sometimes the only way to enforce ethical norms.

In my opinion it’s not tit-for-tat, it’s a new precedence. Back on December the 4th, I wrote…

I think it’s really “interesting” how, after the political left didn’t get their way in the 2016 Presidential election, the political left started a new precedence on how a President of the United States and anyone that supports the President should be treated by the opposition and their lapdog media and they continued that precedence for four years straight and now the political left wants them and their President to be treated in a different way than the new precedence that they set? Transparent double standards and open hypocrisy are prominent character flaws of the political left in the 21st century. I’m not much for using a tit-for-tat rationalization myself; however, I’m not going to fault the political right too much for continuing the same Presidential treatment precedence that the political left started. The modern Democratic Party led by extremist progressives and the irrational and violent social justice henchmen they empowered, implemented an unending scorched earth policy against a President of the United States and his supporters for four straight years and those choices are coming back to roost on their pompous-ass heads and dig their talons straight into the foreheads of the political left; choices have consequences. As the rhetorical blood drips down the political left’s forehead they should be forced at every turn to remember that the political left made their bed and is now estopped* from complaining about being treated badly.”

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Ethics Alarms Verdict: The AUC Stole the Election, Or Attempted To Steal The Election. It’s One Or The Other.

trump-election-2020

Frankly, this is an easy conclusion. It is overwhelming likely that the first is correct: President Trump has lost the election, and the #1 reason was the four year strategy by the Axis of Unethical Conduct—the Democratic Party, the “resistance,” the mainstream news media, and more recently, the tech giants and social media platforms—to employ unconscionable, unethical means to accomplish that end.

If, by some miracle, the attempted theft fails, it will only be as a result of moral luck. The destructive and democracy-wrecking actions of the AUC are already completed. Their culpability is the same whatever the final election result is.  This is why in criminal law an attempted crime often carries the same penalty as a completed crime. What the criminal did was just as wrong whether he or she was ultimately successful or not.

Before President Trump even took office, a full-on campaign to remove him by any means possible was underway, along with a similarly relentless effort to make it impossible for him to function as the nation’s leader. This continued with no respite from the 2016 election right through to the 2020 election. No President of the United States has ever been sabotaged and savaged in such a manner; indeed I am going to add the denial of this fact to the Ethics Alarms list of the Big Lies of the Resistance. It will be #10, right behind the lie that President Trump caused pandemic deaths in the U.S. (Andrew Cuomo definitely killed people, but not President Trump.) The lie: “Progressives treated President Trump no worse than conservatives treated President Obama.”

Big Lie #10 is different from the rest because it usually is used by ordinary citizens rather than Democratic Party officials, flacks and pundits; the reason is that the statement is so false that even Trump’s worst critics won’t go that far. Their alternative position is that he is so evil that he deserved to be abused. But I hear Big Lie #10 regularly from the social media Borg and my Trump Deranged friends and relatives when they are cornered and feel they have to deny what is literally undeniable. Big Lie #10 is a Jumbo: “Bias? What bias?”

The record of the effort to steal/rig/fix—choose your favorite word, but the objective was to make sure this President never had a chance to succeed, and if he somehow did succeed, that he would never get credit for it—the 2020 election is right here, tracked by the Ethics Alarms tag, 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, which I hereby retire after a wild four-year run. It took me twenty minutes to just scroll down through all of the posts that carry that tag; if I attempted to read them all, it would take weeks.

The first entry was here, when I announced and christened the Train Wreck, almost exactly four years ago, on November 13, 2016. In that post and three succeeding ones I highlighted four ugly examples of how the President-elect was being denigrated and undermined immediately, following the first post with this one, this one, and this one. I could not suspect that the efforts to demonize the newly-elected President of the United States would metastasize to the extent they did, with every late night TV show devoting large chunks of time every installment to insulting and denigrating him, with the vast majority of major newspaper columnists attacking him personally to the point of obsession, and all previous rules of decorum and official respect being not only suspended by the Democratic Party, but trashed, even to the point of elected officials calling the President a “motherfucker” in public without any penalty or reprimand, and the Speaker of the House making live theater out of tearing up his State of the Union message on TV.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: New York Time Tech Reporter Kevin Roose

Roose Tweet

“The tricky thing, for Facebook, is that some of the most viral stories aren’t strictly false….But they are feeding a stolen election narrative that is going to be hard to dial back.”

——New York Times Technology reporter Kevin Roose, after being called on referring to four accurate articles as “Right Wing misinformation.”

And there it is! We have a smoking gun regarding the insidious, growing tendency of journalists and the news media to think of information as theirs to withhold, alter, hype, hide or bury permanently for what they perceive as the public good.

“Aren’t strictly false…but.” That’s chilling. What Roose is saying is that the truth can be dangerous, and social media should only allow “good” news to be posted and shared, news items that advance narratives supporting what the Left approves of, rather than those that challenge or rebut their obliviously superior and more virtuous views and objectives.

If a factual story makes the public distrust the election results,then perhaps the election results should be questioned. The remedy is to demonstrate with convincing arguments and other facts why this is a mistaken view. When I hear someone arguing that the remedy is to bury the story, that makes me wonder why that person is trying to keep me in the dark.

The primary facts that support the stolen election narrative is how Democrats, the resistance and the news media behaved over the past four years, making it clear that neither law, nor ethics, nor American institutions, values and traditions, nor basic fairness or common decency, would stand in the way of their obsession with removing Donald Trump from the Presidency by any means necessary.

Why, in light of all that, wouldn’t they try to steal the election?

LATE Morning Observations On Election 2020. So Far…

Screenshot-2020-11-04-at-11.09.15-AM-600x391

Tip: The most important observation is the last one.

1. In the hours between when I started the last post when I got back out of bed two-and-a half hours later, two crucial states where the President was shown leading flipped to narrow leads for Biden. This does not prove or even suggest chicanery, but under the circumstances it looks bad. (“Gee, they cheat fast!” was a comment on one of the conservative blogs following the election live.) The meme above may be unfair, but it accurately expresses what went through my mind when I saw the new totals.

This is why it is unethical to create “the appearance of impropriety” if you have anything to do with the government. People need to trust the government, its institutions, and the fairness and openness of elections. The appearance of impropriety is just as damaging as actual impropriety. We have already seen this in the aftermath of the Mueller investigation and the prosecution of General Flynn.

2.  Both parties have worked to deliberately create suspicion about the political process, and the decision to vastly increase the use of mail-in ballots, in what should have been recognized as a close election, knowing that doing so would delay the process, create opportunity for mischief, and keep the results of the election mired in uncertainty for days and even weeks was either epically incompetent or sinister. Now, instead of the single state having a “too close to call” vote total with the Presidency hanging in the balance as in 2000, we have six, which will presumably multiply litigation and uncertainty. That’s a disaster, no matter what the final result is, and it is a disaster that should have been avoided at all costs. It was unethical and negligent not to avoid it at all costs.

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Comment Of The Day, A Question And An Answer, From The “Election Day Open Forum”

Body-Snatchers-2

Sarah B. provided the Comment of the Day and it’s featured question.

Mrs. Q applied her now familiar wisdom and perspective, and offered an answer, and at the end, I’ll take a shot at my own.

First, here’s Sarah’s Comment of the Day on today’s Forum:

Here is my question of the day. Sorry, but you need some exposition. I have a family member who has stage four TDS (frankly, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being willing to discuss positions that disagree with your own though you include a great many invectives and 10 being incapacitated by hatred to the degree that you won’t play bridge because of trump cards, her stance requires exponents) who had a post on Facebook today urging everyone to vote. Her claim was “Vote for Life” with pictures of a black guy with someone on is neck, a hospitalized person with COVID, a drowning polar bear, and a person standing with a rainbow flag. She has stated that anyone who disagrees that Floyd was killed by cops is a racist and she will act decisively to remove their racism. She has also said that voting for Trump is the same as committing genocide. She is willing to cut her sister out of her life, just for asking the question of, if a man overdoses in the custody of police, is it really racism that killed him. She then accuses anyone who might think that voting anything other than Democrat for any government position at all as guilty of crimes. Nothing, in her view, is acceptable other than a 100% Democrat government and if even a single Republican keeps a statewide position, much less a federal one, it is a sign that we live in a nation that is too racist to exist and must be eradicated (with totalitarian methods that she claims are the only way to protect our rights). She is already claiming that Trump is harassing voters, and that if he gets more than 20% of the vote, it will be through intense fraud, worthy of throwing him and any who voted for him in prison for life.

I won’t say that the Right doesn’t have some bad folks too, but every one of my former friends on the Left of the political spectrum is acting like she is the most reasonable person available. Aside from her hundreds of Facebook likes, she has received a great many accolades on how she is the perfect example of professionalism and reasonable behavior, and how she is treating those who disagree with her as better than they deserve and how she is almost too kind in her pronouncements.

As a note, she is the wife of a prominent Democrat in her state and he and his cohorts make her seem sane and Trump seem like the most polite, restrained, and gentlemanly man I’ve ever met.

This woman is now claiming that anyone who says MAGA, or wears red, or claims Trump is not a (fill in big lie here) with any amount of data to back it up, or even mentions the Biden laptop issue, is engaging in voter suppression. She has said that we need re-education of the deplorables who would consider Trump. That is, she says, the only way we can avoid being overcome with fascism, totalitarianism, and racism.

How do we deal with people like this moving forward? How do we keep the American experiment alive when people like this, at least in my life, seem very common?

Now here is Mrs. Q’s response…

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