The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #1: Trump Is Just A Reality TV Star

Introduction

The “Big Lie” strategy of public opinion manipulation, most infamously championed by Adolf Hitler and his propaganda master Joseph Goebbels, has, in sinister fashion, become a routine and ubiquitous component of the Left’s efforts to remove President Donald J. Trump from office without having to defeat him at the polls. One of the most publicized Big Lies, that the President had “colluded” with the Russian government to “steal” the Presidential election from Hillary Clinton was recently exposed as such by the results of the Mueller investigation, and Democrats, with blazing speed, replaced it with another Big Lie  that there is a “Constitutional crisis.”

Becoming addicted to relying on Big Lies as a political strategy is not the sign of ethical political parties, movements, or ideologies.

Perhaps there is a useful distinction between Big Lies and “false narratives,” but I can’t define one. Both are intentional falsehoods designed to frame events in a confounding and deceptive manner, so public policy debates either begin with them as assumptions, thus warping the discussion, or they result in permanent bias, distrust and suspicion of the lie/narrative’s target. For simplicity’s sake, because I believe it is fair to do so, and also because “Big Lie” more accurately reflects just how unethical the tactic is, that is the term I will use in this and the posts to come

Big Lie #1. “Trump is just a reality TV star.” Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Governor’s Dress

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer wore a “form fitting dress” or a “distractingly badly-fitting dress” during her state of the State address. After some pundits and a lot of social media users leveled harsh criticism of her attire, the matter quickly entered the battlefield of the gender wars. She said in a statement,

“In my speech I was encouraging people to see the humanity in one another in this cruel political environment. In an era when so many women are stepping up to lead, I’m hoping people will focus on our ideas and accomplishments instead of our appearance. Until then, I’ve got a message for all of the women and girls like mine who have to deal with garbage like this every day: I’ve got your back.”

Anne Doyle, an Oakland County leadership coach for women, said,

“If she had been wearing something big and baggy, she would have been criticized for wearing that. We’re going to see a significant amount of this type of criticism as more and more women are in these type of powerful, leadership roles. It’s gender bias. But we have to power our way through it and ignore it.”

No question about it, female public figures are often subjected to higher standards of appearance than males. However, does this mean that no criticism of public comportment and appearance by public officials in the official discharge of their duties is legitimate? Here’s Ann Althouse on the controversy, writing that the Governor…

…wore a dress to her State of the State Address that was just way too tight. As many of the commenters (at The Daily Mail) observe, you can see the outline of her bellybutton. It’s not really fair to accuse everyone of body shaming when you wear something that fits so poorly. People talk about Trump’s tie being too long….

And his hair, AND his skin color, AND his hands, AND his weight. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama’s every fashion choice received barrels of ink-worth of automatic praise. The issue is, or should be, whether a public figures should be held accountable for decisions regarding they present themselves to the world. Cousin Vinny kept finding himself in contempt of court for inappropriately casual attire, which was deemed disrespectful to the court. Are supporters of the governor really arguing that all criticism of a female elected official’s attire or appearance is sexist? Seriously?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz Of The Day is…

Was criticism of the Governor’s dress unethical?

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/7/19: Fleeing The US, Exploiting The Golden Globes, Spinning The Shutdown, And More

Best wishes for an ethical week ahead!

1. They just can’t help themselves. Golden Globe hosts Andy Samberg and Sandra Oh went out of their way before the show to sell the idea that last night’s Golden Globes Awards would avoid political grandstanding, but sure enough, there was Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical winner Christian Bale, who plays Dick Cheney in “Vice,” accepting his honor by saying that he was “cornering the market on charisma-free a—holes … What do we think, Mitch McConnell next?” [Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!]

If I were the producer or on the Golden Globes board, I’d ban him from future ceremonies. Bale, who is probably the best actor still acting now that Daniel Day-Lewis has retired, was just virtue-signaling to the left-biased Hollywood crowd, and willing to annoy a lot of his audience to do it. There’s nothing productive or profound about calling two public servants, one of them retired, “a-holes” on national television; it’s just uncivil and rude. Not only that, but Bale is a genuine hypocrite: Less than a month ago, the actor spoke glowingly about Cheney, telling Fox News, “He was a wonderful family man — he’s a great dad, he’s an avid reader, he has a brain like a vice and he constantly reads history.” It sounds to me like Bale cuts his opinions and words to fit the audience he’s addressing.

2.  From the Ethics Alarms “How Dare You Make Me Act Like A Jackass?” Files: The mainstream media has been using a Gallup poll showing that 16% of Americans polled say they want to leave the country as an indictment of President Trump. The spin is based on the narrative that anything negative is Trump’s fault, and anything positive that occurs is dumb luck, a late result of Barack Obama’s brilliance, or because Trump’s real objectives were foiled. In truth, the uptick in citizens saying they want to leave is a direct result of non-stop anti-American propaganda, in the schools, the colleges, in the news media, and from activists who pretend that the nation is an oppressive, autocratic, Fascist Hell where every woman is at risk of being raped, white supremacy is rampant, and African Americans are hunted down and shot on the streets for “living while black.” This state of mind has been seeded and cultivated entirely by “the resistance” and the ideologues who created it.

As several others have pointed out, Gallup’s summary that “a record number of Americans want to leave the U.S.” is fake news, and in multiple ways. There is no “number,” just a percentage of the group Gallup polled. That percentage, moreover, represents the alleged pollees who say they want to leave the U.S., not the ones who really want to, which would be demonstrated by some proactive steps to accomplish that objective. Women, under-30s and the poorest Americans make up the bulk of the 6% jump from the 10% of Americans who said they wanted to flee while Obama was President. I  attribute the result to 1) the despicable, constant fear-mongering by Democrats, as in the ridiculous claims that Brett Kavanaugh would send the nation’s women into “A Handmaiden’s Tale”-style sexual slavery; 2) the general civic ignorance of millennials, too many of whom who get their knowledge of national affairs from Stephen Colbert and social media, and who have been conditioned to think that trading liberty for nanny state socialism would be a rational trade;  3) the false narrative, pushed by the news media,  that President Trump is a racist; and 4) the fact that it is traditionally the progressives who threaten to leave the country whenever the Democrats aren’t in power, not conservatives when their star is waning. (Why is that?)

Ethical and civically literate Americans recognize that they are responsible for changing their nation for the better, whatever “better” is. Leaving is a cowardly and unpatriotic act, and my position is that if someone thinks losing an election is justification to leave for foreign shores, the U.S., its society and its politics are better off without them.

Bye!

Continue reading

BREAKING NEWS: Hollywood And Broadway Declare War On The Presidency, Elections, Democracy, Decency And Civility. NOW What?

“I’m just going to say one thing. Fuck Trump! It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘fuck Trump!’”

—Actor Robert De Niro on live TV at the Tonys last night.

Then he pumped both fists in the air, as a large contingent of the crowd of Broadway glitterati at Radio City Music Hall stood and gave him a standing ovation, endorsing the gutter insult.

I believe such un-American conduct creates an ethical obligation on the part of fair and reasonable American to demonstrate their contempt and opposition, in as strong and decisive a manner possible.

What that means is beyond my ability to suggest right now. I don’t like to write when I am angry, and I am angry. But this must not stand.

Yesterday, commenting on the unethical Tony Awards scheduling  of De Niro, who has used other appearances to make vulgar, hateful, ad hominem attacks on the President, I wrote in part,

“If you invite Robert De Niro, you are deliberately announcing that your event is going to be politically divisive and include an attack, probably uncivil, on the President—and while he will be engaged in crucial international negotiations. The President has nothing to do with the Tonys, nor does politics—the main contenders for top musicals are “SpongeBob” and “Mean Girls,” for heaven’s sakes—nor does De Niro, who is just one more movie star being used by Broadway to attract a larger TV audience.”

Naturally, CBS allowed this to go forward, because it was in search of ratings for the perpetually viewer-starved awards show. The network either knew or should have known that this meant that it would be broadcasting some kind of ugly episode. The network was accused of  conspiring with Janet Jackson to flash her breast during the supposedly family-friendly Super Bowl half-time show—you know, back in those halcyon days when games didn’t include NFL players symbolically calling the US. racist as a prelude?—and swore that it had no idea anything inappropriate was going to happen. Well, it can’t make that claim now about De Niro. De Niro’s outburst is like the breast-bearing if Jackson had been flashing at every public appearance. CBS knew he was going to insult the President. It wanted him to insult the President. Continue reading

Contrarian Ethics And Ann Althouse

Ann Althouse, the now retired law professor and increasingly active bloggress, is a habitual contrarian. That’s why she is such an interesting and politically unpredictable commentator, and why, though generally left of center by instinct, she so often ends up on the opposite side from the news media. Being a contrarian can be a useful tactic for ethicists too: it provides a bias filter. Since lawyers like Ann are trained to be able to argue both sides of any argument with equal fervor and persuasiveness, picking a position you disagree with and arguing for it anyway is a wonderful way to change your own mind, or to find lines of reasoning that might never have appeared otherwise.

It can be a trap, too, especially in the blogging biz. Having an opinion that isn’t already everywhere on the web makes a blog interesting, attracts comments, and leads to increased traffic and links. Especially in areas where one doesn’t have strong opinions, the tendency to disagree with the obvious or popular opinion becomes its own bias, and undermines trust and integrity. I have my own contrarian streak (I inherited it from my father), and I have to watch it carefully. It is not ethical (it’s unkind) to say or write things primarily because you mostly want to make people’s heads explode. I’ve done it a few times on Ethics Alarms.

This is where I have seen Althouse trending, and here is a recent example. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce Hillary’s George Costanza Moment

In “The Comeback,” a much admired “Seinfeld” episode, George Costanza obsesses over the fact he missed what he is sure was the perfect comeback when a colleague at a staff lunch, watching him gluttonize a bowl of shrimp, quipped that “George, the Ocean called, and they’re out of shrimp!” George wishes he had said, “Yeah? Well, the jerk store called, they’re running out of you!” The problem is that much success in life is based on timing. If you miss your moment, it’s gone, and coming back later to explain that you had the perfect response and didn’t use it is trolling for sympathy, when you don’t deserve any.

Now Hillary Clinton, in her post-Presidential-run botch excuse tour, is channeling George as she muses about whether she missed the perfect comeback when, she says, Donald Trump was “invading her space” during the town meeting style debate.

In an audio clip to promote her upcoming book (above), Clinton reads the section in which she recounts her thoughts as she claims she considered telling her Republican adversary to “back up, you creep” as he roamed the stage behind her during the second presidential debate.

“My skin crawled,” Clinton reads. “It was one of those moments where you wish you could hit pause and ask everyone watching ‘well, what would you do?'” Just two days before, Clinton says, “the world heard [him] brag about groping women.” She says she decided against telling Trump to “back up, you creep, get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me,” and instead gripped the microphone “extra hard.”  Now she wonders if she made the right choice.

Hey Hillary, the loser store called, and it’s out of you! Continue reading

Giant Chicken Ethics

An amazing number of readers sent me links to the story about the giant inflatable chicken with Trump hair stationed near the White House.

Is this an ethics matter? Well, let’s think about that.

As stupid protests go, this one is more entertaining than most. The chicken is intrinsically amusing.

Yet it is still just an ad hominem insult. Any group putting up an inflatable animal sporting Obama ears in a similar position would be immediately condemned as racist. Like the naked Trump statues that were put up over night in some cities, the chicken is nothing but another “I hate the President” primal scream. It’s not productive. It’s not constructive. It’s not polite. It is a less offensive gesture than hanging or burning an effigy, but just barely. It’s better than “Fuck Trump” and “Not My President!”, but this is just the “it’s not the worst thing rationalization.”

Then there is the “Back to the Future” problem. You will recall, I hope,  that in the greatest film trilogy of all time, protagonist Marty McFly’s fatal flaw was that he could not stop himself from accepting a challenge, however foolish, once he was called “chicken.” Until Marty finally overcomes this flaw, he is is doomed.

Is this really a prudent time to call President Trump a chicken?

I think not.