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

Admit It, Liberals, Progressives, Democrats, “The Resistance,” The Left, Or Whatever You Call Yourselves*: You’re The Bad Guys [UPDATED!]

In “Falling Down.” a movie I like better every time I see it (or think about it), Michael Douglas plays a man who snaps, Sweeney Todd-like, and  begins shooting people after the collective injustice, meanness, cruelty, stress and stupidity of daily life becomes unbearable. Finally cornered, he hears a law enforcement officer demand his surrender. “I’m the bad guy?” he says, in a stunning moment of self-awareness. “How did that happen?”

We’re still waiting for that moment of self-awareness from the Left. How it happened in their case is a matter of historical record: accumulated arrogance, cynicism and the rejection of their own ideology’s core principles–you know, liberalism?—did the trick. What was left was pure power-seeking, anger, hate, and “the ends justifies the means,” the “ethic” of fascism and totalitarianism.

When the metaphorical ethics Rubicon was finally crossed could be debated. For me, it was when Hillary Clinton, confident of her historic landslide victory,  lectured designated loser Donald Trump about how despicable and un-American it was for him to hint that he might not accept the legitimacy of her election as President. Then, as soon as he was the victor, Clinton, her party and all of its followers proceed to challenge the legitimacy of his election—and have continued to do so in various ways ever since.

The fact that this exacerbated dangerous national divisions, endangered the Constitution and undermined the ability of an elected President to govern didn’t, and apparently doesn’t, faze them at all. Patriotic Americans, fair human beings,  ethical people and the “good guys” don’t behave like this. It is signature significance for bad guys.

Now, I certainly knew that electing a walking ethics vacuum like Donald Trump would rot the culture’s values, as I warned here repeatedly. I did not anticipate that the primary agents of turning the U.S. into a nation of assholes would be the Left. I assumed that they would hold the values line as best they could, and not challenge the President in a race to the bottom of the barrel, much less win it. All they needed to do was to uphold traditional standards of justice, honesty, civility, respect for institutions  and integrity to ensure that Trump, at worst, would be a short-term aberration. Or, as Glenn Reynold likes to say, all they needed to do was not act crazy. They couldn’t do it.

The Left has rejected freedom of speech, accepting the often violent efforts of college students to threaten and silence speakers whose views they regard as “hate speech.” It has opposed the rule of law in immigration policy, labeling the essential sovereign function of controlling borders as “racism.” It has advocated dividing society into favored and disfavored groups Women must be “believed”; men must be presumed guilty; police must be presumed racist.

There are too many examples to cover in less than a book; I think Ethics Alarms has dealt with most of them. The current low point, however, is the issue at hand: the Kavanaugh nomination. Only the fact that the Left and its biased allies in their misguided quest, the news media, have so thoroughly corrupted their sympathetic followers among the public can explain why there isn’t a mass declaration of outrage. I’m still surprised and disappointed. I thought my liberal friends had more integrity. This is the lowest of the low, and the terrifying question is what the next low point will be.

Sticking only to what Ethics Alarms designates the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck, one has to wonder what more documentation the Left needs to spark its collective conscience and to arrive at the same conclusion as “Falling Down’s” tragic hero. This debacle  began with the Left, all components, announcing its monolithic opposition to a qualified judge who would have been overwhelming approved under any other administration, in any other era. The very left-leaning ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave its highest rating to Kavanaugh. Never mind: the Democratic Party commenced a campaign of fear-mongering, insisting that in some case not yet in existence, the judge, who has been vocal in his support of stare decisus (following well-established SCOTUS precedent), would join with the so-called “conservative” wing of the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This convenient prognostication was enough to lead to angry demonstrations by feminists and pro-abortion activists who had never read a Kavanaugh judicial opinion in their lives, and probably no SCOTUS decisions either. The tactics of the Left here were intimidation and misrepresentation, as well as revenge, tit-for-tat, or what Ethics Alarms sometimes calls “Mob Ethics.” Call attention to the treatment of Kavanaugh—it was Barack Obama who pointed out that elections have consequences, after all—and, failing to locate a legitimate defense, the social media Left’s reflex argument was “Yeah, well what about Merrick Garland?”

Of course, Ethics 101 teaches that past unethical conduct does not make unethical conduct in response less wrong, but the two strategies are not equivalent, legally or ethically. No one set out to slander and smear the character of Garland to justify doing what they had already made up their mind to do. The approach of the Democrats—decide that you want an opponent removed, so seek to find an allegation, an incident or an accuser to make that removal possible, is the opposite of what our legal process requires. Starting out with the presumption of guilt and then using the power of the prosecutor to search for a crime to pin on a target is a fascist strategy (and exactly the Democratic/”resistance” plan to undo the 2016 election by removing President Trump), and an unequivocal violation of prosecution ethics, as well as fairness and justice.

It does embody “The ends justify the means,” however: the motto of all Bad Guys in fiction and history.

Despite its own history of having the excesses of the #MeToo witch hunt mentality bite hard—Senator Al Franken was forced to resign primarily because of his pre-Senatorial conduct as a comedian before any due process or investigations—an old, old allegation of sexual misconduct was the chosen weapon for Kananaugh’s destruction. First, the discovered 30 year plus memory of another liberal professor, Christine Blasey Ford, doing her Anita Hill impression was deliberately held for two months by Senator Feinstein, thus preventing Kavanaugh from responding to them in a non-ambush scenario. Bad guys.

The tactic was unfair and cynical, based solely on the Democratic desire to run out the clock on Kavanaugh’s confirmation so maybe a “blue wave” could give the Democrats a Senate majority. As the Ford scenario has developed, the intent of stalling has become increasingly obvious. At the same time,  Democrats and their propaganda machine in the media began making the case that any attempt to defend himself would by itself make Kavanaugh unfit to serve. After all, even women making three decades old accusations at the last minute to derail the confirmation of a qualified jurist deserve respect.  Anyone, even the target of her attack, doubting her words or motives would obviously be a sexist pig, and an apologist for rapists. This is what the Democrats now regard as justice. It’s also the kind of double bind, heads you lose, tails I win process favored by James Bond villans.

Bad guys.

Meanwhile, not a thought has been given, apparently, to the disastrous long-term consequences to the political process, society and the culture if the Blasey Ford scheme is successful.:

  • High school conduct will now be considered legitimate cause to punish adults and impugn their character long after they have established  and earned public trust. No longer will any quarter be given for bad judgement and poor choices before majority.
  • No man, anywhere, will be safe from old grudges, newly “woke” indignation, and accusations by women times perfectly to undermine trust and support.
  • The standard will now be that anyone—well, any man— accused of sexual assault must be presumed guilty, and has the burden of proof of proving a negative. Two columnists for the New York Times have endorsed this standard, as well as various Democrats and activists. The accusation is enough even if it is unsubstantiated. This doesn’t even have the Salem safeguard of throwing the accused witch into the lake (Sink, and you’re innocent, though dead. Float, and you’re a witch…and soon to be dead.)
  • Women, and only women, will have been granted the power to destroy lives, careers and reputations. They will use it.
  • American society, already dangerously divided along racial, generational, regional and partisan fissures, will be more divided along gender lines as well.

The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass writes,

It threatens Republicans now, and Democrats tomorrow. It will threaten even those who don’t give two figs for politics and see all such talk as lies told by knaves to fools.

What we are seeing are founding American principles being swept — among them the presumption of innocence and the rights of the accused — to feed the appetites of power politics

That’s what Kavanaugh is dealing with, having to testify and defend himself against uncorroborated allegations of sexual predation 36 years ago, when he was in high school and in his freshman year of college.

The short-term politics of all this is quite clear, a movement led by cynics and assisted by their handmaidens in the Democratic Media Complex.

It is designed to convince suburban women voters that Republicans are hateful creatures, help Democrats pick up congressional seats in the November midterm elections and do away with President Donald Trump.

But look deeper and you’ll see something else.

The sweeping away of traditions that have been carefully nurtured from the founding of this nation, to protect individual liberty and shield us from the passions of the mob.

Without these principles, we are no longer a republic.

Kass’s analysis isn’t some novel theory. It’s essentially the same thing I have been writing since Democrats and “the resistance” plotted to defy the Electoral College. But all of this is tolerable, apparently, if a theoretical future SCOTUS opinion  in a non-existent case that might restrict the possibly too wide-ranging rights of a woman to kill her unborn child for any reason or whim can be prevented by destroying the reputation of  the presumed decisive vote in that future case.

Sounds like SkyNet’s plan in “The Terminator,” doesn’t it?

The latest news from the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck would have Michael Douglas’s character begging, “Enough! Enough! I get it! I’m the bad guy!” halfway through the list….but then, he had some integrity. For example: Continue reading

The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet

trump-tweet-enemies

Part I in this series began with a random choice of a New York Times anti-President hit piece of the day. This is the one of truths that the mainstream media wants to pretend  doesn’t exist: the intentionally, relentlessly negative, innuendo-filled reporting regarding the Trump administration, with the goal of alarming the public, undermining its trust in the government, weakening his Presidency, or bringing it down entirely. Just to be up to date, let’s look at today’s front page…and what do we find? “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates.”  The article includes a prominent graphic titled “Donald Trump’s Connections in the Ukraine.” But the article itself, and any research into the individuals shown in the graphic, show no association between Donald Trump and the Ukraine whatsoever. We see…

Andrii V. Artemenko: Ukrainian politician with a peace plan for Ukraine and a file alleging that its president is corrupt.

Felix H. Sater: Russian-American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump Organization.

Michael D. Cohen: Trump’s personal attorney, under scrutiny from F.B.I. over links with Russia.

Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.

There is no evidence or even allegation that Artemenko has even spoken to Trump. Sater was involved in helping businessman Trump seek deals in Russia, and that is all the article tells us about him. Cohen is Trump’s lawyer, and a lawyer’s clients are not “linked” to other clients, unless you think Patty Hearst was “linked” to O.J. Simpson through their mutual lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.

Then there is Manafort, who is not  in the Trump Administration, and was fired from the campaign before the election. Back when he was the campaign manager, Politifact did a “check” on him, and found that he had done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians. Among the international clients Clinton consultant James Carville lists on his website are politicians in Argentina (lots), Columbia, Bolivia,  and yes, the Ukraine, that’s just “some” of the them, meaning that some of the others either don’t want to be known or wouldn’t make Carville look good if they were known. Was Hillary Clinton “associated” with everyone on Carville’s client list? (Also a Carville client: the late Senator Ted Kennedy, serial pussy-grabber and un-prosecuted negligent homicide suspect). Of course not, but that’s the degree of “association” with the Ukraine that the Times article pins on the President, once you get past the front page headline and graphic. The photo over the online version of the article even shows President Trump, who is barely mentioned in the substance of the piece at all, except in such references as “Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”

Might all of these “associations”—this use of guilt by association would be too attenuated even for Joe McCarthy–eventually add up to something sinister, and a scandal that involves the Trump administration? Sure, anything is possible. THAT would be news. THAT would belong on the front page. THIS story, however, is a dog’s breakfast of innuendo, speculation, “hmmmm..” and nothing. It is fake news…not fraudulent in its facts, fraudulent  in its presentation, placement in the paper and intentional suggestion that what is known justifies suspicion of the President. The defenders of the ongoing journalist attacks on the President continue to argue that fact-based smears and rumor-mongering stories published in major news sources are not “fake news,” and after a story like this, I have to wonder about their honesty too. There is only one way this kind of smoky article makes a front page above the fold.

Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing  a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug  faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it. Their supposed “watchdogs” like CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t do it, because he is too busy bashing the President himself while defending his pals.

It would be much better if someone in academia, or a prominent journalist pointed out how terrible a biased and untrustworthy news media is for the nation, but this is the Left’s attempted coup, after all. Try finding an objective authority in academia or journalism. So the leader of the nation, on national television, has to tell the self-congratulatory journalists that they are failing their duty to the nation, which is to inform the public. They see their duty as bringing down a President their Progressive Masters hate.  In other words, the President is saying, essentially..

The follow-up tweet elaborated by specifying just how much of a betrayal this is, saying,

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Look at this as the second slap. Better yet, look at it as the journalism version of Ronald Reagan slapping the Soviet Union with the well-deserved label, “The Evil Empire.”  Many commentators, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, traced the beginning of the unraveling of the Iron Curtain to Reagan’s brutal frankness. Continue reading

Of The Great Noodle Ordeal, Sweeney Todd, Stressors, and The Importance Of Ethics In Stopping Mass Killings

I have a theory about mass killings, and it is neither original nor exclusive: in fact, it has been proposed in various forms for at least a  century But I think it is worth considering.

I think that the smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial people in this country keep designing an environment, and forcing it on us whether we like or need it or not,  that is increasingly, and ultimately unbearably, hostile to those who are not smart, creative, intense, ambitious, restless and entrepreneurial. I think that as life becomes increasingly stressful and confusing for average people—remember, about half of the public is below average intelligence, and even average intelligence is nothing to jump up and down over—they are more likely to reach what the serial killer profilers on “Criminal Minds” call “stressors”—the final straw, the moment when they see red, and deadly fury takes over. On the TV show, of course, the stressor is the death of a child, or a firing, or the onset of an illness, or financial setbacks. But I can see it simply being the realization that life is hopeless…that it is always going to be a miserable, frustrating struggle, and that powerful, rich, meddling people are at work always finding ways to make sure it gets harder and harder, and ultimately futile, for normal human beings to get through the day.

I entertain delusions that I am smarter than the average bear, and I can barely stand it myself. Yesterday, stuck at La Guardia, I wanted to get some food in the a terminal’s food court. The place I chose had just added computerized self-ordering on iPads. I’m not intimidated by iPads; I use one. The woman in front of me, however, stared at the device—there were no readily available employees to guide her through it—as if it were a space alien. She pushed some buttons, sighed, and gave up. Continue reading