Ethics Dunce: George Will (How Sad…)

Once upon a time, I used to read George Will regularly. He was erudite, he was principled, he was equally critical of both political parties, and he was a reliable champion of ethical values. I don’t know if it was Donald Trump who broke him, but Will’s intellect and integrity certainly didn’t survive Trump’s rise. If nothing else, Will is an elitist, and the prospect of an unmannerly low-class boor entering the White House was too much for George’s aging brain to bear. He snapped, and suddenly the slave of cognitive dissonance, he decided that if a man like Trump was allied to the democratic and political principles he had spent his professional life passionately advocating and defending, then he shouldn’t defend them any more.

Snobbery over substance. Good plan, George!

Since his decline into irrelevance or senility I haven’t wasted a moment on Will’s writings; I don’t care what he thinks, because he no longer thinks clearly. His latest in the Washington Post, however, is special. Risibly titled “Amend the Constitution to bar senators from the presidency,” it checks all the boxes of a truly bad, indeed unethical, op-ed.

Will’s simple-minded argument is…

Banning senators from the presidency would increase the probability of having senators who are interested in being senators, and would increase the probability of avoiding:

Presidents who have never run anything larger than a Senate office. Who have confused striking poses — in the Capitol, on Twitter — with governing…

Oh I see now: George isn’t really advocating banning Senators from being President. He’s just cranky that Senators aren’t doing a better job, and deceiving his readers into believing there’s any solution other than electing better Senators. Of course, Will has never been willing to dirty himself with actual policy making or trying to build public consensus; it’s so much easier to stand on the sidelines and call everyone else idiots.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/20/18: Out Of Bounds

Good Morning!

1. Here is the level of logic and ethical reasoning the public is subjected to by the media: Here is NBC Sports blogger Bill Baer on why it is misguided for the Milwaukee Brewers not to punish relief pitcher Josh Hader—whose career crisis I discussed here–for tweets he authored when he was in high school seven years ago:

The “he was 17” defense rings hollow. At 17 years old, one is able to join the military, get a full driver’s license (in many states), apply for student loans, and get married (in some states). Additionally, one is not far off from being able to legally buy cigarettes and guns. Given all of these other responsibilities we give to teenagers, asking them not to use racial and homophobic slurs is not unreasonable. Punishing them when they do so is also not unreasonable.

A study from several years ago found that black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. A similar study from last year found that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Cameron Tillman, among many others, never got the benefit of the doubt that Hader and countless other white kids have gotten and continue to get in our society. When we start giving the same benefit of the doubt to members of marginalized groups, then we can break out the “but he was only 17” defense for Hader.

How many repeatedly debunked false rationalizations and equivalencies are there in that blather? It’s not even worth rebutting: if you can’t see what’s wrong with it…if your reaction is, “Hey! Good point! Why is it OK for a cop to shoot a teenager for charging him after resisting arrest, but not OK to suspend a ball player for dumb social media posts he made in high school?”…I am wasting my time. And NBC pays Baer as an expert commentator. It might as well pay Zippy the Pinhead.

2. Is this offensive, or funny? Or both? Increasingly, we are reaching the point where anything that is funny is offensive, thus nothing can be funny. The Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Double-A affiliates, will be hosting a “Millennial Night” this weekend, being promoted with announcements like this one: “Want free things without doing much work? Well you’re in luck! Riverwalk Stadium will be millennial friendly on Saturday, July 21, with a participation ribbon giveaway just for showing up, napping and selfie stations, along with lots of avocados.”

Apparently there has been a substantial negative reaction from millennials, and the indefinable group that is routinely offended on behalf of just about anyone.

Nonetheless, I agree with the critics. I think the promotion goes beyond good-natured to insulting. It’s like announcing a Seniors Night by guaranteeing free Depends and promising extra-loud public address announcements that will be repeated for the dementia-afflicted who forget what they just heard. [Pointer: Bad Bob] Continue reading

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

Good morn..oh, who am I kidding? It’s a crap morning…

[The Warm-Up is going to be uncharacteristically short. (UPDATE: Well, not that short, as it turned out…) Between my hotel check-out and my arrival home, I spent 11 hours in lines, crowded airports, an airplane, listening to violent thunderstorms and trying to get online with the wi-fi going in and out, not to mention the usual excessive intake of junk y food purchased at exorbitant prices. On top of that, I’m really ticked off, behind the 8-ball in too many projects to mention, out of food, and can’t figure out how to release the emergency brake on the only functioning car we have, my son’s Mercedes.]

1. Another Republican Trump ally abused. The new “resistance” tactic continues to escalate… From the Tampa Bay Times…

“A group of protesters accosted Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi outside the screening of the new documentary about Mister Rogers at the Tampa Theatre on Friday night, questioning her about her recent actions on health care policy and her stance on immigration.

A video of the confrontation, taken by progressive activist Timothy Heberlein of Organize Florida, shows several people shouting down Bondi as she leaves the theater escorted by law enforcement after seeing Won’t You Be My Neighbor….”

Comments:

  • Again, there is an ethical obligation for principled Americans to confront these fascists—meaning the protesters. Every citizen has the right to go to a movie, eat out, or walk their his or her dog in the park without being abused and harassed. Stand up for that right (see: The Declaration of Independence) , or lose it. Bondi should have been rescued on the spot before authorities had to be called.
  • You can check Ethics Alarms by searching for “Pam Bondi.” I am not a fan; indeed, she is an outrageously unethical prosecutor. But the way to address that is through appropriate regulatory bodies, not through the acts of vigilante thugs outside a movie theater.
  • “What would Mister Rogers think about you and your legacy in Florida? Taking away health insurance from people with pre-existing conditions, Pam Bondi!” Maria José Chapa, a labor organizer, can be heard yelling to Bondi in the video. “Shame on you!” Who cares what Mister Rogers “would” think, if he weren’t, you know, DEAD? A. Nobody knows what he would think. B. “What would Jesus think?” is idiotic enough, but Mr. Rogers? This wasn’t only unethical harassment, it was incompetent harassment.

2. Tales of the double standard… From Mediate: Continue reading

Inauguration Day Ethics Dunces

dunces

Three of many…

Ethics Dunce: ABC’s Byron Pitts

Wow.

Earlier today I wrote,

A friend posted on Facebook yesterday that she was “disgusted” by all the white people wearing “Make America Great Again” hats around the Capitol yesterday. This struck me as akin to the joke about the boy who murdered his parents seeking mercy from the court because he was an orphan. African Americans, especially around D.C., have been urged and in many cases bullied to boycott everything having to do with Trump, and now people like my friend are suggesting that blacks are being excluded, proving the racism of the new President.

I actually deleted a section that said: “Just watch: some inveterate news media race-baiter will cite the abundance of whites to impugn Trump and Republicans. Which will it be?” The answer, we now know, is Byron Pitts. Virtually the entire Congressional Black Caucus boycotted the event, blacks who expressed support for Trump or even hinted that the supported the Inauguration faced shunning and threats, and this guy had the gall to say, during the ABC coverage today,

“Think about this crowd and think about the divided America. We talked about the noise of the racial divide, this is the whisper of the racial divide in America. Think back to when President Obama took office for the first time. How diverse the crowd was. You saw the rainbow of America. Today this looks like the ice cream of America. Right? It is an overwhelmingly white audience.”

What does that tell Pitts? It tells me that one segment in society is willing to put color and politics aside and support a duly elected leader, and one is not.

Ethics Dunce: George Will

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Ethics Hero: George Will

Republican no more...

Republican no more…

Principled, thoughtful, erudite, serious and informed conservative pundit George Will has announced that he has officially left the Republican Party, changing his status in Maryland, where he resides, to unaffiliated.  He urged conservatives not to support presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump even if it leads to a Democratic victory in the 2016 presidential election.

“Make sure he loses. Grit their teeth for four years and win the White House,” Will said during an interview after his a Federalist Society speech in which he said, “This is not my party.”

I have read Will for as long as he has written, and heard him speak twice. This has to be hard for him, but it also is the only decision for someone who cares about and understands language, law, values, leadership, history, U.S. culture and the duties of citizenship. He is modelling integrity, as clearly as Paul Ryan, for example, is not.

This is what integrity looks like. Though Will does not profess to have any hope that the GOP will have the courage or determination to reject Trump at this point, his announcement still increases the pressure on the party to do so.

____________________

Pointer: Fred

 

 

Ethics Quote Of The Day: George Will

trump-salute

“Ted Cruz’s announcement of his preferred running mate has enhanced the nomination process by giving voters pertinent information. They already know the only important thing about Trump’s choice: His running mate will be unqualified for high office because he or she will think Trump is qualified.”

-Conservative columnist George Will, in a piece nicely consistent with the Ethics Alarms position that the Republican Party’s ethical duty is to refuse to nominate Donald Trump, whatever the cost.

Will’s observation is concise, logical, and absolutely true. Nothing I can add will improve on it.

Ethics Quote Of The Month: George Will, On The Pope’s Visit

Hi Pope Francis! I couldn't care less what you think about global warming, air conditioning, gay marriage, redistribution of wealth or world peace, but have a great time on your trip!"

Hi Pope Francis! I couldn’t care less what you think about global warming, air conditioning, gay marriage, redistribution of wealth or world peace, but have a great time on your trip!”

“Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission. He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.”

—–Columnist George Will, appropriately cutting through the hypocrisy and hype surrounding Pope Francis’s visit, as well as his irrelevant policy advocacy for which he possesses neither the credibility nor the authority to receive the attention it will receive.

Thank you, George.

Oh, there are lots of wonderful and much-needed statements in Will’s piece; I could have justified making the whole column a Quote Of The Month. This one might be even better:

“In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be. This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.”

Bingo. I have had to reschedule two seminars in Washington, D.C. because the Pope is literally shutting down the city. Why? Why should any aspect of our lives as Americans grind to a halt because a man who claims a divine wisdom that most of the American public does not attribute to him (and should not) presumes to lecture us?  He is pontificating (literally!) regarding matters that neither his own background nor the position he occupies provides legitimate reason to regard him as having sufficient expertise, perspective, or moral standing beyond the humblest blogger or citizen toting a sign.

Most galling of all, why isn’t the exploitation of the Pope’s archaic influence by progressive activists who spend the rest of the year mocking Christianity discredited in the news media as the cynical exercise it is?

“Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.”

Exactly.

 

Ethics Hero: Columnist George Will

George WillI just watched George Will stun the Fox News Sunday panel by arguing against virtually all conservative pundits by insisting that the U.S. should welcome the hoard of children being apprehended at the border as they accept the current Administration’s open invitation to illegal immigrants.

“We ought to say to these children, ‘Welcome to America, you’re going to go to school and get a job and become Americans,’” Will said. “We have 3,141 counties in this country. That would be 20 per county. The idea that we can’t assimilate these eight-year-old criminals with their teddy bears is preposterous.”

I think the policy that Will is advocating is foolish, wrong, and will continue to incentivize illegal immigration.Nonetheless, in giving his contrarian opinion Will demonstrated personal integrity, courage, and showed those who accuse him of being a knee-jerk mouthpiece for Republicans and conservatives that they are wrong. His independence from the right-wing echo chamber also encourages viewers to start thinking for themselves.

I pledge to give a matching Ethics Hero designation to the first liberal pundit who argues that the human weapons in this unethical “think of the children!” assault on our laws and sovereignty should be shipped home, thus demonstrating similar integrity and independence from progressive talking points.

I’m waiting.

_____________

Graphic: Mediaite

The Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, Complicated By The Fact That The Witches Are Real

"Wait...are you raping me, or am I raping you?"

“Wait…are you raping me, or am I raping you?”

There is no question that there are sexual predators on college campuses, or that some colleges let them get away with raps on the knuckles for sexual assault or worse. There is also little question, though various parties and activists deny it, that what constitutes genuine sexual assault and even rape has been so thoroughly politicized and muddled by irresponsible rhetoric, dubious statistics and cynical political maneuvering that addressing the problem of actual campus sexual assault is becoming impossible without harming, indeed destroying, the innocent in some cases.

At Stanford, women are rallying for a more stringent process and harsher punishment after student Leah Francis protested in an e-mail to the campus that she had been “forcibly raped” by a fellow student and he was permitted to graduate. Of course, Stanford didn’t find the she had been raped: her assailant was found guilty of sexual assault. The loose use of “rape” to describe sexual assault for political purposes is one of the reasons universities seem incapable of finding a satisfactory balance in handling such cases. At the risk of getting ahead of the post, I would say this: if it is alleged to be rape, then turn the matter over to the police and the justice system. Schools are not allowed to use internal procedures to investigate and punish murder; it makes no sense to permit them to do so with the serious crime of rape. The fact that the standards of proof and the requirements of due process are less stringent in a campus procedure is what simultaneously leads to inadequate sanctions for the guilty and railroading of the innocent. The solution to this problem has always been available: treat allegations of campus rape like any other kind of rape.

Unfortunately, colleges are often in thrall to the political agendas of feminists and their allies, so “rape” can mean many things, as can “sexual assault.” In the casual, morality-free sexual atmosphere now not merely tolerated but nurtured on college campuses, lines of consent are blurred, and missteps are inevitable. At the same time, the permissive sexual environment is a playground for predators, exploiters and manipulators. How are the genuinely culpable sexual assailants to be distinguished from the clumsy, the confused, the misled, or the drunk and overly aroused? Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Stanford Law Prof. Pamela Karlan, Pulling A McLuhan

One of the funniest moments in Woody Allen’s Academy Award-winning comedy “Annie Hall” is the classic scene in which Woody squelches a pompous know-it-all standing in line behind him at a movie theater. The man is holding forth on film criticism and finally begins pontificating on the theories of Marshall McCluhan, a Sixties media scholar most famous for the quote, “The media is the message.”  Woody acts out everyone’s fantasy who has had to listen to strangers blather on about topics they aren’t qualified to discuss by magically producing the real McCluhan to confront the man. “You know nothing of my work!,” McLuhan tells the shocked pedant.

Today Stanford law professor pulled a McCluhan on none other than George Will, who, she pointed out in a letter to the Washington Post, recently used her law review article to bolster his position by substantially misrepresenting—or misunderstanding–what it actually said:

“Mr. Will’s column distorted my Harvard Law Review article in details both large and small. Yes, the Framers of our Constitution intended to limit the federal government’s power to protect liberty. But they also crafted the new Constitution to empower the government to deal with critical problems. For much of our history, the Supreme Court recognized congressional resourcefulness as a source of our nation’s strength. By looking only to James Madison and 1787, Mr. Will ignored the post-Civil War 14th Amendment, which explicitly authorizes Congress to enforce guarantees of liberty and equality.

“As for my discussion of the court’s Citizens United ruling, I did not attack “spending by outside groups,” as Mr. Will wrote. Rather, I pointed out only that there has been a significant increase in such spending (much of it in forms that leave voters in the dark as to who bankrolled the messages they hear) and that reasonable people can disagree about whether this is good for democracy.

“Finally, for someone who prides himself on his linguistic precision, Mr. Will’s attack is particularly tone-deaf. “Disdain” means “scorn” or “contempt.” Nothing in my article expresses scorn or contempt for the court or for judicial review. I — like many other Americans, including some of their colleagues and many of their predecessors — simply disagree strongly with the approach some justices have taken and the conclusions they have reached in some recent cases.”

Take that, George! Continue reading

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