“Yet for its advocates, the questionable veracity of the Russiagate story seems much less important than what has become its real purpose—elite virtue-signaling. Buy into a storyline that turns FBI and CIA bureaucrats and their hand-puppets in the press into heroes while legitimizing the use of a vast surveillance apparatus for partisan purposes, and you’re in. Dissent, and you’re out, or worse—you’re defending Trump…In other words, there’s the truth, and then there’s what’s even more important—sticking it to Trump. Choose wrong, even inadvertently, …no matter how many times you deplore Trump, and you’ll be labeled a Trumpkin.”
—Lee Smith in his essay, “Who Believes in Russiagate?”
Later he adds,
“What unites [critics of Russiagate on the Left and the Right] obviously isn’t politics—rather, it’s the recognition that the Russiagate campaign represents an attack on American political and social institutions, an attack on our liberties, an attack on us. Russiagate is a conspiracy theory, weaponized by political operatives, much of the press, as well as high-level intelligence and law enforcement bureaucrats to legitimize an American election and protect their own interests, which coincide with those of the country’s larger professional and bureaucratic elite.”
You might wonder why I chose to highlight the first quote rather than the second. The second tells me nothing I don’t know, or that readers of Ethics Alarms don’t know: I’ve made it a theme here since early in 2017. I learned something from the first quote, however. This is the phenomenon I have been experiencing on Facebook, where periodically pointing out unfair and intellectually dishonest attacks on President Trump and pointing out the news media’s horrific bias increasingly get me labelled as a Trump supporter, apologist or enabler. Meanwhile, I recently had a follow-up exchange with NPR over my objections to Prof. Butler’s “Oh, come on!” outburst when I was correctly pointing out what was ethically dubious about late accusations of sexual harassment against political figures. Oh, no, I was told. He wasn’t saying “Oh come on!” because I misrepresented sexual harassment law. He was saying that because he thought I was making excuses for Trump. Continue reading
Still trying to clear the decks..
1 Last week, Andrew Sullivan delivered a couple of excellent pieces of commentary with ethical clarity. My definition of an ethical analyst is one who can steer away from the magnetic pull of cognitive dissonance, and realize that, for example, just because Democrats and progressives deplore President Trump as much as you do doesn’t mean you have to regard their battiest and most unethical positions as better than they are. Sullivan qualifies. Here he is making what I once thought was an obvious point: that Democrats and progressives embracing open borders (and condemning as racist anyone who doesn’t) was irresponsible:
I don’t believe it’s disputable at this point that the most potent issue behind the rise of the far right in America and Europe is mass immigration. It’s a core reason that Trump is now president…[and the] reason why I have dwindling hopes that the Democratic Party will be able to defeat Trump in 2020. Instead of adjusting to this new reality, and listening to the electorate, the Dems have moved ever farther to the left, and are controlled by ever-radicalizing activists. There’s a nuanced, smart — and shockingly honest — piece in Vox by Dara Lind about this. Money quote:
For Democrats, it’s been a simple calculus. Democrats’ attempts at “tough love” centrism didn’t win them any credit across the aisle, while an increasingly empowered immigrant-rights movement started calling them to task for the adverse consequences of enforcement policies. Democrats learned to ignore the critics on the right they couldn’t please, and embrace the critics on the left who they could… Democrats in 2017, in general, tend to criticize the use of immigration enforcement, and tend to side with those accused of violating immigration law, as a broad matter of principle beyond opposing the particular actions of the administration … Democrats are no longer as willing to attack “illegal immigration” as a fundamental problem anymore.
This is, to be blunt, political suicide. The Democrats’ current position seems to be that the Dreamer parents who broke the law are near heroes, indistinguishable from the children they brought with them; and their rhetoric is very hard to distinguish, certainly for most swing voters, from a belief in open borders. In fact, the Democrats increasingly seem to suggest that any kind of distinction between citizens and noncitizens is somehow racist. You could see this at the last convention, when an entire evening was dedicated to Latinos, illegal and legal, as if the rule of law were largely irrelevant. Hence the euphemism “undocumented” rather than “illegal.” So the stage was built, lit, and set for Trump.
2. A post that fell through the cracks months ago involved one more example of California morphing into Bizarro USA. Then the post was about a speech-dictating bill passed by the legislature; this month, Jerry Brown signed it into law. The bill was SB-219, changing the laws regarding health care facilities, including nursing homes. Continue reading
Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President
Ethics Alarms commenter Mrs. Q has proven herself the master of blending personal experience with ethical analysis, and we are blessed with another example of her best work, a Comment of the Day on the recent post about a Daily Beast editor’s attack on Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Here she enlightens us from her perspective on confirmation bias, and its current damaging effects on public discourse and independent thought.
Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Race-Biting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast:
What’s going on here is total BS in the form of Mr. Madison’s racism, not Sharapova’s. Clearly he conflated the very correct description of Williams body, with that of ….? I suspect the real story is this guy feels traumatized that everyone else is a racist when I bet if he looked in the mirror, he’d discover we all have prejudices and it’s part of what creates a society that forgives one another.
Back in the day primitive shamans used rituals to hypnotize victims into fear and trauma. Having been a Social Studies major and Women’s Studies minor, I must say, in a way, being a minority, especially brown and queer, is wild at a liberal arts school. Every day was a new trauma of story after story about how terrible America is. Before kids chanted “cultural appropriation” today, I was doing it when I saw Mohawks, African masks, and whatever else displeased my social justice blood thirst. One day I couldn’t take another class in exploring my own oppression. I needed to go live and set my mind free of the prejudices I came to have against whites, men, heterosexuals, etc. I just couldn’t wear myself and others out with indignant anger anymore.
When my wife and I; an interracial same-sex married couple, go traveling, we love to go to small towns and rural areas. Only liberals say to us “why would you go to X with all those rednecks?” People who have bumper stickers that say “Co-exist” or “Love is Love” will say to us “aren’t you scared to be around those Republicans with guns?” Every time we visit a place like rural Montana, Eastern Oregon, or all of Idaho, we meet the most friendly people. Those who we can tell aren’t abiding by the ‘Worship Diversity’ religion just treat us as anyone else and mind their business. It’s SO MUCH BETTER than being pandered to constantly in the city by Saint Social and Friar Justice. Continue reading
In the vast panoply of topics that are likely to spark my interest in a potential Ethics Alarms topic, the excerpts from a not-yet-released autobiography of a female Russian tennis player is somewhere on the list below the sex lives of pangolins. The Daily Beast headline, however was click-bait: Maria Sharapova’s Vile, Racially Tinged Treatment of Serena Williams.
Really? A 30-year-old fading female tennis super-star coming off a performance-enhancing drug suspension is making racist comments about Serena Williams, her longtime ( and unquestionably superior) rival? That kind of thing will grab my attention every time, not that I lack for Ethics Dunce candidates.
But it turns out that Sharapova is not the ethics dunce here.
Here are the “vile, racially tinged” comments from the book, according to African-American Daily Beast editor Ira Madison II:
“First of all her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. It’s the whole thing—her presence, her confidence, her personality. Even now, she can make me feel like a little girl.”
Serena Williams is, when in playing shape (she just had a baby), 5′ 9″ tall and weighs about 155 pounds. She is and has always been noticeably muscular, far more so than most tennis players (including her sister), and indeed most female athletes generally. Here she is in a representative, non-tennis photo:
Here is Maria Sharapova—she is five inches taller and weighs 25 pounds less. She is definitely not muscular; she is built like a fashion model…. Continue reading
I’d like to take a national poll, a California state poll and a San Francisco poll asking who thinks deliberately littering the site of a planned far-right demonstration with dog shit is an ethical thing to do. I think it would tell us a lot.
Patriot Prayer, a far right group that has held several “free speech” events in the Pacific Northwest, applied for and was awarded a permit to hold a demonstration today on San Francisco’s Crissy Field. San Francisco’s officials, being totalitarians at heart and like their increasingly senile but steadily anti-speech member of Congress, Nancy Pelosi, hostile to the concept of free speech, tried to pressure the National Park Service to deny the group a permit. The Service, foolishly hewing to the Constitution, demurred. The city’s police department planned for a riot.
To foil the demonstrators, an artist named (yes, I checked this one for being a hoax) “Tuffy Tuffington,” had a brainstorm, or perhaps shit-storm is the better description: to make the beach uninhabitable for Patriot Prayer First Amendment protected proceedings, he urged San Franciscans to plan to festoon Crissy Field, which is normally a lovely beach by the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, with piles of their various dogs’ droppings
“I just had this image of alt-right people stomping around in the poop,” said Tuffy, a self-righteous asshole. He is convinced that this is the best way to respond to right wing extremists in the wake of Charlottesville. Presumably, President Trump will be required under threat of impeachment to declare that there is nothing wrong with defiling a public place and breaking the law to make it impossible for a group to demonstrate, because it is a false moral equivalency to insist that all Americans have equal access to Constitutional speech. Do I have that correct, Tuffy? Continue reading
Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Literature, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society, Unethical Websites
I need an uplifting ethics story about now. How about you?
Fort Wayne, Indiana sixth grader Phil Mick’s was dreading his his first day of sixth grade last week. The 11-year old was routinely a target of bullies at DeKalb Middle School. Family friend Brent Warfield of KDZ Motorcycle Sales & Service learned about the child’s problem over the Christmas holidays last year, and vowed to help him solve the problem…a solution that did not involve, as it so often does with bullying, a slippery slope-courting suppression of free speech principles.
Warfield used his connections in the biker community to promote a motorcade for Phil that would show any ill-wishers that he had friends that could reform bullies in a memorable and emphatic manner if so required. Getting the word out on Facebook and elsewhere on the web ( there is a non-profit organization called Bikers Against Bullies), Warfield attracted about 50 bikers from around the state. They gathered at a local restaurant for the motorcade, and the roaring throng took a thrilled Phil Mick to his first day of school. School principal Matt Vince said that the sound reverberated off the exterior brick walls.
Vince told reporters that he commended the motorcyclists for supporting Phil while making a statement against bullying “in a positive way.”
My father, who had to change schools often during the Depression as his single mother sought work and affordable lodging, told me that as a chubby, unethletic-looking, quiet kid who refused to be submissive to anyone he was bullied at every single new school he attended. It was a ritual of his childhood, and Jack Sr.’s only available response was to fight his larger tormentors using his fists.
“Oh, I always lost,” he told me. “But I got some good shots in, and that was enough. Bullies don’t like to keep bothering the kids who fight back;’ it’s too much trouble.”
“Plus they were afraid of my dog [a big Airedale named Bumbo].”
Phil Mick’s method is even better.