Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump, Part II

Part I of this series appeared in May of this year. I bet you thought I had forgotten about it, didn’t you?

The second metaphor explained the election of Trump as President in 2016, as well as his march to the nomination fueled by a populist base that crossed party lines and that took political “experts” completely by surprise. It occurred to me when a friend, a Democrat and progressive (like most of my friends—and relatives) opined bitterly that electing someone like Trump was “stupid.” At a basic level I agreed with that: I had been writing exactly this for more than a year. But his words triggered an epiphany, and, as is often the case with my rare moments of clarity, a movie scene came to mind.

Electing Trump certainly seemed stupid. Yet it served a purpose, indeed several purposes, just like the “stupid and futile gesture” that is the climax and operatic finale of “Animal House,” when the abused members of Delta House turn Faber College’s homecoming parade into a violent riot.

What was the election of Trump supposed to accomplish? Other movies come to mind, like “Network.” A segment of the population decided that the system was rigged against them, that Democrats and Republicans were both involved in a massive, decades long con in which their primary goal was not to do what was in the public interest, but what was most likely to keep them in power and eventually line their pockets, and that their voices were not just being ignored, but that they were being insulted while being ignored. The so-called “deplorables” were mad as hell, and they weren’t going to take it any more. Voting for Trump was an “Up yours!” to the elites, the sanctimonious media, the corrupt Clintons, the hollow Obamas, and obviously corrupt Democrats like Pelosi and Harry Reid, machine Republicans like Mitch McConnell, and pompous think-tank conservative like Bill Kristol.

As I wrote on the same theme right after the election,

“Americans got tired of being pushed around, lectured, and being told that traditional cultural values made them racists and xenophobes. They decided to say “Screw that!” by electing a protest candidate whose sole function was to be a human thumb in the eye, because he was so disgusting to the people who had pretended to be their betters. Don’t you understand? It’s idiotic, but the message isn’t. It’s “Animal House”! and “Animal House” is as American as Doolittle’s Raid….In Germany, The Big Cheese says jump and the Germans say “How high?” In the US, the response is “Fuck you!” Obama never understood that…. I love that about America. And much as I hate the idea of an idiot being President, I do love the message and who it was sent to. America still has spunk.

“I love spunk.”

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Objective Take-Aways From Fiona Hill’s “Fire Alarm” Story

Fiona Hill

I know how I missed this: I won’t watch CNN, and especially not the ridiculous Don Lemon, unless there’s the equivalent of a gun at my head. I finally caught wind of it when a New York Times’ hard left op-ed writers, Nick Kristoff (who is one of the few rational ones in that group) referenced the tale as if it is indisputable proof of President Trump’s awfulness. On June 16, Fiona Hill, once Trump’s top Russia adviser, told Don Lemon that she was so upset at how Trump’s 2018 press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin was proceeding that she looked for a fire alarm to pull and considered faking a medical emergency when she couldn’t find one, just to disrupt it. “I just thought, let’s cut this off and try to end it. I couldn’t come up with anything that just wouldn’t add to the terrible spectacle,” Hill said on “Don Lemon Tonight.”

The “terrible spectacle” she was trying to avoid was that Trump refused to support US intelligence conclusions that Russia had tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Her self-glorifying account—at least to Trump-haters—didn’t get much coverage beyond CNN: little from the mainstream media, none from the conservative media. I sense, however, based on Kristof’s use of it, that it is destined to be wielded by Democrats as a “this is how terrible it was to have Donald Trump as President” story evermore.

But what Hill’s grandstanding really reveals is something every different, which is how this President, unlike all those before him, was sabotaged actively and passively by members of his own staff and administration who didn’t like him, trust him, respect him, or believe that he was a legitimate President. The media-derided term for what Trump had to contend with was the “deep state,” which had a conspiratorial ring and allowed those who correctly reported what was flamingly obvious to be ridiculed as paranoid. That term, however, was misleading.

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Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump, Part I

dog pilot

I have to cleanse the blog of Trump related markers, like having “The Presidential Impeachment And Removal Plans, 2016-2020” link under the home page banner, and the “This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President” categories to tag articles. I’m not nostalgic or anything, I just hate blog housekeeping. But It’s also time to close that chapter with an ethics assessment of the Trump Presidency.

Three metaphors I applied to the nation’s Trump adventure nicely encapsulate what went on, I think. Beginning in late 2015, I derided the idea that electing (or nominating) Donald Trump to be President was the equivalent of the passengers in an airplane navigating a storm voting to let a dog (in some versions, a chimp) try flying the craft. The metaphor was apt, and it’s still apt, even though the dog/chimp equivalent did not crash the plane and kill everyone in it. That was moral luck, as pure as it can be. It was madness for this country to permit a man with Trump’s well-documented character flaws and proven proclivities both and executive and a human being control the destiny of the nation in 2016. Concluding otherwise is indefensible. A valued commentator here has apparently abandoned commenting here because he objected to my tendency to designate what he considered opinions as facts. I’m sure that he considers this one of those, but he’s wrong and I’m right. It’s a fact that Donald Trump had proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was unfit to be President before the 2015 debates, and he did nothing during the campaign to undercut that conclusion. It’s a fact that a dog shouldn’t fly a plane, and similarly, it’s a fact that Donald Trump should not have been allowed to come within miles of the White House, except as a visitor. Hillary was right: for the most part, those who were advocating Trump’s Presidency were deplorable: ignorant, reckless, irrational, walking and voting examples of the perhaps fatal flaws in democracy. She was just the worst possible individual to make that observation, since giving Clinton and her party the power she sought, while different from allowing a dog to fly the plane, was still wrong. It was just more like allowing a kamikaze pilot to fly the plane.

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Wait…Why Does Facebook Allow Non-Americans To Censor Our Political Discourse?

That’s impressive: Facebook’s “quasi-independent” review board is even more unethical than I thought.

That board’s membership was in my print version of the New York Times yesterday. If it’s on the web, it’s too well hidden for me, but here is the disturbing part: on the 20 person board, 15 of the “‘experts” don’t live in the United States of America.

Let’s make this clear: as Tom Slater of “Spiked!” correctly points out, Facebook’s banning of Trump ‘represented one of the most terrifying corporate interventions into democratic politics in recent memory. In removing Trump from its platform, used by around 70 per cent of adult Americans, Facebook was effectively standing between a president and his people, depriving him of access to what now constitutes the public square. This is an assault on democracy that makes the surreal storming of the Capitol pale into insignificance.”

Exactly. And to review a decision with massive consequences for our nation and its public, Facebook turns to distant arbiters who 1) have no stake in the fate of the United States at all and 2) lack the cultural values unique to this country of treasuring and protecting free speech and expression.

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Verdict: Facebook’s “Oversight Board” Is An Unethical Farce

kangaroos jury

From the Boston Globe this morning: “The social network’s quasi-independent Oversight Board voted to uphold [Donald Trump’s] ban from the platform after his account was suspended four months ago for inciting violence that led to the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot.”

That tells you all you need to know about the fairness of any such decision involving any organization with “media” in its description. Let’s see:

  • What—THE HELL—is a “quasi-independent” board? Is it independent, or isn’t it? Oh, it’s “kind of” independent, is it? Right. It’s not independent then, and no decision by any body that allows itself to be used in corporate deceit like that can be trusted. Gautam Hans, a technology law and free speech expert and professor at Vanderbilt University, commented that “If any other company decided, well, we’re just going to outsource our decision-making to some quasi-independent body, that would be thought of as ridiculous.”

Yes, that’s because it is ridiculous, for Facebook or “any other company.”

  • President Trump was banned for “inciting violence” when any objective analysis of his words and what happened shows that he did nothing of the kind.
  • The gratuitous use of “deadly” is more of the news media’s attempt to bias public perceptions of the event to Trump’s detriment.

The CYA board—I think that’s a fair description—then said, contradicting itself, “It was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension,” although the board is allowing the penalty to stand. It gave Facebook (of which, remember, it is quasi-independent! Don’t forget that! ) six more months to reexamine the “arbitrary penalty” it imposed on January 7, and then decide on another penalty that reflects the “gravity of the violation and the prospect of future harm.”

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Attention Democrats: Former President Trump Is Not Your Vaccination Monkey

The arrogance and hypocrisy of the rising totalitarians of the Left is staggering.

Chelsea Clinton said yesterday that former President Trump ought do “the right thing” by publicizing photos of himself getting shot up with one of the various vaccines that we keep learning new information about that we were not informed of before we had the vaccines. After all, the one-time “First Daughter” asserts, this would encourage Trump voters, who polls show (if you trust them) are more dubious about Wuhan virus vaccines than the more compliant Americans, to throw aside their doubts and get with the program. Get in line. Follow orders.

First of all, Chelsea Clinton is a B or C list celebrity, and that’s all she is. She has no more legitimate authority than such empty-headed loud-mouths and “social media influencers” as the Kardashians or Alyssa Milano—less, in fact, since Milano actually built a career in show business with her own talent. Clinton is a woman who was lucky in the assignment of parents Fate gave her, and that bit of good fortune should entitle her to as much legitimacy as a critic of President Trump as the goof who won the last Powerball lottery.

I’ve met Chelsea, and she’s nice enough, but so is the elderly man who owns my local 7-11. I don’t see him telling Donald Trump what “the right thing is.”

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Stupid Or Malicious? The “Anonymous Source” For The Washington Post’s Fake “Bombshell,” Georgia Deputy Secretary Of State, Jordan Fuchs [Corrected]

jordan_fuchs

This is a Hanlon’s Razor classic. In this post, I covered the mass smear of President Trump engineered by mainstream media sources led by the Washington Post. They all claimed that while still in office, “Trump pressured a Georgia elections investigator in a separate call legal experts say could amount to obstruction.” Direct quotes were cited in which the President supposdly told the investigator to “find the fraud,” and several of the major news organizations falsely implied that their reporters had heard those words on the tape. They had not, and the President never said them. The recording, which was supposedly destroyed, turned up, and proved that the sole “anonymous source” who characterized the conversation mislead reporters, who then misled the public.

In the Ethics Alarms essay, I stated that the Post now had an obligation to reveal its “anonymous” source, because it had no justification for protecting the identity of someone who provided false information. Yesterday, the Post did reveal her identity: Jordan Fuchs, the Georgia deputy secretary of state, who had spoken with the investigator regarding the President’s call.

So this was not just hearsay, it was double hearsay. That was the basis of a Post story that made it seem as if the President was asking an investigator to manufacture evidence of election fraud. That was the basis on which the nation was l led to believe that a Republican President was trying to undo the Georgia presidential election.

[Note of Correction: I had incorrectly suggested that the Post account was published before the Georgia Senate run-offs. That was incorrect. I apologize for the error.]

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Ethics Dunce (And Asshole): USA Today Sportswriter Nancy Armour

RSI NFL-DEFLATE/BRADY A EDU SPO FBN USA MA

I apologize for the vulgarity, but the only way for the obnoxious and unethical attitude highlighted in the op-ed by America’s most insubstantial paper’s smugly woke female sportswriter is to make it clear to all just how indefensible such positions are, and how irresponsible it is to keep publishing them. Let her go write a fringe blog that nobody will read.

You know, like this one.

In the excruciating op-ed for the paper, Armour begins,

Tom Brady was happy to talk politics until he wasn’t.The Make America Great Again hat in his locker, the flippant endorsement of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Only when those ties became inconvenient did Brady decide he wanted to “stick to sports,” and that he preferred to be a beacon of positivity rather than delve into society’s thorny ills. How mighty white of him. Brady’s ability to enter and exit the debate at his choosing, to shield himself from accountability, is the height of white privilege.

Asshole. I’m sorry, but no other word will do. Asshole, asshole, asshole:

1. Nobody has an obligation to talk about politics or their preferences ever. Ever. The less celebrities like Brady do it, the better.

2. Despite the AUC’s thirst for revenge and the sick need to “punish” those who had the audacity to support the elected President of the United States rather than to savage him daily and try to drive him from office, Tom Brady has no “accountability” for choosing to publicly support Trump while he was running for office or when he was under siege while in office. Unethical journalists like Armour, however, have a great deal of accountability for dividing the country and weakening our democratic institutions, including the press, out of sheer hatred and arrogance.

3. The “ties’ are only “inconvenient” because totalitarian-leaning creeps like Armour are determined to purge non-conforming Americans from society if they don’t fall into line with their progressive betters.

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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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Prelude To “The Pandemic Creates A Classic And Difficult Ethics Conflict, But The Resolution Is Clear,” Part III… Ethics Quote Of The Century: President Donald J. Trump

abusive-relationship-larger

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.”

—–President Donald J. Trump, writing on Twitter in October, after he tested positive

When everybody is attacking and insulting the President now, especially those who didn’t have the guts to do so when he wasn’t a lame duck and they were still afraid of him, this seems like a propitious time to give him due credit for an important and perceptive statement that perfectly expresses the message of the final installment of an Ethics Alarms series that began way back in May.

The sentiment the President succinctly and eloquently expressed was quintessentially American, as well as identical to what other leaders have been lauded for in the past. President Trump, in contrast, was attacked and condemned for expressing this simple truth. He “downplayed the deadly threat of the virus” said the Times. “He isn’t taking the pandemic seriously!” erupted Vogue. After all, the virus “ruined” Amanda Kloot’s life! How dare he not tell as all to be terrified, and to make all of our plans and calibrate our decisions and goals based on the assumption that doom was nigh.

Funny, I don’t recall historians condemning FDR for “downplaying” the threat of the Great Depression when he said,

I don’t recall the British accusing Winston Churchill of downplaying the threat posed by Nazi Germany while hundreds of thousands of British troops were nearly trapped an Dunkirk, and he announced to Parliament, “We will never surrender!”:

This is because the news media, tunnel-visioned health experts, and elected officials who want to make Americans dependent of the government psychologically and factually, want the nation to be fearful. They want us to surrender to the pandemic. They want us to allow it to control out lives. And for most of this year, it has.

President Trump is among the Americans I would view most unlikely to utter an ethical statement, much less a great one, but this was a great statement, essential, inspirational, and right.

I assume this is sufficient notice of what the conclusion of Part III will be.

[If you review the linked post, note that every one of the ten stipulation I laid out in May are still accurate.]