The Novelist Is Scared By Red Caps. What’s The Ethical Response To That?

“AAAAAAAIIIIIII!!!! Take it away! TAKE IT AWAY!!!”

Rebecca Makkai, an American novelist of moderate success, tweeted,

Fascinating!  And her tweet raises some trenchant ethics questions:

1. How should good Americans regard someone who suggests that it isn’t normal to support the elected President of the United States?

Answer: As a bad American, as well as stunningly arrogant. The impulse is fascist: those who don’t agree with the political positions of Makkai and her ilk are not merely wrong, mistaken or misguided, but abnormal. It is particularly subversive to pronounce those who are behaving exactly as U.S. citizens have behaved and have been expected to behave since 1789 as not being normal, while Makkai, one of the divisive and destructive members of the “resistance” attempting to undermine the nation’s unity and institutions, pose as respectable.

2. Does an individual’s aversion to red caps because one variety carries a slogan deemed objectionable to the Trump Deranged qualify as a sensitivity anyone is obligated to observe in their choice of headgear? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/17/2019: The Deluded, The Narrative, “The Squad,” The Hedgehog, And Other Things…

PERK UP! There’s ethics to think about!

(I’m talking to myself here…I’m sure you’re fine)

1. Today’s ridiculous note on the heartbreak of  Self-Awareness Deficit. Republican Mark Sanford, the defeated  former U.S. congressman from South Carolina who is best known for having to resign as governor after going AWOL to visit his South American mistress, said yesterday that  he is considering mounting a primary challenge to President Donald Trump. (Psssst! Mark! The RNC has already said that there would be no debates, and the primaries are a mere formality.) Sanford says he will decide in the next month or so whether to oppose Trump for the 2020 presidential nomination.

The basis on which to run against Trump is character and ethics. Of the entire universe of legitimate potential challengers, an ex-governor who escaped impeachment by resigning after making a spectacle of himself has to be near the bottom, if not lying on it.

Somebody tell him.

2. Update: The Red Sox and the late Ken Poulsen’s son are still resisting common decency, I’m sorry to report. I wrote about the on-field presentation to Brett Poulsen last week, when he was awarded the 1967 World Series ring that his father had inexplicably never received despite being part of the that magical Red Sox season. Then we learned that the Sox infielder’s daughter Kendra had never been contacted by the team or her brother, so she and her children, Ken’s grandchildren had been left out of the ceremony. I’ve tried to alert the team and have passed the story along to a baseball writer friend, so far to no avail. Last night, NESN, the Red Sox-owned cable network, interviewed Brett in the stands during the Sox-Blue Jays game. Once again, the false impression was left that he is the only offspring of Ken Poulsen.

I’m sorry Kendra. This is wrong. I’ll keep trying. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/2019: “Big Lie” Week !

Good Morning!

1. “Big Lie” Week coming! Hopefully today, definitely over the next week, I will begin a surprisingly long series of posts, each devoted to one of the Big Lies being used by the “resistance,” as well as the news media and the Democratic Party, to try to destroy the administration of President Trump and, if possible, remove him from office without the inconvenience of an election. I began a single post on the topic with the goal of producing a list, but it became evident that the result would be too long.

I will assemble all of the Big Lies into a single list when all the posts are done.

I should have done this earlier. The Big Lies are being thrown around more thickly than ever, nearly blotting out the sun, as Democratic Party hysteria over the failure of the Mueller Report to confirm the Russian collusion fantasy has spawned a desperate push for impeachment. In yesterday’s Times, for example, there was another screed from one of the paper’s full-time “resistance” columnists, Timothy Egan, this one proclaiming under the headline that “the president is corroding and destabilizing the institutions of democracy.” That’s on my Big Lie list, though I won’t get to it until the fourth or fifth post. I was curious: did Egan have actual evidence of such corroding and destabilizing? He did not. Here are his examples, which I have to assume are the best he could come up with: Continue reading

ARGHHH! Worlds Are Colliding! Baseball Jack Is Being Consumed By Ethics Jack! The Boston Red Sox Board The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck!!!!

Oh, great.

One of the odious ways “the resistance” and Democrats have “violated democratic norms” in order to destroy the Trump Presidency is to rob this President of his traditional ceremonial role in national life, the so called “king” function, which exists to unify the nation. The king function comes from the acknowledgment that the President is the head of state and holds the people’s office as the only official (along with the VP) elected by every citizen. Beginning with their substantial boycott of his inauguration and continuing, indeed accelerating, with such insults as encouraging boycotts by recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors if the President participated and the White House Correspondents Dinner’s elimination–just for Trump, of course, of its tradition of a holding a good-natured  one-night truce with whomever was President, this is a deliberate assault on national unity and the office itself.

The politicizing of the once routine and uncontroversial tradition of the President hosting a visit to the People’s House by championship professional and college athletic teams has been a particularly divisive part of the deligitimization strategy, putting teams and athletes into the position of rendering judgments on matters they are generally unqualified to consider, and encouraging grandstanding and virtue-signaling. With no previous President has accepting this honor been  confused with endorsing the President’s character or policies. Women’s teams continued to accept invitations to be honored by Bill Clinton, for example, and if there were any critics of their decision, they had small megaphones and few adherents.

With this President, every invitation has become politically charged, and presented an opportunity for teams and athletes to insult the President of the United States. This irresponsible smear of the President and weakening of his office was neatly seeded by one of the many Big Lies weaponized, Goebbels-style, in pursuit of this President’s overthrow and destruction: “Donald Trump is a racist.” This one (there are others, and I hope to finish my survey of the lot today) has endured by being repeated so often, and by so many, usually without any supporting evidence because there is no evidence. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report, Continued: Quotes

1. The most revealing quote is the New York Times headline I’m looking at, approximately the same size as the one announcing that the Titanic had sunk: “Mueller Report Lays Out Russian Contacts And Trump’s Frantic Effort To Foil Inquiry.” What it reveals is that the New York Times has no interest in objective reporting on this matter, and is still in the mode it announced during the campaign: it sees its job as not to report the news, but to take down Donald Trump. The headline, as well as the cherry-picked excerpts from the 400 page report, are calculated to mislead the public and impede the President’s ability to govern. “Contacts” are not collusion or conspiracy, as the report itself showed. Meeting with Russians is neither illegal nor unusual. “Frantic” is a subjective characterization that does not belong in a headline, and “foil” is misleading. The President wanted the investigation to end, as it made doing his job difficult (as it was intended to do), and he wanted to “foil” its illicit (and obvious) objective of carrying out the Democratic Party’s and the mainstream media’s attempted coup.

The Times, the Post and the rest know that most citizens won’t read the report and couldn’t understand it if they tried, so they are pushing the same false and misleading narrative, an abuse of the news media’s critical role, to see if, somehow, they can still take “get” Donald Trump.

2. Andrew McCarthy, who has been an invaluable analyst throughout this fiasco, clarified the “obstruction of justice” controversy yesterday, and William Barr’s comments on them. McCarthy’s quote:

The attorney general stated that the special counsel evaluated ten incidents with an eye toward whether they amounted to an obstruction offense. Barr elaborated that he and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein disagreed with Mueller on whether these incidents even could have amounted to obstruction as a matter of law…. Barr was not saying that Mueller found one or more of these incidents to constitute obstruction; Mueller was saying that the incidents involved actions that could theoretically have amounted to obstruction.

A concrete example may make this easier to grasp: the firing of FBI director James Comey. Before a prosecutor considered evidence regarding that incident, there would be a preliminary question: Could the president’s dismissal of an FBI director amount to an obstruction offense as a matter of law? If prosecutors were to decide that, even if the evidence showed corrupt intent on the part of the president, a president’s firing of the FBI director cannot constitutionally amount to an obstruction crime, then the prosecutors would not bother to investigate and make an assessment of the evidence.

What Barr is saying is that he and Mueller did not agree, with respect to all ten incidents, on whether the incident could legally amount to obstruction. What the attorney general therefore did was assume, for argument’s sake, that Mueller was correct on the law (i.e., that the incident could theoretically amount to obstruction), and then move on to the second phase of the analysis: Assuming this could be an obstruction offense as a matter of law, could we prove obstruction as a matter of fact? This requires an assessment of whether the evidence of each element of an obstruction offense – most significantly, corrupt intent – could be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. That is why Barr laid out the facts that the president could have shut down the investigation but did not; that he could have asserted executive privilege to withhold information from the investigation, but instead made numerous witnesses and well over a million documents available to the special counsel; and that – reportedly according to Mueller – the president sincerely felt frustrated that the investigation was unfairly undermining his presidency. The point is that these facts so cut against the idea of corruptly impeding an investigation that it is inconceivable the prosecutor could prove an obstruction case beyond a reasonable doubt.

What you keep reading and hearing the bitter-enders say is that Trump wanted to obstruct the investigation,  but his staff stopped him. Well, wanting to do something isn’t a crime or even unethical, and staffs and advisors saying “no” is what good staffs and advisors do. Continue reading

Fascinating: The New York Times Thinks The Public Has A Right To Know That It And Its MSM Buddies Obscured What It Had A Right To Know

The chart above comes from the New York Times, which apparently decided that it’s safe to spill the beans now: the Trump tax cut really is a tax cut for most Americans. The ironic thing about the Times article, “Face It: You (Probably) Got a Tax Cut”

is that it reveals one of the more effective anti-Trump, anti-Republican Big Lies, this one being that the 2017 tax cut was really a sham, benefiting the rich while soaking the poor. The Times, in many ways, large and small, helped sustain that lie, with the results above. What is this? Is it like the amateur magician who has to reveal how his trick was pulled off? Is it the practical jokester who has to shout “It was all a gag!” so he can see your shock? You can almost feel the Times’s metaphorical chest swell with pride as it writes,

If you’re an American taxpayer, you probably got a tax cut last year. And there’s a good chance you don’t believe it. Ever since President Trump signed the Republican-sponsored tax bill in December 2017, independent analyses have consistently found that a large majority of Americans would owe less because of the law. Preliminary data based on tax filings has shown the same. Yet as the first tax filing season under the new law wraps up on Monday, taxpayers are skeptical. A survey conducted in early April for The New York Times by the online research platform SurveyMonkey found that just 40 percent of Americans believed they had received a tax cut under the law. Just 20 percent were certain they had done so. That’s consistent with previous polls finding that most Americans felt they hadn’t gotten a tax cut, and that a large minority thought their taxes had risen — though not even one in 10 households actually got a tax increase.

The Times goes on, infuriatingly, Continue reading

Harassment At Starbucks: If This Were An Isolated Episode, It Wouldn’t Be Worth An Ethics Post—But It’s Not. Now What?

At a Palo Alto Starbucks this week, a man wearing a red Make America Great Again cap, minding his own business, was confronted by a furious Rebecca Parker Mankey,  an appointed member of Palo Alto’s North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan Working Group and co-chairs the Bayshore Progressive Democrats.

She began shouting that he was a”hater of brown people” and “Nazi scum,” and exhorted the other  Starbucks customers and employees to join her in shaming him, . Mankey later said she was “heartbroken” that other “white people”—like her target— didn’t join her assault.   “I called him more names and told him to call the police. Then I yelled and asked someone else at Starbucks to call the police. He wouldn’t call the police, so I called him a wimp. He got his stuff together to leave. I followed him to the register while he complained about me. Then chased him out of Starbucks yelling at him to get the fuck out of my town and never come back,” she wrote. One he was in the parking lot, she threatening  to post pictures of him on social media—which she did—along with her version of the incident. She asked the public for help finding him so she could make sure he was harassed, saying, “I want him to have nowhere to hide.” Continue reading