What Does Liberty U’s Code of Ethics Look Like?

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s fixer, has acknowledged paying an IT firm to rig polls in favor of Donald Trump, with Trump’s knowledge.

The IT firm is owned by John Gauger. Gauger is the Chief Information Officer at Liberty University, the huge conservative evangelical Christian university led by Jerry Falwell, Jr., an early and ardent Trump supporter who recently said that he thought that everything Trump could ever do as president would only ever be good for America. The fervor of his loyalty has raised salacious rumors about blackmail–perhaps at the hand of Cohen himself. Still, Falwell is seen as a key player in the sale of Trump to white evangelicals, helping bring 81% of white evangelical voters to Trump’s side in the 2016 election.

See the source image

Above, Jerry Falwell, hand over his heart, probably pledging to do something awful.

I guess Falwell doesn’t think that paying someone to make polls lie in your favor is “bad” for the nation. Maybe he will think it is worse if the person doing it is an employee of his? Oh,  and Gauger is also a graduate, having earned an undergrad and an MBA at Liberty.

I guess business ethics was an elective, not a requirement?


A short message to all the men worried about that Gillette ad, the APA report on toxic masculinity, and all the other ‘attacks’ on manliness

man person face portrait
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Dear Dudes:

Nobody’s asking you not to be a man. Not even this Gillette ad.

And not even that notorious APA report.

They’re asking you not to be a dick.

There’s a difference. If you don’t know the difference, you should find out.

Thanks, Joel

Why Men Can’t Compete with Staying Single in the Marriage Market

Conservatives have been having palpitations for the last week over the news that the American Psychological Association, in news that surprises no one who pays attention, has acknowledged that traditional notions of masculinity–toughness, emotional ineptitude, dominance expressed through violence–are bad for them. They’re also bad for women, children, relationships, friendships, other men, the crime rate, the suicide rate, our politics, nature, etc.

Joel has already pointed to some of the inconsistencies in opposition to this recognition. I want to look at a related piece of information in the handwringing about the “decline of traditional masculinity”: worry that women are outearning men.

Now, this is a huge and complex issue that has to do with sexism, racism, labor, law, and more. But I want to take up just one point: that as women earn more money, the marriage rate declines.

Tucker Carlson had a bonkers segment on this last week, earning him a lot of scorn, decrying women at work as the reason men are suffering. His interpretation of the facts is unintelligent but his facts aren’t wrong: women are less likely to marry men who earn less than them than men are to marry women who earn less than them. Carlson’s conclusion is that feminism, which encourages women to pursue better paying jobs, is ruining marriage.  It’s a weird conclusion for a conservative to draw since it violates the principle that the market should decide the value of labor, both in the sense that if women are earning more, that’s because the market values them more and if men’s value in the marriage market is declining, that’s they should probably make themselves more marketable, just like we tell minimum wage employees to do.

But, in his facts, Carlson is correct: The large majority of women marry men who earn more than them; as the salaries of women increases, the pool of opposite-sex partners with incomes higher than theirs shrinks.

The real trouble here is that wealth-marries-wealth. Doctors no longer marry nurses; they marry other doctors. This means that money circulates in an ever smaller circle, a problem that’s certainly not new (The wealthiest families in Florence, Italy from the 15th century are still the wealthiest families today.) but is exacerbated by a bifurcation in marriage: the wealthy marry each other even as the marriage rates falls among the poor. This upward suck of wealth is only going to get worse as Baby Boomers, the richest generation in US history, continue to collect inheritance money with obscenely low estate taxes.

But instead of blaming it on their beloved free market, conservatives have come to the conclusion that it’s women’s increasing wages (not declining wages, not union busting, not outsourcing or automation) that is making less attractive to women. This misses the obvious: it’s capitalist greed that devalues work and it’s men who ruin marriage.

If marriage were great for women, we’d do it even if it cost us money. Now that we don’t have to marry in order to have a decent income, we don’t.

That’s nothing to mourn. What is sad is that it probably means that if our grandmas could have succeed without marriage, they would have. We should feel sad about the marriages that they got stuck in because they couldn’t afford to be single.

If men want to be worth marrying, they can be. And you know what can help them? Feminism, which isn’t an attack on men but an attack on the sexism that teaches us to devalue our whole selves in favor of torturous (I mean that word literally–we are contorted) gender stereotypes.

See the source image

And if men want to earn wages that make them an attractive partner–that is, wages that can support a family with dignity–then they need to properly identify the enemy. It’s not women. It’s capitalism.



Readings: David French and masculinity (Or: He almost gets it!)

adult dark depressed face
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

How do you square this, last week at National Review:

The APA sees the challenges facing young men and rightly seeks to overcome those challenges, but then diagnoses the wrong cause. As Stephanie Pappas notes on the APA website, the new guidelines conclude that “traditional masculinity — marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance, and aggression — is, on the whole, harmful.”

The guidelines themselves argue that “traditional masculinity ideology” — defined as socializing boys toward “anti-femininity, achievement, eschewal of the appearance of weakness, and adventure, risk, and violence” — has been shown to “limit males’ psychological development, constrain their behavior, result in gender role strain and gender role conflict,” and negatively influence mental and physical health.

Yet as we survey a culture that is rapidly attempting to enforce norms hostile to traditional masculinity, are men flourishing? And if men are struggling more the farther we move from those traditional norms, is the answer to continue denying and suppressing a boy’s essential nature?

…with this, today at The Atlantic?

Of all the disorienting and disturbing cultural effects of Trump’s ascension to the presidency, few are as disorienting and disturbing as the redefinition of ideal masculinity in the hearts of many of his biggest fans. The sheepdog has been replaced by the wolf.

Cheap shots have replaced bravery. A certain kind of animal cunning has replaced honor. Libertine aggression has replaced fidelity. It’s as if the movie was remade from the bully’s perspective, and the bully became the hero. The man who evaded his generation’s war, who compared the dangers of his sex life to serving in Vietnam, is honored beyond the warrior.

Moreover, the very defense of virtue is now seen by some as fundamentally unmanly.

As with so many things David French, I feel like he almost gets it. But no, not quite.

Updates in Hate Scholarship: Readings about Islamophobia

Islamophobia is a central theme of Republican politics, from local politics to the White House. Anger and fear about Islam is invoked to justify assaults on religious freedom, xenophobic travel bans, and the closure of the US’s southern border. Here are recent scholarly articles to help you make sense of it.

Is the word Islamophobia useful? It doesn’t quite mean “fear of Muslims,” though fear may be one of the emotions that drive it. The All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims suggests this definition in “Islamophobia Defined: The Inquiry into a Working Definition of Islamophobia”: Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Islamophobia can occur in Muslim-majority nations, argue Enes Bayraklı and Farid Hafez in a new book from Routledge, Islamophobia in Muslim Majority Societies.

The majority of victims of street-based anti-Muslim hate crimes are women, note the researchers at Tell MAMA, which monitors anti-Muslim crime in Britain, in a new report. Given that many American Islamophobes invoke Muslim violence against women in their opposition to the presence of Muslims in US society, it’s important to recognize that Islamophobia and misogyny often coexist.

Above, a Canadian Muslim woman invokes American hero Martin Luther King, Jr. in protest of Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim ban at the airport in Toronto in January 2017.

Readings: Is ‘traditional masculinity’ bad for you?

adult dark depressed face
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


Men commit 90 percent of homicides in the United States and represent 77 percent of homicide victims. They’re the demographic group most at risk of being victimized by violent crime. They are 3.5 times more likely than women to die by suicide, and their life expectancy is 4.9 years shorter than women’s. Boys are far more likely to be diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder than girls, and they face harsher punishments in school—especially boys of color.

APA’s new Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Boys and Men strive to recognize and address these problems in boys and men while remaining sensitive to the field’s androcentric past. Thirteen years in the making, they draw on more than 40 years of research showing that traditional masculinity is psychologically harmful and that socializing boys to suppress their emotions causes damage that echoes both inwardly and outwardly.

There has been a negative reaction:

“If men are struggling more the farther we move from those traditional norms, is the answer to continue denying and suppressing a boy’s essential nature?” David French, a senior writer for National Review, wrote in an article about the guidelines on Monday.

Maybe if APA could clarify what it means?

The main thrust of the subsequent research is that traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful. Men socialized in this way are less likely to engage in healthy behaviors. For example, a 2011 study led by Kristen Springer, PhD, of Rutgers University, found that men with the strongest beliefs about masculinity were only half as likely as men with more moderate masculine beliefs to get preventive health care (Journal of Health and Social Behavior, Vol. 52, No. 2). And in 2007, researchers led by James Mahalik, PhD, of Boston College, found that the more men conformed to masculine norms, the more likely they were to consider as normal risky health behaviors such as heavy drinking, using tobacco and avoiding vegetables, and to engage in these risky behaviors themselves (Social Science and Medicine, Vol. 64, No. 11).

What’s interesting here is that there’s a branch of conservatism that looks at the opioid crisis afflicting (white) Americans and sees a crisis of the soul. But it’s that same group that gets tetchy about this information, which seems very much in line with their concerns. Maybe if we labeled the problems differently, without the gendering, they’d be more willing to listen. But maybe they should listen anyway.

A Way Out of the Shutdown Crisis: Make the Rio Grande Grand Again

On the one hand, the Trump government shutdown will likely reduce support for Trump among his fans. It only takes a few missed paychecks before people start to wonder if maybe they support for this grifter was a bad idea. Retirement funds are already losing value dramatically. With the majority of our food now going without inspection, it’s only a matter of time before we see deaths from food poisoning. Perhaps more powerfully, when air travel ends and the millionaires who benefit most from his presidency will rethink their investment in Trump.

And if Trump gets his funding–funding he doesn’t really want, or else he would have gotten it when he had a Republican-controlled Congress–and moved ahead on a wall (which is unlikely, given that, though he has contracted to spend about 90% of  funds currently dedicated to border security, most of them have not been spent, which might not sit well with Trump supporters who thought they were voted for a candidate who was prepared to start moving dirt), he’ll have to face a bunch of angry Texans who aren’t so keen on giving up their land. He’ll face challenges to his invocation of his imminent domain claims, and it’s possible he’ll provoke another Ruby Ridge-like standoff. Remember that this fall, Texas, a state with 38 electoral votes, nearly elected a charismatic, handsome, young Democrat to the Senate this year. And I think we can expect to see one of the nation’s most exciting politicians–Joaquin Castro–jump from his position as Representative to a more powerful job sometimes soon. A blue wave in Texas isn’t an impossibility at all, and images of Texas ranchers leveling rifles at federal agents there to seize their land may help that.

In short, nothing about this shutdown is good for Republicans. The one thing Trump was supposed to do for them–not negotiate, but win–he can’t do. The rest of us know that he’s shiftless and talentless and has no negotiation skills or business sense, but his followers still believe that the “Art of the Deal” is true and think that they’re watching a master in action. As their social security claims are denied and their down ballot candidates lose, maybe they’ll change their mind.

On the other hand, the suffering from the shutdown is real.

Trump’s power is that he doesn’t care about others’ suffering. If we hope to persuade him or his followers to end the shutdown because people, science, or nature is being harmed, we’re wasting our time.

So what might work?

For as shameless as he is, Trump is also very sensitive to shame. It was his embarrassment at Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of the obvious–that he couldn’t negotiate his way out of a paperbag (with the underlying implication that the only reason he has anything in this world is because he was born into wealth)–that prompted him not to sign an earlier budget that didn’t include $5 billion for a wall.

Any way out of this mess is going to have to address his shame. So here is what I suggest:

There can be no funding for any actual wall now. Democrats have no political incentive to fund a wall. Any funding for a wall would be like negotiating with a terrorist or a toddler. Do it once, and you’re doing it every day.

But someone might whisper in Trump’s ear that he could get a barrier between Texas and FIVE Mexican states with Democratic support. He’s look like the negotiator he claims to be and be the hero of the end of the budget standoff.

He’s just have to invest in the Rio Grande.

06_13_2014_border crisis.jpg

Above, violent gang members cross the Rio Grande to bring drugs in the US. No, wait, it’s women carrying their babies, trying to save their lives from the violence of life in Latin America and Mexico. Drugs are mostly brought in via air and truck transport. Photo by Danny Lehman/Corbis.

It’s the 4th or 5th longest river in North America, depending on how it’s measured, and it touches Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. It’s also been decimated by agriculture. There are spots you can cross it without getting your shirt wet. And if Trump builds a wall on the US side of the border, the US cedes to the river to Mexico and makes business impossible in southern Texas. I think we can rule out building a wall in the middle of the river. And we have no authority to build a wall on the Mexican side of the river. So making the river our “wall” is really the only way to achieve Trump’s promised wall without ruining Texas’ economy.

Remediation of the river would be the kind of giant public works project that rural America has relied on. It would allow the US to showcase our best climate and agriculture scientists and geologists. It would combat western desertification and signal to the rest of the world that we have the skills to address this global problem.

Trump could sell it to his supporters as a wall with greater economic benefits to the regional economy than any steel or concrete structure. And, unlike those structures, a river can’t be blown up or sawed through or tunneled under or breached with a ladder you can buy at any Home Depot. He could call it “God’s Wall,” written on the American landscape by the Lord of Creation himself to keep Mexicans out of America. Racists love to believe that their racism is just God’s design for humanity.

And what would Democrats do? Vote against an environmental remediation project?

Above, the Rio Grande at Santa Elena Pass. Photo by John Moore.

Alternatively, Democrats could put forward this idea themselves, selling it directly to Trump voters as evidence that they are the party best equipped to address border security. Republicans keep circulating footage of Democrats arguing for a wall, supporting deportation measures, and caging kids caught at the border. (All true–Obama was our “Deporter-in-Chief.” His choice to be an immigration hawk was probably a defense against accusations that he was soft of crime, a way of appeasing an audience concerned that a black man might not care too much about protecting white hegemony. We see where that got us.) Democrats could own that, mocking claims that they support “open borders” and delivering a Rio Grande bill that packages environmental remediation, agriculture support, and green jobs with an anti-border crossing stance. Given that Trump is unable to actually govern, there will be little chance he could get anything done on this project before the next election, giving Democrats the chance to point to his ineffectiveness at getting anything done.