Category Archives: Journalism & Media

More On The Dangers Of Godwin’s Law

 

Mike Godwin

Mike Godwin

In correctly diagnosing the Obama Administration’s and the Democratic Party’s continued use of the misleading “77 cents” statistic, I rejected the application of Godwin’s Law as a bar to the evocation of the Bog Lie’s most accomplished practitioners and champions, Hitler and Goebbels. I want to expand a bit on what I wrote explaining why.

Godwin’s Law, to begin with, began as a joke. An early Usenet moderator (and attorney) named Mike Godwin coined the “rule” in 1990 as a tongue-in-cheek  method to detect when internet debates had gone on too long, stating that  “if you mention Adolf Hitler or Nazis within a discussion thread, you’ve automatically ended whatever discussion you were taking part in.” The Wikipedia entry, based on the original “law” posted by Godwin, says that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches —​ that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.”

In the ensuing years, Godwin’s Law has been cited, but seriously, as a genuine discourse limitation; that it is somehow taboo to raise the Nazis or Hitler as comparisons or references in any serious debate, online or off. It is even cited as an absolute, frequently by people who haven’t given a second’s thought to why there should be such a “law.” This, of course, is classic morality reasoning. You can’t mention Hitler because an authority, “Godwin,” has decreed otherwise, and you blindly follow because, well, he says it’s right, so it is. I have wondered if anyone would take Godwin’s Law seriously if his name had been Mike Snotwelder, or something similar. Continue reading

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To Hell With Godwin’s Law: As The Cynical “GOP War On Women” Strategy Officially Adopts “Big Lie” Tactics, Who Will Have The Integrity To Call It What It Is?

Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

Sorry. Sometimes recalling Der Fuhrer is necessary to give credit where credit is due.

One thing one can’t deny about the “Big Lie,” it sure works.

An H. F. Elson from Bethesda, Maryland indignantly writes the editor of the Washington Post:

“The April 10 news article “Senate Republicans block wage-equality legislation” reported that Republicans “say that the bill is unnecessary because discrimination based on gender is already illegal.” Pardon my sarcasm, but existing laws have worked really well, haven’t they? Republicans fear the bill would increase civil lawsuits, but the threat of lawsuits is the only way to get these needed changes in compensation made. When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”

Let’s see…it’s hard to write such an incompetent and irresponsible letter while simultaneously being snotty about it, but H.F. was up to the challenge:

1. Discrimination based on gender IS already illegal. The law in question was Democratic showboating with a bad bill that would permit lawsuits when no evidence of intentional gender discrimination exists.

2. Yes, H.F., the existing laws have worked very well indeed. The remaining differences in pay by gender are almost entirely due to factors other than discrimination.

3. The only way to get the changes made in compensation would be for women to behave exactly like men, and adopt the same priorities and career paths. Lawsuits, on the other hand, are just a way to increase the costs of doing business, lose jobs, and give more money to trial lawyers—who are overwhelmingly male, by the way.

4. “When are Republicans going to stop antagonizing thinking, intelligent women?”  The real question is when will “thinking, intelligent women” stop accepting on faith outright misrepresentations about gender pay inequities, and do some research before adopting partisan talking points and writing snotty letters to the editor?

There are virtually no serious analysts of this topic that accept the proposition that “women get paid only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men in the same jobs” as an accurate measure of discrimination in the workplace and gender inequity. The misleading nature of that statistic and similar ones has been thoroughly explained and vetted in scholarly documents and the news media for decades, yet whenever Democrats want to activate their “base,” which includes a disproportionate number of women, their candidates and leaders shamelessly use the same dishonest figures. Obama and Biden used this tactic during the 2012 sliming of Mitt Romney, for example, because, after all, the ends justify the means, and besides, mean old Romney kept all those poor women in binders.

I just about fell off of my chair when President Obama sank to this abysmal deceit again in his 2014 State of the Union message, when he intoned, Continue reading

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And The Answer Is: “Well, Talk Show Host Arthur King On Maine’s WGAN, For One…”

WGAN logoOne of several cantankerous commenters on the inexplicably contentious Julian Batts post wrote, in the course of his generalized abuse, “Who would ever book you? LOL.” (Those familiar with this forum know it was the “LOL” that got him banned more than the insult). The  rhetorical question was also secretly ironic, because I was booked that very day (yesterday) on an early morning talk show, by Arthur King, an occasional commenter here who has  me on South Portland, Maine’s WGAN as his guest occasionally.

You can listen to the segment here. Much thanks to Arthur, for both a professionally run interview and great timing.

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ABC Quietly Apologizes For Being An Unethical, Unprofessional, Biased and Unfair News Organization. Not Accepted.

"Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!"

“Oops! Did we use THAT clip! Silly us!”

“Reporting”—in scare quotes because it was in fact advocacy, character assassination and blatant news manipulation—on the successful totalitarian movement by gay rights advocates to force Mozilla to fire its CEO (for the thought crime of not opposing an anti-gay marriage ballot initiative in California, but rather being so evil as  to exercise his rights of political speech and support the traditional definition of marriage), ABC news accompanied the report on “Good Morning America” with video of a Westboro Baptist Church demonstration, complete with its charming “God Hates Fags” signs.

This, of course, implicitly sided with those, led by the CEO of OKCupid,  trying to rob Brendan Eich of his job for having a different view than the intolerant Left, while imputing to Eich ugly attitudes that there is no evidence whatsoever he possesses. It seem ABC selected the same clip in 2012 in a story about the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling, making the illicit  suggestion in such a choice that there are just two sides in this issue; those who “hate fags,” like the Phelpsians, and those who want all Americans, whatever their sexual orientation, to be able to have their relationships with committed loved ones recognized as a legal marriage.

Mr. Eich has the money and the team of lawyers to make ABC pay dearly for this slur on his character (there is no similarly expensive way to make the network—and the others, for this was just ABC’s turn—accountable for blatant news distortion and advocacy in the guise of “objective news reporting.”), so ABC pulled the false video and issued this wan and dishonest apology: Continue reading

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The Abysmal Quality of Ethical Reasoning in Baseball: A Depressing Case Study

"Dirt."

“Dirt.”

The first bona fide ethics controversy of the 2014 baseball season has erupted, and it involves the team of my youth, the Boston Red Sox. It is not the controversy itself that is so noteworthy, for it is an old, old one: pitchers using foreign substances to doctor the balls so they dip, curve, and sing “Take Me Out To The Ball Game.” What is noteworthy is the reaction to the incident by players and the sports media, which has me feeling that as an ethicist, I need to think about following another sport. The ethics reasoning, or lack of it, is truly depressing.

What happened was this: During last night’s Red Sox-Yankee game in Yankee Stadium, the Boston broadcasting team of Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy noticed a glossy brown substance on New York starting pitcher Michael Pineda’s pitching hand. It was very obvious, especially once the NESN cameras started zooming in on it.   “There’s that substance, that absolutely looks like pine tar,” play-by-play man Don Orsillo said. “Yeah, that’s not legal,” color commentator and former player Jerry Remy replied.

Indeed it isn’t.  According to rule 8.02(a)(2), (4) and (5), the pitcher shall not expectorate on the ball, either hand or his glove; apply a foreign substance of any kind to the ball; [or]  deface the ball in any manner.

The Red Sox, who probably knew about the gunk on Pineda’s hand, didn’t complain to the umpires, and just went about their merry way, losing the game. Asked about the stuff on his hand, Pineda demonstrated the full range of body language indicating that he was lying his head off. “It was dirt,’ he said. Later, when the ick appeared to be gone,  Pineda explained, he had just sweated his hand clean. Right. Whatever was on his hand—beef gravy, crankcase oil, chocolate syrup…the majority of pundits think pine tar—it wasn’t “dirt.” Pineda’s manager, Joe Girardi, was brazenly evasive.

The Yankee pitcher was cheating. This isn’t a major scandal, but cheating is cheating: sports shouldn’t allow cheating of any kind, because if a sport allows some cheating, however minor, it will encourage cynical, unscrupulous and unethical individuals on the field, in the stands, and behind keyboard to excuse all other forms of cheating, from corked bats to performance enhancing drugs. Cheating is wrong. Cheating unfairly warps the results of games, and rewards dishonesty rather than skill. Cheating undermines the enjoyment of any game among serious fans who devote energy and passion to it. Any cheating is a form of rigging, a variety of lying.

And yet, this clear instance of cheating, caught on video, primarily sparked the sports commentariat, including most fans, to cite one rationalization and logical fallacy after another to justify doing nothing, and not just doing nothing, but accepting the form of cheating as “part of the game.” I’ve been reading columns and listening to the MLB channel on Sirius-XM and watch the MLB channel on Direct TV since this episode occurred. Here are the reactions, my comments in bold:

  • This isn’t a new phenomenon. Show me the statute of limitations on ongoing misconduct, please. Also not new: torture, rape, adultery, incest, bribery and embezzlement. So what? That makes these things all right? Excuses society from trying to reduce their occurrence?

Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On “The Kissing Congressman” Scandal

 

Passionate Kiss

Rep. Vance McAllister (R-La), a married freshman Republican congressman who campaigned by proclaiming his Christian, pro-family values, was seen  on leaked surveillance video from his district office embracing and kissing the Congressman’s 33-year-old  scheduler, also married, Melissa Anne Hixon Peacock.  McAllister apologized, saying

“There’s no doubt I’ve fallen short and I’m asking for forgiveness. I’m asking for forgiveness from God, my wife, my kids, my staff, and my constituents who elected me to serve. Trust is something I know has to be earned whether you’re a husband, a father, or a congressman. I promise to do everything I can to earn back the trust of everyone I’ve disappointed. From day one, I’ve always tried to be an honest man. I ran for Congress to make a difference and not to just be another politician. I don’t want to make a political statement on this, I would just simply like to say that I’m very sorry for what I’ve done.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Peacock has been dismissed from her job, and reportedly her marriage is shattered.

Some ethics observations: Continue reading

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On The Significance Of The AFA “Signups,” The First Of Many Other Shoes Drops

I am rushing out the door to remind D.C. lawyers about ethics, but I can’t let this pass:

  • Yesterday, James Taranto addressed some of the same issues that we covered on Ethics Alarms regarding the dishonest use of the ambiguous 7.1 million deadline sign-ups as a definitive measure of Obamacare’s success. Two of the culprits he quoted were E.J. Dionne and Paul Krugman, leading me to wonder why such performances don’t make it obvious even to knee-jerk Democrats that they are unreliable, biased, and dishonest to the core. Here’s Taranto on Dionne, for example:

It won’t surprise you to learn that Dionne did not demand accountability from Obama and the other politicians who sold ObamaCare on the fraudulent promise “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” Rather, he asserted that the administration’s claim of having “hit its original goal . . . of signing up more than 7 million people through its insurance exchanges” was a definitive refutation of any notion that ObamaCare is “doomed.” What about insurance cancellations, narrow networks, high deductibles, blown deadlines, work disincentives, adverse selection and the law’s continuing political unpopularity? Dionne dispenses with all these problems in one sentence: “To be sure, the law could still face other problems, blah, blah, blah.”

Why wouldn’t this kind of blind, manipulative, Jumbo-worthy partisanship annoy everyone?

  • Yesterday the Gallup people released this, an extensive survey that gives some perspective on what the 7.1 million really stands for. No surprises there, either, for anyone not in a Dionne-like mental state. From Fox:

“A major new Gallup survey suggests the ObamaCare sign-up numbers are not as soaring as the White House claims. The massive survey, released on Monday, shows the number of uninsured indeed has fallen to its lowest level in years, likely thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measured the share of adults without health insurance. That shrank from 17.1 percent at the end of last year to 15.6 percent for the first three months of 2014.The decline of 1.5 percentage points would translate roughly to more than 3.5 million people gaining coverage. But the numbers, released a week after the close of the health law’s first enrollment season, also suggest a far more modest impact on coverage than statistics cited by the Obama administration….”

The survey also shows that not enough young uninsured are signing up, a critical problem.

  • Whether the Gallup numbers are considered worthy of reporting by the other news media outlets should be a fascinating test of their depth of bias and lack of integrity. I’ll be watching…

No time for tags now—more later….

 

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Filed under Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship

Obamacare Game Plan: The Lies Worked, Now On To Deceit

gameplan

As President Obama was in the midst of his unseemly, unwise and typically unleaderlike victory lap over the Obamacare sign-up figures, Tonight Show comic Jimmy Fallon had the cheek to point out that it’s amazing how many people will sign up for something when the law says they have to. (In a slightly different version of the same point, Daily Standard editor Bill Kristol said on ABC today that this is like  saying, “…you’ve got to give the Soviet Union a lot of credit. 200 million people bought bread in their grocery stores. If it’s the only place you can buy health insurance, they’re going to get people to buy health insurance there.”)

Yes, that would be an example of the near constant spin and deception that the President and Democrats have been relentlessly throwing at the American public regarding the “success” of the Affordable Care Act.

The way I would put it, as indeed I did when I was shouting at the TV screen during the President’s statement in the wake of the final totals on March 31, is that how many people sign up for the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make the law successful. Whether the law accomplishes its goals at an acceptable cost will determine if the law is successful. Whether the government proves to be capable—as all evidence to date suggests it isn’t—of administering such a complex and wide-reaching law will determine if it’s successful. Most of all, the fact that the law almost certainly can’t be repealed now doesn’t make the Affordable Care Act a success, and any politician who thinks that way should be despised and distrusted.

No law should ever be beyond the possibility of rejection or repeal, if it becomes obvious that it was poorly conceived or that another approach would be better. I understand that’s not the way our busted system currently “works,” as horrible, expensive, corrupt, unworkable and wrongful laws routinely become imbedded in bureaucratic cement, and that the last large scale law to be repealed was probably Prohibition. This forward-ratcheting effect is one of the factors that makes our growing debt so frightening, as our leaders lack both the will and the means to stop anything, no matter how ill-considered, once it has a budget and a lobby. But for any national leader, especially the President, to celebrate this dangerous and dysfunctional feature of American lawmaking is profoundly disturbing, and demonstrates a preference for political warfare over governing. (This is perhaps, understandable in Obama’s case, as he is adept at the former and hopelessly inept at the latter.)

The goal, may I remind all participants, is to come up with policies that are good for the nation, not to “win” by inflicting laws that the other side can never remove. “HA! We won! Now you’ll never be able to repeal the lousy law we rammed down the country’s throat!” (of course, I’m paraphrasing) is unseemly, and shows toxic and unethical priorities .

Whether the verdict on the ACA law is ultimately positive or not—and despite what the pols say, the jury is obviously still out—it should never be forgotten or forgiven that its path has been paved with lies. Yet another one came to light this week. Leading up to March 31, press releases, tweets and blog posts from the Administration emphasized that the last day in March was the final opportunity to get health insurance in 2014, as in this White House blog post on the so-called “deadline”:

Continue reading

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Anderson Cooper’s Reflections on Inheritance: Not Unethical, Perhaps; Just Ignorant, Self-Serving and Presumptuous

I was going to let this go, but it kept gnawing at me, and nobody in the news media called out Anderson Cooper on his outrageous misrepresentation of history and human character. I guess it’s up to me.

gloria-vanderbilt-anderson-cooper

“Thanks for nothing, Mom!”

Cooper is the son of fashion designer Gloria Vanderbilt, and thus an heir to one of the most storied of American family fortunes. Apparently Cooper has known for some time that he’s getting none of his mother’s estimated 200 million dollar estate, and he told Howard Stern recently that he was fine about it, an had no bitterness or regrets.

“I don’t believe in inheriting money, ” he told Stern. “That’s a total fantasy … I think it’s an initiative-sucker, I think it’s a curse. Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life? If I felt that there was some pot of gold waiting for me, I don’t know that I would have been so motivated.”

As for his mother, who inherited many millions and who still made a name for herself by launching a  line of designer jeans, Cooper told Stern, “I think that’s an anomaly.”

Cooper is free to adopt whatever myths and rationalizations that help him get over the fact that his mother is cutting him off. He is not free to misinform the historically ignorant that a tendency exists which may describe his own mental state but which is far from the presumptive norm with others throughout the centuries. “Who’s inherited a lot of money who’s gone on to do things in their own life?” The answer to that question is “Too many to mention, Anderson. Are you kidding? Do you know anything about history?”

Just counting U.S. Presidents, which I think even in this period of reduced stature among White House occupants, would still qualify as “doing something with your life,” we have Washington, Madison and Monroe, all of whom inherited substantial property and assets from their families, as did William Henry Harrison and his grandson, Benjamin Harrison. Both Roosevelts inherited substantial wealth; so did William Howard Taft, whose family was (and is) one of the richest in the U.S. Both Bush’s managed not to let the curse of inherited wealth undermine their wills to succeed. Continue reading

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My Hypocrisy Detector Just Blew Up!

sarcasm

In a favorite episode of “The Simpsons,” the Springfield equivilent of Mensa is having a contentious debate. Prof. Frink, the local mad scientis, complains that the tone has set the readings of his newly-invented “sarcasm detector” dangerously high. “Comic Book Guy,” another brainy member of the club, snarks, “A sarcasm detector? That’s a real useful invention!” Whereupon the sarcasm detector blows up.

Well, my hypocrisy detector just blew up. The readings started going off the charts when I came across this item:

NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton said Thursday night that excessive partisanship flowing through the nation’s political system is causing the U.S. to march “backwards instead of forward”…Clinton cited the need to “get back to evidence-based decision-making.”

Oh, you mean like telling America that the allegations that your husband had lied under oath about his sexual affairs in a sexual harassment lawsuit and was using the power of his office to obstruct justice and cover it up was the creation of “a vast right wing conspiracy,” Hillary?  When you knew that the allegations were true? That kind of “evidence-based decision-making”?

I swear, if this awful, dishonest, cynical and untrustworthy woman runs for President, everything here will be exploding—my sarcasm detector, lie detector, hypocrisy detector, head…you name it.

This was just a warm-up, though. Then I read a Washington Post puff piece on Anita Hill, who is peddling a new documentary that casts her as a hero, which is ridiculous on its face. Anita Hill is the walking, talking embodiment of feminist hypocrisy, especially when paired with Hillary’s target, Paula Jones. I remember back when I worked for a large trial attorney lobby and Monicagate was in full force. The female president of the association was going on about her support of Clinton and how this was all, well, Hillary provided the talking point, and I had the cheek to remind her that during Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings she wore a button that said “I believe Anita Hill.”

Continue reading

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