Law prof-blogger Ann Althouse perfectly analyzes Rush Limbaugh’s virtuoso attack on the U.S. Senate Democratic majority’s much-criticized curtailing of the filibuster this week, to pave the way for President Obama’s stalled judicial nominations. Feminists and other knee-jerk Rush-bashers are furious, and, of course, knowing exactly what to say and how to say it to annoy the hell out of them is part of his mission in life, and one which he does very, very well. If you missed it, here’s what Rush said in response to a caller (though if he hadn’t planned on this, I will be shocked, as well as very impressed)… Continue reading
Category Archives: Quotes
We once again must squarely face the hoary quote from Walter Scott’s epic poem Marmion: “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” It is hoary because it is true, and this month’s Smithsonian Magazine reminds us of how true it is, recounting how well-intentioned deceptions by the news media regarding evidence in the assassination of President Kennedy helped create a conspiracy theory that will not die, and that may have begun the slow, relentless deterioration of America’s trust in its own government that has reached dangerous proportions today.
Frame 313 of Abraham Zapruder’s accidental record of one of the pivotal moments in U.S. history gave him nightmares, and when he sold the rights to his amateur movie to Life Magazine, he insisted that frame be withheld from the public, and not published. “We like to feel that the world is safe,” documentary maker Errol Morris explains in the article.“Safe at least in the sense that we can know about it. The Kennedy assassination is very much an essay on the unsafety of the world. If a man that powerful, that young, that rich, that successful, can just be wiped off the face of the earth in an instant, what does it say about the rest of us?” I understand, but withholding the truth is not the way to make the world seem safer. As the story of the conspiracy shows, it is how we end up trusting no one. Continue reading
Last weekend’s Ethics Quiz involving the photojournalism ethics of publishing a photo appearing to show President Obama in a submissive or shamed posture as Vladmir Putin passed was handicapped by the mysterious unavailability of the photo in question, which the Washington Post published at least twice but has not made available on-line, even to accompany letters criticizing it. Well, the Post published the photo, in its print edition, yet again today and still I cannot track it down on the Post website. One reason appears to be that it comes from a Russian news agency.
I have found the version above, however, taken by the same photographer a split second after the one in question. In this one, Putin has just passed the President; in the photo the Post used, he was just about to pass him. The expression and postures of everyone in the two photos are the same.
You may want to reconsider the post “Ethics Quiz: Photojournalism And The President’s Meaningful, Meaningless Bowed Head”with it, rather than what I used last week, in mind.
(And why didn’t anyone tell me that the “a” and the “l” in “photojournalism” were transposed in the headline?)
Today, at his press conference in Stockholm, President Obama raised many a hackle by saying,
“First of all, I didn’t set a red line,” Barack Obama said today at a press conference in Stockholm. “The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98% of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [sic] abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war.”
The President’s critics take this as yet another of his habitual accountability dodges, even though, for once, he didn’t blame George W. Bush. I will give the President the benefit of the doubt here, as he was speaking extemporaneously and is infamously imprecise when he is not delivering a prepared speech. He is saying that the bright line prohibition on chemical and germ warfare was not devised by him, that it is a matter of international law of long-standing, and that his red-line statement only re-affirmed the United States’ pre-existing obligation, in his view, to take action when such a line is crossed. I have no problem with that; the problem is, as this episode has shown, that President Obama did not and does not mean what he said, and the consequences he has devised for the crossing of that red line by the Assad government manage to be weak, insignificant, inadequate, cynical, cruel, dangerous, misdirected, ill-timed and illegal (under international law) all at the same time. That’s quite an accomplishment, but not one I’d want my mother to hand on the fridge.
The Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto, who, at his best, delivers a clarity of ethical analysis and a precision of language that are unsurpassed in U.S. punditry, moved on from mocking the latest red line clarification to an excellent discussion of why the credibility of the American President, and leaders generally, is so important. Credibility is the practical result of integrity: that is the ethical virtue President Obama’s handling of this matter betrayed.
Today I received this:
“Hi there, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam responses? If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.”
The commenter gave his name as “Ecig” and that “similar” blog is an e-cigarette advertising website. His comment about how irritating spam is is spam itself, one of the nearly 536,000 such comments that I have had to review individually since launching Ethics Alarms.|
A dishonest fake comment, purporting to complain about spam while constituting spam, sent to a blog about ethics.
“Even if you side with this president over those of us in the media who challenge him in his administration, it is important to remember the precedent these actions set going forward, perhaps when it’s not your guy in the White House.”
-—Jake Tapper, former ABC reporter turned CNN headliner, warning knee-jerk Obama defenders that there are rather significant risks in supporting leaders and their governments when they obstruct basic rights, just because you like their policies and don’t like the citizens who are being mistreated.
I’m not especially enamored of Tapper’s quote, and the fact that such a statement is noteworthy coming from a major news media figure is depressing. Tapper introduced his warning by admitting that he was biased himself, “but.” I suppose admitting a presumably leftward bias is worthy of praise for transparency’s sake—and Tapper has copped to being biased before—yet it also reminds us how truly untrustworthy our supposed bulwark against tyranny (that is, the news media) is, siding as it does with the party currently in charge with such consistency.
His is also not truly an ethical statement, as it relies on a non-ethical argument, the equivalent of “Hey, we probably shouldn’t kill that guy, because then his gang will be coming after us.” There’s no ethics at all in Tapper’s argument, except that the conduct he’s attempting to encourage, responsible citizenship and the refusal to tolerate the abuse of power, is more ethical than the alternative, which is what we’ve been seeing for almost five years. The Golden Rule, in other words, in not “Do unto others because if you don’t it’s very possible that the soon the others may be doing the same thing to you.” Continue reading
Unethical Quote of the Week, Sequester Ethics Train Wreck Division: Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe
“Watching Woodward the last 2 days is like watching my idol Mike Schmidt face live pitching again. Perfection gained once is rarely repeated.”
-— Senior White House Advisor David Plouffe, in a tweet contributing to the White House effort to undermine the credibility of journalist Bob Woodward for the crime of calling attention to some of its more unsavory maneuvers regarding the sequestration crisis.
“I think you will regret staking out that claim.”
Maybe this is what Gene Sperling meant. Now the White House gang is suggesting that Woodward has lost it, can’t get around on the fast ball, that his time has passed, that he is, in short, an old geezer who should be put out to pasture, like 1970′s baseball great Mike Schmidt.
Democrats are quick on the trigger to accuse adversaries of coded racism, sexism, and homophobia, but appear to have no compunction at all when it comes to denigrating opponents as old, or fat. This is bigotry, you know, from a White House that has benefited mightily from planting the myth that any criticism of its primary occupant is subject to legitimate suspicion of being motivated by prejudice. Let’s see—Woodward is 68, almost 69. Harry Reid is 74. Nancy Pelosi is 72. Justice Ginsberg and Justice Breyer, two liberal stalwarts protecting the Presidents legal flanks, are 79 and 74 respectively. Hillary Clinton, who is being pumped up for a Presidential run in 2016, will be 66 this year, and 70 by the time she runs, if she runs. Joe Biden is older than Woodward; so is newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry. Plouffe tweet is a slur and a cheap shot, rank hypocrisy, and really stupid.
His message is that if a journalist dares to challenge this administration’s Machiavellian tactics, it must be because of creeping senility. Perfection is, naturally, holding Republican administrations to standards of integrity and honesty. Doing so with Democrats, however, is proof that a journalist has stayed to long at his desk.
He is a bigot, an ass, and I fear, an in-house assassin.
You know, I wouldn’t bet against Mike Schmidt still being able to hit one out.
I know—I need to settle on a consistent name for this particular train wreck. I’ve used at least three. Luckily, it is clearly going to be rolling along, causing ethics havoc in its wake, long enough for me to be consistent.
Wow! They must be all-tingly on the Newtown Massacre Aftermath Express–Bill Clinton! The architect of one of the great ethics train wrecks of American history has deigned to come on board! What other A-listers will follow? Oprah? David Letterman? Even the President himself! Now, anything is possible.
The nation’s grandmaster liar bought his ticket with this Newtown-inspired statement, uttered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013
“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”
This was classic Bill, false and self-glorifying. After all, that ban that expired had been signed into law by Bubba himself. But as the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler confirmed, his striking “fact” was a whopper. Continue reading