NBC’s Chuck Todd Offers Dubious History To Cover For Democrats

One of these things is not like the other...

One of these things is not like the other…

[A frequent and valued commenter asked Ethics Alarms to examine this, and I am, as many of you know, always eager to delve into the history of My Favorite Men, the Presidents of the United States.]

Yesterday, NBC presented the nauseating display of a prominent member of Congress attempting to undermine the peaceful transfer of power after a legal and fair election. This was unprecedented, and not surprisingly. Only a hyper-partisan ethics dunce who believed that he was beyond criticism and accountability and who was confident that journalists would rationalize his conduct would do such a thing.  In this regard, at least, Rep. John Lewis was correct. The news media had his back.

Before the actual interview was broadcast, news of Lewis’s statement was out regarding Lewis’s attack, and Donald Trump, as he has with Gold Star parents, beauty queens and others and award-winning actresses, had foolishly reacted with an insulting tweet that allowed his critics to shift public attention from the provocation to the target. Is Trump really incapable of learning how stupid this is, no matter how many times he suffers for it? Apparently.

Meanwhile, it was time for the news media to play defense for Lewis, because that’s what they do when Democrats misbehave.

Chuck Todd, the host of “Meet the Press,” used hsiMSNBC show “Meet the Press Daily” to argue that a prominent member of Congress claiming that an elected President isn’t legitimate is just not that big a deal, saying

In case you missed it, Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), civil rights hero and icon, said Donald Trump does not believe is a legitimate president because of the Russian meddling in the election. Leaving aside how you feel about Lewis’ position, it’s not first time a president’s legitimacy has been questioned.”

Then, no doubt thanks to some intern’s searches on Google, he regaled his audience with misleading American history:

In 1824 when John Quincy Adams won the presidency over Andrew Jackson, despite getting clobbered in the popular vote, a lot of people questioned the legitimacy of his victory. In fact, this happens pretty much every time the popular vote loser moves into the White House.

After the 1876 election, Rutherford Hayes, who was called Ruther-fraud Hayes when Congress gave him the electoral majority.

The same in 1888 with Benjamin Harrison. You may remember the occasional cry of foul in 2000 when the Supreme Court stopped the Florida recount and George W. Bush won the election.

Sometimes, though, it has nothing to do with voting. When William Henry Harrison died a month after taking office in 1841, a lot of people didn’t accept the idea that as vice president John Tyler or any vice president for that matter could legitimately ascend to the presidency. A lot of people just called him an ‘acting president.’

Most recently, of course, the conservative right and and some Republicans claimed to doubt President Obama’s citizenship and therefore the legitimacy of his right to serve in the office of the presidency.

None of this is meant to pass judgment on John Lewis’ position, it’s just to remind us all this isn’t the first time someone has questioned the legitimacy of an American president. Surely won’t be the last.

This is what our political system does, we have this back and forth. It doesn’t make it any less shocking, frankly, to some of us when you do hear it from people with big influence. That’s all for tonight.

See? No big deal! Happens all the time! Everybody does it! Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo”

Person voting

The weekend was awash with excellent comments, and this one, from three days ago, was inadvertently left on the runway. It begins with a quote from Pennagain’s COTD from 1/13, and continues boldly, as last year’s Commenter of the Year often does, into a related but different issue. The original topic was race relations in the U.S., and President Obama’s fantasy that they have improved under his stewardship.

The comment also has the immense virtue of not invoking Donald Trump in any way.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo””

“Meanwhile, back in the ghetto, Black Lives Matter gets a firm grip on the larger – and ever-growing larger – black underclass, those who couldn’t “discuss” their beliefs if they wanted to.”

That’s actually a very salient point, one that isn’t unique to any particular demographic, and that I think needs addressing.

I won’t even hazard a statistic, but I believe it to be likely that the vast majority of Americans (And Canadians, we aren’t immune) don’t actually understand politics, economics, or the law in much more than a cursory manner. I don’t think the average person at any protest would be able to with even a bird-taking-its-first-flight bumbling grace put into words the feelings that have them attending their event.

The language, I think, of Joe Protester is that of fear. Fear of authority, fear of corruption, fear of lethal forces, fear of economic hardship… They don’t know what the answer is, hell, they might not even know what the problem is, they might not even identify their feelings as fear. They just have feelings, and feel a need to do something about them.

It’s their right to do so, and I’d never say otherwise. But there’s a danger here… I find myself often drawn to the corrupting influence of having people agree with me. This might sound ridiculous, but it isn’t… If these people around me are those fearful people that don’t know what the answer is, don’t know what the problem is, and have feelings that just so happen to align with mine, it’s… hard…. to resist getting caught up in the tide and carried on to other positions those people have, just as ill informed, that I might not have come to on my own.

While the possibility of this is absolutely prolific on both sides of the argument, I think (and I’m sure I’ll get disagreement on this) that this kind of thought permeates the left more frequently than the right… I think that for two reasons:

First: The left often bribes their voters. Year over year, study after study shows that financial problems top people’s anxiety lists. More than terrorism, More than discrimination, More than death (sometimes, death usually wins.). And both of the parties have an answer for that! From the right, they say that reducing taxes will create jobs, and throttling immigration will reduce competition for those jobs. From the left, they say that they’ll do things like increase the minimum wage, regulate companies to pay better benefits, and lower welfare requirements. The reason I think that the left has a more appealing (if less convincing) case is because people are biased towards laziness and entitlements are much easier to collect than work is to earn.

Continue reading

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From The “Kings Pass” Files: Rep. Lewis Abuses His Icon Status [UPDATED]

john-lewis2

Yesterday, Rep. John Lewis told NBC audiences that Donald J. Trump, duly elected, legally and without question, was “an illegitimate President.” This was an unprecedented act of vicious partisanship and unethical public service. Worse, Lewis’s statement was intentionally racially divisive, timed to appear the day before Martin Luther King Day, and less than a week before the Inauguration. Imagine the bipartisan fury that a similar pronouncement by a white Congressman would have (justly) attracted in January, 2009. But double standards are “in” this year, if you are a progressive, a Democrat, or just someone who wants to weaken the United States of America and make certain that the recent election results in a calamity.

Lewis, as he has much of his tenure in the House, was relying on his status as a civil rights icon 60 years ago to immunize him from the consequences of his actions. In other words, he was depending on  Rationalization #11, The King’s Pass, that particularly corrosive rationalization—it is also called “The Star Syndrome”— which holds that distinguished figures who should be role models must be allowed to get away with conduct that anyone less prominent would be punished for. The King’s Pass wrecks companies and sports teams, allows sexual predator Presidents to get away with lying under oath, and is one of the many reasons the world doesn’t work very well. In addition to showing that “laws are for the little people,” abusers of status like Lewis  stand for the proposition that ethics are just for little people too.

Martin Luther King’s associates and lieutenants have been particularly prolific in exploiting The King’s Pass. Jesse Jackson proved himself to be a venal race hustler, but was insulated from the criticism he deserved by virtue of his civil rights era bona fides. Worse yet was the late Marion Barry, a cynical and corrupt mayor of Washington, D.C., whose loyal African American supporters treated him as if he could do no wrong. Police arresting him for smoking crack the same week he lectured schoolchildren on the evils of drugs was widely condemned by his supporters as racially motivated.

Our juvenile and impulsive President-Elect, sadly but predictably, reacted to Lewis’s irresponsible attack by tweeting a “shut up and do your job” response. “He’s a counter-puncher, ” explained Corey Lewandowski , the ex-Trump campaign manager who virtually counter-punched a reporter when she tried to ask the candidate a question at a rally. No, he’s a fool, but Trump’s unpresidential tweeting doesn’t excuse or validate Lewis’s conduct. “Fury Builds as Civil Rights Icon Is Denigrated”  headlines today’s Times, growing more biased and inflammatory by the day. Lewis was intentionally trying to spark fury as well as partisan and racial division, and he earned that denigration, because it was unpatriotic, unstatesmanlike, and willfully destructive.

It only seems less so because so many in Lewis’s party are behaving almost as poorly. Continue reading

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Human Rights Watch Boards The Ethics Train Wreck

human-rights-watch

When a supposedly non-partisan organization behaves like Human Rights Watch has, placing a President Elect on its “human rights watch” before the individual has spent a day in office or even remotely violated any human’s rights, we should be grateful. It is a confession of bias and political motivation for all to see and remember for the future.

Yes, incredibly, the Washington, D.C-based organization prepared a  687-page World Report including a U.S. section substantially aimed at stoking the fear-mongering of the Left as a presumptive strike against the incoming executive branch of the U.S. Government.

Beginning by calling Trump’s campaign a “vivid illustration of the politics of intolerance,” the organization made hyperbolic characterizations of the campaign, which is, of course, all it has to go on. As Ethics Alarms has pointed out before, this is the equivalent of pre-crime. The group is calling Trump a human rights threat because it is looking into the future.

“Donald Trump’s election as US president after a campaign fomenting hatred and intolerance, and the rising influence of political parties in Europe that reject universal rights, have put the postwar human rights system at risk,” the group said in its statement announcing the report.  No, political campaigns, as Americans observe ruefully every election cycle,  have disturbingly little to do with what the politicians elected actually do. I’m sure Human Rights Watch knows that, but why should reality dissuade a political hit job?

What does Donald Trump have to do with political parties in Europe? He’s barely conversant regarding his own party. Never mind, never mind: the Left’s theory is that Trump is  to blame for anything and everything they don’t like, and if he hasn’t done some horrible thing yet, they know he will. And since they know he will, why wait before condemning him for it? Continue reading

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Apologia: I’m Sorry. I’m Sorry That The Left Is Behaving So Unethically, And I’m REALLY Sorry I Have to Keep Writing About It.

Ethics Alarms is intended to be a pan-ethics colloquy on our efforts to set ethical standards in our society, using, for the most part, current events and controversies to apply ethics analysis to dilemmas, conflicts and gray areas as they arise. Silly me: I really thought that once the election was over, I could shove political ethics back into the pack, and get back to more balanced and diverse commentary. I did not expect the Left—is there a better word for progressives, Democrats, Hollywood, academia, artists and the mainstream media?—to behave so abominably and irresponsibly for such an extended period.

Because I believe with all my heart  that this mob-tantrum is doing far more damage to the nation and society than unethical IKEA ads, incompetent judges and even sexual predator 6th grade teachers, I have to chronicle this awful national ethics phenomenon at the expense of other topics. I am thoroughly sick of it. I feel like Keith Olbermann, who quit his first non-sports news commentary job because couldn’t stand reporting on the Monica Lewinsky scandal every night. And believe me, I don’t like feeling like Keith Olbermann.

This is the major ethics story of the month, the year, and maybe the decade. A coalition of ideologically inflexible groups are deliberately seeking to undermine a duly elected President of the United States, and to destabilize the United States government, because their candidate—and a terrible, corrupt, incompetent candidate she was—somehow managed to lose. They are doing this in full knowledge that their actions directly contradict their leaders’ statements before the election. You know, like this one…

pelosi-tweet

They are doing it despite the fact that they are violating the established norms of politics and democracy that have kept the United States peaceful, prosperous and strong (except when we had a civil war, killing more Americans than in any foreign conflict and inflicting cultural scars that have still not healed completely), because…

Rationalization #31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now.”

Of course, if you care about ethics, and most of these reckless partisans don’t, you know that is wrong… Continue reading

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More Inaugeration Ethics: The Hero, The Dunce, And The Weenie…Whoops, Make That A Dunce And TWO Weenies

 

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The Ethics Hero was going to be Jennifer Holliday, the big-voiced diva who stopped the Broadway hit “Dreamgirls” with her solo, “I’m not going.” She had agreed to sing at the Inauguration, telling the Associated Press that her decision to participate was a way to welcome the American people to an event that should be about unifying the country.

Which is, of course, what it is.

She then faced a vicious response to her patriotic and principled decision, with critics calling for a boycott of her music, labeling her as an “Uncle Tom,” promising that her career was over and telling her to kill herself. Most vociferous of the bullies were those from the LGBT community, which has managed to convince itself that Trump is a foe despite the fact that nothing in his speeches or record suggest that he is. But he is a Republican, and thus presumptively biased. (Assuming anyone is less than admirable based on group membership is bigotry, but in this case, the argument goes, good bigotry.)

Rather than stand up for what she said was right, Holiday whined, and capitulated:

“How could I have this much hate spewing at me, and I haven’t even done anything? I guess it’s not like those old days when political views were your own and you had freedom of speech. … We live in a different time now and a decision to go and do something for America is not so clear-cut anymore.”
The way to stand up for the values you claim to embrace, you sniveling coward, is to refuse to be bullied out of supporting them, and opposing the forces of divisiveness and hate.Ah, but performers who are willing to resist peer pressure and the howls of the mob are rarer than Florida panthers, so Jennifer grovelled instead, in a nauseating open letter:

O MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:

Continue reading

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For The Last Time: This Is Why The Post-Election Attacks On Trump And His Election Are Unethical

This is the last time I’m going to try to explain why the fair, patriotic, ethical and rational approach to the impending Presidency of Donald Trump is to be supportive of the office and the individual until his actual performance in the job earns just criticism. Attempting to undermine a Presidency at its outset is a self-destructive act, for nobody benefits if a Presidency fails. Wishing for a failed Presidency was what Rush Limbaugh did in 2008, and he was justly condemned for it, substantially by the same people who are saying the same thing he did, but about Donald Trump. They were right then, and they today are just as wrong, and despicable,  as Rush was.

I have had numerous debates, on and off Ethics Alarms, with usually reasonable people who take the #NotMyPresident position, which is nonsense on its face. If you are a citizen, Trump is your President. We don’t have, or allow, citizen states. You can dissent, and support political opposition, but you still must obey the laws and be loyal to the nation, which means loyalty to the nation’s elected leadership. Loyalty doesn’t require agreement, but it does require respecting legitimate authority, and seeking what is best for the United States of America. Constitutional crisis is never good for any nation. A crippled government is never good. A leader estranged from the public is never good. Seeking these things is irresponsible and foolish, but more than that, it is dangerous.

In The Caine Mutiny, a film version of the stage drama and novel “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a man whose war-shattered nerves and self-esteem problems have rendered him an erratic and an unpopular officer, falters in his command during a storm. His officers, frightened and already convinced that their captain is unfit for command, mutiny. At their military trial, their defense attorney causes Queeg to have a breakdown on the witness stand, winning the case for the accused mutineers. Later, however, at the post trial victory party, the lawyer, Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer),  shames his clients. He represented them zealously, but he tells them that they were, in fact, at fault for what occurred on the Caine: Continue reading

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