Blue Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/7/2018: Fake Brain Death, Horrible History, Bad Bills And Worse Journalism

It’s Monday!

1  In thousands of little ways...Insidious, biased, deceitful, distorted and unfair information is fed to the public by the news media, unflagged or corrected by editors, presented as legitimate punditry and journalism either intentionally to warp public opinion for leftward political gain, or out of pure incompetence, depending on how much one accepts Hanlon’s Razor. The little ones, like the tiny repetitive concussions that over time give NFL players brain disease, may be more insidious than the whoppers.

Here is a typical example. Progressive op-ed writer David Leonhardt concludes his column about how Amazon is a dastardly monopoly endangering his beloved book stores by writing,

“Once the country emerges from the Trump presidency, I hope we will have a government that takes monopolies seriously.”

It takes magnificent gall to lay the power of Amazon at Trump’s doorstep. The internet giant built its virtual monopoly to its current power on Obama’s watch, with a Justice Department that looked the other way. Why? I wonder if it had anything to do with the massive co0ntributions Amazon magnate Jeff Bezos sent the Democrats’ way, or the fact that his newspaper, The Washington Post, was a reliable cheer-leader for Obama through is entire administration. Never mind: Leonhardt’s editors allow him to mislead readers into believing that Amazon is being allowed to do its worst because of Donald Trump.

Oh…did you notice the conflict of interest disclaimer pointing out the Post-Bezos-Amazon connection for those readers who might want to know that the Times’ rival for national newspaper primacy is owned by Amazon’s CEO? Neither did I. Maybe when the Times emerges from its fake news and blatant partisanship stage, it will start taking ethics seriously.

2.  Today’s Fox News incompetence note. I literally stopped on Fox News for 45 seconds this morning, and heard a lovely, buxom, Fox blonde clone report this story by saying, “the boy was brain dead for two months, then woke up.” [The original typo had “bot” instead of boy. A good time was had by all]

No, you idiot. He was not brain dead at all, because when you are brain dead, you’re dead, and you don’t wake up.  Doctors may have thought he was brain dead. He may have seemed to be brain dead. But he wasn’t brain dead.

Fake news, and stupid news.

Fox News.

3. The logic of Hollywood anti-gun zealots in a horror movie. A decent horror move could be made about the San Jose Mystery House, where Winchester rifle heir Sarah Winchester built a maze of rooms and stairways to keep her personal demons at bay. “Winchester” isn’t it, because its mission was to bludgeon audiences for two hours with perhaps the silliest anti-gun message ever devised. You see,  rumors persisted while Sarah was alive that she was building rooms for all the ghosts of victims of her father-in-law Oliver Winchester’s repeating rifle to reside. Thus workmen claimed the site was haunted. “Inspired by real events,” as the film says (the “real events” being the sensational tabloid tales), “Winchester” posits that the ghost of a Confederate soldier whose two brothers were killed in the Civil War has returned to get revenge. Sarah is racked with guilt, because, she says, the Rebel muskets were no match for the North’s repeating rifles, and “they never gave them a chance.”

Yup, those are the rules in war, all right: always give the soldiers trying to kill you a chance. Later, all the angry victims of the evil Winchester come out to glare: Native American, children, suicides, slaves.

Along the way, Sarah tells us how guns are just “instruments of death” but never clarifies why she insists on owning 51% of a gun company.

Helen Miren plays Sarah Winchester, and I rented the film because I’d pay to watch her play canasta. After seeing the embarrassment, I decided that Mirren had to be an anti-gun activist, and sure enough, I found this standard issue “think of the children!” column she wrote in 2006.

If Mirren really thinks her lame-brained dud of a horror movie advances the cause of the anti-gun crusade among Americans with two neurons to rub together—and why else would she make it?—she is yet another amazing example of how unintelligent people can give intelligent acting performances. Someone with more patience than I also needs to try to explain to her that Brits claiming that Americans were unfair to shoot Confederate soldiers rapidly deplete their credibility.

Here’s the Mystery House today:

4. How has “In God We Trust” lasted this long anyway?  In Minnesota, a bill that would allow the ancient national motto  “In God We Trust” to be displayed in Minnesota schools has been challenged by Democrats. Good.. After all, the bill is unconstitutional.

“I’m wondering if Sen.  Hall would feel the same if students walked in and instead of the word ‘God’ the word ‘Allah’ — which is the word for God in the Muslim religion — welcomes students to their schools,” Senator Marty Dibble said. “The money in my wallet has to say ‘In God We Trust.’ I think that’s offensive.”

“Offensive” is a poor choice of words—I bet Fox News was going bonkers over that—-but there is no coherent argument to be made that including references to God on official documents undermines the separation of government and religion.


25 thoughts on “Blue Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/7/2018: Fake Brain Death, Horrible History, Bad Bills And Worse Journalism

  1. “the bot was brain dead for two months, then woke up.”

    Until I clicked through to the story, I thought that the reason he hadn’t died was that he was a machine of some kind.

  2. 1. I think this is what’s pushing up Trump’s numbers, in combination with his accomplishing a lot of good policy things. Anyone paying attention sees this sort of thing constantly. It’s everywhere, every day, all day long. See, eg., John Kerry and the Logan Act.

  3. “The American press is a shame and a reproach to a civilized people. When a man is too lazy to work & too cowardly to steal, he becomes an editor & manufactures public opinion”. ~ Gen. W. T. Sherman

  4. So in the movie, the ghosts are real?

    That’s disappointing if so.

    The at-least-possibly-real-life story of an increasingly-unhinged widow unraveling due to irrational belief in psychics and ghosts could have been a great, creepy film.

    Looks like they took it in a different, stupider direction.

    (As an aside, if I were a spirit somehow displaced and free to wander around and torment people, I’d go after whoever, y’know, shot me, not the manufacturer of the murder weapon. There’s a reason the Left is so heavily invested in the inherently stupid narrative that guns have some kind of evil moral allegiance. The actual root cause of mass killings is kinda mostly their fault.)

  5. 3. We unfortunately paid money to rent Winchester this weekend and midway through my wife exclaimed “this is an anti-gun film!” The funny thing is if the assertion is to be taken seriously that Mrs. Winchester was trying to ‘make right’ the harms done because of the rifles, then it was the sales of those very rifles that paid for her so called redemption.

    Also this was interesting-

    Mirren is a UN Goodwill Ambassador

  6. Be diggin‘ me some Fats!!

    “In 1969, when a journalist at a press conference referred to Elvis Presley as ‘the king’, Presley shook his head and gestured instead towards Fats Domino, who was sitting across the room. ‘No,’ he said, “’here’s the real king of rock ‘n’ roll.’ ”

  7. “[T]here is no coherent argument to be made that including references to God on official documents undermines the separation of government and religion.”

    I am not so sure about that. But I can’t make the argument, either.

  8. >> the Rebel muskets were no match for the North’s repeating rifles, and “they never gave them a chance.”<<

    Sadly, this is historically wrong and misleading. While it is true that some soldiers on both sides were initially armed with smoothbore muskets, the primary weapon for both sides was the rifle-musket together with the 'Minie ball', a rifled bullet developed over the previous 10-20 years.

    These rifle-muskets were later shown to be more than three times as lethal as any previous weapon, helping to account for the staggering casualties of the Civil War. Repeating carbines – which were a significant advance – were mostly employed with cavalry units late in the war. As far as I know they didn't play a significant part in major battles — they didn't have to. Both sides had more than adequate firepower to inflict unprecedented slaughter.

    • They also had a significantly lower velocity… which means range. Winchesters were used by calvary because they did not want to stop to reload, and continuous (and wildly inaccurate) fire spooks the enemy, circa 1964.

      Heck, it spooks many troops today, which is the entire reason for automatic weapons on the modern battlefield.

  9. Maybe Sarah Winchester could have been visited by the ghost of Col. George Armstrong Custer and the 7th Cavalry, gunned down by the Cheyenne and Lakota’s fine Winchester arms.

  10. With any luck, my memory of Custer’s Boys using .50 Cal Trap-Door Springfield’s is correct. No contest, you know? #RateOfFireMatters.

    • Accurate rate of fire matters.

      Of course, accuracy is less important if your enemy allows himself to be surrounded in an open pasture in a valley, in little concentrated groups. Then you can just poor it to them from the high ground, with little chance of hitting your own people. 😉

      • Of course, dismounting his troops, thus robbing them of mobility and splitting his force had a bit to do with it as well. But then, he was ALWAYS a glory-hound.

        • I think it’s more complex than that.

          Maybe Custer should have been more cautious in his approach to this particular village, but up to Little Bighorn, his experience with concentrations of Indians were that they scattered and left the area when approached by cavalry…even when the cavalry was vastly outnumbered.

          Did he have any particular reason to assume they wouldn’t behave the same way this time?

          • Of course it is more complex than the glossy Hollywood overview.

            If you want to start getting technical, Michael, the prime cause of Custer’s fall was bad intel coupled with inflexible assumptions by the Army. Custer was attempting to capture the non-combatants, to force the warriors (which were male AND female, incidentally) to surrender and return to their reservations. This tactic HAD worked in the past, but the treaty violations of the US (and recent massacres of non-combatants) made the Native Americans more determined than in the past.

            Custer thought he faced around 800 warriors with his roughly 600 men. In reality, he could have faced 2,500. And you are right in that cavalry charges usually caused Native Americans to scatter. However, Custer failed to appreciate the combination of terrain, the size of the settlement (far larger than any previously encountered) and the level of motivation of his enemy. He also was inflexible when told he was being back trailed, and that there were signs of Indian ponies along the ridges bracketing his position.

            He never really intended to fight, given his tactics. When he should have known that tactical surprise was lost, he should have regrouped and reassessed the situation. When he got a fight, he had no fall back plan, having divided his forces, and was defeated in detail.

            Interesting armchair quarterbacking, to be sure.

            • I don’t think this disagrees with my hot-take.

              Custer was actually a pretty methodical scout commander. When Hollywood and revisionists say “Reckless”…a military mind actually sees “Hyper-Aggressive in the attack” (and encourages by the way).

              There’s every reason to believe Custer never intended to attack at all but rather just got too close in his initial reconnaissance, and, as you mentioned didn’t give heed to the risk posed by observed warriors on his flanks.

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