Sunday Morning Ethics Hangover, 7/15/2018: “Animal House” And The Death Of Truth [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

(WordPress isn’t working properly this morning. Perfect…)

1. Not being biased helps you be non-stupid…Yesterday, chatting with lawyer attendees at my ethics seminar, a former government attorney told me that he had several ex-FBI colleagues who were horrified at many aspects of the Peter Strzok hearings, as was he. Among their concerns:

  • The news media was failing its duty to explain to the public the duties of professionals, and why Strzok’s conduct was unacceptable, unethical, and undermined the credibility of the investigations he was involved in.
  • Democrats were defending the indefensible, and also breaching their duty to the public. They ought to be exactly as outraged as Republicans at a figure as demonstrably biased as Strzok polluting important law enforcement inquiries, and also should have rebuked him for his defiant attitude.
  • The Strzok scandal was immensely damaging to the public image of the FBI, and should be. It demonstrates an agency that has been seriously mismanages, and that has a damaged culture.
  • The simple fact that Strzok would use FBI equipment to send his texts demonstrated outrageous incompetence and lack of judgement. Even setting aside the bias issue, for a key figure in an investigation to behave so recklessly proves that the current FBI is untrustworthy.

Naturally this is gratifying, since the positions are all consistent with those I have expressed here, and also because they are correct.

2.  When miscreants emulate “Animal House” and Democrats applaud...We also discussed Strzok’s ridiculous “Otter defense”in the hearing, as he emulated the cynical (but in that case, funny) argument offered by the “Animal House” character played by Tim Mathieson (“Take it easy! I’m pre-law!” “I thought you were pre-med!” “What’s the difference?”) in a student council hearing over his fraternity members’ outrageous conduct, especially his own:

” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions.

3. Articles I don’t finish reading department. In today’s Sunday Review section, regularly a source of Trump derangement porn since November 2016, Michiko Kakutani, ironically the author of the forthcoming book “The Death of Truth: Notes on Falsehood in the Age of Trump,” begins an essay this way:

They were described as vermin who were infesting America. They were deemed a national security threat to the United States, rounded up and sent to internment camps, where they were housed in military-style barracks behind barbed wire and watched over by armed officers in guard towers. There was no due process, no risk assessment, no effort to assess who might actually pose a threat and who just happened to look like “the enemy.” Instead, tens of thousands of men, women and children were subject to “removal” because, as one government report put it, “an exact separation of the ‘sheep from the goats’ was unfeasible.”

My mother’s family was among the 120,000 people of Japanese descent on the West Coast who were dispatched to internment camps during World War II. The faded photo of my mother, my aunt and my grandparents, standing in front of the Topaz Relocation Center barracks, where they were incarcerated in the Utah desert in 1942, used to feel like an artifact from a thankfully distant era — an illustration from a history lesson about what a former first lady, Laura Bush, last month called “one of the most shameful episodes in U.S. history.

And yet today in America under President Trump, the news is filled with pictures and stories of families and children being held in detention centers, and reports that the Pentagon is preparing to house as many as 20,000 “unaccompanied alien children” on American military bases.

History is repeating itself.

Speaking of “the death of truth.” No, history is not repeating itself, unless we are talking about the use of shameless propaganda and false analogies to divide the nation and mislead ignorant and gullible members of the public. The Japanese-Americans interned during World War II were citizens The illegal immigrants using their children as human shields to try to break our laws without consequence are not. The internees had violated no laws. The detained South American and Central American families have. There is no valid comparison, historically, legally or ethically.

And I’m not linking to such crap. Let the New York Times reel in its own suckers to deceive.

4. [UPDATE]  Not our Queen. This isn’t worth a full post, and will be stale by tomorrow. Among the cheap shots and not-so-cheap shots being taken at our President while he is Europe is the complaint that he did not properly bow to QE2 (not the ship, the monarch) and wasn’t properly deferential when he walked with her. Then U.S. media Trump-haters picked up the refrain, because they are shameless hacks.

The President of the United States ought to bow to no one, nor treat any foreign leader as anything but an equal, and that goes for the Pope, too. This applies especially to kings and queens of England. We fought a long war not to have to bow down to those people. President Obama’s compulsive bowing to various world leaders was part of his One World Government charm offensive, and it was offensive.  Americans shouldn’t bow to anyone. When people say that Obama wasn’t the product of the mainstream American culture, this is the kind of thing they were talking about. And they are correct.

 

42 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Citizenship, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions, Quotes, U.S. Society

42 responses to “Sunday Morning Ethics Hangover, 7/15/2018: “Animal House” And The Death Of Truth [UPDATED!]

  1. adimagejim

    On general principle, I believe in redemption. Are purposeful liars and deceivers redeemable as citizens? If their goal is to undo the system we have upheld via social contract since the Constitution’s ratification, can they return to our society as citizens without being suspect of perpetual subversiveness?

    There’s a big difference between imprisoning citizens of a certain background and controlling your borders with regard to illegal entrants. Anyone who can’t or won’t make that simple distinction and intentionally leads others to embrace their way of “thinking” may be beyond long term civic redemption.

    • Isaac

      To say nothing of the fact that the border-children problem peaked in 2014, when most of the worst viral photos originated. There’s nothing to specifically marry this to Trump, other than stupidity, insanity, or dishonesty.

  2. Chris Marschner_

    I regularly lament the fact that when such nonsense such as comparing Japanese internment camps to current detention centers is never met with a simple question from journalists – even those with a conservative bent: Are their any differences between the two populations in question that could allow for such widespread detentions?

    If the person answers No then it becomes obvious that they haven’t a clue as to what they are talking about.

    Just once would I like to see these propogandists squirm trying to rationalize not incarcerating law breakers who have no fixed address in the US and thus pose the strong liklihood that they will fail to appear at their hearing.

    Even if they were permitted bail, I wonder how many bondsman would undertake the risk even if the bond was only 1000 dollars.

    • That piece was just emotion. “It FEELS like the same thing to her, and that’s enough these days to allow such confounding junk to be published in the New York Times.

      • Chris Marschner_

        I know, good journalism requires
        followup questions to gain clarity. That appears non-existent today

        What I am finding is that the media from all angles is no longer in the business of informing its audience and more likely to be in the outrage business to get ratings.

        I wonder when some editor, on a slow news day, will open his window and fire some shots and then run a headline Sniper opens fire on busy street”. I wonder how many will understand that cutural reference.

      • The rejoinder would be along the lines of: “Well, yeah, of course it’s different. But we are better than this. We don’t incarcerate people without due process and kids should never be separated from their parents.”

        jvb

        • Law enforcement is a bitch. If you don’t want your kids in detention, don’t put them in situations where we have to detain them. Democrats passed laws designed to make it hard to stop illegals, and they have been playing these games. I’d charge every parent who puts a child in that position with child endangerment. Place them in foster care, and deport mom or dad.

          • Agreed, though both parties have played the immigration problem up for their own benefits. Republicans killed off reforms at the behest of businesses who wanted cheap labor. Democrats did the same at the behest of future voters. What did Rahm Emmanuel say? “Never let a good crisis go to waste”? The Obama Administration had both houses of Congress for two years and could have passed reform but he played politics, knowing that immigration would be a perfect tool to bash the Republicans with in future elections. He miscalculated the animus of the nation and did not consider a Trump-like candidate. T

            his problem has been brewing for decades. Mexico has long stated that its social safety net was illegal immigration to the US: Imagine the mess Mexico would be in if the 10 – 20 million undocumented aliens were deported to their home nations? What are those countries going to do with them?

            jvb

            • Reminds me to take the time to get the Ethics Scoreboard back on line: a lot of essays there about the bi-partisan con. But Republicans at least never claimed that open borders was a sane policy…just a profitable one.

    • I agree with your questions. They point out the crucial differences between 1942 US as it entered World War II and the uncontrolled crossing of the border by people with no real connections to the nation. The follow up to the questions, though, is this: “What would you have us do as a nation with these people to address this problem?” Clearly, we can’t separate children from parents, right? And we can’t detain them together as families, right?

      What, then, is the solution? Close the border and declare that none shall pass? We can’t do that, because that would mean Trump and his beloved Wall win.

      Hold immediate deportation/removal hearings as soon as they are detained to determine their rights to enter the US? Are there legitimate asylum claims? When and where are they going to be adjudicated?

      Or, do we issue notices to appear in immigration court to determine their rights to be here? How much is that going to tax an already “broken” system? And, can we trust ICE to make the right decisions, because they are a bunch of Nazis running around oppressing people of color?

      jvb

  3. Cleophus

    There’s a lot left out of Japanese internment narratives. How it only affected those within the exclusion zones. How internees were free to come and go from the camps for school or work outside the exclusion zones. How Japanese could petition to live in the camps. How they were not all citizens of the United States or the American citizens who renounced their citizenship so they could go fight for their first loyalty, the Japanese nation.

  4. Mrs. Q

    3. She also neglected to mention it was a Democrat president who enacted the policy.

  5. Other Bill

    4. Most avid lefties are serious Anglophiles. More and more you see people saying we need a parliamentary system rather than a two party system. Plus they list which Premier League football club they support on their bios. Give me a break. Move to England. Have fun.

  6. This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions.

    The FBI is his employer. His conduct directly implicates the integrity of the FBI.

  7. Other Bill

    I always love the Animal House references. What a great movie. I guess it’s kind of like my Bible. There’s a line in it applicable to and enlightening of almost any situation.

  8. I’ll agree with you about bowing, although I’ve got better things to worry about, either way. Call bowing deferential; call it courtesy; I don’t care.
    Striding away from a 92-year-old woman–any 92-year-old woman acting as a hostess, however, is rude. Not international incident rude, but rude.
    I have a lot of British friends who treat the royal family sort of as a younger sibling in this regard: we (the Brits) can beat them up, but nobody else had better think they can do so. A couple of friends whom I know to have expressed the desire to do away with the anachronism that is “royalty” have also complained about the recent boorishness of the POTUS to the Queen.
    And whereas yes, we did fight a war to not have to bow to British monarchs, the UK has been one of our loyalist allies for 200 years. A little civility towards their sovereign, however much of a figurehead she may be, would not come amiss.

    • dragin_dragon

      How about we call bowing obeisance, which is what it is. Courtesy and civility is a handshake.

    • Chris Marschner_

      But there is no problem with a caricature balloon? I don’t understand the Brits concept of civility toward a sovereign.

      • I don’t understand the comparison. The caricature balloon was independent of the government.

        • Chris Marschner_

          The comparison relates to your Brit friends calling the behavior of our president rude to the queen but have no problem with the throngs being rude to him. That was my point. It was not totally independent of government because the government granted the flying of the caricature. I don’t want to hear about free speech when England has “hate speech” proscriptions where hate speech is defined as unpopular speech.

    • Here is the whole episode, apparently. You seriously call this “striding ahead”? He was obviously walking as slowly as possible, and following, or trying to, her direction. Having walked a great deal with my mother when she was in her last months, I don’t see how his his handling of the situation warranted the venom it attracted.

      • My understanding from British friends–and frankly I don’t care enough to check–is that the video is not, in fact, the whole episode, but rather only the end. The beginning of the video shows the queen gesturing Pres. Trump to go ahead. My friends tell me it was a gesture of aggravation after the real incident: “fine, if you have to go charging ahead, then do it.” Then (on the video), he just stops. Doesn’t turn around to check on her, just stops right in her path and makes her walk around him. Of course, mt friends are, shall we say, not exactly Trump supporters, and I don’t know if the actually saw the incident or are simply repeating their media’s stories. Given DJT’s treatment of Theresa May and Sadiq Khan, I think we can say that the niceties aren’t his strong suit. And given the British press, there’s a good chance that any actual bad behavior was exaggerated if not fabricated.
        One way or another, we’re getting a variation of the story of the blind men and the elephant.

        • That seems like a fair assessment.

          • Sue Dunim

            In terms of breaches of protocol, there have been worse. Tolerating far worse behaviour from visitors for reasons of state is part of the job. Trump did better than I expected, about the same as most third world dictators, and better than some. He wasn’t particularly oafish in his disrespect for a 93 yr old war veteran grandmother. He’s done worse to Americans in that regard.

            Tempest in a teapot.

    • Chris Marschner_

      Did the Queen curtsy to our president? NO and she shouldn’t. Heads of state have no obligation to show themselves to be of lesser importance to another. Trump did not turn his back to the Queen, she walked behind him as the video clearly shows.

      • Other Bill

        Here’s the sidebar: Of course Trump didn’t get his royal visit completely right.

        Compliments of the snotty little shits at Vox. This is a non-story, other than being evidence of the incredible asininity of the so called new media.

        • Chris Marschner_

          Neither did Michelle Obama when she hugged the Queen. One must not touch her highness. No controversy then.

          • No controversy, and yet you seem to know about it.
            So either it made headlines somewhere or you were physically present. Forgive me if I doubt that it was the latter.

            • Chris Marschner_

              No Curmie I read it buried in the Vox article about Trumps rude behavior from the link Jack provided, otherwise I would not have known.

  9. Mike

    Given the manner in which the Brits cooperated with the Obama Regime to spy on Americans they deserve a huge serving of disrespect. They are not a friend.

  10. Willem Reese

    Considering that most European “royalty” are such by virtue of being descended from the most successful thieves and murderers in their particular neighborhoods in past times, they might be the least deserving of extra deference due to their status.

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