Election Day Ethics Warm-Up, But Mostly What Yesterday’s Warm-Up Would Have Been If My Whole Day Hadn’t Spun Wildly Out Of Control…

Good Morning, Voters!

1. From the “bias makes you stupid” files. Yesterday two smart, once reasonable Massachusetts lawyers of the female persuasion debated me regarding the appropriateness of Dr. Blasey Ford’s late and unsubstantiated hit on Brett Kavanaugh. They were obnoxious about it, too, rolling their eyes and giggling to each other at my position, with one saying that I sounded like her “Southern friends.” I like them both, but a better example of how bias makes you stupid could hardly be devised. Their primary reason why Blasey Ford’s suddenly recalled trauma from the distant past should have been allowed to smear a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in nationally televised hearings was this: women and girls in those les-enlightened days had good reason not to report rape and sexual assault, as they often were not believed and because a “boys will be boys” attitude prevailed in the culture. Moreover, they said, almost in unison, women still have good reasons not to report sexual assault. “Do you have daughters?” they asked, “gotcha!”-style.

To anyone whose ethics alarms are in good working order and who recognizes the difference between an emotional argument born of gender and partisan alliances and a good one, the rebuttal is obvious and comprises a general ethics principle:

One person’s misfortune, no matter how tragic or unjust, never justifies being unfair or unjust to somebody else.

Accusing anyone of anything three decades after the alleged incident is unfair.

Publicizing an allegation that cannot be verified and for which there is no supporting evidence is unfair.

Using alleged misconduct as a minor to impugn the character  of an adult and a professional with an unblemished record of good conduct is unfair.

Dispensing with a presumption of innocence under any circumstances is unfair.

Dispensing with due process under any circumstances is unfair, because due process is itself fairness. (The two lawyers kept saying that this was not a trail so due process was not involved. The argument is either disingenuous or ignorant. Due process just means procedural fairness, in any context.)

Punishing one individual male for the fact that other males have escaped accountability for sexual misconduct is unfair-–and illogical.

Giving special considerations to one individual female because other females have been unfairly treated regarding their allegations is unfair—and illogical.

The two female lawyers kept saying that my position is a conservative one. It is not. It is not an ideological position in any way, though their position certainly is. May they regain intellectual integrity soon. And I forgive them for being so utterly insulting during our debate.

2. This is essentially a Big Lie argument from Vox: Ezra Klein, Vox creator, tweeted,

I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).

An esteemed commenter recently accused me of being unfairly dismissive and insulting when a commenter dissents. That’s occasionally true but not generally true, and one circumstance where I may become dismissive and insulting is when a position is indefensible, like this one. It is either dishonest or so obtuse that no one capable of writing it down should be trusted again.

There is no House popular vote. What Klein is claiming is that the composition of the House of Representatives is supposed to match the numerical percentage of  Democratic and Republican votes. The system he describes is a system that has been proposed, but it is not our system, and has never been our system, so expecting that result is ludicrous, and being outraged if it does not occur is bizarre. Let’s take three districts, shall we? In one, Democrats win by an overwhelming margin. In two, Republicans eke out a win. Over all, the combined vote favors Democrats. Vox says that Democrats should expect to have three Congressional members, and will lose faith in the system if they only get one.

This argument sounds logical, if one is an ignoramus. The question is whether Klein is trying to decieve the civically illiterate, or whether he is one of them.

In a more general sense, his tweet typifies the growing attitude on the Left that if their candidates don’t win, then democracy isn’t working. This tells you what the reaction will be if somehow Democrats don’t gain control of the House today.

3. Let’s continue on this theme a bit, shall we? Since the election of Donald Trump, the New York Times Book Review section has asked every subject of its interview feature, “If you could require the President to read one book, what would it be?” This is designed as a weekly insult to Trump—Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!—and as an opportunity for the inevitably Trump-hating author or celebrity to signal their virtue to the Times’ Trump-hating readership. This week’s subject, Princeton religious scholar Elaine Pagels, replied,  “Although this question is, of course, totally counterfactual, the answer is obvious: the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

I confess, this particular hypocrisy drives me crazy, and I have been watching and listening to it for two years, as have all of us. The “resistance,” the Democratic Party, and the academia that have openly attacked Constitutional institutions and the Bill of Rights. They have denied the legitimacy of the Electoral College, they have argued for exceptions to the First Amendment (see Ezra Klein’s reference to Citizens United above), attempting to label political positions they don’t like as “hate speech,” and using violence to prevent free association and assembly on college campuses. They are the segment of society that advocates disparate standards based on race and gender. They are the advocates of the destructive precedent that a President can be impeached any time the opposing party can muster a majority. They have announced their intention to repeal the Second Amendment. They have argued for suspensions of the Due Process Clause when it suits their agenda. Trump needs to read the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights?

No doubt, President Trump has the knowledge of the Constitution of a typical citizen, which is to say “almost none,” but his foes on the Left are openly hostile to the Constitution. They have no standing to claim special respect for the document, when they have none unless it suits a particular partisan agenda item.

4. But conservatives are the fascists! Intimidation has emerged as an increasingly accepted tool of progressives. [See: the antifa. See: social media. See: mobs harassing Republican officials and Trump staff after being primed by Rep. Waters, Hillary Clinton, Eric Holder, and others. See celebrities made to grovel apologies for any hint of support for a conservative position. Etc.] Now Democratic candidate Scott Wallace, running against incumbent Republican representative Brian Fitzpatrick in Pennsylvania’s toss-up 1st Congressional District, is distributing door hangers in the area that sends the message, “vote or else.”  Here it is:

I don’t care what party a candidate is in, any American who casts a vote for someone who would approve this kind of  thing deserves the totalitarian government if and when it arrives.

But thank goodness we have an unethical  right-biased news network to partially balance the unethical left-biased news media...Prof .Turley and others legitimately register disgust at the fact that Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Jeanine Pirro are now actively campaigning with President Trump. You can’t get more biased and unobjective than that. If Fox News had any professional standards at all, and, alas, it does not, it would suspend both of them. Hannity compounded the ethical offense with a Jumbo: “Campaigning? Who’s campaigning?”, as he tweeted,

I will not be on stage campaigning with the President. I am covering final rally for my show.

Suuuuure, Sean.  President Trump called Hannity and Pirro to the stage and said, “I have a few people that are right out here, and they’re very special. They’ve done an incredible job for us. They’ve been with us from the beginning, also.” Hannity then pointed to non-Fox reporters at the rally, and told the crowd to cheers, “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.” No, Sean, you’re a fake journalist, and a disgracefully biased pundit. Then Pirro chimed in—Is she the most abrasive pundit on television? Who can stand watching her?— “If you like the America that [Trump] is making now, you’ve got to make sure you get out there tomorrow if you haven’t voted yet.”

No bias there!

A good argument could be made that the blatant partisan bias of Hannity and Pirro is still ethically preferable to the ongoing lie that MSNBC’s  and CNN’s reporters, hosts and pundits haven’t been campaigning against the President for two years, but that an “It isn’t the worst thing” rationalization (#22). When we’re at the point where we welcome unethical bias to balance more unethical bias, the walls are closing in.

22 thoughts on “Election Day Ethics Warm-Up, But Mostly What Yesterday’s Warm-Up Would Have Been If My Whole Day Hadn’t Spun Wildly Out Of Control…

  1. With regards to item 2, there has been a lot of news coverage here in Virginia and in other states about the problem of Republican caused election district Gerrymandering with the result that excessive numbers of Republicans get unfairly elected to office. The argument is often purely statistical, something about “excess votes” not being fairly allocated to the rightful candidates.

    Indeed, in days before voter rights legislation (I think about 1964 or so), there was a legitimate problem with Gerrymandering, resulting in great unfairness. But today, the law and associated rules, regulations and practices very strictly govern how districts can be drawn. Essentially the rules require that the Congressional districts must be more or less equal in population within a certain small plus or minus range… one person one vote.

    It is true that there are a few dirty tricks (cracking, packing, high jacking and kidnapping) that can still be employed to result in unfairness, but the system of drawing Congressional districts is much fairer than it was in the past. And today, we have computer technology (GIS) to draw every possible district plan legally permitted within a blink of an eye. The process is much more transparent. It is easier to spot intentional mischief.

    The main problem I see is that the geographical landscape is not homologous and is always changing. We have vastly different population densities within the multiple jurisdictions in most states, with vastly different land uses ( residential, commercial, industrial, transportation, and institutional uses distorting the voter population distribution). Also, we have prisons and universities with their significant temporary populations that can distort the process (prisoners don’t ordinarily vote and college students can change their voter registration address).

    Elections essentially measure the views of the eligible voters on one particular day… that being Election Day (even if one votes early). Always some voter districts will be closely divided, and some will be lop-sided one way or another. The process of drawing Congressional districts can not possibly be drawn to guarantee that the political parties will always be exactly represented proportional to their aggregate vote on Election Day.

  2. Would this have been asked during the prior administration, I would have asked for The Federalist Papers and an honest unbiased consideration of The Constitution itself. Didn’t happen.

  3. “This tells you what the reaction will be if somehow Democrats don’t gain control of the House today.”

    My news home page has had articles for the past several days highlighting problems found with voting machines and today’s story at the top was about how hacking efforts could keep my vote from counting.

    They’re already prepping for the spin. It reminds me of President Obama undermining the Supreme Court’s legitimacy before they decided to declare his health care bill constitutional. It’s in the Democrats’ playbook now: cast suspicion on the process just in case they lose and can use that to excuse themselves.

    • Just like Trump did in 2016…

      Just sayin’

      (Trump uses Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals against Progressives… this, more than anything else, drive the madness we have witnessed)

      • Considering he was dealing with a DNC that had rigged the nomination for its preferred candidate, he wasn’t so far off base in thinking that he might lose based on electoral shenanigans. He should have known better than to suggest he wouldn’t lose fairly, but he is who he is (or bees got to sting; birds got to fly), so you’re right in that he knows how to fight back.

        The Democrats who criticized him for it and then have spent two years pulling this same kind of fear-mongering definitely know better and don’t seem to care.

        If Trump was ever a Democrat before, I can’t imagine him ever being one again after what they’ve put his family through.

        • If Trump was ever a Democrat before, I can’t imagine him ever being one again after what they’ve put his family through.

          You really think so? I am not so sure.

          Trump is a businessman, and everything has to be seen through that lens. He waltzed with the Democrats when they were in power, then ran for POTUS when he realized they were bad for business. (I don’t think he expected to win, just wanted to be able to say he tried before he moved everything out of the country)

          If it was good for business, I can see Trump (who has no rudder, no ideals, and no convictions) back on the Democrat side, years down the road.

          If they will have him is another story. Of course, money talks to Washington Elites.

  4. Re: No. 4; Hannity and Pirro.

    The only (by the slimmest margins possible) difference between Hannity and Pirro and others on CNN,MSNBC, etc, that I can see is that they are not journalists but pundits, so their bias is somewhat understandable and forgivable. Hannity and Pirro have never made a secret of their affinity and support for Trump. Hannity and Pirro have both interviewed Trump on a variety of topics, with mostly softball questions and obligatory fawnings.

    That being said, it is improper, and hypocritical, for them to scold other networks for bias and anti-Trump fervor. Hannity is an idiot, but we knew that. Pirro should know better. She supposedly is a lawyer and a former prosecutor and judge.

    jvb

    • Just as a point: Hannity has uncovered much of what we know about the Democrats and their crimes in office. He has hammered on the FISA crimes, the ‘wiretapping’ of a political campaign, Hillary giving Uranium to the Russians, and much else.

      Idiot he may be, but he has gotten results that have changed the national narrative, by any objective measure.

      • I think the kudos should go to Judicial Watch – they have done the lion’s share of the work. Hannity just asked them the right questions (probably provided to him by the Judicial Watch people).

        jvb

        • I have the (mis?)fortune of having Hannity on my favorite radio station on my commute home. His voice has always grated on me, and invariably raises my stress levels. He repeats a litany of wrongs during calls, over and over, and stomps on callers I would like to hear out.

          That said, he has been ‘in the know’ regarding future events far too often to discount him out of hand. His predictions have been on target far more often than not, and his sources are impressive and accurate. His style is objectionable, but the news is solid when he gets out of the way. (His analysis of, and commentary on, that news is a roll call of Jack’s rationalizations list, but at least I now recognize that bias, thanks to Ethics Alarms)

          I trust him as much as I trust the New York Times (that is, not at all) BUT occasionally listen like I do for news sourced from the Times: to look for verification elsewhere of what they say.

  5. (1) I think they may be right in saying that your position is a conservative one. You may not like to hear it, but the reality is that there is no center any more. Donald Trump in reality is a moderate Democrat, but is now considered an EXTREME conservative. Alan Dershowitz is now a conservative. The left is only the unhinged progressive wing and your position has no place in their thinking. Sorry, that seems much more depressing now that I read what I had just written.

    (4) You may have misread this. Their actions aren’t ‘campaigning’, their actions reflect Journalism 2018. After 8+ years of the mainstream press campaigning for Democratic politicians, this may now constitute journalism as practiced. Boy, I thought my comment on point 1 was depressing. I think I will pick up my son from school at get ice cream together.

    • But the fact that conservatives have happened upon the right answer, aided or not by conservative ideology, does not make such a position “conservative.” Positions are not made conservative by who they appeal to.

      • Conservative and liberal exist on a spectrum. Equal rights under the law and liberty are now conservative causes. Liberals oppose them. They used to be liberal causes. I am saying that the needle on the spectrum has shifted to such an extent that only the extreme left is now considered ‘liberal’.

  6. “3. the New York Times Book Review section has asked every subject of its interview feature, “If you could require the President to read one book, what would it be?”
    I hope I’d grin and answer: ‘I’d really like him to read mine, it’s got action and humor, or he could read any classic humorous book like Bombeck, Barry, or Twain. A long day dealing with politicians and bureaucrats would make me ill-tempered, even when I agree with them. He should still have a choice, America is all about choices, and not being forced to read Red Badge of Courage just because it is IMPORTANT to someone living a different life.’

  7. Under item #2)

    The sentence “The question is whether Klein is turning to device the civically illiterate, or whether he is one of them.”

    Is the word “device” supposed to actually be “deceive”?

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