Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/2019: Bad Leadership, Bad Punditry, Bad Journalism…Looking For Silver Linings And Failing Miserably

Good Morning!

The news is ugly, but the snow is beautiful.

1. Who’s really to blame for the shutdown? A weak and feckless GOP Speaker was the culprit, the wishy-washy, onflicted and above-it-all Paul Ryan.He had a Republican majority in the House, and lacked the leadership, resolve and political skills to take care of the border issue when the opportunity was there. Is there any doubt that Nancy Pelosi, Tip O’Neil or Newt Gingrich couldn’t have gotten the job done?

We were constantly told that Ryan was a reluctant Speaker. Reluctant leaders are almost never effective leaders; leaders want to lead and like to lead, and it is unethical to assume the role of a leader when you don’t have the spine or the skills to do the job.

2. Stop making Ann Althouse defend Donald Trump! Ann, with assists from Seth Barrett Tilman and Glenn Reynoldsdoes a nice job debunking writer John McWhorter’s cheap shot criticism of the President in his  “Trump’s Typos Reveal His Lack of Fitness for the Presidency/They suggest not just inadequate manners or polish, but inadequate thought.”

He wrote,

“The president of the United States has many faults, but let’s not ignore this one: He cannot write sentences. If a tree falls in a forrest and no one is there to hear it … wait: Pretty much all of you noticed that mistake, right? Yet Wednesday morning, the president did not; he released a tweet referring to ‘forrest fires’ twice, as if these fires were set by Mr. Gump. Trump’s serial misuse of public language is one of many shortcomings that betray his lack of fitness for the presidency. Trump’s writing suggests not just inadequate manners or polish—not all of us need be dainty—but inadequate thought. Nearly every time he puts thumb to keypad, he exposes that he has never progressed beyond the mentality of the precollegiate, trash-talking teen.”

My contribution:

  • Writers naturally think writing skill is the most important skill of all, and that it proves virtue and brilliance. Writing, however, is almost completely irrelevant to leadership. Speaking is a key leadership skill, especially for a President, but 1) Many Presidents, including some very effective ones, have been wretched speakers (LBJ, Ike) 2) Many of the best writers among the Presidents have been wretched Presidents (Grant, Wilson) 3) Some Presidents had other write for them but too credit for it (JFK)
  • Judging anyone’s writing base on Twitter is idiotic. I wonder if McWhorter understands how Twitter works.
  • Read the post for an exhaustive take-down of the assumption that spelling and writing skills are related.

3. Stop making me defend Donald Trump! The fact that the President initially refused to dignify the (quite possibly sarcastic) question about whether he was a Russian agent with a direct answer is being used by Democrats and others as some kind of evidence that he actually was. It is an insulting question, and classic Big Lie manipulation to ask it, in the same category as “Did you ever have sex with your mother?” or “Are you a psychopath?”  The trick is to make someone deny an outrageous assertion and then it has been elevated to a controversy.

4. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Smoking gun: In the New York Times Sunday Review, Times columnist Frank Bruni openly calls upon journalists to work to defeat Donald Trump in 2020 with “Will the Media Be Trump’s Accomplice Again” — We have a second chance in 2020. Let’s not blow it.”

Nice. No, this time a mean it: it’s nice for someone to be honest about the news media’s agenda and bias. “With the dawn of 2019 and the acceleration of potential Democratic candidates’ preparations for presidential bids, we have a chance to do things differently than we did the last time around — to redeem ourselves,” he writes.

These people really think they have a duty to put their thumb on the scales, manipulate the vote, and tilt elections. The only way the Times and the rest could “redeeem themselves” is to start reporting the news straight, without tilt, spin, or games. They can’t do it.

5. Remember, the Times endorsed this guy…. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio last week announced socialized health care  in his city, covering the 600,000 New Yorkers who don’t have health insurance,  including illegal aliens. CNN’s Jake Tapper, who is still capable of asking tough question of Democrats when the mood strikes, asked why such a policy wouldn’t simply mean everyone wanting free health care to treat their illnesses would come to New York City.

De Blasio: “I don’t see that happening.”

Oh! Good point. I never considered that. Of course it won’t happen.

Tapper:  “You said something pretty radical this week that I want to ask you about. You said there’s plenty of money in the world. There’s plenty of money in the city. It’s just in the wrong hands.”

De Blasio : Yep. That is a quote.”

Tapper: “Who decides whose hands are the right hands and whose hands are the wrong hands?”

De Blasio: “When I say there’s plenty of money in this country, it’s just in the wrong hands, it means to say we need policies that give back to working people. Like guaranteeing health care for all.”

Tapper: “What’s interesting about the argument, which struck a lot of people, is you are not talking about fairness. You are saying these people have money and it’s wrong that they have money. Not that they have money, they live exorbitant or wealthy lifestyles and can give more to help these people. You’re saying it’s wrong they have money. Who is deciding whether it’s wrong?”

  De Blasio: “It’s clear to me why it’s wrong because government policies gave the 1 percent every conceivable leg up. This was not by accident. As I say, this was an agenda.  Systematic. You go back decades, even to the time of Dwight Eisenhower. We had some of the highest tax rates on the wealthy this country ever saw. We had a prosperous country. We had that prosperity pretty well shared among different people, including working people in this country. We had investments in infrastructure. The kinds of things that grew the economy for everyone.”

De Blasio is a communist, as far as I can see, as well as a nascent dictator. He’ll determine who should have money, of course. Like all communists, he sells his false paradise using lies. The high post-war tax rates cannot honestly be compared to sound policy today, and this current talking point is designed to intentionally deceive. It is the news media’s job to explain historical context and basic economics to the public sufficiently that demagogues like De Blasio have to deal with reality rather than spout working class hero slogans right out of the mouth of Lenin.

27 thoughts on “Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/2019: Bad Leadership, Bad Punditry, Bad Journalism…Looking For Silver Linings And Failing Miserably

  1. I’ll start paying more attention to what writers have to say when more of them learn what “unique” really means. [“Unique” describes an absolute, to-wit, one of a kind.] Something is either unique or it isn’t. Something cannot be “very unique” or “somewhat unique.” And don’t get me started on the difference in usage between “like” and “as.” That I blame on Winston cigarettes and Howard Cosell..

  2. We were constantly told that Ryan was a reluctant Speaker. Reluctant leaders are almost never effective leaders; leaders want to lead and like to lead, and it is unethical to assume the role of a leader when you don’t have the spine or the skills to do the job.

    I whole-heartedly agree.

    January 14, 2019
    1. Who’s really to blame for the shutdown? A weak and feckless GOP Speaker was the culprit, the wishy-washy, onflicted and above-it-all Paul Ryan.He had a Republican majority in the House, and lacked the leadership, resolve and political skills to take care of the border issue when the opportunity was there. Is there any doubt that Nancy Pelosi, Tip O’Neil or Newt Gingrich couldn’t have gotten the job done?

    vs

    OCTOBER 3, 2013
    “It takes two sides to make an impasse.”, “Blaming either side exclusively is illogical and unfair, as well as dishonest.”

    Ten Ethics Observations On The Government Shut-Down

    Why is saying that Ryan is single-handedly the blame for the shutdown acceptable but “Blaming either side [Republicans or Democrats] exclusively is illogical and unfair, as well as dishonest.” I thought it took two sides for an impasse? I truly don’t get the ethical difference.

      • Jack Marshall wrote, “Ryan created the condition precedent without which an impasse would not have occurred.”

        I thought Trump created the condition precedent when he demanded that the border wall be part of the budget knowing full well that the Democrats would completely reject and of course the Democrats climbed upon their virtue signaling soapbox and refused to negotiate at all. After Trump did his part it was quite likely irrelevant who the speaker of the house was because the stage was set, the stage manager called places, and the overture had already begun. If Trump hadn’t made his border wall demand it’s likely that the government wouldn’t have shut down, but even then, it still takes two sides to create an impasse.

        This one has me confused.

        • He didn’t know that, nor was it a forgone conclusion. Nor was filibuster a certainty. There was always an opportunity to use DACA and other chips to reach an agreement, until a hard left House majority and Pelosi were installed. Nor is this an impasse. In negotiation, it’s called an ultimatum. Then the question is whether it’s a bluff or not.

          It’s not.

          Again, it did not have to get to this stage, and Ryan was responsible. He didn’t like Trump, and he wasn’t committed to Trump’s agenda.

          In contrast, look at how Democrats were committed to ramming through Obamacare, Obama’s signature promise. (And that wasn’t going to work, either.)

  3. DIblasio fails to understand that tbe biggest obstacle to upward mobility is the ever increasing role of government.

    Diblasio fails to consider that his policies discourage bootstrap growth oriented entrepreneurs that give up before the begin due to having to navigate the laberynth of regulatory hurdles or have sufficient capital to finance all those things workers feel entitled to.

    Why did Diblasio try to ban Uber and Lyft? Because it destroyed the governments ability to drive up the price of medallions for guys like Cohen. What entrepreneur can undertake the costs of environmental impact studies if they want to develop a piece of family property? What entrepreneur can fight government’s increasing use of lawyers to obstruct and delay projects that might elevate a new group to upper income ranks.

    If you want to get back to the distribution of incomes of the 40’s 50’s and 60’s end virtually all government regulation.

    Government creates powerful disincentives for self reliance. I can make the argumement that there is a positive correlation between increases in public assistance and an increase in income inequality. This is convenient because advocates for income maintenance policy use income inequality as the basis for the argument. But income inequality grows with increased income maintenance because income maintenancr keeps people mired in mwdiocre incomes.

    • If Trump had said No the next headline would be
      TRUMP DENIES HE IS NOW A RUSSIAN AGENT!
      Factually true but absolutely misleading.

      Kind of like saying there is no PUBLICALLY AVAILABLE evidence he worked for Russia.

      By inserting Publically available into the text they suggest Mueller or the FBI has evidence.

      Does anyone think a reporter would have ever included the phrase ” publically available ” between the words “no” and “evidence”.

  4. #4 the media was absolutely Trump’s accomplice during the primaries, when its goal was to come up with the least electable Republican. A perfect example:

    Maybe if media neutrality is a pipe dream the media has at least learned not to goad Republicans into nominating their worst candidate?

  5. #4 ” ‘Will the Media Be Trump’s Accomplice Again’ — We have a second chance in 2020. Let’s not blow it.”, “With the dawn of 2019 and the acceleration of potential Democratic candidates’ preparations for presidential bids, we have a chance to do things differently than we did the last time around — to redeem ourselves”

    As far as I can tell, the only way the media could be an effective political force against Trump in 2020 is to do a complete and total media blackout of anything Trump says or does and only present the things that the Democratic Party candidates say. But the lefts Histrionic Malevolence Syndrome brought on by Traumatic Political Stress Disorder will prevail, they just can’t help themselves they must attack Trump, it’s an obsession.

  6. #1 The house didn’t matter. Because of the fillibuster rules, the votes were not there either. The Republicans have a better chance now of getting it through the Senate.

    • This is correct, but Jack is also correct that Ryan was a feckless, ineffective leader who couldn’t even get the bill to the Senate, where as you rightly point out, it would’ve died of a filibuster.

      • Most of the Republican in Name Only Swamp creatures are the same as Ryan: there for their own power and wealth, who lied to get elected and expected to play the role of loyal opposition to the ‘right side of history.’

  7. 1. I seriously hoped Paul Ryan would do better than this. He didn’t want the post of Speaker except on his terms, which included being able to leave to see his family pretty much every weekend. I applaud his devotion to his family, but he had been in Congress long enough to know better. He probably thought Hillary was a shoe-in and his job would be that much easier dealing with a former Senator who knew how the game was played. He was a never Trumper, who pledged never to defend Donald Trump saying something to the effect of he had daughters so he couldn’t. That pledge evaporated, at least temporarily, at almost the end of the election season 2016, as he saw which way the wind was blowing. Then he spent the next two years shrugging. Apparently the lack of spine he showed when debating Biden is a permanent trait.

    2. It’s a common tactic to attack someone’s grammar or spelling if you can’t attack his arguments. It’s easier and a quick way to make him look foolish or sloppy. That said, everything you write better damn well be letter-perfect, or expect your own tactics to come back on your head.

    3. Another cheap tactic, the “have you stopped beating your wife” approach. It would be less effective if true believers on both sides weren’t so gullible and eager to believe the worst of the other side.

    4. This doesn’t come as a surprise. The media has been putting its thumb on the scales since the 1950s, when the otherwise distinguished E.R. Murrow decided he was going to use his power to do a hit job on the JUNIOR (never forget that part, especially it’s a Republican) senator from Wisconsin. Joseph McCarthy may have been oh-so-hittable, and he needed to be brought to heel, but, just like Michael Collins, acting in a cause many still see as worthy, set the pattern for later terrorism in decided unworthy causes, Murrow set the precedent for the media targeting politicians they decided needed to go. By 2004, when Dan Rather and Mary Mapes targeted GWB based on what later turned out to be a lie, the media wasn’t putting its thumb on the scales, it was squashing the scales with a large armored tank. I’m sure that they see their failure to turn back Trump in 2016 as a failure of tactics, not a failure to do what they are supposed to be doing in the first place. That makes next year potentially very dangerous, since they have now learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to plausibly deny bias.

    5. DeBlasio knows full well that he’s going to be looking for a new gig in 2021. I think he is trying to set himself up as a successor to Bernie Sanders and/or position himself to run for higher office, as many mayors do. Obama set the precedent any Democrat can grab onto when he said “I think when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” BTW, one of DeBlasio’s first attempts to get anything done was to eliminate the horse-drawn carriages from Central Park. They’re still there, and unlikely to be gone in 2 years. What makes anyone think he can push this huge and expensive policy initiative through? For that matter, why do something like that, which could set up his potential successor to face a GOP financial wizard who could show what a crazy idea it was?

    • This doesn’t come as a surprise. The media has been putting its thumb on the scales since the 1950s, when the otherwise distinguished E.R. Murrow decided he was going to use his power to do a hit job on the JUNIOR (never forget that part, especially it’s a Republican) senator from Wisconsin. Joseph McCarthy may have been oh-so-hittable, and he needed to be brought to heel, but, just like Michael Collins, acting in a cause many still see as worthy, set the pattern for later terrorism in decided unworthy causes, Murrow set the precedent for the media targeting politicians they decided needed to go. By 2004, when Dan Rather and Mary Mapes targeted GWB based on what later turned out to be a lie, the media wasn’t putting its thumb on the scales, it was squashing the scales with a large armored tank. I’m sure that they see their failure to turn back Trump in 2016 as a failure of tactics, not a failure to do what they are supposed to be doing in the first place. That makes next year potentially very dangerous, since they have now learned what works, what doesn’t, and how to plausibly deny bias.

      Why does not someone stop them?

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