Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/19: It’s Fake News Day!

Welcome to the Ethics Alarms Dead Zone!

Increasingly, almost nobody comes here on Saturdays. For me, Saturday is when I have time to catch up on ethics issues, and that’s fun for me. Everybody else doesn’t find ethics fun? How strange…

1. Another day, another fake news story designed to thrill and energize the “resistance.” BuzzFeed published a “bombshell” about Michael Cohen, that impeccably reliable witness, telling investigators that President Trump instructed him to lie to Congress about his pre-election hotel plans—odd that, since there is nothing illegal about planning to build a hotel in Moscow. Without checking sources, without considering the media source’s record of those of the reporters (one of whom has a well-documented pattern of making stuff up), the mainstream media was off to the impeachment races, with CNN and MSNBC in particular talking about almost nothing else all day.  Then, as the day edged into evening, the Mueller investigation dropped its own bombshell, taking the remarkable step of declaring the BuzzFeed story a lot of hooey.  Some pundits on the Right who trust today’s incompetent news media as much as I do even suggested that BuzzFeed knew its claim was false all along, but were confident that nobody could prove it except the Mueller investigation itself, and of course it would never speak up. The same logic was behind Clifford Irving’s Howard Hughes autobiography hoax (Irving assumed that the reclusive Hughes would never come forward to expose him—but he did.)

The Daily Caller quickly compiled a list of eleven previous botched news reports related to the “collusion” narrative, and it was not all of them by any means. I haven’t checked, but I am quite sure that there were not this many mainstream media headline-generating news stories that proved to be false in the past ten Presidencies combined. What will it take for the industry to declare its performance a crisis? What will it take for even the “resistance” to conclude that their pals the journalists are hacks? Blogger Ann Althouse is so disgusted that she has taken to drawing rat cartoons and diagramming the sentences in anti-Trump screeds. “How embarrassing for the Trump haters,” she writes. “I didn’t even write about the BuzzFeed story myself. I’m so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.”

Why isn’t everybody? It isn’t just bias that makes you stupid. Hate makes you stupid too. Worse than that, it makes you LOOK stupid.

Entertaining accounts of the BuzzFeed fiasco are here and here.

2.  How can anyone take a journalist seriously after he says something this brain-meltingly incompetent? Second Lady Karen Pence announced  this week that she will be teaching at Immanuel Christian School, a K-8 Christian school in Springfield, Virginia. The Horror. The private school reserves the right to refuse applicants or expel students who engage in homosexual or transgendered behavior, or otherwise violate “the moral principles of the school.” Discussing the controversy with a panel (There is not, in fact, any actual controversy at all), CNN’s John King said “Does it matter that all taxpayers pay for her housing, all taxpayers pay for her Secret Service protection? It’s not her fault she needs protection, that’s the world we live in. But all taxpayers pay for – subsidize her life. Does it matter?”

Does WHAT matter? The Vice-President and his family are entitled to Secret Service protection no matter what they do. Karen Pence’s life choices are not constrained at all by that requirement, nor could they be. Is King suggesting that by protecting the First Lady while she engages in religion-related activities the government is somehow violating the separation of Church and State? So, I suppose, no President should be protected by the secret Service if he goes to church?

John King is trusted with analyzing the news, and that’s his level of comprehension.

3. And now, a brief BuzzFeed/ Imcompetent News Media break:If you can’t do better than this, shut up. I was suckered in to some clickbait called “These People And Movies Don’t Deserve Their Oscar Wins And Need To Give Them Back ASAP.” These periodic posts and essays about how past Oscars were wrongly awarded are silly by definition, but if you are going to write one, the least a reader should be able to expect is some kind of substantive argument. Not here! I happen to agree with some of the designated mistakes, but the author is displaying a lack of critical thinking  and argument skills that can only appeal to readers similarly handicapped.

Gary Oldman’s Oscar for portraying Churchill “doesn’t match up” to his competition. Oh! Well that settles it, then! Paul Scofield’s 1966 Best actor Award in “A Man for All Seasons” was undeserved  “because he beat one of the greatest performances by Richard Burton (in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”)… that was much more memorable and influential during that time in movie history.”  Actually, Scofield’s performance was immediately recognized as one of the all-time great film portrayals by one of the the greatest actors alive, and nobody, including Burton, was surprised when he won. Cuba Gooding Jr’s Oscar for “Jerry Mcguire” was undeserved because he hasn’t earned one since and two fine actors he beat, Edward Norton and William H. Macy, haven’t won one yet.  Roberto Benigni’s Oscar for his performance in “Life Is Beautiful” was a robbery because ” there’s something wrong with a comedy winning an Oscar”—we are never told what—and the author really, really liked Tom Hanks in “Saving Private Ryan” better.

Every single one of the author’s “arguments” come down to “I would have given the award to someone else.” Why is this worth publishing? If you cannot support an opinion, then your opinion is just pollution and static, useless,  pure grandstanding…and encourages others to proclaim what they think without thinking.

When a comment comes in to Ethics Alarms that only says, “I disagree” or “You’re wrong” without a credible and supporting  explanation of why the comment er feels that way, it gets trashed.

4. Back to BuzzFeed: CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin said last night, The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it. And I don’t think that’s true.

That’s because Jeffrey Toobin is a constant enabler of those Leftist liars, who are his friends, colleagues, and ideological compatriots. If it’s not true, why have they published so many false stories and assertions? For example, here’s MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, tweeting before the jig was up yesterday:

Nixon was not impeached, literally or otherwise.



53 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/19: It’s Fake News Day!

    • I don’t think this is anything. Christians were elated to be able to get into Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union because they were now able to evangelize freely, bring in Bibles and other previously-banned religious materials and help the Russians learn more about the “Old Woman’s Religion” the younger generations thought about their grandmothers’ faith.

      Part of that was introducing homeschooling, something that appealed to some Russians after being indoctrinated by the state for decades.

      Homeschooling isn’t a crime and “right-wing” has become nebulous as a description by a media determined to make all non-progressives the equivalent of fascists.

    • From the article in ‘ThinkProgress’:

      These groups and individuals would help obscure the true nature of Moscow’s kleptocratic dictatorship to Americans, especially to segments of the American right. In 2014, the Kremlin pushed these relationships further: as U.S.-Russian relations fractured following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that year, Russians close to the Kremlin looked to propel themselves directly into the types of groups and movements pushing “traditional values,” especially within the American religious right.

      Sure, one can examine the Russian kleptocracy and find all sorts of horrors. And one can bring that out into the open and talk about those things. Books have been written about this (though I have not read any of them).

      But the thing that interests me is: What if the *lens of examination* is turned around? And what if someone is studying, and talking about, American corruption and criminality? These exist certainly.

      It is also a false-assertion to say that it is ‘the Kremlin’ that does this or does that. When groups in America go to Russia with their intentions and plans, do we say ‘Washington has sent them’?

      I do not know the full story of Russia’s ‘invasion’ of Ukraine, but I do know the story of the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Are these not comparable (I mean, can they not be compared as invasions?)

      A website called ThinkProgress is unlikely to be able to appreciate (nor understand) ‘traditional values’ because progressive values are by their nature progressively radical. They wish to do away with traditional values which, I sometimes think, means both traditions and values.

      The WCF took credit for helping pass a 2011 Russian law restricting abortion access, and has likewise helped build an international coalition of anti-LGBTQ forces. It boasts some 50 membership organizations who pay dues, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and Family Research Council, which are also designated hate groups by the SPLC. The WCF took credit for helping push Russia’s 2013 “Anti-Propaganda Law,” which effectively demonizes the entire LGBTQ community.

      In the emerging battles which seem to be amplifications of the Culture Wars into the international arena, but with bizarre currents that I simply cannot fathom (not enough information), the ‘progressives’ will stop at nothing it seems to me. Slander, lying, obfuscation: all is valid because their objectives are *righteous*.

      Some quotes from Guillaume Faye:

      “The present dominant values (xenophilia, cosmopolitanism, narcissistic individualism, humanitarianism, bourgeois economism, hedonism, homophilia, permissivenes, etc.) are actually anti-values – values of devirilising weakness, since they deplete a civilization’s vital energies and weaken its defensive or affirmative capacities.”

      “It’s necessary that everyone does his duty and works in his place – devotes himself to constructing a body of fundamental values – against the common enemy – in a network of active, supple, inter-dependent, and confederated resistance – present on every front, at the level of Europe – with the aim of concentrating all the energies of the combatants.”

      • “The present dominant values (xenophilia, cosmopolitanism, narcissistic individualism, humanitarianism, bourgeois economism, hedonism, homophilia, permissivenes, etc.) are actually anti-values – values of devirilising weakness, since they deplete a civilization’s vital energies and weaken its defensive or affirmative capacities.”

        Agreement! Deconstruction seems to be their only value. Every act is a motion to reject an existing idea, institution, or “”social construct”” rather than a grounded, meaningful proposition of an alternative construction. What society would they want to build once this one’s torn down? There isn’t an answer because they’ve, by that point, rejected all of the stuff of which a society is made. A victorious movement in this regard inevitably devolves into a small, rich elite shouting commands through megaphones at disillusioned wandering peasants until those elite can no longer sustain themselves or their dependents for lack of a GDP. A badly-reared child might have fun knocking things down but gets bored quickly when everything is laying on its side. A more prodigious one might pick them back up to knock over again, but even in that best case this is hardly sound national policy.

        “It’s necessary that everyone does his duty and works in his place – devotes himself to constructing a body of fundamental values – against the common enemy – in a network of active, supple, inter-dependent, and confederated resistance – present on every front, at the level of Europe – with the aim of concentrating all the energies of the combatants.”

        It’s been put off a long time. A fight-or-flight situation may become inevitable. There’s been a great deal of live-and-let-live talk until now, but the single-directedness of the principle (if it can be called that; do we “let-live” those who don’t “let-live”?) is obvious even to the people who become animalistically enraged upon hearing that observation.

        I’ve been thinking about the prospect of a parallel but independent society too. It’s the most elegant solution. If failure and collapse is to be inevitable, let it take the ones responsible. We can extricate ourselves. It’s like amputation of a gangrenous limb.

        • Isn’t what you are describing, parallel and independent societies, the John Galt solution in Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’?

          • Yes! I made that comparison in the comments section to the Gillette COTD article. I also included a long, boring but rough sketch of the mechanics of how I thought it could be successful. Alizia’s quotes heartened me a great deal. When I muse a back-of-the-napkin tactic for large-scale societal recovery, hack philosopher that I am, it’s flattering to my ego to hear that there are generals in the trenches of the war I’m armchair quarterbacking considering similar tactics. I don’t think Rand’s Objectivism would make a terribly effective metaphysical ground for a society, but the similarities in the mechanics of the warfare struck me almost as soon as I recklessly reasoned through it while writing it. She was on to something, and I always took it as just a sci-fi plot device.

        • Agreement! Deconstruction seems to be their only value. Every act is a motion to reject an existing idea, institution, or “”social construct”” rather than a grounded, meaningful proposition of an alternative construction. What society would they want to build once this one’s torn down? There isn’t an answer because they’ve, by that point, rejected all of the stuff of which a society is made.

          This is nicely put.

          Guillaume Faye has some pretty good ideas. He is also a little *eccentric* (but this is made worse when he lectures in English and he seems a parody of a French philosopher).

          Odd, but very interesting, how a ‘counter-movement’ is really afoot. These ideas are beginning to penetrate more. People do seem to be thinking more thoroughly.

  1. And the clock just keeps ticking down to something horrible. Then we’ll see some actual Russian and Chinese interference sans election.

    If this was a marriage it would have been dissolved for irreconcilable differences about 20 years ago. Now, like most protracted contentious divorces, it is becoming so ugly it is difficult to even see the word civil, much less achieve it in agreeing upon terms of settlement.

    Hang onto your hats and your loved ones.

      • Agreed. Definitely not blaming the messenger. You are right to do so. I am just overwhelmed by the endless messages pointing us all toward hell.

      • Flagging the conduct is of no use unless it corrects the conduct, in the future. I have not seen any of that the past three years.

        We must still continue to flag, but lack of results will eventually be the same as not flagging. Things continue to devolve to the same point: one side or the other will enforce their version of reality from the barrel of a gun.

  2. The Buzzfeed issue has created a real need for the investigation to come to a conclusion.
    The unusual move by the Special Counsel to rebuke a claim in the media will necessarily result in needing to comment on the veracity of all stories moving forward. If Mueller does not comment on future allegations in the media the default condition will be it must be true or Mueller would say otherwise.

    As for Toobin’s,statement about the “takeaway that the media are liars”, that is probably the only comment of his in which I put much faith.

    • Chris, I can’t remember an FBI investigation EVER taking the shocking move of commenting on a news story. Isn’t the standard response to such a question, “We don’t comment on an ongoing investigation?” Turns out, “We do comment on an ongoing investigation.” Amazing. Mind boggling, really.

      And Vladimir Putin has time to get involved in whether or not a hotel will be built in Russia by who knows who and they will pay Donald Trump’s company a fee to call it a Trump Hotel? Vladimir Putin is personally involved in every single business deal in Russia? He’s a busy fellow.

      • What I would like to ask Mueller is was team member Andrew Weisman actually briefed by Bruce Ohr in a meeting back in June 2016 that the unverified dossier was oppo research conducted by Fusion GPS on behalf of HRC as reported by John Solomon who reviewed Bruce Ohr’s notes on the meeting. If so,why is he on this team when this dossier was what triggerred the FISA warrants?

        • No kidding. Funny how when you bring up stuff like this with people, they scream, “Dealing with British Intelligence isn’t treason!” or “The Republicans started the whole dossier thing!” or some such. Total misdirection and non-responsiveness.

          • OB
            The British Intelligence agency claim is an obfuscation. Steele was a contractor for Perkins Coie and Fusion who harbored animus toward only one candidate, and we know who that is.

            If Weisman was involved in the June briefing of top FBI officials of the contents of the dossier then the counter intelligence investigation claims of starting in mid september are false and were obviously lies and Weisman knows that any characterization of the timing of receiving the information in the dossier to the FISA court was technically perjury.

            • The main thing that amazes me is the Michael Cohen is represented by Lannie Davis. Does anyone in the media even notice this? Jack has, but you have a guy whose only client has been Bill and Hillary Clinton for what, thirty plus years and he’s representing The Resistance’s Patron Saint? Cohen has been turned into a Clinton pawn. I’m pretty darned sure Lannie’s not charging Cohen and probably being reimbursed by the Clintons or the DNC. Outrageous. That it’s happening and it goes largely uncommented upon.

              • I have noticed and commented on this as well.
                Lanny said yesterday after the Buzzfeed story broke that his client may not testify to House committees. Imagine that.

            • Love reading the analysis. Thank you.

              If none of this is honestly covered by major media outlets, will it ever matter? From my biased political viewpoint someone should be hiring carpenters to build some gallows. But the realist in me fears not only will they not get built, but the accused will never even be tried, much less convicted.

              I keep asking myself how much more time and evidence before someone on their side breaks down and outs them all as the real conspirators and enemies of the Constitution. (I’m sure the resistance feels the same way about my side.)

  3. Paul Scofield’s 1966 Best actor Award in “A Man for All Seasons” was undeserved “because he beat one of the greatest performances by Richard Burton (in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf?”)… that was much more memorable and influential during that time in movie history.” Actually, Scofield’s performance was immediately recognized as one of the all-time great film portrayals by one of the greatest actors alive, and nobody, including Burton, was surprised when he won.

    The king’s good man but God’s first! That whole movie was a masterpiece which cripples and shames all modern cinema. I can’t watch it without thinking “I’ve never seen dialog an eighth this good delivered a quarter as well.” every moment seems to grip an invisible fundamental idea tightly and rip it out into the scene to show the whole audience without interrupting the narrative in any way. True, the author of the piece is free to say otherwise. For what little it’s worth, I’m exactly as free and slightly less wrong to suggest that Scofield should have also won every subsequent Best Actor Award to this day.

    I probably love this movie hyperbolically because of its subject matter as well, but I’d suppose a lawyer, ethicist, and theater buff would tend to nerd out about it even more than I do.

    • And perhaps the greatest ethics movie of all time.

      I’m with you 100%. The inclusion of Scofield on that idiot’s list instantly discredited him as a critic, or as someone I’d delegate to decide what episode of “Broke Girls” to watch. He is inexplicably enamored of Richard Burton, who was certainly, when he could calm his inner ham, a fine actor, but I doubt even Burton would argue that he could compete with Scofield.

      I also like the guy’s complaint that Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man was “insensitive.”

      • Appreciation for this movie is a sign of character for me, and you’ve raised yourself in my estimation. It’s probably vain of an eccentric zealot to say it to his host in his own venue, but I am a vain, eccentric zealot after all. You’re too far away for a dignified raise of a glass and stoic nod or high-five. This is also not to say you were low in my estimation. I don’t post longwinded screeds at irregular intervals on just anyone’s website.

        Now I fear I’ve overexplained myself.

        I also like the guy’s complaint that Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man was “insensitive.”

        I think if they go after Rain Man in bulk, they’ll be committing political suicide. That said, I hope they do it. By now I think we should just content ourselves to impatiently hurry this along to the inevitable.

        • You hearten me by commenting on #3– I almost didn’t post it at all. But that ridiculous article could be used in a critical thinking course as a “20 common mistakes you don’t want to make.” The guy says that comedies shouldn’t get Oscars, then argues that Peter Sellers should have won for “Dr. Strangelove.” He argues that Cher didn’t deserve her Oscar because NOW she isn’t thought of as a serious actress. (Cher’s a terrific actress. So was Bing Crosby.) He pooh-poohs some awards because the roles didn’t require “range,” then says that Clark Gable should have won for GWTW ( I agree) and the role is Gable 101–he didn’t have to break a sweat. He says “True Grit” is a classic, but quibbles with the Duke’s Oscar for making it a classic. There’s no consistency or criteria, and he seems to be ignorant of context. Everyone knew Rex Harrison would win for “My Fair Lady,” because his was one of the most iconic performances in Broadway history, and the film memorialized it for posterity. It was an IMPORTANT performance. It’s almost impossible to find a critic who doesn’t concede that Stallone was brilliant in “Rocky,” and “Network” notwithstanding, it was the movie of that year, and holds up today (better than Network, too). I’ve seen many, many movies in theaters, and “Rocky” was one of the handful where the audience spontaneously erupted in cheers and applause mid-film.And so on.

          • Ha! I hadn’t actually commented on the article. I’d only just reacted to mention of my favorite film. Tangents, always tangents.

            Everything about it grates. Even the click-through format was the worst of all possible choices for a piece that consists of the repeated pairing of screen-sized photographs followed by four sentences disguised by spacing as two paragraphs and an advertisement.

            Just a few short years into her career, Mira Scorvino scooped up an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in Woody Allen’s 1995 film Mighty Aphrodite. She’s done nothing of value since.

            She’s starred in 20 critical duds of movies since that time, and her performance in the film was fine, but Oscar-worthy? The trajectory of her career tells you everything you need to know. Heinsight is twenty-twenty, I guess.

            I really like the case laid out in this one. To be fair, I know nothing about Scorvino or her performance in this or any film. If I wanted to diagram all the stratified layers of fallacy, I’d sound like Virgil traversing the inferno. “Oscar worthy? Refuted by the act of questioning!”

            There’s no consistency or criteria, and he seems to be ignorant of context.

            I hadn’t noticed the forest while I was appreciating the trees though. The fact that its arguments coexist in a strained competition elevates it somehow. Its failed parts even fail to cohere together. It fails on every level of form and matter. How deep does it go? Its a strange masterpiece of all-encompassing failure. How bad can a thing be before it just ceases to exist?

            • It was revealed after the Weinstein scandal broke that after her Oscar, Weinstein demanded sex or else. She spurned him, and he used his power and influence to block her path to every major role she was considered for. She tweeted, in essence, “I KNEW it!”

              Even without this factor, the belief, repeated several times in the article, that the validity of an award for one performance is debunked if the performer doesn’t equal or surpass the achievement again. That displays, among other things, an ignorance of acting. Not just sometimes but often a role is so suited to an actor that regardless of his or her limitations in other contexts, That actor can play the role better than anyone else alive—a perfect match. “Best Actor” doesn’t mean “best actor currently working” or “best body of career work.” It means “Most impressive, entertaining, memorable performance in a single role in a single year.” If the actor never acts again, or does nothing but appear in porn films, that assessemnt’s validity isn’t challenged, at least by what came after.

              • I saw her in a guest role in House once, and she was fabulous. I could not figure out why I never saw her in any big roles anywhere since here talent was so evident to me – then the Weinstein revelations came out and it was an aha! moment.

      • And perhaps the greatest ethics movie of all time.

        I have a question that has puzzled me for some time. Your comment about this particular movie — a very good movie I only recently saw — is the source of my puzzlement.

        Why is this a great ethics movie?

        Let me start with my understanding of what the ethics issue revolves around: a man’s convictions obviously. There are two levels: 1) his conviction about the sanctity of marriage, and 2) his conviction that the laws of the land must be respected and cannot be violated because someone, or anyone, or a group of persons, feel that to violate the law they are serving a higher purpose.

        I would guess that you appreciate the message of the movie in relation to number 2. You are a lawyer and you teach lawyers (and others) about legal ethics.

        But the core of the movie narrative, at least according to my reading, has to do with his conviction about the sanctity of marriage which in Catholicism (in Christianity) is a metaphysical principle. What God has bound together cannot be capriciously dis-united. The nature of that union, the nature of the metaphysical bond as it were, is an issue of religious metaphysics. But the application is far wider than it appears. If one accepts the ‘sanctity of marriage’ within a Christian conception of it, and sees it as one of the major and defining sacraments, one is duty-bound to honor the principle there. There are wide-reaching implications here that seem obvious to me, but which I notice many others do not *get* immediately. I would say that it takes some training or instruction (perhaps analogous to you as one teaching ethics) to make the connections.

        So, this man holds to his convictions against a current of activism that began in the upper echelons of society among the most powerful and those who *should* defend principle. He sees exactly what is going on and, as with his insight into Richard, who is a symbol of the corruption and the vacillation between honoring principle or being seduced by avarice, chooses to put his life on the line rather than sacrifice the principle.

        Is this a great ethics movie because the man is willing to defend a legal principle related to ‘the rule of law’, or is it because he is a man who choses to hold to a moral principle when the society around him, seduced by their own desire, finds greater advantage in sacrificing values, the principles, in order to achieve power or position?

        This is what I do not understand about your definition of ethics. According to what I understand of your definition, ethics is a sort of democratic choice. Therefor, the King and his ministers, and those who are interested in advancement, make choices that turn against the ‘metaphysics’ of the sanctity of marriage, but when their new rule is established, it is ‘progression’ from the backwardness of a former view.

        As here:

        Ethics is constantly evolving as human beings learn more about life and reality. There should be no shame in believing what your family, community and most of your culture believed; what is shameful, or at least far from admirable, is refusing to evaluate new information, to close one’s mind, and to stubbornly refuse to admit that what once seemed fair and right can no longer be defended by a rational person of integrity.

        If I apply this to the ethical message of Man for All Seasons, Thomas More should have no shame for believing what his family, community, culture [and Church] believed, but should have shame because he refused to evaluate new information, kept his mind closed, and refused to see that what he once viewed as fair and right could no longer be defended because the people around him say that it is better to do so.

        Obviously, I am bringing all this out because in our own day, in our own present, we are dealing with octaves of the same issues. And obviously I hold — by rational necessity — to the fact of principle, the reality of principle. And I know that hundreds of thousands and millions and millions of people no longer have the training to understand a) the principle itself and b) or they do not agree with the principle at all. In fact they deny it as being real. Therefore, they have no obligation to live in accord with it.

        So, ethics. What is ethics? What is an ethic? Who defines the principle which undergirds an ‘ethic’? But if there is no defined principle seen to undergird it, then it is logically necessary that ethics is by definition an issue of contingency. Therefore, if I can get enough people to desire to change an ethical notion (what more than a ‘notion’) about some aspect of ‘life and reality’, and if they *vote* on it, then a new ethics can be established on that basis alone.

        This is a puzzling problem and one with many levels of complexity. I think I understand your ethical ideas as being grounded in law and what is established, secularly, by courts and by precedent. Your view within this arena is consistent and sound. (I should say something to ‘wrap this up’ but the first cup of coffee has worn off . . .)


        • Missing the forest for the trees, Alicia. Like many ethics movies, the details of the conflict are tangential. the fictional More explains the law-vs. ethics and the “ends justify the means” problems as well as they have ever been explained on film in the “tear up the laws speech” to Roper. It elucidiates the fact that ethical conduct must be embraced for its own sake, not the gurantee of a reward. (Rich is successful because of his perfidy and lives a long life: More explains why it isn’t worth it.) More wrestles with multileveled ethics conflicts: integrity vs. loyalty (and loyalty to God vs, loyalty to the King, who is also his friend.) He reveals the professional ethics of a lawyer (“Show me the words!”) and he pays the price for consequentialism (a bribe is still a bribe even if you don’t complete the deal—a dumb mistake, and the same one Shoeless Joe Jackson made in 1919.) And so on. The film is one ethical dilemma, conflict and problem after another. Cognitive dissonance! Knowing that his friends will be targeted by the king, he intentionally insults and hurts his friend to protect him—a utilitarian move that is noble yet cruel. The paradox of Roshomon! More’s wife, a simple woman, sees More’s story as an arrogant and foolish man who abandons those he loves for a futile grandstanding gesture…and from her perspective, that’s exactly right.

  4. 3. This guy would make a great District Court judge. Just as this guy knows better than the Academy, Federal District Court judges now seem to know better how to run the country than a duly elected President.

  5. ‘4. Back to BuzzFeed: CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin” I am actually encouraged that some moderates are coming to realize they have been swept into the whirlwind. That they have been unable to face up to their error yet is not a surprise. That will take too long, and even longer to be firm in proclaiming it. But, like other manias and fads, there will be a tipping point, like it was in the other direction had.

    I admit I get annoyed at the waste of time and effort in this conflict because somehow ‘moderate’ became a dirty word, instead of the starting point for negotiation. But that requires a more mature view of the ‘other’ as a fellow human with different beliefs and compromise.

  6. I realize that there is a First Amendment issue, here, but there really needs to be some fairly stiff consequences for this. Presenting an outright lie as news should be punishable in some manner. I refuse to believe that the Framers had protection for this…this…travesty in mind when the Bill Of Rights was written.

    • The problem is when the shoe is on the other foot… who decides what is punishable? What standards can be codified well enough that they cannot be twisted into a travesty of justice themselves?

      I share your frustration.

      • I would think that if the law were to be written and enforced fairly and even-handedly (not much chance of either, I suppose), it’d work. It would address news with no basis in fact, or partial reporting of the existent facts.

      • Indeed.

        A similar issue arises when trying to outlaw deplatofrming.

        There would not be anything controversial about outlawing deplatforming by, for example, payment processors, Internet service providers, or domain name registrars. (GoDaddy banned Gab and that was a clear case of abuse. the law should have prohibited that.)

        But what about web sites like Facebook or Twitter?

        Could a web site about the Holocaust. that has a bulletin board, be considered a platform? If so, must the proprietor allow messages that deny the Holocaust? After all, how can the law distinguish between a post on a bulletin board and a post on a Facebook page?

        Laws that prohibit deplatforming may, depending on the text, prevent web sites like Free Republic, Democratic Underground, and Ethics Alarms from moderating comments.

  7. #4 – let’s not forget that what Nixon was threatened with impeachment over was a cover-up of spying on his political opponent. Hillary and Barrack weren’t conspirators after the fact, they were the primary perpetrators. Unlike Nixon, Hillary failed to win.

  8. “some fairly stiff consequences for this.”

    What I would suggest is something like this:
    A – Hey, guys, guess what I just saw on Buzzfeed!
    B – Buzzfeed? You saying you read Buzzfeed? Wow. Just wow.
    A stares at own shoes in shame.
    End scene

  9. NOTE: “Orrin,” who is banned for both being a relentless troll and for having the IQ of an avocado (in my opinion, of course, but that’s the opinion that counts here) snuck back on the blog for not one but THREE comments yesterday, which I just spammed. Doing this is how banned commenters prove that I was correct in my assessment of their character, and based on that criteria, I am right about 90% of the time. Doing this is like being kicked out of my home for being a jerk and crawling back in through an open window.

    In the last comment, O stated that there is no conduct by the President of Republicans that I will not defend. That is demonstrably false, as even a cursory search of the material here shows. Nevertheless, it is the spic Democratic strategy of joining with the media to try to make it impossible for an elected President to meet his Constitutional duties and to divide the nation, perhaps violently, is infinitely more important than any of the ethical transgrssions of the GOP or Trump, at least so far, so it has received more of my time, which is, alas, limited.

    If Orrin, or Chris, or Ampersand, or any other banned commenters pop up, don’t respond to them, and if possible let me know the window is open.

  10. Sorry, Jack: I have taken to unplugging on the weekends to deal with family issues and my dad’s cancer needs. Ignoring the media has helped my health: I figure I will hear about it Monday if it is important.

    As an aside on that picture: If the door is closed and no one can see into the room, does the cat exist? The room is just a big, irregular box, after all.

    3. “Every single one of the author’s “arguments” come down to “I would have given the award to someone else.”

    This is a result of social media feeding narcissism and the inflation of self. These people MUST have important opinions: look at all the (fake) followers!
    These people have a hole in their soul that they try to fill with ‘likes.’

    4. Jeffrey Toobin is what the Soviets used to call a ‘useful idiot.’ How he can say he doesn’t believe the media are leftist lying hacks who would do anything to get Trump proves willful blinders.

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