Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2019: Good Kool-Aid, Bad Kool-Aid

Good morning!

1. No, it’s not yet clear what happened in the Jussie Smollett debacle, just that  whatever it was, it was unethical as hell. Smollett is no less guilty of faking a hate crime than he always was; the evidence is just as overwhelming; and the fools lining up to support him are asking for trouble. For example, the writers for Smollett’s show (it seems likely that it is no longer his show, and the producers would be certifiably mad to let him back on the air) seem to be under the delusion that charges were dropped against the African-American actor because there wasn’t evidence to try him. That is not what happened, whatever happened. But here is “Empire” writer Cameron Johnson  tweeting to a Chicago-based reporter  who has been covering the case since it first broke in January.

No, in fact everything reported about Smollett—that he faked the attack, lied to police and the news media, and that the two men he recruited and paid to carry out the hoax with him have fingered Smollett—appears to be true. Meanwhile, the NAACP is going forward with Smollett’s nomination for an award for his work on Empire. I wouldn’t put it past them to let him win, meaning that they would be applauding a divisive–but woke! And gay! And black!—hate crime hoaxer.

So again, what’s going on here? The former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama had contacted Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx about the case on behalf of a member of Smollett’s family.  Foxx is an openly racialized African-American prosecutor whose past words and conduct suggest that she might adopt the Sharpton-like theory that the fact that a hate crime is a hoax is less important than the fact that it could have been true. Also, prosecuting Smollett could have sent another black man to prison, and Foxx is on the record as wanting to do everything she can to avoid that result as often as possible.

Dismissals after grand jury indictments when there is no new exculpatory evidence usually require a defendant to accept responsibility, stay out of trouble for at least six months, and make restitution. None of this happened. Smollett not only denied responsibility, he again proclaimed his innocence . He was required to forfeit his bond, which would never be required if he was actually innocent based on the evidence. The state’s attorney’s office cited 16 hours of “community service” as a mitigating factor, but again, if he is innocent, why would that matter? Smollett did that work volunteering at the headquarters of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Then Smollett’s lawyer denied that any community service was required as a condition of the dismissal of his charges.

Prosecutors announced preemptively that the record in the case would be sealed, and there is no precedent for immediately sealing a criminal case involving an adult, even if a defendant is found not guilty. Defendants usually have to file a motion to seal their case, and the police are given the opportunity to contest the motion.

The Associated Press is reporting that the city will seek $130,000 from “ Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his hoax, which means that police are still certain that he is guilty.

It almost feels like this is a deliberate parody of the Mueller Report fiasco, designed to suggest that the situations of Smollett and President Trump are similar: both guilty, and both “exonerated” falsely.

The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has released a statement condemning the whatever -it-was in the strongest terms.

2. How do we get the news media and the public to stop paying attention to celebrities and actors when they are off script? These people are, as a group, neither especially informed, well-educated, or trained in critical thinking. Yet they have outsized metaphorical bullhorns, and influence fans to adopt unethical practices and irresponsible ideas. Here is “Captain America” star Chris Evans telling an interviewer that if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a supporter of the President of the United States, he will “cut ties” with him, whatever that means. His attitude means, however, that he would have American society divided into warring camps that never speak to each other. In a fawning profile by the New York Times, we get the diminutive actor’s policy wisdom in comments like this, in which he explains why  he will campaign for Bernie Sanders, as he did in 2016:

“If you look back on that election, a lot of his progressive ideas are accepted now. Like free college education. I didn’t go to any college. Forgive the debt, so people can live their lives and not feel they’re under a wet blanket. Let’s let the sun shine. We have a beautiful country. We got a lot of resources. You know, Medicare for all. What’s the big deal? Why not open that up?”

Yes, he’s a moron….and a moron that the Times is encouraging trusting citizens to take seriously.

3.  Scary, if even half-accurate. Over at the Epoch Times, Jeff Carlson (who is an accountant, and apparently a diligent researcher) lays out the whole case for a  “deep State” effort to try to stop Donald Trump from being elected President, and then to overthrow him once he was. It begins,

“Efforts by high-ranking officials in the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), and State Department to portray President Donald Trump as having colluded with Russia were the culmination of years of bias and politicization under the Obama administration.”

Some of his case is the Kool-Aid I was accused of drinking when I reported (accurately) the implications of the irregularities in the FISA warrant process used to plant an informer in the Trump campaign. It is extremely ironic that the same people who threw tantrums here over fact-based suspicions regarding the “resistance” efforts within the government were guzzling the vile Kool-Aid that Donald Trump had conspired with Russia. I was right, they were wrong, and they were insulting while being wrong. If they had any courage and integrity, they would come back here and admit it.

I misjudged them, and their character.

34 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2019: Good Kool-Aid, Bad Kool-Aid

  1. The majority of leftists and resistance types I’ve observed and read lead a remorseless life. Anything is acceptable as long as it subverts the Constitution and advances the demonization of political opponents.

    And why wouldn’t they persist? There appear to be no real consequences for their actions. Even with Smollett their behavior is assertive and unapologetic at the very least.

    Someone needs to start pursuing these people and those abetting them.

    • I believe they follow the never apologize rule as it is a sign of weakness.

      That is why they so often demand apologies from others.

  2. 1 Can, and if so will the Illinois Prosecuters Bar Association sanction Foxx and the Judge who allowed this deal to be given?

    2. Does Captain America believe that blacklisting people for holding views antithetical to the majority is something we should embrace?

  3. 2. How do we get the media and the public to stop paying attention to movies about comic books, never mind paying attention to the ‘roided up nincompoops who get paid to act in them? I know I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. Imagine.

    • Not the movies’ fault, Hollywood has always been a big fantasy, The problem is that actors are being presented as wise in public policy because they are good copy. Studios/agents/publicists’ kept their eyes on the bottom line and knew better than to alienate large swaths of the public. No one is willing or able to set these people down and tell them to cut it back NOW.

      It looks like Marvel comics is on a slide to oblivion as the actor is very much in line with the cooperative, social enabling, self-centered setting. In the comics Cap was revealed as a Hydra agent, just to break the white male anti-Nazi who actually fought in WW2. The comic stores are being dragged down from the multicover fad on top of unlikable leads. The bubble will have to burst, but will Disney pick up the pieces when they were pumping more air into the bubble?

      • I see this guy Chris Evans is from Boston. He seems to think he’s a super hero on a plane with Tom Brady who is an actual sports hero in the non-film world and that he and Tom are thus buds and equals. Kind of funny and pathetic, really.

        I still contend comic books are an extremely limited genre whose prevalence is not really good for the culture.

  4. 1. Jussie Smollett

    This will not end well for anyone involved, including Smollett. The profile has now ratcheted up to “supermax.”

    I foresee federal charges, riots, and Foxx getting justly disbarred. And that’s the best case scenario.

    2. Celebrities and actors

    Here is “Captain America” star Chris Evans telling an interviewer that if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a supporter of the President of the United States, he will “cut ties” with him, whatever that means. His attitude means, however, that he would have American society divided into warring camps that never speak to each other.

    That’s apparently what this means. Peggy Noonan has a good opinion piece on what this trend means to her, and she’s tried to extrapolate it to the country.

    What I wonder is, is there any way for us to get back to the time when we could disagree politically but not shun each other to the point we no longer talk? What would it take to restore that — or is it even possible? When did it become okay to do this such that the person (like Evans) making the announcement wouldn’t be ridiculed him/herself? These are questions to which I fear the answer.

    This problem is not just endemic to Hollywood Leftists, but also to ordinary people, and manifested in social media shunning.

  5. Regarding Smollett:

    1) Isn’t there still a possibility of Federal charges?

    2) Is there a way, now, that the Illinois case could be opened again? Forced open? By some higher authority?

    • You’d think the Illinois attorney general’s office would want to look into all the prosecutorial irregularities involved. And you’d think the Illinois supreme court would be interested in the judicial and lawyering irregularities involved.

  6. With regards to the Jussie Smollett debacle, isn’t it possible that Smollett’s “fake hate crime” is in fact a hate crime itself possibly actionable under federal law?

    My understanding is that a hate crime is a “bias-motivated crime” or a “prejudice-motivated crime” that occurs when the perpetrator targets a victim or victims because of their perceived affiliation with a certain group, ethnicity, race or religion. In this case, if we are to accept the police version of the facts, didn’t Smollett target in general white people and specifically white Trump supporters and Trump himself to inflame negative public perceptions against his targeted victims… “going after 45 hard”… “MAGA hats”… etc.

    This in my view is not a victimless offense. How does Smollett’s actions not constitute an intentional provocation of further animus between races or even violence against his targeted victims? Add to that, what kind of damage has he done to the Chicago Police who already have a very difficult job to do?

    Keep in mind, several years back Attorney General Eric Holder spent over a year after George Zimmerman was acquitted in a Florida state criminal proceeding looking to see if evidence existed to prosecute Zimmerman federally for a hate crime. No such evidence was ever found and the federal investigation was eventually closed with no further action. So, I wonder, by federal law, would Jussie Smollett be automatically exempted from prosecution under federal hate crime statutes because of his race? Or might he be in jeopardy for federal prosecution?

    Just curious…

    • JH I’m curious about that too. That whites (especially Trump supporters) were a target.

      Another thing I thought of is this- Smollett is not black but mixed race as half black & half Russian-Polish Ashkenazi Jew. The men he allegedly hired were much darker “blacker” than him. One could question if Smollett is a racist or at least deeply entrenched in colorism & hateful of darker skin. I dislike saying this as a mixed race person, but sometimes the worst racists are the ones who are partly of the group they aim their hate at. There is a long history of animosity between African Americans with darker skin & those who are lighter or “high yellow.” Could Smollett’s actions be a hate crime against dark skinned blacks? If so how does that get addressed?

      • Mrs. Q, I’m continually amazed how the “One Drop” rule has, ironically, been turned around and weaponized these days to benefit people with white and not what parentage. Halle Barry anyone? Barack Obama? Raised by the white side of the family but oh so perfectly African American. It’s the race of the absentee/abandoning father that counts, not the dutiful parents that stayed around. Drives me nuts. Absolutely bizarre.

      • There’s this:

        The lawyer for the Nigerian brothers caught up in the Jussie Smollett scandal said on Thursday that it was ‘atrocious’ and ‘offensive’ for his team to say they were wearing whiteface when they attacked him as she doubled down on their claims that the whole thing was a publicity stunt orchestrated by the Empire actor.

        Gloria Schmidt appeared on CNN on Thursday night as the fallout surrounding the case gathered pace and prosecutors faced tough questions over their decision to let Smollett go scot-free.

        She revealed that she was just as stunned by the decision as the rest of the world and had been in touch with the State’s Attorney’s office days beforehand to arrange the brothers’ appearances as witnesses at the trial.

        Schmidt also slammed Smollett’s lawyer Tina Glandian for saying that the brothers could have been wearing whiteface when they attacked him.

        It was a bizarre explanation for why Smollett told police in interviewers that one of the assailants had ‘pale or white skin’.

  7. #1 If it is generally known that the Cook County prosecutor has a pro-black bias, can it be reasonable for any defendant, who is tried by her office, that happens to be non-black, or especially white, to argue for dismissal or change of venue, because they can not rule out bias in the prosecution. The prosecution may be pursuing overcharging due to racial bigotry and would deny a fair trial to a possible non-white defendant.

  8. (1) “It almost feels like this is a deliberate parody of the Mueller Report fiasco, designed to suggest that the situations of Smollett and President Trump are similar: both guilty, and both “exonerated” falsely.”

    I have already heard this used. Of course, being exonerated because no evidence can be found after a long, exhaustive search is the opposite of being exonerated despite a mountain of evidence existed from the very beginning. This doesn’t matter, however.

    The Mueller investigation found the DNC and Clinton campaign paid a Russian lobbying firm to hire an ex-spy to subcontract a Trump hit-piece to Russian intelligence. The Clinton campaign paid a Russian lobbyist $40,000 to get the hit-piece transferred to DOJ as ‘intelligence information’. People at DOJ were supposed to investigate Donald Trump while married to people who were being paid to lobby for Russian interests. None of this is Russian collusion to affect the election, however.

    (2) “How do we get the news media and the public to stop paying attention to celebrities and actors when they are off script?” Our big problem is that we need to apply this first to journalists!

  9. Re: No. 2 (the Media, well, kinda).

    Then, there is this little gem out of Savannah, GA:

    https://abc13.com/society/only-black-reporters-allowed-in-georgia-mayoral-race-event/5224592/

    From the article: “White reporters were denied entry, while at least two black reporters and the publisher of a local African-American newspaper were allowed inside, the Savannah Morning News reported. Television cameras and recording devices were also prohibited.” I wonder why that is. Oh. This is why: “Mayor Eddie DeLoach is seeking re-election this fall. He became Savannah’s first white mayor in 20 years after winning the 2015 campaign.”

    The organizer is Rev. Clarence Teddy Williams. Williams organized the event and was a part of a decision making process that concluded that white press was bad news.

    jvb

    • Saw that this morning. Shook my head.

      Is this how they really want race in America to be? I thought desegregation was supposed to be the good side of the coin, yet these… people… want a segregated news conference. Next think you know it will be restaurants, bathrooms and drinking fountains.

      Where have we seen that before?

      • Yep.

        If racism is defined as an imbalance of political, social, legal, cultural, and economic power favoring one (dominant) race at the expense of other races, then it is impossible for members of the protected classes to be racists. It is circular argumentation that begins with “I am not a racist because I am ______ race; _________ race has no power; therefore, I am not racist.” By that reasoning, it is not only preferable but acceptable and encouraged to separate one’s race from the other races.

        Recall the outrage from a few weeks ago when some news agency sent a blonde-haired white woman reporter to cover a Kamala Harris campaign event in Washington DC, but the reporter had no idea what the call sign for a Black sorority was and she reported on a bunch of grown women running around shouting “Skee wee!” when Harris mentioned her time at Howard University. That reporter was obliterated as a perfect example of white cultural privilege and yet another example of white ignorance of Black experience in the US. Brittany Packnett (I have no idea who she is other than what Wikipedia says about her) stated this:

        “A reminder that white culture is dominant culture so the next time someone asks me why there isn’t a white history month I’ll remind you we know all your Sig Eps and your Alpha Phis but y’all know none of ours & the fact that we had to create them bc we were restricted from yours.”

        Here is a link to her Twitter* page.

        The reporter was made to capitulate, apologize, and grovel for forgiveness, which incidentally, was not forthcoming. The prevailing response to her apology was akin to “get in line or get out of the way”. Mind you, I doubt seriously if the reporter would have any clue about any non-Black sororities or fraternities, either. After all, she graduated and moved on from college. Who knows. Anyone? Bueller?

        Imagine the hell to break loose if a white candidate put a sign out that read “Candidate’s Press Meeting; Only White Reporters Allowed.” There would be howls of outrage, denunciations of racism, and riots in the streets. Yet, that is what happened in Georgia. A gathering said “non-black reporters not welcome”. How is that not like separate lunch counters and water fountains? And this was at the insistence of the organizer, a purported reverend(!), who declared that white reporter attendance is bad press. Ironic, no? A member of the clergy openly disinviting white news reporters to a Black political event? Would Martin Luther King, Jr., have done something like that? I highly doubt it.

        jvb

        *Ed. Note: It just dawned on me: Twitter is a popular social media platform. When I was growing up, my parents referred to dimwits, dullards, buffoons, and bozos as “twits”. Twitter limits the number of characters to a post to something like 250 characters including spaces, punctuation, and capitalized letters, which isn’t a whole lot of characters. As a social programming tool, is Twitter forcing/causing us to dumb down our analyses to tweet-size points? After all, if it can’t fit in a tweet, it is not necessary.

        • “A reminder that white culture is dominant culture so the next time someone asks me why there isn’t a white history month I’ll remind you we know all your Sig Eps and your Alpha Phis but y’all know none of ours & the fact that we had to create them bc we were restricted from yours.”

          And speaking of Sig Eps, since I am one, we don’t have any restrictions for black men anymore, if we ever did. We had a couple of Hispanic members back during my day. One of them was one of my best friends and a cheerleader. Nowadays, we have a number of minority members of every conceivable persuasion.

          We didn’t have any black members when I was there, but I know one or two were asked if they were interested, and zero said yes. They wanted to join the black frats.

          Imagine that.

  10. I was right, they were wrong, and they were insulting while being wrong. If they had any courage and integrity, they would come back here and admit it.

    They don’t believe they were wrong. There have been a slew of public opinion polls this week, and they all show the same thing: The Mueller report had no measurable effect on public opinion. Essentially, everybody who believed in collusion before the Mueller report still believes it today. In fact, many people are under the impression that the Mueller report found proof of collusion.

    • Too early for that to mean anything, though. Another polls showed Trump at 50% approval.As I wrote in an earlier post, after three years of being told that collusion was a fact by the news media, and that same news media being slow or deceptive in reporting what the Report says and means, it figures that the lie will have some lingering effect.

    • I think this is more a fault of polling in general, and the fact that the public has not had time to assimilate the news and place it in context. That will start to happen when the report, or as much as is legally possible, is released. Trump’s approval rating inching up in most polls is probably a better indicator of the impact of the report. And these things tend to take weeks, not days, to fully mature.

    • I’m more pessimistic than you guys. I think that when the full report comes out, Democrats and their allies will find nuggets that, though objectively irrelevant, can be spun as evidence of collusion. Somebody connected to the campaign will, like Jeff Sessions, have shaken hands and chatted with the Russian ambassador. Somebody will have been introduced to a Russian professor by an FBI agent, like George Papadopoulos was. Somebody will have done legal work for a client who isn’t Russian but has “ties with Russia.” Someone will have invested in a Russian hedge fund. Somebody will have read a Russian novel. Adam Schiff will crow that these incidental contacts are proof of collusion, CNN and MSNBC will rant 24/7 about collusion and obstruction and all of the additional scandals yet to be ginned up by the Democrats. The lies and distortions will never, never end, and most of the people who believed the collusion hoax before will become even more persuaded by all of the new phony “evidence” and will buy all of the new hoaxes, too.

      • I’m more pessimistic than you guys. I think that when the full report comes out, Democrats and their allies will find nuggets that, though objectively irrelevant, can be spun as evidence of collusion.

        Oh, there’s no doubt about that, really, but the problem is that America is all “collusioned” out.

        No matter what they come up with, unless it is dead-bang evidence that Mueller whitewashed the probe and all those Democratic donors he had on his team fought against him the entire time, it won’t move the needle.

        Overall, I don’t think Trump will ever be popular, even if the Dems are forced to give up on both collusion and obstruction (and no doubt they’ll find things they will claim are conclusive evidence of that), it won’t be as if Trump will jump to 55 or 60% and stay there.

        Fully 40% of Americans would rather vote for Putin himself than Trump. 35-40% would vote for Putin rather than any Democrat. The rest are persuadable. That’s not going to change because of the report, or the spin the Dems and the media try to place on it once they see it.

      • Oh, and Greg, there are also these breadcrumbs suggestive of the impact of the Mueller report.

        It’s just one poll, and it’s not dispositive, but it is interesting. I have doubts about all modern polls, but you just can’t completely ignore them.

      • So the Mueller inquiry ends, like T.S. Eliot’s universe, not with a bang, but with a whimper. Just over two years of searching for evidence of nefarious dealings between Trump or those closest to him and the Russians or obstruction of the process have come up empty. Oh, there has been some other uncovering of slimy dealings, and a few people have been dinged for procedural crimes like lying to Federal agents, but the main target turned out to be like those monsters that supposedly inhabit all those big lakes on the world. There were a lot of shadows, a lot of could-bes, and a lot of hopes that this next find would break things wide open, but, in the end, no real evidence of anything.

        I wrote at some length elsewhere how James Comey was thought of as above reproach…until he reopened the investigation into Hillary’s emails that probably contributed to sinking her candidacy, and I’ve concluded that he was a self-anointed hero and influence seeker who was just as reproachable as the rest of us. If anything, Mueller is more above reproach than Comey pretended to be. He never wrote letters designed to set the press and the nation up for some “bombshell,” and he never held a press conference, not ever once (which I have to say is something prosecutors should not do, and should leave to the politicians or designated spokesmen).
        He completed his investigation, delivered his report to the attorney general as he was tasked with doing, and that was the end of it. His office is now manned by only a skeleton crew, he’s getting ready to go back into retirement, and Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy AG who oversaw most of this but faded from view when William Barr, who didn’t have to recuse himself, entered the picture, is getting ready to leave government service.

        No one here is looking to flog a book like Comey, with his pompously titled “A Higher Loyalty,” or like Richard Clarke or Paul O’Neill, two other high officials pushed out after they found themselves on the losing side in policy arguments. I find nothing irreproachable about those who seek to profit from the confirmation bias of those who already hated the side that pushed them out. I find nothing irreproachable about those who seek to stab those they served in the back. I find those who try to build themselves up as heroes for doing both those things eminently reproachable. There is nothing irreproachable about being selfish, petty, self-centered, bitter, or vindictive.

        The really pathetic parts of this are that the needle of public opinion hasn’t really moved, and that even if and when as much of the report that can be released publicly is released, the needle is unlikely to move much. The same people who slavered every time it looked like something might be ready to break open and kept saying that impeachment was just around the corner are now condemning Mueller for not doing a good enough job, saying that someone must have gotten to someone or someone must have hidden his tracks too well, and angrily saying that the Southern District will succeed where Mueller failed.
        The people saying that are self-deceivers, just like Bart Simpson saying Krusty is coming when he clearly isn’t, or Charlie Brown refusing to accept that Joe Shlabotnik isn’t going to make it to the sports banquet, even as the venue starts to turn out the lights. Part of it is just plain hatred for Trump, which goes beyond legitimate policy differences to personal hatred, mostly because he committed the unpardonable sin of defeating their chosen queen and denying her the seat she was entitled to. Part of it is the same cocksureness that people like Comey have. Trump’s opponents believe they are the smartest, strongest, most caring people in the room, and they just can’t conceive of themselves being wrong or being unsuccessful. They also believe that those on the other side are evil, and can’t conceive of them ever being right or successful.

        There are none so blind as those who choose not to see, there are none so deaf as those who choose not to hear, and there are none so foolish as those who choose not to understand. However, that’s their issue, not others’.

  11. The axiom the only bad publicity is if they spell your name wrong may not apply here.

    There’s an Unholy Alliance between Righties AND Lefties that see this as stinking to High Heaven. The precious few that maintain his innocence, that his exoneration is meet and right, and that it’s a triumph for the unjustly accused? They’ll lie to you about other things, too.

    I’ve always believed that a person should make sure their accountant and their lawyer are well-paid. Any of you Legal types venture a guess as to how much Glandian’s fees will be?

    Lying with a straight face while trying to keep your story focused can’t be cheap; if Smollett walks away from this, I myself would feel a whole lot better were it to take a HUGE wet bite out of his keester.

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