The above video, posted on Tik-Tok, seems to be a good introduction in a week that promises to see meltdowns of ethics, fairness, honesty and decency as November 3 approaches. For the first time in American history, the nation is in the throes for four freak-outs simultaneously, straining the bonds of community, comity and sanity to the breaking point. Freakout #1: the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, of course. When any episode continues to trigger irrational, high profile words and conduct a full four years after its occurrence, that’s a freak-out. Or, as Dean Martin might have sung it,
When your brain starts to melt
From the loss Hill was dealt
That’s a Freak-Out!
(Chorus: That’s a Freak-Out!)
Then we have the Wuhan Virus Freakout, a direct outgrowth of the Wuhan Virus Ethics Train Wreck, which was quickly joined by the George Floyd Freakout, also designated here as an Ethics Train Wreck, except that ethics train wrecks are only supposed to trigger chains of unethical conduct, not chains of irrational conduct.
A brief update on the latter is in order: Derek Chauvin, the villain in the piece, is out on bail. The news media is no longer even trying to be fair: the New York Times story, and indeed most of the news reports, refer to Floyd’s death as “a killing.” If they do that enough, it will be impossible to get a fair trial for Chauvin, and indeed, it might already be. There is considerable evidence that Floyd died from a drug overdose of his own making, meaning that there was no killing, or at least that the use of the word is misleading, since the victim killed himself, albeit unintentionally.
1. As for the 2020 Election Freak-Out we are already seeing in full bloom, the above video is an especially repulsive example of what Trump Derangement and partisan desperation hath wrought. The young woman above proudly and with a tear in her eye relates that she and her sisters devoted the final days of their dying father’s life to hectoring him to vote for Joe Biden. If true, the episode show the complete, family-wide absence of functioning ethics alarms. If it is a hoax, the thing is only slightly less unethical.
2. Well, you know: Harvard. Pippa Norris teaches political science at Harvard’s Kennedy School and was recently interviewed by Vox writer Sean Illing. (The full interview is here.)
Illing asked Norris [Referencing GOP efforts to combat efforts to expand mail-in voting.]:
Would you say that the biggest weakness in the American system right now is this combination of the intractability of our Constitution and the fact that one of our major parties, the Republican Party, is basically invested in an anti-democratic, countermajoritarian agenda?
“It’s true that we’re facing an existential crisis in part because the Republican Party has put all of their appeals into a shrinking sector of the electorate — mostly white, mostly older,” Norris answered. “And they’re using their power to change the rules of the game to favor their own party.”
Illing then asked if the Republican Party is “the biggest obstacle to making the sorts of changes we need to make?”
It is. I’ve done a global party survey in December 2019, asking over 2,000 experts where they place mainstream political parties worldwide on a range of issues, from taxes to health care to environmental policy. And the US results are quite remarkable. If we’re just looking at OECD [post-industrial] countries and trying to measure whether parties favor or oppose checks and balances on the executive, if they’re committed to basic pluralistic values, and if they respect or undermine liberal democratic principles, what you find is that the GOP is surprisingly extremist.The position of the GOP on these issues is close to parties like Golden Dawn in Greece [a neo-fascist party]— illiberal parties cutting back on the freedom of press and stamping out democratic freedoms in their countries…If Trump returns to office, then things are going to get worse. We know that when authoritarian populists come in the first term, they’re just trying out ideas, seeing what works and what doesn’t. But they’re almost always more moderate. The second term is when it’s much more problematic. And the worst case would be something like Hungary, where illiberal populists have destroyed the foundations of the electoral system in ways most people don’t really understand. It all happened right in front of people’s eyes, but not enough attention was paid early on — and now it’s too late.
Isn’t this blatant gaslighting? Which party is trying to change the rules of elections? Which party is openly trying to change the “rules of the game”? Who has lost any rights under the first term of the Trump administration, other than the President himself, who has lost the right to do what every previous President could do without controversy and not face impeachment? The interview is a Big Lie parade, with Big Lie #3: “Trump Is A Fascist/Hitler/Dictator/Monster” taking center stage. As far as I can see, Professor Pippa is talking complete fantasy and fear-mongering.
3. And Facebook prepares to flex its totalitarian muscles…The Wall Street Journal reports that Facebook is planning to “calm” election-related conflict in the U.S. by using “emergency measures” such as slowing the spread of viral content and “lowering the bar” for suppressing potentially inflammatory posts, such as “tweaking the news feed” to change what types of content users see. Such measure has previously been used in Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Facebook executives say they will only deploy the tools in “dire circumstances”; Translation: In circumstances the Democratic Party allied social media platform believes is dire—you know, like the possibility that the public will find out just how corrupt Joe Biden is through his son’s emails.
“Deployed together, the tools could alter what tens of millions of Americans see when they log onto the platform,” the Journal reports. “But slowing down the spread of popular content could suppress some good-faith political discussion, a prospect that makes some Facebook employees uneasy.”
Anyone who gets their news from Facebook links is an easily-manipulated, social media ignorant, civically incompetent fool.
4. Ugh. Immediately following her swearing in as the 9th Supreme Court Justice, Amy Coney Barrett appeared at a White House victory party. [Correction Notice: I originally erroneously referred to this as a campaign event.] This is the appearance of impropriety exemplified. I don’t know how or why this happened; presumably because, flushed with gratitude, Barrett was asked by the President and didn’t say no, as she should have, and indeed had an ethical obligation to do.
5. ‘They’re not Deplorables! They’re Lizard People!’ This freakout moment was flagged by Professor Turley. Vanderbilt professor and historian Jon Meacham gave a recent quiz in his course on the 2020 Election in which students were asked “Was the Constitution designed to perpetuate white supremacy and protect the institution of slavery?” The right answer was “yes.”
No indoctrination or bias there! Meacham is also an NBC analyst. Asked a question on the network about whether the President helped energized his base in the second presidential debate, Meacham replied,.
“I think Trump did himself good with his base tonight. The question for America is how big that base is. There is a lizard brain in this country. Donald Trump is a product of the White man’s, the anguished, nervous White guy’s lizard brain….Many people call it the ‘Lizard Brain,’ because the limbic system is about all a lizard has for brain function. It is in charge of fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication.”
What is striking is that Meacham is supposed to give what NBC, MSNBC and PBS present as neutral, scholarly analysis. But his comment about Trump supporters having lizard brains captures why conservative or independent voters view the networks as biased and gratuitously insulting.
Boy, Turley annoys me when he minces words like that! Turley, who is not a conservative, is calling the networks out himself, but at the same time pigeon-holes the criticism as a right-wing point of view. It’s a factual conclusion.
Turley continues, “Indeed, these comments show that networks like NBC are now focusing entirely on Democratic and liberal viewers — writing off half of the American people as gag lines. I have written repeatedly about how the media have helped Trump by fulfilling his narrative of open bias. Meacham shows that they are now enjoying this too much. There appears to be no point that is too insulting or raw for national commentary so long as it is an attack on Trump or those who support him.”
Let me translates for the mealy mouthed, if correct, professor. The news media have disgraced their profession and harmed the Democratic process by entirely giving up all objectivity and journalism ethics. (Historians and academics have largely abandoned their ethics as well.) This doesn’t “help Trump.” It harms the nation. The description of open bias isn’t a narrative, it’s just factual.