Mid-Day Ethics Mop-Up, 7/15/2021: Trump Derangement, Wikipedia, And Fact-Checking


  1. Today’s bit of Trump Derangement comes from a new book by The Post’s Carol Leonnig, which claims that Gen. Mark A. Milley feared that President Trump would attempt a coup to say in power after his defeat in the 2020 election. Writes the Post, in a typical peive of inexcuably misleading journalism, “It recounts that Milley was deeply alarmed by Trump’s recruitment of supporters to descend on the Capitol on Jan. 6, which culminated in the violent insurrection attempt.” All this tells us is that Milley was (or is) more than a little hysterical, and that the various Big Lies about Trump pushed by the Post and others, along with the military brass’s understandable dislike of their Commander in Chief, caused more than just social media wackos to go off the deep end. How exactly was a bunch of Trump fans armed with little but their own indignation going to pull off a coup? The idea was and is ridiculous, but it shows just how deep contempt for Trump and the willingness to suspend logic and common sense where his conduct is involved goes. The story is, essentially, “X lost his mind and feared that Trump would do something that it would have been certifiably insane, so this means that Trump was planning to do it.”

Like a game of “telephone,” the story becomes sillier the more it circulates. Matthew Chapman at leftist fringe site Raw Story has a version of the story that is headlined,  “This is a Reichstag moment’: General Milley legitimately feared Trump would launch a ‘coup.'” Legitimately!


2. What do you do about Wikipedia? It is the world’s fifth largest website, pulling in an estimated 6.1 billion followers per month and serves as the primary reference source for quick information on almost any topic in the world. [Aside: I don’t have a Wikipedia entry, though there are links to various essay I have written. The con artist who swindled ProEthics out of $30,000 when we were getting started has an entry. I am clearly doing something wrong…] The online encyclopaedia put all other published encyclopedias out of business, and it may be the “most read reference work in history.” Once the site was supposedly committed to neutrality, but according to Larry Sanger, one of Wiki’s founders, that ideal was abandoned after 2009. Since then he says (and I’ve noticed) it has become increasingly partisan. He now describes his baby as “broken beyond repair”:

“You can’t cite the Daily Mail at all. You can’t cite Fox News on socio-political issues either. It’s banned. So what does that mean? It means that if a controversy does not appear in the mainstream center-Left media, then it’s not going to appear on Wikipedia..There are companies like Wiki PR, where paid writers and editors will go in and change articles. Maybe there’s some way to make such a system work, but not if the players who are involved and who are being paid are not identified by name — they actually are supposed to be identified by name and say ‘we represent this firm’ if they are officially registered with some sort of Wikipedia editing firm. But they don’t have to do that…”

3. Boy, Democrats have been giving Washington Post Fact-checker Glenn Kessler a lot of fish to shoot in his barrel. For example, Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Fox News that “No Democrat has never been against voter ID.” That one qualifies as gaslighting, and Kessler, who usually focuses on Republican dishonesty (or finds it when it isn’t there), couldn’t resist. He didn’t even need to find the scores of statements by other Democrats calling voter ID laws “racist” and voter suppression. Clyburn himself was enough. Kessler writes, In 2019, he tweeted a video with these words: “55 years ago, the 24th Amendment was ratified, eliminating poll taxes. Yet we are still seeing evidence of poll taxes today in the form of voter ID laws. In a democracy such as ours, we must not have any impediments to voting….In 2020, Clyburn tweeted: “Long voting lines. Closed polling locations. Voter ID laws. They’re all voter suppression.”

The other recent slap-down by the Post’s Factchecker was even easier. Multiple White House mouthpieces, including Biden paid liar Jen Psaki, made the risible claim that Republicans Republicans were “defunding the police.” See, because the GOP rejected another trillion dollar spending bill proposed by Democrats that including $350 billionfor state and local government aid among its $1.9-trillion “coronavirus relief” funds, Psaki and others claimed that this constituted “defunding” police. Wrote Kessler, after admitting up front that defunding police was a progressive position,

Biden announced on June 23 that he was urging cities experiencing an increase in crime to tap funds in his coronavirus relief bill “to hire police officers needed for community policing and to pay their overtime.” But that was not included in the text of the legislation itself, so lawmakers had no guarantee before voting on the bill that some of these funds would go to police departments. Of the $1.9 trillion total in the American Rescue Plan, $350 billion was designated for “states, territories, and tribal governments to mitigate the fiscal effects stemming from the covid-19 public health emergency…The American Rescue Plan devoted $350 billion to “state and local aid,” a pot of money that was designed for a variety of budget-plugging purposes. Among those is keeping police, teachers and emergency medical technicians at work, but going strictly by the bill text, lawmakers had no guarantee that police would get a slice of the pie…In this case, there’s not even a line item to attach to the White House’s claim that Republicans are trying to defund the police. What’s more, voting against a one-time infusion of cash is not the same as voting to cut funding, so there is little basis to claim that Republicans are trying to “defund the police.”

Actually what Kessler should have said, and would have if he wasn’t a Democratic Party enabling hack like everyone else at the Post, there is NO “basis to claim that Republicans are trying to defund the police. But for Kessler this qualifies as integrity.

11 thoughts on “Mid-Day Ethics Mop-Up, 7/15/2021: Trump Derangement, Wikipedia, And Fact-Checking

      • Yeah, flaming geekiness is one way to describe it.

        One of the founders is a very controversial figure in right-wing science fiction (Vox Day), so most of my social groups have discussed it at one point or another.

  1. Re: No. 1; Shooting Jerks in a Barrel.

    Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.) told Fox News that “No Democrat has never been against voter ID.”

    I don’t see the problem here. Voter ID is fine with Democrats as long as local officials don’t enforce them. See how that works?

    But, if we enforced the voter ID laws, Guam might tip over and fall into the ocean.


  2. 2. While I know I am not the best writer, I like to consider myself a studious person. But this was done through some rather painstaking classes I had to take in undergraduate and graduate classes. One of those classes was Scripture Interpretation. It is by far the hardest class I took in undergrad. My professor spent the first two weeks, making sure we knew how to do proper research. It was there I first learned (2005 I think) about Wikipedia. He said, it was not a site to be trusted and would not be considered useful for the course. This peeked my curiosity. So I went in during his office hours to asked him why. He told me: Go down to the men’s bathroom down the hall, use the last stall on the right, then come back and tell him what I saw.

    This was a rather strange request to tell me why I shouldn’t trust a website, but I figured he must have had a point, so down I went to the empty bathroom, found the stall, looked in it and saw what was a rather normal looking stall. Confused, I looked around the toilet, checked the toilet paper holder, looked up at the ceiling, found nothing. I was about to admit defeat when It occur to me to check the back of the door. It was there I found numerous jokes about a particular student (just one). There must have been quite a few. Mostly, they were told in the Chuck Norris style of jokes like “God said, let there be light” and X says, “Say please.” There were attempts to fix this problem with obvious layers of paint, but it was a band aid to a persistent problem.

    So I went back and old him what I found. He then pulled up the Wikipedia for our school and there with information about our school were the same jokes about the same student found in the stall. The site used his first and last name. The professor told me that no matter how many times and has changed it himself, he keeps encountering the same problem. The site and the bathroom keep popping up with the same lude comments and jokes.

    On the plus side, at least Wikipedia knows this is a problem and is doing what It can to combat it (side note, my former school’s website no longer has anything of the sort). They consider it to be an act of vandalism as one that compromises the integrity of the site itself. It’s own vandalism page list two examples of which encouraged policy changes on how it future editing is handled. The second involves Daniel Tosh encouraging his views on his show Tosh. 0 to edit it at will. This lead to his own article being edit locked. The first involves the biographical information of John Seigenthaler. In May 2005 it was listed on Mr. Seigenthaler’s wiki he was a suspect in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. For four months this information went uncorrected. Mr. Seigenthaler who was quite famous for being the founding editorial director of USA Today and the founder of the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University was able to call up Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales to get to the bottom of it. It was there Wikipedia specifically made changes at tightening up the verifiability of biographical articles of living people.

    Of course, this just proves that Mr. Seigenthaler was famous enough to do it. I don’t know what his connection was to Mr. Wales or how he was able to call him up to get some answers, but most people are not able to do something like this. Most people aren’t famous enough to even have their own wiki entry. Mr. Wales trying to control the monster of editing introduced a notability criterion via the core policy called “What Wikipedia is Not.” In it, Mr. Wales writes, “”I added Wikipedia is not a newspaper and especially not a tabloid newspaper and that we… attempt to make some sort of judgment about the long term historical notability of something…” This would serve as a guideline for how sourcing and rules would develop in the future, but to be honest it only seems to have made things worse. As the rules became more complex, the community became plagued with something now called instruction creep. Politicians and politics don’t even have the same rules let alone institutions and people. But this isn’t it’s only problem.

    It’s biggest problem is it cannot speak from authority because it doesn’t come from authority. First, as Jack already pointed out, we don’t know who is writing the source most of the time. Second, it encourages open discussion on what exactly should be said. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it allows no final say long after events can no longer be changed (again not necessarily a bad thing) but also allows issues to be hijacked by partisan or majority means. Wiki’s own page on it’s own community says it’s been described as cult-like and prefers coheveness, even if it disregards credentials. Studies done on Wikipedia’s quality of writing show that more authorship tends to make quality suffer, lack rich contextualization, and makes it verbose and dull.

    The last problem is given enough pressure, Wikipedia can just delete you. For example, my wife is quite fond of these two ladies who run a website called “Chicks On The Right.” There quite famous among conservative woman. They have millions of followers, wrote a book, have a weekly broadcast on public radio, appeared with Mike Huckabee and USA Today. In August 2020 they were flagged for deletion for not being noteworthy. From what I can tell, this largely has to do with a spat between the person who pushed for their deletion. The two women accused the editor of bad research to outright lying. Here is an article from their page with links to the wiki page. I let you decide if they are right. https://www.chicksonright.com/blog/2020/08/25/wikipedia-editors-will-be-deleting-the-chicks-on-the-right-page-because-we-are-not-notable-enough/
    I do love that bit at the top of the wiki article: “this page is being attacked by…” Seems to be the go to answer for shutting something down.

    In conclusion, I don’t think anyone should use Wikipedia. As long as there are unethical people in the world, given the means and opportunity, they are going to act unethically. Wikipedia not only encourages it, it is a breeding ground for it.

  3. 2–Green Party activist (READ: Warmalista AlarmaCYST) William Connolley personally created or rewrote 5428 Wiki articles that weren’t sufficiently AlarmaCYST enough.

    Connolley sports a ponytail, which should provide all the proof of his intellectual bona fides, am I right?

    Anywho, not only that, but he personally removed ~ 500 articles, many by credentialed Climate Scientists, albeit EVIL Science Deniers

    From the (heh!) Daily Telegraph: ClimateGate: How The Cabal Controlled Wikipedia

  4. Great comment, John Paul!
    I initially used Wikipedia a lot as a starting point for gathering information, and I checked it’s references for source material. I even donated to support it, but after about 2010 it became obviously biased and unreliable. Now I only consult it on trivial matters, and I no longer donate. I have told them why, not that they care.

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