The New York Times Uses Its Sunday Front Page To Extol Progressive Virtue-Signaling Lawn Signs, Which Tells Us Everything We Need To Know About The New York Times

obxoxious sign

New York Times critic Amanda Hess was given a rare slot on her paper’s front page to opine sign above, which was apparently the beginning of the the viral “Announce to your neighbors that you’re a smug, simple-minded idiot” epidemic. I did not know that! Ethics Alarms has had several posts about similar signs, notably this one, but I did not realize that I had missed Patient Zero. I was, in fact, preparing to write another post on this topic, because one sign resembling the progenitor of obnoxious yard signs just turned up at a house across the street from me. Its only variation from the classic is “Water is Life” at the bottom: maybe Aquaman lives in that house. I have vowed, if I ever have an encounter with the resident there, to present a series of questions that I guarantee will only evoke “Huminahuminahumina...” in response.

Hess’s analysis by turns informs readers that the sign has “curious power” (to make me detest the homeowner?); that the mottoes are “progressive maxims” (so progressives really are that facile and shallow!), that “Donald Trump is out of office…But nevertheless, this sign has persisted” (Oh! It’s all Trump’s fault!), that the sign is “directed at the adults in the room, reminding them of their own mission” (Really? Open borders? Man-boy love? Anti-white discrimination? Marxism? Why is a sign aimed at adults so naive and childish? ), that it is “the epitome of virtue signaling: an actual sign enumerating the owner’s virtues. There is something refreshing, actually, about the straightforwardness of that.” (There is something refreshing about smug idiots placing signs on their laws that say, “I am a smug idiot”?).

I learned other things from the article:

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Ethics Observations On The Lincoln Project “False Flag” Stunt In Charlottesville [Corrected]

Lincoln Project Stunt

In case you missed it (or have a life and aren’t following the nauseating race for Governor in Virginia) five people holding tiki torches and pretending to be fans of the Charlottesville white supremacy group, Unite the Right, that sparked a riot in 2017 showed up to show their support for GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin last week. The stunt was met with furious criticism of Youngkin’s opponent, Terry McAuliffe, who was presumed to be behind the incident, and why wouldn’t he be? As the slimy former Clinton fundraiser has slipped in the polls, his “ends justify the means” approach to politics (and life) has become especial pungent. However, the Never-Trump group The Lincoln Project came to McAuliffe’s rescue, claiming responsibility for the deception.


Yesterday one of the group’s co-founders, Stuart Stevens, refused to apologize for attempting to influence an election by deceiving voters. “Listen, every day I hear people pleading with the Lincoln Project to help show Democrats how to win, how to play hardball. You know, this is an example,” he said on CNN. “The question here is not about some guys who showed up at a rally,’ said Stevens. ‘It’s why hasn’t Glenn Youngkin denounced Donald Trump for saying that there are good people on both sides? I mean, that is absolutely outrageous. And it’s because Glenn Youngkin wants it both ways. And I think that’s the message that needs to be driven here. You know, the Lincoln Project was the first in this race to put Charlottesville in an ad. And some people thought maybe it went too far. But we did it. And it worked. And then McAuliffe’s campaign followed us and put Charlottesville in a very good ad they did. So I think the question here is, we can’t ignore what happened in Charlottesville, the question is why hasn’t Glenn Youngkin denounced Donald Trump?”

Meanwhile, the McAuliffe campaign pronounced the hoax “disgusting” and called on the Lincoln Project to apologize.

Ethics Observations:

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One Definition Of Fake News: When Something Is Reported As News By The AP That Ethics Alarms Readers Knew Almost a Month Ago

Pulitzer journalism

Two hours ago, Colleen Long of the AP issued the scoop that she had solved the puzzle of where “Let’s Go Brandon!” came from. It is October 30. On October 4, Ethics Alarms informed its readers,

“After NASCAR driver Brandon Brown won at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama over the weekend, NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast tried to interview him while fans were loudly chanting, “Fuck Joe Biden!” in the background. Like the loyal state media hack she is, Kelli did her best to obscure reality from the TV audience, saying to the racer, “As you can hear the chants from the crowd, ‘Let’s go Brandon!’” Nice try.”

Today, the Associate Press piece asks, “But how did Republicans settle on the Brandon phrase as a G-rated substitute for its more vulgar three-word cousin?” It’s a mystery! But readers can trust crack investigative reporters like Long to get to the bottom of it: “It started at an Oct. 2 NASCAR race at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. Brandon Brown…” she writes, and then tells the same story anyone could read here 26 days ago. American Thinker reported it the day before I did, but that’s a conservative site, so anything it reports doesn’t count, and the mainstream media does its readers a favor by using their own wits and industry.

It takes a little longer to get to the truth, but it’s worth it!

Saturday Ethics Regrets, 10/30/2021: The “I Forgot My Little Sister’s Birthday” Edition

dropped cake

Well, I feel like scum and I am scum. Today is my younger sister’s birthday, and I whiffed, even though we had talked earlier this week about me taking her out to dinner. I never forget her birthday—everyone else’s, but never hers, because it’s the day before Halloween. Not only did I disappoint her, but she’s in a house with no TV or internet after a big storm here. Now she doesn’t want to do anything. It was just a terrible, disrupting week on too many fronts to count, and I lost track of times, dates, and space. I’m working all weekend, and worked late into the night the last two days, but that’s no excuse. I can’t believe I did it. Both my son and wife refuse to celebrate their birthdays for philosophical reasons, and I haven’t wanted to think about mine since my father dropped dead on the date in 2009. But my sister really needed some attention this year, and I failed her.

1. What describes this situation? “Live by the sword, die by the sword”? “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”? “Assholes gotta asshole”? Ashlee Marie Preston, the transgender activist who was among the leaders of the protests against Dave Chappelle for his routines on “The Closer” about trans people, and who helped trigger the protest at Netflix, was subjected to a deep Twitter dive, and guess what? She has tweeted nasty things about Asians and Hispanics. Like, for example, “Asian hoes act like they wont get karate chopped in they muthafuckin throat. What is this hoe staring at? Mind ya beeswax #Bitch”. Now, I could not possibly care less about the opinions of any activist about anything who expresses themselves like that, but apparently some people are calling Preston a hypocrite. No, she appears to be pretty typical: an trans African American who is offended when anyone jokes about her own “tribes” but who feels perfectly justified in denigrating groups she doesn’t belong to. It’s exactly like Democrats, progressives and their media allies in the Axis of Unethical Conduct having the gall to complain about the “Let’s go Brandon!” gag after denigrating President Trump without restraint for four years.

2. The contrived offense that refuses to die. Ugh, THIS again. The Atlanta Braves are in the World Series, so now the nation has to watch Atlanta fans go through their idiotic ritual of miming a tomahawk chop while they sing a fake, generic Indian war chant. Now, it’s no more idiotic than “the Wave,” or chanting “Yankees suck!,” but political correctness activists have been calling such silliness “racist” for as long as they have been trying to eliminate Native American-inspired team names, mascots, and logos. See, there are two objectives: move up the power hierarchy by making others do what they want even in an area they don’t care about, and make sure American culture has no references to Native Americans at all. I’m not sure why Native Americans would want that, but these activists seem to think so.

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Three Ethics Metaphors: The Rise, The Presidency And The Fall Of Donald J. Trump, Part II

Part I of this series appeared in May of this year. I bet you thought I had forgotten about it, didn’t you?

The second metaphor explained the election of Trump as President in 2016, as well as his march to the nomination fueled by a populist base that crossed party lines and that took political “experts” completely by surprise. It occurred to me when a friend, a Democrat and progressive (like most of my friends—and relatives) opined bitterly that electing someone like Trump was “stupid.” At a basic level I agreed with that: I had been writing exactly this for more than a year. But his words triggered an epiphany, and, as is often the case with my rare moments of clarity, a movie scene came to mind.

Electing Trump certainly seemed stupid. Yet it served a purpose, indeed several purposes, just like the “stupid and futile gesture” that is the climax and operatic finale of “Animal House,” when the abused members of Delta House turn Faber College’s homecoming parade into a violent riot.

What was the election of Trump supposed to accomplish? Other movies come to mind, like “Network.” A segment of the population decided that the system was rigged against them, that Democrats and Republicans were both involved in a massive, decades long con in which their primary goal was not to do what was in the public interest, but what was most likely to keep them in power and eventually line their pockets, and that their voices were not just being ignored, but that they were being insulted while being ignored. The so-called “deplorables” were mad as hell, and they weren’t going to take it any more. Voting for Trump was an “Up yours!” to the elites, the sanctimonious media, the corrupt Clintons, the hollow Obamas, and obviously corrupt Democrats like Pelosi and Harry Reid, machine Republicans like Mitch McConnell, and pompous think-tank conservative like Bill Kristol.

As I wrote on the same theme right after the election,

“Americans got tired of being pushed around, lectured, and being told that traditional cultural values made them racists and xenophobes. They decided to say “Screw that!” by electing a protest candidate whose sole function was to be a human thumb in the eye, because he was so disgusting to the people who had pretended to be their betters. Don’t you understand? It’s idiotic, but the message isn’t. It’s “Animal House”! and “Animal House” is as American as Doolittle’s Raid….In Germany, The Big Cheese says jump and the Germans say “How high?” In the US, the response is “Fuck you!” Obama never understood that…. I love that about America. And much as I hate the idea of an idiot being President, I do love the message and who it was sent to. America still has spunk.

“I love spunk.”

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Transgender Activism Ethics Train Wreck Incident Report: Michelle Goldberg’s Unethical Op-Ed

Goldberg op-ed

One of the unexpected benefits of the weekly Ethics Alarms Open Forum is that participants sometimes focus my attention on something important that I otherwise would have missed.

In yesterday’s forum, johnberger2013 raided the matter of Michelle Goldberg’s op-ed that appeared on the New York Times site,called, in a starburst of irony, ““The Right’s Big Lie About a Sexual Assault in Virginia.”

It is ironic because there is no “big lie,” but Goldberg’s op-ed is entirely spin, distortion and misdirection in the pursuit of a deceitful narrative designed to confuse the intellectually flabby and soothe those already biased like Goldberg. Her op-ed turned up in my print Times this morning: I never would have read it without the forum thread alerting me. Goldberg is as unethical and dishonest as the more famous Times op-ed demagogues like Krugman and Blow, but not as intelligent as either. For me, reading her woke blatherings is as enticing as reading “Nancy” in the comic section when I was over the age of 10.

The only way someone as unqualified as Goldberg could acquire her current platform is that she reliably expresses the Times party line. Now, if I were an editor, it would bother me that her thinking is so shaky and her persuasiveness is so weak that her only use is preaching to the choir, and only the dumber members at that. But this isn’t my problem, though it does reveal how far the New York Times has fallen.

Her topic is the rape of one student by another at a high school in Loudoun County, Virginia, which gained national prominence because the fury of the victim’s father at the school’s response (a cover-up, among other things) resulted in his arrest. This was, coincidentally <cough>just a few days before the school board association asked the Biden administration to protect them from “domestic terrorists,” aka outraged parents who object to school policies and curriculum choices that they see as inappropriate. Attorney General Merrick Garland dutifully responded with a memo that could be used in a law school course as an example of how the government can chill free speech.

Goldberg’s thesis is laid out on a cut line in my print version: “An attack in a school bathroom had nothing to do with trans issues.” That is, beyond question, on the facts, a lie, yet the Times printed it. The only question is whether Hanlon’s Razor applies: is Goldberg intentionally lying, or is she stupid enough to believe it? Tough call.


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Comment Of The Day, On Ann Althouse’s Post About AG Merrick Garland’s Disgraceful House Hearing Performance In Discussing His Memo Threatening Dissenting Parents

I’ve never done this before and may never do it again; nor am I lacking candidates for Comment of the Day among the recent posts here. However, this comment by Althouse reader “This Person” was so gloriously to the point that I couldn’t resist.

Ann is accepting comments again after a brief interruption following her ill-considered tantrum over people paying more attention to commenters than her, or something. The Comment of the Day is, as regular readers here will immediately see, about the Ethics Alarms Rationalization #64, “Yoo’s Rationalization,” or “It isn’t what it is.” This has become the operating principle of the Democratic Party as it has forsworn accountability among its leaders and embraced the Big Lie tactic as enthusiastically and destructively as…anybody in history.

What clinched the COTD prize for This Person was his perceptive focus on Barack Obama as the most forceful instigator of this now routine party reflex. (Do note that #64 is named after the Republican lawyer who argued that waterboarding wasn’t technically torture. Both parties have used Yoo’s Rationalization, but only Democrats (so far) have become addicted to it.)

Here is This Person’s Comment of the Day on this Althouse post.


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Scary Ethics Tales, 10/29/21: The Horror!

Marlon’s been getting a workout here lately, and that’s even with me trying hard to avoid him by periodically using Geena Davis’s iconic movement from “The Fly” as a stand-in. In more positive Halloween news, this morning’s musical Halloween ethics seminar for New Jersey Lawyers went beautifully. Mike Messer decided to replace his Boris Karloff riff for “The Monster Mash” with a New Jersey mobster impression for the parody I shared yesterday on the famous New York ethics case from the Seventies, “The Dead Bodies Case” (Also known as “The Buried Bodies Case.”). It was so funny that we’re going to try to get a YouTube video of it for law schools to use when they cover the case, as most do.

If you are not familiar with that case, which has been referenced on “Law and Order,” “The Practice” and other legal TV shows of yore, go here.

1. Now THAT’s an unethical wife! In Connecticut, Donna Marino, 63, is charged with forging her husband’s signature on legal documents, pension checks, monetary settlements, and social security checks after she convinced him that he had Alzheimer’s Disease. He didn’t, although he obviously is none too bright. Investigators concluded that she forged her husband’s signature on his checks and legal documents, then deposited the funds—$600,000 worth—in a secret bank account. This went on for 20 years before John figured out that something was amiss. Donna kept him believing that he had the dreaded dementia illness by telling him that he didn’t remember wandering aimlessly around the neighborhood and not knowing her earlier in the day.

Sounds a little like the plot of “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” one of my favorite Halloween movies.

2. Speaking of horror—Terry McAuliffe’s campaign. One piece of signature significance for a politician is how he or she reacts when facing defeat. McAuliffe, the Clinton fundraiser and acolyte who may be even more ethically challenged than they are (if that’s possible), is losing the battle with Republican Glenn Younkin (who is no prize himself) thanks to the Democrat stating outright that parents should stay out of the policy decisions regarding what their children are taught in public schools. As the old knight memorably said,

Now McAuliffe’s poll numbers are imitating John Malkovich at the end of “In the Line of Fire,” so he’s trying more and more blatantly dishonest tactics:

  • As I wrote earlier, he has hired one of the Clinton lawyers who facilitated the Russian collusion hoax, and when this was discovered, McAuliffe’s staff sent out emails in all directions asking presumably friendly media outlets to “kill this.” And I mean all directions: Jonathan Turley reports getting one. (I’m insulted.)
  • They even sent one to Fox News, which is remarkable given that the eeevil news network recently discovered and revealed that McAuliffe has spent nearly $100,000 advertising “fake news” websites on Facebook. The  advertisements have been viewed about to 3.5 million times, and are hidden on a Facebook page with a similar name to a local news website. The ads link to third-party websites that that promote Democratic candidates with partisan spin and propaganda. Fox is the only organization revealing this.
  • I was just informed by a reader that she recieved a false flag promotion now being sent to Virginia voters. “Today we received a ‘pro Youngkin’ flyer that appears to come from the GOP because it features Trump,” the reader writes, ” ….but just above the address box is a dark black line – look very closely at the faded lettering (I had to use a magnifying glass) and you’ll see it is funded by the Democrat party with the approval of McAullife.” Nice one! I may have received one of these, but all campaign literature goes directly from my home’s floor to the trash. A genuine Youngkin mailer warns of McAuliffe attempting to place Virginia under “dictatorship.”

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To Be Fair, The Fact That Virginia’s Democratic Candidate For Governor Is A Sleaze Isn’t News…[UPDATED!]


In the last couple of hours, Fox News has been showing a copy of a misdirected email sent to Fox from the McAuliffe campaign asking recipients, news outlets all, to “kill” a story about revelations that the campaign has hired Mark Elias in the waning days of the race. Elias was previously a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie until his deep involvement in the Russian collusion hoax became an embarrassment to the firm, which worked for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Elias was involved in bringing on Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump that included Christopher Steele’s dossier according to a recent Justice Department report.

It’s no surprise that Clinton’s lawyers would also gravitate to McAuliffe, since he was a Clinton henchman for years. Sending a “please kill this story” email to Fox News, the one large TV news source that wouldn’t kill a story that might embarrass McAuliffe, shows desperation and carelessness by the Democrat’s team. McAuliffe’s poll numbers are in freefall, with GOP hopeful Glenn Youngkin soaring in the past week, not because of any special virtues on his part, but because of one self-inflicted wound after another by his adversary.

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