Ethics Reflections, 1/7/22: Two-Day Jan. 6 Hangover Edition

I don’t know about you, but I found Jan. 6’s orgy of hype and hate by Democrats and the news media in their effort to make a year-old event that had little significance into a permanent threat to the nation stunningly transparent. In many ways, it was also more damaging to the nation and its political culture than what it was supposedly condemning.

It amazes me that the same party that has been flogging the imaginary “destroying democratic norms” accusation against Donald Trump would have its own party’s President smash a critical norm so cynically by attacking a previous President and potential re-election opponent like Biden did yesterday. It was desperate, it was hypocritical, it was unwarranted, and it was flagrantly divisive. It also came from a POTUS who entered office pledging his determination to be a unifying force. Harris, meanwhile, managed to be even more nauseating than Joe by comparing the Capitol riots to the 9/11 bombings and Pearl Harbor. Is she that stupid? Meanwhile, the President’s whose party—and Vice-President—cheered on the BLM rioters ended his remarks with “We’re a nation of laws, of order, not chaos. Of peace, not violence.”

How much of the public is completely unable to see such hypocrisy? Democrats better hope it’s a lot. but as H. L. Mencken observed, no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people…

1. From the archives: Res Ipsa Loquitur…

2. And nobody could possibly go broke underestimating the stupidity and shamelessness of journalists…S.V. Dáte, the Huffington Post’s White House correspondent, tweeted that the January 6 riot was “1000 times worse” than 9/11.

How can anyone justify or explain that, except as uncontrolled Trump Derangement or deliberate false narrative building?

3. The Federalist did a nice job recalling  episodes of leftist mobs violently invading government buildings, none of which have been noted in mainstream media accounts of the 1/6 riot—all the better to prevent their readers from having necessary perspective. One took place as recently as October 14, 2021, when climate activists breached the Interior Department, and  demonstrators outside struggled with law enforcement officers as the mob tried to force its way in the building, shouting “Go inside! Go inside!” Some  pinned police against a wall, and there were a number of injuries, with one police officer being transported to the hospital. In 2011, thousands of progressives opposed to Republican Gov. Scott Walker invaded the Wisconsin state Capitol.  Then there was the George Floyd mob’s attack on the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon in July 2020. They began setting fires inside the fence protecting the courthouse and launching projectiles over it while trying to take it down. Several rioters got over the fence, as the mob aimed projectiles and flashed lasers at the federal police officers who tried to protect the building.

Of course, all of the incidents recalled by the Federalist are materially different: they couldn’t be connected to support for Donald Trump, or used by the media and Democrats to undermine it.

4. Jonathan Turley better watch out…if he isn’t careful, his blog will turn into a crazy right-wing echo chamber. The American University Constitutional Law prof whom we have seen increasingly lose patience with the allies of his progressive brethren issued an excellent (and for him, remarkably blunt) take-down of the Democrats’ January 6 orgy. Read it all, but here are some highlights..

...as shown by a recent CBS News poll…[the] majority of the public does not believe that this was an “insurrection” despite the mantra-like repetition of members of Congress and the media. The public saw that terrible day unfold a year ago and saw it for what it was: a protest that became a riot….

Not surprisingly, the poll received little comparative coverage on a day when reporters and commentators spoke of “the insurrection” as an undeniable fact….Using the term insurrection is now a litmus test. In the age of rage, one’s legitimacy is based on your volume and fury…Yet, “insurrection” and “sedition” are legal terms. They have a meaning. The FBI investigated thousands after January 6th and charged hundreds. Not one is charged with insurrection or sedition or conspiracy to overthrow the country… the fault still remains with the rioters themselves but this would have remained a protest if Congress had taken obvious steps of fencing and guard deployments. Indeed, those measures were used previously in Lafayette Park when the White House security was almost breached by rioters.

Yet, there remains a determined effort to keep the “insurrection” narrative “preserved.”

….media is now locked into echo chambers of their own making. We have seen the rise of advocacy journalism where the narrative, not the news, controls the reporting…

…The effort to disqualify Trump or Republican incumbents is unlikely to succeed. That will not diminish the damage. Indeed, it will only further fuel the anger and, yes, the potential for violence on both sides.

…there is a choice for the public. It can still reach its own conclusions . . . increasingly without the help of the media.

5. Turley, as well as several Ethics Alarms commenters, was also properly critical of an incompetent and manipulative CBS poll that gave just four options to respondents answering the question, “What happened at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021?”
The choices were an “insurrection,” “trying to overthrow the government,”  “patriotism” and “defending freedom.” No “a bunch of drunken idiots turned a protest into a riot,” or simply “a riot.” Not even “none of the above,” which with those choices would have been my only option. CBS’s narrative, however, was to show the deep divide between Republicans and Democrats.
Turley calls the poll “bizarre.” I find it more than bizarre that Turley used the results of a poll he harshly criticized as the mainspring of his attack on the January 6 hype.
6. Oh, NOW I remember! Sen. Ted Cruz had disgusted me during the 2015-2016 GOP Presidential candidates’ debates, and the reason was brought into sharp focus this past week.
Cruz described the events of January 6, 2021, as “a despicable act of terrorism.”  Why he said this was obvious immediately: Cruz will be running for President again, so his interests currently lie with the Democrats’ anti-Trump propaganda. The reaction from the strong and influential pro-Trump base to his remarks, however, were more furious than Cruz  anticipated, so he quickly went on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, and following Carlson’s tough criticism of his statement, groveled, saying, “The way I phrased things yesterday was sloppy, and it was, frankly, dumb.”
Charles Cooke writes in part,

This wasn’t Ted Cruz carefully debating the meaning and suitability of words and making a handful of concessions in the process; this was Ted Cruz noticing that his previous position had made him unpopular with his base… there was nothing “sloppy” about Cruz’s use of the word “terrorism.” Indeed, he had used that word in both official statements and interviews on a number of occasions before this week, including on January 7, 2021, on January 8, 2021 (twice), on January 25, 2021, and in May 2021. The difference this time was that someone with a big platform attacked him for it, and, coward that he is, he couldn’t take the heat….

Cruz would have been better off had he simply said, “Look, Tucker, I still want to be president, and your taking shots at me is hurting me, so tell me what I need to say to make you stop, I’ll agree to say it, and then we can all move on.”

Bingo. Cruz is a pandering weasel without integrity or an ethical core, and thus despite his intelligence and erudition, cannot be trusted.

7. Bias makes you stupid, and so will the mainstream media. In today’s New York Times op-ed pages, Deputy Opinion Editor Patrick Healy reports on what the Times learned from two focus groups, one made up of Democrats and one all Republican. This was yet another media effort to widen the divide in American society by hyping it.

In the Democrat room, six of nine participants claimed that the riot was “one of the biggest things” that happened in 2021. Since the riot had no lasting or substantive effect on the nation whatsoever except to provide the Democrats and the media with another narrative to beat Donald Trump with, how could they, or anyone, believe that? They believe it because their news sources worked so hard to make them believe it. The members of the public who favor the same biases carried by the Times, NPR, the Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC and the rest, so they absorbed an otherwise indefensible view of reality, just as the propagandists and their clients want them to.

8. Being stupid also makes you stupid…Among the Republicans, 7 of 9 said  they believed that Trump won the 2020 election.

8 thoughts on “Ethics Reflections, 1/7/22: Two-Day Jan. 6 Hangover Edition

  1. 4/5.) It seems that the option “A protest that went too far” was included in the poll, CBS simply decided to drop it from their graphic. The results for that option were:

    (all respondents): Yes: 76%, No: 24%
    Dem: Yes: 69%, No: 31%
    Rep: Yes: 80%, No: 20%

    Respondents were allowed to select multiple options, so someone could select “A protest that went too far” as well as “Insurrection”.

    Full poll results:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QNzK7xBJeWzKlTrHVobLgyFtId9Cgsq_/view

    • That certainly highlights the benefit of going to the original source as opposed to accepting what even a mostly trusted source said about the matter.
      But, a caveat — we might still not have the original source. At the link it says “updated-with changes”. So, did Turley see an earlier version of the results? What was changed, and why? Well, we can just ask CBS and they’ll explain, right?

        • But, polls!
          As you have noted more than once, they cannot be taken at face value.
          What were the exact questions? Was the language clear and did the terms used have commonly understood and accepted definitions? Were the response choices randomly sorted from one questionnaire to another or did all respondents get them in the same order? Were the response choices mutually exclusive? How many participated, who were they, and how were they selected? And, much more.
          A thorough analysis of the poll questionnaire often will reveal the political bias of the person or group conducting the poll.

  2. 9/11 – the Twin Towers destroyed, the Pentagon badly damaged, 2,977 people killed, including 343 firemen, 72 law enforcement officers, 8 medics, 55 members of the military, 8 children. Victims and first responders alike are still dying of related illnesses. Result: the War on Terror.

    Pearl Harbor – 188 military aircraft destroyed on the ground or shot down, five battleships sunk or disabled, three others damaged, 8 other vessels damaged. 2,403 people killed, including 2,008 sailors (1,177 of those on the USS Arizona), 218 soldiers and airmen, 109 marines, and 9 Honolulu firemen who came in to help. Result: American entrance into WW2.

    Fort Sumter, April 1861 – no one was killed, but the result was the opening of the Civil War, 600,000, Americans all, killed, and a wound opened which apparently still hasn’t healed, although a lot of us thought it had.

    Assault on Washington, August 1814 – unknown number killed, the destruction of much of the public buildings, including the gutting of the White House and severe damage to the Capitol.

    Assault on Hampden, ME, September 1814 – only one killed and a few others wounded, two American towns burned to the ground by UK Captain Robert Barrie, who said that he’d have been within his rights to massacre the inhabitants.

    Manhattan Draft Riots, July, 1863 – 120 killed, riots crushed.

    Bonus Army, July, 1932 – 2, possibly more killed, demonstration dispersed.

    Occupy Movement, 2011 – 32 killed, achieved nothing.

    Kent State – 4 killed.

    George Floyd Riots – 58 people dead (I think), billions in property damage.

    Compare this to one rioter shot dead by a police officer and no major damage done last year.

    Now we can also talk about occupations – the 2011 attempted takeover of the Wisconsin State Capitol in opposition to a budget repair bill that Governor Scott Walker pushed, which was crushed with no concessions, the Occupy movement, which accomplished nothing except maybe getting a lot of millennials to move out of their parents’ basements (hopefully mom and dad immediately changed the locks), and oh yes, the assaults on both the Senate and the Supreme Court during the Kavanaugh hearings. Funny, each of those times the media sided with the protestors, not the authorities. After all, those times it was all oppression of their good buddies in the Democratic Party and the professional protest community getting stepped on. This time it was a bunch of brainless, fat, toothless (ever notice how conservatives are always supposed to have bad teeth?) yahoos attacking the Capitol and putting their pals in the Squad in danger. It never once struck them as ironic that this time they were strongly against the same behavior their pink pussy hat wearing friends had committed not even four years earlier.

    That’s because context and perspective are often the enemies of polarization, divisiveness, certitude, and outrage. The burning of Washington looks pretty bad on its own, but if you add in the fact that American militia had previously burned the public buildings in York (now Toronto) unnecessarily, then maybe it still looks bad, but a bit more understandable. The Kent State shootings look pretty bad if that’s all you look at, but when you put that event in the context of being preceded by five days of violent protest, vandalism, and radical strong arming of ordinary people (i.e. telling business owners put up an anti-war sign or we’ll burn your business), and assaults on first responders, plus a refusal to disperse even when tear gas was used, it’s hard not to at least entertain the thought, “what the hell else were they supposed to do?” Do we even need to talk about how most discussions of the death of George Floyd leave out the facts that he was resisting arrest, high as a kite, and already in bad shape? Never mind that he was a lifelong petty criminal. He doesn’t look like an innocent martyr just going about his business when you figure all that in.

    Let’s talk perspective here. This nation has realistically been in existential danger maybe four times. The first time was when it was fighting for its existence and most vulnerable. Any nation is vulnerable in its infancy. The second time was when it almost came apart over slavery and (to a lesser degree) state’s rights (which you might also see differently if you look at the Nullification Crisis and its history). The third time was possibly WW2, and the 4th was possibly when the Soviets acquired the bomb. I wonder about the last two. The fact is that the Japanese might have taken the American territories in the Pacific, but they were never going to be able to conquer the lower 48, they simply did not have the numbers. The fact is also that the Nazis weren’t going to come here, they had neither the numbers nor the transport capability. If they couldn’t land an army in the UK or take Moscow, do you think they were seriously coming here? The fact is also that the Soviets might have ranted, but they weren’t idiots. They knew that if they tried to destroy the US they were going to get destroyed too, and a conquest means nothing if you aren’t there to enjoy it.

    Given all of this, given that 11 states in active rebellion couldn’t destroy this nation, do you seriously think that 300 or so fringe righties were going to overthrow the Federal government? Use your head. The Capitol covers 4 acres, not all of it defensible, it’s a government building, not a fort. You think 300 people are going to be enough to garrison that? The House alone is 535 people and they all fit into one chamber. Speaking of garrisoning, a garrison is only as safe as its supply of food and water, and it doesn’t look like any of these clowns brought any. Once the water and electricity were shut off, and they would be, they would be nowhere. A garrison also needs one other thing: arms. As far as I know one handgun, chemical irritants and a few melee type weapons were seized. Some other weapons were taken at other events, but not at the Capitol. Do you seriously think this rabble could hold that building against a police force, just the Capitol Police, who outnumbered them six to one? That’s before we figure in the DC Metro Police and the myriad Department of Justice agencies, never mind the National Guard. They would have lasted a few days, a week tops, before a force ten times their number, complete with battle armor and assault rifles, would have cleared them out. The business of government was going to go forward, at most it would be delayed a few days. Even if they continued to hold the building, do you think they would have seriously been able to take even the first step toward governing? Don’t be ridiculous.

    The Democratic Party is trying to sell the American people a bill of goods, the media is running the commercials, and this is one of their main selling points. The same party that at best looked the other way and at worst gave active support as Antifa and Black Lives Matter trashed the downtown of almost every major city in this country and was poised to move on to the residential areas and suburbs, wants you to believe that this one very small group that did this one not-very-successful thing is a much bigger threat than those other groups that they used as a militia. The same party that sent those same militias and others against the same building in an attempt to stop a SCOTUS justice from being confirmed, wants you to think this was the only assault on this building that mattered. The same party that spent five damn years trying to undermine a duly elected president (they started before he was even elected) wants you to forget that it did all that, and focus only on this one act. The same party that tried to defund and, in some cases, do away with the police, before finding out the hard way that didn’t work, now wants to ride the graves of officers who did not even die in this riot to rally your unflinching support. If you dare say you don’t see it that way, or that you have some questions, they want to call you an insurrectionist or a supporter and throw you in jail.

    What is more, they are pushing this while they suck at everything else. This is a magician’s trick, to guide your eyes elsewhere while he moves the trap or triggers the lock that will make you think he can work magic, when no one can. They want you not to notice that you are getting banged at the pump and $4.00/gallon gas is probably just the other side of Memorial Day. They want you to forget that your grocery bill is up by 20% or more, paying for the same stuff in the same amounts. They want you to brush by the disaster that was the withdrawal from Afghanistan. They want to trick you into believing that this administration is a job machine, when in reality most jobs “created” are people going back to those they lost due to the pandemic and it’s unfair to compare jobs per month on 8 months against 4 or 8 years. Oh, and speaking of the pandemic, they’d have you believe that they’ve just about got it licked, that normal life is just around the corner, but every time it’s in view, somehow these new variants just keep popping up, and blame those new variants on those who aren’t living in fear, wearing masks every time they leave the house and doing everything by zoom. They also want you to believe that the greatest danger to this country isn’t Islamic terror resurging in Afghanistan, it isn’t China looking hungrily at Taiwan and other nations it knows Biden won’t defend, and it isn’t the gas station with nukes run by a tyrant that is Russia. Nope, it’s none of those things. It’s your own neighbor. The neighbor who has too much vanilla and not enough chocolate. The neighbor who dares to say the 2020 election had problems, even if he stops short of saying Trump won. The neighbor who belongs to the wrong church, or any house of worship except a black church or a mosque. The neighbor you think might have voted the wrong way last time. The neighbor who you think owns a gun, even though you’ve never seen him misuse it. The neighbor who has the blue stripe in his window. The neighbor who WASN’T out last summer protesting. These neighbors are all guilty of wrongthink, and THAT’S the real enemy.

    You still willing to buy all this?

  3. 8.) If the poll results document linked to above is legit (my overall trust level has degraded to the point where I now suspect everything), the question asked was:

    “Regardless of who you wanted to win, do you consider Joe Biden as the legitimate winner of the 2020
    presidential election – that is, that Biden was the choice of more voters, with more legally-cast votes, in enough states to be elected – or not?”

    I can imagine seizing on the word “legitimate” in the question and thinking to myself, even though the question itself defines “legitimate” as simply the candidate who got the most legally-cast votes, “well, no, the election process itself was so undermined by a massive effort by the vast majority of supposedly objective media to attack one of the candidates will promoting the other that the results of the process are not legitimate”.

    Also, answering “no” to the above does not mean that one thinks that Trump won or that Biden is not the president.

    • That about sums it up for me. Even if every single vote was legal, the lead-up to it was a mockery. The Fair Folk of British Isles folklore famously could not break their word, but that mattered little to them. Faerie glamour meant the people to whom they made their oaths only saw and heard what the Fey wanted them to.

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