Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/22/2019: Five Ugly Ethics Stories (Sorry!)

A pleasant Sunday…

as long as I don’t read the newspaper or watch the Talking Heads…

1. Before I finish a long post about the most recent contrived Brett Kanavaugh smear by the New York Times, ponder this quote from the Times review of “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh”: “[The authors] come to a generous but also damning conclusion, which is that Blasey Ford and Ramirez are believable and were in fact mistreated by Kavanaugh as teenagers, but that over the next 35 years he became a better person.”

Ugh. The conclusion is “damning” because it relies almost entirely on confirmation bias: Blasey Ford’s own lawyer revealed that her motive in using her “recovered memory” against Kavanaugh was to discredit any anti-abortion opinions he participated in as a member of the court. The accusation of Ramirez isn’t, apparently, even believable to Ramirez herself, since she says she isn’t certain that the Mad Penis-Dangler was Bret Kavanaugh. Why then, do the authors find the claims “believable”? Oh, because they want to believe them, of course; they work for the New York Times, and they certainly weren’t going to get their book promoted by their employer and snatched up by it readers if they concluded, as objective reporters would, that there is no more reason to believe Justice Kavanaugh did these things than there is reason to believe he didn’t.

The real ugh is this, however: if even these biased analysts conclude that the accusations, even if true, do not have any relevance on the grown man who was nominated to the Supreme Court because they relate to a minor who existed 35 years ago—and who has, as most children do, grown up—then the episodes that their book focuses upon literally don’t matter, shouldn’t have been brought into Kavanaugh’s hearing,  and should not be used now to denigrate and discredit him.

2. From “Social Q’s,” a glimpse of what a malfunctioning ethics alarm is like. Prompting the frequently appearing question in my mind, “How does someone get like this?” was the query into Phillip Gallane’s advice column from a woman who threw herself a birthday party, directed guests not to bring gifts but to make a donation to a charity she supports instead, and was annoyed that some brought gifts anyway. She asked if it would be inappropriate to send the gifts back with a disapproving note so they “would listen” to her “next time.”

I know what I would do “next time”…

3. Hey, sounds great, Facebook! What wouldn’t everyone trust your judgment? Facebook announced  a series of changes last week to squelch hate speech and extremism—meaning what Facebook and its allies consider such— on its platform in a letter to the chairman of a House panel, Facebook said it would prevent links from the fringe sites 8chan and 4chan from being posted on its platform—you, know like it blocks links to Ethics Alarms!  Then it explained how it would develop an oversight board of at least 11 members to review and oversee content decisions—like the decision that a wide-ranging ethics blog that has no political affiliation or agenda, written by a professional ethicist of some note, doesn’t meet the Facebook “community standards.”

In other, unrelated news regarding the obstacles being thrown in my path, the Appeals Court in Massachusetts finally alerted me that it was taking “under advisement” the request for an appeal of the rejected frivolous defamation suit filed about two years ago by a banned commenter here whose boo-boo I wounded.

(I am not concerned.) Continue reading

Reporting The Mysterious Ukraine “Scandal”: Once Again, I’m Fighting The Urge To Conclude That These Are Just Corrupt, Terrible People

 

And losing.

When the first notice of the unnamed whistle-blower’s complaint about—well, something involving the President and the Ukraine surfaced on the New York Times front page, in an article that was so devoid of facts, details and corroboration that its only excuse for publication was to titillate Trump-Haters, I wrote,

“This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term… For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama.”

Well, I’ve been waiting. As predicted, Democratic impeachment-mongers and Presidential hopefuls are screaming to the skies, and the mainstream media has been flogging the as-yet non-story, another species of fake news, as if it were the Second Coming. Yet here is how the New York Times itself explained the alleged scandal:

What did Mr. Trump do?

In a July 25 phone call, Mr. Trump is said to have pressed the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate Mr. Biden’s younger son, Hunter, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company. Mr. Trump has seized on an unsubstantiated theory that Mr. Biden was trying to protect the company from prosecution when he called for the firing of Ukraine’s top prosecutor in 2016. Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyers, has pushed the Ukrainian government to investigate the matter.

Is “said to have”? By whom? This is not news reporting, it’s gossip. The Biden theory is unsubstantiated? The theory the Times has published multiple stories about regarding the President’s interactions with the Ukraine is far less substantiated.

Why is this coming up now?

Because of an intelligence community whistle-blower who filed a complaint last month about the president’s actions. An inspector general deemed the complaint “credible” and “urgent” and forwarded it to the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, who has refused to share it with Congress….

Amazingly, it has now been revealed that the “whistle-blower” did not have  direct knowledge of the communications between President Trump and the foreign leader in question. An official who has been briefed on the matter, however, told CNN that the whistleblower “didn’t have direct knowledge of the communications.” The official said that the concerns and subsequent complaint came in part from the whistleblower “learning information that was not obtained during the course of their work.” That’s hearsay by definition, and means that the report has no probative or evidentiary value whatsoever until it is independently verified. Until then, it is also not news.

What did the whistle-blower claim?

The full extent of the whistle-blower’s complaint, as well as the whistle-blower’s identity, is not publicly known. Reporting by The New York Times and others has established that the complaint involves Mr. Trump’s interactions with Ukraine and a phone call with a foreign leader — possibly, but not necessarily, Mr. Zelensky. It is not clear if it includes other matters.

This is really what the Times itself says. A “whistleblower” from the intelligence community made a complaint about something he was told by an an unnamed party about a private phone call with a yet to be identified official.

Here’s my favorite, though: Continue reading

Saturday Night Ethics Fever, 9/21/2019: Crazy Stuff

1. A simple, factual, ethical rebuttal to Beto O’Rourke, who panders to the anti-gun Democratic base by saying that he’ll confiscate the weapons he thinks we don’t “need.” Lauren Boebert, who with her husband owns local restaurant Shooters Grill, where she and a lot of the staff  open carry a loaded firearm,  confronted  O’Rourke at a town hall in Aurora Colorado. “I was one of the gun-owning Americans who heard you speak regarding your ‘Hell yes, I’m going to take your AR-15s and AK-47s.’ Well, I’m here to say, ‘Hell no, you’re not!”

She was, of course, correct, just as Beto was grandstanding to the ignorant and fearful, in deliberate defiance of the Constitution.

To his credit, Beto tried to control the rabid anti-Second Amendment fanatics in his crowd  who tried to shout Boebert down, as she continued,  “We all have these stories. We all have the experiences. I was living in Aurora during Columbine. I had just recently moved when the Aurora shootings happened. Yet I have very close ties here. Yet all of those people were there defenseless.”

“They had no way to defend themselves against a crazed shooter, so I want to know how you intend to legislate the hearts of men and leave American citizens like myself, American mothers,” Boebert said. above the  abuse from the crowd. “I have four children. I’m 5 foot zero, one hundred pounds, and cannot really defend myself with a fist.”

Then she told a heckler near her that  she didn’t have her AR-15 with her, but  was carrying her Glock. “Well, you shouldn’t have that,” the man said.

Wrong again. It’s not his call, nor his business, whether she has a pistol or not.

2. From the wasteful and pointless protests files: “Hundreds of thousands” of 20-somethings and kids took part in a global protest against “inaction on climate change.” What do they know about climate change? Only what they have been told by agenda- driven activists, teachers and politicians, almost all of them without genuine scientific comprehension of the complexities, vagaries and uncertainty of the topic themselves. Are hundreds of thousands of people who don’t really know what they are talking about more persuasive than, say, one? Should they be?

No. Leading these innocents to believe otherwise is a cruel joke. Margot Guillen of Harvest Collegiate High School, told Yahoo News she was there to send a message, saying, “By protesting peacefully, it shows how committed our generation is to making a change and showing that we know what’s happening and we need to stop it.” They don’t know what’s happening, though, and they don’t know how to stop “it,” in part because they don’t know what “it” is, when “it” will occur, what the extent of “it” will be, and even whether “it,” whatever “it” is, will occur at all.

Good protest.

Typical. Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Melissa Barnett, The Washington Township, NJ. Public Schools’ Head Of English Language Arts

Nice.

Nah, there’s no public school political indoctrination!

Like most aspiring totalitarians who inadvertently reveal their true nature and agendas, Melissa took down her tweet, and is now hoping that no parents with my proclivities saw it and will demand both an explanation of what she means by “relevant,” what the standards were for eliminating these books, and the titles of the books that were sent to the book-bins of history.

_____________________________

Pointer: Rod Dreher, who writes, “Those poor children of Washington Township schools. The teachers responsible for their education are throwing old books into Dumpsters, and filling their minds with histories of privilege, oppression, and power. It’s all from Paul Gorski and his “Equity Literacy” idea, which is the Marxisization of teaching high school literature. Look at the Principles Of Equity Literacy”… Continue reading

The Big Lies Of The “Resistance”: A Directory. Big Lie #6: “Trump’s Defiance Of Norms Is A Threat To Democracy”

My intention to complete the directory what I consider to be the primary seven big lies of the resistance today was unexpectedly bolstered by yet another intellectually indefensible screed by Steven Levitsky and , the two authority-abusing political scientists who wrote the equally indefensible “Why Democracies Die.” This one is a New York Times op-ed titled Why Republicans Play Dirty (They fear that if they stick to the rules, they will lose everything. Their behavior is a threat to democratic stability.)”

Even though the latest from these twp partisans posing as objective scholars focuses on the GOP rather than the President, the dishonest strategy is the same. The exact conduct being engaged in by the “resistance” and the Democrats is projected on their adversaries, accompanied by the false claim that they are endangering American democracy. In truth, the calculated efforts to de-legitimatize the President, his election, and the Supreme Court by “the resistance”(and in this group we must include unethical academics like Levitsky and

And, of course, the New York Times gives the two a platform for their distortions. Of course.

Here’s the opening argument of Levitsky and this morning: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2019: Not Funny!

Ah! It finally feels like a September morning!

1. Not fake news, exactly, just half-baked news. On the New York Times front page, right hand column above the fold is the headline “Claim on Trump Is Said To Involve Foreign Leader.” Reading it, we learn that an unspecified complaint has been made by a an unnamed whistle-blower “in the intelligence community” that is “said” (by no named source) to involve President Trump saying something, promising something or implying something, at least partially involving the Ukraine, according to two sources also un-named. This is apparently all being investigated by the appropriate inspector general.

I’m serious. This is what the Times considers front page news now. Instantly, “resistance” members and Democrats will leap to the conclusion that whatever it is, it’s impeachable. Those who are thoroughly sick of the successive coup attempts will assume that this is one more concocted sliming by the Deep State, so we can have a “Russiagate” style investigation that will hamstring President Trump’s second term. Those who are focusing on the mainstream news media’s war on the President will conclude that the Times, having once again exposed itself as less a journalism organization than a Democratic Party hit squad with its self-indicting misrepresentation of accusations against Justice Kavanaugh, rushed a non-story into print as a diversion.

For my part, I’ll wait for actual facts, thanks. I don’t trust “the intelligence community” not to manufacture ways to undermine the Presidency, not after Comey, McCabe, the FISA fiasco, the FBI lovebirds texts, and Mueller’s statements, among other smoking guns. I don’t trust the Times reporting, I don’t trust President Trump not to do or say something that crosses ethical or legal lines, and I certainly don’t trust Congressional Democrats to determine what are serious transgressions by this President and what are typical maneuvers that have only become ominous because he isn’t Barack Obama. Continue reading

The Lying Game Continues: Was There A 9-11 Switcheroo In North Carolina?

A Paul Krugman column this week titled Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy” began,

Item: Last week Republicans in the North Carolina House used the occasion of 9/11 to call a surprise vote, passing a budget bill with a supermajority to override the Democratic governor’s veto. They were able to do this only because most Democrats were absent, some of them attending commemorative events; the Democratic leader had advised members that they didn’t need to be present because, he says, he was assured there would be no votes that morning.

Elizabeth Warren (via tweet), the Washington Post and other news outlets repeated the same story. It wasn’t true. NPR’s North Carolina affiliate checked the facts with local reporter Paul Specht of the Raleigh News & Observer. He explained how the rumor—for that’s what it was, despite Warren, Krugman, the Washington Post et al. reporting it as fact—got started.

“It’s hard to tell where it started,” Specht told NPR.  “You know, in some cases the news and reporters and other observers were victims of circumstance.’

Baloney, by the way. The “circumstance” here was that reporters didn’t verify the story. Specht is covering for his habitually unethical colleagues.

“The vote happened the morning of September 11. And that morning, as we all know, there’s a national moment of silence…And you, know, I think people just took all that information — they heard keywords, they heard, you know, “Republicans vote,” “Democrats absent,” “9/11,” morning of. And then people jumped to assumptions about where the Democrats were. There were a few outlets both locally here in Raleigh, WTVD, and then national outlets, too, they got it wrong. Whether it was Now This, which posts viral videos, the Washington Post, also, its headline was inaccurate. It took it a little while to correct so misinformation was all over the place.”

Wow! Is American journalism terrific, or what? Continue reading