Crowbar, ProBar, Whatever…

toy train wreck

Fake news, fake hero, media bias, unethical joke, Poe’s Law—this tiny ethics train wreck, an insignificant side-track in the 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck, is still depressing…

First, CNN reported that the heroic Rep. Ted Lieu, one of the most unethical and hateful members of Congress (so naturally he’s been designated an impeachment manager by Pelosi) grabbed a crowbar as he prepared to do battle with the rogue demonstrators who rushed the Capitol for the hell of it on January 6.

Nothing like the news media pumping up a toxic jerk just because he’s a Democrat…confirmation bias at its worst. CNN’s reporter heard what he or she wanted to hear, but Lieu did not, in fact, grab a crowbar. He grabbed a ProBar energy bar, so CNN had to issue a correction:

“CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misstated that Rep. Ted Lieu grabbed a crowbar before leaving his office. He grabbed a ProBar energy bar.

This, in turn, prompted some wag to post this fake CNN correction:

Fake CNN correction

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/15/2021: Tapper, AOC, Fox, And The Brick

Trump inaug riots

I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to finding out how the media and Democrats distinguish the “mostly peaceful protests” in Washington around Biden’s inauguration next week and the equivalent in 2017, when the antifa was going around punching “Nazis” in the face. Funny, the fact that Hillary Clinton stated that she was part of “the resistance” and that the sainted John Lewis said that Trump was not a “legitimate President had no influence on that riot whatsoever…

1. I’m sure this is just a coincidence. During the shutdown which effectively killed the economy that was President Trump’s primary argument for re-election, I successfully fought off the nagging little voice in my head that said that this was a deliberate effort by Democrats to use the pandemic as a excuse to wreck the Trump administration’s record. I mean, who would be that Machiavellian to put millions out of work just to win an election? Then the teacher’s unions used their influence to keep the schools closed—but I still ignored that little voice.

And I’m still ignoring it now, but I have to say, the timing of this would support a conspiracy theory…

stephen_miller_lockdown_narrative_changes_01-15-2021

Nah. Can’t be.

2. Is it possible that Fox News doesn’t understand why it exists? Fox has had a catastrophic ratings crash since election night, when it called Arizona for Biden ahead of several other organizations, seemingly pointing to a Trump defeat. This, combined with Chris Wallace’s questionable fairness to the President when he moderated the first debate, caused an avalanche of conservatives to abandon Fox News for NewsMax, which is surging. Last week Fox News finished third behind MSNBC and CNN, which hasn’t happened since the Clinton administration.

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For The “Scared Yet?” Files: Glenn Greenwald On Parler’s Take-Down

List of apps

Greenwald, who lost his own organization for insisting on fair reporting on the Hunter Biden scandal deliberately hidden from the public by the partisan media, has delivered an excellent account of what was done to Parler. This is why Ethics Alarms subscribes to his new platform, substack. He is one of that nearly extinct species, a journalist who reports the facts, wherever they may lead.

Of the attack on Parler, the surging alternative to Twitter, Greenwald writes in part,

If one were looking for evidence to demonstrate that these tech behemoths are, in fact, monopolies that engage in anti-competitive behavior in violation of antitrust laws, and will obliterate any attempt to compete with them in the marketplace, it would be difficult to imagine anything more compelling than how they just used their unconstrained power to utterly destroy a rising competitor…In October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law issued a 425-page report concluding that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google all possess monopoly power and are using that power anti-competitively. For Apple, they emphasized the company’s control over iPhones through its control of access to the App Store….Parler learned that Google, without warning, had also “suspended” it from its Play Store, severely limiting the ability of users to download Parler onto Android phones. Google’s actions also meant that those using Parler on their Android phones would no longer receive necessary functionality and security updates….

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From The “Scared Yet?” Files…Ethics Dunce: Cumulus Media; Ethics Hero: Mark Levin

zipping the lip

It’s interesting, isn’t it? The Washington Post, which has been suppressing news unfavorable to progressives and Democrats for years, delivered a thorough and competent report on conservative Cumulus Media muzzling its hosts regarding doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election.

The Post reports:

Cumulus Media, which employs some of the most popular right-leaning talk-radio hosts in the United States, has told its on-air personalities to stop suggesting that the election was stolen from President Trump — or else face termination.

“We need to help induce national calm NOW,” Brian Philips, executive vice president of content for Cumulus, wrote in an internal memo, which was first reported by Inside Music Media. Cumulus and its program syndication arm, Westwood One, “will not tolerate any suggestion that the election has not ended. The election has been resolved and there are no alternate acceptable ‘paths.’ ” The memo adds: “If you transgress this policy, you can expect to separate from the company immediately.

Some comments, in no particular order:

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Ethics Cool-Down, 1/8/2021: Be Afraid…[Corrected]

I checked: over the past seven years, no fewer than six regular Ethics Alarms commenters have written me to say they were withdrawing from the blog for reasons related to their emotional, mental or physical health.

Ethics is supposed to be good for you…

1. The President announced that he would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration, thus overtaking Hillary Clinton as the “worst loser” in all of American Presidential history. Andrew Johnson declined to see in his successor, President Grant, and was certainly bitter, but he didn’t lose the election: he wasn’t even nominated. John Adams, who did lose to Jefferson in his bid for a second term, didn’t attend his lifetime frenemy’s swearing in, but had the valid excuse that he was mourning the death of his son Charles. John Quincy Adams, John’s son, comes closest to Trump’s sore loser act, as he also refused to go to the inauguration of the man who defeated him, Andrew Jackson. However, “Quincy” had good reason to be afraid of “Old Hickory,” who was furious with Adams for letting his campaign attack his wife.

Trump should attend the inauguration, of course, though I am not surprised that he isn’t. It would be a unifying gesture, and would also show character, courage, and patriotism. It is an important tradition for the incoming and outgoing Presidents to jointly engage in the orderly transfer of power.

2. The vise tightens. Apparently Big Tech and social media have decided not to even try to hide their collective assault on free expression and dissenting views:

  • Twitter permanently banned the President of the United States from its platform. I don’t care what their official excuse is: this is a major communications source placing its fist down hard on one side of the scales of political discourse. It signaled this long ago, for those of us who weren’t trying to gaslight the public. Civil libertarians should be concerned, but they aren’t, because they almost unanimously are perfectly happy to see those they don’t like or disagree with silenced. Iran’s Ayatollah, meanwhile, can still send out tweets while he supports terrorism.
  • Facebook also banned the President from its platform. Again, this is purely partisan political censorship. The US is facing a single party in control of two branches of the government allied with the news media, social media and the tech firms to stifle dissent and political opposition.

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Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/2021: Zombie Lawyers! Imaginary News! Dead Ethics Alarms! Wrong Numbers!

zombie-hand

1. The Florida Bar, protecting us all against unethical zombie lawyers...Last month, the Florida Supreme Court approved that Florida Bar’s decision to disbar Sabrina Starr Spradley, a 41-year-old attorney in private practice in Delray Beach, Florida. She died more than a year ago. The rules do not require another attorney or family member to tell the bar when a lawyer being disciplined has died, so poor Sabrina had to suffer the post mortem indignity of being labeled an unethical lawyer.

“We do have 108,000 lawyers in Florida,” a Florida Bar spokesperson explained. “There are a lot of individuals that we regulate. We rely on people to inform us.”

Why? How hard is it to routinely check the obituaries before wasting the Supreme Court’s time?

2. For the fake news Hall of Fame. Because President Trump is “reportedly” (whatever that means) “considering” flying to Scotland instead of attending Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the Independent reports that Scotland won’t allow him in, because it wouldn’t be “essential” travel. Can a news headline (“Trump not allowed into Scotland to escape Biden inauguration, Sturgeon warns” ) be built on fewer facts than this?

Incidentally, there’s no law requiring an outgoing President to attend the inauguration of a President, and if Trump declines to do so, he would not be the first. He’d be the fourth, following John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson. A gracious transfer of power is always in the best interest of the nation, and Trump would do himself a favor if he just sucked it up and pretended to be a statesman. I doubt that he will.

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On Kamala, King, Lies, The Media And The Julie Principle

King and Harris

Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris has a favorite story she likes to tell about her childhood, most recently in Elle Magazine. The article begins with the anecdote: Harris was attending a civil rights march in Oakland, California as a toddler. She fell out of her stroller, and,

“‘My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing,and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’”

The story also appears in Harris’s 2010 book “Smart on Crime” as well as her book published in 2019 titled “The Truths We Hold.” Yet it sounded strangely familiar to some people this time around, and sure enough, it seems that the tale is oddly similar to a story Rev. Martin Luther King related in his famous interview published in Playboy a half-century ago. During the interview, King recalled an incident:

“I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. “‘What do you want?’ the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, ‘Fee-dom.’ She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.”

Now Harris is being mocked on social media and by conservative pundits for her apparently fake and stolen story.

Observations:

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Ethics Flotsam And Jetsam, 1/4/21, Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Past

Gatsby

 “The Great Gatsby‘s” 1925 copyright expired on January 1, 2021, and right on cue, Amazon announced that it was selling a now-legal prequel to that wildly over-praised F. Scott Fitzgerald novel called “Nick,” by Michael Ferris Smith: “A tumultuous origin story of one of the most famous and unforgettable literary narrators, Nick is a true cross-continental bildungsroman. This emotional novel successfully puts “The Great Gatsby” into an entirely new perspective and era: from the battlefields of World War I to the drunken streets of Paris and New Orleans. Dive back into the world of an unparalleled classic.”

It’s not unethical exactly, I guess it’s just pathetic. This author was waiting to scavenge someone else’s original work, and had his rip-off ready the second the bell tolled. The similarly creatively challenged among you now can repurpose and sell as your own books like Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” Ernest Hemingway’s “In Our Time,” Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” (in German) Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” John Dos Passos’s “Manhattan Transfer,” and Sinclair Lewis’s “Arrowsmith” (a personal favorite) among others.

1. Nah, the Democrats aren’t turning into totalitarians! That’s going to be the most-used gaslighting reference here in the ordeal to come I fear, as foretold by this screed in the New Yorker (Pointer: Arthur in Maine) by John Cassidy. Its thesis is that there are legislative steps that can be taken to make sure no political outsider like Donald Trump will ever again defeat establishment hacks like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Among the steps to “Trump-proof” the Presidency: require all candidates to sell off any businesses they own (lifetime politicians don’t own businesses), force them to release their tax returns, try various end-arounds the Electoral College (none of which are constitutional, in my view), and adopt ranked-choice voting so third and fourth party candidates have no chance whatsoever (they do it in New Zealand, so it must be better than our system).

I’d take the time to fisk this thing, but it begins falling apart on its own like Captain Queeg on the witness stand about halfway through, descending into standard anti-Trump blather about “norms,” lies, and “verbal assaults on the media” (which thoroughly deserved them).

The author really exposes his bias when he cites Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as his ethics authority, a group that somehow only finds ethics violations in the Republican Party.

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Saturday Evening Ethics Post, 1/2/2021

10-saturday-evening-post-magazines

State of the Blog: Yesterday marked the 365 day low point in Ethics Alarms traffic after what was otherwise a lively year. Coincidentally, it also marked the all-time high point in Ethics Alarms followers, if you don’t count Twitter, which I do not.

I’ve got a lot of housekeeping to do on the blog, and I’m hoping the annual dead spot after New Years gives me time to do i. This includes fixing some broken links, continuing to fix typos both old and new (Pennagain and Other Bill provide a marvelous service by flagging them, and I am behind right now), taking down some pages and categories that are or will soon be out-dated in the wake of President Trump’s defeat, taking the time to see if I can master the WordPress “block” system which right now robs me of an extra 30 to 40 minutes every day, and finishing and posting several articles that have been hanging around my neck in various states of incompletion. There are a couple of rationalizations that need posting, too, and some Comments of the Day that fell through the cracks.

I always have hope that I will get up the Ethics Alarms Awards for the year, which I have failed to do now for several cycles. They are fun, but they take a lot of time, and the stats say few read them. I may try a less ambitious version

Facebook finally allows me to link to articles, though it won’t post the graphics like it will for other websites, but after two years of being blocked for violating Facebook community standards, I consider that progress.

To be honest, I’m tired, and right now I’m sick and tired. The core group of commenters here keeps me focused on the mission, and for that I am grateful beyond words.

1. I was going to devote a whole post in rant form to this, but I calmed down. In August of last year, The Robert H. Jackson Center hosted a discussion on comedian George Carlin’s “7 Dirty Words” and the 5-4 FCC v. Pacifica Foundation SCOTUS decision in 1978 upholding the broadcast restrictions on George Carlin’s “seven dirty words” routine as well as the words he discussed. Emmy-nominated producer Stephen J. Morrison, serving as moderator, was joined by comedian Lewis Black, Carlin’s daughter Kelly Carlin and Cornell Law professor Howard Leib. I stumbled upon a recording of the discussion on the Sirius-XM “Classic Comics” station, and my head exploded so many times that I had to clean up the car like John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction.”

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