OK, What’s Going On Here?

In the Washington Post yesterday, the Washington Post’s Sunday “Outlook” section included an op-ed in which  Lawrence Downes,  a former member of the New York Times editorial board, enthusiastically wrote about his new pastime:

[I have] right-wing culture war books from the Fox-News-angry-White-person’s superhero universe. Besides Hannity, I’ve got Lou Dobbs, Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rudy Giuliani and Bernie Kerik. The list is not comprehensive. It includes Karl Rove and Hugh Hewitt but not Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson or Donald Trump…The Fox folks seemed so bilious and out of place in that pleasant company, like toadstools among the daffodils. So I’d buy them up and take them home. Not for reading, which brought no pleasure, but for quarantine. The books are dispatches from a phony war, the one Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes helped gin up and got obscenely rich on. If you believe, as I do, that the plutocrat propagandists of Fox, talk radio and the GOP are lying liars who have vandalized our politics and country, then finding a Hannity or Ingraham book is like finding one of their bricks. The books piled up in my basement, out of circulation (which was the point) but always naggingly present, like asbestos. I wanted to be rid of them. And yet I paused, because even contemplating destroying books felt terrible…

I hit on the answer…. About once a week, I tear them into strips. I add them to the coffee grounds, potato and carrot peelings, onion and avocado skins, asparagus stubs, the papery bits of garlic, eggshells and dead flowers, and let the worms do the rest…

Turning propaganda into worm castings is not going to measurably reduce the amount of Fox News-iness in the environment. It is not strictly necessary. But if Hannity and company want to keep telling us that we are all at war, to keep stoking the flames and fanning the fear, then, for the good of this country, the people we love, the democracy we might lose and the world we want, so be it.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Did You Ever Want To Reach Right Through A Letters To The Editor Section And Slap A Letter Writer Silly?

When I see a letter to a newspaper published that is indefensible logically and ethically, I often wonder, “Why did the paper print this?” Was the reason that the editors thought the letter made good sense, in which case, “Oh-oh!” Was the reason that it spoke for many readers with similar delusions, and thus would inform other readers that this, however dim-witted, is a common attitude or perception? Or, most ominous of all, was the reason it was published that the editors know the letter is badly reasoned, but think it will persuade other readers to accept a view that advances the paper’s ideological and political agendas?

I believe editors of letters sections are obligated to rebut dumb or misleading statements, either with their own responses or with other letters. The news media should not make people more ignorant, more biased, more stupid, and more misinformed. That our current news media does this now as a matter of course, and often deliberately, is one of the prime reasons I view the label “enemy of the people,” as inflammatory as it is, as fair.

I was thinking about this as I read the readers’ letters to the New York Times about Elizabeth Drew’s recent op-ed arguing that Presidential debates should be eliminated. As I’ve mentioned here earlier, her position was disingenuous and laughable: What a coinkydink that progressive pundits are suddenly opposing debates when the Democratic Party’s candidate is obviously trying to keep the extent of his mental decline from voters! Naturally the Times, being the Times,  permitted just one letter to get to press that expressed that analysis; only two of the seven letters published referenced Joe Biden at all. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: The Doomsday Projection

From: EcoWatch:

Deforestation coupled with the rampant destruction of natural resources will soon have devastating effects on the future of society as we know it, according to two theoretical physicists who study complex systems and have concluded that greed has put us on a path to irreversible collapse within the next two to four decades, as VICE reported.

The research by the two physicists, one from Chile and the other from the UK, was published last week inNature Scientific Reports. The researchers used advance statistical modeling to look at how a growing human population can cope with the loss of resources, mainly due to deforestation. After crunching the numbers, the scientists came up with a fairly bleak assessment of society’s chance of surviving the climate crisis.

“Based on the current resource consumption rates and best estimate of technological rate growth our study shows that we have very low probability, less than 10 percent in most optimistic estimate, to survive without facing a catastrophic collapse,” the authors write in the study abstract.

From all the issues that the climate crisis raises like rising sea levels, increases in extreme weather, drought, flooding, and crop failures, scientists zeroed in on deforestation since it is more measurable right now. They argue that forest density, or its current scarcity, is considered the cataclysmic canary in the coal mine, according to the report, as The New York Post reported.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quizto conclude this weekend pf nonsense and frustration:

Is this story responsible to report as news without a lot more context? Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/9/2020: Whining, Lying, Slipping, Faking, Scaring….

Good morning.

I detest that sappy Ray Stevens song, and have since the first time I heard it. But I have to try something…

1. There’s no whining in baseball! Note to MLB players: heroes and role models don’t whine.  Players have been making excuses for their flaccid play—of course, only the players who aren’t playing well are complaining—that the lack of a crowd makes it difficult to  bear down during games. The Red Sox broadcasters, including two former players, keep talking about this over and over again. Two games ago, Red Sox newcomer Alex Verdugo, in his second season, made a great catch to take away a home run, and the only cheering to be heard (I’m not including the fake crowd noises) was coming from Verdugo himself.  “In a normal game, he’d be getting  a standing ovation! A curtain call out of the dugout!” said Dennis Eckersley.

Oh, cry me a river. These guys are supposed to be professionals, and they get millions of dollars to play a game for living, one they supposedly love. I don’t believe they need crowds screaming to “get up” for big moments, and if they do, something’s wrong with them. Every kid who played sandlot baseball manged to perform at his or her best because that’s what competitors in any game do.

Then there’s Red Sox slugger J.D. Martinez, who is off to a miserable start. His excuse? Part of the MLB protocols during the pandemic prohibits players from in-game use of video equipment. Martinez is used to looking at videos of his at bats during games to pick up on any flaws in his swing, so he has complained that not being able to have access to the usual devices  is contributing to his slump.

Not surprisingly, the former players in the booth have not been particularly sympathetic to his plight, having played in those dark ages when baseball players just played baseball during the games.

2. Telling us all we need to know about “Defund police,” the current Democratic Party, Minnesota,  the former co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, and the mainstream media…MN Attorney General Keith Ellison recommended last month that women not call police to report when they’ve been raped. Ellison, who coincidentally has been accused of rape himself, said,

“If you’re a woman who’s been a victim of a sexual assault, and the assailant ran away, wouldn’t you rather talk to somebody who is trained in helping you deal with what you’re dealing with, as opposed to somebody whose main training is that they know how to use a firearm? Right?”

That’s the kind of  statement I would expect from a teenage social justice warrior like David Hogg. Ellison is the top law enforcement official in the state, and his definition of a police officers is that that their main skill is using a gun? Continue reading

Observations On An Op-Ed Botch And Its Aftermath

New York Times snarkmistress Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed  bemoaning the fact that no women have been on a Democratic ticket since 1984, when everyone was so sexist and mean to Geraldine Ferraro. Will everyone be so sexist again, now that Joe Biden is trapped into choosing a woman, whether there are any qualified or not?

Ann Althouse was among the early online pundits to point out Dowd’s gaffe–I would say obvious gaffe, but it apparently wasn’t obvious to her editor, or anyone else who saw the piece before it was published.  Uh, Maureen, does the name “Hillary Clinton” ring a bell? How quickly they forget! The Times eventually rushed out a correction, and the online version of the op-ed now says, “It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him.”

There’s a lot more wrong than that… Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Depression, 8/8/2020: Irresponsible Parents, Irresponsible Voters, Irresponsible Troll-Makers

This is my state of mind today.

I began today driving for two hours to find a meeting for which I had been given the wrong address, and, like the fool that I have always been, didn’t bring along the phone number of anyone who could help me. It is during ordeals like this that I begin to reflect on what a failure and underachiever I am, and how I really don’t have enough time left for turnaround. All that privilege,  and good fortune, wasted. And I have no one to blame but myself.

Then I had to write about the stuff you’ll find below, and I got really depressed.

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias, and why aren’t you agreeing with what I say?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi got angry when PBS NewsHour” anchor Judy Woodruff dared to ask a question that cahllenged the Democratic Party position in dispute with Republicans on over the content of a “Phase 4” Wuhan Virus aid bill.

When Woodruff asked Pelosi about the “flexibility” GOP lawmakers are showing in terms of allocating more money for state and local governments, as well as Republican arguments that “much of the money” allocated in the CARES Act “has not even been spent yet,” Pelosi snapped,  “Well, if you want to be an advocate for them, Judy, if you want to be an advocate for them, listen to what the facts are.”

In other word, “Hey! You’re supposed to be on our side!”

Actually, ethical journalists are not supposed to be on anyone’s side, but that quaint ethics  concept has been abandoned by virtually all journalists, including  Woodruff.

“I’m playing devil’s advocate here,!” Woodruff protested. You know, the devil, Republicans—same thing!

2. Better yet, don’t ride the subway! Here is a Wuhan virus safety sign from the New York City subways.

In addition to telling people they should wear masks, it goes to the next level and wants people to avoid interacting at all. This is incompetent messaging and  shows a basic misunderstanding of humans in general and American in particular. It also makes me suspicious: Big Brother is still working to make as all compliant automaton. If we can’t talk, we can’t resist.

It reminds me of the early “don’t touch you face!” warnings. People touch their face thousands of times a day. That message made me skeptical of all the advice from “experts” and governments, and indeed, you hardly hear it any more.

Social interaction is essential to life. Continue reading

“The Great Stupid” Chronicles: Dumb Tweet, Unintelligent “Intelligencer”

Richard Spoor, he tells us, is a public interest lawyer with a special interest in land reform, mines and communities and compensation for occupational diseases, and a “militant non-racialist,” whatever that means. His tweet is addled in so many ways:

  • The fate of these two lawyers turned terrorists is no more “sad” than any story of previously law-abiding citizens whose ethics alarms stop working as they knowingly break the law.
  • The fact that they are “young” makes it no more sad than if they were older, like 50. They’re not kids: both are over 30. They cannot claim immaturity or lack of experience. My son nearly ruined his life with a terrible, spur of the moment decision that could have killed him and others, but he was a teenaged male. He was also lucky.  Truly young people like he was wreck their lives with bad decisions every day. That’s sad. Adults doing it is something else.
  • Participating in a riot and throwing a Molotov cocktail is not the act of an “idealistic” person by definition. Breaking the law, engaging in violence, and trying to destroy property for no good reason does not embody “ideals.” They embody the opposite of ideals. If the two lawyers  were really idealistic, this wouldn’t have happened.
  • They didn’t “get wrapped up” in BLM’s racist movement, they joined it. It isn’t something that just happened to them.
  • “Moment of madness” is another version of Rationalization #19, The Perfection Diversion, or “Nobody’s Perfect!” and “Everybody makes mistakes!” People don’t suddenly throw Molotov cocktails and go “Ooopsie! What was I thinking?” That’s not “a mistake,” it is the culmination of many intentional acts leading up to a serious crime.

Continue reading

Morning Poll: Incompetent Elected Official, Gaslighting or Jumbo?

 

Wait, what? Did Rep. Jim Clyburn really say that he wasn’t aware of any Federal building being attacked in Portland?

I was trying to decide whether the statement of House Majority Whip James Clyburn on Fox and Friends was signature significance for an incompetent, or whether he was just attempting Jimmy Durante’s stratagem, the Jumbo. (“Elephant? What elephant?”) I realized that the two alternatives were mutually exclusive. Clyburn also might be gaslighting us. In gaslighting, unlike the similar but distinct Jumbo, the ethics miscreant is trying to make everyone else think they are losing their minds, and somehow imagined something that, in truth, really happened. The Jumbo is a sign of desperation. Gaslighting is sinister.

If he knows that the “peaceful” rioters were laying siege to the Portland courthouse—and how could he not?—then Clyburn must be employing the Jumbo or attempting flagrant gaslighting. If he doesn’t know, he’s telling the truth, and that means he is a lazy, incompetent fool.

Which is it?

Also, I wonder: Continue reading

“Ethics Dunce” Is Too Nice A Label For CNN’s Brian Stelter

And it insults both unethical journalists and dunces.

Stelter is special. Consider that this mega-hack and shameless partisan shill was the media reporter for the New York Times before taking on the job for CNN, and you know all you need to know about the trustworthiness of both Stelter and the Times.

We already know about the the trustworthiness of CNN.

A little background on Stelter’s latest equivalent of hiring a skywriter to put “I am a the King of the Hacks!” in blue and white over every major city:

One of the many, many things Democrats are terrified of as the 2020 election campaign approaches in earnest is that they have as a presumptive nominee for President a man who was once a gaffe-prone mediocrity but absolutely adequate to serve as a Vice-President for a healthy young POTUS, but who, in his late seventies, has shown unmistakable signs of cognitive decline. This, it should be said, was screamingly obvious the second Biden announced his candidacy: I was alarmed the first time I saw him speak. It was irresponsible and cynical for Democrats to encourage him to run; cruel for his family to let him run, and proof of desperation that primary voters supported him.

It is an open secret that Biden and his party have allowed the pandemic and lock-down to minimize his public exposure this long, but that lucky circumstance is running out quickly. Biden will have to be interviewed by some non-generous journalists eventually. He also will have to debate Donald Trump, but some progressives and Democrats, and their media allies,  are trying to find a way to let Joe avoid the debates, which have been a feature of every Presidential campaign since 1976. That’s 44 years and eleven campaigns. The public expects debates. If Biden refuses to debate while the President repeatedly calls him out, it will be a disaster for him. Even knowing this, Democrats seem to think that Joe engaging in debates will be an even greater disaster given the rate of Biden’s deterioration. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2020: Words, Spin, And Millard Fillmore

Because “Glibby-glop-gloopy” or whatever the hell Oliver is singing here makes about as much sense as anything else I’m hearing…

1. Today in The Great Stupid’s cancellation orgy:

  • The ABA Journal reports that the Massachusetts Appeals Court  wants the word “grandfathering” to be “canceled.” Ruling in a zoning dispute, the court said a structure built before the enactment of zoning regulations had a certain level of protection, but the court  didn’t have a good word to describe that protection because  it wouldn’t use  “grandfathering.”  “Because we acknowledge that it has racist origins,” the woke and silly judges declared.

Apparently the phrase “grandfather clause” originally referred to laws adopted by some states after the Civil War to create barriers to voting by African Americans, explained Justice James Milkey in footnote 11 to the August 3 opinion. Interesting! And completely irrelevant to how the word is used now. Now, if I were Ann Althouse, who is word-obsessed, I might spend hours looking for other words used routinely today that have unsavory origins. I don’t care what words originally meant or when  they were first used. The objective with all words is communication. “Grandfathered” is a useful word. I used it in my baseball lecture for the Smithsonian to describe how spitball pitchers were allowed to keep throwing the unsanitary pitch after it was banned for everyone else in 1920. The court’s kind of virtue-signalling makes people stupid and communication difficult, and shame on the court for indulging in it.

  • The University of Buffalo will remove any reference to President Millard Fillmore on its campus,though he helped found the school and served as its first chancellor from 1846 until his death in 1874. School officials said in a news release that its decision to erase the memory of an individual the university owes its existence to “aligns with the university’s commitment to fight systemic racism and create a welcoming environment for all.”

No, it aligns with craven cowering to Black Lives Matter intimidation  and statue-toppling mobs.  Millard Fillmore—-great name, crummy President—signed The Compromise of 1850, which included the Fugitive Slave Act. Since it was a compromise, the school’s logic would require “canceling” all the anti-slavery crusaders who were part of it, as everyone at the time was desperately trying to keep the United States from ripping apart. When that effort failed, we got the Civil War, and more American casualties than any war before or since. How dare Fillmore try to stop that?

I think the Fillmore-cancelers should be obligated to explain how they would have handled the growing tensions over slavery and the cultural divide between North and South. I’m sure they have a brilliant answer ready.

As the suddenly “In” Fred Rogers would  say, “Can you say ‘hindsight bias’? Sure you can!” Continue reading