Category Archives: Journalism & Media

For The Last Time: This Is Why The Post-Election Attacks On Trump And His Election Are Unethical

This is the last time I’m going to try to explain why the fair, patriotic, ethical and rational approach to the impending Presidency of Donald Trump is to be supportive of the office and the individual until his actual performance in the job earns just criticism. Attempting to undermine a Presidency at its outset is a self-destructive act, for nobody benefits if a Presidency fails. Wishing for a failed Presidency was what Rush Limbaugh did in 2008, and he was justly condemned for it, substantially by the same people who are saying the same thing he did, but about Donald Trump. They were right then, and they today are just as wrong, and despicable,  as Rush was.

I have had numerous debates, on and off Ethics Alarms, with usually reasonable people who take the #NotMyPresident position, which is nonsense on its face. If you are a citizen, Trump is your President. We don’t have, or allow, citizen states. You can dissent, and support political opposition, but you still must obey the laws and be loyal to the nation, which means loyalty to the nation’s elected leadership. Loyalty doesn’t require agreement, but it does require respecting legitimate authority, and seeking what is best for the United States of America. Constitutional crisis is never good for any nation. A crippled government is never good. A leader estranged from the public is never good. Seeking these things is irresponsible and foolish, but more than that, it is dangerous.

In The Caine Mutiny, a film version of the stage drama and novel “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a man whose war-shattered nerves and self-esteem problems have rendered him an erratic and an unpopular officer, falters in his command during a storm. His officers, frightened and already convinced that their captain is unfit for command, mutiny. At their military trial, their defense attorney causes Queeg to have a breakdown on the witness stand, winning the case for the accused mutineers. Later, however, at the post trial victory party, the lawyer, Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer),  shames his clients. He represented them zealously, but he tells them that they were, in fact, at fault for what occurred on the Caine: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture, Quotes, U.S. Society

Now THAT’S A Terrible Analogy…

Analogy

Daniel L. Byman, a Brookings Institute researcher, authored an article on the organization’s site that would be fun to dissect in its entirety, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. I also have confidence that any half-objective reader can easily see through it without my assistance. Byman is determined to show that radical Islamic terrorism is nothing for U.S. citizens to get their panties in a bunch over, and like so much coming out of places like Brookings these days, his essay is part brief to absolve President Obama from all criticism. Byman also excels in torturing statistics to make his case, leading to the analogy in question:

“With this picture in mind, the challenges facing the United States [in dealing with terrorism] can be broken down into three issues. The first, of course, is the real risk to American lives and those of U.S. allies. In absolute terms, these are small in the United States and only slightly larger in Europe. The average American is more likely to be shot by an armed toddler than killed by a terrorist.”

I’ve had this quote stalled on a potential post list for a while, but the recent discussions here about argument fallacies revived it.

How many things are wrong with this analogy? Let’s see: Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Research and Scholarship

Comment Of The Day: “Law Professor/Blogger Ann Althouse, Because We Have Reached The Point…”

whattheheck

This is a bit of a hybrid Comment of the Day. It wasn’t complete until commenter Isaac, in response to a request, added the references and sources to the media statements he posted in the original comment/

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Hero: Law Professor/Blogger Ann Althouse, Because We Have Reached The Point Where Any Blogger, Journalist, Pundit Or Citizen Who Helps Expose The Disgraceful Debasement Of Ethics And Duty By American Journalists For Partisan Goals Is A Hero, And We Need As Many Of Them As It Takes To Stop This Crap…

Let’s assume that there isn’t just some sort of bug that makes hardline Leftists this way only if they take up journalism or blogging. It’s an entire political hive mind of crazy in government, academia, entertainment…any place where too many spoiled products of nepotism hang out. They’re inescapable, and the average person who just wants to be cool can’t help but be caught up in it.

You start by shouting “Amen!” as some late night comedian does an “epic truth takedown” of Trump or Republicans or whatever, and the next thing you know you’re in a vortex of Leftist insanity that you can’t really escape from without going over to the dreaded “Right-wing media” with all of their fake news. It’s the virus taking over the host organism.

It feels like all they do all day is gaslight us, telling us that we can’t believe our own eyes. Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Quotes, Race

Unethical Quotes Of The Month: DisruptJ20 Organizers David Thurston And Legba Carrefour

disruptj20

“We are not in favor of a peaceful transition of power, and we need to stop it.”

 —Legba Carrefour, one of the organizers of DisruptJ20, a group working with Black Lives Matter and other protest groups to disrupt the Inauguration with demonstrations, predawn blockades and efforts to interfere with inaugural balls in the evening.

“We want to shut down the inauguration. We want to see a seething rebellion develop in this city and across the country.”

—David Thurston, another DisruptJ20 leader.

This is, increasingly, the face of the political Left in 2017 America. These two are a bit more radical, self-righteous, undemocratic and extreme than the Democratic Party and its allies in academia and journalism, but not as much as one would think, or hope.

A significant number of progressives and Democrats have completely lost their minds, as well as their common sense, during the still rolling 2016 Post Election Train Wreck. At least Thurston and Carrefour are honest and straightforward about wanting to undermine the democratic process and to justify a coup solely on the basis that their candidate did not prevail. Democrats, progressives, academics and pundits are advocating or encouraging the same thing, but are less direct about it.

Every few days, often every day, bring new examples. I don’t just mean certified left-wing crazies like Michael Moore, who says we have to find some way to stop Trump from taking the office he was duly elected to, or Rosie O’Donnell, whose status as an idiot would normally make me hesitate to cite her except that ABC News gave her a forum as a pundit on “The View” for a few years, who says that Trump should be “arrested.” When did any conservative, libertarian, or Republican not residing in a padded room advocate that a Democratic President-Elect should be forceably prevented from taking office?

I know, I know: Trump is special. Trump justifies suspending ethics. The New York Times Rule.

About a week ago, another Hollywood video led by Sally Field demanded that Congress “stop” Trump, without really knowing what they will be stopping. The video is pure fear-mongering without substance, calling Trump “racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, anti-worker, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic, anti-environmental…” Of course, the same people were part of a loud group of indignant Democrats who maintained for eight years that for Congress to deny the wishes of a President was akin to racism and treason. The previous video, that one headed by fake President Martin Sheen, made the historically stupid argument that Electors were supposed to have the power to veto the will of the people, at least when Democrats lose. That worked well…as as it deserved to.

Yesterday, over at The Hill, an assistant professor of government in American University’s School of Public Affairs was given a forum to make the batty argument that Russia’s hacking and leaking e-mails that exposed some of the filthy under-belly of the Clinton machine and the Democrats mandate cancelling the results of the election and holding a new one. Now, it would be a slightly less batty argument (but batty still), to call for a re-vote if damaging information was uncovered after an election that the winner withheld from the public, like, say, the fact that the IRS was sabotaging conservative groups to keep them from participating in civic discourse, or that the President lied to pass Obamacare, or that the Democratic Senate leader deliberately lied to smear the losing candidate….like in 2012. This guy (his name is Chris Edelson, and I am officially ashamed to have once been on an American University faculty with him) so hates Trump that he advocates causing a Constitutional crisis because damning information about the corruption of Clinton and the Democrats enlightened the public so they could, if they chose, use it to cast an informed vote. Cant have that.

Worse still was the jaw-dropping argument by liberal columnist Richard Cohen a few days ago, in a screed titled, “How to Remove Trump From Office.” Like all of the Left’s suddenly revolution-minded, Cohen begins with a list of Trump’s failings and character deficits, asserting that he is not fit to be President.  Boy, when did the concept of “an election” become so alien to the Left? I happen to agree with Cohen about Trump completely, but see, Richard, it is the voters, not us, who get to decide who is fit to lead the country. If you argue that your opinion should prevail over theirs, you are not a supporter of the Constitution, or democracy. You are an elitist autocrat, tending to totalitarianism.

You, and people like you, scare me a lot more than Donald Trump.

So what is Cohen’s brilliant plan for reversing the will of the people?

Under the 25th Amendment to the Constitution, the vice president, together with a “majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide” can remove the president for being “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” No doubt the mere mention of incapacitation would summon a horde of lawyers to Washington to contest it or the meaning of every term. But it is plain that the 25th Amendment does give a role to Cabinet members that is not generally considered when they are up for confirmation. This time, however, they should all be asked whether they are aware of the 25th Amendment and, if need be, whether they would be willing to implement it.

This is so ignorant, so foolish, so intellectually dishonest and so manifestly illegal that I still can’t believe that it isn’t some kind of a terrible joke.

Cohen has readers who trust him and his judgment:it is a betrayal to misuse his influence to propose nonsense like this. The 25th Amendment is entirely there to deal with actual disability, as when Ronald Reagan was shot, when Woodrow Wilson was incapacitated by a stroke, or Eisenhower had a heart attack. There is no ambiguity, in either the Amendment’s wording or the legislative record. “Unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office” cannot be tortured into meaning “not what Richard Cohen, Hollywood, Harry Reid and Rosie O’Donnell believe is a qualified President.”

But such is the current ugly derangement on the Left, and if it does not diminish public respect and trust of Democratic Party further—make that even further—I will be surprised.

_________________

Source: Yahoo!

 

 

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Observations On President-Elect Trump’s First News Conference

presser

1. I watched the introductions and about half of Trump’s opening remarks, and had to bail. I just had to. Not that Trump’s manner and speaking style were any worse than before; it’s just that the thought that young people will see this as acceptable public presentation and speaking clarity was too horrible to bear. Even with the verbalization-challenged Bushes, the level of basic language skills and vocabulary wasn’t nearly this bad.

I had to watch an old video of JFK wittily fencing with reporters to get the thought out of my head:

2. Thus this discussion is based on the transcript. I had to search a bit to find an online transcript that wasn’t constantly interrupted by editorial comments and “fact-checks.” These contained a lot of nit-picking and suggestions of deception (and some useful clarifications).  It seems to me that the “fact-checks” of Trump feel adversarial, while the recent fact-check of President Obama’s final speech were consistently friendly, and voluntarily refused to take issue with genuinely misleading statements. For example, Obama said, “If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.”  NPR’s annotation:

“Via The New Republic: “From 2000 to 2010, a decade during which the white population as a whole grew by just 1.2 percent, the number of white children in the United States declined by 4.3 million. Meanwhile the child populations of Hispanics, Asians, and people of two or more races were increasing.”

But that’s not the fact to check. Who says that anyone is “unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us“? That’s a straw man, and should have been called out (I threw a pillow at the TV screen) as one. Clear-thinking citizens are unwilling to invest in the children of illegal immigrants because they shouldn’t be here, and the more we “invest” in them, the more encouragement we give to foreign citizens to break our laws.

But NPR likes illegal immigration, so this wouldn’t occur to them, I guess.

3. I think it’s fair to say that no previous POTUS or PEOTUS press conference began with a frontal assault on the press for publishing fake news. That’s how this one began, with Sean Spicer attacking the already infamous Buzzfeed story. He also attacked CNN for reporting on Buzzfeed’s report. Here was NPR’s annotation, in part:

“BuzzFeed and CNN both reported on Tuesday about documents alleging that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” as CNN reported, though the two news organizations presented the information in vastly different ways. CNN mostly focused on who had seen the documents and when, citing unnamed sources and U.S. officials in different places. However, CNN said that while it had reviewed the “35-page compilation of the memos” alleging that link, it was “not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations.”

NPR’s distinction doesn’t excuse CNN. The news media does this kind of thing all the time, it’s true: it reports the fact that an irresponsible news source has reported a rumor, unsourced claim, ora lie, and thus further circulates an account that never should have been published in the first place. Later, Trump was asked about his tweet asking if we were now living in Nazi Germany. (It’s cute to see my Facebook friends fuming about that tweet, when they have been absurdly calling Trump a Nazi for months. Has anyone contacted Harry Belafonte for his comments?) Trump’s response:

“I think it was disgraceful — disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that — and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it’s a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences. They already are.”

Crude, but fair. It would be been nice if Trump had the wit and historical perspective to remind the assembled, and perhaps teach his audience,  what the Big Lie technique championed by Josef Goebbels was and how the Buzzfeed-CNN handoff would have pleased him. I’ve got to learned to lower my expectations. Nevertheless, the Nazi reference in that context was well-earned. It is disgraceful that the dossier was leaked by U.S. intelligence personnel. “Failing pile of garbage”  is not Presidential rhetoric (sigh) but the sentiment is correct. CNN capped a week of neon-bright biased and inaccurate reporting across the news spectrum by giving this slimy story greater visibility, thus advancing a Big Lie. CNN deserved its comeuppance, which was soon to come. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Ethics Quiz Follow-Up (And An Ugly One): The Congressional Art Competition Winner’s Painting [UPDATED]

clay-painting-back

Well now we have a definitive answer to the Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz that asked whether  it was responsible, fair, and ethical for Congressman Lacy Clay (D-Mo) to have the painting above displayed in the U.S. Capitol, and we don’t even have to use the ethics decision-making process I included in the post. (I note ruefully that readers were challenged to use the method to reach a conclusion, and none did.)

We don’t have to use it, because we now know some things we didn’t know at first, or at least I didn’t. Based on news reports when I first posted, I assumed that the work by high school senior David Pulphus was chosen by a designated committee, and that Clay was bound by the terms of the contest to hang the winning painting in the Capitol. That would have made the treatment of the obviously inflammatory artwork, which depicts the false Black Lives Matter narrative that Mike Brown was gunned down in Ferguson by a racist cop without cause, an ethics conflict, pitting the First Amendment and the obligation to fulfill  a commitment against the inclusion of racially divisive art in the Capitol, which is irresponsible.  Now we know, however, that Clay himself helped choose the painting, and that he did so despite the fact that the painting directly violated the rules of the contest, and thus was ineligible:

“While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is  potentially inappropriate for display in this highly travelled area leading to the Capitol.Artwork must adhere to the policy of the House Office Building Commission. In accordance with this policy, exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature are not allowed. It is necessary that all artwork be reviewed by the panel chaired by the Architect of the Capitol and any portion not in consonance with the Commission’s policy will be omitted from the exhibit. If an entrant is unsure  about whether a piece of artwork is acceptable, he or she should contact the staff of his or her  Member of  Congress; the congressional staff can speak with personnel who can determine whether the artwork would be accepted.”

The painting is beyond question  “depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalist or gruesome nature.” In allowing the painting to be entered, participating in selecting it, seeing that it was chosen as the winner, and hanging such an inflammatory work in the Capitol, Rep. Clay was… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

jumbo-film

“Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.”

It’s funny: when I was searching Google after entering this quote, I found one site the had as a headline, “2o Quotes From President Obama’s Farewell Speech That Will Melt Your…” and that’s where it cut off.  Which was it, I wondered, “heart” or “brain”? It was heart….and the 20 also included the quote about race relations.

I also checked the Washington Post, which “fact-checks” major speeches with annotations. In the transcript, that line was indeed highlighted—I thought there was a 50-50 chance, knowing the Post’s pro-Obama bias, that it would let that whopper slide. The annotation by reporter Aaron Blake in its entirety:

Obama has seen the polls. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll [showed 6 in 10 thought race relations were bad, and a majority thought they were getting worse](Poll: Majority of Americans think race relations are getting worse)

Now that’s a tentative fact-check! Obama has seen the polls, so …he must know something we don’t? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s basing this certitude on his own impeccable wisdom? Obama has seen the polls, so….he’s having a little fun with us? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s lying through his teeth? What is the Post saying?

For this is rather significantly counter-factual. Yet demonstrating the hard-hitting investigative reporting that the Post is renowned for, the paper recently launched an investigation into whether Donald Trump was LYING when he told the Times, in one of his typical, off-hand, “this just popped into my head” moments, “There will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars [at the Inauguration] All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” AHA!  This is NOT TRUE! This is further proof that the man is NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT! And EEEEVIL!!! A Post reporter actually interviewed multiple dress shop owners, and concluded,

“It’s hard to imagine how Trump came to his conclusion, and a transition team spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But for all of the president-elect’s promises about economic stimulus, it doesn’t seem that he’s making Washington dress-shopping great again.”

In contrast, when the first African-American President of the United States, having seen his performance lead to the devastation of his party and the installment of a new President so antithetical to his world view as to risk the two of them exploding if they shake hands, makes a completely ridiculous assertion about a crucial American problem like race relations, we get a 27 word shrug and a link.

American journalism in 2017. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Race, U.S. Society