On The Matter Of Fake Buglers: Beyoncé Revisited

I don’t know how I missed the fact that the armed services increasingly use fake buglers at military funerals, but I just learned about it the hard way.

Our neighbor, a navy veteran who died unexpectedly leaving his wife and small daughter, received a military burial in Quantico, Virginia. The uniformed bugler raised his instrument to his lips (out of my sight, but I saw him with his bugle on the way to the site), and the mournful sound of TAPS began, only to end abruptly halfway through the melody. There was an awful, awkward silence as the mourners wondered what happened and if the tune would be completed, and then the sailor put away his bugle into a case, and walked over to fold the flag on the coffin.

Because of budget cuts (which, of course, could have been applied elsewhere, for this is a choice) and a shortage of buglers, most military funerals employ non-musicians who hold a fake bugle with a chip and a speaker installed to give the illusion that TAPS is being performed.

In other words, it is a subterfuge and a lie.

I discussed what was wrong with such fake live performances in 2009, and again in 2013, when I beat this topic to death, even going on Bill O’Reilly’s show to talk about Beyoncé lip-synching at the Inauguration as the newscasters lied about it being a live performance. The key quote from both posts is this..,

“The performance was part of the swearing-in ceremony of President Barack Obama, and that meant that it could not, should not, must not be phony, faked, or a lie.”

Whether you think that similar fakery is more or less excusable when the nation says good-bye and thanks to a deceased veteran is a matter of priorities. Both are unethical, both represent creeping corruption and a betrayal of values. This was a Navy service; here’s the relevant provision of the Navy Ethics Compass: Continue reading



Just “Arrrrgh!”

First, Beyonce ducks a question (at pre-Super Bowl  press conference) about whether she really lip-synced the National Anthem at the Inauguration, as discussed extensively here , here, and here,

by using Clintonian parsing—no, she wasn’t lip-syncing ( because that means just moving one’s lips to a song, and technically she was singing. It’s just that the audience may have been hearing her recording and not her real voice.) Then she “answers”…by singing the song, brilliantly, without accompaniment. (Of course it was planned.) Then CNN’s awful morning anchor Carol Costello AND CNN’s headline writer state that Beyonce “answered her critics” by doing so.

For the love of…Arrrrgh!

That was NOT an answer! This was masterful, if screamingly obvious (to all but CNN) misdirection and manipulation.The question posed was not “Can you sing “The Star Spangled Banner?,” but “Did you lip-sync?”, which means, as she well knows, “Did you sing it live at the Inauguration, and was the live rendition what we heard?” Her rendition of the song at the press conference was no more responsive to the question than a sudden riff on “Trouble in River City” or “Turkey in the Straw.” Then pathetic CNN calls it an answer, as if singing the song two weeks after the event in question settles the issue. Our professional journalism establishment at work. (in the version I saw, Costello didn’t even mention that Beyonce gave a technical “no” to the “did you lip-sync?” query before bursting into song.


 Beyonce could have cleared up the controversy weeks ago by either admitting that she lip-synced, or by denying it. Asked about the matter directly, in front of TV cameras, she avoided the question again. That was an answer, all right, but not the one CNN and the singer implied it was.

The answer was “Yes.”


Spark: CNN

Graphic: Soda Head

The President Locks Up The “Lie of the Year” Early

forked tongeThere has been controversy lately over the “lie of the year” designation. PolitiFact, true to its partisan-but-nobody-will admit-it soul, picked a Mitt Romney campaign accusation as its “lie of the year,” even though it wasn’t nearly the worst lie of the campaign, or even Romany’s worst. In fact, it was literally true. Romney had issued an ad saying that Jeep was moving its U.S. production to China—that was supposedly the lie—and in fact all Jeeps will now be made in China. Oh, well, election over, Romney lost, what’s done is done, mission accomplished, right, Politifact?

Thus it is mighty kind of President Obama to wrap up the lie of the year competition early and decisively in a national forum where one least belongs, his Inaugural Address. I’m sure PolitiFact won’t see it that way, but I’m engraving his name on the Ethics Alarms trophy right now.

The lie:

“The commitments we make to each other–-through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security–these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” Continue reading

Now A Brief Promotional Message….


Shortly after learning my scheduled NPR spot to talk about Lance Armstrong and Oprah had been cancelled because, I was told, everything has already been said, I was invited to fence with Bill O’Reilly tonight on “The O’Reilly Factor” (Fox News).

The topic? Not Lance, but Beyonce, and the ethics of high-profile lip-syncing. Thankes to you all, I’m more than ready. But will I really be speaking, or will I be lip-syncing?

Another Faked “Live Performance” At An Obama Inauguration

Beyonce, moving her mouth convincingly for the President

Beyonce, moving her mouth convincingly for the President

At this point, I am resigned to being one of the last people on earth who still believes that when a live performance is advertised, we should get a live performance. Clearly nobody in the Obama Administration believes it, because for the second straight inauguration ceremony, a featured musical presentation introduced as a live performance was actually an elaborate fake. I was initially impressed that Beyoncé could sing The National Anthem so well live and in the open air—not quite Whitney, but still excellent. I’m not so impressed that she could do it in a studio, with sound balancing, multiple takes and editing. It does make a difference, you know.

I also assume I’m one of the last citizens who finds the beginning of new Presidential term being launched with a lie both symbolic and disappointing. Everybody does it, who is hurt, it’s trivial, things have changed…I know. Lots of rationalizations fit. I don’t care. Some things should be genuine and trustworthy, and the President’s inauguration is one of them.

Thus here again, slightly edited, is my protest against this deception in 2009, after the first time the American public was faked out. Looking back on what I wrote, and what the Obama Administration turned out to be, it really was symbolic after all. So it is this time around. It’s just not as much of a surprise.

“Why are there American citizens who stubbornly maintain that Neil Armstrong’s moon landing was faked? Why is cynicism becoming a crippling national malady? Look no further for the answer than the inaugural ceremonies of Barack Obama, where a U.S. Senator and a quartet of great musicians couldn’t bring themselves to avoid artifice and deception on the day America displays its democracy to the world. Continue reading