Tag Archives: 2016 election

An Ethics Hypothetical: If “The Nation” Is Right About The DNC Hacks, How Should Democrats And The Mainstream Media React?

And how will they react?

Yesterday, The Nation, the most Left of the Left’s major national publications, reported this:

  • There was no hack of the Democratic National Committee’s system on July 5 last year—not by the Russians, not by anyone else. Hard science now demonstrates it was a leak—a download executed locally with a memory key or a similarly portable data-storage device. In short, it was an inside job by someone with access to the DNC’s system. This casts serious doubt on the initial “hack,” as alleged, that led to the very consequential publication of a large store of documents on WikiLeaks last summer.
  • Forensic investigations of documents made public two weeks prior to the July 5 leak by the person or entity known as Guccifer 2.0 show that they were fraudulent: Before Guccifer posted them they were adulterated by cutting and pasting them into a blank template that had Russian as its default language. Guccifer took responsibility on June 15 for an intrusion the DNC reported on June 14 and professed to be a WikiLeaks source—claims essential to the official narrative implicating Russia in what was soon cast as an extensive hacking operation. To put the point simply, forensic science now devastates this narrative.

“This narrative” has been a cornerstone of the effort, undemocratic and indefensible, to undermine the legitimacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency from the beginning. It was launched as a primary rationalization for Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss, James Comey and a sexist, racist, stupid electorate being the others. As the Nation writes,

“The evolution of public discourse in the year since is worthy of scholarly study: Possibilities became allegations, and these became probabilities. Then the probabilities turned into certainties, and these evolved into what are now taken to be established truths. By my reckoning, it required a few days to a few weeks to advance from each of these stages to the next. This was accomplished via the indefensibly corrupt manipulations of language repeated incessantly in our leading media.”

The Nation’s report, essentially declaring that a major element in the “Russiagate” narrative, the DNC hacks, is fiction, that the intelligence agencies that declared it otherwise are wrong, and that Wikileaks, Russia, Putin and Donald Trump have been correct all along is noteworthy because the publication is no ally of the Republicans or Trump, but their declared intractable foes. This is an ideological publication, squarely in Bernie Sanders’ camp because it is run by Socialists like Bernie. But bias doesn’t necessarily make you stupid. The Nation has been around for a long time because while its analysis is colored by it view of humanity and the world, it has largely avoided the kind of dishonesty and distortion that are slowly destroying the credibility of CNN, Rolling Stone, the New York Times and others. The Nation has strived to maintain its integrity, not always succeeding, but obviously trying. Its staff believes that the truth supports its dedication to socialism, so it does not usually try to hide the truth—unlike the mainstream media reporters, for example, who apparently tried hard to make the troubling episode of Bill Clinton’s meeting with Loretta Lynch go away. Continue reading

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Infowars’ Alex Jones, Purveyor Of The Most Untrustworhy Political Website North Of “The News Nerd,” Provides One Of The Most Disingenuous Apologies Imaginable

A few stipulations:

1. Anyone who for a second thought it was anything more than a bad spoof that John Podesta and Hillary Clinton were engaged in a child sex ring operating out of a D.C. pizza joint has gone waaaay beyond “Bias Makes You Stupid” to “Bias Makes People Who Are Stupid Already Too Dangerous For Human Companionship.”

2. Anyone who believes anything that appears on the conspiracy blog “Infowars” is a sitting duck for the next Ponzi scheme.

3. My theory is that Breibart pays Jones to make it look reliable and objective by comparison. And it gets its money’s worth..

The so called Pizzagate conspiracy theory held that top Democratic officials were involved with a satanic child pornography ring centered around Comet Ping Pong, a pizza restaurant in Washington, D.C. There was never any evidence to support it, and more importantly, was ridiculous on its face. It did not originate with Alex Jones, the proprietor of far right Infowars, but since it was uncomplimentary to Democrats, Jones was supporting Donald Trump, and he has also claimed on Infowars that the 9/11 attacks were  carried out by the United States government and that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown  was a hoax concocted by anti-Second Amendment fanatics, the Pizzagate theory fit right in to the rest of the BS. Thanks in great part to Jones,  the hoax circulated on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, flourished in online forums frequented by idiots, and produced more static interfering with a rational approach to a crucial election.

This hoax, unlike, say, the claim that the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump, had measurable consequences. The pizzeria, its owner and his employees received death threats. Their business has suffered. Nearby businesses have also been adversely affected, and the hoax even spread to several other pizzerias around the country for some reason.The restaurant was closed for two days in December after Edgar M. Welch, one of the above referenced idiots,  showed up at Comet Ping Pong to “investigate,” and fired a semiautomatic rifle  inside the pizzeria. Welch pleaded guilty on Friday to assault with a dangerous weapon and interstate transportation of a firearm. Good. One idiot down.

Now Jones has issued an apology. It was obviously crafted by lawyers: Comet Pizza had demanded one in February, and by law Jones had one month to retract his libel (arguably liable) to avoid being sued. The month would have been up this weekend. Here is that apology, with key sections bolded and numbered to make commenting here easier: Continue reading

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Nate Silver Explains How Not Only Does “Bias Make You Stupid,” It Makes Others Stupid Too.

natesilverEthics Alarms covered some of this topic years ago in a post about how the news media’s unceasing and uncritical fawning over Barack Obama made him a less effective, indeed a bad, President. (If someone can find the link, I’ll post it. I don’t have the energy this morning.) Now polling and stat guru Nate Silver has written an intriguing analysis of the 2016 election that argues that liberal news media bias—you know, that thing that doesn’t exist—perversely helped elect President Trump. In an earlier January essay, Silver wrote,

National journalists usually interpreted conflicting and contradictory information as confirming their prior belief that Clinton would win. The most obvious error, given that Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2.8 million votes, is that they frequently mistook Clinton’s weakness in the Electoral College for being a strength. They also focused extensively on Clinton’s potential gains with Hispanic voters, but less on indications of a decline in African-American turnout. At moments when the polls showed the race tightening, meanwhile, reporters frequently focused on other factors, such as early voting and Democrats’ supposedly superior turnout operation, as reasons that Clinton was all but assured of victory.

In his most recent article, Silver explains… Continue reading

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Whose Lie Was More Newsworthy, Olympic Swimmer Ryan Lochte’s Regarding His Imaginary Mugging In Rio, Or The Obama Administration’s Regarding Paying Ransom To Iran? [UPDATED]

U.S. President Barack Obama answers a question as he and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hold a joint news conference at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

News Item #1:

The story that Ryan Lochte told four days ago was frightening and detailed, the Olympic gold medalist recalling a late-night robbery and a pistol pressed against his head. On Thursday, Brazilian authorities presented evidence they say contradicts that account and could turn what at first had been a deeply embarrassing incident for the Summer Games’ host country into a different kind of international incident.

The head of Rio de Janeiro’s civil police, Fernando Veloso, said the version of the events told by Lochte and three U.S. swimming teammates was fabricated. The athletes, he said, damaged a gas station bathroom early Sunday morning and were involved in a confrontation with armed security before paying about $50 to resolve the matter.

“We can confirm that there was no robbery as they described, and they were not victims as they presented themselves,” Veloso told a packed news conference, alleging the athletes had given “a fantastical version of events.”

News Item #2:

The State Department conceded for the first time on Thursday that it delayed making a $400 million payment to Iran for several hours in January “to retain maximum leverage” and ensure that three American prisoners were released the same day.

For months the Obama administration had maintained that the payment was part of a settlement over an old dispute and did not amount to a “ransom” for the release of the Americans. Instead, administration officials said, it was the first installment of the $1.7 billion that the United States intends to pay Iran to reimburse it for military equipment it bought before the Iranian revolution that the United States never delivered.

But at a briefing on Thursday, John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the United States “took advantage of the leverage” it felt it had that weekend in mid-January to obtain the release of the hostages and “to make sure they got out safely and efficiently.”

There is little doubt as to which of the two lies the U.S. public is being informed about most thoroughly today: It’s #1. After all, Ryan Lochte is a reality TV star, and a celebrity, and an athlete, and this is the Olympics! Up close and personal! Bread! Circuses!

The second story? Meh.What’s the big deal? So the Obama Administration paid ransom for hostages, endangering U.S. citizens all over the world, and repeatedly lied to the press and the public about it over the past two week, issuing unequivocal denials that the 400 million dollar payment and the hostage release were related in any way. So what?

On CNN this morning, the stupid, stupid, stupid story about how a group of boorish Olympic athletes (‘USA! USA!”) peed on the walls of a Rio bathroom and made up a robbery —at gun point!—story to cover up their vandalism was the subject of a full panel discussion. If the Obama version of Iran-Contra was covered at all, it wasn’t in the hour I saw.

Google News search, “Ryan Lochte”…nearly 10 million results.

Google News search, “Iran ransom”…about 220,000 results. Continue reading

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Ethics Review Of “Supreme Court Vacancy Theater”

Court vacancy

The short review would be “Yecchh.”

The reason that the earlier Ethics Alarms post about the death of Justice Scalia expressed the wish that President Obama on his own declare that he would defer the almost certainly futile appointment of a successor to the tender care of the next President was precisely because it was obvious that any other course was just going to create more ugly partisan name-calling and hypocrisy, accomplishing nothing positive and wasting a lot of energy and time. I also knew that this most divisive of POTUS’s would no more do that than he would deliver his next speech in a duck voice. Thus we have the theater, with people who should know better acting like the Republican Senate’s announcement that it would not be voting on President Obama’s nominee, should he make one, is some  kind of gross breach of duty and ethics, and people who don’t know better acting as if being one Justice short is some kind of Armageddon. Neither is true.

Nor is there any reasonably similar set of circumstances and conditions that makes the GOP’s entirely political decision, and Obama’s entirely political decision to test it, some kind of breach of precedent. There is no precedent—not with these factors in play:

A Democratic President with both Houses controlled by the Republicans

An ideologically and evenly divided Court, with the new Justice potentially having a momentous and nation-changing effect on the determination of many looming cases

An unusually partisan and ideological President who has proven unwilling and unable to seek legitimate input from the opposing party, and who, in fact, has been personally and bitterly insulting toward it

A rebellion against the “establishment” in both parties, from the extreme reaches of both parties, on the grounds that neither is extreme or combative enough

A lame duck, not especially popular President and an approaching national election that is currently being molded by unpredictable personalities and events, and is likely to be hotly contested..

The Supreme Court unusually central to the government of the country.

The vacancy on the Court being created by the death of one of the Court’s most influential, ideological and powerful members.

A degree of political division in the public not experienced since the Civil War.

These are all material factors, made more material in some cases because of the other factors. Thus accusations that the Republican have engaged in some kind of grand, historical crime against democracy is, to the extent the accusers believe it, crap, and to the extent that they don’t, ignorant. Continue reading

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Thoughts On The Death Of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

chapman.0830 - 08/29/05 - A Supreme Court headed by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has questions for Chapman University Law School professor John Eastman as he and California Attorney General Bill Lockyer argue the 1905 ''Lochner v. State of New York'' case during a re-enactment Monday afternoon at Chapman University. (Credit: Mark Avery/Orange County Register/ZUMA Press)

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the Supreme Court’s most adamant, eloquent, controversial and influential conservative jurist and one of the most important theorists in the institution’s history,  died today, unexpectedly, on a ranch near San Antonio while on a hunting holiday. He was 79.

Reflections:

1.  I had a beer with the Justice at a bar function a long, long time ago, after entertaining the assembled legal heavyweights. He was friendly, funny, and gregarious, and when I asked him if he would be on the Supreme Court for the rest of his life, he said, “God, I hope not!”

2. While everyone will be saying that this ups the ante in the Presidential race, that’s impossible. The importance of the election couldn’t be  greater. The vacancy Scalia’s death creates, unfortunately,will  increase the level of demagoguery from both parties, with the appointment of Scalia’s replacement being elevated to the equivalent of a life and death matter obliterating all other considerations. Anyone who argues that will be exposing their true status as a hack, appealing to hysterics, ignoring te ethical value of proportion. The composition of the Court is important, but it is not that important.

3. What is most important to the Court, and has been lost since Robert Bork became the first qualified judge to be blocked by pure partisan considerations despite undeniably outstanding qualifications, is to have smart, able, proven justices. Scalia was such a jurist.

4 .One of the traits of a qualified jurist is a refusal to pre-judge any issue or case before hearing arguments and knowing all the facts. Several of the current justices, including Scalia, have been sucked into the bitter partisan battles of this era and have made comments that called this trait into question. Continue reading

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Two Stories To Look Back Upon Ruefully When The Nation Has Gone To Pot And It’s Too Late To Reverse Course

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

One of the horrible results of the coming election—not as horrible as the possibility of electing Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump President, perhaps, but horrible still—will be the nation’s final capitulation to the movement started in the 1960’s to keep the country, the culture and the poor stoned. Cognitive dissonance will ensure it on the Republican side, as opponents to legal pot will be the same old fogeys who proclaim that gay marriage will destroy the earth, causing a valid and correct argument to be destroyed by a senseless one. Others in the party, caring about staying in power more than our society’s welfare, will just give in, citing the usual ethically inert rationalizations that legalizing drugs is the lesser of two evils and that we need to use treatment, not punishment. Meanwhile, Democrats will pander to its pot-loving base, while also stumping for state governments legalizing the crap to close budget deficits created by their fiscally irresponsible policies. Heck, even I would rather see the pot industry taxed instead of me.

And we will be bombarded by the pairing of pot legalization with the allegedly racist “mass incarceration problem,” which is really and truly the “too many African Americans break laws and expect to get away with it because their parents and culture don’t send the message that its a big deal” problem. The big deal they, and we, are now being told is that they get punished for breaking laws, which is racist because Black Lives Matter.

I was in court watching sentencings a couple months back in Northern Virginia. While the crimes the defendants being sentenced for were not drug related, every single one of those sentenced–-every one—had either  a pot charge dropped in favor of a guilty plea for a more serious crime, had record of drug arrests, or had tested positive for pot during while awaiting sentence or on parole. Bernie and Hillary and the gang (the gang including journalists, who like their weed) would have us believe that the prisons are just teeming with otherwise law-abiding black citizens who are there because they engaged in harmless recreational drug use and nothing else. The new paradigm, pushed by the President (of course), is that prison should only be for violent felons, not habitual scoff-laws who often dabble in violence too.

Ah, yes, this is all going to work out so well.

I  encountered two stories on the web that show the path we are on as well as the muddled thinking and dishonesty that got us there. Continue reading

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