Tag Archives: 2016 election

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/15/2017: The All-Embarrassment Edition

Happy Sunday Morning!

(if I keep saying “good morning” the same way every day, you’ll think I’m insincere…)

1 I’m going to have a full post about the current status of the NFL Anthem Protest Ethics Train Wreck later today, but in general: when will the players and the NFL just shrivel up with embarrassment? I’m thinking of absurdist theater like this: CNN contributor Donte Stallworth said yesterday that the NFL kneeling protests aren’t just about police brutality and racism, but also about…wait for it… the “gender pay gap.” (Which is largely fictional, by the way.) Stallworth, is a former NFL wide receiver. He actually had the guts to say,

“The number one stated goal was to bring awareness to a lot of these issues and again, its a broad spectrum of issues. Again, it’s not just police brutality and community policing. It’s also, again from what I’m hearing from players directly involved in these talks–they’re telling me it’s also about the gender pay gap, it’s also about housing discrimination, they have so many things that they are interested in and advocating for and they want the NFL to take ownership in and help be able to use the NFL’s platform. Not just the players platform but the NFL’s platform and that from what I am hearing is a big conversation.”

Yes, that’s another CNN contributor who is too ridiculous for an ethical news source to allow in a studio. So let me get this straight: the kneeling NFL players aren’t protesting the anthem that they are refusing to respect by standing, not the flag, nation, history and values it represents, but they are protesting over issues that nobody involved has breathed a word about, like gender pay gaps. What else? LGTB rights? Wait, football players aren’t too keen on gays, forget that. Free college, Bernie style? No, all of these bozos already got their college free. Please, tell us what your protest means. Are you protesting against Harvey Weinstein yet? Maybe you have been all along!

Embarrassing.

2. I remember when Slate was a fresh, shiny, diverse, certainly left-leaning but often incisive commentary e-mag, Its founder, Mike Kinsley (he’s a college classmate of mine, though I didn’t know him except through my room mate’s stories) is less of an ideologue than a detached cynical nihilist with a great sense of humor. Now, however, his baby is just a shrill progressive scold. On the home page, Slate urged me, “Support Jamelle Bouie’s coverage of Trump’s America: Join Slate Plus Today!” As anyone could discover by searching for Bouie in the Ethics Alarms archives, the writer is a stone-cold anti-white racist and race-baiter who left his fairness and integrity in a taxi years ago. The only reason what he writes weekly isn’t protested as hate speech is that only conservatives are accused of hate speech, them’s the rules. Any publication that promotes a writer like Bouie as a reason to become a reader has decided that it is acceptable to insult more than half of America.

I often wonder what Kinsley thinks about this. He probably thinks it’s funny.

It’s not. It’s embarrassing.

3. Hillary’s book tour involves going everywhere and explaining that she wasn’t at fault for losing the election, but that she takes full responsibility. Both Clintons are ethics corrupters of long standing, but the distaff Clinton threatens to permanently warp the concept of accountability for anyone who listens to her or reads her book without breaking into giggles. In a a recent interview, there was this exchange, for example,

And, yes, I take responsibility. Obviously, there were things I must have been able to do differently in order to have won. But at the end, there was this really perfect storm, and so you had the Comey letter and you had the enormous impact of the Russian theft of emails, the release of them by WikiLeaks, basically now a part of the Russian intelligence apparatus, and the weaponization of that. These were all new phenomena.

“So you’re still blaming others more than yourself?” her British interviewer asked, unlike any US interviewer, since Clinton won’t subject herself to being cross-examined by anyone in the US that didn’t weep on election night.

“No, I take ultimate responsibility, I don’t blame others, but I think it’s important that people understand what happened. It easy to say, ‘Well, you know she wasn’t a good candidate.’ Then why did lead all the way to the end, why did I get nominated overwhelmingly?”

Memo to Hillary: You were a terrible candidate, and always have been; the pollsters were incompetent and biased; and you were nominated because the process was rigged from the beginning. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/4/2017: Trump At His Worst, Justice Ginsburg At Her Worst, The Times At Its Worst…Yechhhh.

Maybe THIS will be good morning…

1  When I kept reading rants about President Trump’s comments in Puerto Rico, I naturally assumed this was just more of the same: the Trump Deranged seeking out the worst possible interpretation of his words to justify going on another orgy of Trump-Hate. Unfortunately, his remarks were arguably even worse than his critics made them sound. Ugh. Trump’s body language and tone were antagonistic from the start. The man couldn’t control his resentment of the flack he received, much of it unfair, from the mayor of San Juan, so he had a chip on his shoulder, and expressed his annoyance by being petty, arrogant, callous and insulting. It was embarrassing to watch it.

The man is an asshole. This is not news. Now and then I nurture hopes that he will learn, as other Presidents who were assholes—there have been many—have leaned, to suppress the worst of their proclivities in public. Doing this is in the best interests of the nation, and also is crucial to maintaining the power and influence of a Presidency. A display like this is like a face full of ice water for me.

I am officially certifying the Trump Presidency Ethics Train Wreck.

I agree: I’m about 9 months late.

2. Appearing before an audience at New York City’s 92nd St. YWCA, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was asked by CBS journalist Charlie Rose whether she thought sexism played a role in the presidential election results. She responded that anti-female bias was “a major, major factor” in Clinton’s defeat. As Jonathan Turley, who has repeatedly criticized this and other Justices for for making political statements that undermine the credibility and trustworthiness of the Supreme Court, takes pains to explain, this claim is unsupportable, except in Hillary Clinton’s tortured brain:

Hillary Clinton and her key aides have blamed the election in part on self-hating women who would not vote for Clinton — dismissing that women could have entirely independent judgment rejecting Clinton on the merits.  Indeed recent polls show that Clinton would still lose to Trump despite his unpopularity with many voters.  According to the New York Times, Clinton carried only 54 percent of the female vote against Donald Trump. However, nearly twice as many white women without college degrees voted for Trump than for Hillary and she basically broke almost even on college-educated white women (with Hillary taking 51 percent). Trump won the majority of white women at 53 percent.  Clinton’s continued criticism of women as being self-haters was denounced recently as itself a sexist argument.  In an interview with VoxClinton said white women just do what men tell them to do:

“All of a sudden, the husband turns to the wife, ‘I told you, she’s going to be in jail. You don’t wanna waste your vote.’ The boyfriend turns to the girlfriend and says, ‘She’s going to get locked up, don’t you hear? She’s going to get locked up. Instead of saying, ‘I’m taking a chance, I’m going to vote,’ it didn’t work.”

It is not hard to imagine what the response would have been to someone else dismissing female voters as just a bunch of clinging mindless voters following the directions of their men.  

Never mind: Ginsburg got her seat on the Court by being a woman’s issues advocate, and feminists have to bolster the narrative even when it is utter garbage, as this one is. She’s in her eighties, and clearly is well-into the “I don’t give a damn” phase of life. One of the things she apparently doesn’t give a damn about is judicial ethics.

The correct answer to Rose’s question, the George Washington University law professor points out, was “to say that justices do not, and should not, hold forth on political issues.”

Bingo.

3. It has come to this: Yesterday, the New York Time’s editorial was headlined “477 Days. 521 Mass Shootings. Zero Action From Congress.” It consisted of calendar graphs that claimed, for example, that there were 27 mass shootings in September, and implied that action from Congress could have reduced the number.

Here is an op-ed the same paper in December of 2015, before the Times went completely nuts and abandoned all semblance of responsible journalism:

At Mother Jones, where I work as an editor, we have compiled an in-depth, open-source database covering more than three decades of public mass shootings. By our measure, there have been four “mass shootings” this year, including the one in San Bernardino, and at least 73 such attacks since 1982.

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them — and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise.

Now the New York Times wants to contribute to the noise.

4. The Times’ biases have their uses, of course. They sometime blind reporters to what their own stories actually tell us, thus letting some ugly cats out of the bag for all to see and smell. There is this article, for example,  in which various film-makers and academics discuss how to employ mass-distribution films to change public opinion regarding climate change with.

The article is endorsing indoctrination and propaganda, without ever acknowledging that this is what it is really being discussed. You know, like “The Triumph of the Will.”

The ignorant sheep-like public must be led to believe what we believe, because that is what will result in the greater good. We have a shining example of the danger to democracy when entertainment, popular culture and media are committed to one political ideology.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, Popular Culture

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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