Tag Archives: 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck

Question: Are There Any Fair And Rational Democrats Who Protest The Fake “Bombshells” And “Breaking News” Purporting To Show Trump “Colluded With Russia”?

A day or so ago, I was watching when a CNN crawl said: “Breaking News….Trump Team Had Contact With Russia.” Then I listened to the actual story. That headline was fake news. (Yes, partisan spinners: when the news media uses a misleading headline to  suggest something is true that isn’t, that is fake news.) The Trump team didn’t do anything. Individuals who were involved with Trump’s campaign had contact with Russians (not Russia) that may have had nothing at all to do with Trump or the election. The headline was intentionally constructed to suggest that the Trump campaign was engaged in something sinister.

This was just an especially glaring example. Earlier this week, John Brennan testified that

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign that I was concerned about because of known Russian efforts to suborn such individuals,” Brennan said  “And it raised questions in my mind again whether or not the Russians were able to gain the cooperation of those individuals…”

That statement was similarly spun as a “bombshell,” because to those who have already decided that President Trump must have committed treason to win the election (because why would anyone vote against Hillary Clinton, and besides, Trump is a fascist, evil, scary monster thing elected by deplorable sexistracistxenohobicauthoritarianmorons), so Trump is obviously guilty. In truth, what X is concerned about regarding associates of Y is no evidence of anything regarding Y at all.

The biased media’s’ Brennan spin isn’t an outlier; it exemplifies the entire “Russiagate” narrative.  Another New York Times “bombshell”  reported, based on “three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence,” that

American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers, according to three current and former American officials familiar with the intelligence.The conversations focused on Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign chairman at the time, and Michael T. Flynn, a retired general who was advising Mr. Trump, the officials said. Both men had indirect ties to Russian officials, who appeared confident that each could be used to help shape Mr. Trump’s opinions on Russia.

Rachel Stoltzfoos  at The Daily Caller cleanly exposed this bombshell as a dud in her post, “Go Straight To The Fifth Paragraph Of The Latest NYT ‘Bombshell’ On Russia Collusion,” where she wrote, Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

A GOP Candidate Wins A House Seat In Montana Despite Attacking A Reporter The Night Before The Election. What’s Going On Here?

Yesterday, in an Ethics Alarms post pointing out that nobody should vote a person who physically attacks reporters, or indeed, who attacks anybody, into Congress, I wrote,

What kind of person would vote for Gianforte after last night’s display? The kind of person who argues that character doesn’t matter in elected officials, only their positions.

And idiots, of course.

Candidate/Thug Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate, won the election nonetheless with over 50% of the votes. Rob Quist, the Democrat, received only 44%. Does this mean that over 50% of Montana voters are idiots? No, that wouldn’t be a fair conclusion. An estimated 60% of voters had turned in their ballots already, so the Gianforte voters in that batch weren’t necessarily idiots. (As I implied in the post yesterday, the advocates for voting before election day, thus allowing late-arriving information about the candidates—as in, “Hey! This guy is an unstable, volatile jerk with the judgment of a bar room goon!” to have minimal effect on  election results, have embraced an irresponsible, idiotic even, policy.)

Gianforte’s victory illuminate  other ethics issues, hwoever:

1. Addressing supporters in his victory speech, Gianforte apologized to the reporter he body-slammed, the journalists who witnessed the attack, and Montanans, saying “When you make a mistake you have to own up to it. That’s the Montana way.”

Ugh, yecchh, gag, petui!

If that’s the Montana way, why did Gianforte sit back and allow his campaign to blame the episode on the reporter? Remember, the statement from Gianforte’s staff, which is to say Gianforte,  said that the reporter,

“entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions….After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

That isn’t owning up. That’s covering up, spinning and lying. Does the new Congressman’s apology mean that he acknowledges that his campaign was lying? When will he own up to that?  An apology now is cheap, cynical and meaningless, for Gianforte won, and Montana is stuck with him for two years.

2. A Montana TV station refused to inform its viewers that Gianforte had assaulted and battered a reporter. NBC affiliate KECI, recently purchased by the conservative media conglomerate Sinclair Broadcasting, adamantly kept the report of the attack and the audio of the incident,  arguing that “The person that tweeted [Jacobs] and was allegedly body slammed is a reporter for a politically biased publication.”  That “biased publication” was the Guardian, and the tweeter was Ben Jacobs, the victim. His account was confirmed by reporters from Fox News…you know, that liberal network that is always trying to make Republicans look bad. The anchor of the evening newscast, Laurel Staples, read a statement that said, in part, “NBC Montana takes pride in reporting only verifiable facts from an independent, reliable sources.”

 NBC News, including the Today show and affiliates across the country, played the audio of the altercation between Jacobs and Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault, indicating that reports of the episode were reliable. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Comment of the Day: “Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend”

Here us another excellent comment regarding social media, this one from Glenn Logan. His focus is on what he calls “emotional sewage,” and its poisonous effect on reason, discourse and society.

He takes off from the end of my post about a Facebook friend’s outburst. Here is Glenn’s Comment of the Day on the post,  “Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend”:

“Nevertheless, this and posts like it, appearing every day on social media, weaken and divide the country and incrementally replace rational thought with raw emotion, bigotry and stupidity.”

This is the thing that gets me about social media — the low barrier for production and amplification of echo-chamber emotional sewage.

That’s what this virtue-signalling nonsense is — emotional sewage that is polluting our culture to the point that it threatens to become the mainstream, and remove reasonable people to the rump.

When interactions were mostly one-to-one or one-to-few, emotional sewage like this tended to get sorted out very quickly because the perpetrators were forced to deal face-to-face with their peers and address rational arguments against their effluvia. In the end, it was contained, often reconsidered and refined into something less putrid and, if not exactly reasoned, at least reasonable in a broad sense.

With social media, which provides a one-to-many construct, there is no such refinement. Raw emotional sewage is dumped out there and amplified, taking it from revolting straight to toxic. The sewer rats all band together in their virtuous righteousness, oblivious to the funk they produce and the normal people they sicken, and attack those who dare to disagree like hungry piranha.

Social media has enabled this sad state of affairs, but blaming the medium is very much like blaming the knife or gun for murder. What social media has proven is that if you can get a pack together on any given point that is large and aggressive enough, you can crush dissent on a massive scale, and drive differing viewpoints from the marketplace of ideas no matter how messed up your own views are.

Benjamin Franklin once answered a lady regarding the form of government the Founders produced in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and he answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” 230 years later, Dr. Franklin’s words haunt us — can we keep our republic, or will it drown in emotional sewage?

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Social Media, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Day: A Lovely, Smart, Trump-Deranged, Left-Biased Facebook Friend

“How do we know the Trump administration is racist? well, they’re all white – and if this had been a white student murdered by a black student or immigrant student in what appears to be a racially-motivated hate crime, they’d have plenty say about it.”

—-A Facebook friend who works at Bowie State, exploiting the tragic death of a black student there at the hands of a white student from the University of Maryland, to attack President Trump in a post on his page.

How hysterical, unfair and unethical is this statement? Let’s see:

1.The administration is not all-white. Even if it was, that would not prove it was racist, except in the warped logic of progressives and social justice warriors. People like my friend know Trump is racist because that’s the narrative, and they just decided that he was, mostly by designating as  racist comments that were not, and using race-baiting as substitute for substantive arguments to support their irresponsible love of illegal immigration.

2. The assertion that simply by being white, one must be racist is itself a racist statement. (My friend is white, but this is virtue -signalling on the Left. Denigrate men, whites and conservatives, and that means you are good.)

Addendum: a commenter on the post who had the bad manners to point out that “we know they are racist because they are all white” was a questionable assertion saw his comment immediately deleted.

2. “We know you are racist because we are sure what you would do, though you have never done it.” This kind of reasoning from a faculty member is what Bowie students pay tuition for.

3. In fact, earlier this month a black student attacked and stabbed FOUR white students in Austin, Texas.

The President had no comments, though it was unquestionably a “racially-motivated” crime.  Never mind though, you know he wanted to say plenty.

4. Presidents should have nothing to say about such incidents. They are local, they are single events, they don’t prove anything, and their comments can undermine the justice system and inflame public opinion. President Obama never learned that, repeatedly making inappropriate comments about events that were none of his business, often exacerbating racial tensions, as in his uninformed, slanted statement about the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman tragedy. Obama also did exactly what my Facebook friend suggest is racist. He never commented on incidents where whites were the victims, as when Francisco Sanchez, a repeatedly deported Illegal immigrant,  shot and killed 32-year-old Kathryn Steinle in 2015. Does that prove Obama was a racist? Of course not! When you are in the grip of irrational Trump paranoia and hate, these standards only apply to this President, not the previous one. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

“Fuck Donald Trump!”

I was bemused to see a Sunday New York Times front page story described the White House as beset with “scandals.” Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with anything that qualified as a “scandal” applying the prior standards of ethical journalism, and especially if one considered the standards the news media applied to the Obama Administration. For reference purposes, the Obama White House manipulating the facts of the Benghazi raid to avoid accountability was not a scandal, it was a “nothingburger.”  The IRS, an executive agency under the authority of President Obama, deliberately and illegally sabotaging conservative groups to assist in Obama’s re-election wasn’t a scandal,  it was just “rogue employees.” Obama’s Justice Department surveilling a Fox journalist in defiance of the First Amendment wasn’t a scandal, because Fox News.

“Fast and Furious” wasn’t a scandal because the Attorney General who oversaw it said it wasn’t, and besides, the Justice Department was investigating itself, so all was well. Barack Obama repeatedly lying about what was in the health care bill that we had to pass to know what was in it wasn’t a scandal, it was just a slip of the tongue, over and over again. The same slip. Secretly trading five terrorists for a deserter whom the administration first described to the public as a soldier who “served the United States with honor and distinction” wasn’t a scandal because the mainstream media gave it a pass…and so on.

Firing someone a President has the power and right to fire and who was objectively untrustworthy  is not a scandal, nor is it a “crisis,”  no matter how many times reporters say it is. Alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources are not scandals, because they are alleged statements made by a President leaked by anonymous sources. A news media—led by two rival national newspapers trying to top each other by publishing breathless accounts of hearsay as if that is ever  evidence of anything—that has openly abandoned all ethical journalism standards and allied itself with a partisan effort to undermine and remove an elected President is a scandal, as well as a crisis. More on that one later.

The other scandal and crisis is the complete abdication of reason, responsibility, civility and sanity by the Democratic Party as it commits to satisfying the blood lust of its most hard-core and irrational supporters, by trying to unseat the President of the United States without the inconvenience of having to win an election. The latest ugly proof that this scandal is real came from California, where the state Democratic Party convention climaxed with outgoing party Chair John Burton extending two middle fingers in the air and leading a cheering throng in the chant,  “Fuck Donald Trump,” as Nancy Pelosi laughed it up in the crowd (as you can see in the photo.) Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured Crisis: The Comey Firing Freakout”

With so much loose talk about impeachment going around (and by “loose” I mean “inexcusably ignorant”), texagg04’s review of the Constitutional standard for the removal of a President is a gift to readers of Ethics Alarms, and one of the most interesting and informative comments ever to appear here.

He was reacting to a New York Times op-ed, cited by another commenter,  by political scientist Greg Weiner (no relation) titled, “Impeachment’s Political Heart,” in which the author concluded,

“The question is by what standards they should conduct this work, and that question provides an opportunity to correct the mistaken assumption according to which presidents can forfeit the public trust only by committing what the law recognizes as a crime. That is a poor bar for a mature republic to set. It is not the one a newborn republic established. And that is why the idea that the conversation about impeachment is simply a political persecution of a man who is technically innocent of a literal crime not only jumps the investigatory gun. It misses the constitutional point.”

Having studied the issue myself, I immediately rejected Weiner’s analysis (which still is worth reading in its entirety) on the ground that a constantly evolving standard of what is a “high crime and misdemeanor” simply means that Presidents can be impeached for behaving, or governing, in ways that enough members of Congress, the news media and the public don’t like. That is what is being advocated now, and that approach would undermine our democracy, the power of elections, and the office of the President.

My gut response, however, is wan and insubstantial compared to tex’s masterful historical review and astute analysis, which (whew!) reaches a similar conclusion.

Here is texagg04’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the post, “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout”…I’ll have one brief comment afterwards:

[Weiner] is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

He’s right in nothing but that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

Continue reading

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My Mistake! I Thought Having Trump As President Would Teach Our Kids To Be Uncivil, Vulgar Assholes…I Didn’t Foresee Anderson Cooper Helping Out

[The title above is a reference to this post from last year, in case you missed it despite my linking to it just about every other day since…]

On the May 19, 2017 edition of Anderson Cooper 360, the CNN host became frustrated with President Trump’s flack Jeffrey Lord—consider him this President’s less slick version of Lanny Davis or less repulsive version of Paul Begala—-as Lord defended the President’s alleged description of former F.B.I. Director James Comey as a “nut job,” leading to this immortal exchange.

Cooper: If he took a dump on his desk, you would defend it.

Lord: What? [Starts laughing.]

Niiiiice! So professional! So respectful to the President of the United States and any CNN viewers left who have a shred of civility, decency, and sense of  etiquette in public discourse!

So disgusting.

As we know, a back-up weekend weatherman who said this about the  previous President or any before him would have been fired before he finished the 7 day forecast. Cooper, however, is permitted this gutter level breach of courtesy and professionalism, because 1) as CNN’s star, he is held to a lower standard (The Star Syndrome) than weekend weathermen, as we saw in when Cooper smirked and joked with Rachel Maddow about the gay term “teabagger” in order to mock the Tea Party movement,  2) CNN has normalized blatant partisan gestures and outbursts by its talking heads, and 2) this President of the United States  has been found  unworthy of respect and courtesy, or professional journalism standards. CNN will do nothing to discipline Cooper or send te message that his conduct is unacceptable, because the dirty little secret is that as long as President Trump is the target, it is acceptable. At this point in its devolution, CNN is cheerleading what has been accurately called a slow-motion attempted coup by the one-time news network’s party of choice. A Harvard media study released last week showed CNN to be the most unbalanced of all major news outlets in its reporting on the President’s first 100 days, with 97% of its coverage negative in substance or tone.

Cooper later apologized to Lord in the segment, saying, “I like having your voice on here and I think you’re an important voice to have, so I’m sorry I was a little crude. And you defend the president very well, and that’s your job.”

A little crude? Continue reading

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