Anti-Trump Hate Porn

I’ve written my quota of “resistance” ethics articles today I know, but I can’t help posting this one.

I was stuck in the DMV, and read a New York Times book review titled Which Came First, Trump or TV?” The reviewer is , who is described in biographies as a writer of satire. The book he reviews is “Donald Trump, Television, and the Fracturing of America” by James Poniewozik, the Times TV critic.

Both the positive review and the book it describes cannot be justified except as salacious efforts to slake the hate of the most Trump-Deranged among Americans. Poniewozik‘s book, described as non-fiction, is full of negative characterizations of the President, his thinking and his personality that are not justified by the author’s education, background, research or expertise. Poniewozik is a TV critic, and that’s pretty much all he has ever been. He has no special expertise or experience in politics or history; he is not a biographer; he isn’t a psychologist. This is his only book, and he is obviously using Trump hate to attract readers and sales, as well as positive reviews by writers who also have no qualifications to justify their getting the assignment. Both the book and the review are the product of bias, designed to foster bias.

Early in the review, we get this:

But Poniewozik, the chief television critic of this newspaper, uses his ample comedic gifts in the service of describing a slow-boil tragedy. If humor is the rocket of his ICBM, the last three years of our lives are the destructive payload.

Everything is terrible! Where have I heard that Big Lie before? I would have stopped reading right there, but you know: Department of Motor Vehicles.

Almost immediately after that moment of signature significance from the reviewer, we get this… Continue reading

An Unethical Quote About An Unethical Quote!

This was Trump’s fault? OK, that makes sense, Senator….thanks for clarifying

I’m sorely tempted to write an unethical post, thus creating the first unethical quote about an unethical quote about an unethical quote…but that would be wrong, as Richard Nixon said.

The topic was the recent New Zealand terror attack, the venue was CNN,  the speaker was Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard  Blumenthal ,and the quote was

“Words have consequences like saying we have an invasion on our border and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way…I think that the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions…Words do have consequences, and we know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.”

That’s right, the Senator was trying to blame a terrorist attack in New Zealand on Donald Trump. I wopuldn’t have to know a thing about Blumenthal to hear such a statement and conclude, with high confidence, that the speaker was a despicable, principle-free asshole. This is the unethical cognitive dissonance game that has the vile objective of ginning up hate by associating something universally understood as terrible to the person or group you want to demonize, despite the fact that there is no connection at all. President Trump plays this game on occasion, as when he links all illegal immigrants to gang members and murderers, the worst of their number, but at least there is some nexus there. Blumenthal’s smear is completely dishonest; it is in the same category as Hitler blaming Jews for the bad economy. (Don’t throw Godwin’s Law at me: an apt Hitler comparison is the clearest way to show how despicable the tactic is.) “If you hate massacres like this, then you should hate Trump too, because he helps make them happen!” No, he doesn’t, and didn’t, you irredeemable hack:

  • Calling illegal immigrants “invaders” is harsh language but not inaccurate. or unfair. An invader is “A person or group that invades a country, region, or other place.” Invade means “to enter (a place, situation, or sphere of activity) in large numbers, especially with intrusive effect.” There is no requirement, ethically or otherwise to describe those who seek to break our laws in nice terms. Failing to do so, moreover, does not cause maniacs to kill people in New Zealand. Did I mention that Blumenthal is an asshole?
  • “Talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way”…nice turn of phrase there, Senator Boob. The President makes distinctions between law breakers and law abiding citizens, and, in fact, there are many material differences between people, which your party increasingly wants to have embodied in law, so some groups have advantages over others in employment and other areas. But how does the vague conduct alluded to in this inarticulate blob of a phrase kill New Zealanders? I’m not seeing it.
  • “Words do have consequences”...True, and what a shame you don’t know how to use them…
  • “We know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.” Yes, Senator, we know that the position of your party and supporters is that the only good people are those who believe what you want them to believe.  Everyone else is deplorable.

Continue reading

Presenting: The Reverse Hanlon’s Razor, “Nalnah’s Razor” [UPDATED]

Sometimes you have to presume malice.

In item #1 of the March 11 Warm-Up, I wrote about Steve Bannon’s intentionally-misread statement to French nationalists, saying in part,

 “…What Bannon was obviously saying —and I do mean obviously—is “Don’t let their reflex race-baiting and demonizing tactics discourage you or deter you. Calling sensible immigration laws “xenophobic” is a desperate lie. Calling it racist is a lie. Calling it nativist is a lie. Recognize that their tactics mean you are winning the argument. Be proud, not intimidated.”

My friend, frequent critic and former Ethics Alarms blogger of the year Windypundit responded,

“It’s not a lie, it’s an opinion. An opinion that Bannon and his supporters and you are free to reject. But still an opinion.”

This gave me pause.

If it is an opinion, it is a really stupid opinion. If one wants to argue that immigration laws are xenophobic, racist or nativist, then fine: make the case. The case can’t be made, of course. Borderless nations are not nations. From the collapse of the Roman Empire, to the white European take-over of North America, to the cultural upheavals and violence facing Europe now, history’s lessons are not ambiguous. A nation that does not protect its sovereignty and manage its population and demographics is doomed. Not knowing this is ignorant. Not comprehending it is stupid. Publicly denying it for political gain is dishonest.

Hanlon’s Razor is typically quoted as, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” Should the razor be applied to the Left’s increasingly shrill and repetitive catcalls that those wanting to enforce the laws against illegal immigration are doing so because they are xenophobic, racist, and nativist?

No, it shouldn’t, because those promoting the use of those terms are not stupid nor ignorant. They are cynical, and they are using the fallacy of the appeal to emotion while wielding the cognitive dissonance scale unethically. Set up the proponents of the rule of law as universal negatives like racists, xenophobes and nativists—bigots, in other words, and whatever they oppose rises on the scale, and whatever they embrace falls. The labeling, however, is false, and intentionally so. Immigration law, the rule of law, borders and sovereignty have nothing to do with racism, xenophobia, or nativism. They are all independent, well-established aspects of responsible governance. Absent more, accusing advocates of these basic tools of being motivated by bigotry is indefensible, and inexplicable absent stupidity, ignorance, or malice. Continue reading

The New York Times’ Lies About “Trump’s Lies”

In a grandstanding stunt that was even beneath the fallen role model of U.S. journalism, The New York Times printed what it claimed to be “the definitive list of Donald Trump’s lies” since his inauguration. To say the the list was itself full of lies, and that the over-all assertion that these were “Trump’s lies” was a misrepresentation, is not in any way to excuse the President’s lazy, careless, incompetent use of language, impulsive habits of communication, shockingly inept reasoning and  reckless tweeting. Almost all of the statements quoted by the Times contain misinformation, irresponsible opinions  or unwarranted conclusions, and it is dangerous and disruptive for any leader, indeed anyone, to express themselves this way. Nevertheless, the statements are not all lies. Most of them, in fact, are not lies.

Does it matter? It does. When the New York Times call a list “definitive,’ that list should at a minimum meet the definition of what the New York Times claims to be exposing. It does not. The definition of a lie is a “a deliberately false statement designed to deceive.”

If we assume that the New York Times knows what a lie is, and if the Times does not then it should have no credibility at all, since a journalist’s mission is to report the truth, then the list proves that the New York Times deliberately set out to deceive its readers.

At one point, the Times says,

“We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.”

This is a self-contradictory statement. If a falsehood isn’t deliberate, then it isn’t a lie.

In presenting this unethical project, the Times took unethical advantage of its readers’ confirmation bias. When the “Lie” list was printed, the Times made certain that it would require super-human dedication and extraordinary eyesight to read it, through the devices of listing every item and the Times commentary in horizontal sequence and in half the usual size type-face. (See above) This ensured that almost no readers would make the Herculean effort to read the whole thing , especially since the well-trained Times readers already “knows” that Donald Trump is a liar. In addition, the explosion of tiny words created the visceral response of “Wow! Look at all those lies!” which is exactly the effect the Times editors wanted.

But that isn’t reporting, and it isn’t journalism. The “list” was a page-size, visual, ad hominem attack. The Times wasn’t seeking close scrutiny of its list, nor was it interested in making any rebuttal easy or likely.

We have learned that the Times list was largely assembled from various fact-checker columns. That is a red flag, and explains many of the most embarrassing inclusions on the list. None of the fact-checkers are trustworthy. All of them are biased, Snopes and PolitiFact worst of all, and they consistently register opinions that the writer disagrees with as “false.” Many, many of the items on the Times list are in this category.

I’m not going to go over the entire list here and distinguish between the lies and non-lies, though I have done the analysis. My template for an undisputed Presidential lie would be Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”—he did, and he said this deliberately to deceive; and Barack Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” declaration that he made repeatedly to sell Obamacare to the American people in 2009. The “women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job” is a fake statistic that both Clinton  and Obama (and Hillary and Bernie) used, but that would not qualify as a lie on my scale.  I think they believe it, or believe that it’s close enough to true that they aren’t lying when they refer to it. Many of the “lies” on the list fall into this gray area. Of course, the Times never set out to list all of Obama’s lies, or Clinton’s, because they never wanted to suggest either of them were untrustworthy, though a good argument could be made that Clinton was, and Obama regularly engaged in deceit and misrepresentation. To its credit, the Post’s Factchecker did create a list of outgoing President Obama’s “Top Ten Whoppers.”

Many statements that Obama made that were much like dozens of the items on the Trump list were never called “lies” in the mainstream media, as when he attacked the Supreme Court and the Citizens United ruling in a State of the Union address by saying that the decision “will open the floodgates for special interests”…“ including foreign corporations”…” to spend without limit in our elections.” (Justice Alito was seen mouthing “not true” and shaking his head.”)

Unfortunately for the Times, listing “Trump’s lies” chronologically exposed the dishonest and biased nature of the exercise from the start. The first three “lies” are not lies.: Continue reading

Incompetence Saturday’s Unethical Quote Of The Day: NBC News Reporter Daniel Arkin

“President Donald Trump returned to one of his most derogatory insults Friday, referring to Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” — a jab at her Native American ancestry.”

—-NBC reporter Daniel Arkin, reporting on the President’s speech to the NRA in Atlanta this week.

Now, you might argue that this is very competent smearing by Arkin, abetted by NBC. But let’s assume, just to be nice, or naive, that Arkin wasn’t intentionally falsely suggesting that the President was engaging in racial denigration of Warren’s ancestry. This would mean that he either has done no research on his subject or that he credulously accepts whatever Democrats say.

Now, I will stipulate that calling the Senator playground-level names is unprofessional, uncivil, obnoxious, un-presidential and an ad hominem attack by President Trump. This is one of his many terrible and apparently unalterable habits. Nevertheless, calling Warren “Pocahontas” is not Trump denigrating her “Native American ancestry,” but rather a reference to Warren’s well-documented false claims of having Native American ancestry, claims that she used to get the benefit of affirmative action when she was seeking a position in academia. Warren has no actual Native American ancestry to mock. What is worthy of mockery—though not by the President of the United States–is her fake assumption of a minority personal to benefit her career at the expense of others.

Arkin misrepresented the facts—Warren can produce no evidence that she is even a smidgen Cherokee, as she maintained for years—either to make the President appear to be racist, or because Arkin is a completely incompetent journalist, influenced by confirmation bias to the detriment of his readers.

Dishonest or incompetent? The result is unethical journalism and fake news either way.

_____________________

Pointer: Instapundit

Bias Makes The News Media Stupid, But It Makes Politicians Untrustworthy Jerks

Dad warned me about people like you, Al...

Dad warned me about people like you, Al…

The Stupid: Journalists

Let me begin by saying how happy I am that the mainstream news medias “fake news” gambit, where it attempted to blame President Trump’s election on ridiculous hoax stories spread on social media to distract from its own biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, has blown up in its metaphorical face like those Acme booby traps do to Wile E. Coyote.

Here’s a new and especially stupid example of the biased, dishonest and incompetent reporting, although “dishonest” wasn’t in play.

The website Pop Suger posted an extremely inept and confusing story concerning U.S. Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, who made history in the 2016 Olympics as the first female Muslim American to medal for the United States and the first American to compete in the Games wearing a hijab. The site and the reporter signal their untrustworthiness and Bias Makes You Stupid (BMYS) credentials by writing of the controversial immigration halt Executive Order,

“The executive order blocked thousands of refugees, immigrants, and visitors from seven predominately Muslim countries from entering the United States before it was struck down by a judge many days later.”

No, you ignorant dolts, the order was not and has not been “struck down.” It has been subject to a temporary restraining order, which is absolutely not the same as being struck down, as any second year law student intern could have told you if you cared more about accurate reporting  than bashing the President.

The story described Muhammad’s statements when she took the stage at a conference last week  and answered a question about the “travel ban” by saying that she had been personally “held at Customs for two hours just a few weeks ago.”  The athlete is not as adept at time sense as she is at her sport, because she eventually had to clarify that “just a few weeks ago” meant “in December.”   The website followed  with an update, but never mind. TIME saw her statement, didn’t check the time frame or notice the update, and tweeted yesterday (remember, the story was clarified two days before, and was wrong to begin with) the headline in TIME’s “Motto.”

“Olympic athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad was detained because of President Trump’s travel ban”

The U.K.’s Independent went with a story titled, “US Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad says she was detained by Customs after Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban.’

The Hill published an article whose opening paragraph read, “A Muslim-American Olympic medalist says she was detained by Customs for nearly two hours without explanation after President Trump’s travel ban was instituted a few weeks ago.”

Sports Illustrated and ESPN also published stories implying that Muhammad’s Customs detention was triggered by Trump’s immigration order,  and other journalists and pundits expressed indignation on social media.

Remember,  Muhammad was detained in December of 2016. Barack Obama was President. Trump’s Executive Order was just a twinkle in his eye. Continue reading