Telling Unethical Quote Of The Week: Elie Mystal

Elie Mystal

Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address calling for unity was extravagantly praised by the news media. Were they empty words of convenience? We shall see. The first clue will be whether Democrats allow the “snap impeachment” of President Trump to continue to become the unconstitutional spite trial of citizen Donald Trump. That just might be considered divisive. The likelihood is getting stronger even as the mainstream media is reporting that the siege of the Capitol had been planned in advance, so claiming that Trump “incited a riot” is false on its face….but this is what happens when the objective is just to accuse someone without bothering to wait for a thorough investigation.

Also working against “unity”—totalitarian regimes love unity; in fact, they insist on it—is the certainty that the mainstream news media will now constantly be parading its despicable double standards before the public daily. Seldom has blogger Ann Althouse, a moderate liberal who found herself defending a President she disliked almost as much as I did over the last four years, duplicated my thoughts more exactly than she did yesterday when she wrote in part,

I’m not watching the TV, not thinking about the inauguration. I’m uninterested in hearing analysis of the speeches, the poetry, the song-belting, the executive orders, the race-and-sex firsts. Bored by social media posts about how happy this or that person I follow happens to be about all those things. …The main reason I am averting my eyes is that I don’t want exposure to all the favorable, flattering media. The media were so awful to Trump, whatever he did. The sudden shift to bathing Biden in sunlight just feels so wrong to me. It seems sappy and patronizing. But I hope Biden does well, and I’ll be giving him a chance.”

Which is more than 99% of the AUC did with President Trump.

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Pelosi’s Unconscionable “Snap Impeachment,” Part I: Welcome to Plan T

T

In Ethics Alarms’ compilation of the previous 19 attempts at removing President Trump since his election had been stalled at Plan S, the unconstitutional, cynical and non-substantive impeachment of President Trump on spurious grounds in 2019. It’s lack of validity was demonstrated by the fact that neither the news media nor Democrats mentioned the sham during the 2020 Presidential campaign. In the introduction to the list, I wrote,

When Plan S, which late novelist Robert Ludlum might have called “The Ukrainian Perversion” if it had been one of his novels, fails like the rest, or if President Trump is re-elected, the list will keep growing. As scholar Victor Hanson Davis has pointed out, the sheer number of these successive plans belies the claim that this is not an ongoing attempt at a soft coup.

As it turned, out I was more right than I intended to be. Never did I suspect that Democrats would continue to try to remove the President before the end of his term even if they won the 2020 Presidential election, but they are doing so because the other 19 attempts failed. Since this cannot reasonably be called a soft coup, since the Democrats have already won the White House, Plan T must be recognized for what it is: an act of pure hate and vengeance, and a deliberate, calculated insult to Trump’s supporters as well as those citizens who believe that that their government should not behave like third-world failed state.

The rest of this post will be added to “Presidential Impeachment/Removal Plans, 2016 to 2020”:

Plan T (added 1/9/21): Trump should be impeached for “inciting a riot” with his speech to supporters on January 6, as Congress gathered to officially approve the states’ electoral college vote making Joe Biden the 46th President. The transcript is here.

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Boxing Day Ethics Warm-Up, 2020: A Tip, An Obituary, A Prank, A Tell, And A Slug

Gifts

Now this is a dedicated grandmother: my sister, who has been risk-averse her whole life, and who is my model of a Wuhan virus phobic, bought a used Winnebago, loaded up her old Havanese, and drove from Virginia to Los Angeles to spend Christmas and another three weeks with her son, his wife, and their seven month-old daughter. On the way cross country she parked her vehicle outside the homes of a series of strangers she was connected to by friends and friends of friends. Amazing.

1. There seem to be a few of these Christmas Ethics Heroes every year. In Bartonsville, Illinois, an occasional restaurant customer on Christmas Eve morning left a 2,000 dollar tip—in cash—for the 19-person staff of the Bartonsville diner. The man didn’t even leave his full name, just “Tony,” though he is apparently the son of a regular who joined him for breakfast. “He just said, ‘Merry Christmas,'” the owner told reporters. “How generous of somebody to do that, especially somebody who doesn’t come in that often. Nobody was expecting it, that’s for sure.”

2. How do you write an obnoxious obituary? Here’s how you write an obnoxious obituary. The Lagacy.com. entry for Grace McDonough, who died on December 21, concludes with this gratuitous and graceless—no pun intended—text:

The actions and inactions of the United States government regarding the Covid-19 virus has caused Grace McDonough and thousands of other nursing home residents to lose their lives to the Covid -19 virus. These same residents had successfully fought and won great battles against other diseases and conditions and yet were placed in harm’s way during the pandemic. These frail, elderly, sick and vulnerable innocents were not protected by the government they supported, fought for, contributed to and now depended on. Shame on the United States government! We, as their loved ones, have the right to be profoundly sad and profoundly angry at the same time. May our loved ones now rest in peace. It is the least they deserve.

Grace was 95 years old. She lived in a nursing home, where residents are in close confinement and where pandemic infections were and are especially deadly. Attributing the death of a 95-year-old on the undefined “actions and inactions” of the government demonstrates a) a dangerous gullibility to Democratic propaganda b) denial of reality and c) the continuation of  what is probably a pattern of looking for someone to blame for every misfortune. Fark, the humorous news aggregator website infected itself with predictable leftist bias, termed the obituary “fierce.” I would call it signature significance indicating a family teeming with jerks.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/15/20: Bye-Bye Bill Barr!

bye bye

1. Bill Barr’s resignation. The Attorney General is leaving, and so would I, in his place. Unlike his predecessor, who endured unprofessional and destructive sniping from the President, Barr decided enough was enough. He issued a respectful letter of resignation, and said “bye-bye.” This was in contrast with other digruntled Trump officials like Mad Dog Mattis, who lived up to his name with a resignation letter guaranteed to give the Trump-hating media more fodder. I assume the final straw was Barr raking fire for correctly not using the Hunter Biden investigation as a GOP campaign weapon. With even half-competent and responsible news media coverage, the Justice Department’s silence about what they are supposed to be silent about would never have been an issue.

The President’s lack of loyalty, respect and gratitude toward his staff and associates is one more ugly character trait that motivates his critics.

2. Another unethical bait-and-switch. I have written about this issue too many times to devote a whole post to it again.. Yesterday Republican Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell told CNN that he will change his party affiliation to Independent because of President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede the 2020 presidential election and

Mitchell said he has put in a request to the Clerk of the House to change his party affiliation to “independent,” in an interview with CNN, and in a letter it is “unacceptable for political candidates to treat our election system as though we are a third-world nation and incite distrust of something so basic as the sanctity of our vote.” CNN, being incompetent, did not ask the necessary question, which is “Since you are lecturing the President and your party on ethics, why do you think it is ethical to run for re-election as a Republican, get the votes of Republicans in your district, and then change your party affiliation a month later?”

The ethical way to do it is to resign, and then run again under the new banner. A few party-switchers in the past have had the integrity to follow this procedure, notably former Senator Phil Gramm of Texas.

I would support a law requiring any elected official who switches party mid-term to have to resign. As the Ethics Alarm credo goes, “Where ethics fails, the law steps in.”

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Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/2020: Last Week Before Getting Freaked Out Over Christmas Edition

Anxious Santa

1. American companies doing China’s censorship for a buck. The Chinese government pulled the American film “Monster Hunter” from theaters because a childish pun was deemed racist. “Look at my knees!” says an American soldier played by a Chinese-American rapper known as MC Jin as he rides in a military vehicle. “What kind of knees are these?” Then he answers his own question: “Chi-nese!”

Based on that, the movie was attacked and censored, so the line was removed, and German production company that co-produced the film (Sony is the U.S. distributor) apologized.

I am increasingly convinced that the media edict that it was racist to refer to the Wuhan-originating virus as the Wuhan virus was entirely motivated by corporate media interests in Chinese revenue. If U.S. companies won’t represent U.S. values in their dealings abroad, then the role of the U.S. as a beacon of democracy and human rights in the world is a sham.

I intend to call the pandemic the Wuhan virus forever.

2. Are absurd gay stereotypes unethical? Late night talk show host James Corden is being pilloried for his performance in Netflix’s musical The Prom. He plays an openly gay Broadway actor who describes himself as “gay as a bucket of wigs” in the Broadway musical’s film adaptation that premiered last week. I haven’t seen the film, but I know what gay stereotypes look like, from the Flaming gay director (and his even more flaming assistant) in Mel Brooks’ original “The Producers” to Martin Short’s event planner in “Father of the Bride.” The new name for this kind of performance is “gayface,” an obvious reference to blackface.

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Friday Night Ethics Fever, 11/13/2020 [Corrected]

1. “Then they came for Professor Turley…” Jonathan Turley, who has distinguished himself throughout the Trump years and the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck with clear, unbiased, non-partisan analysis that generally correctly identifies who is the transgressor and why, was attacked by University of Colorado Law Professor Paul Campus who compared his discussion of possible voting irregularities to Holocaust denial. Turley is measured, as usual, in his criticism, but he is obviously troubled by the continuing trend, writing in part,

“It is part of a wave of intolerance sweeping over our colleges and our newsrooms. It is therefore an ironic moment as someone who has been writing about the growing intolerance of dissenting views on our campuses and efforts to fire academic.  Some have been targeted for engaging in what is called “both sides rhetoric” rather than supporting a preferred narrative or viewpoint. Campos is arguing that it “would be appropriate to fire” any professor who stated that we should allow these challenges to be heard even though they have not and are unlikely to produce evidence of systemic fraud to overturn these results.  That is a view of academic freedom and viewpoint tolerance shared by some in academia.

I am not the first academic that Campos called to be terminated for his views. In the end, I would defend Campos in his posting such views. Unlike Professor Campos, I do not believe that he should be fired for holding opposing views or even calling for others to be fired. That is the cost of free speech. Indeed, Professor Campos is the cost of free speech.’

And yes, this is exactly what you voted for if you voted for Joe Biden.

In fact, it’s what Professor Turley voted for, as I suspect he did, when he voted for Joe Biden.

2. Regarding another favorite Ethics Alarms blogger…I respect and value Ann Althouse’s opinions and analysis, but boy does she epitomize what’s irresponsible about intellectuals.  There is a constant tone on her blog that it’s all just a big cosmic game, nothing really matters much, and all these intellectually inferior people are running around in circles, obsessing over base and minor matters. Meanwhile, Ann is preoccupied by the fact that there’s a “homophone for alibi,” the relative size of statues, and some local interviewer in Lincoln, Nebraska. These matters seem to concern her about as much as the means by which a President was finally taken down, the cracking of our democratic institutions, and the fact that our journalists have become no better than rumor-mongers and partisan assassins.

It’s that studied distance that academics and those over-educated egotists who are full-time frolickers in the playgrounds of the mind display that makes normal people—and me— suspicious of their motives and judgment.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/3/2020: Anything Important Happening Today?

dewey headline

Today in election history, Harry Truman celebrated pulling off one of the greatest upsets in American history, defeating Republican Thomas Dewey and turning the two-time Presidential loser’s name into an eternal punchline, thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s over-eager headline based on early returns the night before. With Truman’s popularity at historic lows and all of the experts declaring the President defeated before that race began,  Dewey campaigned at a leisurely pace, though not exactly a Joe Biden pace. Truman, in contrast, campaigned furiously as the underdog.  Truman defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes, creating the all-time template for surprise Presidential victories, and embedding the photograph above in American lore.

Even this couldn’t displace it…

Newsweek cover

1. Althouse gets defensive about “abstaining.” One of the bloggers most quoted at Ethics Alarms became triggered by a critical comment about her abstaining from voting and defended herself today, though not too well. Althouse addressed the commenter, named Slothrop, as well as the general attack on 2020 non-voters like her by Instapundit firebrand Sarah Hoyt. Ann countered in part,

[T]his method of using insults to push people to vote is ugly. Are they doing it because they think it’s effective? I don’t yield to bullies. …Slothrop appeals to my vanity as he insists that I be a good person — not cowardly and neglectful of duty. Hoyt denounces vanity and insists that I not get involved in any sense of my personal goodness… she portrays the abstainer as snooty — with her nose in the air, acting like she’s “too good for this.”

Slothrop is distinctly wrong when he says voting is a duty. No. It is not. Like speaking, like religion, like getting married, like having sexual relations, voting is a right, and a right entails the power to decline to exercise it. It is horrible to be forced to speak, forced to take on a religion, forced to get married, forced to have sex — these are loathsome impositions. 

Hoyt is wrong — in my case at least — to attribute a refusal to vote for Trump to taking offense at his personal style — his manners, his crassness. I happen to enjoy his personal style…

Trump has his style and I have mine. If it makes you want to stomp your foot, go ahead. You can keep “stomping your foot about” how cruelly neutral I am. You’re free. You’ve got your right and I’ve got mine. 

Verdict: Lame. Voting is a duty of citizenship, as long as the citizen is informed, as Althouse certainly is. Yes, there is a right not to do your duty, unless a law makes it mandatory. I’m shocked, or perhaps enlightened, that Althouse would excuse her refusal to make a tough choice to “style.” Let’s see, how many rationalizations on the list does that rattle, along with the rest of her self-defense? I’ve got at least eleven:

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Monday Between Halloween And Scary Election Day Ethics,11/2/2020 [CORRECTED]

I had a conversation with a friend who said she would never speak to anyone so devoid of values and intelligence to vote for Donald Trump (she was bluffing) and then immediately thereafter demonstrated that she was incapable of explaining what was so unbearable about the President beyond generalities, Big Lies, and deflections (when the quality of the President’s advisors are a go-to argument three minutes in, you’ve got nothin’…) Upon cross examination, she could not coherently justify voting for Joe Biden either, except through denial (“He’s not senile, he’s just not as sharp as he used to be, and at that age, who is?” Yes, and that’s why nobody has run for President at that age. And no, Joe did not used to forget who he was running against, what office he was running for, or repeatedly get thousands mixed up with millions) even when it was acknowledged that he was far from the sharpest tack in the package. Finally, she said, “I’d vote for Biden even if he was completely demented.’

And there it is: the rational, informed, analytical Democratic voter. In the end, it’s mostly about hate.

  1. Speaking of dementia…Conservative flame-breathing pundit Kurt Schlichter tweeted that Sean Connery’s last words were “Elect Donald Trump.” Sure, Kurt. Yesterday I learned that 007 had been losing a long bout with dementia. If he was no longer compos mentis, that endorsement really isn’t worth much, and he would have been much more likely to endorse Biden out of comradery.

2. What’s going on here? What are we to make of all of the sudden reports that the President is surging in multiple states? For example, yesterday the Des Moines Register described the poll results showing that what had been a Biden lead was now a 9 point Trump advantage:  “Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded…”

There are similar stories coming out of other states, and more than one pollster is now predicting a decisive Trump win. Are pollsters deliberately trying to avoid a catastrophic embarrassment by hedging their bets at the last minute? Are conservative media forces trying to bolster GOP confidence to get out the vote? Are we witnessing another election where the undecideds suddenly all flip in the same direction in the final hours, like in 1948, 1980, 1988, and 2016?

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Another Morning Ethics Warm-Up Delayed Until Afternoon By Exigent Circumstances, 10/22/2020: Three Weird Stories That May Indicate That Everything Is Spinning Out Of Control

I would have mentioned tonight’s debate in the headline, but I’m not fond of thinking about the future of American democracy resting on the ability of Donald Trump to speak coherently and to control himself. Who came up with this script anyway?

Then again, God works in mysterious ways…

1. In Alaska ethics news…Here’s an ugly ethics train wreck, and one of the best examples I could imagine of the old adage, “Don’t sleep with anyone crazier than you are,” except it doesn’t seem like there was sleeping involved.  

The mayor of Anchorage, Ethan Berkowitz, resigned last week after admitting that he had engaged in an “inappropriate” “consensual messaging relationship”— I’m not even sure what that is”—with an Anchorage news anchor.  

Berkowitz’s resignation followed an unsubstantiated claim in a video posted to social media by the news anchor, Maria Athens, promising viewers an “exclusive” story showing that the mayor engaged in sex act with underage children. When the mayor responded by calling the allegations “slanderous” and false, Athens posted what she said was an image of the mayor’s bare backside, and added a laughing emoji.

Yes, she is apparently insane. The Anchorage Police Department said it had worked with the F.B.I. to investigate the allegations about the mayor and “found no evidence of criminal conduct.”

Before Athens posted her video online, she had left a voice message for him in which she engaged in an emotional rant, made  anti-Semitic references and promised that she would be exposing the mayor as “a pedophile.” “I’m going to get an Emmy, so you either turn yourself in, kill yourself, or do what you need to do,” Ms. Athens said, according to the audio clip. She then said she would personally kill him and his wife.

That must have been some messaging relationship.

Athens, 41, is—well, was– the main news anchor for two outlets, KTBY and KYUR. The station owner said the video she posted had not been approved. After her video went up, Athens was arrested following a physical altercation with her boss at the station, and was charged with misdemeanor assault, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

So remember, kids, never engage in an inappropriate messaging relationship with someone crazier than you are.

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Wednesday Ethics Wind-Down / Thursday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/14-15/2020: The Unmasking Of News Media And Social Media Bias Continues…[UPDATED!]

phantom-of-the-opera

1. Notes from The Great Stupid. Here is a passage from a New York Times book review of “The Tragedy of Heterosexuality”:

In examining the pressure to partner with the opposite gender we find the extortions of capitalism, the misogyny of violence against women, the racist and xenophobic erasure of nonwhite families, and the homophobic hatreds that pervade so much of everyday life.”

Well, that and the biological imperative to continue the species. This brilliance is the work of Haley Mlotek,  a senior editor for SSENSE. Imagine: this is the quality of thought among our intellectual class.

No wonder the political class is so idiotic.

2. So this is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, is it? Nikole  Hannah-Jones, faced with a careful and accurate fisking of her fraudulent “1619 project” by Times columnist Bret Stephens (covered by Ethics Alarms here) did not try to rebut him, or make a civil, reasoned argument. She did what her entire generation of prominent African Americans have been conditioned to do, because it works so well. She accused Stephens and the Times of racism, with a dash of sexism for flavor. Hannah-Jones tweeted,

“In 1894, the NYT called Ida B. Wells a ‘slanderous and nasty-minded mulattress’ for daring to tell the truth about lynching. 100 years later she earned the Pulitzer Prize. These efforts to discredit my work simply put me in a long tradition of [black women] who failed to know their places.”

(It is satisfying to watch the Washington Post pounce on the Times over this fiasco. The rivalry between the papers is one of the few factors that ever pushed one of them into practicing actual journalism these days.)

As for Nikole Hannah-Jones, she is a child. Her tantrum was irresponsible and an embarrassment to the Times, and she should, by rights, be fired. She won’t be, because of black privilege, now enhanced in the wake of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. The embarrassment for the Times, however, will linger. This woman was given leave by the paper to create and promote a false historical narrative that was not designed to enlighten but to further a political agenda. In truth, the Times deserves the embarrassment even more than Hannah-Jones deserves to be fired.

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