From The Conservative Media: More Fake Stupid News

Boy I’m tired of falling for this kind of click-bait on the conservative news websites.

“Hillary Clinton Says Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Will Bring Back Slavery” shouted the headline on a story at PJ Media by Tyler O’Neill.  Uh, no, that’s not really what she said. This is; Clinton told the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at its national convention:

“Let me say a word about the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,”  “This nomination holds out the threat of devastating consequences for workers rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights — including those to make our own health decisions. It is a blatant attempt by this administration to shift the balance of the Court for decades and to reverse decades of progress,” the former Democratic presidential nominee declared. I used to worry that they [the Republicans] wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s. Now I worry they want to turn it back to the 1850s.”

Says O’Neill, maybe with a straight face: “Clinton was clearly suggesting that Trump and Kavanaugh want to return to the days when slavery was legal in the South.”

What hypocrisy. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Race-Baiting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast”

Ethics Alarms commenter Mrs. Q has proven herself the master of blending personal experience with ethical analysis, and we are blessed with another example of her best work, a Comment of the Day on the recent post about a Daily Beast editor’s attack on Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova. Here she enlightens us from her perspective on confirmation bias, and its current damaging effects on public discourse and independent thought.

Here is Mrs. Q’s Comment of the Day on the post, Race-Biting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast:

What’s going on here is total BS in the form of Mr. Madison’s racism, not Sharapova’s. Clearly he conflated the very correct description of Williams body, with that of ….? I suspect the real story is this guy feels traumatized that everyone else is a racist when I bet if he looked in the mirror, he’d discover we all have prejudices and it’s part of what creates a society that forgives one another.

Back in the day primitive shamans used rituals to hypnotize victims into fear and trauma. Having been a Social Studies major and Women’s Studies minor, I must say, in a way, being a minority, especially brown and queer, is wild at a liberal arts school. Every day was a new trauma of story after story about how terrible America is. Before kids chanted “cultural appropriation” today, I was doing it when I saw Mohawks, African masks, and whatever else displeased my social justice blood thirst. One day I couldn’t take another class in exploring my own oppression. I needed to go live and set my mind free of the prejudices I came to have against whites, men, heterosexuals, etc. I just couldn’t wear myself and others out with indignant anger anymore.

When my wife and I; an interracial same-sex married couple, go traveling, we love to go to small towns and rural areas. Only liberals say to us “why would you go to X with all those rednecks?” People who have bumper stickers that say “Co-exist” or “Love is Love” will say to us “aren’t you scared to be around those Republicans with guns?” Every time we visit a place like rural Montana, Eastern Oregon, or all of Idaho, we meet the most friendly people. Those who we can tell aren’t abiding by the ‘Worship Diversity’ religion just treat us as anyone else and mind their business. It’s SO MUCH BETTER than being pandered to constantly in the city by Saint Social and Friar Justice. Continue reading

Race-Baiting Click-Bait At The Daily Beast

In the vast panoply of topics that are likely to spark my interest in a potential Ethics Alarms topic, the excerpts from a not-yet-released autobiography of a female Russian tennis player is somewhere on the list below the sex lives of pangolins. The Daily Beast headline, however was click-bait: Maria Sharapova’s Vile, Racially Tinged Treatment of Serena Williams.

Really? A 30-year-old fading female tennis super-star coming off a performance-enhancing drug suspension is making racist comments about Serena Williams, her longtime ( and unquestionably superior) rival? That kind of thing will grab my attention every time, not that I lack for Ethics Dunce candidates.

But it turns out that Sharapova is not the ethics dunce here.

Here are the “vile, racially tinged” comments from the book, according to African-American Daily Beast editor Ira Madison II:

“First of all her physical presence is much stronger and bigger than you realize watching TV. She has thick arms and thick legs and is so intimidating and strong. It’s the whole thing—her presence, her confidence, her personality. Even now, she can make me feel like a little girl.”

Serena Williams is, when in playing shape (she just had a baby), 5′ 9″ tall and weighs about 155 pounds. She is and has always been noticeably muscular, far more so than most tennis players (including her sister), and indeed most female athletes generally.  Here she is in a representative, non-tennis photo:

Here is Maria Sharapova—she is five inches taller and weighs 25 pounds less. She is definitely not muscular; she is built like a fashion model…. Continue reading

No, You Lazy Conservative Journalists, A Court Did NOT Rule That The DNC AND Wasserman Schultz Rigged The Nomination Against Bernie

Find another occupation where your stupidity and incompetence doesn’t make the public stupid and ignorant.

“Court Admits DNC and Wasserman Schultz Rigged Primary Against Sanders,” screamed the headline of the Washington Observor, and other sources, including conservative blogs, followed the theme. This was the essence of Fake News, and like most fake news, the result of bias and incompetence, plus unprofessional editors.

In June of 2016, a class action lawsuit was filed against the Democratic National Committee and former DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for rigging the Democratic presidential primaries for Hillary Clinton and against Bernie Sanders. The plaintiff class was made up of Sanders donors and other, and immediately smelled like a publicity stunt. The theory was that the DNC violated its own charter, but the likelihood of prevailing was virtually nil from the start. I didn’t read a single authority who thought it had a prayer.

Sure enough, the lawsuit was dismissed last week in federal court on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked standing and the suit was a guaranteed loser. Federal Judge William Zloch, dismissed the lawsuit, saying,

“In evaluating Plaintiffs’ claims at this stage, the Court assumes their allegations are true—that the DNC and Wasserman Schultz held a palpable bias in favor Clinton and sought to propel her ahead of her Democratic opponent.”

That means that for the purpose of the decision whether to allow the lawsuit to proceed, the judge assumed that everything the plaintiffs claim was true. It doesn’t mean that they had proved their case, or that the judge has ruled that the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz did what is alleged. Law professor Jonathan Turley explains, Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/10/17

Morning, All!

(That’s a Flat Earth sunrise! I couldn’t resist...)

1. I’m encountering Ethics Alarms ethics alarms. For example, is it unethical for me to choose not to fix the typos in a comment from an obnoxious commenter? I generally fix mistakes when they turn up in comments from regulars here, or missing words and letters in first posts by newcomers. But the other day an annoying commenter of recent vintage registered a comment that seemed as careless as it was badly reasoned, and had several typos.Yeah, I fixed them. But I didn’t want to.

Then, after a long period without any blog banishments, I banished a commenter yesterday whose first post was really poor, and whose last was insulting in response to my pointing out just how poor it was. As I told him in the exit response, he had triggered The Stupidity Rule. I really don’t allow stupid people to comment here once I determine that they are hopeless. Is that wrong? Elitist? Mean?

I don’t want to keep explaining things to people whose comments indicate that they have preconceived notions, unshakeable biases, inadequate education and training in critical thinking, and are under the impression that an uninformed opinion is worthy of publication because it’s theirs. Yesterday’s exile also made the fatal error of criticizing the blog because it was “judgemental.” Yes, it’s a blog in which we analyze whether conduct is right or wrong, or something else. That demands judgment, and being judgmental. The fact that the matter at issue was a lawsuit—you know, before a judge?—and the commenter still made that observation anyway sealed his fate, even before he wrote that I was bald and presumably “repulsive to women.”

Wait…I’m bald???

2.  The University of Missouri, aka Mizzou, is in crisis as a direct result of its administrators craven capitulation to race-based extortion triggered by general angst and the Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck in 2015. Before the protests (which were based on nothing specific at the University that was ever demonstrated by the protesters, other than the President refusing to bow to demands that he condemn random reported racial incidents that didn’t involve students), Mizzou was thriving, growing, and building new dormitories. Now, in response to the nationally publicized meltdown of common sense and adult supervision (climaxed by a  protester-allied communications professor, Melissa Click, being caught on video calling for “some muscle” to prevent a student reporter from recording an ugly campus confrontation), enrollment is down 30%. The university is  closing seven dormitories and cutting more than 400 positions, including  faculty members.

Good.  But from the comments of students and remaining faculty members, it doesn’t sound as if the right lessons have penetrated the campus culture’s race-addled skull. Continue reading

At Least They’re Keeping An Open Mind…

new-yorker-best

Ann Althouse, who flagged this, wrote, “Oh, New Yorker!”

She’s right: what a relentlessly negative and divisive way to welcome a new President. The New Yorker is supposed to be the flagship publication for sophisticates and intellectuals. The better term for the audience appears to be “bitter snots.”  The flagship is playing to the mob, Althouse suggests. Is that all the media has become? Clickbait purveyors and the reinforcement of pre-existing biases, fears and prejudices?

I’ve been around a long time. I have never seen those on the losing side of any election behave so nastily, defiantly and unfairly. It reflects poorly on the nation, its politics, and its journalism, but it really reflects badly on Democrats and liberals. I’m embarrassed for them.

Ann tags this “Trump derangement syndrome.” That is too kind.

A Plague Of Misleading Headlines

Fake headline

The mad quest for clicks appears to be leading websites that should know better to sink to misleading or outright dishonest headlines on the web. For someone like me, who has to scan these looking for possible ethics issues, it is an increasingly annoying phenomenon. Readers need to speak up. The practice is unethical, and moreover, suggests that the source itself isn’t trustworthy.

Here are three current examples;

1. The Daily Beast: “Idiocracy’ Director Mike Judge: Fox Killed Our Anti-Trump Camacho Ads”

Boy, isn’t it just like that conservative, Trump-promoting Faux News to help The Donald by using its power, influence, lawyers, something to stop the makers of “Idiocracy,” that comic classic, from being used to save the country from American Hitler?

That’s sure how the Daily Beast wanted its largely Democratic readership to react to its headline over the story about a fizzled effort to use the the film’s character  of ex-porn star future U.S. President Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Drew Herbert Camacho, played by Terry Crews, in a series of comic spots ridiculing Trump’s candidacy. The story, however, never quotes Judge as saying Fox—that would be the movie side of Twentieth Century Fox, not Fox News, which had no say in the matter: the company produced the film and owns the right to it and all of its characters—killed the project.  All Judge says is that the idea of doing a series of such ads didn’t come to fruition, for a whole list of reasons which might have included Fox’s distaste for the project.. Of  Fox, he says this..

“I think also Fox… yeah, they… even though they’ve probably forgotten they still own it…”

The writer then suggests that company owner Rupert Murdoch might not like the idea, and thus prompted, Judge replies,

“Yeah. That’s the other thing. I think there was a roadblock there, too…I just heard that [the proposed ads] were put on the shelf, so it looks like they’re not going to happen.”

Based on this, the author, typical Daily Beast hack Marlow Stern, writes, “It looks like Fox refused—and the ads are now dead.” Stern never says that Fox refused; it is the “reporter” who says it. Meanwhile, when the Daily Beast writes about “Fox,” it is referring to Fox News 99.9% of the time, and knows that’s what its readers will think when they read “Fox.”

The headline is intentionally misleading, and a lie.

(Incidentally, the movie is a great concept that under-delivers on its premise and potential, and should be a lot funnier than it is) Continue reading

Unethical Research, Unethical Headline, Unethical Media Report: “Many Parents Will Say Kids Made Them Happier. They’re Probably Lying”

I think this made me 12% less happy than when I passed the bar exam...

I think this made me 12% less happy than when I passed the bar exam…

[An UPDATE is HERE]

On the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, Ana Swenson breathlessly writes “that research suggests …[p]eople who have kids in the United States and in many countries around the world report being less happy than people who don’t have kids.”

Ah-HA! This must be why DirecTV is certain that promoting a device that it facetiously suggests would make your kid disappear will appeal to its customers!

Except that Swenson’s headline is click-bait, her article is irresponsible and incompetent, and the study is politically motivated junk, as such things usually are.

“Research” doesn’t suggest this politically manufactured finding.  A single dubious study may suggest it to those who already are inclined to be dubious about parenthood, and who could also be persuaded to buy valuable swampland property in Florida. If you aren’t smart enough to bale on both the “study” and Swenson after this statement central to the issue, I have little hope for you:

“On average, an American parent reports being 12 percent unhappier than a non-parent in America – the biggest gap in the 22 countries the researchers looked at, followed distantly by Ireland.”  

What (the hell) does it mean to be “12 per cent unhappier,” or “12 per cent happier”? Happiness is not quantifiable like that, nor can it be measured with that kind of precision, or any kind of precision. Gee, what is the margin of error in that 12 %? Is it 12%, +/- 3%? I’m trying to think of two states of happiness I have experienced in which I could say with any certainty that I was 12% happier/ 47% happier or 71% happier  in one more than the other, and if I can’t determine that, how are a bunch or researches going to do it?

Let’s see—did discovering I had to undergo a circumcision at the age of 30 make me 12% more unhappy than I was when the Red Sox lost Game 6 of the 1986 World Series? Did watching the T-Rex beat the Indominus Rex in the dino-showdown in “Jurassic World” make me 12% happier than when bought our home for a bargain, or 12% less? You know, I really can’t answer that. Both made me happy in different ways. Did my happiness that my dad died the way he wanted, with dignity and in his sleep just short of his 90th birthday, exceed by 12% the happiness I felt when my final performance at my theater company got a deserved standing ovation, though I was also saddened that my dad wasn’t there to see it?

Please, O Wise and Researchers, enlighten me! They can’t. Of course they can’t. Nor can they tell me how to quantify the happiness my son has given his mother and me, even though he has driven and almost certainly will continue to drive us out of our minds with worry and worse on a regular basis, and has cost us a lot of money we will surely miss when we are dreaming about finally seeing Paris. Am I 12 % less happy than I would have been with a son more like I was, a non-rebellious, conventionally obedient, healthy and lucky kid who sailed through school and never got in any serious trouble? No, because then my son wouldn’t be the unique, amazing, gutsy and original individual he is.

Swenson’s report is filled with statements that make it clear that this is politically motivated  entitlement and anti-child propaganda (and thus pro-abortion propaganda). The smoking gun comes early: Continue reading

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Slime All The Lawyers…

the-blob-88

In election years I tell all my legal ethics seminar classes to start teaching their non-lawyer neighbors and relatives ABA Model Rule 1.2 b, which reads,

(b) A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

This, combined with the principle of zealous representation of one’s client, as expressed, for example, in D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 1.3…

(a) A lawyer shall represent a client zealously and diligently within the bounds of the law.
(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally:

(1) Fail to seek the lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the disciplinary rules; or
(2) Prejudice or damage a client during the course of the professional relationship….

…means that lawyers represent clients, and are bound to seek those clients’ objectives when those objectives are legal whether the lawyer likes or agrees with those objectives or not.

It means that it is ignorant, wrong and dangerous to the rule of law as well as the right of citizens to be the beneficiaries of laws in a democracy and not the servants of them, for unscrupulous political opponents to attack lawyers for the positions, objectives and needs of the clients they represented. It means that it is disgusting for maleducated journalists to misinform the already disturbingly confused public by using a matter that a lawyer-turned-candidate’s client needed legal advocacy for as an excuse to impugn the candidate’s character.

Lawyers do not have to agree with or like their clients’ positions, objectives or character, is that clear? Everybody? Lawyers are not to be held accountable for their client’s motives, conduct or legal objectives. Bill Cosby’s lawyers do not approve of rapists. Johnnie Cochran did not support the hobby of ex-wife knifing.

Yet this happens every election cycle, without fail: cheap shots directed at candidates who are lawyers based on one or more of their unsavory clients.  There are two lawyers left in the current primary competition, and guess what?

You guessed it.

Hillary’s ancient defense of a rapist was used to slime her all the way back in 2014. The unfair attack raised its misshapen and empty head last week on CNN, when a Trump supporter brought it up. What we know about Clinton is that she defended a child rapist she was appointed to represent pro bono in 1975, and did an excellent job. She used all the tactics that she was allowed to use. She attacked the credibility of the twelve-year-old victim, and threw sufficient doubt on the the chain of evidence that Clinton got an advantageous  plea bargain for her client, who served just ten months in prison. Sure, he was guilty, and Hillary knew it.  It was her job to make the prosecution prove its case with sufficient evidence, and they failed. The victim, we are told, has had a hard life because of the experience. That is not in any way Clinton’s fault or responsibility.

Now it’s on to Ted Cruz. Here is Slate’s click-bait, misleading, deceitful headline to further the “Ted Cruz is a some kind of sexually repressed weirdo” trope the left-biased media is peddling: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Above The Law

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN'T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

Wait, you mean Above the Law ISN’T The News Nerd? Could have fooled me.

The legal gossip and commentary blog “Above the Law” is a useful source of inside-baseball stories about the machinations and peccadilloes  of law firms, lawyers, judges and law students, and occasional hard news of special interest to lawyers. Today it sported an intriguing headline:

Samuel Alito Gets A Supreme Benchslap

…which was filed under the categories of Justice Alito, The Supreme Court, and benchslaps. The latter is legal jargon for a reprimand from a judge. The Supreme Court reprimanding one of its own justices is big news, and unprecedented. Like many others, I clicked on the link, and read a jaw-dropping, insulting rebuke of Justice Alito by Chief Justice Roberts, banishing him to  “to a minor appellate jurisdiction” until he writes ” a few decisions in some lower-pressure situations” and is ready to return.

The post explained at the end of the quote that Justice Alito had been temporarily removed from the Supreme Court and appointed to the Eleventh Circuit, and that, according to reports, Alito will be replaced by Judge Ricardo Gonzalez of the District of Puerto Rico.

Then Above the Law’s writer, Staci Zaretski, revealed that…

(This quote comes from The Onion, a satirical news site, but that in no way takes away from the overall awesomeness of imagining a Supreme Court justice being demoted as a form of spanking.)

Ah. So you just wasted my time, then.

I had begun to suspect that the Roberts quote was fake, both for its use of the neckname “Sammie” for one of his brethren, and also because it sounded so much like a manager’s explanation for why a player was being sent to the minors. Nevertheless, posting a fake story, announced with a plausible headline, is unprofessional and unfair to ABL readers: Continue reading