From now on, I’m going to use that clip from “The Naked Gun” for all of the Twitter Files reports.
The fact that the mainstream media still is determined to bury this story that has serious implications for health of our democracy, public trust in the government, the apparent independent agendas of government departments and agencies, the threats posed by the “Deep State” and social media’s efforts to control whose opinions and what information the public is able to receive and assess is itself a major revelation, making the “Twitter Files” one of the most urgent and important news stories of the year.
And it is being ladled out on Twitter in short tweets, which is why the mainstream media thinks its efforts to suffocate the story may work.
The messenger this time is Intercept reporter Lee Fang. This is Part 8; Part 9 came out on Christmas Eve, and I’ll get that posted later today.
1. What’s going on here? The AP deleted a tweet on September 5 tweet attributing the murders of Israeli athletes to undefined “guerrillas.” Someone complained: it then tweeted, “The AP has deleted a tweet about the massacre at the 1972 Munich Olympics because it was unclear about who was responsible for the killings and referred to the attackers as guerrillas. A new tweet will be sent shortly.” Finally, this was the tweet decided upon:
“On Sept. 5, 1972, the Palestinian group Black September attacked the Israeli Olympic delegation at the Munich Games, killing 11 Israelis and a police officer. German forces killed five of the gunmen.”
2. Wait: ARE there really “AI ethicists,” or just unethical ethicists grabbing a new niche by claiming that they are any more qualified for this topic than anyone else?
After a rash of tech employee protests, the Defense Department wants to hire an artificial intelligence ethicist. “We are going to bring on someone who has a deep background in ethics,” tag-teaming with DOD lawyers to make sure AI can be “baked in,” Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, who leads the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, told reporters during an Aug. 30 media briefing.
The AI ethical advisor would sit under the JAIC, the Pentagon’s strategic nexus for AI projects and plans, to help shape the organization’s approach to incorporating AI capabilities in the future. The announcement follows protests by Google and Microsoft employees concerned about how the technology would be used — particularly in lethal systems — and questioning whether major tech companies should do business with DOD.
I’m hoping that the Defense Department isn’t doing this, as the article implies, because some pacifist, anti-national defense techies at Microsoft complained. [Pointer: Tom Fuller]
3. Campus totalitarians gonna totalitary! University of Michigan students and alumni aare demanding that the University to sever ties with real estate developer Stephen M. Ross , who is the largest donor in the University’s history. This would presumably include removing his name from Ross School of Business, which he substantially funded. (His name is on other buildings as well) Did Ross rape women willy-nilly? Has he been shown to be racist? No, he held a re-election fundraiser for the President of the United States. Continue reading →
“President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him. He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free. And so there are people in Washington who do set a standard of integrity, who do seem to attract people of quality.”
The IRS targeting conservative groups to blunt their influence on an election? Not a scandal! HHS rolling out a non-functional website for Obamacare that cost 2 billion dollars? The Veterans Administration being mismanaged at epic proportions while veterans died waiting for care? Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter”? The Secret Service showing utter incompetence repeatedly? The head of the CIA giving classified information to his mistress? The NSA allowing a low-level contractor to steal and publish crucial secrets? The Office of Personnel Management allowing hundreds of thousands of government employees to have their sensitive information hacked? Unprecedented sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Services? Fast and Furious? Wait, wasn’t there a Secretary of State who violated her own department’s security policies, covered it up, lied about it, and did so with the knowledge of the President? The Attorney General meeting with the husband of a target of an FBI investigation, when that husband was the former President who once promoted that AG? No scandals?
Nah, President Barack Obama administration is scandal free!
I was watching CNN and Headline News this morning specifically to see if the Washington Post’s scoop last night was deemed worthy of mention. Of course, it wasn’t, and so far, almost all of the mainstream news media apparently believes that it’s less important for Americans to know about than, well, just about everything. Here what Google’s software ways are the top stories based on what the web is reporting:
Manchester United F.C.
New York Jets
I have received a lot of mail seeking my reaction to a judge reinstating Tom Brady and vetoing Roger Goodell’s harsh punishment decree. My reaction is that this is bad for football, the NFL, and the culture, and one more step toward validating cheating as an accepted cultural norm, not just in sports, but in the nation itself. Once upon a time, sports were supposed to model good sportsmanship, integrity and fairness. This episode demonstrates how far from that we have come. It is a serious and troubling development.
From a legal standpoint, I get it. I assumed that Goodell knew the limits on his own power: silly me. Apparently the NFL’s labor deal neutered the absolute power of a Commissioner to do what he felt was necessary to protect the integrity of pro football. Unions seldom care about the integrity of their game, at least not when their members’ money is involved. The original sports league commissioner, baseball’s Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis—Damn! Why didn’t we name our son “Mount McKinley Marshall”?—banned Shoeless Joe Jackson and his team mates from baseball forever after a jury had acquitted them of throwing the World series for bribes. His drastic action probably saved baseball, and has influenced the sport to this day. Goodell’s failure, in contrast, promises to do lasting harm.
Remember, the judge didn’t exonerate Brady; he just ruled that Goodell didn’t have the power to punish him. There is no doubt in my mind that Brady cheated, just as there was no doubt in the NFL’s investigator’s mind. There is also no doubt that you could not prove Brady’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The idea behind absolute power in a sports commissioner is that sports contests must be viewed as being fair or people will stop watching, and any hint of cheating and corruption must be banished. I agree with that idea. Baseball flunked its most crucial recent test when Bud Selig didn’t have the guts to pull Barry Bonds off the field when he was breaking records on steroids (and everyone knew it); pro football has been flunking one test after another. Society is becoming more cynical and more tolerant of cheating, and I think professional sports are as much a cause as a symptom.
Why am I convinced Brady cheated? Many factors, none of which individually are conclusive:
The conditions under which the cheating took place: bad weather, a play-off game, the team behind.
The Patriots’ well-established contempt for the rules.
The fact that a quarterback knows the feel of his tool, footballs, and that an experienced one like Brady could not possibly have been unaware that the balls he was throwing were even a little bit underinflated.
Brady’s evasive, smug, wink-wink ha-ha demeanor in multiple venues regarding the incident, like a high school jerk who knows he’s getting away with something and thinks its hilarious.
The immediate “everybody does it” defense from Brady’s fellow quarterbacks. (That’s not a defense. That’s an admission.)
The “it didn’t matter, they would have won anyway” defense from the same quarters. This is also an admission of cheating. Cheating is wrong whether it works or not, and whether it is necessary or not. NFL fans don’t even know what’s wrong with cheating any more….because the players don’t.
Some of the absurd defenses raised by Brady’s defenders, including his team, like the argument that one of the equipment guys involved in the incident was only called “the Deflator” in a contemporaneous text message because he was on a diet.
The fact that Brady destroyed his cell phone to avoid its contents being searched. This is spoliation, the destruction of potentially incriminating evidence, and suggests, but doesn’t prove, guilt. If he had done it in a criminal investigation, it would have been itself a crime. Ethically, the act is just as wrong whether it is a crime or not. (See: Clinton, Hillary)
I believe most Patriots fans know he cheated too. They just don’t care: he’s their star, and the team won the Super Bowl. The ends justify the means. Continue reading →
Published by the Defense Department, it doesn’t actually include all ethical failures (you can imagine what keeping that publication up to date would be like), but it is fascinating, illuminating and depressing reading nonetheless.
And, since it was published in 2012, it needs updating too. 2013 was not a good year.