Ethics Alarms On The New York Times’ “Most Important Debates” Of 2021, Part 2

Part I set some kind of Ethics Alarms record for reader disinterest, which I much admit, I don’t understand. These are all topics we have covered in some detail here over the last year, and the analysis of them by the alleged “newspaper of record’s” experts is, to say the least, perverse and revealing…yet the post’s first installment inspired just a single comment. Well, the Times’ take on the remaining issues are arguably worse. I find it fascinating, anyway. Here’s the rest of the highlights…

Can we save the planet?

It is embarrassing for a supposedly respectable news organization to frame an issue in such a hysterical and intentionally fear-mongering manner, which assumes one side of a debate is correct without reflection of nuance. The Times’ author on this topic, Farhad Manjoo, is a tech reporter, not an expert on climatology, so he has been given a platform to opine on something he doesn’t understand sufficiently to discuss reliably. On the topic of climate change, this is, sadly, typical. His article contains the kind of sentence midway through that would normally make me stop reading because of the bias, spin, hyperbole and mendacity: “During the Trump years — as the United States tore up international climate deals and flood and fire consumed swaths of the globe — unrestrained alarm about the climate became the most cleareyed of takes.”

There were no “climate deals,” just unenforceable virtue-signaling and posturing like the Paris Accords; the link between present day “flood and fire” and climate change is speculative at best, and unrestrained alarm is never “cleareyed,’ especially when those alarmed, like Manjoo, couldn’t read a climate model if Mr. Rogers was there explaining it. Then, after telling us that the Trump years were a prelude to doom, he says that since 2014, things are looking up. Much of what he calls “bending the needle” occurred under Trump.

Should the Philip Roth biography have been pulled?

This one is so easy and obvious that the fact that the Times thinks it deserves special attention is itself a tell. The answer is “Of course not!,” as an Ethics Alarms post explained. An absolutely competent biography was pulled by its publisher, W.W. Norton, never to be in print again, because its author, who had written other acclaimed biographies, was in the process of being “cancelled” for allegations of sexual misconduct toward women. I wrote,

“…[P]ublisher W.W. Norton sent a memo to its staff announcing that it will permanently take Blake Bailey’s biography of Philip Roth out of print, as a result of allegations that Bailey sexually assaulted multiple women and also behaved inappropriately toward his students when he was an eighth grade English teacher.

If that sentence makes sense to you, The Big Stupid has you by the brain stem.

It apparently makes sense to the Times, although its review of the matter doesn’t answer its own question. Why not? This is also obvious: as journalists, the idea that what a writer writes should be judged by what a writer’s personal life has involved is anathema, but the Times’ readers are so woke that the paper would dare not say so. Integrity! Continue reading

What Is The Appropriate Response To These Companies?

Target puppy

With crime rates soaring in many cities and “smash and garb” raids disrupting large retailers, companies like Home Depot, Nordstom’s and Target are calling on communities to increase policing. By “like,” I mean companies that previously hailed Black Lives Matter and other anti-policing organizations,, festooned their stores, ads and websites with endorsements of BLM as it vilified law enforcement and called for “defunding” the police, and gave large grants to it and other “social justice” movements seeking to reduce police protection of communities across the nation.

It was all part of “The Big Pander” sub-division of The Great Stupid, itself fueled by the George Floyd Freakout, because it makes perfect sense to decide that a single brutal police incident proves that all police are racist menaces. The fake history “1619 Project” and offshoots of Critical Race Theory also were bolstered by these corporations’ cynical virtue-signaling, at a time when catering to criminals is seen as a virtue.

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month, Year, Decade, Century, And Eon: Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.)

I know, I know, this is res ipsa loquitur. Anyone with a functioning brain, unlike Rep. Bush, will immediately see the hilarious flaw in her “reasoning,” if one can call it that. There may be high-functioning mollusks that could see it. But I’ve had a crummy day, and deserve some fun.

Yes, this isn’t a parody or a deep fake. (House Whip James Clyburn might think it is, since he swears no Democrat has ever advocated defundung the police. Well, him, but no others…) We really have someone in Congress who passionately, angrily insists that taxpayers should pay for her private security force so she can make sure the U.S. Congress defunds the police. There isn’t enough space in this post to explain how many alarms one had to lack in order to be recoded saying something like this. Not just ethics alarms, but hyp[ocrisy alarms, common sense alarms, alarms, “Wow, I’m embarrarsing party, my district, my family, my friends, and all of my teachers!” alarms, and of course the crucial “Gee, I’m sounding like an idiot!” She is the best illustration of the Dunning-Kruger Effect I have ever seen.

We knew, if we knew anything about Bush at all, that she was an idiot. After all, she ran as a Black Lives Matter candidate and still believes that Mike Brown was shot while holding up his arms and saying “Hands Up! Don’t shoot!” She’s obviously unqualified to be a lawmaker, but the video shows she’s also too lacking in basic cognitive function to be 7-11 clerk, a crossing guard, an au pere, a gardener, a house-painter, a dog-walker. or a lemonade stand proprietor. She mistakes passion and certitude for wisdom. She also is likely to mistake an anteater for a spoon.

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Authentic Frontier Gibberish Kills: The Gun Policy Doubletalk Of Maya Wiley

“Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” or AFG, named in honor of Gabby Johnson of “Blazing Saddles” fame, is the public phenomenon of solemn and meaningful-sounding word clouds designed to make the naive and the barely educated (that is, most of society) feel certain that they are in the presence of superior intellect when in fact they are in the thrall of either con artists or morons.

Ethically, it falls somewhere under the categories of dishonesty, incompetence and disrespect, depending on the AFG culprit. It would be difficult to find a more blazing example than the “Gun Violence Prevention Policy” offered by Maya Wiley, the civil rights attorney and former de Blasio counsel who’s running for mayor along with approximately half the city. Gun-related violence has roughly doubled in New York City thanks to the weak law enforcement policies of her client, so Wiley is giving the same foolish voters who elected de Blasio twice a chance to emulate San Francisco and make the city even more dangerous and unlivable. At least I think that’s what she’s proposing. As with all “Authentic Frontier Gibberish,” it’s hard to tell, and that, of course, is the plan.

I’m going to stick with the summary, by your leave, but you can try to make sense out of the whole thing if you are a masochist or an optimist. One part of both that is frighteningly clear: Wiley pledges to “Reduce the NYPD budget by $1 billion and invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence.” The second part of that sentence is classic AFG, since “invest those funds directly into the communities most impacted by gun violence” is meaningless, but the first part is called “Defunding the police.” Almost 10% of the NYPD’s operating budget was cut in the last budget cycle, and the result was a crime wave. Obviously the best plan is to cut more!

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Afternoon Ethics Breather, 12/11/2020: Train Wreck Free Zone, Because I Need A Break

Dog-vacation

1. Sorry, but there was and is no excuse.. The New Yorker reports that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is in serious cognitive decline:

[M]any others familiar with Feinstein’s situation describe her as seriously struggling, and say it has been evident for several years. Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have. They describe Feinstein as forgetting what she has said and getting upset when she can’t keep up. One aide to another senator described what he called a “Kabuki” meeting in which Feinstein’s staff tried to steer her through a proposed piece of legislation that she protested was “just words” which “make no sense.” Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable. “The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide who still has business in Congress said. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

Well gee, what a surprise. Ethics Alarms criticized the Senator for having the hubris and not showing proper responsible conduct in 2018, when she ran for re-election and another 6 year term at the age of 85. That was ridiculous, and it was foolish for her constituents to vote for her. Now they are stuck with a Senator who can’t do the job, and it is their fault, plus that of the Democratic Party and Feinstein herself. They all deserve what they get.

Particularly nauseating in the New Yorker story is this section:

“Some former Feinstein aides insist that rumors of her cognitive decline have been exaggerated, and that video clips taken out of context can make almost anyone look foolish. They also bridle at singling out her condition, because declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis. “For his last ten years, Strom Thurmond didn’t know if he was on foot or on horseback,” one former Senate aide told me.”

Is this the quality of thought on Capitol Hill? A single idiot making such an argument is too many: “Hey, don’t criticize us for having walking vegetables weilding the power of U.S. Senators:we should be able to do it becaise Republicans did it!”

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Ethics Dunce: House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.)

This is really bad.

Yesterday, Twitter flagged an outrageously  manipulated video clip posted by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise  (R-La.) that deliberately alters the text of a question from activist Ady Barkan to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“No police. Mob rule. Total chaos. That’s the result of the Democrat agenda,” Scalise tweeted. “Ask yourself: Is this what you want in your town next?”

Good question! However, Scalise added what was supposed to be a link to the  Biden interview with Barkan, who uses a computerized artificial voice because he suffers from Lous Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). The interviewer asks Biden if “we agree that we can redirect some of the funding” for police departments toward public safety and mental health services. Biden responds, “Yes.”

Scalise tweeted a version of the clip that inserts the words “for police” into Barkan’s question by duplicating his computer-generated voice.

That’s about as low as you can go. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/5/2020: Post-Fourth Hangover Edition

Except it’s not alcohol, it’s all the anti-America agitprop that has me groggy…

1. One last Fourth of July resource: here is one of many annotated versions of the Declaration. Here is another.

2. The downside of paying baseball players so much. Major League Baseball is plunging forward with a season of sorts, only 60 games long and with some hopefully temporary rules, such as a universal Designated Hitter and an extra-inning stunt so revolting that I don’t even want to think about it. The players are getting a pro-rated salary, but the Players Union insisted that any player could opt out of the season for a legitimate health related reason, such as being at in a  high risk group, and collect his salary, or for ny reason, and waive his salary.

It has been fascinating to see some players decide to not play, thus leaving their teams in the lurch, because its just not worth the effort. Take, for example, Dodgers starting pitcher, fresh off of a trade by the Red Sox. He announced that he won’t be playing, and will forfeit 11 million dollars (of his usual 30 million dollar a year salary)for the privilege. Felix Hernandez, another former ace now with the Braves, also opted out, though he loses far less, since he was working on a minor league contract while trying to keep his recently declining career going. In both cases, however, the pitchers are taking a major risk, because sitting out a full season for older players often makes returning to action difficult. In addition, especially in the case of Price and some of the other opt-outs, the decision not to play harms his team and team mates. But David Price has earned about 250 million dollars in his career, and will earn another 50 million whether can pitch or not. Hernandez has already earned more than 200 million.

Love of the game? For the good of the team? Never mind. The players are motivated only by money, and once enough is in stocks and bonds, even that isn’t motivation enough.

3. Surprise! It turns out that police are necessary after all.  Any hope that a reasonable and practical answer to Question 13 (“What is the “systemic reform regarding race in America” that the George Floyd protests purport to be seeking?”) vanished when the first substantive measure embraced by the mob was “Defund the police.” That this was even floated, much less executed (as in Minneaplois and New York City) was signature significance for a level if ignorance and recklessness justifying this standard Ethics Alarms clip:

Chris Rufo explains at City Journal just how stupid: Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/13/2020: “You Know…Morons”

Above: The obligatory clip from that soon-to-be-banned comic classic, “Blazing Saddles.”

Periodically I get a drive by comment that informs me that it is unethical to engage in “name-calling,” as when I describe someone who advocates something truly moronic as “a moron.” I strongly disagree. It is unethical to allow those who infect society with their terrible reasoning, ignorant analysis and crippling biases to do so under the guise of being trustworthy, responsible and respectable citizens. We are not talking about mere disagreements. A statement or action has to be especially dim-witted to justify such a warning label. The criminals who post their crimes on social media, for example: morons. Advocates of abolishing the police: morons. Admittedly, sometimes a moronic position—trying to reconcile the attacks on Brett Kavanaugh with the determination to vote for Joe Biden, for example–is simply dishonest, and the individuals doing so know it. They are not morons; they are liars, or just bad people. Whether these categories are better or worse than morons is a matter of debate.

I rate three of today’s four items as meeting the “moronic” standard, and attention should be paid.

1. Those who do not learn the lessons of the Beatles are doomed to repeat them. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t believe that Joe Biden, even in his advancing senility, would be so foolish as to say that the killing of George Floyd in police custody last month is having a greater global impact than the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King. Even if that was true, which I doubt, certainly over the long term, you don’t compare an icon with a contemporary figure unless you want to infuriate the admirers of the icon.  John Lennon learned this the hard way when he tossed off the observation that the Fab Four were more popular at that moment than Jesus. Lennon meant his remark ironically and self-deprecatingly, but it didn’t help: an international uproar was triggered. Biden didn’t mean his remark ironically or to point out that the reaction to Floyd’s death was excessive, which means it was just a stupid thing to say.

This is the second recent Biden gaffe likely to nettle black voters, and it’s a good bet that more are on the way. The fact that he keeps doing this and that the  conventional wisdom remains that Obama’s reflex black support will automatically migrate  to Biden shows the lack of respect Democrats have for African Americans.

2.  Wait…what are the rules again?

This op-ed was just published in the Times—you know, that newspaper that said that a U.S. Senator’s op-ed about using troops to stop rioting in the cities was “dangerous,” and that made the editor who greenlighted the opinion piece resign?

Are there any other questions about the Times’ biases?

Meanwhile,  what about all of those other opinion pieces about how defunding the police didn’t really mean defunding the police?

If you’re going to sell a lie to the American people, it’s wise to get everyone on the same page. Continue reading