The Brazen Dishonesty Of Move-On.Org

If you know the background, this is hilarious…but not surprising.

Move-On.org has been an ethics burr under my saddle since they first sullied the political scene with their emergence during the Clinton impeachment drama. The name of the organization stood for the proposition, an out-growth of the ethically corrupting Democratic defenses of President Clinton’s conduct, that we should all get along, that the President and the nation had suffered enough, it was all just a big misunderstanding over sex and “private personal conduct,” and in the interests of everyone, we should just “move on to pressing issues facing the country.’”

This was transparent and dishonest partisan garbage at the time, and I wrote about it extensively on the old Ethics Scoreboard (which will be back on-line as soon as I have the stomach to fight via-email with the cheap hosting site that refuses to allow any direct phone contact, and is improperly holding my website hostage.) The group’s underlying supposition was and is corrupt: yes, the President illegally used an intern as his sex toy in the White House, lied under oath in a court proceeding, and used his power to hide evidence and cover-up his acts, but we should just let that go because there are more important things to worry about. The “ethically corrupting Democratic defenses of President Clinton’s conduct’ that spawned the cynical Move-On efforts were 1) It’s just sex. 2) lying about sex under oath isn’t really lying, because “everybody does it” 3) the President using his power and position to get sexual favors from an intern and U.S. government employee is no big deal; and 4) Come on, lots of other Presidents did bad stuff. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/31/2019: The NCAA Tournament, Colbert, Chris Rock, And Bullshit

Good Afternoon!

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad for some reason, and that was his favorite hymn. It’s an Easter hymn, but our church always had the choir sing it on the special spring service. My unusually musically talented friends knocked it out of the park at my father’s funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery. It also has the advantage of being composed by Arthur Sullivan, just like “Onward Christian Soldiers!” and “Tit Willow.”

1. Fill out your brackets, and enable corruption. It’s the NCAA tournament again, and again, helping the schools and the NCAA and the networks make money off of the destructive and corrupt culture of big time college basketball is ethically indefensible. The New York Times wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but it did recently write about the dissonance, beginning,

Every March, millions of Americans fill out brackets (more than 40 million people, by one count), cheer the underdogs and tune in on television. Others buy tickets to the games, wear jerseys of their favorite teams and let wins and losses dictate their mood. Yet fans who follow college basketball closely know about the game’s intractable relationship to corruption. Even many who come just for March Madness must know that the real madness is not always on the court.

A wide-ranging and fear-inducing F.B.I. investigation into college basketball recruiting continues to ensnare big-name colleges and little-known crooks. It is why Louisiana State, for example, is playing without its head coach, Will Wade, and why Auburn recently had an assistant coach suspended and a former assistant plead guilty of conspiracy for accepting bribes.

This week, the lawyer Michael Avenatti was charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike in exchange for concealing information he had about illicit payments to recruits. He has since revealedsome allegations on Twitter….

The Times doesn’t bother to go into the related problem of how basketball distorts academic goals, sucks away resources that should be used for education, and usually leaves its athletes no better educated than they were when they arrived. As you might expect, the Times’ writer is too ethically incompetent to provide and enlightenment. For example, he quotes one ethicist as saying, “…Someone thinks, ‘Gosh, this is unethical, but I love it so much, and my friends and I have such a good time rooting and cheering that I’m going to participate anyway.’” That description could also be used to justify gang rape. Can we have a little nuanced clarification? Then the Times writer, John Branch, offers these ill-devised analogies:

“Such internal debates permeate our culture. Is it O.K. to dance to a Michael Jackson song, to laugh to a Louis C.K. joke, to watch a movie produced by Harvey Weinstein? To cheer for football knowing what it may be doing to players’ brains?”

Let’s see: wrong, wrong,wrong, and…right.  1 for 4.

A Michael Jackson song isn’t corrupt, or unethical: it’s art. He’s dead: dancing to the song does not enable the misconduct. A joke is a joke regardless of who tells it, and again, laughing at a C.K. joke doesn’t make it more or less likely that he’s going to masturbate in front of a female colleague. Workplace misconduct doesn’t taint the work product, and nobody has claimed that movies themselves are culturally corrupting, or that Weinstein’s films harmed the actors in them.  Cheering for football is a legitimate comparison, because the sport itself is the problem, just like college basketball itself is the problem.

Continue reading

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part II)

The previous post continues with the worst of the worst…

3.  Charles M. Blow (New York Times): It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump”

18 out of Charles M. Blow’s last 20 columns have been anti-Trump screeds, his ratio since the election is about the same. Not only is this res ipsa loquitur for Trump derangement, it’s also mind-numbingly repetitious. In addition to being consumed with hate and anger over the election of America’s President for nearly three years, Blow was an established  pernicious race-baiter before that, when he assigned that label to anyone who criticized Barack Obama, among others.

Why does a highly-respected newspaper feel that “race-baiting hateful hyper-partisan”—Blow hates Republicans, though not as much as he hates the President—is a niche that needs filling on the op-ed page is a mystery.

In his latest anti-Trump column, Blow, as usual, is absurd as well as misleading. He writes,

“The report did not, however, exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. I submit that we witnessed that Trump obstructed justice in open view, from the White House and on social media. And while Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report.”

I submit that Blow is a hack, writing to deceive the dim and the biased. Trump’s tweets constitute obstruction of justice? Good luck with that theory, Bozo: why don’t you ask a second year law student—or even George Conway— who would set you straight? And for any member of the news media to complain about slander when so many of his colleagues—and he himself—have routinely stated as fact that the President was a traitor and a criminal when no such facts existed…well, Blow has always excelled at gall.

This time, however, he found a way to combine his two passions in a single rant, while adding several “resistance” Big Lie talking points for good measure. Good job, Charles! Be proud, New York Times!

The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him….

As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020….

The very symbols of Trumpism — the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. — are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

They are a form of white pride credentialing.

In much the same way that the Confederate flag became a white supremacist signaling device, wearing the MAGA hat and self-identifying as a “Trump supporter” now serves the same purpose. The symbols are tangentially connected to Trump, but they also transcend him. They are a way of cloaking racial hostility in the presentable form of politics….

In America, this recent rise of white nationalism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people feel threatened and respond forcefully.

If you say so, Charles. Count the lies, Big and small, everybody, if you want an ethics tune-up That last bit is Blow’s default cover for Obama’s failure as a leader and a President: it isn’t Obama’s domestic and foreign policy ineptitude voters objected to, or his sanctimonious cons, it was the fact that he was black.

4. David Brooks (New York Times) We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again.”

Continue reading

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part I)

 

I guess the mainstream news media and its pundits aren’t going to take responsibility for the last three years of fake news and attempts to poison the nation against the President after all.  Are you shocked?

I. George Conway (Washington Post): “Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office”

George Conway is Kellyanne Conway’s husband. The Post just says he’s a lawyer in New York, which is another form of fake news: does every Trump-hating lawyer rate place on the op-ed page? Conway has been unethically and obnoxiously exploiting his wife’s prominence in the Trump administration to get undeserved attention for his own unremarkable “resistance” sentiments, and to embarrass her and her boss. Nice.

In most workplaces, a spouse who continually tried to undermine his or her spouse’s work would spark a simple demand from management: either get Lovey-Dovey to cut it out, or else. The fact that Conway femme can’t ask her husband to find a another hobby and be respected is interesting, but there is no reason the President should put up with it. I wouldn’t.

The Washington Post just proves once again its unethical complicity with the resistance by giving  the likes of Conway a forum to attack the President while adding nothing new or original to the debate whatsoever. As I repeatedly tell my hopeless Facebook friends when they post, as a non-rebuttal to any reasoned debunking of the latest impeachment hype, “He’s an X,Y, and Z and is unfit to be President,” the  public  found him fit to be President when they elected him. This is the central anti-American betrayal of the system and our institutions that Democrats , the news media and people like George have been flaunting since November 2016. He’s fit to be President because the electorate says so, and that’s the end of that discussion.

Constantly saying “He’s unfit to be President!” is now in the category of an ad hominem attack. It’s sour grapes and divisive without legitimate purpose; it’s an endless tantrum.  Barack Obama was as managerially and philosophically unqualified to be President on the last day of his tenure as the first, but the Post wasn’t publishing any “Obama’s not qualified to be President” op-eds after 2008 election, or before it, for that matter. (Only John McCain and Sarah Palin were unfit to be President). The people who wouldn’t let go of that conviction while refusing to shut up about it were the ridiculous birthers, a justly derided fringe sub-species. Those like Conway who won’t stop screaming about Trump’s well-established character traits now as if they are sudden revelations deserve similar treatment.

2. Michelle Goldberg (New York Times): No Criminal Collusion. Lots of Corruption.”

I don’t believe that agenda driven ideological propaganda should be accepted as respectable punditry, which is what op-eds ought to be. The idea, I should think, is to have a variety of people who have different views of complex issues make good faith efforts to explain why they have concluded what they have. Hard-left agitprop like what Goldberg routinely submits should be returned to sender by ethical editors with instructions to try them out on the narrow-minded readers of their usual platforms, like The Nation, The Guardian, and other leftist mouth pieces. This piece of hacker shows why that is the right course. Here is her main point, as various Trump-hating figures compete for new talking points to undermine him (In the essay, Goldberg says she “despises” the President. Of course she does—and that makes all of her arguments suspect.):

“The biggest thing this affair has uncovered is that throughout much of the presidential campaign, Trump was seeking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal had the potential to make hundreds of millions of dollars for the Trump Organization, and Trump’s lawyer solicited the Russian government’s help to get it done. After the election, Trump lied about the deal to the American people. Vladimir Putin knew the truth, giving him leverage over Trump. Is that the only leverage he had?”

What a despicable smear. Trump was a business man, and there was and is nothing illegal about his organization pursuing business deals in Russia, nor was there anything untoward abut making hundreds of millions of dollars for Trump’s organization and its investors. Seeking assistance from the Russian government is SOP for such projects, and again, not illegal or inherently suspicious. Goldberg, we find out by following the links, has been claiming that the President was “lying to the American people” when he tweeted “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Her assertion is the lie.  Trump is not his organization, the Trump Tower deal wasn’t to be with “Russia,” and Putin had no “leverage” at all, since what the business negotiations weren’t illegitimate in any way. “Is that the only leverage he had?” is classic conspiracy theory rhetoric, suspicion without substance.

[Part II, covering the unethical columns of Charles Blow and Davis Brooks, is on the way…]

One More Time…Ethics Dunce: California, And Its “Jumbo” Culture

Has any state…heck, has any 10-year-old’s tree house club…had as many terrible ideas as California? No wonder its presidential vote single-handedly gave the popular vote to Hillary. And the United States is supposed to allow itself to be the dog wagged by this Bizarro World ethics culture?

The latest: Under a bill now heading through the California State Legislature, millions of criminal Californians who have misdemeanor or lower-level felony records would have their criminal records officially sealed from public view once they completed prison or jail sentences. I’m shocked to read that the legislation would not apply to people convicted of committing  murder or rape. Well, give the Golden State time.

We are told with a sniff and a tear that in the United States, a record showing a criminal conviction or even an arrest that does not lead to a conviction can make it difficult for someone to find a jobs, rent an apartment or obtain professional license. Well, that’s because conduct has consequences, and in particular breaking trust has consequences. Society is based on mutual trust. Committing criminal acts raises reasonable doubts in society as to whether an individual can be trusted to–let’s see, handle money for an employer, follow rules, meet financial obligations or serve in a professional capacity, the primary requirement of which is trustworthiness.

Simply because someone has been in jail doesn’t mean they have become more trustworthy. Why would it? So under California’s brilliant scheme, a bank could hire a convicted embezzler as a bank teller. A law school could hire a convicted bank-robber as a law pro—oops. Sorry. My alma mater already did that. But at least it had the opportunity to know what it was doing.

This is kindergarten easy: if I am going to trust someone with my business or my property, I have a right to know who that person is, and if he or she has a record of warranting trust. The fact that convicted criminals have a tough time doesn’t mean I should be put at risk. They committed the crime, why are the citizens who haven’t broken any laws being forced to take risks they don’t want to take? Continue reading

A Jumbo! One More Time: If You Trust PolitiFact, You Are As Biased As They Are

“Airplanes? I don’t see any airplanes!”

There are no good political factchecking organizations. Some are more ethical than others. Snopes is terrible, biased, and unreliable unless it is really checking urban legends. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler tries, but he works in the progressive bubble of Democrats who run the place, and he is corrupted. The Annenberg Foundation’s Fact-Check.org claims to be non-partisan and often succeeds, but of late it too has entered political advocacy into a category that is supposed to be only about objective facts.

As a general proposition, it is fair to call the  exercise of “factchecking” inherently misleading and so ripe for abuse that any fact check by a media organization should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

This goes double for PolitiFact; indeed, someone saying that this is their favorite fact checker has triggered signature significance. Nobody who is properly sensitive to partisan bias and committed to objectivity can possibly trust PolitiFact, a feature launched by a Democrat newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, and recently taken over by the Poynter Institute, which I once respected as a voice for ethical journalism. Like its industry, however, it is corrupt. Either that, or Poynter isn’t providing oversight for PolitiFact.

This is res ipsa loquitur. PolitiFact, like many other media hacks from the Left, meaning almost all of them, is trying to provide cover for the “Green New Deal” that the Democratic Party has foolishly embraced, by throwing up dust, word-salads and lies. The current approach is pure Jumbo, the Ethics Alarms category for a lie in the style and scale of Jimmy Durante’s classic, trying to steal an elephant and upon being stopped by a constable and asked what he was doing with a pachyderm on a rope, exclaiming, “Elephant? WHAT elephant?”

Here’s Politifact, lying: Continue reading

Now THIS Is Gender Bias: The Undeserved And Dishonest Hyping Of Elaine May

BRILLIANT!

As someone who tried, often unsuccessfully, to promote female stage directors in Washington, D.C.’s professional theater scene, I am sympathetic to the cause of providing more opportunities  for women to direct at a high level, including Hollywood, as well as addressing directly the many and varied obstacles women face. One is a dearth of historical role models in the field. Quick, now, name five successful and respected female film directors. One just died, Penny Marshall. The pioneer in the field, actress Ida Lupino, always turns up on such lists, but which of her six films in the 50’s is a classic? “Hard, Fast and Beautiful?” “The Bigamist?” I’ve seen all of the films she directed, and she was a solid, professional director (and also an excellent actress). But Stanley Kubrick she wasn’t.  Katheryn Bigelow has to be on the list, and she’s directed several excellent films, including “The Hurt Locker,” which won a
“Best Picture” Oscar. But her resume would rank somewhere around 500 or so in a gender-blind list. Okay, that’s three.

The reasons for this are not merely discrimination in the show business industries, though that is certainly a major factor. However, as we have seen and continue to see among activists for other traditionally marginalized groups, admitting inconvenient truths that counter a group identify narrative is neither popular nor common. Unfortunately, such activists have a bad and unethical habit of hyping the accomplishments of members of their favored groups, perpetuating falsehood “for the common good” and making themselves less credible and respectable advocates as a result. In politics, we saw this repeatedly during the 2016 campaign when Hillary Clinton was described as being one of the “most qualified” Presidential candidates in American history, as assertion that is simply untrue by any objective standard. As with the Clinton hyping, it is particularly troubling when the talents and accomplishments of a an individual are hyped by journalists to advance an agenda. Journalists are not practicing their craft ethically when they intentionally try to deceive the public and distort the record, regardless of their supposedly good intentions.

Now, you might say, and I might be inclined to agree, that when current journalism standards have sunk as low as they are now, and when the news media appears to be capable of previously unimaginable deceptions in an effort to advance one political party over another, a New York Times female film critic’s efforts to bootstrap the cause of female directors by absurdly hyping the directing skills of Elaine May is small potatoes indeed. However, “The Marvelous Ms. Elaine May,” by chief Times film critic Manohla Dargis, is worthy of genuine alarm. In it, an accepted “authority” sets out to claim that black is white, that May has been an outstanding film director when she hasn’t even been a good one. She relies on the ignorance of her readers to make this argument, because May’s films—she’s directed four–have been such flops that the odds of a readers having seen all of them are daunting. Worse, I have to assume that Dargis is doing this for political reasons. Either that, or she is so gender-biased that she can’t see straight.

The article’s existence in the pages of the Times tells us that even arts reporting is now polluted beyond trust and recognition by political agendas and propaganda. Moreover, its goal is to intentionally misinform the public.

Let me note here that I admire the talents of Elaine May, whom I first encountered when she and her long-time partner Mike Nichols did a series of beer commercials tha ran during Red Sox games. She  was a deft sketch comedian, and also a sharp writer of satire. My theater company in Arlington, Virginia produced her most successful play, the Off-Broadway hit “Adaptation.” However, after the team of Nichols and May broke up, Nichols became on of the most critically-acclaimed and successful film directors of the last 50 years, and May didn’t. Dargis hints that sexism and discrimination were the culprits, because May was also a “brilliant” director. This is worse than claiming the Hillary was the most qualified candidate in history. It’s more like saying that she ran one of the best campaigns in history. I’ve watched all four of Elaine May’s movies.  Can’t fool me! Continue reading