Tag Archives: Glenn Reynolds

Ethics Alarms Inauguration Day Musings

trump-inaug

In preparation for this post, I just read over the post from December 5 titled “Reasons to be Happy About the Election of Donald Trump?” I wanted to see if any of those reasons on the list, beginning with three that I endorsed from the Glenn Reynolds essay with the same name, without the question mark. Here are the ten:

1.  “Killed off dynastic politics, at least for now.”

2. “Kept Hillary out of the White House.”

3. “Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance”

4. His election, and Clinton’s defeat, pushes back against group identification politics.

5. It demolishes the propaganda that Barack Obama was a successful President.

6. It might spur more citizens to vote next time.

7. Trump’s victory showed that cheating to win, and behaving as if the ends justify the means, still don’t go down well with a lot of the public.

8. The entire Clinton saga has been predicated on their belief that you can fool enough of the people enough of the time, along with a well-practiced regimen of deny-deny-deny. lie, obfuscate, stonewall, accuse and delay, to get away withe all manner of unethical conduct while achieving wealth and power. Finally, it didn’t work. Hooray.

9. Trump’s election exposed, and is exposing, the hypocritical, anti-democratic, bitter, ugly, hateful side of progressives and Democrats.

10.  It is the kick in the teeth of political correctness that this restrictive, arrogant, smug and stifling cultural trend had been begging for.

The post concluded,

I have not changed my analysis that the price we will pay for these boons is likely to be exorbitant and painful at best. Nonetheless, they are still things to be grateful for, and not insubstantial.”

Almost two months later, having experienced the Trump transition and observed the horrifying 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, which of these ten bear amendment or repeal? All but a few are as accurate now as then. #9, relating to the Democratic and progressive freak-out and what it represents, has intensified since December 5 and has been longer-lasting and more outrageous than anyone could have expected. Reynold’s item #3 about the election crushing the news media’s sense of self-importance was clearly wishful thinking, for it joined the embarrassing and destructive Democratic reaction to the election rather than learning anything. Fools.

Finally, there is #5. Trump’s election should have demolished the mythology that Obama has been a successful President, because he obviously has not been, and if he had been successful, Hillary Clinton would be about to be sworn in today.But Barack Obama, who like Donald Trump lives in his own narcissistic fantasy world, exited with a series of self-lauding propaganda lines—some issuing from the mouths of his team, like John Kerry—that the news media and punditry have treated as if he were a burning bush. No, Obama improved race relations! His was a scandal free administration! He did most of the things he wanted to do, and if it wasn’t for obstructive Republicans, he would have done much more! Citizens who weren’t happy and voted against Democrats just didn’t understand how well off they are! America’s standing in the world is terrific!  He is proud of his handling of Syria, and those 400,000 dead don’t prompt any regrets! This has been followed by jaw-droppingly dishonest puff-pieces by writers who should know better.

Here are  additional observations on Inauguration Day: Continue reading

54 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

Ethics Observations On President-Elect Trump’s First News Conference

presser

1. I watched the introductions and about half of Trump’s opening remarks, and had to bail. I just had to. Not that Trump’s manner and speaking style were any worse than before; it’s just that the thought that young people will see this as acceptable public presentation and speaking clarity was too horrible to bear. Even with the verbalization-challenged Bushes, the level of basic language skills and vocabulary wasn’t nearly this bad.

I had to watch an old video of JFK wittily fencing with reporters to get the thought out of my head:

2. Thus this discussion is based on the transcript. I had to search a bit to find an online transcript that wasn’t constantly interrupted by editorial comments and “fact-checks.” These contained a lot of nit-picking and suggestions of deception (and some useful clarifications).  It seems to me that the “fact-checks” of Trump feel adversarial, while the recent fact-check of President Obama’s final speech were consistently friendly, and voluntarily refused to take issue with genuinely misleading statements. For example, Obama said, “If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.”  NPR’s annotation:

“Via The New Republic: “From 2000 to 2010, a decade during which the white population as a whole grew by just 1.2 percent, the number of white children in the United States declined by 4.3 million. Meanwhile the child populations of Hispanics, Asians, and people of two or more races were increasing.”

But that’s not the fact to check. Who says that anyone is “unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants just because they don’t look like us“? That’s a straw man, and should have been called out (I threw a pillow at the TV screen) as one. Clear-thinking citizens are unwilling to invest in the children of illegal immigrants because they shouldn’t be here, and the more we “invest” in them, the more encouragement we give to foreign citizens to break our laws.

But NPR likes illegal immigration, so this wouldn’t occur to them, I guess.

3. I think it’s fair to say that no previous POTUS or PEOTUS press conference began with a frontal assault on the press for publishing fake news. That’s how this one began, with Sean Spicer attacking the already infamous Buzzfeed story. He also attacked CNN for reporting on Buzzfeed’s report. Here was NPR’s annotation, in part:

“BuzzFeed and CNN both reported on Tuesday about documents alleging that “Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump,” as CNN reported, though the two news organizations presented the information in vastly different ways. CNN mostly focused on who had seen the documents and when, citing unnamed sources and U.S. officials in different places. However, CNN said that while it had reviewed the “35-page compilation of the memos” alleging that link, it was “not reporting on details of the memos, as it has not independently corroborated the specific allegations.”

NPR’s distinction doesn’t excuse CNN. The news media does this kind of thing all the time, it’s true: it reports the fact that an irresponsible news source has reported a rumor, unsourced claim, ora lie, and thus further circulates an account that never should have been published in the first place. Later, Trump was asked about his tweet asking if we were now living in Nazi Germany. (It’s cute to see my Facebook friends fuming about that tweet, when they have been absurdly calling Trump a Nazi for months. Has anyone contacted Harry Belafonte for his comments?) Trump’s response:

“I think it was disgraceful — disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out. I think it’s a disgrace, and I say that — and I say that, and that’s something that Nazi Germany would have done and did do. I think it’s a disgrace that information that was false and fake and never happened got released to the public. As far as BuzzFeed, which is a failing pile of garbage, writing it, I think they’re going to suffer the consequences. They already are.”

Crude, but fair. It would be been nice if Trump had the wit and historical perspective to remind the assembled, and perhaps teach his audience,  what the Big Lie technique championed by Josef Goebbels was and how the Buzzfeed-CNN handoff would have pleased him. I’ve got to learned to lower my expectations. Nevertheless, the Nazi reference in that context was well-earned. It is disgraceful that the dossier was leaked by U.S. intelligence personnel. “Failing pile of garbage”  is not Presidential rhetoric (sigh) but the sentiment is correct. CNN capped a week of neon-bright biased and inaccurate reporting across the news spectrum by giving this slimy story greater visibility, thus advancing a Big Lie. CNN deserved its comeuppance, which was soon to come. Continue reading

107 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

“Reasons To be Happy About The Election Of Donald Trump”?

half-full-glass

Ann Althouse published a link to this article linked by Instapundit, and Prof Reynolds distilled his own seven reasons “to be happy” about the election upset. Four of the seven reasons are dubious or premature—“he could still blow it,” writes Reynolds. Ya think? He hasn’t been inaugurated yet!—but three, at least, have validity:

1.  Killed off dynastic politics, at least for now. If Hillary had won, 4 of the last 5 presidents would have come from two families. That’s not healthy.

2. Kept Hillary out of the White House. She’s amazingly crooked even by DC standards, and amazingly inept even by DC standards as well. Debacles galore have been prevented by keeping her out. Plus, a Clinton presidency would have allowed the completion of the Obama Administration’s weaponization of the federal government and possibly ensured one-party rule for decades. And at the very least, it would have allowed the sorry gang that Obama and Clinton brought in (go read the Podesta emails!) to bore in for four to eight more years….

5. Crushing the media’s sense of self-importance: They thought they were going to hand this election to Hillary. Now they’re realizing just how few people like or trust them, while Trump bypasses them using Twitter and YouTube. As I’ve said before, in the post-World War II era, the press has enjoyed certain institutional privileges based on two assumptions: (1) That it’s very powerful; and (2) That it will exercise that power responsibly, for the most part. Both assumptions have been proven false in this election cycle. Like many of the postwar institutional accommodations, this one will be renegotiated under Trump. It’s past time. After getting spanked in 2004 over RatherGate, the press realized with Katrina that if they all converged on the same lies they could still move the needle. Now they can’t.

None of these should be enough to pronounce oneself “happy” that we have elected a President who prior to his election displayed no fitness for office whatsoever, and an absence of such basic requirements of competent leadership as self-control, judgment, decorum, the ability to speak clearly, and knowledge of the Constitution. However, since Reynolds got a start on a list of silver linings to the Trump election cloud, let me complete one. I’ll call the Instapundit’s #5 the Ethics Alarm #3 and take it from there. I reiterate that even the whole list doesn’t turn this sow’s ear into a silk purse, but Trump’s election still has  up-sides that we can identify immediately. Continue reading

30 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Donald Trump ‘When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It’ Apology, Take Two!”…Plus The Last Comments I’m Going To Make About Trump’s “Pussy” Tape, Because Life’s Too Short

princess-bride

Ethics Alarms works best when commenters take a post and extend the issue to the next stage, expanding the inquiry and making useful observations. This Comment of the Day by Charles Green is an example. I had just written three posts (including this, and this, that related to Charles’ commentary more closely than the post it actually followed) about various ethics aspects of the Trump-Billy Bush tape and the reaction to it, and Charles flagged enough additional material for a fourth.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Donald Trump “When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It” Apology, Take Two! (I’ll be back to add a bit to Charles’ points at the end.)

Trump is of course a troglodyte. But Jack, this is an ethics swamp – look at all the other arguments showing up.

The most obvious one is Billy Bush’s “It was a long time ago.” So, there’s a statute of limitations on unethical behavior? (Trump went him one worse, saying that was ten years ago – and look at what Clinton did 20 years ago!).

But there’s another meme that keeps showing up. For example, Mitch McConnell saying, “I have daughters, and I…” So, is what Trump said inoffensive if you only have sons and brothers?

Mike Pence says, “As a husband and a father” he was offended. So, my single childless son shouldn’t be offended?

Jeb Bush says, “As the grandfather of two girls…reprehensible…degrading…” Jeez, do you have to be a grandpa before you can be offended?

What about Paul Ryan, saying, “Women should be championed and revered.” As a friend of mine says, “Would that be like a Special Olympics athlete? Or the biblical Mary?”

In their own bizarre way, these conditional statements are as ethically suspect as Trump apologizing “if I offended anyone.”

The common logical construct is a leading clause which SOUNDS like it should have something to do with what follows. But really, does “I’m a grandfather, so what he said was reprehensible” make any more ethical sense than “I’m a vegetarian, so what he said was reprehensible.”

As someone might have said, “What difference does it make!?”

Continue reading

45 Comments

Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, Social Media, The Internet

Coulrophobia Ethics: The Irresponsible Clown Dad

There has been an outbreak of coulrophobia (fear of clowns) for some reason, heightened by pranksters and web satirists taking advantage of one of our periodic societal freakouts as Halloween approaches:

  • Hundreds of students at Penn State set out to hunt clowns this week after rumors that clowns were loose on campus, chanting”Fuck the clowns!”
  • A dorm was evacuated at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, after the “Clown Watch” Twitter feed reported a sighting of a scary clown with a rifle. It was a hoax. 
  • In Portland, Oregon, police arrested David Dahlman, 55, for wearing a clown mask and boxing gloves and threatening middle schoolers. This clown charged an assistant principal who intervened.
  • A 13-year-old girl was arrested in Hampton, Virginia., for trying to get a person posing as a clown online to kill one of her teachers. 
  • A 14-year-old boy in Houston was charged with making terrorist threats toward his school using an online clown image.
  • Also this week, several hundred University of Connecticut students  gathered in a cemetery near midnight, ready to do battle with the evil clowns they had heard were hiding among the headstones. Police had to respond, and were not amused.
  • Police in  Lancaster, California warned that men wearing “ugly-looking clown masks” were using kitchen knives to frighten people and then videotaping their reactions.
  • Menacing clowns sightings were also reported in Modesto,  prompting police there to issue a warning to residents saying, “If you see anything or anyone suspicious, including individuals dressed as clowns, to avoid contact and report the circumstances to us immediately.”

Fear of clowns has been a cultural joke for decades. “Seinfeld” had whole storylines based on Kramer’s coulrophobia.Why is this happening now? I have no idea, and neither does anyone else, though CNN came up with five equally unsatisfying theories. Why? Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near? Why do fools fall in love? Why isn’t Hillary ahead by 50 points?

As long as the fad and its manifestations are in good fun and don’t endanger anyone, there’s nothing to be concerned about, though Stephen King felt compelled to try to calm the madness:

king-tweet(This is rich coming from King, who created the creepiest clown in literature as the villain of his novel “It.”)

Unfortunately, there are always those whose ethics alarms don’t ring. In Auburn, Massachusetts,  a father who followed his child’s school bus from the bus stop, wearing a scary clown mask. The middle school students in the bus were reportedly terrified. He was charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement

Comment of the Day: “Comment of the Day: ‘Observations On The Instapundit’s Tweet'”

charlotte4

I am often disappointed in the volume and balance of comments on particular posts here. Yesterday, I was waiting for someone to defend the extreme reaction to Glenn Reynold’s unseemly tweet regarding the Charlotte riots, and was especially interested in hearing arguments why Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger’s blunt tweets were “racist” as so many headlines were calling them. Admittedly, I was waiting for such arguments because it would be so easy and fun to reduce them to rubble, but still: where are the people who want to stifle speech and opinion, and who believe that criticizing violent rioters and Black Lives Matter should be punished so severely? Clevenger has been docked about $28,000 for expressing an opinion on Twitter, and sportswriters, who get paid to opine, often cretinously, on the web every day, are cheering. I know defenders of speech and opinion suppression are out there, but they are mute, rationalizing, I think, that they are right but those brutes on Ethics Alarms are too primitive to understand.

At least many of the comments that the posts have spawned are of high quality and extremely thoughtful. This is the second Comment of the Day inspired by them, by Chris Bentley:

I was thinking about a particular topic as I drove home from work today, about why people, mostly people on the left, justify and rationalize the behavior of looters during riots. After reading Jack’s initial post regarding Instapundit, I went to read the linked Reason.com article, and then checked out the comments section. One person, with the screen name Krabapple, made the following comment:

“Yeah sorry I can’t take seriously moderation from a company that allows the hashtag #killallwhitepeople but not this.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Daily Life, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, Social Media, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day: “Observations On The Instapundit’s Tweet”

twitter-bird-censoredBy purest happenstance, today was dominated by the ethics issues raised by tweets about the Charlotte riots from two commentators who couldn’t be more different, conservative pundit-professor Glenn Reynolds and Seattle Mariners catcher Steve Clevenger. Both issued excessively undiplomatic tweets to express their dismay at the state of U.S. race relations as demonstrated by the events unfolding in North Carolina. Both encountered the race-baiting, intimidation and attempts to chill free expression that are increasingly emerging as the standard weapons of the political left. Both saw the response to their words raise issues of double standards and the dangers of criticizing even the most indefensible conduct, like rioting and looting, when the rioters and looters have the sympathy of the news media, the politically powerful (and cynical) and sufficient numbers of social activists.

Both episodes also highlighted the dangers of using the deceptive simplicity of Twitter to express opinions and ideas that require more nuance and care.

Putting the cap on spontaneously generated “Controversial Tweet Friday” is this Comment of the Day by Jeff H, one of Ethics Alarms’ longest tenured commenters:

This is one of the reasons I try my very hardest never to use my Twitter to make someone’s day worse. It’s not that I haven’t had arguments on there every now and again, but as far as I know, I have very seldom been blocked for it. That’s because I try to keep it all elevated to a certain level or respect that we should all have when talking to strangers. (I did once get blocked for a Rickroll…)

I agree that him saying that is basically acceptable hyperbole and did nothing to further endanger the protesters (that they weren’t already facing by being on the highway. I say, if you block the highway for a protest, you’re a total jerk. I’d rather you make it home safely after doing something so stupid, but if you don’t, it will be entirely your own fault.) Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Comment of the Day, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Social Media