Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has set sail in a zero-emissions yacht for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN’s climate summit. This is, of course, embarrassing and ridiculous for the U.N., and for adults everyone. Thunberg , who is 16, founded the student climate-strike movement. As with Greta’s US equivalent, the Parkland anti-gun scold Parkland kids, Thunberg has nothing to recommend her as a legitimate authority on anything. She has multiple learning disabilities; she has no training in climate science or physics beyond what would be serviceable in a high school science fair. All she has is certitude, which is a hallmark of childhood and innocence as well as progressive, and a willingness to be exploited, sort of like Joan of Arc.
Did you have an ethical day?
Ethics are cool, you know.
(So was Bing…)
1. The New York Times this morning, apparently determined to double down on the deliberately dishonest assertion that El Paso’s Walmart shooter was channeling the sentiments of “right wing pundits” and the President, plastered a tiny print excerpt from the manifesto—which, last I checked, it has still refused to publish in complete or readable form—on the front page, with the word “invasion” highlighted every time it appeared. As I wrote in Part Two of the Ethics Alarms’ post about the screed (and the news media’s unconscionable conspiracy to withhold it from the public while journalists misrepresent its contents…)
“Yes, it is true that both President Trump and the shooter use the term “invasion,” and to many critics this single convergence is sufficient to claim that the President is “responsible” for the El Paso shooting. “Invasion” is a word, not a theory or a philosophy, and the two apply it differently. President Trump has used it to describe illegal immigration, for which it is a defensible, if inflammatory, description.
Describing legal immigration as an invasion is not defensible—invasions are not legal—and is materially different. Ironically, it is the President’s foes, who intentionally refuse to distinguish between the validity of illegal and legal immigration—just like the shooter!—who have spread the lie that the President has called immigration itself “an invasion.”
Invasion is a loaded and pejorative term, but still a fair and accurate one. Illegal immigration advocates don’t like it because the term frames the unlawful migration as destructive and wrong, which it is. The word is not misleading, as the illegal immigration apologists ‘ use of “immigration” to describe illegal immigration, and “immigrants” (or “migrants”) to describe illegals is. Nor is it deceptive, like calling support for ending the lives of unborn children support for “choice,” or calling the President’s statements “racist: when they meet no definition of racism, or calling thge standard law enforcement procedure of separating children from law-breaking parents when the parents have brought their children along as they breached the law, “putting children in cages.” The obsession with “invasion” is both hypocritical and petulant: it’s a more powerful and more accurate framing of an issue than the progressive cover-words. Yesterday a Level-5 Trump-Deranged Facebook friend started using the word “inaction” as a substitute for “The Second Amendment,” “individual rights,” and the refusal to pass useless, symbolic, incremental laws in hopes of eventually reaching gun confiscation—the real objective. Continue reading
Saturday morning came!!
At points yesterday I was beginning to have doubts…
1. A win’s a win, and right is right, but the ACLU outs itself again. In the wake of the SCOTUS 5-4 decision to let stand the executive order reallocating funds for a wall to address the national emergency at the border and allow construction to commence, the ACLU flagged its own bias (though it is supposed to be non-partisan) by referring to the wall in a statement as “xenophobic.”
Its lawsuit was based on alleged environmental harm risked by the wall’s construction, but the use of that word, a deliberately dishonest characterization that can only mean an endorsement of open borders , proves that the lawsuit is a sham, using environmental concerns to mask a pro-illegal immigration agenda, which most of the public opposes….as they should.
Merits of the wall aside, the game Democrats are playing with this issue, calling for undefined “comprehensive immigration reform” while opposing enforcement and refusing to recognize a genuine emergency to keep the President from a political victory, is electoral suicide. (Yet most of the field of Democratic challengers have endorsed decriminalization of border breaching, which is like an invitation to invade. Madness. Even Hispanic-Americans oppose this.)
A blind pig can find a truffle or two, and on this existential issue, the President has law, history, sovereignty, the national interest and common sense on his side.
2. A clueless harasser gets a second chance. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the pop-culture astrophysicist who leads the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, has been cleared to continue in his job after the museum competed an investigation into three sexual misconduct accusations against him. Continue reading
Let’s see…what’s percolating today?
1. Do they even teach the First Amendment any more? I wonder how many of the Trump supporters who chanted “Send her back!” regarding Rep. Omar were doing so tongue in cheek, and realized that the U.S. can’t “send back” naturalized citizens? I admit that I’m rather afraid of the answer.
Yes, there’s a big difference between the President’s “why don’t they go back” line in his stupid tweets and “send her back,” but there’s no way he can escape some accountability for the ugly chant. He now says he disagrees with it, and except for those who will always assume the worst motives in this President, there is no reason to doubt that; after all, if he believed she should be “sent back,” he would have tweeted as much himself.
Of course, when network-anointed “experts” on social policy and politics like the ladies of “The View” broadcast ignorance of the First Amendment to their loyal and gullible audience, it doesn’t help. Co-host Joy Behar—is she the dumbest one on the panel? I think so— asked yesterday why President Trump had yet to face any legal consequences for “hate speech” directed at Democratic Rep. Omar, blathering, “Why can’t he be brought up on charges of hate speech?Why can’t he be sued by the ACLU for hate speech? I don’t get it. How does he get away with this?”
“Hate speech is tricky,” was the best that cowardly former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin could muster to clarify matters, making things worse. There is no such thing as “hate speech” in the law, which means it is more than “tricky,” it is a delusion, unless one means “hateful speech,” which can be a subjective definition, but is nonetheless protected by the Constitution.
If ABC were a responsible network, a comment like Behar’s should trigger an instant on-air intervention in which a team of law professors, judges and maybe a literate 6th grader or two burst onto the set and explain to this fool what freedom of speech means. Continue reading
Meharry Medical College is a 143-year-old historically black institution in Tennessee. Last week it announced that it had received the second-largest grant in its history, a $7.5 million gift to study public health issues that affect African-Americans.
But the gift has prompted attacks from African-American health experts and activists. The source of the funds, Juul Labs, is the fast-growing e-cigarette company and partially owned by the tobacco giant Altria. “Juul is cozying up to the black community, and that makes it harder for some parts of the black community to call them out on their targeting of African-Americans,” says Sharon Y. Eubanks, who is an advisory board member of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California. By “targeting African-Americans”, she means that the company and Altria market its completely legal products to blacks (among other groups), who choose to buy them. [Full disclosure: I worked as an ethics consultant for Altria for many years, and enjoyed the relationship tremendously. Altria was the reason I shaved my head.]
According to the NAACP’s Youth Against Menthol campaign, about 85 percent of African-American smokers aged 12 and older smoke menthol cigarettes, compared with 29 percent of white smokers, and Juul markets menthol pods while Altria markets menthol versions of its cigarettes, like Marboro. And how, exactly, is the African -American community helped if Meharry, the nation’s largest medical research center at a historically black institution, refuses the Juul grant to demonstrate, well, something?
You got me. This, however, is part of a growing fad among the virtuous and the “woke”—refusing to allow organizations, entities and families that they have decided are bad from using alleged ill-gotten gains to do good. Continue reading
1. I’ve been trying to find away to fit Reps. Ocasio-Cortez. Tlaib and Omar into a parody of Abraham, Martin and John. “AOC, Omar and Tlaib” almost works... An investigation by Minnesota’s Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board into Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has determined she violated campaign finance laws dating back to when she served a single term in the State House of Representatives from 2016-2018. The report also reveals that Omar filed joint tax returns in 2014 and 2015 with Ahmed Hirsi, even though she was married to Ahmed Nur Said Elmi from 2009-2017.
Let me know if you hear about this from any mainstream media outlet.
2. Individually, there are a lot of wonderful, funny, brilliant and admirable theater people. As a group, however, it is a cowardly, biased, intellectually lazy herd with the political sophistication of third graders.
I wrote on Facebook about the Ethics Alarms post on D.C.’s Studio Theater cancelling a production that reveals the text messages between the “FBI Lovebirds” who dished about how the Deep State would sabotage Donald Trump. The majority of my more than 400 Facebook friends are involved in theater. None of them commented on the issue. The apparent reasons are apathy, hypocrisy, or fear of being labelled a “Trump supporter” because they don’t applaud active censorship of the truth when it is inconvenient to the plots of “the resistance.” I don’t care which it is: the response is disgraceful…and typical.
Hollywood writer Christian Toto contacted 14 theaters across the country to ask their response to Studio’s actions. None of them responded. Among the fourteen were New Neighborhood and Slightly Altered States, theatrical groups which took part in the dramatic readings of the Mueller Report (the attending of which is a reliable indication of late stage Trump Derangement–I presume the theaters will follow up with readings of the phone book). Christian Toto writes,
“Imagine if unseen forces threatened violence against that Mueller Report reading, an event framed as critical of President Trump. Does anyone think those same 14 theatre groups would have remained silent?”
Should I ask my Facebook friends? Continue reading
Well, the news from Harvard has me half-headed and depressed, so I think I need to hear Winston Churchill’s favorite hymn…and my Dad’s, too.
1. I think this is known as “a drop in the bucket.”James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The New York Times, announced that he would recuse himself from any involvement in opinion coverage of the 2020 presidential election, after his brother, Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado, announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination. I suppose this is admirable, as it is a standard conflicts of interest move, but I’m sorely tempted to call it grandstanding, and maybe even a diversion. Bennet’s brother candidacy is hardly the only blatant conflict of interest on the times staff that makes its news coverage and punditry suspect. Virtually all of them are Democrats, for example, and progressives. What’s so special about an editor’s brother making a completely futile run for the Presidency? (Quick: if you’re not in Colorado, can you picture his face? Name anything he has accomplished?)
This note from 2017 (in RealClearPolitics) puts the Times editor’s decision in proper perspective:
There is a pretty substantial symbiotic relationship between the political left in Washington and the media. While a few people went from the media to the Bush Administration, it was never like it was with Obama.
Jay Carney went from Time to the White House press secretary’s office. Shailagh Murray went from the Washington Post to the Veep’s office while married to Neil King at the Wall Street Journal. Neil King has left the Wall Street Journal to work for Fusion GPS. Linda Douglass went from ABC News to the White House and then the Atlantic. Jill Zuckman went from the Chicago Tribune to the Obama Administration’s Transportation Department. Douglas Frantz went from the Washington Post to the State Department and Stephen Barr went from the Post to the Labor Department.
Ruth Marcus, who heads the Washington Post Editorial Board, is married to the Obama Administration’s former Federal Trade Commission Chairman. Jonathan Allen had been at the Politico before going to work for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then back to Politico before going to the left leaning Vox. Now he is at NBC News. Andy Barr worked for the Politico before leaving for Democrat politics. Michael Scherer was at both Salon and Mother Jones before going to Time. Laura Rozen was at Mother Jones and the American Prospect before Foreign Policy magazine. Even Nate Silver had started out at Daily Kos. Then, of course, there is Matthew Dowd, who worked for scores of Democrats before working for George Bush. That, though he later washed his hands of Bush, bought him street credibility with ABC News to become its senior politically analyst alongside George Stephanopoulos, formerly of the Clinton Administration.
It goes on and on in a feedback loop of incestuous politics and worldview shaping. In the Obama Era, it was all about protecting their precious. Now it is about undermining the President.
2. Puerto Rico Ethics. OK, explain to me, if you can, why this isn’t incredibly unethical:
From the Times:
The government oversight board leading Puerto Rico through its $123 billion debt crisis sued dozens of banks and financial firms on Thursday, saying that they had helped the island issue $9 billion of debt illegally, and that the people of Puerto Rico should not have to repay it.
The board said the debt should be voided because it exceeded the territory’s constitutional debt limit, and it added that Puerto Rico would try to recover hundreds of millions of dollars in interest and principal payments that it has already made.
The board was joined in the litigation by the official committee representing Puerto Rico’s unsecured creditors in the territory’s bankruptcy-like legal proceedings. Both plaintiffs said they understood they were making an unusual request, but asserted that no other approach would be legal or fair.
“The laws of Puerto Rico limit government borrowing authority for a reason: to prevent the government and its financiers from hitching the Commonwealth and its instrumentalities, as well as taxpayers and legitimate creditors, to a level of debt that cannot be repaid without sacrificing services necessary to maintain the health, safety and welfare of Puerto Rico and its people,” the plaintiffs said in one of several complaints…
What a great theory! The government of Puerto Rico has managed its finances irresponsibly and needs more money. “Hey!” says a brilliant staffer. “There’s a law that limits how much debt we can run up. Let’s borrow billions from banks illegally, then later sue them saying that the debt is invalid because they abetted our illegal act!”
3. Candidate for the Rationalization #22 Hall of Fame. Rationalization #22 is one of the most cited entries on the Rationalization List, and in my opinion, the worst of them all:
22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.”
If “Everybody does it” is the Golden Rationalization, this is the bottom of the barrel. Yet amazingly, this excuse is popular in high places: witness the “Abu Ghraib was bad, but our soldiers would never cut off Nick Berg’s head” argument that was common during the height of the Iraq prisoner abuse scandal. It is true that for most ethical misconduct, there are indeed “worse things.” Lying to your boss in order to goof off at the golf course isn’t as bad as stealing a ham, and stealing a ham is nothing compared selling military secrets to North Korea. So what? We judge human conduct against ideals of good behavior that we aspire to, not by the bad behavior of others. One’s objective is to be the best human being that we can be, not to just avoid being the worst rotter anyone has ever met.
Behavior has to be assessed on its own terms, not according to some imaginary comparative scale. The fact that someone’s act is more or less ethical than yours has no effect on the ethical nature of your conduct. “There are worse things” is not an argument; it’s the desperate cry of someone who has run out of rationalizations.
Now outgoing Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel has boasted in the New York Times about his success at introducing police reform and reducing crime.Emanuel makes his case in part by comparing Chicago’s crime numbers over the last two years with those of Baltimore, one of America’s most dangerous, murder-prone, mismanaged cities. He omitted mentioning New York orLos Angeles, perhaps because his city had more murders in 2018 than New York and L.A. combined, though Chicago is smaller then either.
I wonder if the Chamber of Commerce is considering “Less dangerous than Baltimore!” as a promotional slogan. [Pointer: City-journal]