Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

A Head-Spinning Ethics Movie For 2019: 2005’s “Good Night And Good Luck”

I avoided George Clooney’s film “Good Night And Good Luck” when it was released, because I knew it had been designed as an anti-Bush administration allegory, weaponizing Edward R. Murrow’s battle with Senator Joe McCarthy as progressive propaganda. See the courageous and principled journalists stand up against ruthless Republican bullies! See the dangerous power-abusers strike back with guilt by association allegations and by attacking the messenger! See the objective, non-partisan journalists help bring down the threat to democracy!

I finally watched the film this week, and was struck by several things. First of all, the movie, which Clooney directed as well as co-starred in (as Fred Friendly) was much better and fairer than I expected: let that be a lesson to me.

Second, David Strathairn as Murrow once again showed what an excellent and under-appreciated actor he is, although his voice is an inadequate substitute for Murrow’s rich baritone. Third, Senator McCarthy really was a sinister creep, and it radiates from the screen. Those who still defend him, like Ann Coulter, are allying themselves with the Prince of Darkness. The man claimed that the ACLU was a Communist front organization!

Most of all, however, I was struck by how ironic and convoluted the film’s analogies had become in just 14 years, and found myself wondering who Murrow would regard as the bad guys today.  For example, Murrow, speaking of McCarthy’s hearings on Communists in the Army and elsewhere, tells his audience that while Congressional hearings are an important part of the body’s oversight function, the line between legitimate hearings and “persecution” is thin. What would he think about today’s Democrats’ endless fishing expeditions designed to find some justification for impeaching the President?

Murrow went on television to condemn McCarthy’s repeated accusations based on assertions of facts, evidence and documents that didn’t exist. Would he have done the same today, but with his target being Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca) or Gerald Nadler (D-NY), both of whom have repeatedly, McCarthy-like, claimed to have “proof” of President Trump’s collusion that didn’t exist? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2019: Smears, Excuses And Betrayals

Ethics Alarms wishes you the best this morning…

1. How low can they go? NBC News published a 1768-word article this week examining Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s slave-holding  ancestors.

The 1850 and 1860 censuses reveal that between them, two of the Kentucky Senators’ great-great-grandfathers, James McConnell and Richard Daley, owned at least 14 slaves in Alabama.The article’s apparent objective is to suggest that  Sen. McConnell’s ancestors may have influenced his policy positions, implying that he is racist by blood.

Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias!

Asked about his ancestors in a press conference, McConnell pointed out that Barack Obama also has slave-holding  relatives in his family tree. Mitch was nicer than I would have been. I yield to no one in my dislike for the Senate Leader, but this is a self-evident smear ny NBC, a blatant “guilt by association” ploy with the damning associations being with people McConnell never knew.

Have you no sense of decency, NBC, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?

In full disclosure, my father’s mother’s family, also from Kentucky, owned slaves. One of them, a housekeeper, continued to be employed by the family, and my grandmother cared for her in the woman’s old age, as a permanent guest and companion until she died.

Amazingly, this did not make me a fan of Mitch McConnell.

2. I’m STUNNED! Well, no, actually I knew this more than 30 years ago, when I oversaw a non-partisan study on the issue. From NPR:

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase the pay of at least 17 million people, but also put 1.3 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.

The increased federal minimum could also raise the wages of another 10 million workers and lift 1.3 million Americans out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 and last increased a decade ago.

The budget watchdog’s report comes ahead of next week’s vote in the House of Representatives on a bill to gradually raise the federal minimum to $15 an hour by 2024.

The minimum wage is an example of the Left’s “Don’t confuse us with facts, our minds are made up!” orientation when it comes to thoroughly debunked socialist cant. It’s pretty simple: when the compensation required for  certain jobs outweigh the value of those jobs, the jobs disappear. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), the author of  the Raise the Wage Act, argued that the benefits in CBO’s forecast far outweighed the costs. Tell that to the restaurant owners who will have to close up shop, and the 1.3 million who lose their jobs, Bobby. All for the greater good!

Politicians like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren who push a massive minimum wage increase are counting on the public’s ignorance, as in other issues. Continue reading

And Another One BitesThe Dust: Bowling Green State’s Unethical Slap At Lillian Gish [UPDATED]

The problem with so many of the statue-toppling/ renaming debacles at U.S. universities isn’t just that they are  transparent grandstanding, virtue-signalling and pandering to power-seeking black activists. The more disturbing problem is the intellectual vacuousness and lack of critical thought that school administrators display in the process of their grovels. The recent action of Bowling Green State University in Ohio is a particularly noxious example.

[Correction notice: the post originally had the university in Virginia, perhaps because I was once pulled over for reckless driving in Bowling Green, Virginia. Anyway, that was wrong. My apologies.]

Lillian Gish ( 1893-1993) had an epic  film career spanning 75 years, from 1912, in silent films,  to 1987. She was frequently  called the “First Lady of American Cinema,” and film historians credit her with introducing basic movie performing techniques to her craft. The PBS series, American Masters devoted an episode to Gish’s life and achievements; Turner Classics Movies observes,

Having pioneered screen acting from vaudeville entertainment into a form of artistic expression, actress Lillian Gish forged a new creative path at a time when more serious thespians regarded motion pictures as a rather base form of employment. Gish brought to her roles a sense of craft substantially different from that practiced by her theatrical colleagues. In time, her sensitive performances elevated not only her stature as an actress, but also the reputation of movies themselves. 

She had 120 film and TV credits before she was done, including “Night of the Hunter,” an enduring classic. In short, she was important. She enhanced the culture and her industry, and she earned her honors. She should be remembered.

Bowling Green State University has honored  Lillian Gish (and her less-celebrated acting sister Dorothy) for more than 40 years. But members of the college’s Black Student Union objected the theater’s name, on the grounds that in 1915, when she was 22 years old, she was one of the stars in D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation,” a seminal work in the U.S. film canon by one of its most talented and influential directors. The film, despite its artistic merits and importance to the development of the movies, is widely regarded as racist in content and purpose, celebrating as it does the rise of the Klu Klux Klan. The film is also blamed in part for the rise of Jim Crow in the South, also aided by President Woodrow Wilson’s open promotion of the movie as well as Griffith’s political views.

None of which has anything to do with Lillian Gish. Actors don’t write scripts or control a movie’s message, nor are they responsible for how audiences perceive a film beyond their own performances. D.W. Griffith was not only the early 20th Century’s equivalent of a Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg, he was young Lillian’s patron and metor. She had literally no choice other than to accept his decision to cast her in his Reconstruction opus; to rebuff him would have risked ending her career. Nor was there any way, in 1915, for Gish to know what the impact of “Birth of a Nation” might be, or to know, while she was being filmed, what the director would do with the footage.

Gish was not responsible for the movie, and holding that she was is as ignorant and indefensible as it is unfair. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/28/19: Ethics Avalanche!

ARRGH!!!

Too many festering ethics issues to cover in as much detail as they deserve…

1. The deterioration of the New York Times, and with it respectable print journalism, continues. Over the weekend, the Times published a very large, front page diagram showing the President in the middle of a circle of indicted aides, advisers and others with some connection to his campaign. (I’m looking at it right now; I can’t find a version on the web to post.) It belongs in the Guilt by Association Hall of  Shame, and some other shameful halls as well. Literally none of the indictments involve any campaign activities by Trump or his campaign that would constitute illicit cooperation with Russia to affect the 2016 election—you know, the supposed point of having a Special Counsel. The bulk are so-called “process” violations, which means that the individuals lied in some aspect of the investigation, and was charged to pressure him to “flip” on the President.The one individual whose charges are linked to Trump is Michael Cohen, whose actual crimes had nothing to do with Trump, and whose alleged crime involving Trump–paying off an adulterous sex partner to keep quiet—is probably not a crime at all, even though Cohen pleaded guilty to it to save his skin.. The graphic proves nothing and clarifies nothing. It is just raw meat for Trump-haters, asserting guilt without substance. Similar circles could be assembled around many, many national figures and politicians (Bill Clinton comes to mind, and Barack Obama), especially following two years of targeting their associates.

2. Ann Althouse vivisects Tom Brokaw.  Just go to this link and read Ann’s expert commentary on Tom Brokaw’s bizarre turn on “Meet the Press,” and the even more bizarre tweets he issued to apologize to the social media mob for opining that “Hispanics should work harder at assimilation.” (Hispanics assimilate just fine, especially when they are here legally.)

Yes, poor Tom really did tweet, ” my tweet portal is whack i hv been trying to say i am sorry i offended and i so appreciate my colleague.” 

3. This would be an unethical quote of the day except that CNN fake media ethics watchdog Brian Stelter says and writes unethical things so often that it is no longer worth highlighting. Stelter re-tweeted with favor this quote from a panelist on his show as they discussed Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex:

“She’s got a target on her back because she ticks every box that makes conservative men uncomfortable.”

Of course, this is pure race- and gender-baiting, the progressive and media reflex response to any criticism of female or minority Democrats, and insulting to women and progressive men as well. I assume many of the latter—the smart ones, anyway—are also made “uncomfortable” by arrogant, ignorant, under-qualified, anti-Semitic, Socialist naifs who garner a disproportionate amount of publicity while advocating absurd and irresponsible policies. A member of Congress who blathers like AOC would be like fingernails on a blackboard if she were a midde-aged he of Nordic descent.

Boy, Stelter is terrible. I hereby apologize to Howard Kurtz for being so hard on him when he had Stelter’s job. Compared to Stelter, Howard is me. Continue reading

REALLY Late Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/18: The Mean Edition!

Okay, it’s way past morning. Couldn’t be helped.

1. You know, like the Democrats and feminists didn’t like Brett Kavanaugh…In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a group of five high school girls confessed to targeting a boy with false sexual assault allegations just because they “don’t like him.” Now the boy’s parents, Michael J. and Alicia Flood, have filed a lawsuit claiming that Seneca Valley High School students in Pittsburgh “conspired in person and via electronic communication devices to falsely accuse [their son] of sexual assault on two occasions.”  They are suing the girls’ parents, the school district and the Butler County District Attorney’s office. Why the DA? Because it has refused to charge the girls, and why should it? They should have been believed, right?

2. Pssst! LA? This is unconstitutional. I guarantee it. In Los Angeles, the City Council passed an ordinance requiring city contractors who have ties to the National Rifle Association to disclose them. “Are you now or have you ever been a member….?”

3. Tales of the Slippery Slope. Hey, if high school conduct is fair game, why not the third grade? The Hollywood Reporter published a tell-all by White House advisor Stephen Miller’s third grade teacher, Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District’s Nikki Fiske. She told tales out of school about when Miller was her student at  Franklin Elementary School, revelations designed, of course, to show that a weird kid grew into a Trump-abetting monster. He ate glue! He was messy!

Fiske was pulled from her classroom and is now on paid leave until the school district decides what to do with her. The  concern is “about her release of student information, including allegations that the release may not have complied with applicable laws and district policies,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said.“This has been picked up by other digital publications and blogs, and some issues have been raised.”

Ya think? Continue reading

Apology Of The Year (So Far): Patterico

I’m not a fan of the blog Patterico’s Pontifications for a lot of reasons, beginning with the fact that he doesn’t supply his real name. He appears to be a generally conservative blogger whose assessment of mainstream media bias comports with my own. He also has been a vocal Never Trumper, and since November of 2016, that way madness lies, as we can see from some of the hysterical commentary from the likes of Bill Kristol, George Will, Jennifer Rubin and others. Patterico’s brain jumped the shark with his ratification of the absurd Angry Left and “resistance” conspiracy theory that a former aide to Judge Kavanaugh, Zina Bush, was flashing a white supremacy signal behind him during the first day of the Senate hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I wrote about it here; the controversy was beyond stupid, and in my opinion, so stupid that I did not feel it was worthy of a stand-alone post. I considered checking my Facebook friends’ posts to see how many of them were swallowing this idiocy, but chickened out.

The furious anti-Trump warriors become even more infuriated when you call them deranged, but the Zina Bush uproar is an excellent example of why it is not only fair to do so, but essential. They need to know. There is no reasonable justification for assuming or concluding that Zina Bush. or Brett Kavanaugh, or Donald Trump are white supremacists any more than there is justification for assuming or concluding that they are cocker spaniels or invaders from the Planet Zontar. If you think any of these people are really white supremacists with a white supremacy agenda, then you have slipped a cog somewhere, and need help.

I think what has happened to such sufferers is that they heard too many repetitions of certain dishonest and divisive parts of the Democratic party’s disinformation campaign to seed their coup, and at some point began to believe them, The white supremacy delusion seems to arise from the repeated smear, a standard one since Trump entered the Presidential race in 2015 by a frontal assault on the nation’s policy of encouraging and romanticizing illegal immigration, that opposing illegal immigration was the same as opposing immigration itself—hence xenophobia, hence “nativism,” hence racism, hence “white supremacy.” In fact, nothing in Donald Trump’s vast history of dubious conduct and ill-considered statements suggest a white supremicist agenda or beliefs in any way. Continue reading