Why Doesn’t Ethics Alarms Trust Breitbart? This Is Why…

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Here is a headline that popped up on Breitbart, the conservative propaganda and opinion website:

“CNN Poll: Democrats’ Hold over Congress Has Grown Increasingly Fragile”

What would you assume that a poll justifying such a headline would show? You would think that it polled likely voters, and that it showed a majority of them currently planning on voting Republican in the upcoming 2022 elections, right?

“By far-left CNN’s estimates, congressional Democrats are not in very good standing for the 2022 midterm elections,” the article begins. Then we learn that “When asked, ‘If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party’s candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district?’ 45 percent of registered voters chose a Democrat candidate and 44 percent chose a Republican candidate.” The current partisan divide on Capital Hill has both the House and the Senate divided almost 50-50, with Democrats and Republicans being evenly divided in the Senate, and only holding a margin of 10 in the House, which has 435 seats. That’s a margin of 2.2%.

You can play with the figures, but essentially the poll shows exactly the same partisan split that currently exists.

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Our Lying, Propaganda-Spreading, Untrustworthy News Media: The Miami Herald Headline

herald headline

I have to regularly update my resolve to not respond to one of my ethics-rotted progressive friends when they say to my face, “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! That’s just a conservative conspiracy theory,” “You’re not only an idiot, you’re an enemy of democracy.” It gets harder and harder by the day. This has been my ongoing struggle at least since the 2008 Presidential campaign, when the mainstream media kept mocking Sarah Palin’s alleged lack of qualifications to be Vice-President while never mentioning that Joe Biden was a babbling fool or that Barack Obama was objectively less qualified than Palin was.

The Miami Herald headline above isn’t unusual; there are these kinds of lies and public manipulation to assist partisan agendas that appear in the news media every day, all day long, and from more influential sources (boy, I nearly wrote “respected sources,” and no mainstream media source deserves respect) than the Herald. Nonetheless, the headline is unusually brazen.

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Biden Lied And People Died..Now What?

Former VP Joe Biden Addresses Chicago Council On Global Affairs

The New York Times front page this morning has a disheartening story revealing that President Biden’s assertion to the American people that the collapse of Afghan forces was considered unlikely (but possible!) by U.S. intelligence was untrue. He must have known it was untrue too, or they really are keeping poor Joe in a closet and pulling him out for public appearances with a secret ventriloquist doing his voice. The Times:

Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials. By July, many intelligence reports grew more pessimistic, questioning whether any Afghan security forces would muster serious resistance and whether the government could hold on in Kabul, the capital. President Biden said on July 8 that the Afghan government was unlikely to fall and that there would be no chaotic evacuations of Americans similar to the end of the Vietnam War.…”

The Times is perplexed! The existence of these reports “raise questions about why Biden administration officials, and military planners in Afghanistan, seemed ill-prepared to deal with the Taliban’s final push into Kabul, including a failure to ensure security at the main airport and rushing thousands more troops back to the country to protect the United States’ final exit.” After all, there must be some legitimate reason a good, progressive Democratic President would “seem” to screw up so completely and lie about it! It would never be that he is completely incompetent and evil, like that last President! “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” Even when it is forced into reporting a total, massive, historic botch by the party it works for, the Times cannot be objective or approach the same tone and attitude it would apply to an equivalent blunder by that other party.

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Daunte Wright Dining Car Specials On The George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck…

1. “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Naturally, the New York Times has a ticket…The Timed headline in its print edition: “Minnesota Police Kill Another Man As Tensions Build.” Oh, did the jury rule that the Minnesota police officers killed George Floyd already? They didn’t? Then what the hell is the New York Times saying “Another” for?

The news media decided that Derek Chauvin is a murderer and has been repeating that assertion as fact for almost a year now.

2. Wait, the Chaivin jury hasn’t been sequestered? Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had argued yesterday that the jurors should be ordered to avoid all media and spend the rest of the trial sequestered, because he feared that rioting in the nearby community where the Wright shooting took place might limit their ability to be fair jurors. The unrest will be at “forefront of the jury’s mind-set,” Nelson argued. He also asked for new interviews with the jurors to determine whether this recent event had already biased them. The judge, Peter Cahill, denied both requests. “This is a totally different case,” the judge held, since the current riots aren’t about a jury verdict but a shooting.

Wow This pretty much convinces me that this is a kangaroo court, and that the judge is trying to do his best to see Chauvin convicted.

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Spring Clean-Up! Some Ethics Stories That Need Disposal Before The Weekend…

  • I have some major projects and stalled efforts percolating (Yes, Michael Ejercito, including that one!) so I need this post to make sure some interesting items don’t get left on the metaphorical rock…That’s my favorite Charles Addams cartoon above, and the only sad one he ever drew, I think. It was published well before this hit song by the Irish Rovers ( a really big hit in Boston), and I’ve often wondered if the cartoon inspired it. What do you think?
  • In the NYT workplace advice column “Work Friend,” Roxane Gay was asked by a reader about an office colleague who took up a collection to give condolence gifts to two fellow staffers who had lost their pets. Is this a common practice “in our pet-obsessed society,” she asked, or “is it, as I think, utterly bananas?”

This is, to begin with, an utterly bananas use of an advice columnist, assuming there is a good use. If that’s what she thinks, why does the writer need the confirmation of a stranger? Who is Roxane Gay, other than someone can’t spell “Roxanne”? The writer believes, obviously, in the “appeal to authority” fallacy, and is the kind of person who will tell you that her opinion is right because Charles Blow agrees with it. For the record, Roxane asked what was going on in the writer’s life that had her feeling so callous. In fact, this is an easy ethics call: the passwords are kindness and consideration. It doesn’t matter why a friend or colleague is emotionally devastated, or whether you would be as upset facing the same loss. The point is that your friend has suffered what he or she feels is a great loss, and the kind thing to do is to say, “I’m sorry. I care.”

It’s never occurred to me to send flowers or a card to someone who has lost an beloved animal companion, but thinking about it because of this column, I would have appreciated such a gesture after sweet Patience, our English Mastiff, had to be put down at 7 when her cancer became untreatable, or brilliant and brave Dickens, our first Jack Russell, who once saved our son from a malling by a larger dog, and whose heart and lungs gave out after 14 years, or Rugby, who for 16 years demonstrated how to love every living thing and who would sit on my desk with his head on my arm as I typed out Ethics Alarms posts. I can get choked up thinking about any of them still. It’s not “bananas” to be kind to someone suffering these kind of traumas. It’s called “being nice.” Continue reading

Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21….

People, even lawyers, just do not interact much in remote seminars. It makes a three-hour session far more tiring, even though I’m sitting down, rather than stalking through the space. Thus I am blotto now, after a legal ethics session earlier today.

1. And THIS is the best paper in the U.S…Two headlines on the New York Times front page this morning my high school paper faculty advisor would have rejected…and he would have been right:

  • “Gaetz Said To Face Inquiry Over Sex With Underage Girl” The fact someone says it is not news. Is he “facing an inquiry” or isn’t he? “Three people briefed on the matter” isn’t a source: we’ve seen how accurate the Times anonymous sources are, especially when the subject is a Republican, a conservative, and a Trump supporter. Why the front page for a rumor? Slow news day? Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about an article about how Joe Biden called Georgia “sick” based on a complete misrepresentation?
  • “Taliban Believes The War’s Over And They Won.” This is psychic news again, my favorite fake news form. How does the Times know what the Taliban “thinks”? Who cares what it “thinks”?

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Midnight Ethics Terrors, 2/17/21: Trump Attacks! Fake Law! Fake News! Fake Science!

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Okay, I started this at midnight, then got the night terrors, and waited until (almost) daylight to finish…

1. Who didn’t see this coming? Yesterday, Donald Trump unloaded with both metaphorical barrels on Mich McConnell as no President, former or otherwise, has ever attacked his party’s Senate leader before. McConnell asked for it, got it, and deserved it. His post impeachment trial acquittal was a foolish attempt to turn the President’s vindication into a defeat, and a pretty transparent example of the “now that the guy who was never one of us is out of power, we can strike at him with impunity” syndrome. Is McConnell really that deluded and incompetent? He must be. He apparently doesn’t understand the cognitive dissonance scale. Amazing. See, Mitch, nobody really likes you. You have the charisma of a scrub brush. As controversial as Trump is, he’s so much higher than you on the scale…

Cognitive Dissonance

… that attacking him just drags you lower still. Don’t you get that? Now Trump has double the effect. Some prime excerpts:

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Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/2021: Zombie Lawyers! Imaginary News! Dead Ethics Alarms! Wrong Numbers!

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1. The Florida Bar, protecting us all against unethical zombie lawyers...Last month, the Florida Supreme Court approved that Florida Bar’s decision to disbar Sabrina Starr Spradley, a 41-year-old attorney in private practice in Delray Beach, Florida. She died more than a year ago. The rules do not require another attorney or family member to tell the bar when a lawyer being disciplined has died, so poor Sabrina had to suffer the post mortem indignity of being labeled an unethical lawyer.

“We do have 108,000 lawyers in Florida,” a Florida Bar spokesperson explained. “There are a lot of individuals that we regulate. We rely on people to inform us.”

Why? How hard is it to routinely check the obituaries before wasting the Supreme Court’s time?

2. For the fake news Hall of Fame. Because President Trump is “reportedly” (whatever that means) “considering” flying to Scotland instead of attending Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, the Independent reports that Scotland won’t allow him in, because it wouldn’t be “essential” travel. Can a news headline (“Trump not allowed into Scotland to escape Biden inauguration, Sturgeon warns” ) be built on fewer facts than this?

Incidentally, there’s no law requiring an outgoing President to attend the inauguration of a President, and if Trump declines to do so, he would not be the first. He’d be the fourth, following John Adams, John Quincy Adams, and Andrew Johnson. A gracious transfer of power is always in the best interest of the nation, and Trump would do himself a favor if he just sucked it up and pretended to be a statesman. I doubt that he will.

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Ethics Flotsam And Jetsam, 1/4/21, Borne Back Ceaselessly Into The Past

Gatsby

 “The Great Gatsby‘s” 1925 copyright expired on January 1, 2021, and right on cue, Amazon announced that it was selling a now-legal prequel to that wildly over-praised F. Scott Fitzgerald novel called “Nick,” by Michael Ferris Smith: “A tumultuous origin story of one of the most famous and unforgettable literary narrators, Nick is a true cross-continental bildungsroman. This emotional novel successfully puts “The Great Gatsby” into an entirely new perspective and era: from the battlefields of World War I to the drunken streets of Paris and New Orleans. Dive back into the world of an unparalleled classic.”

It’s not unethical exactly, I guess it’s just pathetic. This author was waiting to scavenge someone else’s original work, and had his rip-off ready the second the bell tolled. The similarly creatively challenged among you now can repurpose and sell as your own books like Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs. Dalloway,” Ernest Hemingway’s “In Our Time,” Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” (in German) Theodore Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy,” John Dos Passos’s “Manhattan Transfer,” and Sinclair Lewis’s “Arrowsmith” (a personal favorite) among others.

1. Nah, the Democrats aren’t turning into totalitarians! That’s going to be the most-used gaslighting reference here in the ordeal to come I fear, as foretold by this screed in the New Yorker (Pointer: Arthur in Maine) by John Cassidy. Its thesis is that there are legislative steps that can be taken to make sure no political outsider like Donald Trump will ever again defeat establishment hacks like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Among the steps to “Trump-proof” the Presidency: require all candidates to sell off any businesses they own (lifetime politicians don’t own businesses), force them to release their tax returns, try various end-arounds the Electoral College (none of which are constitutional, in my view), and adopt ranked-choice voting so third and fourth party candidates have no chance whatsoever (they do it in New Zealand, so it must be better than our system).

I’d take the time to fisk this thing, but it begins falling apart on its own like Captain Queeg on the witness stand about halfway through, descending into standard anti-Trump blather about “norms,” lies, and “verbal assaults on the media” (which thoroughly deserved them).

The author really exposes his bias when he cites Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington as his ethics authority, a group that somehow only finds ethics violations in the Republican Party.

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Waning 2020 Ethics Warm-Up

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A reader reports that he can’t pull up Ethics Alarms on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. Is anyone else having this problem?

Wasn’t it nice when we naively assumed that such things were just technical glitches and not part of Big Tech’s increasingly intrusive alliance with the totalitarian-minded forces of the extreme Left?

1. Embrace the narrative. “Louisiana Congressman-elect Luke Letlow dies with COVID-19” is just one of many headlines announcing that the 41-year-old Representative-elect died from the Wuhan virus. So far, every headline I’ve seen is some version of this. Letlow died of a heart attack, in fact, during some un-named procedure related to his treatment for the virus. People die of unexpected heart attacks with some frequency during hospital procedures for other problems, and the cause of death is usually listed as “heart attack.” Maybe the virus caused his death and maybe it didn’t, but the headlines stating this as fact is more pandemic fearmongering, and. yes, fake news.

2. Good. You will recall that Twitter censored The New York Post’s account of the incriminating Hunter Biden laptop being found because it claimed that the business memos, photos of a Hunter using illegal drugs, and other disturbing photos came from a “hacker,” when Twitter’s real objective was, it seems fair to conclude, to keep as many people as possible from learning about matters that might cause them not to vote for Hunter’s father. Now the computer repair company’s owner is  suing Twitter for $500,000,000.00 for libel, defamation, and ruining his business, claiming that the social media giant disparaged him.

3. One more reason to distrust the election results: President Donald Trump topped former President Barack Obama for the title of most admired man in America in Gallup’s 2020 survey. Trump had tied with Obama in 2019 while Obama beat him in 2017 and 2018. President Joe Biden came in third. Obama had been #1 since 2008.

Don’t you find this strange?

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