Quick Ethics Reactions To A Morning’s Headlines…

I woke up with a headache, I have to read a really boring document before an upcoming conference call, and I woke myself up with an anxiety attack. It’s a perfect time, in other words, to react to a typical batch of morning New York Times headlines. Like…

  • “Mary Peltola, a Democrat, Defeats Sarah Palin in Alaska’s Special House Election”

Comment: Good! Palin has a lot of gall running for office anywhere, but especially Alaska, after she quit as governor for no good reason, unless one considers cashing-in a good reason. I am still looking for a clear explanation of how the ranked voting scheme worked in this election. It seems that the system provides an edge to the hateful, and also allows the gaming of democracy.

  • “Lea Michele Is Well Aware That the Pressure Is On”

Comment: She should be. The former “Glee” star exploited her agent’s betrayal of another client, Beanie Feldstein, to snatch away the lead role in Broadway’s bombing “Funny Girl” revival. It was show-biz treachery worthy of “All About Eve.” (I hope she falls on her metaphorical face.)

  • “An Apple Watch for Your 5-Year-Old? More Parents Say Yes.”

Comment: More parents have money to burn, apparently, and an appalling lack of common sense. But the watch has proven largely useless for adults, so maybe 5-year-old is the right market.

  • “‘Defund the Police’ Is Dead. Now What?”

Comment: Now what? Oh, I don’t know, maybe progressives are slowly returning to sanity? We know Charles M. Blow isn’t (that’s the headline of his latest column, one that doesn’t mention Donald Trump at all, amazingly.). He ends his lament, “I fear that the signal we are sending to all the people who truly believed that there would finally be real change in policing and the possibility of more equity in our criminal justice system is that racial equity is a tertiary issue, that it is lower than people want to admit on the social hierarchy of policy priorities. We will regret that.”

  • “The Man Behind Our Public Schools Would Be So Disappointed Today”

Comment: Yeah, I’d say that’s a safe bet.

  • “Children Need the Whole Truth About America”

Comment: Because the “whole truth’ about America is so clear and settled. Translation: “Children need to be indoctrinated  before they have the critical thinking to analyze the complexities of their nation themselves.”

  • “The Pandemic Erased Two Decades of Progress in Math and Reading”

Comment: Not the pandemic. The disastrous, incompetent, ill-considered, destructive and quite possibly politically motivated lock-down in response to the pandemic. Lest we forget…

 

 

 

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The Drudge Report’s Lying Headline, And Related Attacks On The USA On Independence Day 2022

I wanted to keep all of today’s posts positive and appropriately celebratory of the official birthday of the greatest country on earth. It’s impossible, unless I just pretend “it isn’t what it is” out there, and I am distraught.

Let’s start with the shock headline that bannered the Drudge Report last night. Here is what it looked like:

GALLUP SHOCK: ONLY 38% PROUD TO BE AMERICAN

The information is pure clickbait of the worst kind. The headline on the linked Gallup article is “Record-Low 38% Extremely Proud to Be American” (my emphasis). The piece goes on to say that an additional 27% were “very” proud to be Americans, making the “extremely/very proud” number 65%. In fact, only 4% of those surveyed said they were not proud to be Americans.

I found that part of the poll surprising. Not surprisingly, Democrats lead the not-very-proud group, and since the party’s entire thrust recently has been to try to transform the nation into a European-style socialist nanny state while denigrating the U.S. as racist to its core. I would have expected the un-proud, as in “ashamed,” to be much higher. Continue reading

Evening Ethics Illumination, 1/9/22: “Mister We Could Use A Man Like Thomas Paine Again…”

On this date in 1776, writer Thomas Paine published his pamphlet “Common Sense,” making his arguments in favor of American independence from England, thereby uniting a scattering of dissatisfaction into a movement. Only a few publications in our history have had such a profound effect on public opinion; another was “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Paine’s most ringing assertion may have been this one:

“Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.”

Common sense today is in short supply. A sharp, clear explication and reaffirmation of core American values without the tarnish of partisan politics would be a godsend. But among a public in which a minority could even identify who Thomas Paine was, who would understand it?

1. I wonder if it’s even necessary to finish the post on the hypocrisy of Democratic propaganda about a threat to democracy when this kind of thing keeps happening…GovernorJay Inslee of Washington state called on lawmakers to pass legislation making it a gross misdemeanor for some to “spread lies”about election results. Naturally, he called this suppression of opinion and free speech necessary to protect democracy. Inslee spoke against what he called “a continuing coup” by former President Donald Trump. Wait, don’t we need a law criminalizing false claims of “coups”?

Part of the Democratic strategy to keep power is to use the criminal system to muzzle opinions and positions it doesn’t like. Robert Kennedy Jr. wants to punish “climate change deniers.” Many progressives want to punish vaccine skeptics (a group that includes Robert Kennedy Jr.!), and Democratic allies in social media and Big Tech have been increasingly brazen about banning conservatives, replacing the “more speech” remedy the Bill of Rights set out for dubious opinions with “no speech.”

Would it be fair to conclude that Inslee is an ignoramus? Not only have state laws making it a crime for a candidate for office to lie been declared unconstitutional (because they are,) the Supreme Court case U.S. v. Alvarez,  struck down the Stolen Valor Act, protecting a man who falsely claimed that he had received the Medal of Honor, declared that lying speech was still protected speech. Then there’s the little problem of deciding what is a lie and what is just dumb opinion, like, say, suggesting that a state could ban lying about elections.

If Inslee isn’t ignorant about his nation’s Constitution, then he is grandstanding, equating opinions with crimes to rile up the under-educated and the nascent totalitarians who his party has been courting for so long.

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

banned

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!

nightterrors-orig-crop

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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