Shameless Clickbait Or Frightening Evidence Of Late Stage Trump Derangement…Or Both?

The post is The Death Of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Pushed Me To Join The Satanic Temple.” Once upon a time headlines like this were cause for mirth when they appeared in the old National Enquirer or the World Weekly News. I think the best headline I ever saw—yes, even better than “Headless Corpse Found In Topless Bar“— was “Boy, 6, Gives Birth to Sextuplets.”

Still, this one is pretty special. The author says she is a lawyer, and she is clearly a lunatic, yet not that far removed from about half of my Facebook friends. Here are some of her statements…

 I am not the type of person who would normally consider becoming a Satanist, but these are not normal times. 

Rationalization #28, The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”! And the reason these are not normal times is because of hysterics like her…

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/3/19: Morons, And More.

Good morning!

Still working on the appellee brief in my defense against the frivolous law suit by an angry banned Ethics Alarms commenter whose boo-boo I bruised. How do you write a professional, respectful, effective rebuttal of a 70 page brief that is basically nonsense? I know how to argue against a real good faith legal assertion–indeed, my enjoyment of brief-writing nearly got me stuck in the traditional practice of law. But “this is deranged crap that doesn’t constitute a valid appeal and that wastes the time of everyone involved” isn’t a professional response, just a fair one.

1. “You know…morons!” At least two people—I can’t find the link for the second one, but it was a child—were wounded when spent bullets shot into the air by New Year’s Eve celebrants fell back to earth and hit them. This happens every year. Why do people think shooting guns into the sky is safe? In WW II, my father had to promise a court martial for any soldier under his command who shot a weapon into the air.  This is basic Law of Gravity stuff, but it seems to elude an amazing number of gum owners. I’m only aware of one move that ever featured a death from a falling bullet: “The Mexican,” a failed 2001 Brad Pitt-Julia Roberts comedy.

2. “You know…morons!” (cont.) The Netflix horror hit “The Bird Box,” which involves a blindfolded Sandra Bullock leading her similarly burdened children on an odyssey to escape an apocalyptic threat that only strikes when it is seen, has spawned a web challenge in which people are encouraged to try doing everyday tasks wearing blindfolds. This prompted a warning from Netflix:

“Can’t believe I have to say this, but: PLEASE DO NOT HURT YOURSELVES WITH THIS BIRD BOX CHALLENGE. We don’t know how this started, and we appreciate the love, but Boy and Girl have just one wish for 2019 and it is that you not end up in the hospital due to memes.”

Boy and Girl are what Bullock’s character’s children are called, because she is so certain they are doomed that she doesn’t want to name them. I am tempted to say that anyone so stupid as to try this challenge should not be discouraged, because their demise will only benefit the rest of us. But that would be mean.

True, but mean.

3. Follow-Up…The Federalist has more on the unfolding Steele Dossier scandal. I do not see how any result of the Mueller investigation can hold up in court, no matter how much the mainstream news media spins it, with the degree of procedural irregularity and prosecutor misconduct we already know is behind it. Presumably this is why the focus has shifted to the extremely dubious theory that Trump violated election laws by paying off a sex partner, something he would have probably done whether he was running for office or not, and also a transaction that didn’t involve campaign funds. The media keeps reporting the latter as if it is an unquestioned crime (apparently because Michael Cohen was induced to plead guilty to it), but it just isn’t a crime, and I believe in the end that theory will be thrown out of court too. Continue reading

Scenes From The Ethics Apocalypse

In this morning’s warm-up, I refereed to the anti-Kavanaugh tantrum.  I’m watching the extended tantrum on TV right now.Look! Here are furious CNN Democratic operatives (that is, CNN’s reporters) proclaiming the collapse of civilization because a completely standard issue judicial conservative with strong credentials was nominated by the elected President and confirmed as the Constitution directs is intolerable because the Democratic Party’s unconscionable tactics of personal destruction didn’t work, and because the new cultural standard that a man is guilty if accused of sexual assault by a woman though she has no supporting evidence whatsoever, and that high school misconduct is more important than adult rectitude. (That’s not how they describe it, of course, but the reality of what was “going on here”) And there are angry protesters who haven’t read a single Kavanaugh opinion, but who are equally convinced that he is unqualified to be Supreme Court Justice and a “sexual predator.”

Boy, am I sick of writing about this stuff, and boy, am I depressed that so many people have had their minds and ethics reduced to a vile, smelly, infectious goo. I can’t compose any more essays right now without snapping and running amuck in the streets wielding a deadly frozen pork roll  and clubbing people to death. (I can’t find my Hank Aaron baseball bat.) So with your leave, I’m going to note some more recent points in this nightmare Seurat painting, occasionally commenting, sometimes leaving it to my readers’ abundant intelligence to figure out what’s wrong on their own. Here we go…I’ll stop either when my head explodes, or the Red Sox start playing the Yankees: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/27/17

GOOOD MORNING!

(he said through gritted teeth..)

1. I received a nice, polite e-mail from a new reader here who accused me of engaging exclusively in “partisan/political rants.” “Further,” he wrote,  “everything you say appears to be entirely one-sided (right/conservative/republican is good, left/liberal/democrat is bad).”

The man is an academic, so one might expect a little fairness and circumspection, but then, the man is an academic. His description is in factual opposition to the contents of the blog (I’m trying to think of the last Republican leader, conservative or otherwise, I designated as “good”), but I know from whence the impression arises: the fact that the entire American Left, along with its sycophants and familiars, the universities, show business and the news media, have gone completely off the ethics rails since November 8, 2016. I don’t know how else I am supposed to address that. It would have been nice, for balance’s sake, if a conservative cast of white actors in, say, a hit musical called “The Ray Coniff Story” had stepped out of character and harassed, say, Chuck Shumer, but this didn’t happen. If it had, I would have treated that breach of theater ethics exactly as I did the cast of Hamilton’s harassment of Mike Pence. (I would not, however, have been attacked for doing so by my theater colleagues, and no, I haven’t forgotten, and I’m not forgiving.)

If a GOP figure working for CNN as an analyst, say, Jeffrey Lord, had used his connections at the network to forward debate questions to Donald Trump and then lied about it when he was caught red-handed, I would have eagerly written about it in highly critical terms—but the Republicans didn’t cheat. Donna Brazile and the Democrats did. 

If Hillary Clinton had been elected President and Donald Trump and the Republicans formed an anti-democractic movement called “the resistance,” tried to use a single Federalist paper as a rationalization to change the rules of the election and then pressured performers not to allow the new President the privilege of a star-studded, up-beat inauguration to unify the nation, and if a large contingent of Republican Congressmen had boycotted the ceremony, saying that they did not consider Hillary as “legitimate President,” Ethics Alarms would have been unmatched in expressing its contempt and condemnation. If conservatives were trying to limit free speech according to what they considered “hateful,” a step toward dictatorship if there ever was one, I would be among the first to declare them a menace to society. They haven’t advocated such restrictions, however. Progressives have. The Mayor of Portland has called for a “hate speech’ ban. What party is he from? Howard Dean said that “hate speech” wasn’t protected. What party was he the Chair of? I forget. What was the party–there was just one— of the mayors who announced that citizens holding certain views should get out of town?

“Need I go on? I could, because the uniquely un-American, unfair and destructive conduct from Democrats, progressives and the anti-Trump deranged has continued unabated and without shame for 10 months now.  That’s not my fault, and I don’t take kindly to being criticized for doing my job in response to it. I have chronicled this as unethical, because it is spectacularly unethical, and remains the most significant ethics story of the past ten years, if not the 21st Century to date.

And the reluctance and refusal of educated and usually responsible liberals and Democrats to exhibit some courage and integrity and vigorously oppose this conduct as they should and have a duty as Americans to do—no, I am not impressed with the commenters here who protest, “Hey, I don’t approve of all of this! Don’t blame me!” as if they bear no responsibility—is the reason this execrable conduct continues. It is also why I have to keep writing about it.

2. I’m still awaiting the apologies and acknowledgement of my predictive abilities from all of my friends who chided me for suggesting that the Confederate flag and statuary-focused historical airbrushing mania would shoot down the slippery slope to threaten the Founders and more.  Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/12/17

Good Morning, everyone…

1. “Morning Joe” Scarborough went on “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert”-–where President Trump is officially referred to as Putin’s “cockholster”—and played to the anti-Trump audience by announcing that he was leaving the Republican Party as cheers rang out in Colbert’s echo chamber. More blatant pandering virtue-signaling and grandstanding would be hard to imagine.

Scarborough has followed up his short, undistinguished  career as a conservative GOP congressman by playing on-air conservative foil to his supposedly opposite-minded  co-host Mika Brzezinski on MSNBC while that network attacked Republicans on every show and all day long. In really, we have learned, he and Mika were sufficiently sympatico to be having a romantic affair while posing as journalists, meaning that the whole format was an act as well as an extended date. Scarborough was also complicit in helping Trump to the nomination of Joe’s alleged party by promoting him until he had nabbed the nomination. Once the Miracle of November 8, 2017 occurred, Joe made the obligatory U-Turn.

Never mind: I don’t care how Scarborough or anyone else registers; what matters is if they have the integrity to vote for the best candidate whatever party he or she represents. I do care that Scarborough used the smear that President Trump is a racist, and expressing to Colbert his disgust that GOP lawmakers, he claims, have refused to admonish Trump’s “racist” statements and election promises.  This is another sloppy chunk of the anti-Trump false narrative, and by resorting to it, Joe proves, not that he isn’t a Republican, but that he is a race-baiting character assassin.The evidence that the President is racist is elusive, but the smear is repeated among the resistance as truth so frequently that it has reached Big Lie status.

2. In February, the left-biased, Trump-reviling Huffington Post purported to list “16 Examples” of Trump “being a racist.” The whole campaign, his whole career,, with Democratic groups and activists repeating the slur for months, and this was what they could scrape up. (Spoiler: it’s pathetic…) Continue reading

Sexual Harassment, Victim Blaming, Toxic Corporate Cultures, President Trump’s Defense and Other Ethics Notes On Bill O’Reilly’s Fall (Part II))

The Ethics Alarms audit of the Bill O’Reilly canning by Fox (okay, technically it wasn’t a firing, but it was) continues…

9. One problem with the Left’s thinly veiled joy at getting O’Reilly is that it encourages the Right’s narrative that O’Reilly’s only crime was being conservative. Also not helping were President Trump’s interview statements about O’Reilly to the New York Times, in which he said in part,

“I think he’s a person I know well — he is a good person… I think he shouldn’t have settled; personally I think he shouldn’t have settled. Because you should have taken it all the way. I don’t think Bill did anything wrong.”

Stupid, stupid, stupid; irresponsible. Maybe two stupids and two irresponsibles. Do otherwise good people engage in sexual harassment? Of course: good people do bad things. But when a prominent individual says publicly that a sexual harasser is a good person, it sends a message that sexual harassment, like all abuse, doesn’t create a rebuttable presumption that someone is not a good person. Add to that Trump’s last statement, “I don’t think Bill did anything wrong,” and the toxic messaging is complete. Either that statement means that the President is, based on nothing, claiming that the allegations against O’Reilly are untrue, or worse, he is saying that there is nothing wrong with sexual harassment. Based on his infamous exchange with Bill Bush, there is good reason to believe that this is exactly what he means.

10. That interview, in turn, led inevitably to this fatuous and offensive article by conservative blogger Roger Simon. Sure, Roger, you dummy, O’Reilly did nothing wrong except support Donald Trump. Count the rationalizations in this piece of offal by one of the shimmering stars in the Pajama Media firmament of conservative thought-leaders.

The sad truth is the many conservatives—most?—really don’t think sexual harassment is a big deal. It is one of many ethics blind spots.

11. One conservative who lacks that blind spot—though she has lots of others—is Sarah Palin, who had this exchange yesterday with CNN’s Jake Tapper: Continue reading

Now THAT’S A Terrible Analogy…

Analogy

Daniel L. Byman, a Brookings Institute researcher, authored an article on the organization’s site that would be fun to dissect in its entirety, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep. I also have confidence that any half-objective reader can easily see through it without my assistance. Byman is determined to show that radical Islamic terrorism is nothing for U.S. citizens to get their panties in a bunch over, and like so much coming out of places like Brookings these days, his essay is part brief to absolve President Obama from all criticism. Byman also excels in torturing statistics to make his case, leading to the analogy in question:

“With this picture in mind, the challenges facing the United States [in dealing with terrorism] can be broken down into three issues. The first, of course, is the real risk to American lives and those of U.S. allies. In absolute terms, these are small in the United States and only slightly larger in Europe. The average American is more likely to be shot by an armed toddler than killed by a terrorist.”

I’ve had this quote stalled on a potential post list for a while, but the recent discussions here about argument fallacies revived it.

How many things are wrong with this analogy? Let’s see: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Wonkette Writer Rebecca Schoenkopf

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I can absolutely see Bill Clinton doing this (then, not now) and not even thinking of it as rape, but thinking of it as dominant, alpha sex. I can see a LOT of men doing that during that time period, before we started telling them in the ’80s, “hey, that is rape, do not do that.” I can see YOUR NICE GRANDPA doing that, back then…I think good men can rape, and be sorry, and not do it again. This is very bad feminism…To sum up, I think Bill Clinton could very well have raped Juanita Broaddrick; that it doesn’t make him an evil man, or irredeemable (I’m Catholic; we’re all forgiven, if we’re sorry, and Broaddrick says Bill Clinton personally called her up to apologize). It doesn’t even necessarily make him a bad feminist — you know, later, once he stops doing that.

  Rebecca Schoenkopf, writing in the progressive blog Wonkette, talking about Juanita Brodderick’s rape accusation against Bill Clinton

Broaddrick’s claims are back in the news, now that it was noticed that the Hillary Clinton website quietly pulled its statement about the victims of sexual assault having “the right to be believed,” Clinton’s jaw-dropping assertion—given her despicable role in silencing and discrediting Bill’s various victims—that Ethics Alarms discussed when it was first made.

I awoke to multiple rightish blogs, and Ann Althouse, who is dead center, going bonkers over this piece, and rightly so. My initial query is, why only right wing and moderate blogs? Is the left this corrupted by Bill and Hillary? (Okay, that’s rhetorical: the answer is “Damn right they are.”) When did it become progressive to argue that “good men can rape”?

I thought that was a misogynist pig position scrawled on the walls of a troglodyte’s cave.

Good men do NOT rape. Ever. Rape—do I really need to say this?—is signature significance. It was in the 80s, it was in the 60s, it has always been. If you rape (and if you defend rape), you’re not good, you’re not ethical, and you’re not trustworthy. And–do I really have to say THIS?–you’re not just a bad feminist, you’re a phony feminist. (By the by way, you gotcha-masters out there: I am not saying that there is anything wrong with a lawyer defending an accused rapist, like Hillary Clinton did. That is not defending rape itself.)

So why aren’t the indignant, politically correct, feminist, war-on-women-deriding left-leaning web sites, commentators and bloggers collectively retching at the Wonkette post? Explain that to me, someone. Explain why it isn’t evidence that integrity hasn’t died in their skulls, and is stinking up their ethics like a dead rat under the floor-boards. Continue reading

From The “What Were They Thinking?” Files, Corporate Section: The Lands’ End Gloria Steinem Debacle

"Wait...Gloria Steinem is political????"

“Wait…Gloria Steinem is political????”

Clothing retailer Land’s End lost its collective mind and chose Gloria Steinem as the first interview in the company’s “Legends Series,”a new feature in the Lands’ End’s catalog and website. What were they thinking? Steinem’s presence is inherently political. A company spotlighting her isn’t like a news medium interview: it looks like an endorsement. This is an election year. Not only is Steinem divisive between men and women, pro- and anti-abortion activists, radical feminists and more traditional women, old feminists and new feminists, Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives, but even among Democrats and progressives. Steinem is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, after all.

I know what the company’s management  was thinking, if you can call it that. They thought this was a great way to attract the young female market, you know, like having more pink in the ad artwork, or mentioning “Twilight.”

So guess what happened. Land’s End was inundated with protests from customers who said they wouldn’t shop there any more. Did you guess? Sure you did. Why didn’t Land’s End? With all the relatively benign, non-controversial figures to profile, what dimwit in marketing chose Gloria Steinem? What lazy executives approved it? This is business incompetence writ Jupiter size.

Having made an astoundingly stupid mistake, Land’s End had no choice but to retrench, and pull the feature. This was unavoidable, and the right thing to do, as in competent. Political, partisan figures representing contentious social and political issues don’t belong in a merchandiser’s catalogue, unless that merchandiser wants to identify itself with ideological and political camps, like Ben and Jerry’s, and risk alienating a portion of its market. It especially doesn’t do this when an emotional issue like abortion is involved. Even Ben and Jerry haven’t come up with a flavor called Late-Term-A-Portion Peach, or Planned Parent-Good Peppermint, or Gosnell Gooseberry.

(Yet.)

Once the completely predictable push-back began, Land’s End management had an ethical duty to its stockholders to try to stem a disaster of its own making. In a prepared statement, a company spokesperson said,

“We greatly respect and appreciate the passion people have for our brand. It was never our intention to raise a divisive political or religious issue, so when some of our customers saw a recent promotion that way, we heard them. We sincerely apologize for any offense.”

If the company really chose Gloria Steinem as its first “legend” and had no intention to raise “divisive political or religious issues,” I’d sell that Land’s End stock if I were you, because the company is managed by Barbary Apes. Was Kim Davis going to be its next legend? Would it be similarly shocked if its gay and thinking customers found offense with that? Oh, probably. Next up: Dan Savage, then Pat Robertson, and maybe Trayvon Martin’s mother. “What? Controversial? We had no idea!” Continue reading

Whatever The Huffington Post Thinks It’s Doing, It Isn’t Ethical

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I no longer check the Huffington Post for stories, and this latest example of its unprofessional and unethical culture is a perfect example why.

Having earlier beclowned itself by unilaterally deciding that Donald Trump did not warrant serious coverage as presidential candidate despite the fact —nauseating though it is—that he is a serious candidate and is having a massive and undeniable effect on the race, the news and opinion website now has decreed that every future story about The Donald will henceforth have appended to it the following legend:

“Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

My post about the ethics vacuum displayed by the previous anti-Trump policy (which Huffpo eventually had to retract) applies with equal force to this one:

“The Huffington Post has just given us one of the worst examples of the modern news media’s abandonment of professionalism and ethics for partisan favoritism, but a refreshingly open one. Usually the biased news media doesn’t announce its unethical manipulation of what we get to hear and see.”

I must conclude that even that tongue in cheek faint praise was excessively gentle. The only way Arianna Huffington could think this well-poisoning label is anything but outrageous is if she couldn’t pick a journalism ethics code out of a line-up of baseball cards and movie posters. Since the Huffington Post, by doing this, has intentionally or not proclaimed to the world that it rejects the minimal levels of restraint, fairness, objectivity and professionalism  that necessarily accompany the description “responsible and trustworthy news media,” what is it? Indeed, what the hell is it? Continue reading