Tag Archives: ignorance

Comment Of The Day: “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured Crisis: The Comey Firing Freakout”

With so much loose talk about impeachment going around (and by “loose” I mean “inexcusably ignorant”), texagg04’s review of the Constitutional standard for the removal of a President is a gift to readers of Ethics Alarms, and one of the most interesting and informative comments ever to appear here.

He was reacting to a New York Times op-ed, cited by another commenter,  by political scientist Greg Weiner (no relation) titled, “Impeachment’s Political Heart,” in which the author concluded,

“The question is by what standards they should conduct this work, and that question provides an opportunity to correct the mistaken assumption according to which presidents can forfeit the public trust only by committing what the law recognizes as a crime. That is a poor bar for a mature republic to set. It is not the one a newborn republic established. And that is why the idea that the conversation about impeachment is simply a political persecution of a man who is technically innocent of a literal crime not only jumps the investigatory gun. It misses the constitutional point.”

Having studied the issue myself, I immediately rejected Weiner’s analysis (which still is worth reading in its entirety) on the ground that a constantly evolving standard of what is a “high crime and misdemeanor” simply means that Presidents can be impeached for behaving, or governing, in ways that enough members of Congress, the news media and the public don’t like. That is what is being advocated now, and that approach would undermine our democracy, the power of elections, and the office of the President.

My gut response, however, is wan and insubstantial compared to tex’s masterful historical review and astute analysis, which (whew!) reaches a similar conclusion.

Here is texagg04’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the post, “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout”…I’ll have one brief comment afterwards:

[Weiner] is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

He’s right in nothing but that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

Continue reading

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Filed under Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Research and Scholarship

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Former Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz

“If it was a polite request saying, ‘Oh, you know, he’s a good guy, Flynn, I wish you’d back off this thing,’ that’s not an obstruction of justice. If it was a command, it would raise stronger problems.”

—Retired Harvard law professor , Constitutional scholar, lawyer, liberal and CNN commentator Alan Dershowitz, trying to explain to MSNBC what “obstruction of justice” means.

I’ve never been a Dershowitz fan, but when the List of Shame is complied after the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck has finally ground to a halt, he’ll be on another list: the one containing those who maintained their integrity.

He needn’t have bothered: the news media/Democratic Party/ “resistance'” collective has already labelled James Comey’s so far only rumored “memo” recounting that the President asked the then-FBI Director, in a private meeting in February, to close the FBI investigation of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, proof of criminal motives and acts.

The New York Times learned of the memo from two people who claim they had read it. One of them read part of the memo to a Times journalist.  According to these unnamed sources’ description of the memo, Trump told Comey, “I hope you can let this go” in a meeting that took place the day after Flynn was forced to resign.

“I hope you can let this go” would be consistent with what Dershowitz, no Trump supporter but apparently yet to be infected with the integrity- and logic-destoying anti-Trump virus, accurately described as “not an obstruction of justice.”

The Times, however, a card-carrying member of the “overturn the election” cabal—we know this because it stated last August that defeating Trump justified tossing journalism ethics into the trash, and because since the election, its pages have from the book reviews to the op-ed pages have been filled anti-Trump propaganda—called Trump’s reported request “the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation” into links between Trump associates and Russia. This must mean that there is no evidence, at all, since saying “I hope you can let this go” is barely influence at all.

The news of the alleged memo was breathlessly hailed by the “Can we impeach him now?” fanatics, including some readers of this blog who should know better and once did, as a “bombshell.” As Alan Dershowitz dispassionately points out, and as I have in the comment threads, it’s no bombshell. This is not  remarkable observation; a New York Times contributor was even allowed to agree with Dershowitz. (The Times can’t completely commit to the lynch mob, for then its efforts to aid and abet would be less valuable. It’s quite a tightrope these people are walking….). Constitutional law prof Elizabeth Price Foley wrote, Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

From The “Stop Making Me Defend Donald Trump” Files: The President’s Civil War Musings

It took Dan Rather to force me into this quagmire.

As you may have heard by now, the President was being interviewed and the topic of Andrew Jackson came up, the great, flawed, fascinating man who was the first populist President and who reshaped the Presidency and the American political system. Donald Trump quite logically identifies with Jackson, and if he can show half the governing skill and leadership abilities of Old Hickory, the U.S. will be ever in his debt. at one point, Trump said…

As we have seen again and again, if Donald Trump said that the sky was blue, pundits and journalist would erupt with indignation and mockery about the statement, because everyone knows that the sky isn’t blue, it just looks blue. This is the Left and “the resistance” telegraphing their complete abandonment of fairness, good will and proportion regarding the President of the United States. It is transparent, it is intellectually dishonest, and it is now boring and annoying, since it began more than  a year ago. In this case, talking heads who know virtually nothing about Andrew Jackson were screaming on CNN about how “stupid” Trump’s statement was. At The Washington Post,  Aaron Blake wrote in his essay, “Trump’s totally bizarre claim about avoiding the Civil War”:

Historians with more academic experience than Trump have indeed asked this question about the Civil War often… It’s generally assumed that a deal to avert the Civil War would have included concessions to Southern states having to do with their right to own slaves — the central dispute of the Civil War. Is Trump saying he would have been okay with a more partial or gradual phasing out of slavery? Was there really a deal to be cut on that front? Or does he think Jackson, a slave owner himself, would have convinced the South to abandon slavery immediately, somehow?

Ann Althouse nailed this one: if Trump’s question about the Civil War is so “bizarre,” how come historians have asked the question “often”?

The simple and ugly answer is to much of  Left and the news media,  what Trump says is presumptively stupid or sinister, even if others saying the exact same thing would be ruled reasonable and benign. (See: Loyalty Day)

But I am so tired of this game. Until a friend posted an attack on Trump’s statement by Dan Rather, I had decided to let this round pass. After Dan’s ignorant and biased take, I couldn’t stay on the sidelines.

He wrote on Facebook, the only forum regularly available to him because no legitimate news organization would sully its credibility by having a journalist who tried to influence a Presidential election by representing a forged document as authentic, and who still won’t admit that there was anything wrong with that…

I wanted to let this story go. I really did. I don’t want to be distracted from all the important things taking place. Where are we on the Russia investigation again?

But the sheer craziness of this obsession by Donald Trump with Andrew Jackson and the Civil War is a carnival act unlike anything I have ever seen at the White House. And not to let something drop, there is Mr. Trump on Twitter just recently pouring gasoline on the fires of his ignorance.

Never mind that Mr. Trump’s knowledge of American history seems below that of most gradeschoolers. Never mind that in many people’s view, Jackson is not exactly the kind of president, or man, you would want to hold up as an example. And never mind that there is an implicit criticism of arguably our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. (It reminds me of his slam against John McCain and how war heroes aren’t captured. Apparently great presidents don’t wage a war to keep the Union together).

These are the rantings of someone who really should be focused on the job of governing. Should we not conclude that he approaches policy decisions with the same half-baked conspiracies with which he apparently approaches history?

To be President of the United States is to part of the great American story. To not understand that story is to not understand the presidency. Maybe Frederick Douglass can give Mr. Trump some advice. Apparently, he’s “an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”

This is a post that demonstrates Rather’s ignorance and poor reasoning, not President Trump’s. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Incompetence Saturday Continues: Those News Stories About President Trump Claiming That Protesters Have No Right To Protest or Violated His Rights Are Fake News

Over 29,000 views, every one making the viewer more ignorant…

This is also cross-filed under “Bias makes you stupid,” a file (and tag) now stuffed to overflowing by the anti-Trump-obsessed, members of “the resistance,” and journalists—but I repeat myself—who are meticulously destroying their credibility and trustworthiness with every manufactured outrage. (For an amusing related video, look here.)

Over at Popehat, First Amendment specialist lawyer/blogger Ken White dutifully defends the President from incompetent and biased reporting, not for the first time, regarding Nwanguma v. Trump, the case pending in federal court in Kentucky where plaintiffs, protesters at a March 1, 2016 Trump rally in Louisville, claim that Trump incited his fans to assault them. Writes Ken, in a statement that echos what has been written on Ethics Alarms many, many times:

“It is not necessary to make things up to paint him as censorious and uninformed about free speech values. Yet here we are again.”

He goes on…

Previously I lawsplained that no, a federal judge didn’t rule that Trump had incited violence, and no, it’s very misleading to say that one of the allegedly violent rally-goers sued Trump for inciting him to violence.

Now, says Ken ruefully, we are seeing stories like this one in Politico, headlined,

Trump lawyer: ‘No right’ to protest at rallies

(The similar headline over my post comes from Charles Johnson, the blogger who exposed Dan Rather’s attempt to use a forged letter in a CBS News report, essentially ending Rather’s career as a legitimate journalist)

This, Ken explains, is untrue. This, Jack explains, is also fake news. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Seattle Seahawks Defensive End Michael Bennett

“Of course I think he’s been blackballed, obviously. Maybe the players agree that there’s a place for politics in sports, but I don’t think the teams, or the organization, or even the fans believe there’s a place for politics in sports. I think people want you to do your job and shut up — score a touchdown, dunk a basketball, hit a home run and call it a day. We’ll buy your jersey, and that’s it.”

—-Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett, speaking about the current fate of ex-NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who remains unsigned after spending much of last season refusing to stand for the National Anthem because the United States “oppresses black people and people of color.”  Bennett’s comments came during an event at the artsy social justice warrior hang-out Busboys and Poets in Washington, D.C.

It’s an admittedly perverse selection for the ethics quote designation, since Bennett meant the statement as criticism. He went on to say that he endorses professional athletes taking pubic stands on social issues to “inspire others” to engage in  mass action and demonstration. The 31-year-old defensive end, who makes about 10 million dollars a year, drew attention to himself in February when he opted out of an Israeli-government-sponsored trip to register his pro-Palestinian views, as if he actually knows enough the 80-year-old conflict to intelligently protest anything. This is about par for the course in the field of professional athlete off-the-field grandstanding.

Bennett was correct in his rueful description of the state of the culture, however. There is no place for politics in sport. Sport is entertainment, and fans follow sports to escape real world problems, not to be lectured on them by pseudo-educated celebrities with neither the training, skills or expertise to justify the giant megaphone celebrity affords them. Kaepernick’s stunt created a media circus around his struggling team, the San Francisco 49’ers, distracted its management fans and players, and cost the NFL viewers and advertising revenues. Since he was unable to articulate an intelligent rationale for his protest, it was also useless. Naturally, Kaepernick was cheered by the Left, and defended by many journalists as well as athletes who think their physical gifts should entitle them to social influence they don’t deserve. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Race, Rights, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

A Definitive Tome About Pit Bulls, Which The Breed Bigots Will Ignore, Naturally

“I’m just a dog, sitting in front of a human, asking him to love her.”

Among the posts on Ethics Alarms that still get comments regularly long after they were written is the 2015 designation of Dogsbite.org as an Unethical Website of the Month. That site is a pit bull hate nest, notable for its bad science, bad history, bad logic and hysteria. Even though the Ethics Alarms post and previous ones here explain in  detail why the propaganda on Dogsbite.org is wrong, makes so sense, is pure fearmongering  and does terrible harm, people keep writing in to Ethics Alarms, citing the same false statistics, the same debunked facts, and the same lies that too many municipalities have used to ban many dog breeds and mixes, essentially for looking like what people think are pit bulls. I don’t know that there is any other topic where the commenters are so immune to fairness and reason.

Well, other than the President, of course.

Now  award-winning journalist Bronwen Dickey has written  Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon , which just came out in paperback on April 4. Her goal was to take as objective and analytical look at the breed (and breeds) as possible, using genetic science, research, expert testimony and reliable data, neither sentimentalizing the dogs nor demonizing them. Dickey’s  conclusion, already obvious to anyone who has had prolonged or extensive contact with them: Pit bulls are just dogs.

The author was recently interviewed in New York Magazine, which couldn’t resist adding a misleading title to the feature: “How Both Sides of the Pit Bull Debate Get It Wrong.” Talk about false equivalency: one “side” believes the dogs are demonic killers that should be wiped off the face of the earth, and the other mistakenly says they were “Nanny dogs,” when they were just called “the Nanny Dog.” See? Both ides are wrong!

There are no sides. Pit bull phobics are driven by fear and ignorance, while those who understand dogs try to mitigate the harm their lies do to families and animals

Bronwen Dickey would be in the latter category. I note that she owns a pit bull. She knows what she’s writing about. The hysterics will say she’s biased.

Tidbits from the interview, in which she comments on some of her findings… Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Note To Bill Maher: Be Funny Or Be Accurate, Otherwise You’re Just Being A Divisive Asshole

Stop! Stop! You’re killing me!

I used to watch Bill Maher regularly during his Comedy Central days, before he decided he was such an insightful political pundit that he could afford to eschew comedy and just engage in full-time conservative and Republican smearing. On his HBO show Bill is only useful now to remind us of the ugliest tendencies of the Young Angry Left, as Maher will engage in such “comedy” as calling Sarah Palin a cunt, while his audience of fawning dim bulbs clap and bark like hyper-active seals. All Maher does is try to fan the flames of societal division and hate, and HBO is apparently satisfied with that, since there are enough progressive fans of societal division and hate that being funny isn’t deemed essential.  Maher’s weekly partyist ranting has even spawned imitators on other networks, like Samantha Bee and John Oliver. Both are funnier than Bill.

Still, millions of people see this poison and spread it around the internet, so I guess it’s past time to point out how Maher is either ignorant or determined to spread stupidity via confirmation bias. We can stipulate that he’s no longer funny, and seldom even attempts to be.

At the end of last week the latest episode of “Bill Foams At the Mouth” debuted, with the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch the primary object of Bill’s wrath, I mean “wit.”  He began with his monologue.

If anyone senses a joke, raise your hand.

“I don’t know why you’d be happy today. Today is a day Republicans are happy. They got their two favorite things — a right-wing asshole on the Supreme Court and Trump finally blowing some shit up.”

Please note:

  • Bill assumes that only one side of the political divide watches him. He’s right, but it’s not healthy for the culture, and he’s one of the reasons comedy and the arts now divide rather than unite us.
  • Maher calls a dedicated jurist and legal scholar an “asshole” simply because he’s conservative. This is bigotry. Denigrating, stereotyping and demonizing whole categories of people based on their priority of values is no different ethically from denigrating them based on their religion or ethnicity. It’s unfair, disrespectful, irresponsible and undemocratic.
  • Did you raise your hand? Maher, a professional comedian, gets laughs by using words like shit, asshole, and cunt. There was a guy I knew named Larry who did that quite successfully too.

Of course, we were in the 5th grade…

Then Maher, as usual, moved on to calling Republicans racists.

In 2013, 98 Republicans signed a letter saying bombing Syria in response to a chemical attack was unconstitutional without congressional authorization. But this is different because Obama was President then. That would have involved bombing while black, and you can’t — can’t do that.

In the wake of the embarrassment and the exposure of President Obama by President Trump’s decisive handling of an issue that his predecessor made into a trademark display of his weakness, fecklessness  and dithering, the desperate Obama Fan Club has virtually made Maher’s spin a talking point. Almost all media accounts bolstering their narrative leave out the actual sequence of events, which was… Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, U.S. Society