Late-Starting Week Ethics Warm-Up, 9/3/2019: Why We Have Fake News

A post-Labor Day mess in San Francisco…

Good morning!

1. Why we have fake news, Part A: “Journalists just make stuff up.” From the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

A survey of American Jews showed continued disapproval of President Donald Trump, with anti-Semitism high and Israel low on the priority list for Jewish voters. The survey, conducted for a liberal-leaning Jewish organization, the Jewish Electorate Institute, by Greenberg Research, which does polling for Democratic candidates, showed 71 percent of likely Jewish-American voters disapprove of Trump and 29 percent approve, commensurate with polling since Trump’s election…The survey released Wednesday of 1,000 Jewish voters nationally was taken between May 6 and 12, and is consistent with past polling of a constituency that leans strongly Democratic…The poll showed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favorable/unfavorable score as 45/38. Netanyahu used to score high approval among American Jews, but his sustained clashes with Obama on Palestinian and Iran policy, and his closeness to Trump appear to have eroded American Jewish support.

Gallup:

….Our aggregate from January through August of this year shows a 29% Trump job approval rating among Jews, with 69% disapproval….

Now here’s ABC News Chief Political Analyst Matthew Dowd on Twitter:

Dowd is just citing statistic pulled out of the air, apparently. How can anyone trust these people? Continue reading

Mid-Labor Day Weekend Ethics Barbecue, 9/1/2019: Good Quotes, Bad Quotes, And Someone To Avoid Forever

Boy, it seems like everyone’s on strike this week. I can actually see tumbleweeds rolling across the Ethics Alarms traffic stats…

1. Ethics quote of the weekend: Former GOP House member Trey Gowdy, on the astounding gall of James Comey (and Rep Adam Schiff, who apparently lacks the embarrassment gene) to call on Gowdy to apologize for his criticism of Comey’s unquestionably unethical conduct, after it had been thoroughly confirmed by the recent Inspector General’s report.  Comey even said Gowdy “defamed” him, an inexcusable hyperbole for a lawyer—even he knows better. Gowdy said,

“I never said Comey would or should go to jail. I’m certainly not going to apologize to anyone who violated FBI and Department of Justice policy, who violated an employment agreement, who shared sensitive information about an ongoing investigation, who sent classified information to an unauthorized person and then had amnesia when the FBI came to his home to try to retrieve government property…I will give him a piece of unsolicited advice: You should aspire to more in life than simply skating by without having been indicted.”

Bingo!

2.  What is the proper societal response to this horrible, horrible human being? Because it was her last day on the job and she had given her two weeks notice, Donna Reneau, a 911 operator, decided she would take out all of her grudges and frustrations on emergency callers she didn’t know and was obligated to assist. After all, what could her employers do, fire her?

So, when a flash flood swept away  Debbie Stevens’ car, with her in it, a week ago in  Fort Smith, Arkansas and she desperately called 911, instead of the trained professional she needed,  she reached Reneau, suddenly an avenging operator from Hell.

“Please help me, I don’t want to die!”, Stevens pleads at the start of the  22 minute recorded call. “I can’t swim! I’m scared! I’m going to drown!” Reneau reponded by telling the terrified woman that rescuers would “get there when they get there,” and even told her to  “shut up” as Reneau’s hysteria grew.

As the water began filling Stevens’ SUV and she cried, “I’m scared! I’ve never had anything happen to me like this before,” the 911 operator jeered. “Well this will teach you, next time don’t drive in the water,! I don’t see how you didn’t see it, you had to go right over it…”

When police were finally able to reach the swamped car, Debbie Stevens was dead, drowned. Fort Smith Interim Police Chief Danny Baker, in a statement, acknowledged public outrage but said  Reneau had not  broken any laws nor “violated policy.” THAT’S got to be a mistake, unless the policy in Fort Smith is to razz citizens in crisis.

Now the question is what should be done with, to, and about Reneau. Her performance on the recording is signature significance: nobody behaves like that who is fit for human association. She can’t be trusted as an employee, a neighbor, a colleague or a friend. She lacks empathy and decency; if she isn’t a psychopath or a sociopath, she’s too close for comfort. I don’t want her in my cul de sac…do you? I don’t want her associated with my city, or anything related to me, and that’s how every resident of Fort Smith should feel…and behave toward her accordingly.

And if, because she can’t find a job and no one wants her in their establishment or business—there is no law preventing discrimination against individual blights on society—she ends up living in a shack somewhere in the Okefenokee Swamp with the company of  snakes and leeches,  if they’ll have her—GOOD.

Be on the look-out! Here she is…

Reneau had her chance at living with civilized Americans, and blew it. [Pointer: Reg Fife. Keep those ethics story tips coming, everybody!] Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The ‘I’m Baaaack!’ Edition” [Item #3]

I’m still not ready to post the COTD from the Battle of the Ethics Alarms Stars in the recent open forum, but that will be up tomorrow. This comment by Greg involves the ongoing news media effort to spin and bury the Inspector General’s report yesterday explaining what an untrustworthy disgrace to the FBI James Comey was.

I like Greg’s comment for three reasons: it is concise and well-written, it is about one of the most important topics here, which is how the news media has abandoned integrity and responsible reporting for propaganda and efforts to manipulate public opinion,  and because it saved me a post, since I had been preparing to write a similar essay after reading and listening to the usual media suspects.

I will say up front that Greg’s last sentence is too pessimistic. Abe was right, as I know I say too many times: you can’t fool all of the people all the time. The news media is destroying its own credibility even with those who are naive, lazy and gullible. It keeps doing this—burying stories that the pubic has a right to know but that undermine the media’s narrative, what Joe Biden and the Democrats regard as “the truth” that doesn’t  rely on facts, and little by little even its most stubborn defenders (those who aren’t corrupt) are figuring out that they have been conned. Right now I’m thinking of a lamented Ethics Alarms exile who accused me of “drinking the Kool-Aid” before he left. He’s biased, and he was gullible, but he’s not an idiot, not by any means. He knows he was wrong, and I was right by now. Sadly, he apparently doesn’t have fortitude to come crawling back with the apology he owes me. Well, that’s his tragedy.

Here is Greg’s Comment of the Day on Item #3 of the post, “Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The “I’m Baaaack!” Edition.”

The frustrating thing, though, is that most of the public has been misinformed and deceived about the Inspector General’s report. Comey immediately claimed the report had cleared him, on the grounds that it said he did not leak “classified” information. You know and I know that nobody had ever accused Comey of leaking national security secrets, so the report had “cleared” him of an accusation that had never been made, while finding him guilty of all of the accusations that had actually been made. But most people have no idea about this.

For a few minutes after the report came out, MSNBC, CNN and the other usual suspects played it straight: they admitted that the report was damning of Comey. But then they immediately fell into line: The IG had “cleared” Comey of leaking classified information but “criticized” him for “violating departmental policy.” It had “criticized” him, “scolded” him and “reprimanded” him; but it had “failed to vindicate” Trump and had “contradicted Trump’s accusations.” The IG’s report “found that no crimes were committed” and “acknowledged that Comey was candid with investigators.” It contained “nothing new that hasn’t been known for two years.” And, of course, Republicans have “pounced” on the report to make a “power grab.” The New York Times editorialized that the report was “boring,” while criticizing the IG for making a fuss about nothing. The Washington Post editorialized that “Comey saved democracy with his memos.” Continue reading

Labor Day Weekend Kick-Off Ethics Warm-Up: The “I’m Baaaack!” Edition

Excellent work in the Open Forum, everybody.

Thank-you.

As it happened, there would have been no way I could have written a post yesterday, except after I arrived home following a 6 hour drive from New Jersey following my three-hour seminar. At the point, however, my IQ had fallen below Joe Biden levels, so it would have been unethical for me to opine or analyze anything. I’m slightly better now, at the Kamala Harris level and rising, so I’m going to get right back on the metaphorical horse.

I hate missing a day like that, mostly because it puts me behind in covering the ethics news, but also because I view Ethics Alarms as a commitment to the loyal readers who come here.

1. Well this is good news…The College Board is dropping its proposed “adversity score” from the SAT. The ill-considered device, which Ethics Alarms metaphorically spat at here, would have assigned a score based on the socioeconomic background of each student, artificially raising his or her score based on socioeconomic circumstances.

Of course, this was an unusually transparent ploy to facilitate race-based college admissions .As I wrote in May,

This is a cynical and dishonest device to give cover to colleges and universities as they try to base their admissions on race and ethnicity while avoiding legal prohibitions on discrimination based on race and ethnicity. That is all it is, and exactly what it is.

2. And MORE good news! A new Rasmussen Reports survey shows that most voters believe the average journalist is liberal, and few are conservative. Moreover, a majority believe it is appropriate for politicians to criticize reporters and hold them to the same scrutiny as those they cover.

Of course  it is. For more than three years, we have been hearing that President Trump’s condemnations of the news media and specific news organizations and journalists represent a threat to the freedom of the press and democracy. For those same three years, the Ethics Alarms position has been that while the President’s rhetoric and tone is often irresponsible, the threat to democracy is being created by a mainstream media journalistic establishment that is no longer interested in being fair or objective, not by criticism of this dangerous trend.

The survey analysis found that 61% of likely U.S. voters believe reporters at major news organizations are public figures who deserve critical scrutiny of their conduct and biases.  Only 61%? 19% directly disagree with that contention. How  can they disagree? What would give journalist the unique right to be immune from criticism of bias, competence, and abuse of power? Elected officials are not immune, nor are scholars, artists, lawyers or judges. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: PBS Host Christiane Amanpour, Or “Why The Hell Is The Government Funding A Journalist Who Hasn’t Figured Out The First Amendment Yet?”

PBS journalist Christiane Amanpour, not to bias you against her or anything but merely to remind you who this pompous blight on American journalism is, once defended biased journalism, saying,

“There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”

——Christiane Amanpour in 1996, responding to critics who called her reporting on the Bosnian War biased.

Then there was this Amanpour quote, after Benjamin Netanyahu correctly objected to the Obama Administration’s deal with Iran… Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/13/19: Walking Through The Ethics Woods On A Snowy Evening

Good evening!

1. Pro tip for James Comey: appealing to the Cognitive Dissonance Scale is the tactic of a scoundrel. Also an idiot. Comey, responding to one of President Trump’s anti-Comey tweets—it doesn’t matter which–responded yesterday,

It takes only a rudimentary knowledge of world history to recognize how many absolute villains, psychopaths and sociopaths could and would make that statement. Vlad Tepes (aka “Dracula,”), feared foe of the Turks. Joseph Stalin, enemy of Hitler. Hitler, enemy of Stalin. Comey and President Trump are both equally loathed by Hillary Clinton: puzzle that out.

How did someone with Comey’s character deficits last as long as he did, and what damage did he do over that time that we don’t know about? The mind boggles.

2. And speaking of mind-boggling: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Apparently not capable of figuring out that her problem is her own big mouth and some serious critical thinking issues, the irrepressible Congresswoman from New York is playing the pity AND the victim cards simultaneously. Unfortunately, as is her wont, she also inadvertently played the “unqualified to be in Congress because she never read the bill of Rights” card. “When does nonstop criticism of me by the Daily Caller rise to the level of ‘harassment’?” she tweeted plaintively.

Of course, as any reasonably well-educated 6th grader should be able to explain, the answer is “never,” or perhaps, “Never, you idiot,” even if the frequent criticism wasn’t warranted, which it obviously is.

3. Political Hot Stove suggestion. This is the time between baseball season known as the “Hot Stove League,” where baseball fans concentrate on free agent signings and trades, real, hoped for, or imagined. Here’s one involving politics: the Republicans should offer to trade Steve King (R-Iowa) to the Democrats for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. The problem is that even the Democrats aren’t stupid enough to take the bait. King is a long-running disgrace and embarrassment, the embodiment of what the news media and Democrats want the public to think every Republican and conservative is really like. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/24/18: Democratic Censorship, Republican Idiocy, Trump Tweets And Baseball Ethics

Good Morning!

1. Good norms, bad norms, good President, bad President…Good: the announcement that the President is “considering” terminating the security clearances of former Obama officials John Brennan, Jim Clapper, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Michael Hayden, and Susan Rice. Well, mostly good; the message that the President is “looking into it” feels suspiciously like a “Shut up or else” threat. The President should just pull the clearances immediately.

How many of you never realized that people like Comey and Brennan kept their clearances after leaving their jobs? I didn’t, and what a dumb and irresponsible rule that is. Apparently Senator Rand Paul sparked the move by tweeting that Brennan’s ridiculous “treason” accusation warranted a loss of clearance. I’d go further: the demonstrable determination of all of the named former official to assist “the resistance” and oppose the policies and very existence of the Trump administration makes ending their access to classified information mandatory.

If someone has a non-partisan, reasonable argument why the President shouldn’t just do this immediately, I’d love to hear it, especially as it applies to Comey and McCabe, who were fired.

Unequivocally bad, as in irresponsible, incompetent, undignified, unprofessional  and self-destructive, was Trump’s all-caps tweet threatening Iran after another one of that nation’s “mother of all wars” statements. Diplomacy by tweet is per se ridiculous and reckless, so saber-rattling by tweet is obviously worse. If there is a serious message to be sent, then the President should send it formally and in a professional manner. Since all-caps communications are annoying and offensive no matter where they appear, they are doubly so coming from a nation’s leadership. There is no way to interpret that Trump tweet in a way that is complimentary to the President.

2. This is one more reason my wife just told a GOP Congressional Committee fund-raising caller to never darken our phone-lines again: I really thought this story was a hoax, but unfortunately it is not. In the second episode of Showtime’s Who Is America?, Sacha Baron Cohen’s unethical “let’s humiliate people Democrats don’t like by tricking them” TV show, Cohen persuaded Jason Spencer, a Republican state representative from Georgia who apparently has the IQ of a sea sponge, to pull down his pants and scream “Nigger!” on camera.

Georgians must be so proud.

Cohen claimed to be an Israeli terrorism expert named Col. Erran Morad, and recruited Spencer for a training video on how elected officials can protect themselves from terrorists. Cohen as Morad asked Spencer to act like a Chinese tourist in order to take selfie-stick photos up a suspected terrorist’s burka, so he did.  Cohen asked  Spencer to scream the “N-word” because using the “forbidden” word would help ward off terrorists, so the idiot legislator did, and with alarming gusto. (Then Baron Cohen said, “Are you crazy? The ‘N-word’ is “noony,” not this word, this word is disgusting!”)  Morad told Spencer that terrorists are so afraid of gay people that they think they will become homosexual if you touch them with  bare buttocks, so Spencer obediently took off his pants and pressed his hindquarters against his Israeli trainer, shouting, “‘Murica!”

Not surprisingly, there are calls for Spencer to resign; he has already lost his primary. Of course he should resign; an idiot like him should never have been allowed to run as a Republican in the first place, nor should such dolts have won an election, and he won two. What Cohen does is unethical, but it does have its compensations. Spencer, for his part, whined that “It is clear the makers of this film intended to deceive me in an attempt to undermine the American conservative political movement.”

No, you irredeemable fool, idiots like you undermine the American conservative political movement, and always have. Continue reading