Inauguration Day Ethics Warm-Up, 1/20/2021: Welcome And Good Luck, President Biden!

Biden P

1. Too late! Fox News fired Chris Stirewalt yesterday. He is the veteran politics editor who was the prime onscreen face of the supposedly conservative-tilting network’s election night projections that Joseph Biden . had defeated President Trump in Arizona. Arnon Mishkin, a long-time Democratic Party pollster, was Fox News decision desk chief for the 2020 presidential election. He called the state of Arizona and its 11 electoral votes for Joe Biden at 11:20 p.m. Eastern time on election night, not long after the polls closed. Fox news anchor Bill Hemmer, standing at the Fox News election map, expressed surprise. “What is happening here? Why is Arizona blue?” he asked. “Did we just call it? Did we just make a call in Arizona?”

Stirewalt quickly came onscreen to defend the network’s decision, explaining that vote margins were too great in Arizona for the Republican candidate to overcome. He assured viewers that “We’re going to be careful, cautious, and earnest,” adding that “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do and we remain serene and pristine. He dismissed voter fraud claims, “Lawsuits, schmawsuits — we haven’t seen any evidence yet that there’s anything wrong.” Mishkin also came on camera later to defend the call. I found him supercilious and obnoxious.

Reflecting on the decision to fire Stirewalt, the usual media suspects are pointing out that in the end, Fox’s call was correct. That’s pure moral luck. Fox News was the first news outlet to call Arizona for Biden, anmd when your brand is the news network that balances the hard progressive, Democratic, anti-Trump bias of 95% of the news media, that’s a stupid unforced error. Stirewalt has to be aware of the company’s brand and best interests. Why jump the gun to call a state Trump probably needed to win? Furthermore, Stirewalt’s “Arizona is doing just what we expected it to do” sounded like spin, because it was. The polls, including Fox’s, had already been proven wildly off, and the voting “expectations” were based on polling.

It would not have cost Fox anything to wait to call Arizona, especially since networks declaring winners in states is subjective, unnecessary, and arguably manipulative. Regular Fox viewers were alienated, and this was predictable. President Trump denounced the networkand urged supporters to watch Newsmax and One America News instead. He should not have done that, but it was also predictable. Stirewalt was substantially responsible for losing Fox News viewers and revenue, and accomplished nothing.

He deserved to be fired. I would have fired him too.

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Unethical Tweet Of The Month—But Funny!: The Biden Transition Team

Biden tw

Huh.

What am I missing here? Biden promised last week,

Biden Promise

Now, I could be wrong, but when you give “priority” to some groups of Americans over others, that doesn’t seem like being a President “for” all Americans to me. That sounds like bias, favoritism, and discrimination.

I know: objecting to white, male second class citizenship makes you a sexist white supremacist, but I just can’t reconcile these two tweets. Can you?

All facetiousness aside, I think this is hilarious. The Democrats don’t even think they have to try to make sense, be consistent or not blatantly lie. The arrogance is magnificent. They really think everyone is stupid. They need to read more Greek tragedy. Hubris kills, and the joke will very likely be on them.

Pelosi’s Unconscionable “Snap Impeachment,” Part II: If This Happens, It Will Be Time To Release A Real “Kraken,” And I Hope I Can Help Feed Pelosi To It…[Corrected]

clash-of-the-titans-2010-kraken

Plan T, the apparent plan to impeach President Trump for a crime he clearly did not commit, is arguably the worse of the various AUC-contrived removal plots, because it will do the most damage by far. Even the actual impeachment, the ridiculous Plan S, had little long-term effect, and the Democrats abandoned it even as a campaign issue. Even they didn’t take it seriously: like so much of the rest, it was just one more way to denigrate, obstruct and weaken the leader of their own nation. It was part of strategy, that’s all. As I wrote in Part I, this is different in kind:

Plan T must be recognized for what it is: an act of pure hate and vengeance, and a deliberate, calculated insult to Trump’s supporters as well as those citizens who believe that that their government should not behave like third-world failed state.

I admit it: I am angry about this, and if it occurs, I will not forget it or forgive it—and I do not consider myself one of the Trump supporters being ostentatiously slapped in the face. I am angry because this is not how the United States of America behaves towards its leaders. I know readers here are sick of me saying this, but I will say it again because it is true: the nation owes respect and debt of gratitude to every President of the United States, without exception, when they leave office, and that respect should continue to the end of their days, and throughout our history. That’s right, every single one of them, the skilled and less-than-skilled, the competent and incompetent, the best and the worst of them, Andrew Johnson as well as Lincoln, Nixon as well as Eisenhower, the Bushes as well as Reagan, Hoover as well as FDR, Carter, Clinton, Obama, and yes, Donald Trump.

The job was always a killing one and a near impossible, one, and it has only become more difficult and unpleasant. Taking the job is an act of patriotism, and enduring it is an act of courage and character. No President has been treated as atrociously by so much of the public, the opposing party, his own party and the news media as Donald Trump, and it is remarkable that he accomplished as mach as he did under continuous attack. Nearly every other President has been accorded a “honeymoon,” the occasional benefit of the doubt, the opportunity to just play the head of state and accept the pomp, ceremony and traditional acclaim that comes with it. Not President Trump. He was not permitted a peaceful inauguration, nor respectful audiences in Congress to his State of the Union messages, nor the pleasure of throwing out the first ball in the baseball season, nor the host role in the Kennedy Center Honors, nor even an invitation to attend state funerals. Yet President Trump buggered on, as Winston Churchill said, doing his best to try to fulfill his promises and do what in his view was in the best interests of America.

He has been kicked virtually every day of his four years in office, and now his repulsive, vindictive, thuggish foes want to kick him as he goes out the door.

The effort to lay lat weeks riot at the Capitol at Trump’s feet is too cynical and false to be tolerated. Professor Turley had a succinct summary of how disingenuous that is in his recent column in the Hill:

We have had four years of violent protests, including the attacks on federal buildings, members of Congress, and symbols of our democracy. Former Attorney General William Barr was heavily criticized for clearing Lafayette Square last year after protesters injured numerous law enforcement officers, were injured themselves, burned a historic building, caused property damage, and threatened to breach the White House grounds. There were violent riots during the inauguration of Donald Trump and a lethal assault on some Republican lawmakers playing softball. Indeed, this year started as last year ended, with attacks on federal buildings in Portland and other cities.

It is beyond hypocritical for the same people and party that largely encouraged, enables and rationalized these and more to now pretend to be shocked, call a single, particularly stupid and pointless riot at the Capitol a “threat to Democracy,” and to attempt to impeach the President for his role in it, which consisted of endorsing a Constitutionally protected protest. The true threat to Democracy has been ongoing for four years, and it was called “the resistance.” I find it hard to believe that the American people will accept such a transparent and Orwellian distortion of reality, but I know that I won’t.

If the Congress wants to censure President Trump or some other symbolic gesture, fine. As I have written here, it was inappropriate for the President to be challenging the validity of his defeat, even more so than it was for Hillary Clinton to challenge the validity of her defeat, by Trump. Doing so was, in sequence, predictable, irresponsible, dangerous, in many ways justified, and completely in character. I would not object to an official precedent being established holding that no matter how close or dubious an election is, challenges to the results must not be pronounced in public, by POTUS.

Impeachment on this basis, however, is pure lawlessness. Here’s Turley again in another column (this is his specialty, after all). The emphasis is mine:

“..Democrats are seeking to remove Trump on the basis of his remarks to supporters before the rioting at the Capitol. Like others, I condemned those remarks as he gave them, calling them reckless and wrong. I also opposed the challenges to electoral votes in Congress. But his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.

When I testified in the impeachment hearings of Trump and Bill Clinton, I noted that an article of impeachment does not have to be based on any clear crime but that Congress has looked to the criminal code to weigh impeachment offenses. For this controversy now, any such comparison would dispel claims of criminal incitement. Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots. But he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to raise their opposition to the certification of electoral votes and to back the recent challenges made by a few members of Congress. Trump told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.”….

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Ethics Alarms Ethics Check: Did Joe Biden Call Ted Cruz And Josh Hawley “Nazis”? [Revised]

Big Lie

I don’t do factchecks, I do ethics checks. Both GOP Senators Ted Cruz and and Josh Hawley have leaped on a Joe Biden attack and said that the President Elect called them “Nazis.” Many conservative pundits and websites have similarly accused Biden of the ultimate “otherizing.”

Biden did not call Cruz and Hawley Nazis.

He told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe is God,

“They should be just flat beaten the next time they run. The American public has a real good, clear look at who they are. They’re part of the big lie.Goebbels and the great lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

Because Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler defined the Big Lie tactic–that’s what Biden is referring to when he says “Goebbels and the great lie”— and though they authored one of the biggest Big Lies of all time, saying that a politician or a political party is using the Big Lie tactic cannot be the equivalent of calling that politician Hitler, Goebbels, or a Nazi. The reason is that long before the two Nazi propaganda experts mastered the Big Lie, it had been used extensively for centuries, and it has been used ever since often with great effectiveness, always unethically, by parties and politicians who could not possibly be called Nazis in their beliefs, policies, values or methods. The Big Lie is now a standard political weapon. The idea is to make a public assertion that is so horrifying and outlandish that the public demands that it be denied by its target, and argued about. The genius of the Big Lie tactic is that forcing the argument itself gives the Big Lie credibility. The approach of simply ignoring Big Lies and saying by word or action, “That doesn’t even justify a rebuttal, and I won’t dignify it with one” usually doesn’t work.

I swear, the first example of this that jumped into my head was Harry Reid’s intentional slur during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the previous decade. When asked about his Big Lie after the election, Reid answered, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The Big Lie tactic is all about the ends justifying the means.

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On Revenge, Tit-For-Tat And The Biden Presidency

tit for tat

I would really like to accept the Biden Presidency as I have accepted every Presidency in my life so far, and without giving away secrets, there have been a lot of them. You see, I really believe what Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton lectured Donald Trump about when they were certain Hillary would win the 2016 election. I believe that the American public, no matter who each individual voter may have favored, ought to welcome the newly elected President with hope and good will, pronounce the past irrelevant, and pledge to do whatever is necessary to make the incoming administration successful. In other words, every American should behave exactly as Democrats (including Hillary and Nancy), progressives, the resistance, numerous professional groups and the vast majority of the news media did not behave when President Trump was elected.

Why do I believe this? As I have said so many times I am sick of me, I believe this because that response is the only way republics can survive, and because that is how this republic has survived and thrived since the Civil War. If you would peruse the Ethics Alarms posts on the topic and related ones since November 2016, as I viewed the impending Presidency of Donald Trump with the approximate enthusiasm of one diagnosed with genital warts, one message was consistent: we break this tradition at great risk. If the Axis of Unethical Conduct (I didn’t call them that for a while, but that’s the alliance that was responsible–-the resistance, Democrats, and the news media) devotes itself to savaging and undermining the nation’s duly elected President by any means necessary, it-they will guarantee a cycle in which political warfare, which once was de-escalated every four years, will be a constant, making cooperation, unity, and competent government impossible.

Is Joe Biden “my” President? Sure he is. I’m an American, and our system made him President. Do I want him to succeed? Sure I do. Failed Presidencies are bad for all Americans, the nation and the world. If Joe Biden asked me to take on a project, a job or an assignment, would I say yes? Unless I found the substance of what I was asked to do objectively unconscionable, yes I would.

However, it is clear as day now that there is no way Democrats and progressives can avoid the consequences of their shattering the norm that once gave Presidents a “honeymoon” and that guaranteed every President-Elect overwhelming public support simply by his stepping into the metaphorical shoes of Washington and Lincoln. Could there have been a way? The manner in which Biden and his supporters have handled the transition so far would have killed any wisp of a chance if there were one, and I doubt there ever was. The “now that we’ve regained power by breaking the rules, we hope everyone will go back to following them again for the good of the country” routine is too insulting and cynical to generate anything but resentment.

Still, what f Joe had come out in November and said,

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Afternoon Ethics Breather, 12/11/2020: Train Wreck Free Zone, Because I Need A Break

Dog-vacation

1. Sorry, but there was and is no excuse.. The New Yorker reports that Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) is in serious cognitive decline:

[M]any others familiar with Feinstein’s situation describe her as seriously struggling, and say it has been evident for several years. Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have. They describe Feinstein as forgetting what she has said and getting upset when she can’t keep up. One aide to another senator described what he called a “Kabuki” meeting in which Feinstein’s staff tried to steer her through a proposed piece of legislation that she protested was “just words” which “make no sense.” Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable. “The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide who still has business in Congress said. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

Well gee, what a surprise. Ethics Alarms criticized the Senator for having the hubris and not showing proper responsible conduct in 2018, when she ran for re-election and another 6 year term at the age of 85. That was ridiculous, and it was foolish for her constituents to vote for her. Now they are stuck with a Senator who can’t do the job, and it is their fault, plus that of the Democratic Party and Feinstein herself. They all deserve what they get.

Particularly nauseating in the New Yorker story is this section:

“Some former Feinstein aides insist that rumors of her cognitive decline have been exaggerated, and that video clips taken out of context can make almost anyone look foolish. They also bridle at singling out her condition, because declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis. “For his last ten years, Strom Thurmond didn’t know if he was on foot or on horseback,” one former Senate aide told me.”

Is this the quality of thought on Capitol Hill? A single idiot making such an argument is too many: “Hey, don’t criticize us for having walking vegetables weilding the power of U.S. Senators:we should be able to do it becaise Republicans did it!”

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Ethics Warm-Up,12/10/2020, Even Though You’re Probably Warm Already From Your Head Exploding

head explosion

Gag me with a spoon. The Times this week published yet another dreamy, worshipful portrait of Barack Obama…

Obama yecchh

… along with the kind of journalistic fawning we became used to during his eight years of weak and feckless leadership:

A Promised Land” uses his improbable journey — from outsider to the White House and the first two years of his presidency — as a prism by which to explore some of the dynamics of change and renewal that have informed two and a half centuries of American history. It attests to Mr. Obama’s own storytelling powers and to his belief that, in these divided times, “storytelling and literature are more important than ever,” adding that “we need to explain to each other who we are and where we’re going.”

Has the Times ever published a single paragraph, much less an entire article, about the current President with such an admiring tone? Has anyone published a photo like that of President Trump, rather than one which made him look sinister, manic or brooding? I’m trying to think back and determine if any President has been as insufferably smug as Barack Obama, or acclaimed despite such a dearth of positive accomplishments. Clinton would be the closest in the first category, Kennedy in the latter.

1. Don’t encourage him. Donald Trump will be a disqualifying 78 years old when 2024 rolls around. He will have no business running for President at that age, but if trend hold, he will do it anyway, essentially playing Teddy Roosevelt in 1912 and letting his unrestrained ego wreck any chances the Republican might have of finding new leadership and defeating whoever the Democrats run. Trump will be back where he was in 2012 and 2016, running for President without any concern for the damage it may do.

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Rainy Monday Ethics, 11/30/2020: Statues, Dogs And Lies

Also getting me down, Karen Carpenter songs. As with great movies with O.J. Simpson or Gig Young in them, these are hard to enjoy now, at least for me. One of the most lovely natural voices in pop music history was silenced by the pernicious disease of anorexia, exacerbated by, among others, her brother, her family, and music industry executives, who made Carpenter so self-conscious about her weight and appearance that she slowly starved herself to death before her 33rd birthday. I wish I could hear her sing—and I will do that a lot in the days approaching Christmas—without thinking about that, but I can’t.

1. Proposition: any nation’s historical figures who had the impact on those nations that Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain over a significant period of time deserve to be memorialized with statues, absent some cataclysmic disqualifying act, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even in Nixon’s case, I would support a public memorial to such a historically influential figure.

In the English town of Grantham, where Thatcher grew up, an 11-foot pedestal awaits the arrival next year of a large statue of “the Iron Lady.” Apparently many in Britain, and a large proportion of Gratham’s working class residents, disapprove of Thatcher’s conservative politics and policies, and thus oppose the statue, which will be in immediate danger of toppling the minute it is erected.

Morons. One doesn’t have to personally agree with a historical figure’s position or even admire her to appreciate the impact that figure had. The criteria for memorializing prominent citizens should center on whether future generations need to know who they were and what they did, not whether their achievements and conduct are approved of according to often fleeting political, social and cultural values. Charles Moore, who wrote an authorized biography of Mrs. Thatcher, says, “It’s obvious there should be statues to Britain’s first woman prime minister. But…but…George Floyd! The New York Times’ article on the controversy says that statue toppling has become a world-wide phenomenon since the death of George Floyd. Now that makes sense: one of Great Britain’s most successful and important leaders should be robbed of her legitimate honors because a rogue cop accidentally contributed to the death of a black criminal in Minnesota.

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Early Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/8/2020: The 2020 Presidential Election Ethics Train Wreck Accelerates…

Train-Wreck air

The news media, Democrats and Trump-Haters—are there any Biden supporters, I wonder?—are behaving like—no other word will do— assholes to a degree that even I could not have imagined. They are doing so in such a flagrant matter that one has to ask if they all really are assholes, if they are this way permanently now, and if we can ever trust any of them again. Gloating, threatening, insulting and lying is not the way to heal the damage done to the nation (by them, primarily) over the last four years.

Do not send Ethics Alarms comments about how “this is no surprise.” Just cut that out. Writing that mitigates the offense. It is a surprise. It may have been predictable, but one has to be surprised at such despicable conduct by such a huge component of the population, or one just has to give up.

It’s unethical to give up.

1. I just blocked my first Twitter account, and it was that of the self-banned, former puckish Ethics Alarms commenter Jeff Field, known here as Fattymoon. Jeff was an enthusiastic member of Occupy Wall Street, meaning he was essentially an anarchist and thoroughly deluded, but he was treated well here. Then he went off to Medium to attack me and the blog by name. That’s fine. What’s not fine is the string of tweets he has sent out lately threatening me for daring to point out the same kinds of issues I’m covering in this post. That is signature significance for both an asshole and a totalitarian (anarchists are often totalitarians, as long as they see themselves in charge, and all totalitarians are assholes).

I really thought better of Jeff. I have never blocked anyone on Twitter; I object to it on principle, but I’m willing to be insulted—I know how to defend myself—but threats on social media are intolerable.

2. The news media cannot ethically refer to Joe Biden as “the President-elect.” He isn’t. That’s a fact. They didn’t call George W. Bush “President Elect” when Al Gore and Florida Democrats were searching high and low for any way to flip Florida into the Gore column in 2000, and at this point, the 2020 election is no more decided than that one was. It is a remarkable—and obviously unethical—exercise for the news media to declare Biden the winner and then use its own fake news to proclaim him President-elect. There are sufficient states with their vote totals in question, with recounts looming and lawsuits mounting, to wait. Waiting costs nothing; premature declarations and celebrations make the nation look ridiculous, because at this juncture, it is ridiculous.

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Early Morning Observations On Election 2020. So Far

Fox News Arizona

I got up at 4:30 am to scan the various news sources after going to bed at 1:30 am following a night of checking the incoming results online and on TV. Don’t expect eloquence….

Observations:

1. Chaos. This is why allowing main-in ballots was either galactically stupid or a deliberate effort to cause confusion and seed armed insurrection. The intent was so, so clear that I really don’t know what to make of those who supported it. Mail-in ballots create problems of security and chain of custody, unnecessarily delaying the determination of critical races, notably the Presidential election. The postal service is not reliable, as I can personally attest with all the checks from ProEthics clients that routinely arrive late, not at all, or end up at the wrong address. The fiasco, was, in turn, yet another creation of the politically motivated fearmongering over the Wuhan virus. It is not hard to vote “safely” in person while wearing masks and socially distancing. I never came close to touching or breathing on another person, or they on me, when I voted yesterday. The Left wants, and has always wanted, a less secure, effortless, commitment-free voting system which it believes helps low-information, easily-led voters to participate who couldn’t be bothered otherwise. (Next will be a push for online voting, once mail-in voting proves to be the catastrophe it was always sure to be.)

2. The narrative leading up to the election, that Biden had an insurmountable lead and that the President was certain to lose was false. Again, whether it was intentionally false to suppress pro-Trump votes, or just astounding incompetence, conformation bias and irresponsible reporting and polling at work, I don’t know (but I have my suspicions.) That narrative never made sense with all of the other factors involves…the nature of the Presidency, the behavior of Democrats since 2016, the disgrace of the news media, the pathetic Democratic ticket, the transparent dishonesty of blaming the President for the lock-down and pandemic deaths, the backdrop of the 2016 election, and more.

As I wrote here, over and over again.

That’s as close to “I told you so!” as I’m going to write, but you know, I do know some things. I’m not just sitting here pulling stuff out of the air. Have a little trust and faith. I think I’ve earned it.

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