Observations On The Hunter Biden Emails Ethics Train Wreck

train wreck - b

That’s democracy falling over…

  • Lawyer/blogger Ken White, in his new incarnation of Popehat, has a useful, informative but misguided post about the misunderstanding of the law as it applied to Twitter and Facebook manipulating the news to push Joe Biden over the finish line. Yes, it’s true: there is nothing illegal or unconstitutional about the social media platforms choosing to censor communications they don’t like, even if its objective is to “rig”—in President Trump’s term—the election. It is still, however, wrong. Ken is usually a bit more nuanced in recognizing the critical law vs ethics problem. Okay, I got it” members of Congress and conservative pundits arguing that Section 230 requires social media platforms to be fair and unbiased are wrong. They, are, however 100% right that the current conduct of those platforms threatens to undermine democracy. You can’t, as one of the links White points readers to does, call Section 230 “the internet’s First Amendment” and then complain that politicians think the law ought to prevent partisan censorship.

Boy, I sure hope Trump Derangement hasn’t gotten Ken too…

  • Imagine if the Hillary Clinton server story was buried by the news media the way it is trying to run out the clock on the Joe Biden/Hunter Biden influence peddling story. That tells you just how far the news media has deteriorated in four years (and also how much more certain journalists were that Hillary would win no matter what they reported).

I’ll wait to see what kind of coverage the story gets on the CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox Sunday shows, but even if it is adequately covered, those programs have a relatively select viewership. By past standards, the Hunter Biden emails should be front page, above the fold material, and yet only a conservative New York City tabloid and its ilk are making it so.

And one more time, this should not be pigeon-holed as a “conservative” lament. All Americans of any ideological persuasion should fear and loathe the news media trying to slam its heavy fist on the electoral scales this way. Why don’t they? Are that many citizens really willing to see elections “rigged” if their favorite party wins? If so, theRepublic is lost no matter what happens in 2020.

Continue reading

The Amy Coney Barrett Hysteria, PART 2

Part I is here.

More on this disturbing (but not  surprising) unethical phenomenon:

  • The Return of Anti-Catholic Bigotry. Who saw this coming? In 1960, the attacks on John Fitzgerald Kennedy for his Catholic faith were considered—by Democrats!—the equivalent of Cro-Magnon-level bias. Founded substantially by Protestants, the U.S. once viewed Catholic immigrants from Ireland, Italy and Spain with suspicion. Historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. wrote that anti-Catholicism was “the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people.”

Funny, I thought the election of JFK finished that particular bias off for good. Nobody talked about religion as an issue when Bobby Kennedy ran, or in connection with Ted Kennedy. Other than the Kennedys, how many even know that these announced candidates for the President in the past were Catholics: Eugene McCarthy, Edmund Muskie, Jerry Brown, Bruce Babbitt, Patrick Buchanan, Tom Harkin, Alan Keyes, John Kerry, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich , Rick Santorum, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Bill de Blasio , Julián Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Beto O’Rourke…aaaaand Joe Biden.

Nobody cared, cares, or  should care. Yet in the New York Times, regular cop-ed writer Elizabeth Bruenig endorses anti-Catholic bigotry as a tool to block Barrett using  weasel words, saying attacks on Barrett based on her religion attacks may “not be entirely baseless.”  Why the shift? Why, it’s because Barrett must be stopped by “any means necessary,” and Democrats and progressives are willing to abandon any principle in that pursuit.

Incidentally, there are already a majority of Catholics on the Court: five, with Sonia Sotomayor, Chief Justice John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh all being raised in the Church. There were nine Catholic Justices before them, including liberal icon William Brennan, and conservative icon Antonin Scalia. Their faith was not an issue in either of their confirmation hearings. Continue reading

The Amy Coney Barrett Hysteria, PART I

We knew that whenever it was that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had to be replaced (and those of us who have not completely forgotten the immutable rules of mortaliy were not shocked when this occurred sooner rather than later) we knew that the Left would freak OUT. That they—by “they” I mean Democrats, “the resistance,” the Trump Deranged, pro-abortion fanatics, feminist ideologues and the substantial segment of social media that can be counted upon to react like the cattle in “City Slickers” when Billy Crystal turns in his battery-powered coffee grinder—would freak out quite this embarrassingly, however, I did not foresee.

This is only because I am an idiot, of course. The way the left has reacted and is reacting to Donald Trump’s election should have prepared me. Surely the despicable way they treated Brett Kavanaugh should have prepared me. It’s just that I find it hard—maybe I should say “painful”— to believe that one whole side of the political spectrum is capable of it all.

Need I mention that metaphorically running around screaming nonsense with one’s hair on fire is unethical? It is irresponsible citizenship, it is neither competent nor prudent, and it upsets the less-intelligent members of the herd, and it is wildly unfair to Judge Barrett.

Let’s just stick with that proposition, and concentrate primarily on examples that are res ipsa loquitur, meaning in this case that if you have to be told why some things are nuts, then you’re nuts too.

  • Senator Gillibrand’s tweet:

The fact that this outrageous statement is not out of character for the Junior Senator from New York doesn’t make it any more tolerable. The statement itself is another iteration of The Big Lie. Of course Barrett is qualified for the Court. Her former colleagues say so, the ABA says so, and and the current membership of the Court itself says so, since there are more than one Justice whose qualifications upon being confirmed were considerably less impressive.

Gillibrand represents the dangerous brand of anti-democratic thought her party is now peddling, albeit more openly and flagrantly than most of her compatriots, who are smarter than she is. That false principle is that only those who bow to Leftist cant are “qualified” to have any influence, legitimacy or power at all. Continue reading

Big Lie #4 Has Never Looked So Desperate…

“Repeat after me: Our riots are all Trump’s fault! It’s all Trump’s fault! He’s a raaaacist! A raaacist!”

As noted here more than once last week, Democrat/”resistance”/mainstream news media (The AUC) attacks on President Trump are becoming more shrill and desperate, and I expect them to keep getting more so as November approaches. They really appear to be going with the “The riots that have taken place overwhelmingly in Democrat-run cities having been organized by Black Lives Matter (a Democratic party endorsed group) and inflamed by the antifa (an anti-Trump domestic terrorist group) after being provoked by police-involved incidents in those Democratic Party-run cities are President Trump’s fault!” They really are. Well, good luck with that! It’s an all-in bet that the American public is made up of morons.

I’ll take that bet, and so will Abe Lincoln.

The panic and hysteria—it turns out that those polls showing Joe Biden winning by a lap despite his many problems weren’t so solid after all! ARGHHHHHH!—has caused, naturally, a stamped to the Big Lie store, the inventory of which is listed here.

Portland’s Mayor Ted Wheeler grabbed himself an armful of  Big Lie #4: “Trump Is A Racist/White Supremacist,”  the first and one of the most popular,  unconscionable and predictable of the Big Lies (and it is a lie, as explained in detail at the link above). Then he revealed just how ridiculous he is yesterday, saying in part as he attempted to blame his own city’s riots on the President,

“President Trump, for four years, we’ve had to live with you and your racist attacks on black people, we learned early about your sexist attitudes towards women,We’ve had to endure clips of you mocking a disabled man. We’ve had to listen to your anti-democratic attacks on journalists. We’ve read your tweets slamming private citizens to the point of receiving death threats. And we’ve listened to your attacks on immigrants. We’ve listened to you label Mexicans — rapists. We’ve heard you say that John McCain wasn’t a hero because he was a prisoner of war. And now you’re attacking Democratic mayors and the very institutions of democracy that have served this nation well since its founding. Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It’s you who have created the hate and the division. President Trump, you bring no peace. You bring no respect to our democracy. You, Mr. President, need to do your job as the leader of this nation. I, Mr. President, will do my job as the mayor of this city. We will both be held accountable as we should. I’m calling out every other elected official in Oregon to join me. Not only in defeating racism but helping me to stop the violence as we are and will continue to be held accountable by all of our residents.”

I hate being blunt and vulgar, but what an asshole! Continue reading

Continued…From The Ethics Alarms Mailbag: “What’s Your Reaction To Various Ethics Controversies, Including The Use Of The White House, During The Republican National Convention?” Part 2: The First Family And “Government Functions”

The question of whether the just-completed GOP convention breached ethics rules or principles as many are claiming is multi-faceted. In the first section of this three-part  post, I considered the ugly facet of the event’s many Hatch Act violations. The rest is more equivocal.

B. The First Family

No doubt about it, President Trump’s family set a record for speaking time at a national party convention. For Trump-haters—and this really is what we’re talking about in this section and nothing else—the display was nauseating. One of the inquirers  pronounced this “Royal Family” behavior, and even suggested a dark conspiracy to pave the way for more Trumps at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Talking Point Alert! The “All Trump Hate All The Time” New York Magazine called the parade of Trump children the kind of “dynastic overkill that only this President would dare flaunt.” Well, only one previous President had the opportunity to approach this one by using so many adult children as flacks, and he chose to pass: George H.W. Bush. Then again, he lost.

I wouldn’t cross the street to hear any of the President’s family speak, but the claim that there is something unethical about putting them on the program is just about as perfect an example of Trump Derangement as you could find. Trump is an old guy, and leads the Presidential historical field in adult, politically active children. His kids, and his son in-law, are attractive, poised, and experienced. Chelsea Clinton spoke in support of her mother at the 2016 Democratic National Convention: if there was any criticism of her appearance as unethical, I missed it—and she was not the first offspring of a President or Presidential candidate to have a speaking slot. So what’s the alleged ethical breach here? It appears to be the “it’s unethical to have more than an unspecified number of Presidential children speak at a convention when you’re Donald Trump” rule. Continue reading

Censorship, Indoctrination And Intimidation Watch, Part 2

In Part I, I discussed an example of an individual being fired for his expression of an unpopular political opinion on a personal platform. As I mentioned there, this is a recent phenomenon of great concern to Constitutional Law Professor Jonathan Turley. as expressed on his blog and elsewhere, such as his recent testimony in the Senate about the erosion of free speech and academic freedom in  universities . The Ethics Alarms post was originally supposed to highlight examples of this ominous phenomenon highlighted by Turley, and then events overcame both Turley and Ethics Alarms, as another egregious example  arose that Turley hadn’t yet covered.

Since I offered Part I, Turley’s assault on institutions intimidating individuals based on the content of their speech continued. Here, he objected to Dartmouth’s faculty and student body attempting to silence the Dartmouth Review, and independent campus newspaper that has been a voice from the Right on the liberal campus for decades. He wrote in part,

[O]ver 1000 students and faculty members have signed a letter to the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to disassociate the school from the conservative student newspaper, the Dartmouth Review. The letter accuses the newspaper of “hateful ideologies” and “racist” columns, including one cited column objecting to the careless use of the word “racist.” … [T]he reason stated by the organizers to move against the newspaper [was] in part because of a recent controversy involving an alumni who resigned from Fox News…the organizers admit that they decided to move against the newspaper as a way to responding to the controversy surrounding the resignation of a Fox producer with Tucker Carlson. Blake Neff is a 2013 graduate of Dartmouth and Review alumni. He was found to have written a series of bigoted anonymous comments.

…. [T]he idea of the letter to force the Board to prove its antiracism by attacking the newspaper, which had no role in Neff’s misconduct:  “We thought, how can the senior leadership of Dartmouth, President Hanlon and the trustees write this letter to every member of the community, and then continue in silent complicity with a publication that since its inception has consistently been an incubator of racist hate and white supremacy?”

…The failure [to] actively target the newspaper is now viewed as de facto tolerance for racism even after the school issued a letter proclaiming its support for Black Lives Matter.

…As a blog committed to free speech issues, the concern over this controversy is obvious. There are routinely over-heated rhetoric in college newspapers including many reckless statements from faculty and students on the left. We have defended many of those speakers and writers.  However, the first response of many Dartmouth graduates to the Neff story was to seek to attack the leading conservative newspaper on campus in part for its prior association with Neff.

… What is being lost in such moves is the diversity of thought on campus…. they are seeking to pressure the university to marginalize students who want to participate in these debates from a conservative viewpoint.

Continue reading

“Now What?” #2, But No Quiz. Just NOW WHAT?

I admit—perhaps you could tell?—I was very irritated at the former commenters here who treated me like I was Alex Jones because early on it became clear to me that the Russian Collusion coup attempt was a partisan plot, carried out by entrenched members of federal law enforcement agencies in the U.S., enabled by the Democratic party, and perhaps even Barack Obama. I remain very troubled by that experience, and am waiting for one—just one would be satisfying—to come back and have the courage and decency to write, “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to believe it. You were right.”

I have a couple of candidates who might show such integrity, and I still have hope. I will not, however, hold my breath,

I have been reluctant to write about the obvious (it seems to me) conclusions recent declassified documents point to regarding Obama’s overt and sinister efforts to undermine the Trump administration and seed the beginnings of the collusion narrative before the President had even been sworn in. The fact is, I have neither the time nor the skill to follow all those breadcrumbs and be a reliable analyst—at least not reliable enough. I have been waiting for a thorough investigation to be launched by a news organization, like the Post did on Watergate, or the Indianapolis Star did to expose the Larry Nasser/ Michigan State/U.S. Women’s Gymnastics scandal. Those things win Pulitzer prizes and enhance reputations, don’t they? Why hasn’t there been a thorough, published indictment of Obama’s perfidy? Wouldn’t there be, if the evidence is what it seems to be? Maybe I’m wrong.

It is suspicious, I have to say, how the major mainstream media outlets have been almost silent on the clear indications that Obama and Biden met with various Justice Department and FBI personnel and discussed how to “get” Michael Flynn. For one thing, the notes taken by Peter Strzok tell us that Joe Biden is lying. Don’t they care? Isn’t  that important? Doesn’t democracy die in darkness? Oh, the Daily Caller and the Federalist and other “conservative” news organizations have written about it, but you know, they’re conservative. It’s all lies The claims are being fabricated by “Trumpers.”

The reactions of my Facebook friends tell me what the wider reaction would be to my connecting the dots publicly. These people are supposed to be my friends, and it is astounding how vicious—and irrational–most of them are any time I, or anyone though few now are so audacious, challenges “resistance” Big Lies and the “likes”-fertilized cant that metastasizes in their cyber-bubble.  I’ve just about reached my limit, in fact. Some of these people really are friends, or I thought they were, and they are acting like, to be crude, assholes. I’m about ready to de-friend about 400 of them, including some relatives. Not only are they being crummy friends, they are bad citizens too.

Which is much worse.

I have a measure of sympathy, I suppose,  because they are being misled by propaganda and the news media’s complete corruption, and are reacting to the natural human impulse to be with the “in-crowd,” like gang members and “mean girls.” But just a measure, and I’m about out. These people are smart; I don’t have many dumb friends—some, more than I thought, definitely, but not a lot.

They should be ashamed of themselves. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 7/19/2020: And The Hits Just Keep On Coming!

1. Final plug, as the bat above (and in my hands) reminds me: If you are set up with Zoom (it’s free, you know), you still have time to register for the Smithsonian Associates program  tomorrow evening (at 6:45 pm, EST) wherein I hold forth on how baseball has influenced American culture, values and history. Yes, it’s $35 bucks, but it goes to a good cause, and may help the Institute hire more competent employees who don’t peddle junk like the chart on “whiteness.” You’ll be able to ask questions, and I’m storing these experiences for the Ethics Alarms Zoom experience to come. Read all about it here…

2. If a left-wing dim bulb like Jonathan Chait can figure this out, surely more are to follow. He writes in New York Magazine…you know, where Andrew Sullivan was regarded as too conservative?

The ideology of the racism-training industry …collapses all identity into racial categories. “It is crucial for white people to acknowledge and recognize our collective racial experience,” writes [ Robin DiAngelo, of temporary White Fragility” fame,] whose teachings often encourage the formation of racial affinity groups. The program does not allow any end point for the process of racial consciousness. Racism is not a problem white people need to overcome in order to see people who look different as fully human — it is totalizing and inescapable. Of course, DiAngelo’s whites-only groups are not dreamed up in the same spirit as David Duke’s. The problem is that, at some point, the extremes begin to functionally resemble each other despite their mutual antipathy…. In some cases its ideas literally replicate anti-Black racism.”

Ya think??? Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Jonathan Turley

“The sordid history of White House pardons makes this commutation look positively chaste in comparison.”

—-George Washington University Law School Professor Jonathan Turley, responding to the wildly exaggerated indignation of pundits and Democrats over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s sentence.

Turley, who is always courtly and, for my tastes, excessively restrained even when pulling apart the most irresponsible positions, was clearly irritated by CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, a grand hack, who declared that the commutation was “the most corrupt and cronyistic act in perhaps all of recent history” (“cronyistic”?) and  Senator Mitt Romney’s characterization of it as “unprecedented, historic corruption.”

Turley took to The Hill to give Toobin, who should know better, and Romney, who was just exercising his Trump-bashing muscles without concern for such trivialities as facts, a lesson in American Presidential history, saving me the time and trouble: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/22/2020: Let’s Stop Moping Around! Get Up! Get Out! Attack The Day! [Now With Leonard Bernstein!]

 

Update: I decided we needed a less pokey version, so now we have Leonard Bernstein’s, and the whole thing. THAT should cheer you up…

Boy, am I sick of everyone telling me how depressed they are.

1. Translation: “I’m an idiot.”  Now Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is saying  that the city will close the so-called “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone.” It turned out to be exactly what anyone with any sense predicted it would be, with three shootings so far and a rape, along with a leader ( war lord?) who had the gall to complain when the Seattle EMTs didn’t immediately respond when shots rang out. The mayor  had said that the anarchist outpost would lead to a “summer of love,” marking her as a Sixties-romanticizing dolt, but now she says she was obviously joking-–yes, the Joke Excuse. She never said it was “in jest” before the completely predictable violence broke out.

I apologize for not highlighting her as an Incompetent Elected Official of the Month, but she was competing with Bill De Blasio.

2. Fearmongering. It should be apparent by now that the news media does not want the country to re-open, does not want the economy to begin recovering before the election, and is pushing its anti-reopening goal through fearmongering, in part by focusing on isolated cases of individuals getting hit by the Wuhan virus particularly hard.

This morning HLN kept repeating a long feature about a thirtyish Broadway star who has been disabled by the virus for 80 days, and another man not in a high-risk group who has been suffering for 100 days. The Times and the Washington Post are full of apocalyptic reports about the number of cases rising. Another news outlet said, “The U.S. reported more than 33,000 new coronavirus cases on Saturday – the highest total since May 1 – while the surge of infections in several states is outpacing growth in coronavirus testing.”  ARRRGH! We;re DOOOMED!

One commentator called this “needless” frightening the public. Wrong. It is  needed because it is a part of the ongoing effort to defeat President Trump.

The Centers for Disease Control predicted that cases would increase as the country reopened, not that it has much credibility at this point. Remember? The lock down was never intended to stop the spread of the disease, but to slow it down,  flatten the curve, stock up on supplies, fix the CDC’s testing botch, and find treatments. That was mostly accomplished. The nation cannot continue to let the economy deteriorate: depressions kill people too.

Meanwhile, the death rate is declining even as the number of cases spike, and there’s a reason for that. In all outbreaks, a disease claims the most vulnerable first. This is known as Farr’s Law, named after William Farr,  a British epidemiologist and early statistician  who recognized the importance of death statistics and identifying causation. Not only has the current epidemic claimed many of the most vulnerable in the U.S., thanks in great part to the catastrophic decision of states like New York to send infected seniors to nursing homes, millions of Americans have antibodies.

The combination means that even if there are lots of new cases going forward, the death toll is likely to be far less severe than it has been. Do not hold your breath waiting for the media to explain this.

Just for fun,  check and see how many news organizations have mentioned Farr’s Law. Continue reading