Biden’s tweet would have been unconscionable even if it hadn’t quickly turned out that Smollett was a hate-crime faker, a liar, and racial division-mongering fool. Like his former boss Obama, Biden didn’t have the sense to keep his uninformed and biased opinions from interfering with the judicial system, and not to try to exploit alleged crimes, uncertain crimes and uninvestigated events, accounts and rumors to exacerbate suspicion, fear and hate.
Jussie Smollett hoax
Unethical Quote Of The Week, And Boy, Is It Stupid: “The View” Co-Host Sunny Hostin
“We want victims of hate crimes and any crime to be believed. And so I think that, you know, in a sense, that was a good thing, that they came out and said, ‘We believe you.’”
—Sunny Hostin, throwing in her contribution to “The View’s” desperate efforts to offer excuses and rationalization for convicted hate-crime fraud Jussie Smollett and the race-baiting Democrats and pundits that instantly believed his absurd story and blamed his “attack” on Donald Trump.
Hostin, incidentally, is a lawyer. A lawyer actually made an argument that devoid of logic. What does that tell us about the law school that graduated her (Notre Dame), the Justice Department that hired her (Clinton’s), and the news networks that employed her as an analyst (CNN, Fox News, Court TV and ABC). Is there a dumber statement that is even possible to make? “It’s a ‘good thing’ that an obviously made-up hate crime account was believed, because we want everyone to believe even fictional accusations, though doing so wastes money, take police away from investigating real crimes, and increases societal divisions and suspicion.” Brilliant!
All right, all right: I know calling ethics fouls on the blather that passes for debate on “The View” is like beefy ex-male swimmer winning races against life-time females. Nevertheless, people watch “The View,” get fed “logic” like Hostin’s, and become dumber and dumber, until next thing you know they’re voting for Kamala Harris for President. Responsible citizens don’t just need ethics alarms, they need idiot alarms. If you can’t hear a comment like Hostin’s and instantly know what she said was idiotic, you’re not an asset to a democracy. Continue reading
Morning Ethics Warm-Up: Hoaxes, Hoaxes Everywhere…
Still thinking about today’s “factcheck” post...I have noticed that Snopes, which has endured some scandals of late and is fundraising to stay afloat, has been trying to signal objectivity by choosing some anti-conservative, anti-Republican falsehood to “factcheck.” This one was amusing: Snopes felt it had to factcheck whether this obvious hoax Christmas card was genuine…
..writing, “In early December 2021, former U.S. President Donald Trump appeared in a Christmas card with a festive and quite phallic design. The image was shared heavily by left-leaning and anti-Trump social media accounts. The @duty2warn Twitter account claimed: ‘Yes, this is real.’” Of course, Snopes rules the assertion “False.” Only the most deranged of the deranged could think Trump would send out such a thing. Besides the badly photoshopped “phallic” tux, the card is dark, ugly, he’s scowling, the fonts don’t match, and the Santa sleigh drawing looks like a shower head spewing water on Trump’s head. Snopes’ partisan propaganda can’t work if nobody trusts it, so they have to try to throw in an occasional genuine factcheck that supports their usual targets now and then. Don’t be fooled.
1. On Bob Dole…Dole’s death and the (somewhat surprising) outpouring of praise from all sources for his long public service and wit made me retroactively happy and relieved that when I had a chance opportunity to pay Dole my respects, I acted. The story is here, from 2018. I will remember that encounter, and Dole, whenever the unexpected occasion arises to express personal thanks and appreciation to someone I don’t see very often. The lesson is to not hesitate, and do it.
2. There is hope…Jussie Smollett was convicted. Several commentators on Smollett’s ridiculously dishonest testimony in his fraud trial expressed worries that he would be acquitted, O.J.-style, because he is black and a celebrity. No, he was convicted, and pretty quickly too. Hate crime hoaxes are destructive, and if we are going to have special punishment for so-called hate crimes, then hate crime hoaxes should carry equivalent penalties.
Ethics Nosegay,2/14/20: A New Ethics Train Wreck For Happy Valentine’s Day!
Love to all!
What does the Easter Bunny sing on Valentine’s Day? Every bunny loves some bunny sometime…
1. Yes, I think the Roger Stone sentencing mess is an Ethics Train Wreck now. As usual, several cars have been reserved by the President, whose dumb tweeting raised the appearance of impropriety and fed his ravenous critics, who will read anything he does in the worst light possible. Good for AG Barr for saying that such public White House word-barfs make it difficult for Barr to do his job.
The President really and truly does not seem to understand how his own job works: if he makes it known what his personal policy desires are, that’s potentially going to influence policy-makers who are supposed to be independent. Why is this so hard to grasp? True, it would be beyond moronic, if the President wanted to interfere with Barr’s handling of the Stone matter, for him to use Twitter rather than to pick up the phone. Also true: Trump has done things equally dumb.
Do you think the President knows the story of Thomas Becket’s murder, triggered when King Henry II’s shouted out, to no one in particular, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Two knights decided to make King Henry happy, though they had received no orders. Imagine if President Obama had tweeted—we know he would have been smart enough to just have an aide whisper in Lois Lerner’s ear— “Boy, these tea party groups are a scam! How do they warrant non-profit status?” before the IRS scandal unfolded.
Nonetheless, as is usually buried in Trump Derangement Enabling articles like this one, there are no knights in this case who can do Trump’s wish-fulfillment. “Just as he used US government power to smear Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal, he succeeded in getting favorable treatment for a friend in the Stone case — though the final sentence will be up to a judge,” the CNN article reveals (let’s see) eight paragraphs in. Trump can stand on his head shouting “Free Stone!” through a megaphone; he has no leverage with the judge. Continue reading
Lunchtime Ethics Appetizer, 2/12/20: With Just Desserts!
In a perfect example of how avoiding bias can create bias, I am accumulating a backlog of genuine and valuable ethics stories that are triggered by or related to political developments, and deliberately talking myself out of posting them. As regular readers here know, this has been a problem since the beginning of the Trump administration, when the Democrats, the resistance and most of the media resolved to try to bring him down and cancel the election results with a campaign to delegitimize President’s Trump’s election. I regard this as one of the greatest ethics crises in U.S. history (another, running concurrently, is the near complete abdication of professional ethics by journalists), and I can’t ignore it. But doing my job, as repetitious as it seems, also means that I am reluctant to write about other political stories that I would have included otherwise, and often they involve important issues.
1. Which reminds me: One of the Washington Post’s most reliable anti-Trump columnists, Greg Sargent, issued an opinion piece that would be a strong entrant in a “Hypocrite of the Year” competition. Here’s the line that made my head explode: “Such delegitimization of the opposition strikes at the core of our system. Recognizing the opposition’s legitimacy is a key pillar of accountability in government…”
Astounding! Sargent’s ideologically compatible pals have been working overtime to deny the legitimacy of Trump’s election, from attacking the Electoral College to claiming a Russian conspiracy, encouraging and cheering “Not my President!” demonstrations, manufacturing impeachable offenses out of thin air, and turning such once-neutral and unifying events as the Inauguration, the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House Correspondents Dinner—and more recently, a State of the Union address where the speaker of the House, on camera, symbolically rejected the legitimacy of the speech by ripping it up on live TV——into opportunities to directly challenge this President’s right to be in office and to be accorded the same respect and civility of his predecessors. If anyone who has been part of this assault, and Sargent definitely has, makes the accusation that Trump is wrong to “delegitimize the opposition,” that critic is either deliberately gaslighting the public, or so devoid of self-knowledge as to be functionally crippled.
2. Here’s an unscientific poll result that should give Democrats chills. Ann Althouse asked her readers whether they would vote for Bernie Sanders or President Trump if that was the choice in November. Ann readership is Madison, Wisconsin heavy, consisting of many of her former students. She is resolutely politically neutral, laning Left, as she voted for both Hillary and Obama, twice. She has also criticized many of the attacks on Trump, including in the news media, causing her commenters, if not her readership, to see an exodus by the Trump-Deranged, much as what has occurred on Ethics Alarms. Those commenters remaining, I believe, are not uncritical of the President, and I would expect to find them on the “disapprove” side in a Gallup poll. I was very surprised at Ann’s poll results:
In a related development… Continue reading
High Noon Ethics Warm-Up, 9/5/2019: Arggh!…Yay!…Yechhh!…Hmmm…and Good!
1. More historical ignorance to make you suicidal: Here’s Anna L.’s review of her visit to the Gettysburg Battlefield on the park’s Yelp page:
Boooorrrringggg. First off, it was nothing like the movie. All I saw were a bunch of fields and rocks. All the tourist shops, bars, and hotels in the area kept saying how I should check this place out. I kept getting confused with all of the plaques and monuments. Who was fighting who, I have no idea. The abandoned cannons looked tacky. I give this one star for the overweight character actor in the square, but that’s about it. Yaaawnnn.
I don’t even want to think about the political positions and favored candidates of an American this…this…I can’t even think of a good description. “It was nothing like the movie”????? And how many people like her are out there, rotting our culture and values from within?
2. It’s about time. wouldn’t you agree? I’m amazed this took so long. Starting next year, BMC Toys in Scranton will begin adding little green Army women to the little green Army men that are such a standard kids’ toy. Since they debuted in 1950s, none of the iconic toy’s manufacturers have crossed the gender line. BMC is one of the ew producers of plastic soldiers left in his country, and will soon be offering these:
Yay! Continue reading
Friday Ethics Warm-Up, 4/19/2019: There’s More To Ethics Than Mueller Freakouts, You Know…
Happy Easter weekend…
(For me and other Greek-Americans, Easter presents a yearly choice: Greek Easter is calculated on a different calendar (it also has only boring red eggs), and just once in a red moon coincides with the non-Greek holiday. This year it’s a week later, so we’re not putting our eggs in any baskets until next Sunday. We celebrate Greek Easter in honor of my Mom, who was fanatic about all holidays. The Greek Orthodox Church was dead to us once a priest told the congregation that the offspring of “mixed marriages”–that is, Greek and non-Greek spouses like my parents—were considered illegitimate by the Church. (My dad walked out of the service.)
(The other Churches became dead to us a bit later, and for varying reasons.)
1 A brief Mueller interlude…a) Rep. Gerald Nadler is grandstanding by demanding the full, unredacted report. Giving secret grand jury testimony to Congress would be illegal. Anything to inflame the public, I guess…b) It’s incomplete, but Scott Horton, a smart libertarian who has been tracking the various complexities of the Russiagate investigation far more closely than I have, tears the Mueller report to shreds in convincing fashion. I’m accepting the conclusions of the report on faith, but Horton demonstrates how open to attack the investigation may be. The post is long and overly colloquial, and I don’t have time to check Horton’s facts, but it is worth reading. c) April Ryan, the CNN hack who has a long history of attacking Trump press secretary Sarah Sanders, now says Sanders should be fired for “lying.” Sanders at one point said that “countless” FBI agents had said that they had lost trust in James Comey, then later said that “countless” was a misstatement. With very few exceptions over the last 50 years, Sanders’ job is that of a paid liar and obfuscater; I got tired of flagging all of the lies and spin issued by Obama’s three spokesmen. They all should be fired, I guess, but not for offenses like using the word “countless” when the correct word would be “plenty.” Heck, I even heard through contacts and back-channels that FBI agents were disgusted with Comey. How could they not be?
2. And now for something completely different: Walrus Ethics. This isn’t a Climate Change Denial post, it’s a “See, this is why so many people don’t trust climate change doomsday scenarios” post.
Netflix’s climate change propaganda documentary “Our Planet,” narrated by David Attenborough, showed masses o the walruses climbing up cliffs in northeast Russia because, we were told, of a lack of sea ice. Then we saw the large pinnipeds over the cliff edges onto the rocks below, leaving hundreds of dead animals piled on the shore. Attenborough said their poor eyesight made it hard for them to return safely to the ocean.
Dr. Susan Crockford, a Canadian zoologist specializing in evolution and the ecology of Holocene mammals (including polar bears and walrus), claims that the scene was a hoax. She called Netflix’s narrative over the “Our Planet” scene i“contrived nonsense… fiction and emotional manipulation at its worst”:
“The walruses shown in this Netflix film were almost certainly driven over the cliff by polar bears during a well-publicised incident in 2017.” Even if the footage shown by Attenborough was not the 2017 incident in Ryrkaypiy, we know that walruses reach the top of cliffs in some locations and might fall if startled by polar bears, people or aircraft overhead, not because they are confused by shrinking sea ice cover.”
Anthony Watts, a weather technology expert and author, also suspects the footage captured was the 2017 Siberian incident.
I’ve been able to show that Crockford’s supposition about the geographical origin of the footage is correct: analysis of the rock shapes in the film and in a photo taken by the producer/director both match archive photos of Ryrkaypiy. The photo was taken on 19 September 2017, during the events described by the Siberian Times.
But whereas the Siberian Times and Gizmodo website, which also reported on the 2017 incident, were both quite clear that the walruses were driven over the cliffs by polar bears, Netflix makes no mention of their presence. Similarly, there is no mention of the fact that walrus haulouts are entirely normal. Instead, Attenborough tells his viewers that climate change is forcing the walruses on shore, where their poor eyesight leads them to plunge over the cliffs.
This is all very troubling as it raises the possibility that Netflix and the WWF are, innocently or otherwise, party to a deception of the public.
If the climate change urgency is as real as we are constantly told, why can’t it be demonstrated with real facts rather than fakery like this? Is it any wonder the public is skeptical? [Pointer: Legal Insurrection] Continue reading
Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/31/2019: The NCAA Tournament, Colbert, Chris Rock, And Bullshit
I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad for some reason, and that was his favorite hymn. It’s an Easter hymn, but our church always had the choir sing it on the special spring service. My unusually musically talented friends knocked it out of the park at my father’s funeral service at Arlington National Cemetery. It also has the advantage of being composed by Arthur Sullivan, just like “Onward Christian Soldiers!” and “Tit Willow.”
1. Fill out your brackets, and enable corruption. It’s the NCAA tournament again, and again, helping the schools and the NCAA and the networks make money off of the destructive and corrupt culture of big time college basketball is ethically indefensible. The New York Times wouldn’t go so far as to say that, but it did recently write about the dissonance, beginning,
Every March, millions of Americans fill out brackets (more than 40 million people, by one count), cheer the underdogs and tune in on television. Others buy tickets to the games, wear jerseys of their favorite teams and let wins and losses dictate their mood. Yet fans who follow college basketball closely know about the game’s intractable relationship to corruption. Even many who come just for March Madness must know that the real madness is not always on the court.
A wide-ranging and fear-inducing F.B.I. investigation into college basketball recruiting continues to ensnare big-name colleges and little-known crooks. It is why Louisiana State, for example, is playing without its head coach, Will Wade, and why Auburn recently had an assistant coach suspended and a former assistant plead guilty of conspiracy for accepting bribes.
This week, the lawyer Michael Avenatti was charged with trying to extort up to $25 million from Nike in exchange for concealing information he had about illicit payments to recruits. He has since revealedsome allegations on Twitter….
The Times doesn’t bother to go into the related problem of how basketball distorts academic goals, sucks away resources that should be used for education, and usually leaves its athletes no better educated than they were when they arrived. As you might expect, the Times’ writer is too ethically incompetent to provide and enlightenment. For example, he quotes one ethicist as saying, “…Someone thinks, ‘Gosh, this is unethical, but I love it so much, and my friends and I have such a good time rooting and cheering that I’m going to participate anyway.’” That description could also be used to justify gang rape. Can we have a little nuanced clarification? Then the Times writer, John Branch, offers these ill-devised analogies:
“Such internal debates permeate our culture. Is it O.K. to dance to a Michael Jackson song, to laugh to a Louis C.K. joke, to watch a movie produced by Harvey Weinstein? To cheer for football knowing what it may be doing to players’ brains?”
Let’s see: wrong, wrong,wrong, and…right. 1 for 4.
A Michael Jackson song isn’t corrupt, or unethical: it’s art. He’s dead: dancing to the song does not enable the misconduct. A joke is a joke regardless of who tells it, and again, laughing at a C.K. joke doesn’t make it more or less likely that he’s going to masturbate in front of a female colleague. Workplace misconduct doesn’t taint the work product, and nobody has claimed that movies themselves are culturally corrupting, or that Weinstein’s films harmed the actors in them. Cheering for football is a legitimate comparison, because the sport itself is the problem, just like college basketball itself is the problem.
Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/30/2019: The Hit On Biden, The Bulwark Shows Its Stripes, I Told You So, And Deceit
Finally, it feels like Spring!
I swear this would have been a morning warm-up if my computer hadn’t crashed. For several months now, the now 9 year -old PC I inherited new from my Dad has been either freezing or shutting itself off for no apparent reason and with no warning, sometimes up to five or six times a day. This is what working with narcolepsy must be like…I am always typing or researching with the possibility in the back of my mind that everything could just stop. Sometimes I just have to reboot the computer, and sometimes it takes me multiple tries, sometimes I get it running only to have it crash again almost immediately, and sometimes I have to unplug everything from the tower and try all sorts of diagnostics. The latter is what happened this time.
1. A new way to illustrate “deceit!” for many years I have been telling the story illustrated by this movie clip to explain to classes what deceit is.
An attorney came up to me after a seminar this week and told this story from a recent experience. He and his wife had met another couple at an event, and socialized for the evening, The man was a lawyer, and told them that he had never had his Bar Mitzvah, but on that very day had finally gone through the ceremony, at the age of 50. Weeks after the encounter, the attorney said that he received a letter from the man, asking if he would serve as a reference. He wrote back, he said, to decline, explaining that he had only met the man once, and couldn’t credibly vouch for his character or any professional skills or abilities.
Then, he told me, he had an inspiration. “I could write a letter truthfully saying, “I’ve known this man since his Bar Mitzvah!”
2. I could see this coming. Why couldn’t Joe Biden see this coming? Way back in 2015, when Biden was trying to decide whether to throw his metaphorical hat into the ring for the 2016 election, his creepy Dirty Old Uncle act was a matter of record, and concern, to Democrats and others who were paying attention…and that was before the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck started rolling. When the 2020 Presidential sweepstakes opened for business, Ethics Alarms pointed out many times that no white male candidate would survive the process, because the feminist end of the party would either find an old episode of sexual misconduct, abuse or harassment to disqualify him ( “The Al Franken” ) or manufacture one (The Kavanaugh), making that male candidate radioactive. I also noted that this especially made Joe Biden’s candidacy a pipe dream, because there are already ample examples of photographic evidence of Biden’s handsiness like this…
…and what are the odds that Joe only engages in unwanted touching when the cameras aren’t clicking? But the biased mainstream news media dutifully presented Biden as formidable candidate, never mentioning this ticking time bomb, even as #MeToo hung the scalps of other one-time liberal heroes on its belt, most recently Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees. Why would they do this? Maybe they recognized how objectively horribly unqualified and unelectable the women running so far are. Most likely the memo from the Democratic High Command hadn’t arrived yet. Whatever the reason, it should now be clear that Joe is no longer welcome in the race. Continue reading
Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/2019: Good Kool-Aid, Bad Kool-Aid
1. No, it’s not yet clear what happened in the Jussie Smollett debacle, just that whatever it was, it was unethical as hell. Smollett is no less guilty of faking a hate crime than he always was; the evidence is just as overwhelming; and the fools lining up to support him are asking for trouble. For example, the writers for Smollett’s show (it seems likely that it is no longer his show, and the producers would be certifiably mad to let him back on the air) seem to be under the delusion that charges were dropped against the African-American actor because there wasn’t evidence to try him. That is not what happened, whatever happened. But here is “Empire” writer Cameron Johnson tweeting to a Chicago-based reporter who has been covering the case since it first broke in January.
“You reported a bunch of false information and never retracted it. Do your job, yes. But reporting on leaks that have been proven false is beneath you.”
No, in fact everything reported about Smollett—that he faked the attack, lied to police and the news media, and that the two men he recruited and paid to carry out the hoax with him have fingered Smollett—appears to be true. Meanwhile, the NAACP is going forward with Smollett’s nomination for an award for his work on Empire. I wouldn’t put it past them to let him win, meaning that they would be applauding a divisive–but woke! And gay! And black!—hate crime hoaxer.
So again, what’s going on here? The former chief of staff to First Lady Michelle Obama had contacted Cook County prosecutor Kim Foxx about the case on behalf of a member of Smollett’s family. Foxx is an openly racialized African-American prosecutor whose past words and conduct suggest that she might adopt the Sharpton-like theory that the fact that a hate crime is a hoax is less important than the fact that it could have been true. Also, prosecuting Smollett could have sent another black man to prison, and Foxx is on the record as wanting to do everything she can to avoid that result as often as possible.
Dismissals after grand jury indictments when there is no new exculpatory evidence usually require a defendant to accept responsibility, stay out of trouble for at least six months, and make restitution. None of this happened. Smollett not only denied responsibility, he again proclaimed his innocence . He was required to forfeit his bond, which would never be required if he was actually innocent based on the evidence. The state’s attorney’s office cited 16 hours of “community service” as a mitigating factor, but again, if he is innocent, why would that matter? Smollett did that work volunteering at the headquarters of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition. Then Smollett’s lawyer denied that any community service was required as a condition of the dismissal of his charges.
Prosecutors announced preemptively that the record in the case would be sealed, and there is no precedent for immediately sealing a criminal case involving an adult, even if a defendant is found not guilty. Defendants usually have to file a motion to seal their case, and the police are given the opportunity to contest the motion.
The Associated Press is reporting that the city will seek $130,000 from “ Smollett to cover the costs of the investigation into his hoax, which means that police are still certain that he is guilty.
It almost feels like this is a deliberate parody of the Mueller Report fiasco, designed to suggest that the situations of Smollett and President Trump are similar: both guilty, and both “exonerated” falsely.
The Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association has released a statement condemning the whatever -it-was in the strongest terms.
2. How do we get the news media and the public to stop paying attention to celebrities and actors when they are off script? These people are, as a group, neither especially informed, well-educated, or trained in critical thinking. Yet they have outsized metaphorical bullhorns, and influence fans to adopt unethical practices and irresponsible ideas. Here is “Captain America” star Chris Evans telling an interviewer that if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a supporter of the President of the United States, he will “cut ties” with him, whatever that means. His attitude means, however, that he would have American society divided into warring camps that never speak to each other. In a fawning profile by the New York Times, we get the diminutive actor’s policy wisdom in comments like this, in which he explains why he will campaign for Bernie Sanders, as he did in 2016:
“If you look back on that election, a lot of his progressive ideas are accepted now. Like free college education. I didn’t go to any college. Forgive the debt, so people can live their lives and not feel they’re under a wet blanket. Let’s let the sun shine. We have a beautiful country. We got a lot of resources. You know, Medicare for all. What’s the big deal? Why not open that up?”
Yes, he’s a moron….and a moron that the Times is encouraging trusting citizens to take seriously.
3. Scary, if even half-accurate. Over at the Epoch Times, Jeff Carlson (who is an accountant, and apparently a diligent researcher) lays out the whole case for a “deep State” effort to try to stop Donald Trump from being elected President, and then to overthrow him once he was. It begins,
“Efforts by high-ranking officials in the CIA, FBI, Department of Justice (DOJ), and State Department to portray President Donald Trump as having colluded with Russia were the culmination of years of bias and politicization under the Obama administration.”
Some of his case is the Kool-Aid I was accused of drinking when I reported (accurately) the implications of the irregularities in the FISA warrant process used to plant an informer in the Trump campaign. It is extremely ironic that the same people who threw tantrums here over fact-based suspicions regarding the “resistance” efforts within the government were guzzling the vile Kool-Aid that Donald Trump had conspired with Russia. I was right, they were wrong, and they were insulting while being wrong. If they had any courage and integrity, they would come back here and admit it.
I misjudged them, and their character.