Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/13/2019: Protests, Insults, Complaints And Threats

Started this at 3:15 am.

To be honest, I’m going back to bed as soon I  post it…

1. Today’s sample of Trump Derangement: Someone calling himself “Morgan Kilgore” (not hi s real name, however) just submitted a comment in all caps, to this post from May. It reads: TRUMP IS A CROOK AND ROBINSON SAID IT VERY PLAIN SIMPLE, UNLKE THE MUELLER REPORT..YOU TRUMP SUPPORTERS ARE A BUNCH OF FOOLS,LEAD BY A FOOL AND CONMAN.IF TRUMP TOOK A DUMP ON YOUR TURKEY DINNER,YOU WOULD STILL MAKE AN EXCUSE FOR HIM AND IT’S
SAD PEOPLE,VERY SAD. HEY MAYBE YOUR CHILDREN WILL GROWN UP AND HAVE TRUMP. VALUES.

The comment makes no substantive arguments and does not attempt to rebut the post, which is pretty air tight, frankly. I get a lot of these. (“Morgan” will not be joining our discussions.) The comment is also pretty typical of what the average Trump-obsessed Facebook user posts or “likes” on a daily basis.

2.  Freedom of speech watch: Jonathan Turley, who deserves praise for relentlessly flagging and criticizing the alarming increase in anti-speech advocacy from the Left, notes,

“The doublespeak used to justify the denial of free speech is particularly chilling. The students [at Stanford] insisted that allowing people to hear [ conservative pundit Ben Shapiro]  put them at risk: “WE are tired of Stanford Administration’s complicity in putting Black, Brown, Trans, Queer, and Muslim students at risk by allowing SCR to bring Ben Shapiro to campus”…The students declared their commitment not “to allow Shapiro’s talk to go uninterrupted.” In other words, we will not allow other students and faculty listen and have a discourse with Shapiro. What is striking is how these students believe that denying free speech is a noble act — a view fueled by many faculty members who treat speech as violence or a tool of oppression. That makes being a censor sound like being a civil libertarian. You simply declare, as did the Stanford students, that this is a “harmful event” with “harmful people.” Done.

Continue reading

Saturday Leftover Ethics Candy, 11/2/19: The Spy In My Hotel Room, And Other Scary Tales

Yum.

1. OK, I want to see all of the Facebook trolls who mock every single careless or foolish thing President Trump has ever said to be fair and consistent, and make an appropriately big deal over this astounding quote from the Governor of New York:

“[A]nyone who questions extreme weather and climate change is just delusional at this point. We have seen in the State of New York and we have seen — it is something we never had before. We didn’t have hurricanes or super storms or tornadoes,.”

Now, I’m relatively certain Cuomo doesn’t really mean that New York never had  big storms before the climate started warming, but the President’s critics in social media and the mainstream media never give him the benefit of the doubt, because they just know he’s an idiot…or lying.

In related news of the media double standard and its bash-Trump obsession, this article was given a three-column spread on the New York Times front page: “The ‘Whimpering’ Terrorist Only Trump Seems to Have Heard.” It is a breathless report of the results of a Times investigation into whether ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi really was wimpering, crying and screaming before he was killed by U.S. forces, as President Trump colorfully told the nation.

Let me be blunt: I..Don’t…Care.

Do you? This is like a fish story; it’s a non-material, unimportant fib at worst. Putting such a story on the front page is an exposé all right: it exposes the Times’ complete loss of all perspective regarding the President.

2. AI ethics. As my wife and I were checking out of our New Jersey shore hotel this week, I noticed an Alexa on the desk. Does that mean that our wild midnight orgy with the Mariachi band, the transexual synchronized swimming team and the goats was recorded and relayed to the Dark Web. I don’t know.  A hotel has an obligation to inform guests that these potential spies and future SkyNet participants are  in their rooms, and guest should have the option to say, as I would have, “Get that thing out of there!” Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/12/2019: “If An Ethics Blog Expounds And Nobody Reads It…”

 

Like that proverbial tree falling alone in the forest...

Epic lack of interest in Ethics Alarms today…

Oh, well…

1 . Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” note for the day. Here’s that objective, professional, fair CNN reporter Jim Acosta (I’m fooling: he’s really a toxic, partisan, grandstanding hack) tweeting about the Presidents rally in Minneapolis:

How can anyone who tweets such offal continue to be employed as a White House correspondent? How can a news network that employs such a biased, dishonest jerkbe taken seriously?

The Q sign reference is especially egregious. “QAnon” is a weird conspiracy theory-driven sect, and the fact that some attendees at a Trump rally seem to support the nonsense—which is not worth explicating—proves nothing at all. But the rest of Acosta’s tweet is embarrassing too: the Trump campaigns have never bashed immigrants, just illegal immigrants, who ought to be bashed; hated of the press is stoked by the conduct of unethical journalists like Jim Acosta, and disruptive protesters are properly ejected from the political rallies of candidates from both parties. Continue reading

Late Start Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/5/19: Dissing Tony Williams, and An Impeachment Headache

I don’t care: Whenever I get up on Saturday, it’s morning to me.

1. Those fake recordings...I have almost gotten used to the fake versions of famous songs an by iconic artists that show up as background in TV shows and movies, but I still resent them. They are lies, in essence, designed to fool less discriminating and knowledgeable audience members. Many people aren’t even aware of the practice, which is virtually routine, of long-standing, and considered standard practice. A friend of mine , a musician/ actor with a gift for mimicry, once explained the whole industry supported by these frauds, which exist because it is cheaper to record a faux version of a famous recording than to pay to use the real thing in a movie.

For some reason, however, the last 24 hours forced me to hear some unusually obnoxious examples. I just heard fake Roy Orbison, for instance. Nobody sounds like Roy Orbison. I heard fake versions of The Platters’ immortal and inimitable Tony Williams twice, and that really ticks me off. Williams, whose rendition of “Only You” may be my favorite male vocal ever, had a freak voice, and younger listeners who hear inferior versions of his “Twilight Time,” “The Great Pretender,” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” are tragically misled. It is an insult to Williams’ memory and legacy to represent through deceptive imitations that he wasn’t as great as he really was.

Anytime you hear a song playing behind a scene, listen closely. I just heard Fake Any Williams, a really bad imitation. Interestingly, I have noticed that there are some departed artists that nobody dares to imitate. Bing Crosby, for example, is always the real Bing (although I have heard several fake Frank Sinatras). They don’t try to fool anyone with fake Judy Garlands, either; I haven’t heard a fake Freddie Mercury, and hope I never do.  But it’s unethical to fake anyone without being transparent about it..

Especially Tony Williams.

2. Still looking for some partners…in the Ethics Alarms Impeachment Project. I have now heard from three volunteers, and I’m grateful…a few more would be ideal. Of course, when and if the website gets published, I expect it will be easier to interest active participants.

The idea is to provide an easily accessible way for “low-information voters” and others to follow this dangerous and depressing drama while having access to the essential materials, facts, context and legitimate analysis without being confused by spin, selective reporting, misinformation and partisan agendas. Here’s an example of information that is relevant to the Democratic impeachment efforts that has hardly been reported at all, because the news media overwhelmingly wants to see the President of The United States impeached, and has made that objective clear to most objective observers for more than three years.

Six months ago, the NY Daily News revealed that Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)received at least $65,000 in campaign donations “from the music industry and other intellectual property businesses that he oversees as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.” That was the end of the story; even the Daily News never followed up. Nadler also spent about $30K to host a Grammy Awards gala in LA in February during the Grammy Awards, giving him access to music  executives for more campaign donations.  Those execs, meanwhile, had their companies pony up $5,000 a ticket to attend the party. This is influence peddling, of course. It’s legal, because Congress won’t criminalize sleazy politics.  TechDirt called it soft corruption:

“These are the kinds of practices that are most likely legal, and possibly even common among the political class, but which absolutely stink of corruption to the average American. And that’s a huge problem, not just because of the general ethical questions raised by such soft corruption, but because it creates a cynical American public that does not trust politicians to adequately represent their interests.”

Nadler’s conduct is relevant to the impeachment efforts because it reveals the hypocrisy behind Democratic efforts to impeach President Trump for political practices that are neither illegal nor unusual while making pious pronouncements that belie their own behavior. The purely political assault on the 2016 Presidential election results is obscured by the media’s efforts to hide the true character and motives of the President’s foes, including the journalists and editors themselves.

3. Here’s another example...My New York Times this morning is dominated by yellow-highlighted text messages between the Ukraine’s ambassador with U.S. Ambassador Volker, and a two-column width headline, “Another Official Considers Filing a Report On Ukraine.” When have you ever seen front page news about an anonymous figure “considering” something? That’s not fact, that’s not news, it is entirely prejudicial spin intended to create distrust and suspicion.

Meanwhile, the Times could have made legitimately made the front page stories about  last week’s  Congressional testimony from Ambassador Kurt Volker, who served for two years as the top U.S. diplomatic envoy to Ukraine, which directly contradicts the pro-impeachment narrative . He testified, under oath, that he was never aware of and never took part in any effort to push the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden or his son Hunter, and stressed that the interactions between Giuliani and Ukrainian officials were facilitated not to find “dirt” on Biden, but to address concerns that the incoming Ukrainian government would not be able to get a handle on corruption within the country. The Federalist obtained the full transcript of the testimony, which certainly could have been revealed by the Times as well, if it wanted to.

More later-I have a terrible headache that has lingered for two days, and I can’t tell if it’s this crap or a brain tumor. Coffee, Tylenol, and the Twins beating the Yankees should help.

KABOOM! “Human Sacrifice, Dogs And Cats Living Together, Mass Hysteria!”… If I Hadn’t Seen This, I Wouldn’t Have Believed It, And My Head Wouldn’t Have Exploded

Remember, Donald Trump is the fascist who is trying to crush democracy. Just repeat that to yourself as you consider this, and maybe…no, it still will still make your head explode.

Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, in the persons of  Biden’s top aides Anita Dunn and Kate Bedingfield, sent a letter  to the heads of the major news and cable networks, as well as top news anchors, demanding that they refuse to book Presidential advisor Rudy Giuliani. It read in part,

“We are writing today with grave concern that you continue to book Rudy Giuliani on your air to spread false, debunked conspiracy theories on behalf of Donald Trump. While you often fact check his statements in real time during your discussions, that is no longer enough. By giving him your air time, you are allowing him to introduce increasingly unhinged, unfounded and desperate lies into the national conversation, We write to demand that in service to the facts, you no longer book Rudy Giuliani, a surrogate for Donald Trump who has demonstrated that he will knowingly and willingly lie in order to advance his own narrative…Giuliani is not a public official, and holds no public office that would entitle him to opine on the nation’s airwaves.”

Then the letter demands that if the former mayor is put on the airwaves, “an equivalent amount of time” be given “to a surrogate for the Biden campaign.”

Frankly, I still can’t believe Biden approved this, but of course, he must have. What’s going on here?  Incredibly, this: A former Vice President and current (though doomed) Presidential hopeful is asking the news media to actively censor a political critic. Continue reading

Signature Significance (Again) From the New York Times: A Trustworthy Newspaper Does Not Do This [CORRECTED]

That would be a more useful rule, of course, if there were any trustworthy newspapers.

The most recent Ethics Alarms filing under “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!” appeared yesterday.  A story headlined Brett Kavanaugh Fit In With the Privileged Kids. She Did Not appeared in the Sunday Times, with the sub-head, “Deborah Ramirez’s Yale experience says much about the college’s efforts to diversify its student body in the 1980s.” And why were Yale’s efforts to diversify in the Eighties suddenly worthy of a Times feature in September, 2019? Because the real purpose of the article was not to talk about Yale, but to smear Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh —again.

Ramirez was Kavanaugh’s Yale classmate  who had told The New Yorker last year during the justice’s confirmation hearings that she’d been severely inebriated at a party at Yale in her freshman year when “something” had happened. She said that “a male student pointed a gag plastic penis in her direction” and  a “third male then exposed himself to her.” The assumption is that the flasher was Kavanaugh, though Ramirez never directly named him. New York Times reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly tried to verify the story, and could not. Never mind: they wrote a book anyway.

In “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation,”  they quoted the same individuals the New Yorker had tracked down who said that they “heard about” the incident, as well as Ramirez’s mother, who says—now this is a smoking gun if there ever was one—that  she was told at the time that “something happened” at Yale.

Nevertheless, the Times reporters are convinced that Ramirez’s claim is correct. They wrote,

A classmate, Max Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm party, where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified senators and the F.B.I. about this account, but the F.B.I. did not investigate and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. 

Not “fit to print,” apparently, was the that Stier was not only a non-profit executive but also had served as one of Bill Clinton’s defense attorneys. Heck, why should that be relevant to his credibility? But I digress… Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: David Harsanyi, On The CNN “Climate Crisis” Town Hall

“[T]he most benign climate-change plan proposed during CNN’s seven-hour Democratic Party presidential candidate town hall was more authoritarian than anything Donald Trump has ever suggested during his presidency.”

 Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi, who continued, “Democrats were not merely proposing massive societal upheaval but mass coercion.”

I did not and could not watch the town hall; someone would have to pay me to do that, and frankly, anyone who would watch such a monstrosity without compensation has some serious intellectual and cognitive issues to deal with. This was a discussion among non-scientists about a complex topic none of them understand or are qualified to opine on, moderated by an equally ignorant and biased journalist, with questions being posed by activists rather than informed and open-minded citizens. It wasn’t journalism, and it wasn’t public education. Questioners were allowed to wear shirts with climate change slogans on them, like this…

One commentator correctly analogized the scene to Fox News holding an abortion town hall with all the questions coming from anti-abortion activists, with many wearing “ABORTION IS MURDER” shirts.

However, now I have had time to peruse the transcripts to the extent that I could without my head exploding, and reviewed the reviews. Not surprisngly, but depressing nonetheless, the mainstream news media whitewashed the event, focusing on the most benign and relatively reasonable-sounding statements, while ignoring the bat-crazy, “Oh-my-god-did-I-really-hear-that?” moments that should haunt the Democratic Party all the way to November 2020. The Times, for example, headlined its “review,” “CNN Climate Town Hall: Here’s What You Need to Know.”  Since the Times strategically decided that you didn’t need to know that old Joe Biden’s left eye filled with blood, readers should understand what THAT means: “Here’s what we want you to know.”

The Times and other mainstream media organs don’t want you to know, for example, what Hirsanyi accurately points out: the party that has been promoting the big lie that President Trump is a dangerous authoritarian and a threat to democracy is led by individuals who advocate gutting the economy, democracy and personal liberties to address an “emergency” hyped in order to justify doing so. For example,

  • Joe Biden was asked by  Anderson Cooper if the Green New Deal, which to the extent that it means anything stands for banning   fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, retrofitting our buildings and eliminating meat within the next decade, “goes too far,” and was “unrealistic, promising too much.” Joe answered, “No, no it’s not.” It  “deserves an enormous amount of credit,” said Joe. Recall that Saikat Chakrabarti, the former chief of staff of Representative Ocasio-Cortez and widely believed to be the main architect of the GND, told the Washington Post  that ” it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all, because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

In other words, declare an emergency to take over the economy.

To be fair, does anyone think that Biden has read the Green New Deal? Continue reading