A Head-Spinning Ethics Movie For 2019: 2005’s “Good Night And Good Luck”

I avoided George Clooney’s film “Good Night And Good Luck” when it was released, because I knew it had been designed as an anti-Bush administration allegory, weaponizing Edward R. Murrow’s battle with Senator Joe McCarthy as progressive propaganda. See the courageous and principled journalists stand up against ruthless Republican bullies! See the dangerous power-abusers strike back with guilt by association allegations and by attacking the messenger! See the objective, non-partisan journalists help bring down the threat to democracy!

I finally watched the film this week, and was struck by several things. First of all, the movie, which Clooney directed as well as co-starred in (as Fred Friendly) was much better and fairer than I expected: let that be a lesson to me.

Second, David Strathairn as Murrow once again showed what an excellent and under-appreciated actor he is, although his voice is an inadequate substitute for Murrow’s rich baritone. Third, Senator McCarthy really was a sinister creep, and it radiates from the screen. Those who still defend him, like Ann Coulter, are allying themselves with the Prince of Darkness. The man claimed that the ACLU was a Communist front organization!

Most of all, however, I was struck by how ironic and convoluted the film’s analogies had become in just 14 years, and found myself wondering who Murrow would regard as the bad guys today.  For example, Murrow, speaking of McCarthy’s hearings on Communists in the Army and elsewhere, tells his audience that while Congressional hearings are an important part of the body’s oversight function, the line between legitimate hearings and “persecution” is thin. What would he think about today’s Democrats’ endless fishing expeditions designed to find some justification for impeaching the President?

Murrow went on television to condemn McCarthy’s repeated accusations based on assertions of facts, evidence and documents that didn’t exist. Would he have done the same today, but with his target being Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Ca) or Gerald Nadler (D-NY), both of whom have repeatedly, McCarthy-like, claimed to have “proof” of President Trump’s collusion that didn’t exist? Continue reading

“Never Mind!”*….And A Few Questions

House Democrats on The Committee on Oversight and Reform tweeted the photo above  to promote their investigation into “inhumane treatment” at the border The hearing,  titled “Kids in Cages: Inhumane Treatment at the Border,” is supposed to examine this alleged inhumane treatment—as illustrated by the photo— that members of the committee allegedly witnessed. The photo was intended as a graphic  sample of the “grotesque treatment of children” at the camps under the Trump Administration.

The photo and tweet were quickly sent down the memory hole when Democrats discovered that, not for the first time, they had used an old photo of camps during the Obama Administration.

After deleting the tweet, the Oversight Committee put up a second tweet with a different photo. This photo also turned out to  be from the Obama administration, and  was also deleted.

Notes: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/9/2019: Then They Came For Mr Peanut…

Good Morning!

1. From what cultural hell in America did this conduct ooze out of? A family got in a brawl in the middle of Disneyland, as on looking children screamed. See?

Nice.

The family was escorted out of the park, and criminal charges are being sought.

This entire family is so devoid of  functioning ethics alarms that it lacked the basic civilized instincts not to a) physically attack each other b) physically attack each other in public c) physically attack each other in a family venue that represents the opposite of what they were doing.

In some kind of record for inappropriate understatement, Disney said that  the company “does not condone this type of behavior.” That’s reassuring.

2. Congratulations to the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team, but its captain is still an asshole. I fully endorse—well, 95%— Washington Post columnist Mark Thiessen, who had this to say about Megan Rapinoe, the team captain who has been grandstanding her hatred for President Trump by refusing to respect the National Anthem abroad. He writes in part,

Rapinoe is not playing for the Trump administration; she is playing for the United States. It’s one thing for a professional athlete to protest the national anthem, but quite another for a member of Team USA to do it. Rapinoe is protesting the Stars and Stripes while wearing the Stars and Stripes. That’s not OK. Representing your country is a privilege, not a right. If she really feels she can’t show respect for the U.S. flag and anthem, then she shouldn’t wear the U.S. jersey. Here’s the worst part: What she’s doing is selfish. Her protest comes at a time when the U.S. women’s team has taken an important stand against gender discrimination. They are suing the U.S. Soccer Federation because, despite being more successful on the field than the men’s team, and bringing in more revenue, they are paid significantly less than the men. They have a point, and the World Cup is a chance to rally the country behind their cause. But instead of unifying Americans behind her team’s admirable fight for gender equity, Rapinoe is dividing Americans with her anthem protests. Untold numbers of Americans who might have been inspired to support the team’s cause have been alienated by its leader.

Thiessen is talking about cognitive dissonance here: he’s pointing out, correctly, that people are less like likely to rally with even a just cause when its advocates are assholes.

My 5% objection is that the women’s team will have a strong claim to equal pay when they prove that they can play soccer as well as the men’s team. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/7/2019: BAM! POW! BOOM!

Welcome.

1.BAM! Billionaire sex-predator Jeffrey Epstein was arrested again, but that’s just the tip of the proverbial ethics iceberg:

  • This was the feds doing the arresting, which is confusing, since one of the controversies involving Epstein is a federal non-prosecution agreement that was part of his plea deal, negotiated by a team of super-lawyers including Alan Dershowitz.

This means that the victims in the new prosecution must be different victims from the ones in the case that send Epstein to prison for a paltry 13 months.

  • If so, I’m shocked–shocked!–that a mega-sex trafficker and sexual predator like Epstein hasn’t learned the error of his ways!

Actually, it would be shocking if a billionaire sex predator who got just a slap on the wrist for paying procurers to search the world for underage girls to be ravaged by Epstein and others at Epstein’s private plane, his Palm Beach mansion, and other locales didn’t keep engaging in his extra-curricular passion.

  • Federal prosecutors recently filed court papers in Florida case contending Epstein’s no prosecution deal must stand, with the filing stating,  “The past cannot be undone; the government committed itself to the NPA, and the parties have not disputed that Epstein complied with its provisions.”

    Now the The victims in the Florida case have until Monday to respond to the Justice Department’s filing.

  • The news media and social media resistance squads are hustling to connect Epstein to President Trump. Are they friends? Were they friends?  Most of the nation’s billionaires know each other: Trump has confirmed that he knows Epstein. Nothing has connected Trump to Epstein’s sex parties, however.

The same cannot be said of Bill Clinton.

  • The Trump connection is Labor Secretary Alexander Accosta. He was the Miami prosecutor who cut the outrageous deal with Epstein. I wrote in detail about the scandal here. Knowing all of this, President Trump still appointed Accosta as his Labor Secretary—you know, “the best people”—and the Senate confirmed him, even though this was a guaranteed ticking time-bomb.

It looks like it may finally blow.  Stay tuned.

2. POW! Res Ipsa Loquitur? Here is the Antifa’s press guidance distributed in advance of its planned disruption of a conservative protest against what the New York Times calls “perceived censorship of conservatives on social media.”

Hmmm. Continue reading

The Attack On Andy Ngo

This is yet another story among many exposing the ugliness at the heart of the “resistance” and the increasingly fascist American Left…and, as the night follows day, another story that the mainstream news media is attempting to minimize.

Andy Ngo, a conservative journalist and pundit with the emerging online opinion and news website Quillette, attended  a Portland, Oregon “Him Too” rally over the weekend. “Him Too” is a counter #MeToo movement that focuses on false rape and sexual assault allegations.  It was a small rally, with only a few dozen attending; heck, there are probably only a few dozen non knee-jerk progressives in Portland.  The left-wing/Anfifa/Trump Hate  mob that showed up as a counter-protest (aka. “organized effort to constrain free speech by intimidation”), however, was much larger.

That group generated masked thugs who attacked Ngo, a recognized  anti-Muslim critic, a hate-crime skeptic and a foe of the Antifa itself.  Proving his assessment correct, the Antifa beat him and threw what the news media is calling “milkshakes” at him, a description that  is literally a lie designed to trivialize what occurred.  Several of the missiles were cups full of quick-setting cement, not dairy products.  Bloody and battered, Ngo  began livestreaming  on his phone after the attacks, and could be heard asking a police officer, “Where the hell were all of you?” He was admitted to a local hospital for treatment, and at last report, was still there.

While this was occurring, Portland’s finest did nothing to intervene; the police just watched, even as some of them were struck by eggs thrown by the Antifa and the Left’s counter-protesters  threw trash cans, newspaper stands, and patio furniture into the streets. . Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, is also the police commissioner, so media accounts that he cannot be said to have encouraged this dereliction of duty are also partisan, misleading spin.

Wheeler avoided commenting on his police force’s disgraceful performance until yesterday, when he tweeted some insulting boilerplate:

But “we” didn’t stand against the violence, not when a journalist whose political positions are anathema to the hard left views of Wheeler’s city was in the process of being beaten. Note also that the Mayor slyly blames the victim, who, like the group that dared to rally against a popular progressive cause, “incited violence.”

The last two tweets concluded,

How hard is the “real time” decision to stop a mob from beating up a journalist? Continue reading

Unethical Website Of The Month: JoeBiden.info, But Not For The Reasons Cited By The New York Times

We haven’t had an Unethical Website Of The Month here since 2018! Once upon a time, I had at least one desiganted every month, over at the currently-down-but -will-get-back-on-line-as-soon-as-I fight-with-the-cheap-hosts Ethics Scoreboard. This is an area where reader tips would help a great deal.

The home page you see above is that of Joe Biden.info, the most trafficked Biden website on the web. Despite the glowing text and cheery photo, however, it is not a pro-Biden project, but a Biden attack site, concocted by Patrick Mauldin, a Republican political consultant and who makes videos and other digital content for President Trump’s re-election campaign. With his brother Ryan, Mauldin, he runs the Vici Media Group, a conservative consulting firm in Austin, Texas.  (Mauldin has also set up parody campaign websites for at least three other Democratic candidates: “Millionaire Bernie,”  “Elizabeth Warren for Chief,”and “Kamala Harris for Arresting the People.” These, however are different in kind, for nobody except an idiot would confuse them with actual campaign sites.)

Now, I read through the site, and you may well ask, “What’s unethical about it?” The answer is very basic: taking a domain name designed to fool people into thinking the site is something it is not is unethical, that’s all. It is also unethical—though legal—to take another individual’s or organization’s name to make a deceptive URL. In my view, this should be illegal, or treated like a copyright infringement: Joe should be able to send a letter demanding that website using his name in a deceptive fashion be taken down.

Under current law however, the site is legal though unethical. It is  more transparent, in fact, than most parody sites. At the bottom of the first screen, and not buried deep in the site, we can see,

This site is political commentary and parody of Joe Biden’s Presidential campaign website. This is not Joe Biden’s actual website.
It is intended for entertainment and political commentary only and is therefore protected under fair use. It is not paid for by any candidate, committee, organization, or PAC. It is a project BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens. Self-Funded.

Continue reading

Two-Day Ethics Catch-Up/Warm-Up, 6/28/19 and 6/29/19: Racists, Bigamy, And Jimmy Carter

Good evening and good morning…

I tried so hard to get to the office and the keyboard last night to complete the Warm-Up, but video shooting, exhaustion and sick dog complications made it impossible. I don’t know if slow and steady win anything, but they do make progress…

1. Racist comments poll results: I’m surprised. The overwhelming majority—about 92%— is anti-racist comment censorship. Let’s read the one in question, and tell me if it makes you rethink your vote. How much stuff like this do you want to read?

but ethics..?…in general, doesn’t the word, ‘ethics’ pertain to – things that are helpful or things that are helps or a thing or things that help and/or are helpful ? You can call me a racist, if you like but I don’t hate niggers because of the color of their skin – isn’t that what a racist is ? oh no, no, no, no, no, contraire mon frere…l hate niggers like I hate stepping in shit, as I’m apt to slip and fall and hurt myself. I would have to strongly disagree about your terming of chimpmania and other similar sites as being, ‘unethical’ – chimpmania – specifically, helped me to make my decision, in regards to staying as far and wide and clear and away from niggers, as I possibly can. Whether you can comprehend or not : I’ve seen enough – visually, first-hand to know better than to have anything to do with them. I don’t hate niggers because they’re black, l hate niggers because they’re niggers – my daddy didn’t teach me to hate niggers – niggers taught me to hate niggers. And let me clue you in on the simplest of FACTS about niggers…they come in all shapes and sizes and colors and disguises.

I live in a city that’s 89% White and 4% black and the rest ? – whatever the hell else. Now, which do you think the ethnic group or racial group is that supplies the greatest number of niggers in this city – blacks ? nope… …you figure it out and yes I AM a WhytAy !

  • What do you learn from this?
  • Is it fruitful or worth the time to rebut it?
  • Does a comment like this contribute anything to public discourse or comprehension of relevant issues?
  • Do you want someone capable of writing this to be participating in other discussions?

2. Ethics Dunce: Jimmy Carter. Yes, the former President decided to choose now to announce that Presient Trump would not have been elected without Russian interference. “There’s no doubt that the Russians did interfere in the election, and I think the interference, although not yet quantified, if fully investigated, would show that Trump didn’t actually win the election in 2016,” Jimmy said. Jimmy is and has always been something of an arrogant jerk. “Although not yet questioned” is a euphemism for ” there is no evidence of this whatsoever, but I believe it anyway.” It is exactly as valid a statement as the President’s statement that illegal immigrant votes cost him the popular vote, which is to say that it has no validity at all. Yet look at all my Facebook friends and yours, citing the failed President as proof that Big Lie #2, “Trump is not a legitimate President” isn’t a lie after all.

This is not just appeal to authority, a logical fallacy, but appeal to a proven-unreliable authority, a stupid logical fallacy. Jimmy’s various fact-free pronouncements since his ejection from the white House by Ronald Reagan have been marked by their fealty to confirmation bias. My favorite was his conclusion that he has been the most accomplished ex-President in U.S. history. William Howard Taft (who went on to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court), John Quincy Adams (who had brilliant career in the House of Representatives after he lost to Jackson), and Herbert Hoover, whose humanitarian accomplishments post-Presidency dwarfed Carter’s, would beg to differ. Continue reading