Observations On An Op-Ed Botch And Its Aftermath

New York Times snarkmistress Maureen Dowd wrote an op-ed  bemoaning the fact that no women have been on a Democratic ticket since 1984, when everyone was so sexist and mean to Geraldine Ferraro. Will everyone be so sexist again, now that Joe Biden is trapped into choosing a woman, whether there are any qualified or not?

Ann Althouse was among the early online pundits to point out Dowd’s gaffe–I would say obvious gaffe, but it apparently wasn’t obvious to her editor, or anyone else who saw the piece before it was published.  Uh, Maureen, does the name “Hillary Clinton” ring a bell? How quickly they forget! The Times eventually rushed out a correction, and the online version of the op-ed now says, “It’s hard to fathom, but it took another 36 years for a man to choose to put a woman on the Democratic ticket with him.”

There’s a lot more wrong than that… Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/4/2018 (Part I): Gary Hart’s Prophesy, Media Values, And High School Babylon [UPDATED]

Good Morning!

I’m headed to Boston this afternoon for one of my semi-monthly ethics seminars for new Mass. bar admittees. I have been having bad luck with keeping up on the blog while traveling of late, so I’m going to post a two-part Warm-Up to try to avoid falling too far behind.

1. Maureen Dowd made my head explode with her ridiculous profile of Gary Hart—you know, Donna Rice, “Monkey Business”—so I’m going to rely heavily on Ann Althouse’s analysis which parallels mine. Her head is just more resilient, apparently. [Tangent: I wonder how Ann’s traffic is doing? I have noticed that progressive commenters have virtually disappeared from her blog as well, where a couple of years ago they were equally represented. I don’t consider Althouse a conservative at all: she is relentlessly objective and non-partisan, and mostly serves as the web’s best bullshit detector. She has, however, defended the President against unfair attacks and hypocrisy, and called out the news media for fake news, fake headlines, and bias. That’s asking for a boycott, apparently.) Hart makes this statement:

“If all that stuff had not happened and if I had been elected, there would have been no gulf war. H.W. wouldn’t have been president. W. wouldn’t have been president. Everything would have changed. I don’t say that to aggrandize myself. It’s just, history changed. And that has haunted me for thirty years. I had only one talent and it wasn’t traditional politics — I could see farther ahead than anybody.”

I could write a long essay about this arrogant nonsense with my eyes closed. Ann had the same instant reaction I did: Funny, you weren’t able to foresee that daring reporters to check on your martial virtue would result in your being caught adultery-handed in Clintonesque trysts, you big dummy. (My words, not Ann’s.) And if hindsight is 20-20, hindsight aternate future readings are even better. Gary needs to study Chaos Theory  a bit more closely, and watch that old Star Trek episode. For all he knows, his election would have resulted in the world being taken over by Mole People.

Althouse also flagged the Dowd section where the Queen of Snark writes,

“As we fantasize about a parallel universe, where America is not a joke and our president cares about other human beings, the same questions keep swirling in our heads. What has happened to this country? Can he be stopped? When will it end? How the hell did we get here?”

Wow, Talk about bias making you stupid. To many of us who are at least as smart as Maureen, America is a joke when it embraces open borders and edicts by international organizations, when it warps the Constitution by declaring that men and police can be guilty until proven innocent if a member of a favored group accuses them, and allows a partisan news media to control public opinion. It’s not a very funny joke, though. Some trenchant comments on Ann’s post:

“I don’t know why I’m still surprised by liberals’ inability to do any real soul-searching. You’d think by now, after many hundreds of “how did we get here, why aren’t smart people like me listened to by the stupids?” articles, I’d give up hope that they will ever open their eyes and see what’s right in front of them. But then I remember, I’m a pollyanna. I can’t give up on anybody.”

***

“It would seem obvious to me that Trump does care about human beings, but not the ones Dowd think he should be caring about. And maybe her friends consider America a joke, and maybe that’s why we got were we are..”

***

“Dowd’s perspective is Technocratic. Society needs to be supervised by an educated elite. Democracy is just mob rule that will lead to ruin. But, we have to put on a facade so that the deplorables will accept our edicts. So we do the election thing, but the real rules are set behind the scenes by career bureaucrats. Politicians and the medias’ job is to set the agenda and influence popular opinion towards the “correct” attitudes”

Bingo. Bingo. Bingo. Continue reading

Sunday Evening Ethics Review, 6/3/18: A-Rod, Obama, And Herbert Hoover

Good evening….

1. Why is Alex Rodriguez on the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcasting team? I’m watching the game (Boston at Houston), and I’m wondering, “There weren’t any ex-players who weren’t suspended for a full season for cheating with PED’s (banned performance enhancing drugs)?  There aren’t any ex-players who didn’t repeatedly lie to fans and sportswriters, and generally behave like a loathsome creep both on and off the field?”

Rodriguez will be up for membership in the Hall of Fame shortly, and he falls so short of the minimal requirements of the museum’s character clause that if it were a contest between A-Rod and Barry Bonds, Bonds would win in a landslide, and his election would provoke a major protest among living Hall members.

What kind of values does employing Rodriguez convey to kid viewing the game? What does it say about ESPN’s values, or Disney’s, its parent? Why does Major League Baseball allow a sociopath like A-Rod to represent the game on television?

2. And you thought Trump was a raging narcissist…Maureen Dowd has a damning column about Barack Obama that she muffles with equivocation, perhaps out of fear that Times readers can’t handle the truth, just like they can’t handle the results of Presidential elections. Some excerpts…

Shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Rhodes writes in his new book, “The World as It Is,” Obama asked his aides, “What if we were wrong?”But in his next breath, the president made it clear that what he meant was: What if we were wrong in being so right? What if we were too good for these people? “Maybe we pushed too far,” the president continued. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.”

This from the most tribe-obsessed, intentionally divisive U.S. President in memory.

“Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,” Obama mused to aides. We just weren’t ready for his amazing awesomeness.

Ack. Gag. Obama was a largely incompetent President and ineffectual leader, and yet he accepts no accountability whatsoever. His failures were everyone else’s fault. Yecchh. The man’s character is  as offensive as Trump’s, just different.

“I couldn’t shake the feeling that I should have seen it coming,” Rhodes writes about the “darkness” that enveloped him when he saw the electoral map turn red. “Because when you distilled it, stripped out the racism and misogyny, we’d run against Hillary eight years ago with the same message Trump had used: She’s part of a corrupt establishment that can’t be trusted to change.”

Bad time to figure that out.

Ya think? Especially since Obama ‘s administration was corrupt itself, as Hillary’s prominent role in it amply demonstrated.

Obama did not like persuading people to do what they didn’t want to do. And that is the definition of politics. He wanted them simply to do what he had ascertained to be right. President Obama could be deliberative, reticent and cautious to a fault, which spurred an appetite for a more impulsive, visceral, hurly-burly successor.

Translation: Obama was weak, and Americans prefer strong Presidents.  He paved the way for Trump. And he doesn’t understand at all, because his courtiers and the suck-up news media would only tell him that he was wonderful…for eight years. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/6/17 [UPDATED]

 

CORRECTION: somehow, and I have no idea why, this somehow was posted with “Comment of the Day” in the headline. And because today has been marred by illness and unexpected events, I didn’t see the mistake until 7:43 PM. I’m sorry for the confusion. I need a vacation.

1. Continuing my informal survey of the Trump Hate obsession at the New York Times,  the trend I noticed last week in the flagship for “the resistance” on the Times staff, the Sunday Times Review section, continued dramatically. Is this evidence that Times readers are finally getting sick of the paper’s unethical obsession? Time will tell. There was just one Trump Hate piece in the ten page section, out of 16 separate essays and op-eds. (A professor of anti-American studies has an essay that attacks all Trump voters and supporters as racists. Should this count? Nah. If you’re not a Democrat, you’re a racist, that’s all. It isn’t about Trump.) Oh, one of the editorials was questioning the Trump policy approach, but that’s within the normal range of newspaper editorials. The one hate essay was borderline, Maureen Dowd being snarky about the Russia investigation. She’s more of a humor writer than a true pundit, inclined to go where the most laughs lie, and her last paragraph was so, so dumb that it effectively discredited anything else she wrote, or will write, really. Dowd wrote,

“On Thursday, the president pout-tweeted that it was Congress’s fault that “our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low.” So he was blaming lawmakers who punished Russia for a cyberattack on our election rather than blaming Russia for sticking a saber in the heart of our democracy.”

Right, Maureen: Russia letting the American public know that the Democratic Party rigged its nomination, that Barack Obama knew about Hillary Clinton’s breaching her own department’s cyber-security requirements, that the Democratic Party’s candidate was running illegal pay-to-play shakedowns of foreign governments to fill the Clinton Foundation coffers (and her husband pockets), that reporters were colluding with her campaign to make certain she was elected, and that the DNC chair used her CNN position to help Hillary cheat in a debate stuck a saber in our democracy. In other words, Russia stuck a saber in our democracy by uncovering genuine evidence that the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton had stuck multiple sabers in our democracy. I have actually described the “Russian interference” almost exactly this way to die-hard Hillary-ites, and they see nothing amiss with that analysis.

Or was Maureen just making another joke?

2. Some NFL players are now speaking up, protesting that free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick is being “blackballed” by NFL owners because of his ridiculous anti-National Anthem stunt last season while playing for San Francisco. “Blackballed” implies something unethical and subterranean. We all know why Kaepernick hasn’t been hired: a) he’s not very good and b) he can’t be trusted not to embarrass his team and annoy fans by creating racially divisive (and incoherent) political theater on the field.

Does this “chill” his political speech? All of our political speech is “chilled” to the extent that when we speak out about controversial matters while representing our employers, we risk losing out jobs.  If the NFL put pressure on the teams not to hire this jerk, that would  raise ethical and legal issues, but why would they have to? He was a disruptive employee who wasn’t good enough to get the unethical benefits of the King’s Pass. No team in its right mind would pay millions to Kaepernick. Indeed, teams have an obligation not to. Their job is to win games, make money, and entertain fans. Keapernick undermines all three objectives. Continue reading

Abortion Ethics Train Wreck Update: Trump’s Comments Prove He Hasn’t Thought About Abortion (Irresponsible), Criticism Of Hillary’s Comments Prove Abortion Advocates Don’t Want ANYBODY Thinking About Abortion (Dishonest), and Pundit Criticism Of Maureen Dowd’s Question To Trump About Abortion Makes No Sense (Incompetent)

stages

Good job, everybody!

It is a cliché to say that Americans never talk frankly about race. Yet our aversion to honest talk about race pales compared to the lazy, intellectually dishonest and cowardly way we discuss one of the major ethics conflicts of our age, abortion.

1. For some reason, it took seven months of the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination for anyone to ask Donald Trump about his views on abortion, which is a core issue to conservatives, progressives and feminists, as wellas a major factor in the controversy over the composition of the Supreme Court. Never mind that Trump’s answers were incoherent and contradictory, and that he took  five different positions on abortion in three days last week: what was outrageous about Trump’s answer(s) was that he was obviously winging it. He had never given the issue any quality thought at all (if he is capable of quality thought, which I doubt), and faking it, indeed as he has faked his entire campaign. Do Trump supporters need further smoking gun evidence that he is not only unprepared for the Presidency, but too lazy, irresponsible and intellectually limited to be trusted with the job?

Okay, we know they do, because they are impervious to logic or reason.  Still, this was a stunning display of Trump’s hollowness and incompetence as a candidate.

2. Then Hillary Clinton wandered into the same mine field, a map of which she should be know by heart. “The unborn person doesn’t have constitutional rights,” Mrs. Clinton said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Now that doesn’t mean that we don’t do everything we possibly can in the vast majority of instances to, you know, help a mother who is carrying a child and wants to make sure that child will be healthy, to have appropriate medical support.”

To begin with, the statement is false: the Supreme Court has ruled that embryos do have rights at some point, much disputed, before they are born. She was correct, however, that a living, growing organism that left alone and allowed to mature will be born, and will upon birth be a person in the eyes of the law and in the definitions of common sense, is by definition a person prior to that except for the absence of its birth, and thus is, by common construction, an unborn person, or, if you prefer, unborn human being, unborn baby, or unborn child. A bill is an unpassed law. A manuscript is an unpublished book. A law school grad is an unlicensed lawyer….which is to say, not a lawyer until something happens that has not happened yet. Hillary did not misspeak, except that speaking the truth is misspeaking to the pro-abortion lobby.

The problem is that Hillary’s terminology conjures up images of tiny hands and tiny heads, perhaps with tiny mouths sucking tiny thumbs. Hence she was immediately taken to the woodshed and told to be more careful about what she admits to. Continue reading

Some Hillary E-Mail Ethics Test Results: Dowd, Carville, Maher, Whitehouse, Boxer, Huffington

F minusLast week I pointed out that the controversy over Hillary’s secret e-mail server and the various deceits and lies she has employed to justify is invaluable, not merely as further evidence of the character of the woman Democrats seem determine to stuff down America’s throat as the next President, but also as an integrity and values test for the politicians, elected officials, pundits and journalists who choose to publicly defend her…or not.

So it has been, and continues to be. Unfortunately, Republicans and reliably conservative pundits are disqualified from the test, as they would be condemning Hillary whether there was an ethical defense of her e-mails or not. They will end up on the right side of this issue by simply following their ideological proclivities, and thus deserve no credit for being incidentally correct.

Here is what you have to remember, however: the fact the Republicans and conservatives who reached their position on this issue without giving it any thought detest and distrust Hillary Clinton and are being, in some cases, unattractively gleeful about the scandal does not make Hillary’s defense any stronger. As I explained in the earlier posts, she has no legitimate defense, just spin, rationalizations and deceit. That’s why the e-mail incident challenges the non-Hillary haters to exhibit integrity.

I was tempted to exempt Democratic strategists and Clinton consultants from the test as well, since they are, in essence, paid liars. For anyone inclined to believe them, however, the fact that these people—Karen Finney, Donna Brazile, Lanny Davis, David Brock, James Carville— will go on national TV, look an interviewer and the American public in the eye and say what they know is false should prove that their level of trustworthiness is below sea level.

Carville, for example, gave a tour de force of rationalizations on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, making the recently popular argument that the Clinton’s just can’t get away with fudges and sneaks that other politicians do, and that this is so, so unfair.  Let’s go to the Rationalizations List! This is the Golden Rationalization (“Everybody does it”) squared by the #39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” (That argument is disingenuous, because the Clintons are not like everyone else. They have a long, ugly record of deception and rule-breaking. At this point, they cannot credibly claim, “We just made a mistake” —# 19 and #20. There is a pattern. Once a pattern is established, you have to be especially careful not to repeat it, or there is a rebuttable presumption that you can’t help yourself. Is it unfair to an alcoholic to make a bigger deal out of him coming home drunk than when an occasional drinker does the same thing?) Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Wall Street Journal Blogger James Taranto

Useful fact: Mitt Romney is running for President, and Maureen Dowd isn't. You can't use her to judge his ethics, just as you shouldn't use him to judge her hair.

Oh James, James. What am I going to do with you? For the third time this year you have barged into Ethics Dunce territory, surely a place one of the most consistently perceptive, witty and reasonable of conservative commentators never belongs.

But what is an ethicist to do when you attempt to trivialize an outrageously dishonest and misleading campaign ad by Mitt Romney, in which a statement by President Obama [ “Sen. McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote: ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,’ “referring to the 2008 economy under Bush ] is edited to suggest something completely different [ “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose,” implying that “we’ means the Democrats] from what he was really saying, by showing that other politicians and New York Times columnists play the same unethical game? So what? How do the unethical journalistic practices of the Times columnists you deftly expose on a regular basis in any way make Romney’s ad less reprehensible? Continue reading

Ethics Rant: “Medal of Honor”, Rev. Jones, and Imam Rauf

Almost everything has been reminding me of the “Ground Zero Mosque” lately. It is driving me crazy, perhaps because the rhetoric of the pro-Cordoba House “You’re a bigot if you don’t think this is the best idea since Disney World”  crowd is increasingly unfair and absurd, and getting worse by the minute. Or perhaps it is that the inconsistent reasoning and blindness to embarrassing analogies exhibited by just about everyone who comments on this issue has reached the detonation point. Continue reading

When the President Agrees With Me, He’s Wrong

Let’s see if I can make this both coherent and succinct.

President Obama was ethical, responsible, and brave to weigh in on the Ground Zero Mosque (more accurately called “The Two-Blocks From Ground Zero Mosque”), and reaffirm America’s commitment to freedom of religion for all faiths by declaring that the Islamic group has the right to build its planned Islamic center.

After being roundly (and predictably) slammed by conservative talking heads, blogging bigots, and ranting reactionaries for stating the obvious, however, the President (or his advisors; the advisors are the ones who thought this was a dandy time to send Michelle and the kids on a luxury vacation in Spain, and can be identified by the large dunce caps on their heads…) decided to come back and clarify his remarks, lest anyone think he was actually endorsing the idea of an Islamic monument so near the spot where thousands of innocent Americans perished at the hands of Islamic extremists.

“I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there,” Obama told reporters in Panama City, Fla.  “I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That’s what our country is about.” This statement isn’t quite “I didn’t inhale” or “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is,” but it is still a solid candidate for the Presidential Weasel Words Hall of Fame. By saying he would not comment, President Obama was commenting, and implying, by saying what he would not comment about, that if he did comment, it would be that the mosque was probably not such a hot idea, since fairly or not, it was bound to be misunderstood as an insult to the victims of 9-11.

It was inappropriate and wrong for Obama to suggest this, in weasel words or otherwise. (It would be more honest and forthright to eschew the weasel word method, however.) Continue reading

Super-Soaker Ethics at Joe Biden’s Party

I don’t think I can do a better or more thorough job than Salon’s Glenn Greenwald at making crystal clear what is so ethically wrong with members of the Washington press corps happily frolicking with Vice President Biden, Rahm Emanuel and other administration Obama officials at Biden-hosted party, so read his column here. Not that what Greenwald says shouldn’t be immediately obvious, especially to the journalists themselves, but it obviously isn’t. I just heard Judith Miller, the former New York Times reporter turned Fox flack, laughingly say that she used to share an Amtrak car with Biden when he was a Senator to get inside information, and she didn’t see why accompanying him on a water slide was any different.

Oh, come on. Continue reading