Wednesday Ethics Windstorm,11/11/20: Liars, Knaves, Fools And Birds

Great Tit

1. Incompetent headline dept. Someone at a newspaper has to be alert enough to catch a risible headline like this:

Great tits

A Great Tit is the pretty bird above.

2. Who believes that MSNBC didn’t know this? (I don’t.) MSNBC was shocked—shocked!—to discover that the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Jom Meacham, who had been a regular on MSNBC’s 24-7 anti-Trump barrage, never told them that he was working for the Joe Biden team. on speeches, including his victory address. Meacham appeared on MSNBC following the speech to comment on the speech he had written but didn’t disclose to viewers that the speech he loved cane from his own laptop as he said,  “Tonight marks — the entire election results mark — a renewal of an American conversation where we’re struggling imperfectly to realize the full implications of the Jeffersonian promise of equality,” said Meacham. “It’s taken us too long, our work has been bloody and tragic and painful and difficult and, Lord knows, it is unfinished, but at our best we try.”

MSNBC announced that due to this “discovery. Meacham would no longer be a paid contributor, but he would be welcome to appear on future panels, thus showing the high regard for integrity for which the network is famous. If Meacham lied to MSNBC and its viewers while withholding a crucial conflict of interest, why would he be allowed back on the air in any capacity? Why would anyone trust him?

I believe that MSNBC knew that Meacham was working for Democrats while he was bashing Trump. And this is yet another example of how unprofessional the profession of historian has become.

Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Aggravations, 11/10/2020: Mitch, Audra, Jeff And Joy

Annoyed

We just passed 300,000 comments on Ethics Alarms, and I’ll stack the consistent quality of them against any other blog on the web.

Thanks, everyone.

1.Regarding the gall, intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy of Democrats and their supporters complaining about the President insisting on examining the returns and various irregularities before accepting the networks’ declaration that Biden won. I could not believe that Mitch McConnell and I would ever agree on anything, but we do this time. Yesterday he said in part on the floor of the Senate,

“Let’s not have any lectures, no lectures, about how the president should immediately, cheerfully accept preliminary election results from the same characters who just spent four years refusing to accept the validity of the last election and who insinuated that this one would be illegitimate too if they lost again — only if they lost,” the majority leader added. In fact, millions of Americans signed a petition urging the electors to vote for Hillary Clinton after Trump won in 2016. The people who push this hysteria could not have any more egg on their faces than they do right now,”

Bingo.

2. Please note: unethical law firms just pay out damages and fines. It’s only individual lawyers—usually the little guys, sole practitioners— who get disciplined. A state court judge in Houston dismissed a $750 million lawsuit against the huge international law firm Jones Day filed by Berkshire Hathaway. The lawsuit alleged the law firm participated in a “massive fraud” in connection with its work on an acquisition in Germany. The case can be refiled, and probably will. A law firm committing fraud means that its partners were responsible for the fraud, but unethical or even criminal conduct by large law firms seldom result in discipline for the law firm’s partners. The technical reason is that bar associations don’t oversee firms, just individual lawyers, so for big firms assisting their clients in frauds and other crimes, there is safety in numbers.

Continue reading

Worst Ethics Role Model Of The Week: Hillary Clinton

Hillaryshrug

I have no desire to magnify or dwell on Hillary Clinton’s failures and character flaws. She has reason to be miserable, just as Al Gore did; I really can’t imagine what it must be like to be either of them.

However, as Hyman Roth memorably said, “This is the life we have chosen!” Politics involves regular defeat and victory, compromises and disappointments, all under public scrutiny, with plaudits and jeers a routine part of the experience. If you can’t handle it, you’re in the wrong business. While I can be sympathetic to the stresses of the life, I also expect those who try to persuade us to bestow extraordinary honors, power and trust upon them to display extraordinary character or at least adequate character.

This Hillary Clinton has shown, repeatedly, she cannot do. The character is not there to  display.

Here is what she said in part in a guest appearance on Kara Swisher’s New York Times Opinion podcast, “Sway,” after  Swisher asked Clinton if she thought a woman president would handle the coronavirus pandemic more ably. [What an idiotic question, but that’s Kara Swisher for you…]

“I have no doubt, especially if it were me. I was born for that. I mean, that’s why I knew I’d be a good president. I was ready for crises and emergencies, and I would have done what you see these women leaders doing. You listen to the science. You bring in people in an open, inclusive way. You communicate constantly, you make the case by explaining why what you’re doing is in the long-term interests, not only of health, but also, of the economy. Yeah, I have no doubt in my mind at all that I would have stepped up to that crisis.”

Regarding the possibility of the President’s re-election, Clinton said,

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/25/2020: Dumb And Dumber

Good morning, I guess.

It is clear, if it wasn’t already, that everything hinges on whether the American public is as stupid and inattentive as those seeking to manipulate it think it is.

1. Mobs? What mobs? I just listed to CNN’s health expert, Dr. Gupta, list the reasons there has been a surge in Wuhan virus cases. Notably absent from his list were the mass, no social distancing demonstrations/protests/riots that began two weeks ago as a prominent part of the George Floyd Ethics Train Wreck. These, as you may recall, were largely supported by the health experts (though I don’t have a record of Gupta being among them) as they apparently decided that Black Lives Matter matters more than all the black lives that would be put in danger by ignoring the safety measures we shut down the country to install.

I also have yet to read a single news story about the new cases of the virus that highlights the completely predictable effect of the mobs, which are still roaming, as a factor in the so-called “surge,” though I can’t check everything.

Is the news media really certain that if they don’t report this connection, it will never occur to most of the public? I’m already reading accusations that opening up the states is “racist” because of the evidence that African-Americans have contracted the virus and died from it at a higher rate than the rest of the public. By that logic, encouraging the mobs of George Floyd protesters was also racist.

To re-phrase Wilford Brimley from his great scene in “Absence of Malice”: “American Public, are you that dumb?” So far, it seems so. Continue reading

KABOOM! I Do NOT Enjoy Having My Head Explode First Thing On A Saturday Morning, But NBC HIRED LISA PAGE!!!

On one level, my head blew because this is such a cynical, flagrantly biased act that rejects any concept of ethical journalism. On another, it blew up in shame. With all the nauseating evidence I’ve discussed here pointing to a rotting American journalism that sees itself as the engine of partisan propaganda rather than the means to an informed public, I somehow didn’t think it was this bad. This is my own bias at work: I’m a sap. I want to believe that somewhere, buried deep in the mainstream media, there is integrity and the spark of respect for democracy.

Page was the FBI attorney engaged in an adulterous relationship with Mueller investigation team member Peter Strzok. Their text messages raised legitimate questions about the anti-Trump bias in the FBI and  among those handling the “collusion” matter.  In particular, the reference to the FBI investigation as “insurance” if Trump was elected in an exchange between the lovebirds in  August 2016 seemed to be a smoking gun.

Recently, Page’s name has surfaced  in  the Michael Flynn case. In newly released  texts between Page and  Strzok, who was significantly involved in the pursuit of Flynn, Page suggested that Flynn could be set up using the federal law that criminalizes lies to federal investigators. She suggested to Strzok that “it would be an easy way to just casually slip that in,”  reinforcing other evidence that there was a “get Flynn” mentality at the FBI. Thus Page’s conduct will be a live topic in the upcoming inquiries in Congress and the Justice Department surrounding the methods and motives of the FBI as it pursued Flynn and sought to undermine the Trump Administration. It is outrageous to have an analyst who will be analyzing events that involve herself…or once was considered so, when journalists paid attention to ethics. Continue reading

Ethics Lunch, 4/14/2020: The Bad, The Ugly, And The Yummy

Abundunza!

1. Remember when Joe Biden said that the President needed to stop saying whatever popped into his head? This is the kind of thing he was talking about.

He suggested last week during the White House briefing that insurance companies should pay out business interruption claims related to the pandemic, even if coverage for such an event  is not explicitly included in their policy. Trump said regarding insurance for an interruption of business,

“If I had it, I’d expect to be paid. All of the sudden they need it … and I don’t see the word pandemic mentioned. Now in some cases, it is. It’s an exclusion. But in a lot of cases, I don’t see it. I don’t see reference and they don’t want to pay up. I would like to see the insurance companies pay if they need to pay, if it’s fair….You have people that have never asked for business interruption insurance (payouts) and they’ve been paying a lot of money for a lot of years for the privilege of having it. And then when they finally need it, the insurance company says ‘we’re not going to give it.’ We can’t let that happen.”

Ugh. Insurance doesn’t work like that and can’t work like that, though I’m sure, as a businessman, Trump would take a shot at trying to make such a case. It is irresponsible, however, to misinform the public that such a claim would be reasonable. Insurance companies should have to meet their contractual obligations; Trump’s theory would cause premiums to explode. Continue reading

An Unethical Quotes Of The Week Cornucopia!

So many people are saying so many irresponsible, dishonest and stupid things in the throes of the Wuhan Virus freakout that I can’t possibly run all of them, or even a representative percentage, but I can’t let these pass.

1. President Trump, yesterday…

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”

Sometimes I think the President is actively trying to make people’s heads explode. As the New Yor Times quickly documented (on the front page), this is historical revisionism, gaslighting, or insanity.

  • On Jan. 22, asked by a CNBC reporter whether there were “worries about a pandemic,” President Trump replied: “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”
  • On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, he said,  “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”
  • On Feb. 27: “It’s going to disappear. One day — it’s like a miracle — it will disappear.”
  • On March 7, when asked if he was concerned that the virus was spreading closer to Washington: “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, I’m not. No, we’ve done a great job.”

As I have written here before, I refuse to make a big deal out of Trump being Trump, and those who do are simply being self indulgent. Some irresponsible statements are worse than others, and yesterday’s was especially outrageous. It’s in the category of lies that are almost not lies because no one could possibly believe them, like if the President said he was a Stegosaurus. However, if the public knows that whatever he says might be a temporary fantasy, his leadership ability is seriously handicapped. The problem with this kind of statement isn’t that it’s so obviously untrue, but that saying it is so spectacularly self-destructive and stupid.

2. MSNBC Analyst Glenn Kirschner, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, in a tweet: Continue reading

Selective Censorship, Manipulation, Spin And Omissions By The News Media And Social Media: You Know It Will Only Get Worse

1.  Twitter has expanded its “hate speech” prohibitions, and not, I assume, for the last time.

Twitter announced that it has expanded its “hate speech’ policies to include tweets that make “dehumanizing remarks,” defined as remarks that treat “others as less than human,” on the basis of age, disability, or disease. These additions further enlarge on the company’s polices made last July that said Twitter would remove tweets that dehumanize religious groups. Before that, in 2018 , Twitter issued a broad ban on “dehumanizing speech” to compliment its existing hate speech policies that cover protected classes like race and gender.

This is the nose of a very dangerous camel entering the metaphorical tent. As always, the problem with “hate speech” prohibitions is that the “hate” is always  matter of subjective judgment. Censorship of any kind constrains expression, and as we head into a political campaign,  Twitter’s creeping policing of words and metaphors is ominous. You cannot trust these people to be even-handed, to make close calls, or to avoid acting on bias.

2. The threat is made worse because social media platforms allow both parties to “work the umpire,” encouraging  them to demand that Twitter, YouTube and Facebook take down tweets and posts that one or the other doesn’t like. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/3/2020: Super Tuesday Edition

Excited?

1. The Super Tuesday tragedy. I can’t find it online, but this supposedly crucial day in the 2020 Democratic Party nomination race yanked out of my mental archives a cartoon in the old National Lampoon that ran in 1972. It showed Richard Nixon saying, “Vote for me! I’ll make Southeast Asia look like the bottom of a used Shake ‘n’ Bake bag!”, and on the other side, showed George McGovern saying, “Vote for me! I have a spine like a wet bed of kelp!” That was the first election in which I could vote, and I refused to do so as a matter of principle. I had good friends who were passionate about McGovern, and I felt sorry for them. He was decent man, but so obviously not a rational choice for President of the United States.

All four of the Democrats (sort of…two of them are pretending to be Democrats) still in the race today are just awful options for anyone with their eyes open and not overcome with hatred of Donald Trump, which, it is clear, a distressing number of once-intelligent people are.  In the end, the Democratic Party is accountable for allowing things to come to this, just as the Republican Party was accountable for allowing itself to be swamped by Donald Trump, a real estate mogul who began his campaign as just one more branding opportunity, and hit the jackpot. How can any Democrat defend a vote for Michael Bloomberg, when part of the “resistance’s”  hate for President Trump is based on his alleged autocratic ways and threat to a free press, and they know that the former New York mayor has ordered his own news agency not to criticize him and is betting that his money alone will give him the White House? How can any Democrat defend a vote for Joe Biden, after that  party has claimed for three years that President Trump is mentally unfit and sexist,  and hearing Joe Biden sound more and more like Grandpa before he was put in a home, and seeing  photo after photo of women and girls wincing as Joe exploited a photo op to kiss, hug, grope or sniff them? How can any American defend a vote for Bernie Sanders ( and if I have to elaborate, you’re hopeless)? Finally, how can any Democrats filled with hate for  the President because of his lies, real or imagined, vote for Elizabeth Warren, whose career and campaign have been built on a foundation of lies?

Continue reading