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

It’s A Super-Political Day, With Iowa, The STU, And The Impeachment Wrapping Up, So I Will Forgive Myself For Yet Another Politics-Related Post…

A. Let this be a reminder that the social media giants will try to place their fists on the scale this election cycle.

The political spot above, a creation of the Republican group America Rising, was flagged by Twitter, which warned users that   “The following media includes potentially sensitive content.”

What’s the sensitive content? The video is overwhelmingly constructed of news clips and recorded quotes from political figures, including the President, that were broadcast nationwide.   It appears that Twitter considers pro-Trump, Republican, conservative advocacy, even of a res ipsa loquitur variety, inherently offensive to its audience. That may well be true, but the Russian attempts to manipulate what voters see and here in the 2016 campaign will be  dwarfed by the domestic efforts by the social media platforms and search engines—all for the greater good, of course.

B. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Go ahead, enablers and deniers, rationalize  this one. Continue reading

Urgent Notice Of Correction: Chuck Schumer’s Apparently Non-Existent “Unethical Quote Of The Century,” And My Abject Apology Because Bias Made Me Stupid

Last evening, I posted an Unethical Quote allegedly made by Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer that “Donald Trump’s impeachment acquittal will be meaningless because we never accepted the results of the 2016 election in the first place. Anyone who accepts an acquittal is a danger to our democracy.” I originally titled it the Unethical Quote of the Day, and later, as I read it again while responding to the predictable shocked comments, I upgraded the comment to Unethical Quote of the Century, a designation I was prepared to defend.

This morning, momentarily awake and planning to go back to sleep, I decided to check the Ethics Alarms comments, and saw this, from frequent commenter Here’s Johnny.

Re: Unethical quote:
I would think that, for the unethical quote of the century, I would be able to find a few references to it in the news media. My best Google search efforts have turned up reports from Ethics Alarms and The Sacramento Brie. The Brie does not appear to be a legitimate news site, and their reference to this quote appears to show a Fox News screen grab. Searching at Fox News did not turn up the quote. The quote does not appear in the Senate Democrats text of Schumer’s comments at the press conference where he supposedly made the comment.
So, what is going on here? Is there evidence that Schumer actually said what is in the quote? I could not find it.

This was disturbing. The post had no link, which is unusual, and I couldn’t tracj down where I got it from, though I believe the pointer came from a Trump Deranged friend on Facebook who quoted it approvingly. I’ve checked my browser history to no avail. After reading HJ’s comment, I listened to every YouTube clip I could find from Schumer yesterday. He made a number of disingenuous and hyperbolic statements about a trial with no witnesses not being a trial (The Clinton impeachment had no witnesses, and Democrats seemed to be happy with that), but nothing as outrageous as the alleged quote I posted.

Like Johnny, I cannot believe that if Schumer said something that irresponsible, it wouldn’t have been widely reported. Thus I am suspending the post pending verification, and as of this moment, assume that it was false. I also deleted the tweet that the blog generates for every post. I will continue to  look for the quote and the source, and to identify exactly how this happened.

To some extent I know the latter: the news media and other Democrats have been foaming at the mouth for days, and many of the quotes are no less head-exploding than Schumer’s, except that they were not made by the leader of the party in the Senate. Assuming that there was no such Schumer quote, I was bitten by fake news that triggered confirmation bias. I have written for years that the Democrats/”resistance”/ mainstream media alliance have denied the legitimacy of President Trump’s election, and that conclusion is objectively unavoidable. Though I was stunned to see Schumer say so out loud, it was not as if what the quote indicated was out of line with reality. The second part, about “the danger to democracy,” echoed many of the irresponsible statements made by Rep. Schiff and others during the House impeachment managers’ presentation, and similar rhetoric by pundits and other Democrats. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), for example, tweeted yesterday,

“The Senate’s abdication of responsibility to the rule of law represents a much deeper threat to our democracy, our institutions, and our republic. The GOP knows that its agenda is incompatible with democracy, so their larger project is to dismantle it.”

That statement is as inflammatory and absurd as the alleged Schumer tweet, but not as shocking because OAC is, after all, an idiot. Schumer, however, is not.

I cannot apologize sufficiently for this. My attention has been even more divided than usual this past week—that’s not an excuse, but a partial explanation—and I’ve been bouncing around two computers and two many news sources to count, and, apparently, keep proper track of. I should never post a story or commentary with out verified links to the source, and, frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t this time.

Facebook is unreliable; I know that. There were plenty of aspects of the quote that should have set off my own ethics alarms, but I let my emotions take over: the quote really infuriated me, because as I suggested by noting the Schumer was “playing with fire,” that kind of rhetoric—and there has been a lot of it— rips at the connective tissue that holds this republic together. However, publishing unverified inflammatory rhetoric is just as wrong as saying such things.

Readers here have to be able to trust me; an ethics blog without trust is like a—oh, you can make up your own metaphor, I’m too upset to be clever—and this time I failed their, your, trust by not following my own procedures, and apparently being fooled  because I didn’t heed my most important rule, to avoid bias making me stupid. I apologize to everyone reading this, everyone who passed along what appears to be Ethics Alarms fake news, and everyone who might have been misled by the fact that the invalid quote was passed along. I apologize to the commenters whose reactions are vanishing with the essay: I’m so sorry. I wasted your time. I also apologize to Senator Schumer.

I am going to have to do better, and I will.

I could say that I hope I can find that the quote was accurate after all, but I don’t. I am relieved that it appears to have been fabricated. I felt, when I read it, and foolishly believed it, that this was a tipping point, and a dangerous one.

Now, before I go back to bed and dream of self-flagellation,  I am going to add the portion of the banned post that I know was accurate, because it had value. Indeed, another reason I accepted the quote impulsively, I think, is that it gave me a pwoerful lead-in to content I had already written. That will teach me.

I hope.

Here’s the remaining section of the now zapped post, and one more time, I am so sorry: Continue reading

The Damning Fake Video

During last week’s  impeachment hearings, Democratic Judiciary Counsel Norman Eisen (above, on the left) presented a video clip showing President Trump  saying: “Then I have an Article II, where I have the right to do whatever I want as President.” Asked to comment on the video, Harvard Law School Professor Noah Feldman—you know, he’s the one who falsely told the committee and America that Nixon “sent burglars” to steal documents from the Democratic National Committee’s headquarters in 1972. That guy— replied, “As someone who cares about the Constitution,” the statement “struck a kind of horror in me.”

Jerry Nadler, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, referenced the same quotation as it was heard in the clip , concluding that President Trump “believes that in his own words, ‘I can do whatever I want.’” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was referencing the same video when she said Thursday that Trump threatened  the Constitution by acting as a “king.”

Later in the week, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig twice cited the same clip.  So did MSNBC’s Chris Mathews during  “Hardball,” and  MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on “Morning Joe.” The Washington Post spread the same report about the video.

In all six cases, a video deceptively edited to misrepresent what the President was referring to was used to inflame and deceive.  Continue reading

Observations On The Latest Democratic Candidate’s Debate

1. The futile, meandering, preaching to the choir debate this week, played against the backdrop of the Democratic Party’s disastrous impeachment hearings, should have made the purpose of the latter clear as crystal for anyone not in denial.

The hearings, like Mueller’s unprofessional and unethical statements after his report was submitted, are designed to “soften” up the President and wound him before the campaign, so he can be bested by one of the stunningly weak options the party has gathered for itself.

This is a misuse of the impeachment process, and was devised as one long, long ago. Thus Rep. Al Green admitted last week that impeaching Trump has been his long-time quest. And Atty. General Barr, to his great credit, made the soft coup plot explicit in his recent speech, saying,

“Unfortunately through the past few years we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character. Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘The Resistance’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration. The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched earth, no holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law. . .

“This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a Democratic republic. The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president.”

The discussion of Barr’s speech (and Prof. Turley’s misguided criticism of it) in the Open Forum was excellent. Had I been get to a keyboard, Barr would have received an Ethical Quote Of The Week honor. He articulated exactly what Ethics Alarms identified as the undemocratic process under way since the first “Not My President!” protests, when the “Resistance” disgraced their ideology and our history. Barr didn’t mention it, but Hillary Clinton has explicitly said that she considered herself a member of “the resistance.” The defeated opponent of a legally elected President of the United States has allied herself with a movement to erase the results of the election that defeated her by any means possible—and now so has her party.

And may I say, the FOOLS. You can’t trust polls, but the indications are that, as expected by the non-Trump deranged, the impeachment charade has hardened support for the President and public resentment of Democrats.

The transcript is here.

2. Also in the Fools category: continuing to have a mob on stage for a “debate.” Twelve is far too many people to have a useful or coherent debate, or even whatever these things are.

3. MSNBC talking heads should not be permitted to moderate these things. The bias was so thick you could hardly see the stage. The moderators carefully set out not to ask  questions that would make the candidates have to thread any policy needles. Where were questions about whether teachers and professors should be dismissed for using “the N-word” to discuss “the N-word”? What is the position of these candidates on censoring speech?

Why weren’t the candidates asked to explain why the large number of children detained “in cages” by the Obama administration, as revealed again when Obama’s 2015 statistics were falsely publicized this week as Trump administration counts,  didn’t trigger any outrage at all in their party, and now its mentioned as groundz for impeachment? Why weren’t they asked to explain what their solution is be to  waves of children being used as sympathy-drawing pawns by illegal immigrants?

How about, “Beto O’Rourke recently withdrew from the race. He had received criticism for openly admitting that he favored gun confiscation. What is your position on gun confiscation, especially in light of the recent news that New Zealand’s efforts have fallen far short of what the nation expected?”

Instead, we got Rachel Maddow asking Elizabeth Warren  if she  would she try to convince other Senators to convict President Trump in a Senate impeachment trial.

Indeed, the whole night was disproportionately devoted to Trump-bashing, as if this would distinguish any candidate from another.

4. As Joe Biden appears more and more of a liability, doesn’t the claim that President Trump was only seeking an investigation of the ex-VP to eliminate a feared rival for his office look like more and more of a contrivance? Why wouldn’t Trump want to run against this boob?

Defending his record with black voters during the debate, Joe Biden called Sen. Carol Moseley Braun the “only” black female Senator (she was the first), and invoked her name like being endorsed by Braun is a badge of honor. Braun was clumsily corrupt; only the fact that Bill Clinton was pulling the strings of the Justice Department stopped her from being indicted.  A 1993 Federal Election Commission investigation found that she never accounted for  $249,000 in campaign funds. The IRS twice requested that the the Justice Department investigate her further, but it refused. After all, you couldn’t have the “first black President” turning on the first black woman Senator. Continue reading