“The Bulwark’s” Contorted, Self-Indicting Defense Of The Mainstream Media

One reason Ethics Alarms highlighted Andrew Sullivan’s late-to-the-party sounding of his own alarm against the near total corruption of the mainstream media with Left-leaning bias—it was a bit like shouting “Fire!” in a theater that was already burned to the ground—was that I was curious to see if the mainstream media’s defenders would try to counter it. It can’t be countered honestly, you see. At this point, it’s like denying that the Earth moves around the Sun, yet denials are still the reflex norm both among journalists and those who appreciate news reporting working so hard to accomplish their obviously virtuous political agendas.

I did not expect “The Bulwark,” of all places, to defend the mainstream media against Sullivan’s statement of the obvious, but upon reflection, I should have. The Bulwark is the retreat site of poor Bill Kristol after he snapped like a a dry twig in a harsh wind and blew up his credibility, reputation and “The Weekly Standard” in a tantrum over am unmannerly and crude commoner like Donald Trump daring to get elected to the Presidency. Supposedly a man of principle and a true believer in conservative principles, neocom Bill declared that he would rather see those who oppose and would liquidate all of those principles to gain power than to tolerate someone so unworthy accomplishing policy objectives that Kristol would have endorsed a short time ago.

This elitist bit of bigotry (duplicated by other NeverTrumpers like George Will) deserves an eventual clinical analysis. Something similar to one was just focused on one-time conservative pundit for the Washington Post Jennifer Rubin over at “The American Thinker,” where Thomas Lifson writes that Rubin “stands out as possibly the most extreme case of Trump Derangement Syndrome among the former conservatives…Her hatred of Trump and the party that now is dominated by him and his supporters is so extreme that she wants the media to stop treating it as a legitimate representative of the roughly half the populace that votes for it.” Kristol’s agents’ at “The Bulwark” hatred is so extreme that it will defend the mainstream media’s constantly distorting the news to make conservatives and Republicans seem illegitimate. Which is worse? A Leftist media deliberately deceiving the public to warp the democratic process, or a conservative publication enabling it because they share a fanatic hatred? It’s a tough call.

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Are The GOP NeverTrumpers Genuinely Deranged Or Just Self-Revealed Hypocrites?

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In the end, it doesn’t matter: either way they discredit themselves and cannot be trusted. As Democrats and the news media (cue hoary cliché: “But I repeat myself!”) become increasingly desperate to stave off a much-deserved Democratic Party wipe-out in 2022, the NeverTrumpers are suddenly in demand again even though Trump will not be running. The desperation theory is that such bitter and personally biased flip-floppers can convince saner conservatives and GOP supporters to vote Democrat, even when that party has never been as extreme as it is today, or as hostile to American principles including democracy itself.

Yesterday provided a jaw-dropping example, an op-ed in the Times headlined, “We Are Republicans With A Plea: Elect Democrats.” Like so much we are seeing, hearing and reading lately, the screed is desperation itself, but fascinating. Amazingly, the melt-down of The Lincoln Project wasn’t enough to discourage the Axis of Unethical Conduct (the resistance, Democrats and the mainstream media) from hailing the leaky NeverTrumper lifeboat as their ship goes down. The only justification for the plea is that the authors hate Donald trump. That’s it. Nothing else. What current Democratic policies do the authors approve of? None are mentioned. Which Democratic Party leaders do they view as responsible and trustworthy? Nancy Pelosi? Joe Biden? Again, crickets.

Oh yes, about those authors. The thing is jointly authored by Miles Taylor, who was the Times’ sensational (and dishonest) “Anonymous” Deep State mole, and who famously (and profitably) wrote that he was sabotaging Trump administration initiatives from within the Department of Homeland Security, and Christine Todd Whitman, the failed New Jersey governor and W’s EPA head. She is one more Bush Family acolyte pledged to avenge Trump’s gratuitously mean statements about George and Jeb. These people are relentless. Naturally, the op-ed praises Rep. Liz Cheney, also a member of that club, who supported two illegal and contrived impeachments, violating the intent of the Constitution and permanently rendering the important impeachment safety valve as useless, to slake her personal grudge (Attacking President Bush means attacking Daddy). Whitman and Taylor call Cheney “courageous.”

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Ethics Dunce: William Kristol

The Weekly Standard went belly-up today. As usual when a publication dies, there isn’t just one reason. There are many reasons, including a changing market, competition, aging principals and bad luck. These factors were at work in this instance as well. However, the Weekly Standard was primarily doomed by the arrogance and selfish pique of the man who one would think would be the individual least inclined to harm the Standard, since it was his legacy. He went ahead and mortally wounded it anyway, for a stupid reason, if a popular one. He hated Donald Trump. That individual, of course, is William Kristol. Continue reading

Apology Of The Year (So Far): Patterico

I’m not a fan of the blog Patterico’s Pontifications for a lot of reasons, beginning with the fact that he doesn’t supply his real name. He appears to be a generally conservative blogger whose assessment of mainstream media bias comports with my own. He also has been a vocal Never Trumper, and since November of 2016, that way madness lies, as we can see from some of the hysterical commentary from the likes of Bill Kristol, George Will, Jennifer Rubin and others. Patterico’s brain jumped the shark with his ratification of the absurd Angry Left and “resistance” conspiracy theory that a former aide to Judge Kavanaugh, Zina Bush, was flashing a white supremacy signal behind him during the first day of the Senate hearings on Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. I wrote about it here; the controversy was beyond stupid, and in my opinion, so stupid that I did not feel it was worthy of a stand-alone post. I considered checking my Facebook friends’ posts to see how many of them were swallowing this idiocy, but chickened out.

The furious anti-Trump warriors become even more infuriated when you call them deranged, but the Zina Bush uproar is an excellent example of why it is not only fair to do so, but essential. They need to know. There is no reasonable justification for assuming or concluding that Zina Bush. or Brett Kavanaugh, or Donald Trump are white supremacists any more than there is justification for assuming or concluding that they are cocker spaniels or invaders from the Planet Zontar. If you think any of these people are really white supremacists with a white supremacy agenda, then you have slipped a cog somewhere, and need help.

I think what has happened to such sufferers is that they heard too many repetitions of certain dishonest and divisive parts of the Democratic party’s disinformation campaign to seed their coup, and at some point began to believe them, The white supremacy delusion seems to arise from the repeated smear, a standard one since Trump entered the Presidential race in 2015 by a frontal assault on the nation’s policy of encouraging and romanticizing illegal immigration, that opposing illegal immigration was the same as opposing immigration itself—hence xenophobia, hence “nativism,” hence racism, hence “white supremacy.” In fact, nothing in Donald Trump’s vast history of dubious conduct and ill-considered statements suggest a white supremicist agenda or beliefs in any way. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/20/18: Out Of Bounds

Good Morning!

1. Here is the level of logic and ethical reasoning the public is subjected to by the media: Here is NBC Sports blogger Bill Baer on why it is misguided for the Milwaukee Brewers not to punish relief pitcher Josh Hader—whose career crisis I discussed here–for tweets he authored when he was in high school seven years ago:

The “he was 17” defense rings hollow. At 17 years old, one is able to join the military, get a full driver’s license (in many states), apply for student loans, and get married (in some states). Additionally, one is not far off from being able to legally buy cigarettes and guns. Given all of these other responsibilities we give to teenagers, asking them not to use racial and homophobic slurs is not unreasonable. Punishing them when they do so is also not unreasonable.

A study from several years ago found that black boys are viewed as older and less innocent than white boys. A similar study from last year found that black girls are viewed as less innocent than white girls. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Cameron Tillman, among many others, never got the benefit of the doubt that Hader and countless other white kids have gotten and continue to get in our society. When we start giving the same benefit of the doubt to members of marginalized groups, then we can break out the “but he was only 17” defense for Hader.

How many repeatedly debunked false rationalizations and equivalencies are there in that blather? It’s not even worth rebutting: if you can’t see what’s wrong with it…if your reaction is, “Hey! Good point! Why is it OK for a cop to shoot a teenager for charging him after resisting arrest, but not OK to suspend a ball player for dumb social media posts he made in high school?”…I am wasting my time. And NBC pays Baer as an expert commentator. It might as well pay Zippy the Pinhead.

2. Is this offensive, or funny? Or both? Increasingly, we are reaching the point where anything that is funny is offensive, thus nothing can be funny. The Montgomery Biscuits, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Double-A affiliates, will be hosting a “Millennial Night” this weekend, being promoted with announcements like this one: “Want free things without doing much work? Well you’re in luck! Riverwalk Stadium will be millennial friendly on Saturday, July 21, with a participation ribbon giveaway just for showing up, napping and selfie stations, along with lots of avocados.”

Apparently there has been a substantial negative reaction from millennials, and the indefinable group that is routinely offended on behalf of just about anyone.

Nonetheless, I agree with the critics. I think the promotion goes beyond good-natured to insulting. It’s like announcing a Seniors Night by guaranteeing free Depends and promising extra-loud public address announcements that will be repeated for the dementia-afflicted who forget what they just heard. [Pointer: Bad Bob] Continue reading

Rare Species, Previously Believed Extinct, Sighted: A Balanced Analysis Of The Iran Nuclear Deal

On a matter of as much significance and complexity as the Iran nuclear deal, it is depressing to see that almost all commentary in the news media begins with a partisan bias, a “team” mentality, and the typical talking-point orientation that makes genuine public understanding unattainable today. People choose the position that already aligns with their friends and their loyalties, and adopt it uncritically. As a result, public discourse is useless.

This is no way to run a democracy.

Elliot Cohen is a prominent Never-Trump neo-con and foreign policy scholar, writing in the Atlantic, a generally “resistance”-favorable progressive publication. His analysis of the current contretemps involving the Iran deal is the closest I have seen yet to a fair and balanced one. That doesn’t mean I think he is right on all counts, especially ethically. The second half of this statement, for example is as  troubling as the first half is refreshing:

“The Iran deal was, in truth, a very bad one. It did nothing to inhibit Iranian behavior in the broader Middle East, did nothing to stop its ballistic programs, and opened the path for a resumption of the nuclear-weapons program in a decade or so. Some of us said so at the time. Walking away from it, however, will make matters worse not only because success is unlikely, but because this shredding of an earlier presidential agreement further undermines the qualities that those who look to American leadership have come to value—predictability, steadiness, and continuity. Even when American allies have doubted the superpower’s wisdom, they usually felt they could count on its constancy.”

They also have to be able to count on its competence, courage, and ability to change course when a current course is disastrous. It is unethical to make policies that are careless, expedient and dangerous in a setting where there is no recourse once the course is set.  Leaders have to undo mistakes and take new directions even when it means future distrust and present anger.  The previous President took unseemly joy in declaring previous Presidential policies wrong-headed, and reversing them forthwith. True: this is a bad habit, and all leaders should respect previous decisions and commitments by their predecessors, except in extraordinary circumstances. The standard should be similar to the Supreme Court’s rule of stare decisus, which means that previous SCOTUS rulings have the presumption of permanence, unless they are sufficiently bad for law and the nation. I am satisfied to move the Iran debate from the Obama-Kerry mythology to “it’s a bad deal.” The question is then whether it is sufficiently bad to justify a variance from the general rule that Presidents ought to leave agreements made before their election stand if at all possible.

To his credit, Cohen displays almost equal contempt for the Obama administration and President Trump. Some notable excerpts: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Times Columnist Bret Stephens

“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: it might have been…” Wait, WHAT?

“Tax cuts. Deregulation. More for the military; less for the United Nations. The Islamic State crushed in its heartland. Assad hit with cruise missiles. Troops to Afghanistan. Arms for Ukraine. A tougher approach to North Korea. Jerusalem recognized as Israel’s capital. The Iran deal decertified. Title IX kangaroo courts on campus condemned. Yes to Keystone. No to Paris. Wall Street roaring and consumer confidence high.

And, of course, Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. What, for a conservative, is there to dislike about this policy record as the Trump administration rounds out its first year in office?

That’s the question I keep hearing from old friends on the right who voted with misgiving for Donald Trump last year and now find reasons to like him. I admit it gives me pause. I agree with every one of the policy decisions mentioned above. But I still wish Hillary Clinton were president.”

—-New York Times Bret Stephens, in a column titled “Why I’m Still a NeverTrumper”

Stephens, since joining the Times left-heavy columnist stable as its token wishy-washy cnservative, has been occasionally perceptive, often incoherent, and obviously conflicted. In this case, he is ethically confused.

I wrote the equivalent of this column in the post called Roger Simon Says The NeverTrumpers Owe The President An Apology. Well, He’s Not Getting One From Me…(Mine was also better, and I wasn’t paid for it.)

Like Stephens, I do not regard Trump’s largely successful first year (by his own standards, and certainly by the standards of those who predicted a national catastrophe) sufficient to bring me to retract my original objections to Trump. I wrote,

“Competent and responsible leadership is not only made up of what a leader does, but how he does it. How Donald Trump operates as President is divisive, obnoxious, politically self-destructive, undignified, chaotic and scary, just as I expected. This conduct, which is entirely a product of his character deficits and near complete lack of interest in ethical values, does harm far beyond the benefits any policies he may advance that I agree with, or that are improvements over the mess left by Barack Obama. He is, day by day, week be week, diminishing that strength and credibility of the Presidency by lowering it to his thuggish, crude, juvenile level. He is also provoking his opposition and the news media to lower themselves to his level or lower, doing further damage to our democracy.”

This essentially what The Times columnist is saying when he writes, Continue reading

Roger Simon Says The NeverTrumpers Owe The President An Apology. Well, He’s Not Getting One From Me…

Hollywood screenwriter turned conservative writer and blogger Roger Simon wrote a post last week titled, “Why the Remaining NeverTrumpers Should Apologize Now.” If, by NeverTrumpers, Simon meant those who refuse to this day to accept the fact that the President was duly elected and continue to work to undermine his Presidency by any means possible, the headline would be too restrictive. Those unethical citizens and dangerous insurrectionists owe everyone an apology, including the founders and children yet unborn. They have done incalculable damage to the nation, society and our institutions, and we will suffer grievously because of it, if the U.S. survives it at all.

It is clear, however, that he is directing his screed at people like me, non-ideological moderates and conservatives who proclaimed during the 2016 campaign that they would never support the candidacy of Donald Trump, for all the self-evident reasons. Simon writes,

“Nevertheless, it is time for the remaining NeverTrumpers to apologize for a reason far more important than self-castigation or merely to make things “right.” Donald Trump — whose initial victory was a shock, even, ironically, to those of us who predicted it — has compounded that shock by being astoundingly successful in his first year, especially at the conclusion. (He’s a quick study, evidently.) More conservative goals have been achieved or put in motion in eleven months than in any time in recent, or even distant, memory. It’s an astonishing reversal for our country accompanied by the beginnings of an economic boom.”

It is true that any objective and fair observer should be able to acknowledge that the Trump administration has been far from the nightmarish failure Democrats and the news media have misrepresented it to be. It is also true that the cataclysmic bungle that the Left was certain Trump would sink the country with has not occurred. (Progressives consider conservative policies as cataclysmic, and thus are useless for this analysis.)  Unlike the Left, I will give the President credit for what he has presided over and facilitated, because all Presidents get credit for that. ISIS has been greatly weakened. The economy and consumer confidence are improving. The stock market is soaring. Illegal immigration is no longer being encouraged and sentimentalized by the federal government. We are backing away from world government, and refusing to be extorted by North Korea. As promised, the glut of federal regulations is being decreased, rather than expanded. Continue reading