Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/15/2021: “Having A Hard Time Keeping Up” Edition

Just a housekeeping note…I am struggling to find a way to keep Ethics Alarms reasonably current and informative at a time when the ethics issues are resembling an avalanche from my point of view. Avoiding the trap of letting political matters eat the blog is also a constant chore; it has been for many years, but the problem seems to be getting worse. The daily warm-up format was developed to help me cover more issues, but it has become an amazingly time-consuming project, usually taking me two hours on most days. That’s still less than it would take to cover each of the four or five items in full posts (tagging, proofreading and completing the links now takes longer than ever, thanks to WordPress “improvements). Of course, posting 8 or 9 posts a day instead of just three or four would help traffic, which depresses me, but unfortunately, I have other responsibilities. Then there are the long-delayed but promised Part Twos and Threes that are staring at me like unpaid debts, making me feel guilty. I can’t believe the Ethics Scoreboard would have an essay a week, and sometimes not even that. I’ll figure it out….

1. Well, this makes me feel a little better...it appears that the commentariat on both Ann Althouse’s blog and the home of Professor Turley’s usually excellent analysis have also become overwhelmingly conservative as the progressives have fled except for a few determined souls. Ann and the professor are both left-leaning, but their integrity has led them to be critical of the progressive hive as well as the news media that nourishes it. Being objective is now the mark of an evil conservative, apparently, or so their critics claim. That’s a horrifying cultural development, but at least the flight of the progressives on Ethics Alarms was not an isolated phenomenon.

2. More on “Peril”...

  • The story in Bob Woodward’s latest book about Gen. Milley’s breach of the chain of command because, apparently, he was biased by several Big Lies about his Commander in Chief only rated page 16 coverage in the New York Times, behind, for example, Squaw Valley changing its name because a lifetime petty criminal was accidentally killed by a Minnesota cop. Meanwhile, this is front page, multiple op-ed stuff over at the Washington Post. It the Post’s Bob Woodward’s claims are true, then it should be a front page story in both papers. If it isn’t, THAT’s a front page story. 
  • Of course, the story may be garbage, but the Post won’t consider that. Example: in a piece by Greg Sargent called “Awful new revelations about Trump and Jan. 6 show Mike Pence is no hero,” this excerpt from “Peril” is cited as factual enough to be called an “awful revelation.” Trump and Pence are supposedly arguing about whether Pence should block the certification of the election:
“If these people say you had the power, wouldn’t you want to?” Trump asked.
“I wouldn’t want any one person to have that authority,” Pence said.
“But wouldn’t it be almost cool to have that power?” Trump asked, according to Woodward and Costa.
“No,” Pence said. He went on, “I’ve done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It’s simply not possible.”
 
How can these quotes be believed? It was a conversation between two people. Trump wasn’t Woodward’s source, and neither was Pence. Yet we are told that these are exact quotes. Unless Woodward was there, which he wasn’t, the account is hearsay at best, and maybe third- or fourth-hand hearsay. Greg Sargent, however, believes them, and a Post editor thinks that’s enough to justify representing a fabricated conversation as real.
 

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And The Race For Most Dishonest NYT Leftist Propagandist Tightens!

horse-racing-capture2

“It’s Charles M. Blow in front as they round the turn, but HERE COMES KRUGMAN MAKING HIS MOVE ON THE RAIL!!!”

It’s so exciting!

I was going to include this as a note in the warm-up, and then I read all of the comments referring to the Democratic Party’s no longer even disguised embrace of totalitarianism, and decided, Jack Point-style, “Oh, I can’t let this pass!” For Krugman proved with his characteristic gaslighting op-ed this morning, hilariously headlined, “Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat,” that if nothing else, he has chutzpah to spare. Who else would choose this moment, in a 9/11-themed column, to assert that Republicans are an existential threat to democracy? It would be satire, if only so many Times readers didn’t believe it. That fact makes it tragedy.

Let me remind you of Rationalization #64, which has increasingly become the operating philosophy of the Axis of Unethical Conduct as Trump-Derangement became an epidemic .Even I had forgotten that the description of the technique cited Krugman as a prime practitioner:

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“Is We Getting Dummer?” Based On The Mainstream News Media’s Propaganda On The Texas Heartbeat Law, We Is, And That’s What They Want

Texas law hysteria

Op-eds that make American dumber shouldn’t be published. There is an op-ed in today’s New York Times by Jamelle Bouie, adding another fact-free rant to the current freak-out over the so-called Texas freak-out law. Bouie chooses to repeat a theme of his from other columns, that the case proves that the Supreme Court “has too much power.” Bouie was first spotted by Ethics Alarms as Slate’s resident race-baiter, a job at which he was embarrassingly bad. Naturally, this qualified him to be added to the New York Times stable of socialists, fantasists and Trump-Deranged fanatics, since one incompetent and biased black columnist (Charles M. Blow) wasn’t enough in these times of “diversity and inclusion.”

Bouie, on the topic of the Supreme Court, literally (which I mean literally) doesn’t know what he is talking about. He is not a lawyer, and if he ever read a whole Supreme Court decision (or had someone knowledgeable explain one to him), I’ve seen no evidence. of it. Guess which of the (incompetent) dissents to the SCOTUS majority decision not to suspend the Texas law when there is no procedural precedent for doing so. Come on, guess! Why Sonia Sotomayor, speaking of “diversity and inclusion,” of course. She was a cynical choice for the Court by Barack Obama, using approximately the same identity-based standards that made Kamala Harris Vice-President.

Non-lawyers love to quote Sotomayor, because she seldom makes legal arguments, just emotional ones. “The court has rewarded the state’s effort to delay federal review of a plainly unconstitutional statute, enacted in disregard of the court’s precedents, through procedural entanglements of the state’s own creation,” she wrote this time, in a snippet being repeated by other pro-abortion hysterics. That’s because the Court doesn’t strike down unconstitutional laws until the government tries to enforce them. What Bouie cites as an example of the Court having too much power is in fact proof that its power is limited.

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Reader Comments Safari: Revealing NYT Reader Comments, And Althouse Reader Comments On Those Comments

Biden meeting

Blogger Ann Althouse has gone full circle and now allows reader comments again. I must confess that the episode cooled much of my long-standing enthusiasm for her blog: her reasoning in banning them was so arrogant and dismissive of the loyal readers who support her that she crashed her cognitive dissonance scale with me. (And I still don’t forgive her for refusing to include Ethics Alarms in her links; eventually she stopped linking to any other sites at all, which, come to think of it, was similar to banning comments.) I assume her traffic was crashing, or maybe someone she pays attention to pointed out that her constantly changing the comment hoops to jump through (“No comments, but you can email me with a comment, and maybe I’ll quote it as a comment…”) did not put the former law prof. in a flattering light. I don’t know, and don’t really care. I just know that I don’t check her quirky posts as often as I once did.

I checked today, though, and Ann posted on “Miscue After Miscue, U.S. Exit Plan Unravels/President Biden promised an orderly withdrawal. That pledge, compounded by missed signals and miscalculations, proved impossible” , a an article that I had already read in the print edition. The Times story describes a disturbing meeting President Biden had with his military and other advisors about the plan to pull out in Afghanistan. Ann read the online comments from Times readers and reported herself,

“If you go into the comments over there at the NYT and you put them in order of “most liked,” you’ll see an unbroken chain of comments supporting Joe Biden: “It seems to me that the media is being less than fair to Joe Biden over this,” “Has it really gone wrong?,” “Did the Trump Surrender Agreement with the Taliban provide for evacuation? If it did, what did it say? If it didn’t, why not?,” “Frankly I’m dismayed that the media is now declaring this a disaster,” “Thanks President Biden for making this brave decision albeit flawed execution. When we end this if there are no US troop live lost and Americans evacuated with as much of our allies. It will be remembered as a very good decision and no one will care about execution like Vietnam withdrawal.”

Good research there, Ann! I would never do that; I detest “likes,” which I regard as lazy substitutes for serious consideration. But her discovery is useful: this is a major reason, along with the biases of its employees, why the Times has abandoned journalism for progressive propaganda. Of course, I could read pretty much the same sad reactions from my own Facebook feed, if my “friends” didn’t block me from reading what they know I’d take apart, ruthless and with glee.

Then Althouse’s commenters had a field day, reminding me again how foolish it was to silence them. Among the best responses,

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Biden Lied And People Died..Now What?

Former VP Joe Biden Addresses Chicago Council On Global Affairs

The New York Times front page this morning has a disheartening story revealing that President Biden’s assertion to the American people that the collapse of Afghan forces was considered unlikely (but possible!) by U.S. intelligence was untrue. He must have known it was untrue too, or they really are keeping poor Joe in a closet and pulling him out for public appearances with a secret ventriloquist doing his voice. The Times:

Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials. By July, many intelligence reports grew more pessimistic, questioning whether any Afghan security forces would muster serious resistance and whether the government could hold on in Kabul, the capital. President Biden said on July 8 that the Afghan government was unlikely to fall and that there would be no chaotic evacuations of Americans similar to the end of the Vietnam War.…”

The Times is perplexed! The existence of these reports “raise questions about why Biden administration officials, and military planners in Afghanistan, seemed ill-prepared to deal with the Taliban’s final push into Kabul, including a failure to ensure security at the main airport and rushing thousands more troops back to the country to protect the United States’ final exit.” After all, there must be some legitimate reason a good, progressive Democratic President would “seem” to screw up so completely and lie about it! It would never be that he is completely incompetent and evil, like that last President! “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” Even when it is forced into reporting a total, massive, historic botch by the party it works for, the Times cannot be objective or approach the same tone and attitude it would apply to an equivalent blunder by that other party.

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The Times Afghanistan Editorial

new yorktimes

The New York Times’ editorial on the debacle in Afghanistan is many things. Mostly, it is schizophrenic. The paper’s unshakable bias and determination to serve as the Democratic Party’s Pravda constantly leads the editors into self-contradiction and hypocrisy. They know they have to be critical, but they feel they have to be supportive at the same time. This is a case study in how bias not only makes one stupid, but how it also makes integrity impossible. Here is the whole thing; I’ll break in when appropriate:

The rapid reconquest of the capital, Kabul, by the Taliban after two decades of a staggeringly expensive, bloody effort to establish a secular government with functioning security forces in Afghanistan is, above all, unutterably tragic. Tragic because the American dream of being the “indispensable nation” in shaping a world where the values of civil rights, women’s empowerment and religious tolerance rule proved to be just that: a dream.

This is more anti-American nonsense. The United States has successfully advanced all of those values and more by simply existing and thriving. It undermines those values, and our unique founding principles, when it appears weak, incompetent, and feckless.

This longest of American wars was code-named first Operation Enduring Freedom and then Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Yet after more than $2 trillion and at least 2,448 American service members’ lives lost in Afghanistan, it is difficult to see what of lasting significance has been achieved.

The Times gets this right.

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From “The Popeye” File, Ethics Dunce: Kurt Streeter, NYT Sports Columnist

I’ve complained about Streeter before, but he really needs to be officially flagged as an Ethics Dunce, hence this Popeye post, an Ethics Alarms feature when my alternatives are to write or throw myself into a woodchipper. Streeter personifies the general principle that if a reader can tell your race while reading your work product about a topic that doesn’t have anything to do with race, you’re biased and laboring under a conflict of interest while using your job to advance personal agendas and grievances.

Streeter now writes the once iconic “Sports of The Times” column, and, the Times tells us, “he has a particular interest in the connection between sports and broader society, especially regarding issues of race, gender and social justice.” Translation: He exploits sports to advance his social justice hobby horses rather than enlighten readers about what he’s supposed to be writing about. His presence as the New York Times’ most prestigiously-presented sportswriter tells us exactly what the New York Times cares about, and it sure isn’t sports.

Sports is often about ethics, and Streeter’s Sunday Times column column today pretends to be about ethics. It’s called “Tokyo Olympians Are Showing That Grit Can Be Graceful,” and a few of his entries raise some great ethics issues. For example, I didn’t know, because watching the greed- and Larry Vaughn Effect-driven Olympics could not drag me from my disorderly sock drawer, that high jumpers Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy agreed to forgo a jumpoff that would have decided the competition so they could share the Olympic gold medal. That’s fascinating, because the deal could be the ultimate display of sportsmanship and respect, or a calculated decision to maximize personal gain while minimizing risk of loss at the expense of competition, which is, after all, what fans want to see. Streeter, however, can’t see the issue, and instead has to take his social justice warrior cheap shot. “They knew full well they would be blasted by those who claim that there must always be a single winner, that sharing is weak and — even worse — unmanly,” he writes. Streeter is so tiresome and predictable.

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It’s Looking Like “Advocacy Journalism” Thursday, Beginning With A Trivial But Troubling Example…

Carter Stewart

The more I examine news reports and even features, the clearer it becomes that what we now generously call “journalists” feel entitled to manipulate, distort and omit facts in order to support their desired narrative while pushing public opinion in the direction they prefer as propagandists. I was taking a break from ethics by reading the sports pages (What was I thinking?), perusing a Times piece about the New York Mets failing to sign their #1 draft pick, and the consequences to both the young player (Kumar Rocker) and the team. The article focused on the similar experience of Carter Stewart, now a pitcher for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league. (And you thought “Cleveland Guardians” was a bad baseball team name!) Carter is the focus of the story, as we learn from Times writer Alex Coffey that he is bitter and angry about the consequences of his failing to sign with the Braves when he was their first pick in 2018. Stewart says that when the 2019 draft arrived after he had amassed impressive statistics pitching in college, he decided to opt out of the system that had, in his view, betrayed him. He signed a six-year contract with Japan’s Hawks for $7 million. “I had no real allegiance to Major League Baseball,” he told the Times. “They hadn’t done anything for me so far, so why did I have to force myself to stay here?”

Wait, what about the United States, Carter? Has the nation of your birth “done anything for you”? Is it all about money? What’s going on here?

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KABOOM! The New York Times Op-Ed Page Is Trying To Kill Me (And, Apparently, The USA)

jackheadexplosion

Once again, we have an opinion piece that an objective, serious newspaper that respects it readers and is committed to the idea of promoting good government and a responsible citizenry would read upon submission and say, politely holding back giggles, “Come on! We can’t print this: it’s ridiculous.” Not only that, but the author, Christina Greer, is actually employed by a university to pass along her brand of “reasoning” and “analysis” to innocent, unsuspecting students, who pay for the privilege. She’s an associate professor of political science at Fordham.

I hate beginning the day with dire thoughts of hurling myself into a woodchipper in despair. It’s been happening a lot lately.

This is the title: “Dear Kamala Harris: It’s a Trap!” And this is its thesis: Mean, possibly sexist and racist President Biden is setting up the Vice-President to fail by giving her really hard assignments that she isn’t qualified to pull off, and this is likely to adversely affect her chances of being elected President. No, I’m serious: I wouldn’t make that up. I couldn’t make that up. Prof. Greer really argues that in an essay that tries to turn so many basic premises of political and social reality on their metaphorical heads, it made MY head blow up. [Once again, much gratitude is due to reader Steve Witherspoon, who constructed that GIF.)

Here is the crux of her argument:

Addressing the root causes of migration is one of several jobs President Biden has handed Ms. Harris, who had no deep expertise with Latin America issues or the decades-long quandary of federal immigration reform. He has also asked her to lead the administration’s voting-rights efforts, which are in a filibuster limbo. According to The Times, he has her working on combating vaccine hesitancy and fighting for policing reform, too, among other uphill battles….

“Ms. Harris, at this point, can’t seem to win for trying. She is a historic yet inexperienced vice president who is taking on work that can easily backfire as so many people sit in judgment, with critics sniping (especially right-wing commentators) and allies spinning (like with official statements about “success”).

“And all the while, the clock is ticking. Most political observers think that if Mr. Biden decides not to run for re-election in 2024 (when he will be 81), Ms. Harris most definitely will. He had to know that in choosing her as his vice president, he was making her his heir apparent. But based on how things look now, her work as his No. 2 could end up being baggage more than a boon. Mr. Biden and his team aren’t giving her chances to get some wins and more experience on her ledger. Rather, it’s the hardest of the hard stuff.”

The translation for “historic but inexperienced” is “unqualified.” Being a historic VP is just box-checking. It doesn’t get the job done, and there is no excuse for making “historic” a candidate’s only asset, which is definitely the case with Kamala. (Electing a wombat, a coma victim, or a lawn chair would also be historic.) Harris has no executive experience. She was a prosecutor, and a pretty bad one, who rose in California politics by sleeping with a powerful pol. Joe Biden chose her as his running mate because his party had painted itself into a corner and decided that it was more important that he have a female, sort-of black running mate than someone actually qulaified to be President. She prevailed because the alternatives—Stacey Abrams was the least horrible of her competition— were even worse than she was. She was chosen entirely for her lack of a y chromosome and her skin shade, even though it was clear, or should have been, that Biden would be the most fragile President elected since an irresponsible FDR ran for a fourth term knowing he was a goner.

I shouldn’t have to explain this to a political science professor, but being President of the United States is hard. Being delegated difficult aspects of it is an opportunity for a competent VP to show that she is capable of handling the challenge, and any individual in the position of Vice-President should relish the chance. If the Vice-President isn’t up to any task under the President’s list of responsibilities, then she wasn’t qualified to be in the job in the first place. I cannot imagine Greer’s complaint being made on behalf of Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Adlai Stevenson, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George H.W., Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and many other previous VPs; it would be an insult. She appears to think that the objective is to sneak an unqualified, certified screw-up into the White House for the same reason she was allowed to run for Vice President, to be “historic.” Somehow, I think most Americans would like a little more reason to place the fate of their nation into a leader’s hands.

Having pre-exploded my head with her basic premise, I was spared later eruptions when Greer suggested that giving poor Kamala tough jobs to handle shows how racist and sexist we all are. Look at this sophistry:

“This country has yet to have an honest conversation and reflection on the ways in which race and gender play out in electoral politics. There are voters who look at Ms. Harris and immediately believe she is unqualified for the job because of her gender, her immigrant parents and the color of her skin. Republicans tend to say the quiet part loud, but if we are being honest, far too many Democrats would never be able to vote for a Black woman at the top of the ticket, no matter how qualified.”

Uh, Professor? Harris isn’t qualified, and your essay makes that clear, not that it already wasn’t obvious. So this is all obfuscation and misdirection. What your essay argues is that voters should favor a candidate who isn’t qualified just because of her gender and color—which is idiotic. Greer blathers on,

Many white liberals like racial and gender equality in theory but get a little gun-shy when asked to make room at the table for others on a long list of issues — school integration, housing, homelessness, incarceration, policing and executive leadership among them. And for those of you scoffing, ask yourself why you can list almost every major and minor flaw of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to name just a few. Many liberals struggle with issues of gender and race in practice; they may not admit to having a problem with Ms. Harris per se, but many still expect her to conform to certain standards and judge her harshly when she struggles on issues that are difficult to begin with.”

Boy, I’m sure lucky my brains were all over the ceiling before I read THAT paragraph. I can list the major flaws—we don’t need to get to the minor flaws— of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who all have thick files on Ethics Alarms) because I pay attention. Hillary is the best of that terrible group, and she was a candidate for President only because of her husband, ran arguably the worst campaign in American history, and had been a notable failure as Secretary of State.

The nonsense continues; read the rest if you dare. Two final points:

  • If you found yourself guessing the author’s race, you would be right. And articles like this do no favors for the cause of “diversity and inclusion.” The essay, to be blunt, is incompetent and biased, with a female, black scholar making a self-evidently foolish argument driven by her own loyalties. Academics have to be better than that, and if they aren’t, the raise a rebuttable presumption that they were hired for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills, erudition, or the “content of their character.”
  • Hilariously, Ezra Klein, whom we recently visited as he inflicted his own biased distortion of reality on Times readers, found Greer’s analysis spot on, tweeting, “This seems right. Kamala Harris will probably be the Democratic nominee in 24 or 28. Biden’s team should be giving her portfolios that make it likelier she’ll win. Instead they’re giving her impossible problems that will likely become liabilities.”

I’m in a “How could this happen?” mood today, I guess. How did progressives get this stupid and confused? I really can’t understand it. Nobody would have written an op-ed like Greer’s ten years ago. If someone did, it would have never been published, and if the thing were published, it would have been mocked mercilessly across the political spectrum.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/29/21: Beautiful Morning, Ugly Ethics

This date in 1972 witnessed one of the more egregious examples of liberal judges using political ideology and capriciously-applied ethics to avoid following the law. In Furman v. Georgia,the remnants of the Warren Court, now under conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, who dissented, prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision that ruled the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. This was about as far away from “originalism” as the Court could get, since the Founders obviously did not regard executions as unusual at all, and cruelty has always been a subjective concept. But the Court left the metaphorical door open for new Congressional legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again if it included standardized guidelines for juries that would ameliorate “arbitrary” applications of capital punishment. Four years later SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public, and in 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who cruelly and unusually murdered an elderly couple who refused to give him their car, faced a firing squad in Utah, a fate he definitely deserved.

1. I wish I had the time and fortitude to detail just how bad this New York Times Magazine article is, but I don’t, and maybe nobody with a life does. So I’ll just leave it to you to read it: “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” in the New York Times “Climate Issue.” Despicably, the Times handed the article over to openly and egregiously Left-biased journalist Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a dedicated practitioner of journalism as progressive propaganda. This means that only one point of view pervades the exercise, differing only in degrees and minor details. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government. I was going to list the most outrageous and dishonest quotes, but that would have taken up the whole post. The “I mentally checked out here” moment was in the introduction, in which Klein writes, being “hopeful,” “A rising generation understands the urgency of the moment, even if their elders do not.” That rising generation understands nothing about climate science, much like their “elders,” but have been indoctrinated into thinking they do. That’s “hopeful” for a nascent totalitarian like Klein. The rest of the issue is substantially deceit and propaganda, like the article about how climate change is already ravaging islands like the Bahamas, focusing on Hurricane Dorian as if there is any way to trace its origins to the topic of the issue.

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