Tag Archives: New York Times

Sunday Morning Ethics Hangover, 7/15/2018: “Animal House” And The Death Of Truth [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

(WordPress isn’t working properly this morning. Perfect…)

1. Not being biased helps you be non-stupid…Yesterday, chatting with lawyer attendees at my ethics seminar, a former government attorney told me that he had several ex-FBI colleagues who were horrified at many aspects of the Peter Strzok hearings, as was he. Among their concerns:

  • The news media was failing its duty to explain to the public the duties of professionals, and why Strzok’s conduct was unacceptable, unethical, and undermined the credibility of the investigations he was involved in.
  • Democrats were defending the indefensible, and also breaching their duty to the public. They ought to be exactly as outraged as Republicans at a figure as demonstrably biased as Strzok polluting important law enforcement inquiries, and also should have rebuked him for his defiant attitude.
  • The Strzok scandal was immensely damaging to the public image of the FBI, and should be. It demonstrates an agency that has been seriously mismanages, and that has a damaged culture.
  • The simple fact that Strzok would use FBI equipment to send his texts demonstrated outrageous incompetence and lack of judgement. Even setting aside the bias issue, for a key figure in an investigation to behave so recklessly proves that the current FBI is untrustworthy.

Naturally this is gratifying, since the positions are all consistent with those I have expressed here, and also because they are correct.

2.  When miscreants emulate “Animal House” and Democrats applaud...We also discussed Strzok’s ridiculous “Otter defense”in the hearing, as he emulated the cynical (but in that case, funny) argument offered by the “Animal House” character played by Tim Mathieson (“Take it easy! I’m pre-law!” “I thought you were pre-med!” “What’s the difference?”) in a student council hearing over his fraternity members’ outrageous conduct, especially his own:

” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/10/2018: The Freakout Cometh!

Good morning!

1. Are you freaking out? President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh for the vacancy on the Supreme Court, a choice which, we had been assured by a succession of shameless hysterics on the Left and in the mainstream news media (but I repeat myself!) would doom women in the United States to living out “The Handmaiden’s Tale,” even before the judge, a case or the legal issues were a twinkle in Lady Justice’s eye. Why are hyper-partisan, irresponsible crazies like this taken seriously by anyone?

Here are some of the media freak-outs that have already arrived: The Daily Beast: Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s Supreme Court Pick, Is Probably the End of Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage. Slate:  How Brett Kavanaugh Will Gut Roe v. Wade.

More to come, of course. At least they waited for the actual name of the judge: ABC tweeted out this before the announcement:

Facts? We don’t need no stinking facts!

(Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias….)

If you are freaking out, it means that you are a Democrat, either ignorant or dishonest about the legal system, and suffering from the late throes of Anti-Trump Mania, in which everything that this President does becomes an evil plot. Get help. It is unethical to spread panic and fury among your friends and associates.

A Facebook Friend, a woman, and a lawyer, was on social media within minutes of Judge Kavanaugh’s name being uttered calling for everyone to “write their Senator.” There is only one way, just one, this reaction can be justified: if you believe that only one political party has a legitimate role to play in American politics, and you deny the right of any citizen who disagrees with you to have a voice in what is supposed to be a pluralistic democracy. Elections have consequences, and are supposed to have consequences. One of them is that the elected President gets to appoint judges. If the judge is qualified—and even the most slobbering wacko talking head on MSNBC cannot deny that he is qualified-–then it is fair, appropriate and right that the President’s nomination should be consented to by the Senate. Continue reading

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Saturday Afternoon Ethics Smorgasbord, 7/7/2018

God ettermiddag!

Yeah, I know smorgasbord is Swedish and god ettermiddag is Norwegian. I just woke up feeling Scandinavian today. I even had a Danish for breakfast…

1. Trump Tweets. Our President’s petty and juvenile tweets insulting Maxine Waters’ IQ and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Native American fantasy are so obviously self-destructive, necessary and irresponsible. Why why why? These outbursts are literally like the President of the United States going on the roof of the White House and screaming, “You’re all poopy heads!”

Who needs to be told that Waters is an idiot? Res ipsa loquitur applies, and anyone who thinks she is the voice of wisdom and moderation is beyond helping.  Trolling Warren by offering her a million dollars to get a DNA test is even more idiotic. Her fake claims of Cherokee heritage already have frozen her political ambitions, and she knows it.  If the Senator is not eager to take the test for free (Does anyone smarter than Maxine Waters believe she hasn’t taken such a test?), why would she do it for money? And Warren doesn’t need a million dollars: like most socialists in power, she’s rich already. It’s this kind of thing that drove George Will, William Kristol and Jeff Flake nuts.

2. Proof that the New York Times has also lost it. Here’s an inflammatory quote from yesterday’s editorial from the New York Times editorial board, in a screed urging Democrats to use any means necessary to block the President from appointing whomever he wants for the Supreme Court—you know, like the Constitution says he can:

“This is all the more reason for Democrats and progressives to take a page from “The Godfather” and go to the mattresses on this issue.”

Nice. This is a direct call to violence and literal warfare. I assume the Times editors have seen “The Godfather.” Don Corleone’s Family went “to the mattresses” when it started a gang war.

I hope Americans realize the values it will be voting for when they decide to put the New York Times’ editors’ chosen party back in power. Hint: it’s not democracy.

Since November 2016, Democrats and their allies have been courting revolution because they didn’t like the way the election turned out. No matter how loathsome the Republican Party has shown itself to be, it has never done that. Continue reading

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More On “Media Bias Report 3.1”

It is amazing how many desperate liberals  circulate or defend  the absurd, misleading and incompetent chart purporting to measure the bias of various news sources as if the thing had any integrity at all. First of all, they could not (I hope) have read the creator’s nonsensical criteria for her assessments. Second, it should be obvious that no single individual could possibly examine and compare over 40 news sources with anything approaching thoroughness and accuracy. How would this be possible, even as a full-time endeavor, which it most certainly was not in this case? A research group like Pew might be able to pull such a study off with a large budget, lots of time, and a substantial staff, and even then I’m very dubious.

The chart is a classic example of making fake research—garbage in, garbage out— look impressive through packaging. This is, of course, unethical.

For the record, here are some of the factors someone who was seriously interested in measuring bias objectively (and not primarily determined to show that mainstream media bias is a right-wing myth): Continue reading

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Exhibit A. On Why The News Media Won’t Address Its Unethical Bias

Just look at that chart, sent to me by a frequent commenter here. I wish I could make it larger on the site, but a clearer version is here.

The woman [going by only the name “Vanessa,” as far as I could discover] who created this appears to be serious: if this is satire or trolling, she fooled me. The thing is so obviously itself a product of liberal bias that it is amazing that it would be presented as otherwise. There is Fox News way over in the hyper-partisan conservative field, which is mostly fair, but lo and behold, there sit outrageously hyper-partisan CNN, The New York Times and the Washington Post mostly in the “neutral” field while ABC, CBS, NBC,  NPR and TIME [KABOOM!] are sitting entirely in “neutral.”

How is it possible that someone could come to such an obviously incorrect conclusion? Several ways, actually. One is that she is far enough left that the biased and slanted hackery of sources like CNN seem moderate and fair to her. Another is that she doesn’t have a clue what bias is. A third is that she’s an idiot, and a fourth is that she’s doing propaganda for the propagandists. She has a long section on her methodology here: please read it if you are curious, and report back. I’m not going to waste my time. Any methodology that leads to the conclusion that NPR is paragon of unbiased journalism is crap by definition. I don’t need to read it to figure that out. Vanessa says we should trust her analysis because she in an English major and a patent lawyer.

Oh.

This visual representation of denial does have value: it demonstrates that there are no unbiased news sources, and that journalism is not merely untrustworthy, but actively impeding the communication of essential knowledge to the public, so they can make the informed choices crucial to a functioning democracy.

Of course, I knew that already.

(Somebody tell Vanessa.)

 

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/27/2018: Unhinged

Good Morning.

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias…This is one of the times that I am sorry that the Trump Deranged on Ethics Alarms have temporarily withdrawn from the Comment section battles, as I would love to hear their self-indicting rationalizations.

Here was this morning’s New York Times, big black headline:

JUSTICES  BACK TRAVEL BAN, YIELDING TO TRUMP

Outrageous in every way. The Court did not “yield” to anyone or anything but the law as it stands and has stood for centuries. As Constitutional Law expert Eugene Volokh succinctly put it, “The federal government may pick and choose which foreigners to let into the country (at least setting aside foreigners who have are already been granted residence), even based on factors — political beliefs, religion, and likely race and sex — that would normally be unconstitutional.” He explains:

This used to be called the “plenary power” doctrine, referring to the principle that the government has essentially unlimited power when it comes to at least this aspect of immigration law, unlimited even by the Bill of Rights. It is not based on the constitutional text; textually, the First Amendment would apply to all exercise of Congressional authority, whether under the Commerce Clause or the District of Columbia Clause or the Necessary and Proper Clause under Congress’s power over immigration. But, right or wrong, it is based on longstanding American legal history; and the majority adheres to that history.

Historically, this has even be used to authorize Congress to discriminate based on race (query whether the Court would today condemn this as “irrational”; more on that below). It has long been seen as authorizing Congress to discriminate based on country of citizenship, without investigation into whether such discrimination might actually be motivated by ethnic hostility. And, most relevant to today’s decision, it was seen in Kleindienst v. Mandel (1972) as authorizing discrimination based on political ideology, which would otherwise be forbidden by the First Amendment….The Court rejected the First Amendment claim:

Recognition that First Amendment rights are implicated, however, is not dispositive of our inquiry here. In accord with ancient principles of the international law of nation-states, the Court in The Chinese Exclusion Case (1889), and in Fong Yue Ting v. United States (1893), held broadly, as the Government describes it, that the power to exclude aliens is “inherent in sovereignty, necessary for maintaining normal international relations and defending the country against foreign encroachments and dangers—a power to be exercised exclusively by the political branches of government ….” Since that time, the Court’s general reaffirmations of this principle have been legion. The Court without exception has sustained Congress’ “plenary power to make rules for the admission of aliens and to exclude those who possess those characteristics which Congress has forbidden.” Boutilier v. Immigration and Naturalization Service (1967). “[O]ver no conceivable subject is the legislative power of Congress more complete than it is over” the admission of aliens. Oceanic Navigation Co. v. Stranahan (1909)….

As a result, the Court held that, if decisions to exclude aliens could ever be set aside, this would be so only if there was no “facially legitimate and bona fide” reason to exclude the alien. In Mandel’s case, the dissent noted, those reasons — labeled by the government as Mandel’s “flagrant abuses” during his past visits to the U.S. — “appear merely to have been his speaking at more universities than his visa application indicated.” The dissent argued that “It would be difficult to invent a more trivial reason for denying the academic community the chance to exchange views with an internationally respected scholar.” But the Court didn’t investigate whether the government’s true motive might have been the Administration’s disapproval of Mandel’s political ideas, rather than the supposed violation of past visa conditions; the requirement of a “bona fide” reason did not appear to require an investigation into the government’s true motivations, but rather simply focused on whether the “facial[]” reasons seemed sufficient:

In summary, plenary congressional power to make policies and rules for exclusion of aliens has long been firmly established. In the case of an alien excludable under [the provision involved in Mandel], Congress has delegated conditional exercise of this power to the Executive.

We hold that when the Executive exercises this power negatively on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will neither look behind the exercise of that discretion, nor test it by balancing its justification against the First Amendment interests of those who seek personal communication with the applicant.

The majority’s decision in Trump v. Hawaii basically applied this logic to another clause of the First Amendment — here, the Establishment Clause (which normally bars discrimination based on religious denomination, including the use of neutral rules in a discriminatorily motivated way) rather than the Free Speech Clause….

Continue reading

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Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 6/9/18: PART II, The Bee-Free Zone…Facebook Friends Behaving Badly, Stupid Pardon Tricks, More On The Dancing Doctor, And Another “Good Illegal Immigrant”

Now that we have the unpleasantness of Samantha Bee out of the way, your gorge is safe. Well, sort of…

2. Short version: “Grow up!” If the long-time theater friend who just defriended me on Facebook is reading (yes, I know who you are), this is a message for all the people who can’t tolerate, or remain friends with, anyone who challenges their anti-Trump fanaticism by pointing out–nicely!– that they sound like lunatics. I know you assume that you are in the warm, comforting womb of a left-wing echo-chamber, but friends don’t let friends write stupid, or shouldn’t. You, let me remind you, stated in black and white that Al Franken was the best hope to defeat Trump in 2020 (See how nice I was? I didn’t even challenge that nonsense!) until Republicans secretly engineered his destruction. I wrote in response that this was tin foil hat stuff, which it is; that implicitly accusing Kristen Gillibrand of being in cahoots with the GOP  was bonkers, which is accurate, and that you should get help, which you should.

Your response was defriend me. Nice.

This has happened with about five theater friends, and in all cases over hysterical assertions that would be only acceptable from a 12-year-old. They, like you, are used to making ridiculous, hyper-partisan statements without being challenged, and regard a dissenting argument as a personal affront as well as the mark of Satan. You should not want to remain deluded, you should want to be called out when you write something idiotic, and you should not react with hostility to a friend who does so in good faith.

What I have learned about the resistance is that their logic, facts and debate skills are fatally flawed or absent. Their only defense against rebuttal is to censor it.

You really should not want to hang out with this crowd, my friend. Get well soon. I mean it.

And shame on you. I don’t deserve that.

3. Google is your friend, Mr. President. Yesterday, President Trump floated the idea of pardoning the late Muhammad Ali, who was famously convicted of draft-dodging during the Vietnam war. Ali, however, needs a pardon as much as I do. (Less, really, since he’s dead.) His conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. There is nothing to pardon him for.

This kind of thing is an unforced error that justifiably undermines trust in the President. It’s just inexcusably sloppy—typical, I concede, but sloppy. I don’t blame Trump for not knowing that Ali’s conviction had been reversed: I had forgotten that myself. Making impulsive statements based on flawed information and snap decisions, however, suggests that the President might take impulsive actions based on misunderstandings as well.

Well, he does that, too.

More on pardons: I have seen several news sources, including the New York Times, contrast President Trump’s political “celebrity” pardons with President Obama’s pardons of less high profile Americans. Fake news. At this point in his administration, how many pardons do you think Obama had issued?

None. Zero. Zilch. Continue reading

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