Tag Archives: New York Times

If The News Media Won’t Resist Publicizing Big Lies, What Hope Is There? [Corrected]

Here are a couple passages from two reviews of audiobooks in the New York Times Review of Books, under the heading, “Two New Audiobooks Inspire Teenagers to Make Real Change.”

“Anderson, a professor of African-American studies at Emory — working with a capable assist from the children’s nonfiction writer Tonya Bolden — elaborates on the premise of her previous book “White Rage.” There she argued that while the fires and protests that characterized cities like Ferguson and Baltimore in 2014 and 2015 were seen as an explosion of black rage, quite the opposite was true. The murders of unarmed citizens and the subsequent acquittals of police officers charged in their deaths were just the latest expressions of a white rage that had terrorized the entire country since Reconstruction, making victims of blacks and poor whites alike.”

“Such a simple but profound shift of perspective — the changing from an ahistoric lens to a historical one — is where “We Are Not Yet Equal” excels. By meticulously tracing a path from the fateful deals white abolitionists cut with the Confederacy during Reconstruction right up to the contemporary efforts to roll back voter protections as a response to Obama’s ascendancy, Anderson paints a dire picture of a country that not only combats equal citizenship for black people, but prioritizes that combat over governmental responsibilities including national security, liberty and democracy.”

“Anderson’s book is a story of obsession, of a country’s obsession with denying rights to a people.”

The reviewer is Carvell Wallace, who, like all of us, has a right to his own opinion, as does Carol Anderson, the professor whose work he favorably reviews. Neither has a right to their own facts, however.  Michael Brown was not “murdered.” Neither was Freddie Gray. Someone can opine that there was a cover-up in either case, or simply state a belief in contravention of all known evidence, but one cannot state, as fact, that these deaths were “murders of unarmed citizens” and that the acquittals, which were legally mandated by the lack of evidence sufficient to support convictions of murder, were “the latest expressions of a white rage.” They were both, in fact, the only possible expressions of the law regarding guilt and innocence of criminal offenses. Both statements are factually false. Similarly, the statement that the United States has  an “obsession with denying rights to a people”—that is, black people, is a Big Lie, a propaganda falsehood so audacious and beyond reality that it warps public perception by being repeated and debated. Continue reading

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Ethics Test For Democrats And “The Resistance”: The Presidential Proclamation Addressing Mass Migration Through the Southern Border of the United States

You can read the proclamation here.

Unless I’m missing something, all it says is “The United States will enforce the law.” This, for some reason, is regarded with alarm by the New York Times, which writes,

“The Trump administration, invoking national security powers meant to protect the United States against threats from abroad, announced new rules on Thursday that give President Trump vast authority to deny asylum to virtually any migrant who crosses the border illegally.”

The President always had authority to enforce the law. In fact, his oath of office requires him to do so.

The literally insane idea that the United States should not enforce its borders that somehow has burrowed itself into the Left’s hive-mind will not prevail, and because it involves our survival as a nation, no matter what other misadventures President Trump blunders himself into, opposing this deadly virus of a concept will ensure his support from a broad coalition of the American public. Democrats and the news media could instantly reverse much of the polarization poisoning our democracy if they would only abandon their indefensible defense of illegal immigration, but they just can’t bring themselves to do it, presumably because they regard unfettered immigration as a path to total power. Continue reading

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Election Day Ethics Warm-Up, But Mostly What Yesterday’s Warm-Up Would Have Been If My Whole Day Hadn’t Spun Wildly Out Of Control…

Good Morning, Voters!

1. From the “bias makes you stupid” files. Yesterday two smart, once reasonable Massachusetts lawyers of the female persuasion debated me regarding the appropriateness of Dr. Blasey Ford’s late and unsubstantiated hit on Brett Kavanaugh. They were obnoxious about it, too, rolling their eyes and giggling to each other at my position, with one saying that I sounded like her “Southern friends.” I like them both, but a better example of how bias makes you stupid could hardly be devised. Their primary reason why Blasey Ford’s suddenly recalled trauma from the distant past should have been allowed to smear a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in nationally televised hearings was this: women and girls in those les-enlightened days had good reason not to report rape and sexual assault, as they often were not believed and because a “boys will be boys” attitude prevailed in the culture. Moreover, they said, almost in unison, women still have good reasons not to report sexual assault. “Do you have daughters?” they asked, “gotcha!”-style.

To anyone whose ethics alarms are in good working order and who recognizes the difference between an emotional argument born of gender and partisan alliances and a good one, the rebuttal is obvious and comprises a general ethics principle:

One person’s misfortune, no matter how tragic or unjust, never justifies being unfair or unjust to somebody else.

Accusing anyone of anything three decades after the alleged incident is unfair.

Publicizing an allegation that cannot be verified and for which there is no supporting evidence is unfair.

Using alleged misconduct as a minor to impugn the character  of an adult and a professional with an unblemished record of good conduct is unfair.

Dispensing with a presumption of innocence under any circumstances is unfair.

Dispensing with due process under any circumstances is unfair, because due process is itself fairness. (The two lawyers kept saying that this was not a trail so due process was not involved. The argument is either disingenuous or ignorant. Due process just means procedural fairness, in any context.)

Punishing one individual male for the fact that other males have escaped accountability for sexual misconduct is unfair-–and illogical.

Giving special considerations to one individual female because other females have been unfairly treated regarding their allegations is unfair—and illogical.

The two female lawyers kept saying that my position is a conservative one. It is not. It is not an ideological position in any way, though their position certainly is. May they regain intellectual integrity soon. And I forgive them for being so utterly insulting during our debate.

2. This is essentially a Big Lie argument from Vox: Ezra Klein, Vox creator, tweeted,

I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).

An esteemed commenter recently accused me of being unfairly dismissive and insulting when a commenter dissents. That’s occasionally true but not generally true, and one circumstance where I may become dismissive and insulting is when a position is indefensible, like this one. It is either dishonest or so obtuse that no one capable of writing it down should be trusted again. Continue reading

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Conclusion: If #MeToo Has No Integrity, Then It Is Doomed, And Deserves To Be

When the #MeToo movement emerged, the idea appeared to be that women (and men!) should speak out about sexual assault and sexual harassment, that powerful people should not feel entitled to take physical liberties with others, and that the culture needed to unequivocally and clearly condemn such conduct. Like most abstract concepts, it sounded good in theory, until—

—the question about what constituted sexual assault and harassment remained unanswered, because in so many cases it is a matter of perception and perspective.

—basic due process and the presumption of innocence were ignored, minimized, or jettisoned entirely, turning the accused into victims themselves

—Democrats sought to weaponized the movement politically, raising questions about motive, equal justice, and bias, and turning what should have been a bi-partisan movement into a cynical partisan one.

—The “women must be believed” mantra, discriminatory, unjust and ridiculous on its face, became part of the narrative and burst into open misandry and outrageous double standards.

Then the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck collided head-on with the Brett Kavanaugh Ethics Train Wreck, and here we are among ethical and cultural carnage.

Good job, everybody!

Now here’s where we are: Continue reading

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Oh, NOW I Get It! People Are Furious At The Kavanaugh Confirmation Because They Believe Divisive Fear-Mongers And Partisan Liars Like David Leonhardt! [Part II]

New York Times hyper-partisan pundit David Leonhardt’s hate speech  in the New York Times was so bad, I couldn’t cover its ugliness in a reasonable length post. Here I pick up from Part I.

5. “publicly sought“; Lower and lower: Trump needled Hillary about her missing e-mails, and facetiously suggested that Russia should hack them so we could find out what was in them. This has been a disgraceful trope in the Trump-Russia conspiracy theories, and citing it identifies the writer or speaker as an  untrustworthy hack.

6. “When national security officials raised alarm with Congress, before Election Day, leaders of the candidate’s party refused to act.”

It is nice that the columnist supplies the news links so we can read what he is falsely characterizing.  This is a good example: a typically slanted post by anti-Trump Fury Jennifer Rubin blaming Mitch McConnell for not agreeing to sign “a bipartisan statement of condemnation.” If there is anyone who thinks that the Obama administration was prevented in any way from taking measures to protect the election from the Russians because McConnell wouldn’t sign a statement, raise your hand. It’s like the old telephone game: Rubin makes a highly dubious claim, and Leonhardt cites it to mean something more dubious still.

7. “The foreign assistance appears to have been crucial to the candidate’s narrow victory.” Appears to whom? There is absolutely no evidence that Russians played a crucial or even significant role in Trump’s  upset. This is now Democrat cant, and wonderful example of bootstrapping: obviously Hillary’s loss proves the case, because they are sure that she shouldn’t have lost.

8. “He won with only 46.1 percent of the popular vote, less than 16 losing candidates over the years had, including Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Williams Jennings Bryan and the little-remembered Horatio Seymour.”  Yes, the Left is still complaining about the Constitutional rules of the system that all parties have played by from the beginning, and which has worked out extraordinarily well. What is Leonhardt trying to say? Apparently that Trump isn’t legitimate, so everyone should be angry that they are being governed by an evil pretender.

Psst! Idiot!! 46.1 % is also more than some prominent Presidential winners, like Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Bill Clinton (twice), as well as some not so prominent, like John Quincy Adams and James Buchanan In other words, the statistic is cherry-picked trivia, and proves nothing whatsoever.

9. Sigh. The Supreme Court seat was not “stolen,” which falsely implies something illegal.  The GOP was within its legal rights not to allow Obama’s nomination come to the Senate floor. The plan was unethical, unfair and a ridiculous gamble that easily could have backfired, but “stolen” is a falsehood.

10. ” A brutal, partisan process that was made into the norm by Democrats during the Bork and Thomas hearings, and sent plummeting to new lows by the outrageous conduct of, again, Democrats, this time.” There, I fixed it for you, Leonhardt. Continue reading

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Oh, NOW I Get It! People Are Furious At The Kavanaugh Confirmation Because They Believe Divisive Fear-Mongers And Partisan Liars Like David Leonhardt! [Part I]

I know: I could spend all my time debunking unethical columns like Times pundit David Leonhardt’s piece a few days ago. However, since I noted in the previous post that I was puzzled by the fury of so many people regarding what was, in any objective assessment, a fair and competent—and, thank god, successful—effort by Republicans to prevent Democrats from shredding basic principles of justice and fairness in their desperate effort to preserve a favorable ideological balance on the Supreme Court as if they were entitled to it (They weren’t, because elections have consequences), I am obligated to inform the assembled that my puzzlement was cleared by his screed.

There are pundits like Leonhardt who are actively trying to foment fury and division, they are using false narratives, deceit and lies to do it, and newspapers like the Times and news networks like CNN and MSNBC are actively promoting the effort. I won’t waste my time and yours on the whole column, fun as it would be, but just this section:

If you’re not angry yet, you should be.

Let’s review: Decades ago, a businessman built a fortune thanks in large measure to financial fraud. His corrupt gains helped him become famous. He then launched a political career by repeatedly telling a racist lie, about the first black president secretly being an African.

This lie created an audience in right-wing media that made possible a presidential campaign. During that campaign, the candidate eagerly accepted — indeed, publicly sought — the illegal assistance of a foreign enemy. When national security officials raised alarm with Congress, before Election Day, leaders of the candidate’s party refused to act.

The foreign assistance appears to have been crucial to the candidate’s narrow victory. He won with only 46.1 percent of the popular vote, less than 16 losing candidates over the years had, including Mitt Romney, John Kerry, Williams Jennings Bryan and the little-remembered Horatio Seymour.

Having won, the new president filled a Supreme Court seat that his party had stolen with an unprecedented power grab. This weekend, the president finished filling a second seat, through a brutal, partisan process. During it, the president, himself an admitted sexual molester, mocked victims of abuse.

Together, the two new justices have cemented an extremist Republican majority on the Supreme Court. It has already begun acting as a kind of super-legislature, throwing out laws on voting rights, worker rights, consumer rights and political influence buying. Now, the court is poised to do much more to benefit the wealthy and powerful at the expense of most Americans — and the planet.

This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

That’s right: democracy doesn’t work when journalists are complicit in fomenting public division and violence to advance a political agenda. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, October 10, 2018: Incompetence Special

Good morning, and I mean it this time…!

1. My only Red Sox-related note: One reason I know that the news media can’t be trusted is that when I have first hand knowledge of a topic or event reported in the paper, I often find the reporting lazily, inexplicably, factually wrong. Here’s a trivial but illustrative example: this amazing play (It’s at 1:04 on the video) ended last night’s decisive Boston 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees in the American League Division Series:

Here’s how the Times described it:

“Kimbrel then got Gleyber Torres to hit a dribbler to third. Eduardo Nunez, a former Yankee, gathered it and threw slightly wide of first base, but another former Yankee, Steve Pearce, stretched to glove it an instant before Torres touched the bag.”

What? “Slightly wide”? A millimeter wider and the ball would have been in the dugout! If journalists can’t get little things right, why should be trust them to convey the important stuff?

2. Institutional incompetence  The historical airbrushing continues. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Washington and Lee University has decided to make changes to the names of some campus buildings after concerns from students and faculty.

On Tuesday, the Board of Trustees announced that it will rename Robinson Hall as Chavis Hall, in honor of John Chavis, the first African-American to receive a college education in the United States. He graduated from Washington Academy, the predecessor of W&L, in 1799. Also, Lee-Jackson House will be renamed Simpson Hall in honor of Pamela Hemenway Simpson, who served as an associate dean of the college and helped move to a co-ed environment in the 1980s.

The board also announced that effective immediately, it will replace portraits of Robert E. Lee and George Washington in military uniforms inside Lee Chapel with portraits of the two men in civilian clothing.

An educational institution that thinks it is appropriate to airbrush its own history can’t be trusted to teach anyone. Robinson Hall is named after the man who established the college, John Robinson. Yup, he was a slaveholder, but he established the school, and deserves prominent recognition for that. The decision to strip Washington and Lee of their uniforms is particularly ominous, hinting of several obnoxious biases. Soldiers are taboo now? Or is this a strike against “toxic masculinity”?  If the idea is to pretend that Robert E. Lee  is only notable for his post-military career as president of the university, that’s absurd and dishonest: if Lee had never worn the Confederate uniform, he would never have led the school, and nobody would know who he was today. Washington’s military brilliance  supersedes  his civilian achievements in significance and historical impact, for without General Washington there would be no United States of America.

My position is that it is negligent for parents to entrust their children’s minds to stupid people and incompetent schools. Washington and Lee and its administrators now qualify for that category.

Continue reading

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