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.
“Fuck the NRA!
—-Albuquerque City Council member Pat Davis, in a TV ad promoting his candidacy for Congress in the upcoming Democratic Party primary.
That’s what we really need more of in the government: more incivility, vulgarity, cretinous rhetoric, and hate-mongering. Go Pat!
I suppose Davis is taking his cues from potty mouth DNC chair Tom Perez and putative Presidential candidate and California Senator Kamala Harris, both of whom have decided to jettison dignity and professionalism in pursuit of the rapidly devolving progressive base. These people are all ethics corrupters. I don’t care who they say to fuck, or what. If this their idea of leadership, they are a disgrace to the nation and whatever office they seek.
Of course Davis’s message is idiotic, regardless of his terminology. He says that the NRA’s ” pro-gun policies have resulted in dead children, dead mothers and dead fathers.” If politicians like Davis want to repeal the right of citizens to own guns, then let them have the honesty and integrity to say so. Blaming the organization that is an advocate for the Second Amendment for crimes committed by those who abuse the right is intentionally dishonest as well as cowardly, like blaming the ACLU for the proliferation of lowest common denominator demagogues who think “Fuck the NRA” is responsible political discourse and not merely the equivalent of a primal scream.
Actually, that’s dishonest: it’s been a terrible day, morn to now.. A catalogue retailer took an email address my wife sent them a year ago and bombarded her account with hundreds of promotional messages yesterday, crashing her email. Then her efforts to fix the problem resulted in a Proethics system email crash that I have been trying to address for the past five hours. I finally decided to get something productive done, so I’m getting up this post while talking to my tech people. UPDATE: They just gave up.
1 Trump Tweets. Ugh. The President criticizing his own Cabinet member, in this case Jeff Sessions, in public via tweet, is horrific leadership and management practice. If I were Sessions, I would resign, It is disrespectful, disloyal, undermines morale on the President’s team, and is just plain stupid. I don’t understand how Trump had any success at all treating employees and subordinates like this. While we’re on this perpetual subject. the fact that the President would say out loud that he would have rushed the Parkland shooter without a weapon is just more evidence of a) a flat learning curve b) the lack of the usual filters from brain to mouth and c) the unethical tendency of third parties to critique the actions of others in rescue situations. No question: the resource officer who was required by policy, assignment and duty to try to intervene in the shooting deserves all the criticism he has been getting, and is accountable. But the President of the United States announcing that he is Batman is something else entirely.
My objections to the non-stop personal ridicule of our elected leader stands, but he also has a duty, as the steward of the Office, not to make himself look ridiculous.
2. An unethical boycott tactic, but I repeat myself. The anti-gun zealots have decided to attack a free and constitutionally protected Bill of Rights advocacy group as part of the news media-assisted effort to demonize the NRA as being somehow responsible for a school shooting that none of the proposed “common sense gun reforms” would have prevented. Now the Second Amendment-gutting crowd is using the boycott, a particularly odious weapon favored by progressives, which depends on the venality and spinelessness of corporate executives to constrict free speech. Delta Airlines announced it was ending a promotional discount with the National Rifle Association after threats and a social media campaign, then tried the weaselly explanation that its decision to stop offering discounted fares to the N.R.A. “reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings.”
When I hear or read an obvious rationalization that somehow had been left off the Ethics Alarms list, now closing in on ninety ( the new addition makes 89), I think, “That must be on the list somewhere!” When I check and it is not, I marvel, “How did I miss that one?” This was especially true with Rationalization #42, which, please note, bumps “The Hillary Inoculation” to 43, and every subsequent rationalization up one. This is not just a rationalization, but one of the near-evil ones, employed by unrepentant miscreants who count on gullibility, generosity, kindness, forgiveness and fading emotions to allow them to avoid accountability, and harm the same people again later
I almost christened the new arrival “Jake’s Rationalization,” for it was CNN’s Jake Tapper, once a real journalist, now in the final throes of Sienenization, who uttered it. The topic was the recent CNN “town hall” on guns (described here and here), with an audience packed with angry Florida students and their families, yielding questioners who were rude, hostile, and frequently full of misinformation.
The The Hollywood Reporter described the reactions of CNN head Jeff Zucker and Tapper as they tried to deny that their disgraceful stunt was what it so obviously was:
…[E]ven as the town hall was receiving plaudits from the mainstream media, the Florida event was being used as an example of how CNN has morphed into a partisan player. “CNN has decided to take this path where they are kind of left-wing advocates,” says Matt Schlapp, chairman of the American Conservative Union and organizer of CPAC.
It’s a characterization that CNN president Jeff Zucker finds insulting. “That criticism is silly,” Zucker tells The Hollywood Reporter. “The fact is we were there, we presented both sides. People who want to criticize are looking to just criticize before they even think about it.” He points out that Sen. Marco Rubio could have been joined by Trump or Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, but both declined CNN’s invitation. “That’s not CNN’s problem,” he adds.
Yes, it was being used as an example because it was an example. The fact that the mainstream media gave this monstrosity “plaudits” confirms that it isn’t only CNN that has morphed into a partisan player. “Both sides” were represented like “both sides” were represented at the Alamo. The audience was unbalanced (in more ways than one), the questions were ridiculously unbalanced (but that’s what happens at town halls when the audience is unbalanced), anti-gun activists and pandering anti-gun Democrats were allowed to make factually misleading statements on national television without corrections from the passive moderator (Tapper, in slug-mode), and the two designated defenders of the Bill of Rights on the stage, Marco Rubio and NRA pretty face Dana Loesch were inept and defensive (or perhaps defensive and inept.) Continue reading
1. Let us begin with this. The National Rifle Association is an advocacy organization. Advocacy organizations operate exactly like lawyer representing clients, and their ethical obligations are similar. They must be loyal to the interests of the object of the representation. They must be zealous, honest, and they must avoid conflicts of interest. In this regard all advocacy organizations, regardless of where they land on the ideological or partisan spectrum, are the same. They have a mission, and a job, and a duty to do it well. The ACLU exists to be an advocate for absolute integrity of the Bill of Rights, particularly the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Ninth. The NRA has a similar mission regarding the Second Amendment, because the ACLU has never been zealous about that one. FIRE advocates for free speech on college campuses, which is often not a First Amendment issue.
NARAL is a zealous advocate for abortion rights, in absolute terms. Most advocacy groups adopt absolute positions which often seem unreasonable to moderates. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is an advocacy group for business—I once worked for them—and opposed government regulations. The Association for Justice—I worked for them too–is an advocacy group for plaintiff’s trial lawyers, and fights any efforts at reforming the tort system, such as capping damages or punishing frivolous lawsuits. All of these and more take the extreme position on one side of a controversy to balance other advocacy groups that take extreme positions in opposition. In this they are very much like opposing lawyers in a trial, except the public is the jury. This is how democracy works, and it is the only way democracy can work.
Condemning and demonizing an advocacy organization because one does not agree with or dislikes the position it advocates is, in my view, exactly like condemning a lawyer for effectively representing an unpopular client—and a lot of ignorant Americans do that, too. Citizens have a right to have an effective organization promote their views and opinions in the court of public opinion, just as citizens have a right to have a competent attorney to represent their interests in a court of law. Attacks on this principle are unsustainable, unethical, and undermine democracy.
2. CNN, and other segments of the news media but especially CNN, has been aggressively attacking this principle since February 14, when Nicholas Cruz opened fire. CNN is NOT an advocacy organization, or is not supposed to be. It is a news organization, and its job and duty is to present facts to the “jury” without trying to influence it one way or the other. On the gun issue, CNN has completely abandoned objectify and its duty to inform, in an unethical effort to advocate for anti-gun interests antithetical to journalism standards.
3. Here is a stunning admission by the New York Times, which has been almost as shrill in its call for gun bans as CNN, in a front page story (Bolding mine):
To many of its opponents, that decades-long string of victories is proof that the N.R.A. has bought its political support. But the numbers tell a more complicated story: The organization’s political action committee over the last decade has not made a single direct contribution to any current member of the Florida House or Senate, according to campaign finance records.
In Florida and other states across the country, as well as on Capitol Hill, the N.R.A. derives its political influence instead from a muscular electioneering machine, fueled by tens of millions of dollars’ worth of campaign ads and voter-guide mailings, that scrutinizes candidates for their views on guns and propels members to the polls.
“It’s really not the contributions,” said Cleta Mitchell, a former N.R.A. board member. “It’s the ability of the N.R.A. to tell its members: Here’s who’s good on the Second Amendment.”
Part I is here.
When we last left our reflections on CNN’s “town hall” in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, Sheriff Israel, who knew his employees had breached their duty and stayed outside the school after the gun fire was heard, pointed the finger of blame at the National Rifle Association while citing as his authority that “The men and women I’ve worked with for almost 40 years, we know how to keep America safe.”
Will this epic hypocrisy be the moment this episode of open mainstream media political agitprop will be remembered for over time? CNN is already furiously spinning to convince America that its February 21 debacle was not what most objective critics saw it to be from the start, while conservative critics composed the sharpest attacks. David Hirsanyi:
Between all the demonizing, heckling, sophistry, gaslighting, platitudes and emotional appeals, members of the crowd — people who should never be the target of conspiracy theories or ad hominem attacks, but who shouldn’t be exempted from a real debate, either…cheered at the idea of banning “every semiautomatic rifle in America.” Maybe someone will ask them if they support banning every semiautomatic in America, period, since the latter is responsible for the preponderance of gun homicides. One death is too many, after all.
Whatever the case, these young people are about to be hit by a harsh reality, because banning semiautomatic rifles or handguns is not only impractical (there are probably over 5 million AR-15s in circulation alone; and semiautomatics constitute the majority of modern guns) and not only likely unconstitutional (the Supreme Court has found that weapons “in common use by law-abiding citizens” are protected) but, for many millions of Americans who worry about the Second Amendment, also highly undesirable…
…[A] star-studded line-up of liberals, many of whom are funding the activism of Parkland students with big checks, cheered with them. Do they all agree that every semiautomatic rifle in America should be banned? Do they agree that anyone who supports legal semiautomatic rifles has “blood on their hands?” Someone with access should ask.
What we do know is that the entire liberal political class couldn’t stop praising the activism and lack of “cynicism” displayed by these kids (a selective admiration reserved for those who coincidentally align with their positions.) The kids were indeed earnest, even if they were generally uneducated about gun laws, legal process, and the underpinning of the Second Amendment — which is to be expected. Those who use them as political shields, on the other hand, are cynical. Those who put them on TV to participate in a national Airing of Grievances are cynical. Those who point to bodies of victims and argue that every American who refuses to accept the Left’s framing of the issue are the ones that deserve contempt.
…[E]vents like the CNN’s town hall go a long way in convincing gun owners that gun control advocates do have a desire to confiscate their weapons. They can’t confiscate weapons right now, so they support whatever feasible incremental steps are available to inch further toward that goal. We don’t know how this plays out in the long run. In the short run, though, it does nothing to stop the next school shooting.
Chris Cillizza, the ex-Washington Post political blogger who has devolved into a full time partisan hack at CNN, led the network’s self-damning spin campaign by first tweeting during the “town hall”:
For people who take shots at CNN, turn to the channel right now. This town hall is a really, really good discussion about a hugely important topic.