Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part II)

The previous post continues with the worst of the worst…

3.  Charles M. Blow (New York Times): It’s Bigger Than Mueller and Trump”

18 out of Charles M. Blow’s last 20 columns have been anti-Trump screeds, his ratio since the election is about the same. Not only is this res ipsa loquitur for Trump derangement, it’s also mind-numbingly repetitious. In addition to being consumed with hate and anger over the election of America’s President for nearly three years, Blow was an established  pernicious race-baiter before that, when he assigned that label to anyone who criticized Barack Obama, among others.

Why does a highly-respected newspaper feel that “race-baiting hateful hyper-partisan”—Blow hates Republicans, though not as much as he hates the President—is a niche that needs filling on the op-ed page is a mystery.

In his latest anti-Trump column, Blow, as usual, is absurd as well as misleading. He writes,

“The report did not, however, exonerate Trump of obstruction of justice. I submit that we witnessed that Trump obstructed justice in open view, from the White House and on social media. And while Trump waged a two-year battle of slander and misinformation to defame the Mueller investigation, the majority of Democratic leadership did nothing to make the case that he had already reached the threshold of accountability, even without the report.”

I submit that Blow is a hack, writing to deceive the dim and the biased. Trump’s tweets constitute obstruction of justice? Good luck with that theory, Bozo: why don’t you ask a second year law student—or even George Conway— who would set you straight? And for any member of the news media to complain about slander when so many of his colleagues—and he himself—have routinely stated as fact that the President was a traitor and a criminal when no such facts existed…well, Blow has always excelled at gall.

This time, however, he found a way to combine his two passions in a single rant, while adding several “resistance” Big Lie talking points for good measure. Good job, Charles! Be proud, New York Times!

The best case against Donald Trump and the age of Trumpism has always been, and remains, the moral case. Criminality is only one facet of that, although it is the one that the courts and Congress can use to punish him….

As for the people, the voters, it is the moral abomination of having a racist, sexist, child-caging, family-separating, Muslim-hating transphobe as president that must remain front and center. That is the only way to move beyond Trump in 2020….

The very symbols of Trumpism — the MAGA hats, the wall, etc. — are more than merely physical objects. They have long since transcended their original meaning and purpose. They are now emblems. They are now the new iconography of white supremacy, white nationalist defiance and white cultural defense.

They are a form of white pride credentialing.

In much the same way that the Confederate flag became a white supremacist signaling device, wearing the MAGA hat and self-identifying as a “Trump supporter” now serves the same purpose. The symbols are tangentially connected to Trump, but they also transcend him. They are a way of cloaking racial hostility in the presentable form of politics….

In America, this recent rise of white nationalism follows a historical pattern: Whenever black people make progress, white people feel threatened and respond forcefully.

If you say so, Charles. Count the lies, Big and small, everybody, if you want an ethics tune-up That last bit is Blow’s default cover for Obama’s failure as a leader and a President: it isn’t Obama’s domestic and foreign policy ineptitude voters objected to, or his sanctimonious cons, it was the fact that he was black.

4. David Brooks (New York Times) We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again.”

Continue reading

Four Unethical Post-Mueller Report Op-Eds (Part I)

 

I guess the mainstream news media and its pundits aren’t going to take responsibility for the last three years of fake news and attempts to poison the nation against the President after all.  Are you shocked?

I. George Conway (Washington Post): “Trump is guilty — of being unfit for office”

George Conway is Kellyanne Conway’s husband. The Post just says he’s a lawyer in New York, which is another form of fake news: does every Trump-hating lawyer rate place on the op-ed page? Conway has been unethically and obnoxiously exploiting his wife’s prominence in the Trump administration to get undeserved attention for his own unremarkable “resistance” sentiments, and to embarrass her and her boss. Nice.

In most workplaces, a spouse who continually tried to undermine his or her spouse’s work would spark a simple demand from management: either get Lovey-Dovey to cut it out, or else. The fact that Conway femme can’t ask her husband to find a another hobby and be respected is interesting, but there is no reason the President should put up with it. I wouldn’t.

The Washington Post just proves once again its unethical complicity with the resistance by giving  the likes of Conway a forum to attack the President while adding nothing new or original to the debate whatsoever. As I repeatedly tell my hopeless Facebook friends when they post, as a non-rebuttal to any reasoned debunking of the latest impeachment hype, “He’s an X,Y, and Z and is unfit to be President,” the  public  found him fit to be President when they elected him. This is the central anti-American betrayal of the system and our institutions that Democrats , the news media and people like George have been flaunting since November 2016. He’s fit to be President because the electorate says so, and that’s the end of that discussion.

Constantly saying “He’s unfit to be President!” is now in the category of an ad hominem attack. It’s sour grapes and divisive without legitimate purpose; it’s an endless tantrum.  Barack Obama was as managerially and philosophically unqualified to be President on the last day of his tenure as the first, but the Post wasn’t publishing any “Obama’s not qualified to be President” op-eds after 2008 election, or before it, for that matter. (Only John McCain and Sarah Palin were unfit to be President). The people who wouldn’t let go of that conviction while refusing to shut up about it were the ridiculous birthers, a justly derided fringe sub-species. Those like Conway who won’t stop screaming about Trump’s well-established character traits now as if they are sudden revelations deserve similar treatment.

2. Michelle Goldberg (New York Times): No Criminal Collusion. Lots of Corruption.”

I don’t believe that agenda driven ideological propaganda should be accepted as respectable punditry, which is what op-eds ought to be. The idea, I should think, is to have a variety of people who have different views of complex issues make good faith efforts to explain why they have concluded what they have. Hard-left agitprop like what Goldberg routinely submits should be returned to sender by ethical editors with instructions to try them out on the narrow-minded readers of their usual platforms, like The Nation, The Guardian, and other leftist mouth pieces. This piece of hacker shows why that is the right course. Here is her main point, as various Trump-hating figures compete for new talking points to undermine him (In the essay, Goldberg says she “despises” the President. Of course she does—and that makes all of her arguments suspect.):

“The biggest thing this affair has uncovered is that throughout much of the presidential campaign, Trump was seeking to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. The deal had the potential to make hundreds of millions of dollars for the Trump Organization, and Trump’s lawyer solicited the Russian government’s help to get it done. After the election, Trump lied about the deal to the American people. Vladimir Putin knew the truth, giving him leverage over Trump. Is that the only leverage he had?”

What a despicable smear. Trump was a business man, and there was and is nothing illegal about his organization pursuing business deals in Russia, nor was there anything untoward abut making hundreds of millions of dollars for Trump’s organization and its investors. Seeking assistance from the Russian government is SOP for such projects, and again, not illegal or inherently suspicious. Goldberg, we find out by following the links, has been claiming that the President was “lying to the American people” when he tweeted “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” Her assertion is the lie.  Trump is not his organization, the Trump Tower deal wasn’t to be with “Russia,” and Putin had no “leverage” at all, since what the business negotiations weren’t illegitimate in any way. “Is that the only leverage he had?” is classic conspiracy theory rhetoric, suspicion without substance.

[Part II, covering the unethical columns of Charles Blow and Davis Brooks, is on the way…]

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2018: A Strange Philanthropist, A Redeeming Cadet, A Good Idea, And An Obvious Observation

Good Morning!

(This was definitely the oddest LP in my Dad’s Jimmy Durante collection….And good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are…)

1. Ethics Hero, I guess. A sad one…The Henry Street Settlement , a community charity, was shocked to receive $6.24 million donation, the largest single gift from an individual in its 125-year history, from the estate of the late Sylvia Bloom, a legal secretary from Brooklyn worked for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died  in 2016. When one of the wealthy lawyers she worked for bought a stock as she made the transaction for him (or her; I don’t know), she bought the same stock for herself, in a smaller amount. The woman amassed all this money, which she could have used while she was still breathing to assert some beneficial influence over society, help others, or just to expand her own experiences and life opportunities, but instead delegated the responsibility to a non-profit organization to handle after her death. She spent a lifetime in thrall to a law firm, and never could take the initiative to be free.

I view this story as a strong argument for feminism.

2.  Progress: For the first time in The Citadel’s 175-year history,  the Corps of Cadets command was awarded to a female cadet, Class of 2019 Regimental Commander Sarah Zorn. This was no affirmative action or gratuitous diversity moment, but an honor well-earned. In addition to her academic record and demonstrated leadership abilities, Zorn can do 70 pushups in two minutes (I’ve done 7 push-ups in two decades) and has three martial arts black belts. This triumph finally eradicates the humiliating beginnings of the South Carolina military academy’s gender integration, when Shannon Faulkner won a lawsuit against the school’s strict male-only admissions policy, became the first female cadet admitted, then showed up out of shape and irresolute, washing out after five days, four of which were spent in the infirmary. I have always regarded Faulkner as the anti-Jackie Robinson, the perfect example of how a trailblazer without sufficient character can make the trail worse than it was before.

3. An ethics inspiration from Europe. 15,000 European 18-year-olds will be able to travel free of charge in Europe this summer, using special free travel passes valid for 30 days. The European Parliament initiative was passed “to enhance a sense of European identity and European values.” . The cost will be about $14.2 million dollars in American currency.

Great idea, and better, in fact, for the United States to try than Europe, since the United States actually has a national culture and one that a majority of young people are neither learning about nor understand. The U.S. version should include tickets to a baseball game, of course.

4. Duh. Imagine my surprise when, after opening the Sunday New York Times Sunday Review section, I found leading off the insert that has been dominated by anti-Trump hate and hysteria since last November an essay that dovetails nicely with this Ethics Alarms post from yesterday.  Liberals, You’re Not as Smart as You Think” by Gerard Alexander, professor of political science at the University of Virginia, was given the front page of the section to make a point, a full year and a half into President Trump’s administration, that has been a theme on Ethics Alarms for all of that time, and should have been screamingly obvious to anyone whose own ethics alarms still had functioning clappers. Alexander writes in part, Continue reading

Ten Points Regarding The Rob Porter/White House/Domestic Abuse Scandal…

1 We know that the FBI had told the Trump White House about allegations from Porter’s two ex-wives that he had been physically abusive. Apparently, the FBI did not confirm, or could not, that the accusations were true. The allegations were still sufficient to prevent Porter from getting security clearance, whether they were true or not. There are good reasons for this. That does not mean that it is fair that someone’s career can be derailed and his reputation smeared without proof of wrongdoing, but it is necessary.

2. The position of an employer that has its own integrity and reputation to protect when an explosive allegation of personal and criminal misconduct regarding an employee arises is an ethics conflict. The Golden Rule suggests that such an employer should not jettison such an employee absent due process and sufficient proof of wrongdoing. However, the greater duty in this case is to the administration.

3. Porter should have resigned. In fact, that he did not resign was the best reason to fire him. This was his domestic problem, and he had no right to  inflict it on the White House, even if he was innocent.

4. There was nothing inconsistent about President Trump’s tweets condemning domestic violence and regretting the lack of due process and fairness in the current #MeToo witch hunt environment. He is right on both counts. As usual, he was not as articulate as he needs to be when opining on such delicate topics. He is not going to become more articulate, however.

5. Porter’s denials of wrongdoing, absent more, should carry no more nor less weight than the accusations against him.

6. Nobody who does not know Porter, the women involved or the intimate details of their relationships should be saying things in public like “I believe the wives” or “I don’t believe them.”  This flips us back to “I believe Anita Hill but don’t believe that slut Paula Jones” territory. People believe who they want to believe. Women who accuse men of abuse have no more claim or right to be believed without evidence than any other accuser, including those who accuse you.

7. Domestic disputes are infamous for the frequency with which previously honorable combatants will use false or exaggerated accusations to gain legal leverage or for old-fashioned revenge. It is possible that Porter’s two wives want to destroy his life. They seem to be doing a good job of it, if that’s their objective. Continue reading

Bret Stephens’ Capitulation To New York Times’ Anti-Second Amendment Culture

The New York Times, to nobody’s surprise, is all-in to assist its progressive compatriots in using  every tragedy involving guns to strip away the core individual right to bear arms.  The op-ed pages and website , have, once again, become an oppressive barrage of anti-gun fanaticism and disinformation. Take this morning, for example. There is Timothy Eagan’s claim that the Second Amendment is a “cancer in the Constitution.” “The Second Amendment,” he writes, in the process of declaring the individual right enshrined in the Amendment abd confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court as null and void, “as applied in the last 30 years or so, has become so perverted, twisted and misused that you have to see it now as the second original sin in the founding of this country, after slavery.”

Other aspects of American ideals, traditions, values and cultures that Eagan’s allies on the Left also consider cancers would include, I imagine, the Electoral College, Due Process (see: the Obama Education Department’s now defunct “Dear Colleague” letter), Freedom of Speech (“Hate speech kills!”), Freedom of Religion,  Equal Protection,  the Commerce Clause and, of course, the requirement that impeachment has to be based on a substantive crime. We get it, Tim: the Constitution is an infuriating roadblock to turning the U.S. and its culture into a clone of Sweden.

Then there is David Brooks, once the token conservative among the Times otherwise leftist columnists until his brain was removed while he slept and thoroughly washed. In today’s exhibit of Brooksian pseudo-intellectual gobbledygook, he bemoans “the left’s massive failure to persuade.” (The failure to persuade in this case is based on an escalating failure to be honest, vilifying adversaries, and the fact that the left’s strategy is based on emotion a biased presumption that the right to bear arms is “a cancer on the Constitution.”) Brooks also begins with that assumption, but as usual buries his motives in false objectivity: he writes, for example,

“The research doesn’t overwhelmingly support either side. Gun control proposals don’t seriously impinge freedom; on the other hand, there’s not much evidence that they would prevent many attacks.”

Then he declares the controversy an “epiphenomenon”—I think I know what that means, but I don’t trust writers who use words like that—to end with,

“Today we need another grand synthesis that can move us beyond the current divide, a synthesis that is neither redneck nor hipster but draws from both worlds to create a new social vision. Progress on guns will be possible when the culture war subsides, but not before.”

Brooks began with the presumption that “progress on guns” means acceptance of the anti-gun position on guns. Of course he did.

The day before, the New York Times’s new token conservative columnist had thrilled the anti-gun Left with his latest column, ‘Repeal the Second Amendment.

He deserves credit in one respect: unlike his liberal colleagues who would kill the individual right to gun ownership by incremental cuts, at least Stephens is honest. His arguments, however, are lazy and shallow. Indeed, the entire piece reads like clickbait , or perhaps something written with an editor’s gun—well, crossbow—at his head.

He writes, “From a law-and-order standpoint, more guns means more murder. “States with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides,” noted one exhaustive 2013 study in the American Journal of Public Health.”  This is a fake and misleading stat arrived at by including suicides among actual murders. Since 1990, the homicide rate has dropped like stone while gun ownership has risen. “More guns mean more murder” is not even a defensible opinion; it certainly isn’t fact. He should have checked with David Brooks on that.

The whole essay is like this, however, He begins by writing, “I have never understood the conservative fetish for the Second Amendment.” It’s not a “fetish,” and it’s not intrinsically conservative. Belief in the Second Amendment springs from a commitment to individual liberty and inherent suspicion and distrust of expanding governmental power that insists that only the State, and not the citizens it is supposed to serve, should possess deadly force.

In a terrific rebuttal in The Federalist, David Harsanyi writes, “As an American-Jew whose ancestors came here escaping both Nazism and communism, I totally ‘get’ the Second Amendment ‘fetishists.’And when I read columns like the one Stephens wrote today, I definitely get it.”  For Stephens’ argument reduces to “Resistance is futile”–Come on, he asks, how are a bunch of pathetic citizen gun owners going to resist the government? Better to just submit: I swear, we can trust these people! I work with them every day! They only want the best for everyone!” Stephens writes like he has Stockholm Syndrome. Continue reading

Unethical Op-Ed Of The Month: “Don’t Weaken Title IX Campus Sex Assault Policies” (The New York Times)

Do you know what this monstrosity of an op-ed finds outrageous about Betsey DeVos’s efforts to undue the Obama administration’s “guilty unless proven innocent”  standard for campus rape allegations?  It involves too much due process, as in basic fairness before a citizen is grievously punished and harmed by the determination that he or she has committed a crime.. The authors, Jon Krakauer and Laura L. Dunn, put it this way:

Damn right it does. Before someone is punished for a vile crime like rape or sexual assault, the accuser’s credibility and motives must be established. Astonishingly, with all the horrific examples of men being falsely accused of rape, like here, here, and here, the campus activists, feminists, progressives and the social justice warriors continue to insist that any female accuser should be presumed to be a victim, meaning that the accused is de facto presumed to be guilty.

“Sex-crime trials, like all criminal proceedings, set an extremely high bar for conviction to diminish the chance that an innocent person will be unjustly incarcerated. In contrast, the harshest penalty a university can inflict in a Title IX hearing is expulsion, an outcome that does not demand such a stringent burden of proof. In these hearings, neither party is favored, and by leveling the procedural playing field, Title IX makes it more likely that students will report sexual violence.”

The problem with this supposed fairness of “neither party is favored” is that for one party, there are no negative consequences of an insufficiently-supported accusation being rejected. For the individual accused, the stakes are far greater, life altering and potentially dire. More:

“Whenever a student is accused of sexual assault, university administrators need to render their judgment with tremendous care, because erroneously determining that a student is responsible for sexual misconduct can cause lasting harm. But just as much care needs to be taken to make sure that students who commit sexual assault are not let off the hook.”

In other words, the ends justify the means. This is the same mindset expressed in 2015 by Democratic Congressman  Jared Polis, at a congressional hearing on campus sexual assault. 

He said, earning him an Unethical Quote and an Incompetent Elected Official designation on Ethics Alarms,

“If there’s 10 people that have been accused and under a reasonable likelihood standard maybe one or two did it, seems better to get rid of all 10 people. We’re not talking about depriving them of life or liberty, we’re talking about their transfer to another university.”

Krakauer and  Dunn similarly shrug off the consequences to a young man of being falsely tarred as a rapist and kicked out of school: it’s not like staying in the college you enrolled in is a right. Like Polis, they pretend that there are minimal adverse life consequences from being branded a rapist. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: NYT Columnist David Brooks [UPDATED}

“Biographies describe a man intent on making his fortune and not afraid of skating near the edge to do so. At one point, according to Politico, federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, on top of paying himself a large “architect’s fee.” He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions, apparently was arrested at a K.K.K. rally in Queens (though it’s not clear he was a member), got involved in a slush fund scandal with Robert Wagner and faced discrimination allegations.”

—New York Times columnist David Brooks arguing that Donald Trump, Jr.’s conduct in holding the controversial meeting  with some Russians and Russian-Americans to acquire useful negative information about Hillary Clinton for his father’s campaign came about because his family is just no damn good, as shown by the conduct of Fred Trump, the President’s storied father.

Unlike some commentators, I have no ethical problem with Brooks’ basic thesis. Culture molds ethics, children are influenced by the conduct and values modeled by their parents, and I have pointed out too many times to  count that Donald Trump doesn’t know ethics from a merry-go-round, and appears to have no  conventionally functioning ethics alarms at all. It makes perfect sense that Donald Jr. would grow up similarly handicapped.

However, Brooks’ evidence that Trump family patriarch Fred Trump was corrupt and without scruples is all innuendo and supposition, and thus dishonest, incompetent, and unfair. Let’s examine the components of Brooks’ attack:

  • “federal investigators found that Frederick used various accounting measures to collect an extra $15 million in rent (in today’s dollars) from a government housing program, “

Were the accounting measures illegal? Apparently not. Was the  “architect’s fee”? I guess not: Fred wasn’t indicted or prosecuted. Being investigated by the feds does not prove or indicate wrongdoing. Maybe Fred was cheating; I wouldn’t be surprised. But Brooks has no facts to support that assumption, just a pejorative characterizations.

  • “He was hauled before investigating committees on at least two occasions…”

I love the “hauled.” Being asked to testify isn’t evidence of wrongdoing either. Continue reading