The New York Times Reveals That It Will Move On From Its Three-Year “Trump Stole The Presidency By Colluding With Russia” Strategy For Undermining Him To A “Trump And Republicans Are Racists” Strategy For Defeating Him In 2020

How else can we interpret the opening statement by Times editor Dean Baquet in a recent staff meeting? Someone surreptitiously recorded the 75 minute question and answer session and leaked it to Slate, which put it all online. It begins with this (emphasis mine):

Dean Baquet: If we’re really going to be a transparent newsroom that debates these issues among ourselves and not on Twitter, I figured I should talk to the whole newsroom, and hear from the whole newsroom. We had a couple of significant missteps, and I know you’re concerned about them, and I am, too. But there’s something larger at play here. This is a really hard story, newsrooms haven’t confronted one like this since the 1960s. It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that. As Audra Burch said when I talked to her this weekend, this one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions. I really want your help in navigating this story.

But I also want to [inaudible] this as a forum to say something about who we are and what we stand for. We are an independent news organization, one of the few remaining. And that means there will be stories and journalism of all kinds that will upset our readers and even some of you. I’m not talking about true errors. In those cases, we should listen, own up to them, admit them, show some humility—but not wallow in them—and move on. What I’m saying is that our readers and some of our staff cheer us when we take on Donald Trump, but they jeer at us when we take on Joe Biden. They sometimes want us to pretend that he was not elected president, but he was elected president. And our job is to figure out why, and how, and to hold the administration to account. If you’re independent, that’s what you do. The same newspaper that this week will publish the 1619 Project, the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken in [inaudible] newspaper, to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump. And that means trying to understand the segment of America that probably does not read us. The same newspaper that can publish a major story on Fox News, and how some of its commentators purvey anti-immigrant conspiracies, also has to talk to people who think immigration may cost them jobs and who oppose abortion on religious grounds. Being independent also means not editing the New York Times for Twitter, which can be unforgiving and toxic. And actually, as Amanda Cox reminds me, doesn’t really represent the left or the right. [inaudible] who care deeply about the Times and who want us to do better, we should listen to those people. But it is also filled with people who flat out don’t like us or who, as Jack Shafer put it, want us to be something we are not going to be.

The transcript is long, and while I recommend reading the whole thing,  not everyone has sock drawers they can neglect. The unavoidable take-away is that the Times and its staff, mirroring the American Left of which it is bulwark, is obsessed with race as well enamored of the tactical advantages race-baiting it confers in the ideological struggle for control over the levers of government power.

Later, there is this revealing exchange: Continue reading

Joe Biden, The Double Standard Candidate

The fact that Joe Biden is even taken seriously as a Democratic candidate for President is an indictment of his party, as well as evidence that  progressive principles are instantly alterable, optional or ready for deep freeze any time they become inconvenient.

The ethics value issue, of course, is integrity. If the Democratic Party cared about it, Joe Biden would be looking forward to spending his Golden Years playing with his grandchildren and copping feels with their baby-sitters.

That’s the threshold hypocrisy, as we know. Joe is a serial and unapologetic sexual harasser. There are many photographs online, and probably many more to be found, of him hugging, sniffing, and fondling women of all ages while they seem approximately as comfortable as if Joe were a rabid octopus. The conduct displayed is the equivalent or worse  of behavior that has caused hundreds of executives and  many  high-profile leaders in a wide range of sectors to be removed from their jobs. The Democratic Party styles itself as the party of women and #MeToo, but has been flagrant about applying double and even triple standards: witness Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, still in office with the support of his party despite both a credible rape accusation and an allegation of sexual assault, both more serious than any of the accusations made against Senator Al Franken, a Democrat, who was forced to resign. None of the Republicans or Democrats who have been pilloried for sexual harassment carry the photographic evidence that indicts Biden, and yet there he is, topping the polls.

The Democratic Party’s hypocrisy goes far beyond harassment where Joe is concerned, however, as a recent Times article called Joe Biden Knows He Says the Wrong Thing,” itself a naked rationalization to excuse incompetence. Hmmmmm...Is this rationalization  on the Ethics Alarms list? Give me half a minute while I check…

NO!

Incredibly, Joe’s excuse, “I know I’m doing it,” has so far escaped the definitive rationalizations list! That will be remedied shortly.

Joe and his defenders regularly employ other rationalizations for his groping problem (and others), among them, #1. The Golden Rationalization, or “Everybody does it” variations “Everybody is used to it.,” “Everybody accepts it,”“Nobody’s complained before” and “It’s too late to change now,” #8. The Trivial Trap (“No harm no foul!”),#13A The Road To Hell, or “I meant well,” #19A The Insidious Confession, or “It wasn’t the best choice,’  #21A. The Criminal’s Redemption, or “It’s just a small part of what I am!,”#22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things.,” #41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am,”  #42. The Hillary Inoculation, or “If he/she doesn’t care, why should anyone else?,” 43. Vin’s Punchline, or “We’ve never had a problem with it!,” and #64A. Bluto’s Mistake or “I said I was sorry!.”

Sorry for the digression. Back to the Times article: I seriously considered posting the whole piece with Donald Trump’s name replacing Biden’s. How could the Times reporters write this, or anyone read it, without noticing that all the habits and tendencies being cited as Joe’s problems are the exact same proclivities that Democrats claim should disqualify Trump for high office, and all of the defenses on behalf of Joe echo the arguments of Trump defenders? Here are some quotes: Continue reading

Now THAT’S A Norm Presidents Shouldn’t Mess With…

Apparently President Trump lobbied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to bar two of the President’s least favorite members of Congress, Representatives Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota,  from entering Israel for official visits. Israel then reversed an earlier  decision to admit the two Muslim Democrats, both supporters of the international Israel boycott movement.

From the Times:

An Israeli official close to the prime minister’s office said on Thursday that a call came from the Trump administration as recently as this week pressing Mr. Netanyahu to bar the congresswomen. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate information, said the prime minister found himself in a “lose lose” situation, having to choose between upsetting Mr. Trump or the Democrats.

Of interest but irrelevant to the ethics issue is this morning’s news that Tlaib is now being allowed to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds in order to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, provided the Congresswoman pledges  “not to  promote boycotts” while in the country. That’s nice. But it doesn’t change the analysis of what Trump did.

One of the “Big Lie” attacks (I haven’t yet added this one to the Ethics Alarms Big Lie Directory, but it will be #6) on President Trump, spurred by partisan academics and gullibly swallowed whole by history-challenged members of the public, has been that this President uniquely ignores or violates so-called “democratic norms,” meaning that he frequently takes actions that may be within his power, but that traditions, precedent and the practices of his predecessors have established as un-Presidential or even taboo. For the most part, this is contrived criticism representing a double standard and requiring historical amnesia. Presidents break norms, and the stronger ones break them frequently. Democrats attempting to equate  breaking precedents as the equivalent of “high crimes and misdemeanors” are showing their hand: this complaint is just one more unethical justification for a “resistance” coup.

The fact that there is nothing automatically wrong with breaking norms does not mean that all norms should be breached, or that breaching a particular norm is wise, responsible, or ethical. A President enlisting a foreign ally to take negative action against a member of Congress is one norm that shouldn’t be violated.

The action is unethical by any ethical standards. From a Golden Rule standpoint, no President would tolerate members of Congress lobbying foreign governments to take adverse action against him, though I have little doubt that this has been attempted by legislators in the past. Kant’s Rule of Universality would reject the practice as a new norm, and from a utilitarian standpoint, it’s hard to see how such conduct by a President would result on balance in more beneficial consequences than negative ones. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/5/2019: Preparing For Yet Another Anti-Gun Freak-Out Edition

Good Morning!

 Notes on the impending gun control summer re-runs..

  • There is literally no significance to the fact that there were two mass shootings within 48 hours of each other last week. None. It is pure moral luck, nothing more. If the shootings had occurred weeks apart, or months, the same factors would have been at play, and the same number of people would be dead or injured.

A responsible news media would explain this, as the public looks at these things emotionally rather than rationally. Instead, the news media is doing the opposite.

  • President Trump has decided that it is politically expedient to “do something,” so he tweeted this morning that he favored “strong background checks” in order that “those killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, [not] die in vain.” This will annoy Second Amendment champions, and it is certainly a nice example of the “Barn Door Fallacy.” Background checks, however strong, wouldn’t have stopped these shootings in all likelihood, or the vast majority of mass shootings.

It is also possible that the President is being smarter than it seems, since he mentioned some kind of more gun regulations for actual immigration reform compromise. Of course that kind of trade-off makes sense. I suggested that exact deal when Obama was President, but he preferred to whine about how he couldn’t work with Congress rather than compromise. Trump will compromise, in part because he’s a pragmatist, in part because he has no ideals.

The Democrats won’t, though. Continue reading

Bill Maher Ethics And Resistance Big Lie #5

HBO’s Bill Maher has exercised a downward force on national ethics since he started taking himself seriously as a pundit. We haven’t check in on Bill for a while. The non-news is that he’s as reflexively smug and vile as ever, and that his pose as a comedian is still used as cover to permit his often sociopathic political views to escape the condemnation they warrant. Let’s see…

  • In his latest show, Maher had this exchange with Democratic columnist Josh Barro:

Maher: “I’ve been hoping for a recession – people hate me for it – but it would get rid of Trump.”

Barro: “Recessions are really bad. People lose their jobs and homes and we shouldn’t wish for it.”

Maher: “I know. It’s worth it.”

Unless you think this was a hilarious exchange, you must recognize it as the position of a hateful, Machiavellian fanatic. He detests the President so much that he wants there to be a disaster harming the U.S., families, businesses and the economy  so  he can rid the nation of the President. This is no different from wishing for a plague, race riots, a terrorist attack or a war.

  • Closing his show, Maher made this pitch:

“Fatigue is the best thing we’ve got going for us. The majority of Americans aren’t tired of winning, they’re tired of looking at his fat fuckiing face! It’s hard to beat an incumbent in a good economy. Every incumbent since FDR has won if they avoided a recession leading up to an election year and consumer confidence is sky high. … The voters that Democrats need to win, moderates who have Trump fatigue, will vote against a good economy, I think, just to get back to normalcy, but they won’t trade it away for left-wing extremism….”All the Democrats have to do to win is to come off less crazy than Trump — and, of course, they’re blowing it! Coming across as unserious people who are going to take away all your money so migrants from Honduras can go to college for free and get a major in ‘America sucks.’ It’s the fatigue, stupid! Let’s make it hard for Trump to play on voters’ fears and let the fatigue win the election for us. We’ll get to the revolution, but remember, put on your oxygen mask before assisting your child.”

Continue reading

Early Poll: Who’s The Most Unethical Democratic Presidential Candidate?

My inquiry has been slightly different of late: I’ve been trying to decide on the most loathsome Democrat candidate, which so far is a dead heat with multiple contenders. However, the degree to which some of these people make me want to retch is a distraction, and I will be periodically polling on the more relevant topic of this blog as we crawl to the August 2020 conventions, a year from now.

To head off the inevitable “whatabout” responses, let me stipulate that, of course, Donald Trump, our President, is unethical in many, many ways, based  on what we know about his character, what he says, and what he does.

That is not a verdict on whether he should be removed from office, or whether he is corrupt or “unfit to be President.” If unethical character or deeds alone were grounds for impeachment, we would have had about 30 of them by now. There has been no evidence that Trump is a corrupt President, which is what matters, just assumptions based on the general distrust by those who will never give him a chance.

Fitness for Presidency is self defining: elections determine whether a President is fit, because in a democracy that’s the people’s right to determine, not pundits, no ethicists, not other politicians. Once found to be fit to serve by an election, a President’s subsequent conduct determines whether the public was right. It doesn’t matter whether those who voted against him think he’s fit. Their standard did not prevail. At the point of election, all good citizens are obligated to wipe the slate clean and allow the elected President to proceed in the most difficult job in the land with the nation’s symbolic support. A large chunk of the Left has refused to do that this time, ever. That means they are unethical, and unfit to live in a democracy. It is the job of those who are fit to either convince them of their dangerous error, or to minimize the damage they are doing to the nation. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/3/19: Lies and Ridiculous Lies

Bad day, right from the start.

An old friend, and one of my favorite people in the world, just suffered a terrible tragedy, one of those random, devastating, lightning strikes to the heart. He is much loved, and will be hearing from many, including me, once I figure out what to say. I’m always flummoxed in such situations, hating to mouth platitudes (I’m so sorry for your loss), but unable to think of anything more helpful.

1. The Washington Post factchecker is trying to be non-partisan again. I wonder how long it will last this time? He gave Cory Booker four Pinnochio’s for his statement during the last debate, “We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.”

That one missed the cut in the Ethics Alarms post. It is a complete lie, absolutely baseless. It is exactly as false and irresponsible as President Trump’s claim, unmoored to anything but wild speculation that widespread voter fraud cost him California. That, of course, was roundly mocked and condemned by some of the same pundits who are rooting for Booker.

Glenn Kessler explains in his article that there are absolutely no facts that support Booker’s claim. It is just made up. No data exists that indicate that Russian social media hi-jinks cost Clinton votes in Michigan, or anywhere, for that matter, much less the thousands of votes needed to flip the state. Nor does Michigan have any new measures that that would have suppressed African American voters. Indeed Clinton lost because the African American turn-out was not as strong as 2012, but that was expected, and the fall-off was approximately what was predicted. Kessler concludes, “[W]e could not find any specific examples of new laws enacted between 2012 and 2016 that could have reduced African American turnout. In fact, the Republican governor in 2012 vetoed a bill that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting.”

The worst thing  about Donald Trump, we are told, is that he habitually makes statements like Cory Booker’s. Continue reading