Tuesday Ethics Afterthoughts, 3/29/2022: A Cheat Sheet, Mask Mayhem, And More

(THERE IS NO GOOD GRAPHIC FOR “AFTERTHOUGHTS”)

The 29th is another of those ill-starred days in U.S. ethics, topped off in 1973 by the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam, the half-way war that was an ethics train wreck for decades. Two years earlier, on the same date, Lt. William L. Calley was found guilty of premeditated murder by a U.S. Army court-martial at Fort Benning, Georgia. Calley, a platoon leader, had led his men in a massacre of Vietnamese civilians including women and children on March 16, 1968. Ten years before Calley’s conviction, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War II. They were executed in 1953, a flashpoint in the schism between the American Left and Right that still is a sore point. (Ethel appears to have been a genuine villain.)

1. I thought this was a hoax. It’s not, unfortunately: someone got a photo of the cheat cheat for “talking points” that President Biden was holding when he massacred his explanation for his Russian regime change outburst in an exchange with Peter Doocy.

This does not fill me with confidence. You? The ethical value at issue is competence.

2. The propaganda and misinformation continues. Though some recently departed here could never grasp it, honest and trustworthy newspapers shouldn’t be publishing falsity and partisan propaganda in house opinion pieces. That’s when the opinion is offered using misleading or incomplete facts—deceit–and the New York Times does it almost every day. I can’t trust a group of editors who permit that. Examples:

It’s incredible how quickly we’ve normalized the fact that the last president tried to retain power despite losing the election and that a mob he incited stormed the Capitol. Many people took part in the effort to overturn the election — among them, we recently learned, the wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice, who hasn’t even recused himself in cases about the attempted coup.

The President in question wanted to challenge the results of an election he believed was the result of illegal manipulation, and as President, he had a duty to do that. I know Krugman isn’t a lawyer, but incitement is a term of art and a crime, and Trump did not “incite a mob” by addressing a crowd. Saying Justice Thomas “hasn’t even” recused himself because of the completely legal communications of his wife falsely implies that doing so is required or the justification for him to do so is undeniable. It isn’t. Editors should not allow such deliberately confusing and misleading opinion material Continue reading

Well THAT Unethical Tweet Aged Particularly Poorly…

Biden’s tweet would have been unconscionable even if it hadn’t quickly turned out that Smollett was a hate-crime faker, a liar, and racial division-mongering fool. Like his former boss Obama, Biden didn’t have the sense to keep his uninformed and biased opinions from interfering with the judicial system, and not to try to exploit alleged crimes, uncertain crimes and uninvestigated events, accounts and rumors to exacerbate suspicion, fear and hate.

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The Quest For The Perfect IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Continues, And Joe May Have Given Us A Winner!

The issue is mainstream news media double standards, which are unethical in general and especially revolting in the news media’s protective stance toward President Biden no matter how badly he screws up in contrast to its coverage of Donald Trump, who could literally do no right in their jaundiced eyes. Yesterday Biden handed the news media a flaming IIPTDXTTNMIAFB, the convenient Ethics Alarms initials for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.”

One of the most damaging and despicable Big Lies pushed relentlessly by the “resistance”/Democratic Party/ MSM alliance from the moment Trump was elected in 2016 was that he was a racist. If you asked an adherent of this slander to name any evidence, the “best” they could come up with was inevitably that Trump had vocally embraced the Birther smear about Barack Obama. But this only stands as proof that Trump is an asshole and a troll, about which there has never been any doubt. He made similar claims about Ted Cruz in order to derail his efforts to beat Trump for the 2016 GOP nomination. Trump plays dirty against all rivals. He’s an equal opportunity jerk, but he’s not a racist (or a white supremacist, a related Big Lie).

But the idea of planting these idea was “priming”: make sure “Trump is a racist” is sitting around rotting in the brains of gullible Americans, and let confirmation bias do the rest. So imagine if Trump had ever looked out over a Fort Worth, Texas, crowd at a VA clinic, and, referring to three Texas members of Congress who looked like Rep. Colin Allred (D), Rep. Marc Veasey (D), and Rep. Jake Ellzey (R) (above) who were in attendance, said,

“The three congressman you have here, two of them look like they really could and did play ball, and the other one looks like he can bomb you.”

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Stop Making Me Defend President Biden!

At this point, President Biden has no choice, ethically or practically, other than to keep his promise to nominate a black woman to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. By all means, he deserves criticism for making such a promise, but that was done quite a while ago, when he was in full pander mode during the 2020 Democratic Presidential primaries. Breaking a pledge is never ethical, unless conditions have changed sufficiently to make the keeping of the pledge materially different from what was anticipated at the time, or if keeping the promise would be illegal.

It is often forgotten that President Reagan pledged to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court, and many liberal pundits at the time predicted that he would renege on that promise. He didn’t. It was a different kind of pledge than Biden’s however. There was a fairly deep pool of qualified women to choose from particularly if he dipped into the group of qualified female lawyers and academics. The lack of any woman ever sitting on the Court since the 18th Century had become an embarrassment. It wasn’t a matter of making the Court “look like America,” it was whether the Court could credibly look like a gentleman’s club. Continue reading

“President? What President?”

Over the last week it has become clear to me that the nation’s #1 Democratic Party propaganda organ, the New York Times, is trying out a new strategy to mitigate the damage being inflicted on the party’s prospects by the daily botches of the Biden Presidency. I was struck on Sunday that the Times print edition, following a dreadful week for Biden including his bumbling press conference and the continuing fallout from his “Bull Connor” speech in Georgia that was roundly condemned by member of both parties, included no stories about Biden’s performance at all.

There was alleged good news for Biden—Omicron was “easing.” This was in the far right, above the fold column that during the Trump years was almost always some kind of attack on President Trump. There was a story about Russia’s nefarious plans regarding Ukraine (but no mention that Biden had virtually invited him to attack, as long as it was incremental) and China’s offensive Olympics (which Biden refused to boycott); there was the obligatory story about the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” and, at the bottom, a story headlined.” Did the Stimulus Fuel Inflation Rates? A Growing Policy Debate.” This one at least mentioned the President, once. None of the others did.

Today, President Biden’s name doesn’t appear even once on the front page of I don’t have the resources to check, but I doubt there was ever a day during the whole four years of the Trump administration when Trump’s name was not on the front page, usually in a negative headline. I doubt this has happened very often since World War II; maybe never.

To be fair, nothing happened yesterday that would reflect badly on…no wait. There was.

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So Maybe Biden’s Georgia Tantrum Wasn’t Necessarily The Worst Presidential Speech Ever…

President Biden’s angry, shouting, hyperbolic speech condemning anyone and everyone who opposes him was, most objective critics agree, an epic botch: unpresidential, undemocratic, nasty and bad politics as well. “[It] was aggressive, intemperate, not only offensive but meant to offend, ” was Peggy Noonan’s assessment in the Wall Street Journal. “It seemed prepared by people who think there is only the Democratic Party…in America, that’s it, everyone else is an outsider who can be disparaged. It was a mistake on so many levels…. The over-the-top language of the speech made him seem more emotional, less competent. The portentousness—’In our lives and . . . the life of our nation, there are moments so stark that they divide all that came before them from everything that followed. They stop time’—made him appear incapable of understanding how the majority of Americans understand our own nation’s history and the vast array of its challenges. By the end he looked like a man operating apart from the American conversation, not at its center…”

Noonan’s evaluation was just about the consensus, and it sent historians to the archives to find another POTUS speech of similar rotten timber. Professor Andrew Busch at Claremont McKenna College believes he found one: as Harry Truman fought for his political life as the underdog to Republican Presidential nominee Tom Dewey in the 1948 campaign, he stooped to similarly vile demagoguery. “In our time,” Truman told a Chicago audience little more than a week before the polls opened, “we have seen the tragedy of the Italian and German peoples, who lost their freedom to men who made promises of unity and efficiency and sincerity…and it could happen here.” He went on to say, “Republican leaders, of course, give lip service to the principles of democracy. But the Republicans preach one thing and practice another. The actions of the Republican 80th Congress opened the gate to forces that would destroy our democracy…This is not just a battle between two parties. It is a fight for the very soul of the American Government.” Truman also implied that Dewey was a “front man” for fascist interests, just as Mussolini and Hitler had been.

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Two 2022 State Of The Union Addresses [Corrected]

Guest post by A.M. Golden and Steve-O-in-NJ

[Introduction: These two entries from this week’s Open Forum are a collective natural for a combined post. A.M. and Steve-O take different approaches to what President Biden’s second State of the Union message is likely to be. You can guess which one I would rather see delivered. [Notice of Correction: I erroneously wrote that this was the first Biden SOTU. What confused me was that last year the Speaker of the House neglected to perform the traditional “tearing up of the speech” that marks the official end of the event…]

First up: A.M. Golden…]

***

I’ve been working on this for a bit. When President Biden ran as the Unity candidate and urged unity in his Inauguration address only to maintain the business as usual divisiveness that has characterized his party’s tactics, I started to wonder if there were anything he could do to change it.

With permission and forgiveness- for the length and the hubris it took to write this – I wonder what would happen if Biden’s State of the Union address in 2022 went something like this.

My Fellow Americans,

The purpose of the State of the Union address is to inform the citizenry of where we stand as a country at the beginning of a new year. In keeping with the spirit of that intent, I’m going to use this time a little differently than you may expect. In my Inaugural Address, I urged the country to come together in a spirit of unity. Since that time, we have become more divided than ever. We have seen hostility between people based on race, gender, religion, class and ethnic origin spike. Our children’s education is at risk as parents battle teachers, teachers battle parents and all battle school administrations. Our law enforcement officers and first responders are at risk more than ever. Families are at war with each other, tearing the basic unit of our society apart. We have lost the ability to give each other the benefit of the doubt, preferring instead to assume the worst of others.

I’m here to apologize to you on behalf of myself, the Democratic Party and its entire leadership for our part in creating and maintaining this schism.

For decades, the Democratic Party has contributed to the undermining of our national institutions. We questioned the legitimacy of the elections of George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 and the election of Donald Trump in 2016, using irresponsible rhetoric that encouraged ignorance of our Constitution and the protections provided in it by the Founding Fathers. Indeed, we have undermined the Founding Fathers themselves, dismissing their incredible gift to us, by characterizing them by the worst decisions they ever made. In doing so, we have fomented disrespect of our way of life, our history, cultural heritage and national achievements among our youth. Democratic officials in county, city and state politics have followed our poor example, refusing to concede elections and destroying local customs and the memory of historical figures alike with iconoclastic fervor.

We have undermined the legitimacy of the Supreme Court with dangerous hyperbolic statements about the threat to our democracy if a decision doesn’t go the way we want. We used our allies in the news media, the entertainment industry, academia and friendly corporations to mischaracterize high court rulings, spreading ignorance among the population as to how the court is designed to work. We have turned Supreme Court confirmation hearings into circuses, demonizing anyone nominated by our opponents and encouraging our aforementioned allies to engage in relentless character assassinations so that we can protect our pet platform issues.

We have tried to get around Constitutional protections of Freedom of Speech, Religion, Press and Assembly by putting pressure on private businesses to shut down opposing viewpoints and to punish our political critics while claiming that it’s an acceptable practice so long as it’s not government committing the actual violation. We have irresponsibly inserted ourselves into local law enforcement issues, sometimes demanding outcomes that hinder a defendant’s right to due process and ability to receive a fair trail. We have pressured higher education to destroy the lives of students by virtue of a mere accusation, again mocking the concept of due process.

In particular, we have disappointed the parents who entrust their children to us for their education. We keep unfit, unqualified teachers in the classroom, give lip service to quality education while pushing out graduating classes of increasingly failing students and spend precious education time indoctrinating students on wedge issues important to us.

We have encouraged racial enmity by advocating suspicion of law enforcement, endangering all of us with irresponsible demands to defund the police, allow violent protests that destroy property and lives and incentivize lawbreaking by refusing to enforce the laws in existence. We have harmed minority communities with endless social welfare funding that exacerbates the problem of poverty instead of solving it, creating generations of families unable or unwilling to learn how to support themselves. We have engaged in relentless fear-mongering of our opponents to keep the minority vote, painting any alternatives to eternal dependence on government as being motivated by racism while we ourselves have engaged in the soft bigotry of low expectations, trying to convince you that you can never compete fairly with white citizens, can never truly be successful in the Land of Opportunity and are not intelligent enough to do simple things, such as get a government-issue ID.

Irresponsibly, we contributed to a crisis at our Southern border for political gain by encouraging untold numbers of poverty-stricken people to violate our immigration laws and opposing any legislation designed to resolve the issue.

We have helped put this country in unsustainable debt that will take generations to pay so that we could toss money at every problem and fund our programs.

We labeled anyone who questioned the wisdom of these actions as bigots and dangerous extremists.

These practices were ramped up after the 2016 election. Instead of going high, as our former First Lady asserted, we went as low as we could. We gave no quarter to President Trump and did everything we could, along with our supporters in the various industries I’ve already mentioned, to keep him from doing his job. We made sure he would never be given even the most minor of Presidential honors that have been afforded incoming Presidents traditionally. We approved the most unlikely conspiracy theories regarding his election and nodded in agreement when our allies in the news media published rumors as fact, cited anonymous sources and failed to report accurately any news that favored the administration. Prominent members of our party encouraged public harassment of administration officials with no disciplinary action or even a rebuke in response. Congress made no effort to work with the President at all on any important piece of legislation, to the detriment of our country and its citizens. Every move by our party’s Senators and Congresspersons was done to harm the Trump administration, regardless of the collateral damage done to all of you.

When the pandemic loomed, we ignored it while we engaged in partisan political theatre intended to damage the President’s re-election chances. Our Speaker of the House violated democratic norms by tearing up the President’s speech on television. Suddenly, as the strong economy began to falter on pandemic fears, we seized on that as a way to pull a victory out of the 2020 election. We insisted on stringent lockdowns, encouraged abuses of power by state and city officials and undermined every effort by the Trump administration to contain the pandemic within Constitutional parameters. We further pitted family members against each other, already divided along political lines, by vilifying anyone who questioned the effectiveness of such methods.

We exhibited blatant double standards when it came to what constituted acceptable gatherings, showed our own hypocrisy multiple times as prominent members of our party violated their own restrictions and excused confusing, contradictory messaging about the virus coming from government agencies and the scientific/medical communities. We did our best to destroy the morale of the country before the election. Worst of all, we discouraged confidence in the vaccine so that President Trump would not get any credit for its remarkably rapid development only to change course after the election results were in.

Speaking of the election, we continued the undermining of our election process by demanding the use of unsecure paper ballots, dismissed any concerns about tampering and used our allies to propagandize for us again, counting on them to bury stories that helped the administration or hurt us. We ignored the bizarre hours-long cessation of ballot counting in swing states that ultimately turned in our favor. We demanded that the results of this election be accepted without question or pause, not hesitating to again label concerns as dangerous extremism, knowing full well how we would have responded had the election gone the other way under the same circumstances.

And we denied that we did any of those things.

We were hypocrites.

Since I have taken office, we have continued these same practices. We laid down the law on the frustrated, but misguided, people who forced their way into the Capitol on January 6. We have encouraged repeated misrepresentations of that event. We have used our corporate allies to shut down opposing political speech and to try to force vaccine compliance. In our country’s darkest days, it has been the job of the country’s leader to give hope. Instead, I have lectured you ceaselessly and allowed excuses to be made for my failure.

I want to take time now to apologize specifically:

To President Trump. You deserved a chance. We didn’t give that to you. The political climate today exists because we could not accept that we lost. We have no right to complain about 2020 election concerns after spending four years questioning your victory. No right to complain about incivility toward me when we practiced it toward you relentlessly.

To Betsy DeVos, Sarah Sanders and other members of the Trump administration who were prevented from doing their jobs or even enjoying a private dinner out because of harassment encouraged by the Democratic Party. You deserved the same consideration that I would want for my own officials.

To Trump administration associates and colleagues who were targeted by the DOJ, whose employers were pressured, who faced constant threats for their association with President Trump. We made a mockery of the right of Freedom of Association.

To Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and, especially, Brett Kavanaugh. You were badly treated because of who nominated you. We went as low as we could go and that’s saying something. You deserved fair hearings and didn’t get them.

To Republicans. You have been unfairly maligned as racists, sexists, homophobes, xenophobes and every other unpleasant characterization. We should have listened to your opinions with respect, even if we disagreed with them. Congressman Steve Scalise and other Republicans with him on the day a gunman opened fire on them were endangered by the same kind of rhetoric we have routinely maintained poses a danger to others. We have set a poor example for our supporters.

To Law Enforcement officials nationwide, including our Border and Customs agents. We have made your jobs impossible by openly siding with lawbreakers and risked your lives with our damaging grandstanding. You deserved our support and we threw you under the bus.

To parents who have every right to know what their children are learning and to express their concerns about it. No one should ever be made to feel like an enemy for speaking out at a School Board meeting. Your participation in your children’s education is essential.

To businesses and property owners, large and small. We facilitated the destroying of our economy for political gain. We placed the unreasonable demand of expecting you to enforce local and federal mandates while struggling to stay afloat financially. You should never have been made responsible for policing the public.

To our minority communities. Our cynical pandering to you for decades to prop up our voter base has caused significant harm to you and helped cause the racial animus we are seeing now. You have the right to think for yourselves and make choices as individuals, not groups, even if one of those choices is not voting for me.

To religious believers. We have shown open hostility to those of faith on a regular basis and practiced double standards in how various groups of believers are treated. You deserve to be treated equally and fairly.

To the American people. You deserved better. You didn’t get it. You have the right to expect honesty, fairness, impartiality and transparency from your elected officials who should be working hard for you, not on their campaigns or personal agendas. I intend to change things for the better starting today.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. We will get through this. I personally believe that every American should be vaccinated. I do understand, however, that there is a great deal of mistrust here that we have been responsible for creating. I hope that, in the coming months, we can gain your trust by reaching out in partnership with our political opponents and working together to repair the damage to our country. It will be difficult and we won’t always make the right decisions. I have confidence that the people of this country can overcome all the obstacles in our path if we join hands and tackle them together.

We are Americans. This is who we are and what we do.

God bless you. And God bless America.

[Next…Steve-O-in NJ’s version]

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Yet Another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB Whopper!

I am getting sick of all the unethical political junk that has been rearing its yuletide head of late, so I’m sure you must be even more sick of it. But stuff like this, which doubles as rotten journalism too, just has to be noted. After all, what the mainstream media wants is for it to just slip away. All the better to help it lie to you later.

This is yet another IIPTDXTTNMIAFB example, short for “Imagine if President Trump did X that the news media is accepting from Biden.” These drive me crazy, because they demonstrate just how much what was once our journalism has transformed into partisan propaganda. The public was hammered daily with media accounts, fact-checks and accusations about how often Donald Trump “lied,” even to the extent of a phony “data base” that called even obvious cases where Trump was joking “lies.” All lie-counting stopped when Joe Biden was elected, however. That was remarkable, especially because Biden has uttered some of the most infamous lies in political history, notably when he gave an entire speech that he stole from another politician—and it was supposed to be an autobiographical speech!

Well, Joe Biden was making up events in his life once again, this time in an address to historically black college graduates in South Carolina, where, not for the first time, he said that he “desegregated restaurants and movie theaters” during the Civil Rights movement.

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A Rittenhouse Verdict Inventory Of Ethics Heroes, Dunces, Villains And Fools, Part II: Rogues Gallery [Updated!]

Rogues

Having reviewed the depressing small population of Ethics Heroes in this Ethics Wreck in Part I, I’ll largely leave the determination of which of the following ethics miscreants should be designated as dunces, villains or fools (or all three) to you. In this, I take my lead from the Saturday Night Live game show, “Geek, Dweeb or Spazz?”

However, there are some easily identified Ethics Villains, beginning with

1. The President of the United States, who signed this official statement:

While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken. I ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us. I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law.

I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law. Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy. The White House and Federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’s office to prepare for any outcome in this case, and I have spoken with the Governor this afternoon and offered support and any assistance needed to ensure public safety.

Ethics verdict: Despicable and inexcusable.

  • What’s Biden “angry” about? Nobody should be “angry” that a jury did its job, and nobody who paid attention to the trial can be “angry” that a jury couldn’t find Rittenhouse  guilty after the prosecution’s botched case. Anger implies wrongdoing. The President of the United States should never, in any case, express an opinion about a jury’s decision.
  • Does anyone think Biden followed the case carefully, or watched it unfold? His comment is a deliberate pander to the worst of the Democratic base, and does as much to encourage violence as anything Trump said after the election.
  • Moreover, Biden is personally responsible for much of the confusion and anger over the case, having twice called Rittenhouse, falsely, a “white supremacist.”
  • Then he has the gall to say that he promised to “bring Americans together” after he deliberately enabled the race-baiters in Kenosha, and that he believes that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, after he poisoned public opinion against Rittenhouse.

Biden’s not just a weak and addled President. He’s a two-faced, mean-spirited creep.

The rest of the Rittenhouse Rogues Gallery members who can be comfortably designated as Ethics Villains:

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A “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!”/ IIPTDXTTNMIAFB / “It Isn’t What It Is”/Jumbo Spectacular!

Mediate lie

They aren’t even trying to be credible any more apparently. Wow.

See those words above, in Mediaite’s tweet? Now, if I was doing my best Mediaite imitation, I’d write, “Mediaite didn’t claim Joe Biden didn’t refer to Satchel Paige as a Negro” even while you could read that this is exactly what the media news website did.

In fact, here’s what President Biden, in full bumbling mode, said today at a Veteran’s Day event at Arlington National Cemetery:

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