Signature Significance: Washington Post Editorial Board’s Fantasy

How can anyone take seriously, much less trust, a newspaper with an editorial board that would publish something like this?

The headline was clickbait, at least for me: “Biden shows once again why he is a huge upgrade from Trump.” I had to read it. “Once again”? “Huge upgrade”? I wondered what on earth the Post could be referring to. The answer took me by surprise.

The editorial was lauding Biden’s pardoning or commuting convicted criminals who committed nonviolent federal crimes. Well, I’m not going to quibble: the traditional POTUS use of the Presidential pardon power is a low, low, lower than low bar to clear. I haven’t seen the full information on those who were pardoned or had their sentences commuted, but they were overwhelmingly drug offenders, and overwhelmingly “of color,” because that’s how this Administration rolls. There is, I surmise, virtually no chance that Joe was personally involved in the choice of who to pardon, and scant chance that he had to do anything more than sign off on the selections made by Elizabeth G. Oyer, the Justice Department’s pardon chief.

Still, the Presidential pardon power is shamefully underused, and has been grossly misused in the past, notably when Bill Clinton, in the waning days of his Presidency, pardoned fugitive Marc Rich, who had been indicted on federal charges of tax evasion, wire fraud, racketeering, and making oil deals with Iran during the Iran hostage crisis. Why did Clinton do this? His ex-wife pledged millions to Clinton’s Presidential library, and suddenly Rich was pardoned.

It was a bribe, straight up. How does the Post describe what Clinton did? A “pardon of a Democratic donor looked like a quid pro quo.” Is that a fair or accurate description? No, but the deceit allows the Post editors to say “President Donald Trump was far worse.” Really? Far worse than taking millions of dollars to pardon scum like Marc Rich? That deliberate misrepresentation is also an excellent reason not to trust the Post.

Trump is condemned by the Post because he pardoned some of his loyalists like Mike Flynn, Joe Arpaio and Steve Bannon, all of whom the Post ranks as worse than Rich by virtue of being connected to Trump. I hold most of those pardons justifiable. The Democrats criminalized politics when Trump was elected: those associated with the President had targets on their backs for partisan prosecutors to aim at. Though the Post’s editors don’t mention it, Trump also pardoned a lot of non-violent offenders who were worthy of mercy.

Here is something else that they don’t mention: if all we are talking about is pardons and commutations, Biden is a “huge upgrade” over Barack Obama, and so was Trump. By Thanksgiving of 2010, a full two years into his first term, Obama had pardoned two turkeys (one the previous year) and no human beings.

But of course the Washington Post doesn’t have the integrity to mention that.

The larger point is this: It is ridiculous to cite the use of the pardon power as evidence of any President’s virtues as a leader. There are literally millions of Americans who would be spectacular at issuing pardons. That doesn’t mean that they would be effective Presidents. How often are numbers of pardons and commutations cited by historians in assessing Presidencies? I can answer that: almost never. It is a relatively minor part of the job, and being a responsible and competent wielder of that power (giving Joe a very large benefit of the doubt) doesn’t make Biden a “huge upgrade” over any of his predecessors.

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Pre-Baseball Season Ethics Warm-Up, 4/6/2022 (Before I Am Distracted For the Next 7 Months)

The 2022 baseball season starts tomorrow; the Boston Red Sox will play the New York Yankees. This will elevate my mood and lessen my stress until the ned of October, absent unforeseen disasters. It will also provide yet undetermined fodder for ethics posts, for baseball is and ever has been an ethics cornucopia with relevance to the rest of the culture and society. I’ve often considered starting a baseball ethics blog—there isn’t one— but even fewer people would read that blog than this one.

1. The Times spreads misinformation about the Wuhan virus while accusing a doctor of spreading misinformation about the Wuhan virus. Apparently the news media fearmongering about the pandemic will never end. In a front page article earlier this week, the Times told readers that the virus and its close family members have “now killed nearly one million people in the United States.” That’s an inflated figure, how much so we may never know. It does not distinguish between those who died from the virus and those who died with the virus” to the CDC, which set out to maximize fear of the infection so the government could take liberty-squelching measures and get away with it. The next day, the Times had another front page article that provided clues to the previous article’s deliberate deceit: Covid and Diabetes, Colliding in a Public Health Train Wreck. A married couple both got the virus; the woman recovered easily, the man is now confined to a wheelchair. He has diabetes, and the article tells us ” several studies suggest that 30 to 40 percent of all coronavirus deaths in the United States have occurred among people with diabetes.” Other studies find that that being obese my triple the likelihood of death during the pandemic. Here is the photo from the article:

I find the comparison with how the news media handled AIDs in the 80s fascinating. AID crippled the immune system, and sufferers were often killed by opportunistic infections that they would have fought off before acquiring the HIV virus. Yet these people were always described as AID victims, and their names added to the list of those who had perished “from” AIDS. But when a Wuhan virus infection adds to the health risks of diabetes or obesity, it’s the virus that gets credit for the death—because that’s what the the new media wants the public to fear. Continue reading

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

Will The Audacious “It Isn’t What it is” Propaganda Assault By The American Left Succeed?, Part 2

Taking off from Part 1 (which took off from this), let’s review some (only some) of the anti-democratic conduct of the Democrats, their Congress and their President.

  • We saw President Biden withdraw troops from Afghanistan without consultation with Congress and in opposition to the military, abandoning thousand of U.S. citizens in the process.

  • We have seen the individual liberty-defying mask and vaccine mandates in Democratic states and cities.
  • We have witnesses attempts at the state and national level to discriminate against one racial group in such benefits as Small Business assistance and pandemic remedies.
  • We have watched the Senate Majority leader directly threaten the Supreme Court if it fails to support Democratic Party policies and positions.
  • We have seen the escalating air-brushing of history, to eliminate references to individuals and ideas that the party in power opposes.
  • We have seen Democrats and their allied professions and institution attempt to discriminate against religious groups, using the pandemic to ban their activities while favoring gatherings of similar size when they supported leftist activism.
  • We have seen concerted efforts to disarm law-abiding citizens, including removing the right to bear arms from those judged mentally or emotionally ill, both historical tactics of totalitarian governments.
  • We have seen the effort to corrupt the criminal justice system and the Rule of Law by demonizing and presuming the guilt of police officers, conservative protesters and others (like Kyle Rittenhouse) based on  skin color and political preferences.
  • We have seen an endorsement of mob rule, with “defund the police” being advocated across the country, radical progressive prosecutors refusing to prosecute crimes “of need,” and police being turned into targets by more than six years of demonizing by the Left.
  • We have seen an unprecedented attack on the Constitution and various amendments, with the goal of undoing protections wisely placed in the documents by the Founders. Among the targets: the First Amendment, the Second Amendment, the Due Process Clause, the Equal Protection Clause, the amendment process (so the dead-letter Equal Rights. Amendment can pass after the deadline for adoption has passed), the Electoral College, the composition of the Senate, and more.
  • We witnessed the Democratic party embracing a Marxist, anti-American, anti-White, violent and corrupt organization, Black Lives Matter.
  • We are watching that same party continue to support a program of anti-American, pro-Left indoctrination in the public schools.
  • We are seeing the deliberate promotion of class divisions and hostility, while the Democratic Party pursues radical ideological goals such as the devaluing of citizenship, the elimination of meritocracy and the pursuit of excellence,  and
  • Perhaps most glaring of all, we witnessed, for the first time in our history, not just one but two contrived impeachments based not on the kinds of “high crimes” prescribed by the Constitution, but on the simple fact that one party had a House majority  that it abused to attempt to remove an elected President it despised, plus
  • …so, so much more that represents a gross weakening of democracy and its values by the conduct and rhetoric of Democrats. The four year effort to cripple Donald Trump’s Presidency by withholding the basic, crucial, core aura of respect and deference to the office that every other President was bequeathed by his predecessors is, in my view, the worst of these, which is why Ethics Alarms has laboriously tracked it with the tag “2016 Ethics Post-Election Train Wreck.”

This has all occurred in plain sight, so for Democrats and progressives to pick this moment in history to declare Republicans as an existential threat to democracy is Jumbo-level audacity. Is this gaslighting the result of desperation, idiocy, delusion, or “It’s so crazy, it just might work”? Continue reading

How The News Media Deliberately Escalates Racial Discord…A Smoking Gun [Updated]

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

This morning, Headline News devoted almost ten minutes to this earth-shattering event: in a basketball game a week ago between Laguna Hills High School and Portola High School, a single student in the stands shouted racial insults at Makai Brown, a black player for Portola, as he was shooting free throws. The HLN hostess announced the video of the section where the asshole student could be heard with a warning that I would expect for a decapitation video, or a geek eating live kittens.

“It is very disturbing,” she said. Yes, this spectator shouted “Who let him out of his cage? He’s a monkey!” and “Where is his slave owner? Chain him up! Who let him off the chains?” The student should have been forcibly shut up, or ejected. Would “High School Faculty Neglects To Eject Misbehaving Student from Gymnasium” normally rate national headlines?

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Introduction: Will The Audacious “It Isn’t What it is” Propaganda Assault By The American Left Succeed?

Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is,” was a relatively late addition to the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List, arriving in November of 2016; indeed, it is numbered at #64. Because “It isn’t what it is” has become perhaps the most employed rationalization of all in political discourse in the weeks and months since then, it is remarkable that it took me, as a fanatic collector of rationalizations (or the lies we tell ourselves to make us feel ethical when we are not) to realize the importance of this one. It is also noteworthy when that fact dawned on me, for November 2016 was the month that Donald Trump was elected President, and the American Left decided to abandon its principles as well as “democratic norms”—irony there!—in order to destroy him, and, if possible, get him out of office without the bother of an election. That assault continues to this day, though now the focus had shifted to keeping him from being elected again, and, if possible putting him in prison.

Because putting political adversaries in prison is what democracies do...huh?

For convenience, allow me to re-publish the entirety of the entry for Rationalization #64:

64. Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is”

Named after John Yoo, the Bush Justice Department lawyer who wrote the infamous memo declaring waterboarding an “enhanced interrogation technique,” and not technically torture,  #64 is one of the most effective self-deceptions there is, a handy-dandy way to avoid logic, conscience, accountability and reality.

Examples of this are everywhere. Paul Krugman, the progressive economist and Times columnist, began a column like this:

“Remember all the news reports suggesting, without evidence, that the Clinton Foundation’s fund-raising created conflicts of interest?”

The Clinton Foundation’s fundraising created a conflict of interest, by definition. For a non-profit organization, with family connections to either a current Secretary of State or a Presidential candidate, to accept money from any country, company or individual who has or might have interests that the Secretary or potential President can advance is a conflict. It’s indisputable. No further ‘evidence” is needed.”

How does Krugman deal with this problem? Simple: he convinces himself that screaming conflicts aren’t what they are without “evidence,” by which he means “proof of a quid pro quo.” But a quid pro quo is bribery, not a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest might lead to bribery, but a conflict is created as soon as there is a tangible reason for an official’s loyalties to be divided.

Yoo’s Rationalization or “It isn’t what it is” turns up everywhere, and has since time began. A mother swears that her serial killer son “is a good boy,” so she doesn’t have to face that fact that he’s not. It is denial, it is lying, but it is lying to convince oneself, because the truth is unbearable, or inconvenient.  It is asserting that the obvious is the opposite of what it is, hoping that enough people will be deluded, confused or corrupted to follow a fraudulent argument while convincing yourself as well. The Rationalization includes euphemisms, lawyerisms, and the logic of the con artist. Illegal immigration is just immigration. Oral sex isn’t sex, and so it’s not adultery, either. I didn’t steal the money from the treasury! I was just borrowing it!

And waterboarding isn’t torture.

#64  also could be named after Orwell’s “1984,” and called “Big Brother’s Rationalization” in homage to “War is Peace,” etc. But John Yoo deserves it.

In the article that announced the addition of #64, I cited another example:

I saw a prime example of it this morning, in former Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s op-ed about the “Deferred Action For Childhood Arrivals Program,” a euphemism for “amnesty for illegal immigrants who arrived as kids with their parents, so they can grow up and vote Democratic.”

She writes,

“This narrative about an initiative that has given temporary haven and work authorization to more than 700,000 undocumented minors, the so-called Dreamers, still has critics howling about presidential overreach, about brazen nose-thumbing at the rule of law and about encouraging others to breach the borders of the United States. But there’s a problem with this take on the program. It is dead wrong.”

What the program really is, she explains, is “prosecutorial discretion,” like the case by case discretion prosecutors have to use to avoid misusing resources.  This is Rationalization #64. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Indoctrination On Sesame Street

Seseme St Covid

I don’t know why I didn’t see this coming.

Big Bird tweeted a few days ago, “I got the COVID-19 vaccine today! My wing is feeling a little sore, but it’ll give my body an extra protective boost that keeps me and others healthy. Ms. Hill even said I’ve been getting vaccines since I was a little bird. I had no idea!” Naturally, President Biden, who watches Sesame Street religiously (yes, it’s a cheap shot, but I’m in a bad mood) tweeted back, “Good on ya, @BigBird. Getting vaccinated is the best way to keep your whole neighborhood safe.”

This set off an immediate partisan and ideological debate, with conservative hone-schooling mother, blogger and pundit Bethany Mandel taking a leadership role. She wrote in part,

Just as “Sesame Street” isn’t content with allowing parents the freedom to guide their children’s own moral compass, so too are they uncomfortable with the idea of parents making individual risk assessments for their children’s health and safety. There is a moral absolutism necessary to be part of the left, which is where “Sesame Street’s” writers appear to fall. The messaging on COVID-19 vaccination has become yet another absolutist position. Big Bird’s tweet doesn’t exist just on Twitter. It’s part of a larger campaign from the series to “educate” parents on the vaccine.

Earlier this year, she wrote about the iconic children’s educational show shifting from ABCs and vocabulary into the culture wars:

Those in charge of messaging and programming children’s media have positioned themselves as arbiters of our children’s moral compass. And that Soviet-style demand for a universal, well-curated set of beliefs from a particular coastal lens should concern all parents — not just those with religious or personal beliefs that make them uncomfortable with a particular episode of “Sesame Street” aired during Pride Month.

Parents should take note: The aim of children’s media is no longer just to provide free, education-minded babysitting while you get ready for work.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day is…

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It Is Time To Get Serious And Boycott Companies Like Mars Foods

large_Mars_Brands_Collage_July_2014.jpeg

The Halloween ad for Twix, manufactured by Mars Foods establishes a new assault on American democracy, using venal and unscrupulous private corporations to do the government’s bidding. Rod Dreher, who is often too far Right for me but spot on in this case, writes of the jaw-dropping ad (yes, I find it offensive, and also scary in a non-Halloween way),

This is an aspect of the weird totalitarianism we are living through today. We have seen harder manifestations in cases where physicians, academics, and others lose their jobs for questioning transgender ideology. Things like the Twix ad cannot be understood as apart from the overall message discipline of the Left: that there is only one permissible opinion to hold, and those who do not hold it are enemies to be crushed.

This is not a one-off, and it is not neutral. The inability of normal people to understand what is happening here is one reason why this garbage is so effective at changing the way people think.

Bingo. The ad is a tool of totalitarianism.  “Weird” is too mild a word for it, indeed a poor word, because it diminishes the significance of what this represents. It represents the indoctrination of children. The ad is an implied threat. It declares that anyone who does not agree with the State is evil, and will be punished, even killed. It is sickness presenting itself as virtue.

I guess it’s time to show the ad. As Samuel Jackson says in “Jurassic Park,” “Hold on to your butts!”

Dreher’s summary is fair:

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Comment Of The Day #2: “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”

Superman of Tomorrow

Steve Witherspoon is the author of the second (of 4!) Comment of the Day reacting to the query as to whether changing Superman’s motto to seeking “a better tomorrow” without any American reference is unethical, as in irresponsible, or disrespectful, or un-American. Here is his intense reaction to “Ethics Quiz: Superman Ethics”:

***

“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” George Orwell, 1984

Propaganda, that’s what Orwell was talking about.

Superman’s motto change; “Truth, Justice, and the American way” vs “Truth, Justice, and a better tomorrow.”.

“Is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change?”

In keeping with what I wrote yesterday that “our society and culture has dramatically changed in the 21st century” I’m going to approach this from a changing cultural viewpoint.

Looking at Superman as a idealisticº cultural icon¹ (that’s what the character is) the answer to the question “is there anything wrong with DC making the Superman motto change” has to be no. The fact that they are changing the motto is signature significant, in that this single act is so remarkable that it has predictive and analytical value showing us how much our culture has actually changed and the act should not be dismissed as statistically insignificant. The Superman comic strip and its motto had an underlying theme that was pure propaganda² and that was to promote the American way of life as good, a huge cross section of our culture has moved away from that idealistic view of America and it’s inevitable that as the culture shifts away from American idealism that new propaganda will replace the old. Out with the old, in with the new.

SPECIAL NOTE: I think it’s very significant that we’re this invested in the motto of a comic strip character that was literally the purveyor of idealistic American propaganda.

All that said…

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And The Race For Most Dishonest NYT Leftist Propagandist Tightens!

horse-racing-capture2

“It’s Charles M. Blow in front as they round the turn, but HERE COMES KRUGMAN MAKING HIS MOVE ON THE RAIL!!!”

It’s so exciting!

I was going to include this as a note in the warm-up, and then I read all of the comments referring to the Democratic Party’s no longer even disguised embrace of totalitarianism, and decided, Jack Point-style, “Oh, I can’t let this pass!” For Krugman proved with his characteristic gaslighting op-ed this morning, hilariously headlined, “Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat,” that if nothing else, he has chutzpah to spare. Who else would choose this moment, in a 9/11-themed column, to assert that Republicans are an existential threat to democracy? It would be satire, if only so many Times readers didn’t believe it. That fact makes it tragedy.

Let me remind you of Rationalization #64, which has increasingly become the operating philosophy of the Axis of Unethical Conduct as Trump-Derangement became an epidemic .Even I had forgotten that the description of the technique cited Krugman as a prime practitioner:

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