Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/27/17

Good Morning!

1. Explain to me, Oh Ye Defenders of the Biased and Incompetent Media, why it’s unfair to call this “fake news.”

A Facebook friend whose entire output of late is posting links to anti-Trump screeds posted this one, which appeared on the feed as “Donald Trump’s behavior is abnormal”—ah, I see the “resistance” is transitioning again to the 25th Amendment approach to overturning the election, because the news on the impeachment front isn’t good–with a cut-line that referenced him “calling immigrants ‘animals'” at yesterday’s rally in Ohio.

No, Trump didn’t refer to immigrants as animals. Unlike most of those in my friend’s left-wing, Trump-hating echo chamber (she’s an artist and arts organization executive), I checked the speech. Indeed, it’s an ugly, undignified, over-heated, un-presidential mess that makes Trump’s Boy Scout speech look like Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. BUT HE DID NOT SAY THAT IMMIGRANTS WERE ANIMALS! He did say this;

“One by one we are finding the illegal gang members, drug dealers, thieves, robbers, criminals and killers. And we are sending them the hell back home where they came from. And once they are gone, we will never let them back in. Believe me. The predators and criminal aliens who poison our communities with drugs and prey on innocent young people, these beautiful, beautiful,innocent young people will, will find no safe haven anywhere in our country. And you’ve seen the stories about some of these animals. They don’t want to use guns, because it’s too fast and it’s not painful enough. So they’ll take a young, beautiful girl, 16, 15, and others and they slice them and dice them with a knife because they want them to go through excruciating pain before they die. And these are the animals that we’ve been protecting for so long. Well, they’re not being protected any longer,folks.”

Now, I don’t like that rhetoric. It is typical of  President Trump, but inexcusable in a public appearance. However, as muddled and incoherent as he often is, this section could not be clearer: he is calling violent and criminal ILLEGAL ALIENS animals, meaning that they lack respect for human life, are uncivilized, and dangerous. I hate that terminology, but violent illegal immigrants are not the same as illegal immigrants generally, and illegal immigrants are not the same as legal immigrants, aka, immigrants.

The column in question does quote the passage from the speech I just did, so the Chicago Tribune’s summary isn’t even accurate about the article it describes, though the pundit still writes,

“The intent of the tale that Trump told his rabid fans in Ohio was simple: foment hatred for immigrants. You present the innocent characters who are part of the “us,” and you have them ravaged and destroyed by the murderous “them.” You call them animals, something peddlers of hate have done for ages.”

False, and unquestionably false. An editor on a fair and ethical paper wouldn’t permit this to get into print. Trump’s intent is to demonstrate how dangerous and irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants to cross our borders confident that they can stay here. He’s not fomenting hate for violent criminals: who needs assistance hating violent criminals, whether they are illegal immigrants or not? He was, in a particularly inflammatory way, pointing out how irresponsible it is to allow illegal immigrants easy access to our streets, especially since some of them—the “animals”— are dangerous. That’s clear as a bell, and intentionally misrepresented by the Tribune, the columnist and my friend to foment more hatred for the President of the United States.

THAT’S perfectly all right, though.

2 I point out this blatant misrepresentation to my friend, who responds, “Argue with your friends on your own page; I have no intention of arguing with you on mine.” Oh, no you don’t. You post your virtue-signaling fake news as a substitute for making your own argument—appealing to authority, and the authority, Rex Huppke, is a partisan hack by the evidence of his column—making your little echo-chamber erupt in “likes” and seal flipper applause. Then this lazy excuse for an argument  it shows up in my Facebook feed, polluting it, and I’m not permitted to point out that the linked story is dishonest, misleading crap?

This is the epitome my dad’s favorite rejoinder to such people: “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” Then she went off on the President’s “using lies to obscure the truth”—you know, like the column she posted just did. Yet she could write this with no sense of the irony and hypocrisy at all. This is smart woman, and The Anti-Trump Hate Virus has her IQ points and integrity dripping out of her ears.

I don’t aspire to being the Facebook police, but if you just want echo-chamber cheers for dishonest and biased assertions, keep them off of my Facebook feed.

You are warned.

3.  The criticism of John McCain’s plea for a return to comity, compromise and bi-partisanship in Congress  was met with embarrassing criticism from the Right, some of it appearing on Ethics Alarms, authored  by people who should know better. Criticizing that speech is criticizing ethical government and a functioning democracy, and embracing  the “Everybody Does It,” “They are just as bad,” “They started it,” “They have it coming,” “It can’t get any worse,” “It’s for a good cause,” “These are not ordinary times,” “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now” rationalizations for wrongful conduct rather than agreeing that it’s time to start reforming the culture to reward responsible and professional conduct. This is, in short, adopting the state of war mentality promoted by the Ace of Spades in this revolting post, which I have condemned more than once. Continue reading

The Trustbusters Circle The Wagons: Why?

Why do they always do this?

"Thank you, Sen. Reed, for your comments. You can stop spinning now."

“Thank you, Sen. Reed, for your comments. You can stop spinning now.”

Republicans, Democrats—why? Why do they think, when they are caught in an obvious example of misconduct, it is smarter and more useful—it certainly isn’t honest, courageous or ethical—not to simply confess and apologize, even if it’s with hardly an ennobling statement no better than, “You got us. Yeah, we were lying. That was wrong. Sorry,'” rather than continue to lie? The now ridiculous contortions of Democrats (and their knee-jerk supporters in the public and the media, but forget about them, for they are merely pathetic) are doing independent harm, because they destroy trust in government generally, and that, for a democratic republic, is potentially fatal.

Way back in September, when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice disgraced herself by going on five Sunday talk-shows and stating with deceitful certitude ( “our current best assessment”…”we believe”)  that the deadly attack on the U.S. outpost in Libya was solely the result of spontaneous outrage on the part of extremists over a video, and not an organized terrorist attack, critics said that the Administration was covering up what really happened, and lying about what they knew. The accusation was shouted down and indeed ridiculed by Administration officials, Democrats in Congress, and the Obama-promoting media (it was in the middle of an election campaign) as a partisan smear, but in fact the critics, partisan though they were, were right. Rice was disseminating disinformation. The Administration and its State Department were intentionally blaming a video when they knew better. Why is another story: conservative pundits believe it was to avoid having to admit, mid-campaign, that the signature accomplishment of the President’s term, killing Osama bin Laden and supposedly crushing al Qaida, was not quite the complete victory the Democrats were claiming. If that was the reason, it was a stupid reason, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen that way. Hiding inconvenient facts before an election is despicable, but lying to the public and the world is serious enough, whatever its motive.

When she was questioned in Congress about the misleading descriptions, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signaled that the Administration was in cover-up mode, both by lying outright (“I did not say … that it was about the video for Libya.”) and making her infamous and ethically indefensible statement”With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided to kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?” Now, thanks to multiple revelations, the testimony of whistle-blowers, and newly released e-mails, there is no question that Clinton’s State Department took the lead in scrubbing the CIA talking points that immediately attributed the attack in Benghazi to identifiable terrorist elements connected to al Qaida, and not a spontaneous demonstration against the video. Not only are the Administration’s defenders refusing to admit that what happened happened, they are recycling old tactics from other scandals to do it, which if nothing else is lazy and boring:

  • “This is old news.” Or, as (Liberal! Obama-loving!) NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd termed it, “It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true, it’s old news.” Dowd also correctly identified this as a classic from the Bill Clinton playbook, used for too many bona fide scandals to list. Continue reading

Un-American Values in the Terrorist’s Trial

One of the arguments being put forth by the Obama administration to support its (Pick One:  strange; risky; confusing; dangerous; insane; brave) decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a New York Federal Court is that it will highlight  American values and the integrity of our justice system. Indeed, this was about the only rationale that Administration ally Senator Jack Reed (D-RI.) could muster in his appearance with Fox News’ Chris Wallace: Continue reading