Ethics Alarms Ethics Check: Did Joe Biden Call Ted Cruz And Josh Hawley “Nazis”? [Revised]

Big Lie

I don’t do factchecks, I do ethics checks. Both GOP Senators Ted Cruz and and Josh Hawley have leaped on a Joe Biden attack and said that the President Elect called them “Nazis.” Many conservative pundits and websites have similarly accused Biden of the ultimate “otherizing.”

Biden did not call Cruz and Hawley Nazis.

He told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware, where Joe is God,

“They should be just flat beaten the next time they run. The American public has a real good, clear look at who they are. They’re part of the big lie.Goebbels and the great lie. You keep repeating the lie, repeating the lie.”

Because Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Hitler defined the Big Lie tactic–that’s what Biden is referring to when he says “Goebbels and the great lie”— and though they authored one of the biggest Big Lies of all time, saying that a politician or a political party is using the Big Lie tactic cannot be the equivalent of calling that politician Hitler, Goebbels, or a Nazi. The reason is that long before the two Nazi propaganda experts mastered the Big Lie, it had been used extensively for centuries, and it has been used ever since often with great effectiveness, always unethically, by parties and politicians who could not possibly be called Nazis in their beliefs, policies, values or methods. The Big Lie is now a standard political weapon. The idea is to make a public assertion that is so horrifying and outlandish that the public demands that it be denied by its target, and argued about. The genius of the Big Lie tactic is that forcing the argument itself gives the Big Lie credibility. The approach of simply ignoring Big Lies and saying by word or action, “That doesn’t even justify a rebuttal, and I won’t dignify it with one” usually doesn’t work.

I swear, the first example of this that jumped into my head was Harry Reid’s intentional slur during the 2012 Presidential campaign that Mitt Romney had paid no taxes for the previous decade. When asked about his Big Lie after the election, Reid answered, “Romney didn’t win, did he?”

The Big Lie tactic is all about the ends justifying the means.

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Ethics Cool-Down, 1/8/2021: Be Afraid…[Corrected]

I checked: over the past seven years, no fewer than six regular Ethics Alarms commenters have written me to say they were withdrawing from the blog for reasons related to their emotional, mental or physical health.

Ethics is supposed to be good for you…

1. The President announced that he would not be attending Joe Biden’s inauguration, thus overtaking Hillary Clinton as the “worst loser” in all of American Presidential history. Andrew Johnson declined to see in his successor, President Grant, and was certainly bitter, but he didn’t lose the election: he wasn’t even nominated. John Adams, who did lose to Jefferson in his bid for a second term, didn’t attend his lifetime frenemy’s swearing in, but had the valid excuse that he was mourning the death of his son Charles. John Quincy Adams, John’s son, comes closest to Trump’s sore loser act, as he also refused to go to the inauguration of the man who defeated him, Andrew Jackson. However, “Quincy” had good reason to be afraid of “Old Hickory,” who was furious with Adams for letting his campaign attack his wife.

Trump should attend the inauguration, of course, though I am not surprised that he isn’t. It would be a unifying gesture, and would also show character, courage, and patriotism. It is an important tradition for the incoming and outgoing Presidents to jointly engage in the orderly transfer of power.

2. The vise tightens. Apparently Big Tech and social media have decided not to even try to hide their collective assault on free expression and dissenting views:

  • Twitter permanently banned the President of the United States from its platform. I don’t care what their official excuse is: this is a major communications source placing its fist down hard on one side of the scales of political discourse. It signaled this long ago, for those of us who weren’t trying to gaslight the public. Civil libertarians should be concerned, but they aren’t, because they almost unanimously are perfectly happy to see those they don’t like or disagree with silenced. Iran’s Ayatollah, meanwhile, can still send out tweets while he supports terrorism.
  • Facebook also banned the President from its platform. Again, this is purely partisan political censorship. The US is facing a single party in control of two branches of the government allied with the news media, social media and the tech firms to stifle dissent and political opposition.

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Senator Hawley’s Futile Protest Prompts A Senator And A Corporation To Expose Their Ethics Deficits

Secretary Mnuchin Testifies In Senate Hearing On CARES Act Implementation

Well, that’s something.

GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri announced yesterday that he would object to Congress’s certification of the Electoral College results on January 6 as “an effort to highlight the failure” of states “to follow their own election laws as well as the unprecedented interference of Big Tech monopolies in the election.” “Millions of voters concerned about election integrity deserve to be heard,” he said in a statement. “I will object on Jan. 6 on their behalf.”

In other words, this is symbolic political theater, nothing more, nothing less. The Constitution requires that challenges to the certification process, which are completely legal, be approved by majorities in both the House and Senate. That;s not going to happen, obviously, and Hawley’s statement makes that clear.

And yet here is Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose status as a favorite of my Democrats friends among the contenders for the Presidential nomination highlighted just how awful that field was, tweeted this:

“This is how you run for President on the Republican side in 2024. You join a coup attempt. Democracy will prevail. As lead Dem on Rules Committee, I will guarantee it. There’s a bipartisan group of electeds who will put our country first. See you on the 6th!”

That’s pretty shameless coming from a Democrat whose party tried one soft coup attempt after another since 2016, including a contrived impeachment without evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors” and a relentless investigation designed to undermine trust and support of the President. Then there’s the fact, revealed in the New York Times, that in the last three decades, every time a Republican won the election, Democrats in Congress challenged the certification of that election, and when a Democrat won the Presidency, Congressional Republicans did not challenge the certification. Does Klobuchar believe that her party attempted coups in 2000, 2004 and 2016? She’s deliberately mischaracterizing Hawley’s action, but then that’s Amy.

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Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/13/2020: “Hail To The Thingamajiggies!” Edition [Corrected]

How.

1. When late is worse than never. Reports say that the Washington Redskins will officially announce that they are changing their name, to what nobody knows, not even them. The team’s obnoxious owner, Dan Snyder, who has run the once cultishly popular and successful NFL franchise into the ground during his incompetent stewardship, had memorably said that he would never change the controversial team name, unquestionably the most politically incorrect in all of sports. That pledge did not anticipate his league going nuts and supine before the George Floyd Freakout, to the point that there may be mandatory kneeling by the time the 2020 season opens.

The attack on the Redskins name was always about power, as has been the decades-long assault on all team nicknames with ethnic references. Survey after survey has shown that the vast majority of Native Americans don’t care; the idea is to bring corporate interests to heel, and then aim at the next, more substantive objective. The competent way for a team to handle this problem is to quietly retire a problematic name like “Redskins” (or a anachronistically provocative logo like the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo) when the heat is off, making it clear that the change is volitional and not compelled. Then the social justice mob members can’t puff out their little pigeon chests with pride and think “I did this! What’s the next target?”

I don’t care what the D.C. team’s name is. I do care about dishonest and illogical arguments, which is what have been mounted against this name for as long as I can remember. That’s why the Redskins and related matters have so often been a topic here.

I did laugh yesterday when I read a comment predicting that Snyder would announce that the new name would be “the Washington Murderous Savages”… Continue reading