Trapped In The Land Of Liars

Liars“In a certain town there are two tribes—one  always tells the truth; the other always lies. A stranger arrived in the town and asked one of the natives whether he was a Truth Teller or a Liar. The native answered, but the stranger didn’t hear the answer. The stranger then asked two other natives who overheard this conversation, what the first man had said. The first replied, “He said he was a Truth Teller.” The second replied, “He said he was a Liar.”

—-Old Brain-Teaser

Senator Dick Durbin (D-ILL)  posted this on his Facebook page:

“Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.'”

Durbin, the #2 Democrat in the Senate, much like the #1, Harry Reid (and the GOP #1, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and…but I’m getting ahead of myself) is a serial shiv-master, adept at making explosive and unfair partisan accusations. This one is typically irresponsible and despicable, because he tells the tale of inexcusable disrespect to the President of the United States but does not attach it to any one individual. Unethical. Cowardly. If he’s going to blow the whistle, he has an obligation to blow it and point, so the accused can defend himself. The Golden Rule demands no less. Of course, this method indicts all GOP leaders, which is Durbin’s design.

The Illinois Senator is also not very bright, and thus his account, which is also based on hearsay so he actually cannot know if it is true or not, does not prove what he purports it to prove. The President’s obligation to negotiate and communicate is independent of what any one lawmaker thinks or how that lawmaker may act. Durbin’s argument is the Tit for Tat rationalization: bad conduct by Republicans…or just this one Republican…justifies the President not doing his job. Dumb. Unethical. Unfair.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sen. Dick Durbin!

But wait, there’s more!

Republicans at the meeting Durbin referenced denied his charge, but we would expect that no matter what happened.  The amazing thing is this: Asked about the alleged incident at a press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney, who didn’t have to say anything, replied that he had investigated Durbin’s story, and “it did not happen.” Continue reading

A Directory of Answers For the “Instalanche” on “Funny! But Wrong: The “Harry Reid Is A Pederast” Rumor”

Ethics Alarms just isn’t constructed for large waves of angry commenters, as are occasionally generated when I touch on some interest group third rail. I try to respond to as many coherent comments as possible, but when too many of them arrive on the same topic, my “civilized colloquy on ethics” model breaks down, and I find myself spending too much time writing dangerously hasty responses to trolls, fanatics, web terrorists and others who have as much interest in ethics as I have in stamp collecting. I also have to individually green light every new commenter, and this alone takes up time that could be better spent researching and writing new posts.

Legendary conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds generously linked to my recent post on the “Harry Reid is a pederast” campaign online, and that’s generally a good thing, one that most bloggers would give their right arm for,since his blog Instapundit is one of the most popular (and professional) on the web. This, in turn, triggered the so-called “Instalanche” at Ethics Alarms, which has resulted in this blog getting the equivalent of two weeks of typical traffic in 24 hours. Sadly, the vast majority of the comments following the Instalanche are examples of the kind of thinking this blog was established to combat, and as a whole, the group is a graphic example of why political discourse, and indeed the political system itself is so toxic and dysfunctional. This is no knock on Prof. Reynolds, whose blog I read most days, and who is almost always rational and fair. It is a knock on the majority of his readers (not all) who chose to leave comments here.

The comments were, in addition to being non-ethical in nature, brain-meltingly repetitious in their fallacies and themes. It’s bad enough having more comments than I can keep up with; having to read nearly identical sentiments over and over again is more than I can stand. And since it is clear that most of the commenters aren’t  bothering to read the thread, never mind the links in the posts they are railing about or the rest of the blog, this is not going to cease anytime soon. Yes, I know that most of this breed of commenter doesn’t want a response, because their comments are seldom thought through or carefully crafted, and they are shocked to have their sloppy reasoning called so. (Then they accuse me of ad hominem attacks.) Too bad. This isn’t a bulletin board or a graffiti wall.

So I’m no longer going to answer individually the vast majority of the comments on the post in question, “Funny! But Wrong: The “Harry Reid Is A Pederast” Rumor,” just as most of you will not have the time, stomach or stamina to wade through all the comments to it. What I offer for the convenience of everyone concerned, but mostly me, is this, a directory of the most common comments from the current Instalanche, and my answers to them. I will direct all future commenters on the original post here, and the odds are that they will find their reply waiting for them. Continue reading

Funny! But Wrong: The “Harry Reid Is A Pederast” Rumor

Not fair. But deserved.

Various conservative-minded blogs, including some of the most eminent and well-respected, have flooded the internet with “Harry Reid is a pederast ( or pedophile)” rumors, innuendos and suggestions, like this one, from Red State:

“Harry Reid is a pedophile”

“I got that from a reliable source who made me promise not to reveal his name.  But he knows.  Honest. Now I’m sure some would expect me to back up this claim with some of those “fact” thingys or maybe a link or two.  Well, given that I’ve promise anonymity for my source, not happening.  Just Google “Harry Reid pedophile” there are 1.79 million hits. I’ve known this for some time but I was reluctant to go public with the information because I always back up my writing with facts and links.  Since I’m sworn to secrecy this time I was uncomfortable putting this story out until some seminal events occurred this week, and I figured “what’s good for the goose…” Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Train Wreck Extra: the Lawyer, the Advisor, and the Kennedy”

Let's give a warm, Ethics Alarms welcome to attorney MAX KENNERLY!

Max Kennerly, the attorney who has argued that Sandra Fluke could legitimately sue talk show host Rush Limbaugh for his on-air insults, rebuts the Ethics Alarms post finding his argument disturbing. I’ll have a response at the end. Here is his Comment of the Day on “Ethics Train Wreck Extra: the Lawyer, the Advisor, and the Kennedy”:

“Who said anything about “silencing?” Defamation is a civil claim that, when proven, results in a monetary judgment, nothing more. Limbaugh’s still free to say what he wants.

“I assume your response to the “it’s not silencing” argument is something like, “he’s not technically silenced, but his speech is chilled.” To that, I ask which scenario is more chilling: Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.)

Worse than Joe "You Lie!" Wilson; worse than Allan "The Republicans want you to die!" Grayson. Will anyone say so?

Many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have specifically stated in the past that they have no interest in budget-balancing issues, and that their primary and over-riding objective is to keep government money flowing to their neediest constituents. That’s a narrow and irresponsible position, but defensible if your view of the duty of elected representatives is that they are only advocates for the voters who elect them, and not bound by any obligation to national welfare  as a whole. Even if one accepts this approach (shared by many in the Tea Party), it does not excuse executing that advocacy by stirring up race hatred with diatribes attributing monstrous and unjustified motivations to political adversaries.

In other words, it doesn’t excuse slanderous comments like these about the Tea Party and its adherents, issuing like flaming vomit from the uncivil mouth of Rep. Andre Carson:

“This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree. Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago. But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”

Continue reading

Comment of the day: “It Has Come To This”

JC comments in response to “It Has Come to This,” the recent  post about a school suspending a student for the non-bullying, non-threatening, non-defamatory content she wrote to friends on her personal Facebook page in the privacy of her own home. JC apologetically calls it a rant; I don’t think it is. He is providing useful context for the school’s abuse of its power, and illuminates how we got to this unfortunate place, where parents abdicate to the schools, and the schools open the door for government intrusion into our homes and families.

“…Do schools have a legitimate concern? After Columbine, Red Lake, etc. I can understand why schools would be concerned about online postings discussing murder. Often the shooting is mentioned before hand in an online post. How to prevent this school shootings? School officials think that paying attention to students online activities (whether at school or at home) is the answer. There is a world of difference between the student saying I wish teacher X was dead and saying I am going to bring three guns to school and here is the plan on how I am going to carry out my attack. School officials seem to view that difference as a fine line that they would rather be on the safe side of.

“Rant warning. Just so you know.” Continue reading

It Has Come to This

…Well, your kids, anyway. But you’re next.

Rundlett Middle School has suspended  a 13-year-old Concord, New Hampshire girl for posting on her Facebook page that she wished Osama bin Laden had killed her math teacher.  Many of the stories published about the incident close with the statement,  “School officials say they can’t comment on the case because of privacy concerns.” While I suppose I should be relieved that they are still concerned about some privacy issues,  their respect for privacy generally leaves a lot to be desired.  So does their respect for basic constitutional rights…but they aren’t the only ones.

The post was stupid, and so what? The teacher was not placed in any jeopardy (Osama is dead, no matter what the school might have heard); no student was bullied (not that this would justify the long arm of the government reaching into the child’s bedroom either); nobody was defamed.    Kimberly Dellisola, the girl’s mother, has told the press the punishment was “too harsh.” Would somebody please tell Kimberly that the school has no business punishing her child at all? That’s Kimberly’s job, or at least was, until schools decided to take over policing what children do, write and say in their own homes. Continue reading

Colbert King, Obama Abuse, Bias and Double Standards

Washington Post columnist Colbert King is an around-the-clock Ethics Hero, a relentless journalist investigator and critic of government corruption in Washington. D.C. He has an impeccable sense of right and wrong, as well as intolerance for public betrayal by elected officials. Yet this undeniably ethical, fair man, who eschews rationalizations at all costs while applying rigorous ethical analysis, cannot see a double standard when it is staring back at him from his own computer screen. His is a frightening tale of the power of bias.

In today’s Post, King expresses fury and pain over last week’s despicable birther drama, feelings that I share. He is revolted at the racist undertones of the “joke” photo e-mailed to friends by an Orange County Republican official as am I. He is horrified by the high percentage of Republicans polled who question Obama’s religion and national origin, as indeed he should be And without any sense of irony, King writes… Continue reading

Rating Judge Kozinski’s Lies

The Ninth Circuit declined the opportunity to reconsider its controversial (and wrong) decision earlier this year that declared the Stolen Valor Act unconstitutional.  That means that according to the Ninth Circuit, pretending to have won a Purple Heart or a Silver Star is protected speech, and Congress’s law making it a felony to wear such a medal when you haven’t done anything to deserve it is an infringement of free speech. I discussed this issue here.

This post, however, is about some interesting dicta in this week’s decision, courtesy of the Ninth Circuit’s most colorful jurist, Judge Alex Kozinski. The Judge has flip-flopped on this question now twice—he was against the Act, then for it, then against it again.  But this time around, he graced us with some provocative thoughts about why lying isn’t always wrong.  He wrote: Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Facebook Wars II”

Though not strictly an ethics comment, Mary’s theory about why school administrators are engaging in so much ethically dubious conduct is provocative and has the ring of truth. Here is her Comment of the Day, on the post “Facebook Wars II: More School Abuse of Power and Privacy“:

“A number of years ago, while extracting myself from a bad relationship, a therapist friend told me that the more healed and “normal” I became, the more outrageous and pathological my ex-partner’s behavior would be, in a psychological attempt to pull me back into the relationship.

“I sometimes think the same thing applies to social relationships and organizations. As they lose their relevancy and people withdraw and move on to new social structures, those invested in the old organizations thrash wildly to maintain an ever crumbling status quo. Continue reading