Tag Archives: spin

Comment Of The Day: Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 10/16/18: The Jerk Squad (Item #2)

Elizabeth Warren has been allowed to have her embarrassing experience with DNA testing slide back into the memory hole, and Massachusetts voters happily returned the Leftist demagogue to the Senate. Ignoring the character deficiencies of its Senators is a long tradition in my home state. For once, my sloth in not posting Comment of the Day in a timely fashion has paid dividends, for it allows me to raise the Warren fiasco of last month…yes, it was less than a month ago, incredibly—in all of its yummy ethics nastiness.

johnburger2013 authored this commentary, and here is his Comment of the Day on Item #2 in the post, Mid-Day Ethics Warm-Up, 10/16/18: The Jerk Squad, in which I opined in part,

If all goes well, Elizabeth Warren’s triumphant discovery that she is 99.9% white and therefore was justified in representing herself as a “person of color” for institutional diversity purposes will sink her career aspirations as deep as they deserve to be sunk. The fact that so much of the mainstream media is willing to have their credibility brought down with her is indicative of how stupid bias will make people. The Daily Beast, for example, writes in a headline, “Warren revealed results show Native American heritage Monday.”

Keep it up, guys. Pretty soon the jig will be up for identify politics, since  if 1/1,024th Native American means “Native American heritage,” then everyone is “of color” somehow. In that case, perhaps we’ll owe Warren a debt of gratitude….

Now here’s jb….

Warren had an easy out of this mangled story: She should/could have said that she believed her family’s telling of the events and, being originally from Oklahoma, it would be reasonable to believe that she had Native American heritage.* But, she elaborated on the story, to make it more compelling. She also told interviewers her father’s parents did not approve of his choice for a wife because her mother was Cherokee.**

Warren is a lawyer and, supposedly, is very bright. If you’ve watched or listened to CNN and MSNBC for the last four years or so, she is the very embodiment of moral authority over all things . . . erm . . . moral, guided by a passionate desire to help the poor and the middle class.

She knew, and reasonably should have know, that DNA is not determinative of Native American heritage. What matters is being included in the tribes’ relevant hereditary scrolls. In fact, she said that in an interview, so she was aware of the standard and she is aware that she is not so listed. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Race, Science & Technology

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/7/18: Post Gently-Lapping Bluish Eddy Edition

Good morning!

Prelude: I guess I’m glad that I don’t have to face the dilemma I described in the previous post. Giving my Facebook friends the in-the-face-rubbing they so richly deserved—yes, it genuinely ticks me off to be accused of taking talking points from Sean Hannity when I point out really, really bad arguments by any objective standard—would have been wrong, but it would have felt so, so good. Actually, I could still justify some nyah-nyahing, because the “resistance” and the Democrats failed miserably last night, but they won’t admit it, and it’s hard to get those who have technically won to admit that, in fact, they lost.

But they did. Let me reiterate, in case there is any confusion, that nothing could make me vote for Donald Trump, now or ever. It is a national tragedy that someone with his temperament and ethical deficits is in the White House. He is an ethics corrupter, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barry Bonds, and many others, but the entire Democratic Party has become an ethics corrupter of far more consequence and danger to the country. There are too many factors to balance and weigh, but I think the reason there was no “blue wave” last night is that much of America understands the latter as well despite no illusions about President Trump.

All the Democrats had to do was to be fair, civil, and rational over the past few months, and their dreams might have come true. That they couldn’t do it suggests to me that they are incapable of being fair, civil, or rational, and who wants to trust such individuals with power? As I wrote in a comment this morning,

“All the hate, all the anger, all the boycotts and obscenity, all the fake news, all the legal harassment, all the Sally Yates/James Comey sabotage, all the judicial partisan blocking, all the one-way ridicule on the comedy shows and the bullying on social media, all the Republican retirements, all the NeverTrump tantrums from people like Flake, McCain, George Will and others, the late attacks and threats by right-wing wackos—all of that, and the Democrats picked up a lousy 35 seats or so, with a President who (probably) has an approval rating under water?”

and

“Mid-terms are always examples of regressions to the mean. Everyone once thought that the GOP would lose both Houses and the White House in the last election. Trump behaves like a baboon,and even while his policies are working, people like me are embarrassed to have an ass like this representing the country. The Left’s tactics didn’t work; they played into Trump’s hands.”

This can’t be spun, though the news media will try: In Obama’s first mid-term, the GOP picked up 63 seats. In Clinton’s first, the flips were 54.

1. Speaking of spin, which is the process of misleading the public about events for partisan purposes (it’s unethical) …it’s fun/depressing to consider some of the various headlines linked at RealClearPolitics:

  • “Split Decision: Divided Government Returns to D.C.”  Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics

(The government was already divided. Trump’s not a Republican, and Republicans within his administration were and are working against him.

  • “For Democrats–and America–a Sigh of Relief” —Frank Bruni, New York Times

(What a great tell.  It’s adorable that to the Times and its resistance pundits, the only Americans they acknowledge are the ones that agrees with  The Times.)

  • “Democrats Won the House, But Trump Won the Election”— Ed Rogers, Washington Post

Bingo.

  • “Trump’s Political Strategy Is Failing” —Ezra Klein, Vox

Klein and Vox are hilarious. I wonder what color the sky is on their planet?

  • “Voters Want Balance, Not Resistance”— Josh Kraushaar, National Journal

I think that’s a fair analysis, but will it stop House Democrats from spending most of their time trying to “get” Trump? Of course not.

  • “Kavanaugh Fight Was the Turning Point for Republicans”— Byron York, DC Examiner

Not just Republicans, but fair and reasonable  Americans. But the ethics corrupting Democratic party has minimized the number of such Americans. Here is part of a letter in the New York Times magazine, extolling an article about the travails of a convicted felon trying to get a law license after serving time for a robbery at gunpoint he committed when he was 16:

“This article left me in tears both for Betts’s years long effort to become a lawyer despite his rehabilitation and for the continued battle to make life fair for brown-skinned people in America. I couldn’t help thinking that our government just voted to allow an alleged sexual predator, and clearly a very angry white man, to the Supreme Court for life….”

Hey, Amy Gittleman (that’s the letter-writer’s name), I’m accusing you of sexual assault. Now you are exactly as much an “alleged sexual predator” as Brett Kavanaugh. Are you angry about that? Of course Kavanaugh was angry: he was smeared in public by a 30-year-old discovered memory alleging his misconduct as a minor. But you think that a conviction of a felony while a black man was a minor shouldn’t be a bar to practicing law, while an unsupported accusation of unreported misconduct as a minor that surfaces with a political agenda should be a bar to joining the Supreme Court if the accused is a “white man.” Got it. You’re an idiot. Who or what made you this way?

  • “Democrats’ Health-Care Revenge”—Jeff Spross, The Week

Classic example of spin. Pick what you want the Democratic House gains to mean, and say that they mean that.

“Dems’ Victory in House Provides Crucial Protection for Mueller”—Elie Honig, CNN

Another tell. The mainstream news media narrative is that the Mueller investigation really, really, really is going to find impeachable acts by the President. It should be obvious that it’s not, and that if an Evil Traitorous Trump had any reason to fear Mueller, he would have fired him long ago. Mueller needs no protection, just a sympathetic and partisan ethics panel.

But this is CNN.

  • “Exit Polls: Majority Say Russia Probe ‘Politically Motivated'” —Philip Klein, DC Examiner

This is because the Russia probe was and is politically motivated. “You can fool some of the people…”

2. But enough about the elections…Let’s talk about our future military leaders and animal cruelty. At West Point, before the annual rivalry football game, two cadets kidnapped two Air Force Academy falcons, the football team’s mascots, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates. Aurora, a two-decade old bird, bloodied her wings from thrashing inside the crate, and sustained life-threatening injuries. Army officials  apologized and promised a full investigation.

“We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect,” the academy said in a statement.

The two cadets have the judgement of an Adam Sandler character, and should be kicked out after a hearing. That’s all we need is military officers with that level of sensitivity and common sense.

3. “Walking Dead” ethics. I once regarded the AMC show as the best ethics drama on TV. Indeed, it still has flashes of that: one of the speeches a dead character gave to Rick Grimes in a fevered dream last episode was a wonderful description of ethics. (If only I could find the video clip…. ) But a few seasons ago (this is Season 9) the show started cheating, making the audience believe a favorite character had died horribly by deceptively framing the scene, having the executions of main character Rick Grimes and his son prevented at the last minute by a huge Bengal tiger that was somehow invisible until he pounced on the would-be murderer, and now, strike three, “Rick Grimes’ final episode.”

For weeks, we were told that main character Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, would finally get chomped or otherwise killed, joining most of the other characters that started out with him in a desperate effort to survive a zombie apocalypse. We even saw him apparently blow himself up, char-broiling hundreds of zombies in the process in a final heroic act, since he was fatally wounded anyway having impaled a kidney on a steel construction rod, bleeding non-stop, and being on the verge of shock trauma.  And then–surprise! At the end of the episode, we see Rick miraculously alive, winging off to somewhere in a helicopter. You see, said the producer on the weekly post-episode show, “Talking Dead,” it was Rick’s final episode on THIS show, but the character survived to emote another day, in a movie, or a spin-off, or maybe even “Walking Dead” after its fans get over being lied to once again.

39 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, U.S. Society, War and the Military

LATE Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Dunce: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow”

My inexcusable failure to previously post this Comment of the Day by Curmie, originally offered nearly two months ago, is especially bad because of the rapidity with which the news media concocts, hypes, or otherwise featured new tangential assaults on President Trump every day. I had forgotten about this one: the White House posted an incorrect version of the Helsinki press conference transcript. Boy, that seems like a hundred scandals, real, manufactured, and imagined, ago!Allow me to refresh your memory and mine:

MSNBC hostess Rachel Maddow, along with many of her fellow journalist members of “the resistance,” pounced on the mistake, accusing the White House of intentionally editing the transcript. Then, after the Washington Post explained  that the omission was not the fault of the White House, Maddow, who is often cited as a trustworthy left-wing journalist simply because she is so much less flagrant than her MSNBC colleagues, denied that her reporting was incorrect, saying,

“This is one possible explanation for why the White House transcript & video from Helsinki doesn’t include Putin saying he wanted Trump to win. But Putin really did say that in Helsinki…..and the White House transcript & video still does leave it out. WaPo now says it has updated its own transcript. Will the White House? After more than a week of reporting on the bad transcript (see link below)…

(1): White House has let it stand uncorrected, and

(2): POTUS now asserts that Putin wants *Dems* to win, not him.

I love WaPo with the heat of 1000 suns, but nothing here from WaPo disproves our report.”

 Washington Post reporter Philip Bump, quickly pointed out Maddow’s dishonesty, writing,

“Your report asserts that the video was edited and implies that the incomplete transcript was posted intentionally. There’s no evidence for the first point and my piece provides context to suggest that the second was unintentional.”

With that background, here is Curmie’s much delayed Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunce: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow. He also gets extra points for the baseball reference at the end…

Apparently I’m one of the few lefties who comment here even occasionally these days. I trust I will not become an “exile.”

This story becomes an intriguing example of the partisan fragmentation of the country that has been happening for about a generation. Some people will believe everything Rachel Maddow (or Sean Hannity, or…) says; some will believe nothing. Too few will parse the content.

Maddow’s allegation that someone intentionally edited the tape/transcript is unsupported by facts, and her smug reassertion of a discredited argument is, to say the least, problematic.

But I’ve written on my blog about two variations on what I call the Christine Vole effect, named for the character in the Agatha Christie short story/play and subsequently Billy Wilder movie who intentionally allows her absolutely truthful testimony describing her husband’s guilt to seem instead to be the vengeance of a jealous wife. The jury was influenced by the implosion of her testimony, which was, by the way, unnecessary to the prosecution’s case; they acquit.

The variation, as we saw often in the likes of James O’Keefe, and here with Maddow, is the unintentional corollary: by making an extreme statement, the speaker undermines the rest of an otherwise persuasive argument. Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Wait…Condemning A Pope’s Mass Cover-Up Of Sexual Abuse Of Children By Priests Is Partisan Now? [UPDATED*]

I saw a hint of this when I noticed this week that my 90% leftist Facebook friends scrupulously avoided commenting on my cross-posted article about the current Pope’s likely complicity in the ongoing Roman Catholic Church child sexual abuse cover-up while metaphorically foaming at the mouth because the White House flag wasn’t at half mast. Then the New York Times started spinning. An article by Jason Horowitz titled “Vatican Power Struggle Bursts Into Open as Conservatives Pounce”  argued that conservatives were “weaponizing” the scandal in order to minimize the influence of Pope Francis, who has aroused the Right’s ire by “going soft” on homosexuality and by becoming a shill for climate change. Horowitz wrote,

“Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.”

What? Heaven forfend that someone suggest that a hypocritical homosexual factor at high levels of the Church might be partially responsible for a policy of allowing male priests to continue to rape little boys! That’s minor, however, compared to the triple “What?” earned by the writer and the Times for implying that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s  a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering up Cardinal McCarrick’s abuses while also taking his counsel on appointing bishops was merely a political ploy. This is one more example of the tactic of using alleged mixed motives to delegitimize an ethical act. So what if Viganò is a Vatican dissident? The evidence is overwhelming that the Catholic Church has facilitated child abuse for at least decades (See: “Spotlight”), that this continued on Pope Francis’s watch (See: the recent grand jury report), that the Pope is accountable, that his statement was a weaselly mess of accountability-skirting platitudes, and that Viganò’s accusations appear to have validity. Continue reading

13 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

OK, Is Being A Double-Talking Idiot Justification Losing Security Clearance?

Doesn’t it make you feel secure that this guy was in charge of the CIA?

John Brennan, talking to broadcast journalist Rachel Maddow on anti-Trump news network MSNBC:

“And for Mr. Trump to so cavalierly so dismiss that, yes, sometimes my Irish comes out and in my tweets. And I did say that it rises to and exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and nothing short of treasonous, because he had the opportunity there to be able to say to the world that this is something that happened. And that’s why I said it was nothing short of treasonous. I didn’t mean that he committed treason. But it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.”

Oh.

What?

To Maddow’s credit, she did point out that “nothing short of treasonous” means “committed treason,” but to her shame, she did not press Brennan to make sense out of this self-contradiction, perhaps because that is impossible, and also because she isn’t about to be properly tough on a Trump critic who was put on the air to bash the President. The whole interview shows Brennan to be an arrogant, presumptuous partisan warrior. I think my favorite quote is when he says

I gave him a year. I said, maybe he is going to adapt and change. But it seemed like day after day, week after week, month after month, things just got worse. He did not live up to I think what Americans expect of the president of the United States, to speak with great forcefulness but to do it with integrity and honesty. Mr. Trump, time after time, I think has really just disappointed millions of Americans, which I’m trying to give voice to.

And so, I know a lot of people think a former intelligence official shouldn’t be doing this. I don’t consider what I’m doing as political at all. I never registered as a Republican or a Democrat, you know, for my entire life. But I feel such a commitment to this country’s security and its reputation.

How generous of John Brennan, arbiter of the Presidency, to give our elected President a year. That’s better than the Congressional Black Caucus, I guess, which boycotted his inauguration and gave him no time at all. The Constitution, however, gives an elected President four years.

Brennan’s comments have shown that he should never have been trusted with security clearance in the first place.

________________

Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

25 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, language

Ethics Dunce: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow

“Do they teach beauty queens how to apologize? Because you suck at it!”

        —Ed Masry (Albert Finney) chiding Erin Brockavich ( Julia Roberts) in the final scene of the film.

Now substitute “smug, arrogant, incorrigibly biased, anti-Trump MSNBC anchor” for “beauty queens,” and the line is a perfect response to the awaited “correction and apology” from Rachel Maddow for getting the story of the mistranscribed White House transcript of the Helsinki press conference.

I explained the mistake here, and made it myself here, yesterday morning.  The White House did not, as Maddow and others reported, intentionally misrepresent the exchange. The Washington Post clarified what happened. Nonetheless, Maddow and MSNBC dragged their feet in correcting the story, not doing so until 2:45 PM (I updated Ethics Alarms at about 1 pm, the second I read the Post story, and I’m not a full-time news network) and afterwards, here is Maddow’s pathetic attempt to keep spinning…

“This is one possible explanation for why the White House transcript & video from Helsinki doesn’t include Putin saying he wanted Trump to win. But Putin really did say that in Helsinki…..and the White House transcript & video still does leave it out. WaPo now says it has updated its own transcript. Will the White House? After more than a week of reporting on the bad transcript (see link below)…

(1): White House has let it stand uncorrected, and

(2): POTUS now asserts that Putin wants *Dems* to win, not him.

I love WaPo with the heat of 1000 suns, but nothing here from WaPo disproves our report.”

No, it is the explanation, and the Washington Post reporter, Philip Bump,  quickly pointed out Maddow’s dishonesty, writing, Continue reading

36 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Dunces, Journalism & Media

Sunday Evening Ethics Debriefing, 7/22/18: FISA, “Resistance” Jerks, Translator Ethics And More Problems With CVS

Good evening!

1.  Confirmation bias test? The big news today was that the  U.S. Department of Justice and FBI have released the 412 page FISA application used to gain a Title I surveillance warrant against Carter Page in 2016 while he was working as a low-level unpaid adviser for the Trump campaign. The document is heavily redacted in its more than 400 pages. Carter Page himself—he was never charged or interviewed , which seems rather damning in itself–said today,

“‘You talk about misleading the courts, it’s just so misleading… It’s literally a complete joke.'”

The full pdf is available here.

Once again, it is impossible to tell what is going on by following the news media’s reports. It sure seems, however that once you block out the spinning by the mainstream media, this post regarding Devon Nunes’ much attacked memo on the topic was verified.  Still, I have a low rate of patience for these things, and am not the best interpreter of documents like this, so I am only relying on second hand opinions by others who have plowed through the damn thing. I’ll wait to get some reliable readings.

It seems like the critics of the Mueller investigation and the conduct of Justice and the FBI feel confident that the materials show that indeed the warrants were acquired deceptively, meaning illegally, with the unsubstantiated Steele dossier being the crux of the justification for the warrants, also considering the fact that the Clinton campaign was behind the dossier was never revealed to the judges. [Here’s a recent example of the spin being applied to that argument. The judges were told that the dossier was paid for by a person with political motives, and the claim is that this was enough, that they could figure out that it was a tool of the Clinton campaign. I’ve never understood this argument. Why weren’t the judges informed directly, then? ] Ann Althouse commenter named Yancy Ward wrote, Continue reading

38 Comments

Filed under Bioethics, Business & Commercial, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions