Tag Archives: “The Big Lie”

When The Raven In The Coal Mine During A Total Eclipse Calls The Kettle Black

I know. I could spend all of my time on Ethics Alarms finding absurd pieces of biased punditry and fisking the hell out of them. It’s amazing how many incompetently argued and badly reasoned pieces get published on the web, and how often their awfulness is rendered at the expense of basic ethical principles. I’m trying to cut down on fisking excercises, but now and then a column turns up that exemplifies a broader phenomenon. This column by Jennifer Finney Boylan,  a professor of English at Barnard College, was deemed worthy of publication in the New York Times op-ed page. It is called, despicably, but increasingly Times columns are headlines as flat-out ad hominem insults to the President, “Trump, the Monster Who Feeds on Fear.”

I read the column, which compares the President of the United States to a list of horror novel and movie monsters and villains, to see what the well-reasoned (well, at least it should be well-reasoned) and factually supported argument would be to justify such a hateful headline. There is literally neither. Read it: you’ll see. These are nothing but general and unsupported assertions. I don’t let comments on Ethics Alarms get out of moderation when they are like this. “Trump is an idiot,” “You’re wrong,” “Obama was a great President,” “Trump colluded with Russia”DING…DING…DING…DING. That kind of comment won’t make the cut, not without a substantive argument, not without some facts. Yet the New York Times deems Boylan’s fact-free attack on the President worthy of publication.

The piece is one more example of the Big Lie methodology that the Left has not just embraced of late, but is having sexual relations with. Just stating an assertion is enough. State it often enough, and people believe it. Continue reading

23 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

If The News Media Won’t Resist Publicizing Big Lies, What Hope Is There? [Corrected]

Here are a couple passages from two reviews of audiobooks in the New York Times Review of Books, under the heading, “Two New Audiobooks Inspire Teenagers to Make Real Change.”

“Anderson, a professor of African-American studies at Emory — working with a capable assist from the children’s nonfiction writer Tonya Bolden — elaborates on the premise of her previous book “White Rage.” There she argued that while the fires and protests that characterized cities like Ferguson and Baltimore in 2014 and 2015 were seen as an explosion of black rage, quite the opposite was true. The murders of unarmed citizens and the subsequent acquittals of police officers charged in their deaths were just the latest expressions of a white rage that had terrorized the entire country since Reconstruction, making victims of blacks and poor whites alike.”

“Such a simple but profound shift of perspective — the changing from an ahistoric lens to a historical one — is where “We Are Not Yet Equal” excels. By meticulously tracing a path from the fateful deals white abolitionists cut with the Confederacy during Reconstruction right up to the contemporary efforts to roll back voter protections as a response to Obama’s ascendancy, Anderson paints a dire picture of a country that not only combats equal citizenship for black people, but prioritizes that combat over governmental responsibilities including national security, liberty and democracy.”

“Anderson’s book is a story of obsession, of a country’s obsession with denying rights to a people.”

The reviewer is Carvell Wallace, who, like all of us, has a right to his own opinion, as does Carol Anderson, the professor whose work he favorably reviews. Neither has a right to their own facts, however.  Michael Brown was not “murdered.” Neither was Freddie Gray. Someone can opine that there was a cover-up in either case, or simply state a belief in contravention of all known evidence, but one cannot state, as fact, that these deaths were “murders of unarmed citizens” and that the acquittals, which were legally mandated by the lack of evidence sufficient to support convictions of murder, were “the latest expressions of a white rage.” They were both, in fact, the only possible expressions of the law regarding guilt and innocence of criminal offenses. Both statements are factually false. Similarly, the statement that the United States has  an “obsession with denying rights to a people”—that is, black people, is a Big Lie, a propaganda falsehood so audacious and beyond reality that it warps public perception by being repeated and debated. Continue reading

32 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Race

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/18: Big Lies, Bad Precedents, And Good Bias (Apparently: I Guess I Just Don’t Understand)

Good Morning!

(You can tell I’m starting to feel better, because the morning warm-up is actually appearing before noon… I had an unavoidable early morning conference call, and I’m hoping to get the post up before I crash.)

1. Regarding the hypothetical Hillary pardon briefly discussed in the previous post…An esteemed commenter corrected me in the comment thread when I stated incorrectly that the object of a Presidential pardon couldn’t refuse the gift: the 1915 SCOTUS case of Burdick v. US says otherwise. The case is one more example of how a bad decision can become settled law. From the New York Times:

The story behind the 1915 case is little known but very relevant today. It involved the city editor of The New York Tribune, George Burdick, who…flatly refused to testify before a federal grand jury about his sources for an article on fraud in the United States Custom House in New York. He said he might incriminate himself in his testimony. The federal prosecutor saw a quick pardon as the answer to this problem, and President Woodrow Wilson agreed.

Wilson gave Burdick “a full and unconditional pardon for all offenses against the United States” he might have committed in connection with the article and for any other matter the grand jury might ask him about. That would seem to have let Burdick off the hook, but he still didn’t want to testify. He refused to accept the pardon, and was locked up for contempt.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which held that Burdick was within his rights and ordered him discharged. In doing so, the court embraced Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1833 definition of a pardon as “a private, though official” act of grace whose validity depended on its acceptance: “It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Marshall’s pronouncements, in United States v. Wilson, were pure dicta — nonbinding observations — but the courts treated them as gospel. In the Burdick case, the court likewise held that “a pardon, to be effective, must be accepted” because it “carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.” This made Marshall’s view the law of the land.

The problem is that both Marshall’s definition and the court’s 1915 reinforcement of it were bad history and tortured logic. Acceptance of a pardon should not be a confession of guilt, especially if there is documentation of innocence. The “imputation of guilt” would disappear if acceptance of a pardon were not required. If one has no choice but to take a pardon, it would become like a grant of immunity, and thus would be noncommittal.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives a person the prerogative to turn down a pardon, and strong support in the Constitutional debates for the president’s having an unfettered power to grant one. “The benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 74. Even more to the point, the framers turned down an effort to limit the power to pardons “after conviction” because they wanted to make it useful for law enforcement. That is, of course, exactly what President Wilson tried, and was told he couldn’t do, in the Burdick case.

So Hillary could turn down a Presidential pardon for her crimes related to flouting the law regarding classified material.

2. Run, Kamala, run! One of the awful alternatives the Democrats have as they paint themselves into the requirement of nominating a woman as their candidate in 2020, California Senator Kamala Harris, highlighted her awfulness while questioning Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as he appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee as it weighed his nomination to become permanent ICE director. She deliberately compared ICE to the KKK in this exchange:

Vitiello: “The Klan was what we could call today a domestic terrorist group.”

 Harris: “Why? Why would we call them a domestic terrorist group?”

Vitiello: “Because they tried to use fear and force to change the political environment.”

Harris: “And what was the motivation for the use of fear and force?”

Vitiello: “It was based on race and ethnicity.”

Harris: “Right. And are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the law and do you see any parallels?”

There are no parallels between the KKK and ICE, and Harris’s assertion that “many” see such parallels is one more example on the growing list of Big Lies being wielded by the Left to spread fear and misinformation. I heard Geraldo Rivera say this morning that Harris was “too smart” to make such a comparison, which he characterized as slander. Obviously she is not too smart to make the comparison, since she made it. She’s too smart to believe that the comparison is fair, but unethical and irresponsible enough to suggest it anyway.

3. Here’s one reason why I don’t have more Ethics Heroes. I’ve already written twice about the deteriorating saga of the kind homeless veteran  and the woman he helped who raised money to let him turn his life around.. It began as a heartwarming Ethics Hero saga, then rotted into a tale of greed, ingratitude, betrayal and exploitation. By August of last year, this was the suddenly depressing story…

Johnny is back living under a bridge, panhandling for change. GoFundMe is investigating whether McClure and her live-in boyfriend absconded with most of the donations, which eventually amounted to about $400,000. Johnny claims that his once grateful benefactor and friend have been spending the money that was supposed to ensure, in Kate’s memorable words, that “his life can get back to being normal….”

Now the story is worse still:

The New Jersey couple who became famous for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a homeless man after he helped with their disabled car — as did the homeless man himself — will all face charges for allegedly providing a false story in order to raise money for themselves, a source familiar with the case told NBC10. Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. will face charges including conspiracy and theft by deception, according to the source. A complaint obtained by NBC10 alleges that the three conspired with one another to make up a false story in order to raise more than $400,000.

Sigh.

4. Now that’s acceptable gender bias discrimination. Somehow. I guess. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that a congresswoman besides Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should be the House Speaker.  “There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with,” Ryan told reporters, before listing people such as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as potential candidates, The New York Times reported. I dare anyone to try to explain what one’s sex organs and chromosomes has to do with being a capable Speaker of the House. Bias not only makes you stupid, it makes you ridiculous and hypocritical. As for Marcia Fudge: oh, GOOOOOD choice there, Tim!

16 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/10/18: “Ugh!” “Bah!” “Arf!””Ew!”And “Ahh!”

Why are these guys happy? Read on…

Goooood morning!

1. Why does anyone pay attention to what Dan Rather has to say about the trustworthiness of the news media? Interviewed in some Trump-bashing forum or another, the man who was fired from CBS for using a fake document to bolster an anti-President Bush story argued that President Trump was waging a “war on the press” in order  to “undermine the public’s trust in the rule of law, ” and that he was making “some headway” in undermining the press’s legitimacy.

To the contrary, Dan Rather and his biased news media colleagues have been 100% responsible for undermining the public’s trust in journalists. All of the Presidents attacks and insults would come to nothing if it were not so obvious, which more evidence every day, that the news media was biased, incompetent, dishonest, and pursuing a partisan agenda. Indeed, the fact that CNN, MSNBC and other news sources still resort to Rather as a credible commentator is enough to justify distrusting the new media all by itself.

2. Yup, those Republicans won’t return to civility…Kathy Griffin, trenchant as always and teeming with wit, has now called President Trump a “stupid racist piece of shit.” It is time to definitively establish that the “Trump is a racist” slur is a Democrat/”resistance” Big Lie, and nothing else. There is no evidence that Donald Trump is a racist. I have reviewed the episodes that supported support that contention, and ultimately they boil down to “If you aren’t a progressive, you’re a racist.” Trump opposes illegal immigration, and the dishonest advocacy of open borders has relied on intimidating supporters of this self-evidently correct position by tarring them as racist. Trump challenged Barack Obana’s birthright citizenship exactly as he challenged Ted Cruz’s citizenship in the 2016 campaign for the GOP nomination. (Ted’s not black, in case you hadn’t noticed.) The argument that this proves Trump is a racist is a failed syllogism: Many racists were birthers, Trump was a birther, ergo he’s a racist. False. He’s an asshole. He would have trolled any President, of any color, with the same idiotic accusation if it suited his purposes. But, again, the Democratic play-book for eight years now has dictated that any criticism of Obama is suspect of racist motives. And, of course, the President must be racist because he wants to limit the number of Muslims who enter the country from hotbeds of terrorism.

The hypocrisy of Trump’s foes using the Nazi Big Lie tactic while accusing him of being a fascist is so obvious that it’s hard to believe everyone doesn’t see it. I admit, it’s a versatile Big Lie, allowing pundits to equate Trump’s advocacy of “nationalism,” meaning opposition to the world government dreams the Democratic Party (and quite a few Republicans) have been promoting since Woodrow Wilson (who WAS as racist) with “white nationalism.”

Griffin’s “evidence”? The President said the White House might pull the press credentials of April Ryan, who happens to be black. If CNN was real news organization, it would have fired Ryan, who is a biased, ideologically-driven hack, long ago. Here are the Ethics Alarms Ryan files. Here is what April Ryan considers legitimate questioning of the White House Press Secretary:

“Sarah, is slavery wrong? Sarah, is slavery wrong? Does this administration think that slavery was wrong? Sarah, does this administration believe slavery was wrong?”

Stop making me defend President Trump. Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Wait, WHAT? Democrats Think That They Aren’t Unethical ENOUGH?

There are so many things in today’s post-Kavanugh confirmation Politico piece that might explode an ethics-savvy readers’ head, the CDC should seek leave to ban it as a menace to public health.  The Thing is titled, Democrats Fear They’re the Wet Rag Party: Kavanaugh’s victory leaves many on the left saying it’s time to get mad—and even, and better proof of the reality of Trump Derangement and the ethics collapse of the Left  would  be hard to find.

A digression: Well, not TOO hard. A novelist and passionate progressive blogger named Chuck Wendig published this Twitter rant after the confirmation vote:

There will be renewed calls for civility. Ignore them. They ask for civility as a way for you to grant them complicity in what they do. Civility is for normalcy. When things are normal and working as intended, civility is part of maintaining balance. But when that balance is gone, civility does not help return it but rather, destabilize it further. Because your civility gives them cover for evil. Note: this isn’t the same as calling for violence. But it is suggesting that you should not be shamed for using vigorous, vulgar language. Or for standing up in disobedience. Or for demanding acknowledgement and action in whatever way you must.

Fuck Trump. But he’s just the ugly fake-gold mask they’ve put on this thing. Fuck all the GOP, fuck that blubbering, bristling frat boy judge, fuck McConnell, Ryan, Grassley, Collins, every last one of them. Fuck them for how they’ve shamed victims and helped dismantle democracy. They will tell you to smile, that we need to get back to business, that we gotta heal the rift and blah blah blah — but that’s the desire of a savvy bully, who wants you to stop crying after he hit you, who wants you not to fight back. But you can cry. And you can fight back. They can eat shit. All of them. They can eat a boot covered in shit. Winter is coming, you callous fucknecks, you prolapsed assholes, you grotesque monsters, you racists and rapists and wretched abusers, you vengeful petty horrors.

Sidenote: some will tell you to be civil because our rage and scorn will fuel the other side, but fuck that double standard in both its ears.

Well, if you hadn’t said those SASSY WORDS and demonstrated ANGER at our whittled-down democracy, I for a second might’ve been convinced not to eat this baby. But fie! Fie on you! Your incivility MADE me eat this baby!” Spoiler warning: they were always gonna eat that baby.

PS— It’s okay if you’re not okay.

I keep hearing the talking point that confirming Kavanaugh somehow undermined democracy. This is essentially a Big Lie, which the Democrats and “the resistance,” being totalitarians in training, are employing with increasing frequency, if not deftness. Democracy is allowing elected Presidents to appoint qualified judges to the Supreme Court, which is what Trump did, and the Democrats tried to prevent. Our democracy demands the presumption of innocence and due process, which Democrats tried to declare null and void. Our democracy demands equal justice under law, which means that accusers and the accused both have rights, and one gender isn’t accorded greater deference than the other.

How did poor Chuck’s brains and values get this scrambled?

End of digression: back to Politico. Reporter John Harris tells us that Democrats think they were too nice when they employed every cheap trick, unfair avenue of inquiry and a series of late, legally and factually dubious attacks on Kavanaugh’s character to defeat or at least delay his confirmation.

Does this post-confirmation quote make your head explode? Continue reading

69 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

The Hitler Joke, Our Rights, And Our Nation

Prologue

When I was a junior in high school, I played Ko-Ko in  the Gilbert and Sullivan Club’s production of “The Mikado.” The head of the music department directed, a Jewish teacher named Mr. Einsig. He had the staging notes for all of the Gilbert and Sullivan works from the director who had gained great acclaim from his work with the Boston Light Opera Company, and I must admit, I cribbed many of that director’s ideas myself, through Mr. Einsig.One effective  staging concept was for the encores to “The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring.” Each one was performed as a different ethnic parody, with Ko-Ko singing translated lyrics. It began with Japanese, of course, then French, a Brooklyn dialect, and the biggest hoot of them all, German. I performed it, in my kimono, with an over-the-top Hitler imitation, complete with mustache, ending with an emphatic “Heil” gesture.

It brought down the house. Ten years later, at Georgetown University Law Center, I played Ko-Ko again, did the same Hitler parody again, and brought down the house again. Nobody complained. My late father, crippled for life in the fight against Hitler, detected nothing wrong with the routine. He also loved “Hogan’s Heroes,” with the show’s reluctant, inept, heiling Nazis, and the other Heil-filled spoofs of Hitler by Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and even the Three Stooges.

Now here is what happened to a private school teacher: read the whole, awful thing here. The short version: he was gesturing while explaining something in class, and noticed that his arm was raised Nazi-style, and said, “Heil Hitler,” jokingly. There was no question whether he was serious or not: everyone knew he was joking, and why he was joking. He even stopped and explained to the class that Once Upon A Time, in less enlightened eras, it was considered amusing to mock Hitler and the Nazis.

Ben Frisch, the teacher, a practicing Quaker  whose father was Jewish and who had two great-grandmothers  killed at Auschwitz, was fired by the private school anyway. The school principal who fired him explained his reason to the New York Times magazine  by saying, “One of our pledges is to make all of our students feel safe. And that is something that I take very, very seriously.”

Says the Times reporter in part in reaction to this: Continue reading

49 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, Popular Culture, Professions, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Ethics Observations On The Roseanne Tweet Fiasco

1.  It is possible, after all, to revile Roseanne Barr’s gratuitously vicious “joke” about Valerie Jarrett, and to question the extended reaction to it. I feel especially emboldened, perhaps because you couldn’t have forced me to watch that show or anything associated with Barr had you been credibly threatening to blow up Fenway Park unless I tuned in. One of the ways the enemies of free discourse and thought further their agenda is by setting up these dilemmas, where to even suggest that a genuine miscreant’s punishment has exceeded reasonable bounds is to risk shunning and other serious cultural consequences—it’s the Cognitive Dissonance Scale again. “See, then we make them defend someone who would tweet something like that, and we’ve got em! Then they look like racists too! Bwahahahahaha!

2. No, I don’t think ABC and Disney were looking for an excuse to cancel “Roseanne” 2 because it was perceived as pro-Trump. The show was making money, and corporations place money above politics. However, there is no doubt that a conservative show has less margin for error in today’s biased media environment. It was up to Roseanne to understand that and moderate her conduct accordingly. This recent post is relevant.

3. I was not aware, until ethics alarms reader  Sue Denim pointed it out here, that Barr may have physiological reasons for her lifetime addiction to ugly humor: Continue reading

33 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, language, Popular Culture, Race, Rights, Social Media, U.S. Society, Unethical Tweet