To Be Fair, Some Conservatives ARE Hysterical Over The SCOTUS Decision in Bostock….

… which is sad. Gerald Bostock, Aimee Stephens and Donald Zarda, the appellants in the three cases decided yesterday, were discriminated against by their employers for no other reason than what they were, or had decided to be.  In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court decided that this breached  the landmark 1964  civil rights legislation which banned discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, religion, and gender, or what the law called “sex.”

This morning I criticized the Times for a cut line  in its print edition that read “A Trump justice delivers an LGBT ruling that demoralizes the Right” as a gross exaggeration and “psychic news” —how does the Times know that conservatives are “demoralized”? However, I did recently encounter an article in The Federalist by a conservative who not only was apparently demoralized by the decision, but driven to the edge of madness. In all fairness, I thought I should mention it.

Joy Pullman, the author, is a Hillsdale College grad and an executive editor of the Federalist, which will lead me to be a bit more careful using the magazine as a source in the future.

As a preface, I note that Pullman isn’t a lawyer, and I see nothing in her background that suggests qualifications to analyze a Supreme Court decision. Indeed, I see nothing in the article that suggests that she read the majority opinion and the dissents. I’m guessing that she read a news article about the decision, or maybe a critical blog post. Well, a non-lawyer can only criticize a SCOTUS ruling according to his or her policy and ideological preferences. I don’t know why the Federalist would entrust an essay about the decision to someone like Pullman, though she is an executive editor.

Hear are some extreme and irresponsible statements from the piece, which has an extreme and irresponsible title that kindly warns us of the hysteria to come: “SCOTUS’s Transgender Ruling Firebombs The Constitution”: Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: Everyone Stinks. A Case Study

This is why we can’t have nice things…

…or even be certain what nice things are.

Yesterday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was Jake Tapper’s guest  on CNN’s “State of the Union,” since he wasn’t going to talk about Tara Reade. Jake asked Pelosi, “Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign told me earlier this month that he supported President Trump’s partial travel restrictions on January 31st blocking foreign nationals from China from coming to the United States. Do you agree that it was the right move by President Trump at the time?”

She answered, “Tens of thousands of people were still allowed in from China. It wasn’t as it is described as this great moment, there were Americans coming back or green card holders coming back. If you’re going to shut the door because you have an evaluation of an epidemic, then shut the door.”

It’s a despicable, despicable response.

First, let’s go back to the question. Tapper, had he been the fair and objective journalist I once said  he was (I apologize; I was wrong. He’s a hack.) should have noted that Biden’s approval now is a flip-flop. The day after President Trump issued his Chinese travel ban, Biden called him xenophobic. This was important context for Tapper’s question, but Jake doesn’t think his audience cares about context, or something.

Well, let’s go back even further, shall we?

On March 26, President Trump said on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show, “I had Biden calling me xenophobic. He called me a racist, because of the fact that he felt it was a racist thing to stop people from China coming in.”

PolitiFact, the very partisan and untrustworthy factcheck site that I see has now been taken over by the Poynter Institute but maintains its previous biases, decided to spin for Biden in fact-checking Trump’s statement. Biden called Trump ‘xenophobic” the day after the travel ban was announced. What a coincidence! PolitiFact sees no reason to conclude Trump’s major announcement the previous day had anything to do with Biden’s tweet. Completely unrelated. After all, Biden’s camp pointed out that he’s always called the President xenophobic, which is true.

Now, is that self-evident spin or not? Obviously Biden was having a lucid moment and hedged his bets. He called Trump xenophobic after the China announcement because the Democrats have called every travel ban xenophobic, including bans on people breaking the law to enter our country. The timing of Biden’s tweet wasn’t accidental. But it allowed him to say, wink-wink,nudge-nudge, ‘Oh no! I never called the travel ban xenophobic! I called the President xenophobic, because he is.’

And a supposedly “non-partisan” factcheck operation  accepts that, and tells its gullible readers that they should accept it as well. Continue reading

Addendum And Correction To The Complaint Form Revision Discussion [Updated]

In Item #3 of this morning’s Warm-Up, I wrote, “The intelligence community quietly eliminated a requirement that whistleblowers provide direct, first-hand knowledge of alleged wrongdoings that had existed since May, 2018. The revised version of the whistleblower complaint form was not made public until after the transcript of the President’s July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. It had eliminated the first-hand knowledge requirement, allowing government employees to file whistleblower complaints even if they lack direct knowledge of underlying evidence and only “heard about [wrongdoing] from others.”

I now know that this description was misleading and incorrect, because my source had confused a change in the reporting form, which it documented with screen shots, with a change in the whistleblower law, which had remained the same. This was explained in a twitter thread by Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a  technology and privacy expert. I will note that based on the Federalist’s screen shot above, one can understand their confusion.

Twitter is terrible format to make a substantive argument or explain anything, but I guess Sanchez doesn’t have a blog or a Facebook account, or something.  He writes that he contacted the site’s editor Mollie Hemingway and she didn’t correct the post.

[Notice of Correction: I had written here, erroneously, that the Federalist doesn’t allow comments. It does: I missed the tiny link at the bottom of the page. In fact, there are a lot of comments to that post. They are not helpful…]

I considered trying to put the following in coherent chronological order, but I’m just going to post Sanchez’s tweets as they appear on his feed: Continue reading

Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/29/2019: Updates, Coincidences And Suspicions [CORRECTED]

The same as what?

I heard this song yesterday for the first time in many years, and immediately wondered how many people  my son’s age (he’s 24) or even older would know what “Spanky and Our Gang” referred to. Then I made the mistake of briefly watching HGTV’s “A Very Brady Renovation” and saw to my horror that all the “Brady Bunch” kids are senior citizens. “Who’s that old lady? OHMYGOD It’s JAN!!!!”

1. Well, it was nice while it lasted...Traffic here increased by about 30% over three days last week after Facebook slipped up and allowed a link to one Ethics Alarms—it violates Facebook community standards, don’t you know— post to be circulated on among users.

2. Here’s a poll on the previous post, about a controversial joke related to the Texas governor’s disability that was made by a female judge. Governor Abbott has been in a wheelchair ever since he was struck by a falling tree almost 40 years ago. Noting that Texas Republicans have opposed proposed environment-minded legislation, “even local tree ordinances,”  the judge quipped to her partisan Democratic crowd, “Governor Abbott hates trees because one fell on him.”

While we’re on the subject of polls, the Ethics Alarms readers were strongly opposed to the course of action discussed here, here, and here, with about 88% holding that a Swedish man should not have allowed a doctor to euthanize his sister despite her past consent to the procedure, because she was resisting.

Continue reading

Nah, There’s No Reason To Doubt Kavanaugh’s Accusers…

…Because they’re women, of course!

Leaving bigotry and politically-nurtured fantasy aside, however, we know, and even a lot of the people mouthing the “victims/survivors should be believed” lie know, that there are many, many reasons to doubt the motives and reliability of many accusers.

In the Federalist, an employment lawyer who defends people who have been accused lists his top ten reasons to doubt an accuser, like, just to take a wild, random example, Christine Blasey Ford.The lawyer, Adam Mill, begins,

I stand athwart the streamroller of sexual misconduct complaints that crush the innocent, end marriages, and destroy careers. In the Me Too era, I am an employment attorney in the politically incorrect vocation of defending who must pay if misconduct is found.

(For some reason, you have to use words like “athwwrt” to be in The Federalist.)

Here are the ten; his commentary on them in his article are worth reading.

1. The accuser uses the press instead of the process.

2. The accuser times releasing the accusation for an advantage.

3. The accuser attacks the process instead of participating.

4. When the accused’s opportunity to mount a defense is delegitimized.

5. The accuser seeks to force the accused to defend himself or herself before committing to a final version.

6. The accused makes a strong and unequivocal denial.

7. The accuser makes unusual demands to modify or control the process.

8. When the accuser’s ability to identify the accused has not been properly explained..

9. When witnesses don’t corroborate.

10. When corroborating witnesses simply repeat the accusation of the accuser but don’t have fresh information. Continue reading

Morning Warm-Up, 12/9/17: Let’s Hate The President! Edition

Good Morning!

It’s snowing in Alexandria, Virginia!

1 Obviously,racial division works. The President of the United States quite appropriately and necessarily accepted an invitation to attend the opening on the  new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum today. So many black dignitaries then announced that they would boycott the event as a result, however, that the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the White House agreed to hold a separate private program for Trump as a compromise.

You know. Separate but equal.

The disrespect for the Presidency and democracy shown by so many black Democrats since the election, low-lighted by the Congressional Black caucus’s divisive and offensive boycott of the Inauguration has succeeded in propelling race relations in the U.S. backwards. Prime among the offenders is Rep. John Lewis, the “civil rights icon,” as he is routinely referred to in the press, an angry, bitter, hyper-partisan who sees a racism in any policy or position he doesn’t like. Lewis, Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Rep. Bennie Thompson and Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, were among the first to announce that they wouldn’t extend the courtesy to the elected President of the United States to stand with him to honor the civil rights movement and the heroes who laid the foundation of racial equality in our nation.

What is the alleged justifications for this insult, which only exacerbates the dangerous racial tensions in the U.S., which were recklessly manipulated for political gain by Democrats during the Obama administration?

The “racism” of unambiguously opposing illegal immigration and calling Islamic terrorism Islamic…

The President’s support for voter IDs and efforts to prevent voter fraud…

Trump’s refusal to be pressured into condemning a legal, First Amendment protected protest of the removal of Confederate statues after police allowed the protesters to be attacked by antifa thugs in a counter-demonstration. He said both sides were at fault. They were…

The President’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act, because opposing the signature botch of the first black President makes you a racist, and

The President’s public criticism of the incoherent Kaepernicking by NFL players.

None of these individually or collectively are evidence of a lack of support for civil rights or racial comity. Lewis and the rest are harming the nation and their own cause by their effort to “otherize” the President.

2. Nurturing a culture of contempt.  Newsweek decided that the death of Vice President Pence’s beloved cat Pickle justified this headline: “Mike Pence’s Pets Won’t Stop Dying” A commenter wrote,

You are a trash publication. And in a piece that ostensibly tries to represent the fact that the Pence family has lost some old, but long beloved pets, as well as tell us who the new pets are, you bury that content under a headline that is nothing short of gloating, hateful, sociopathic, and cruel…

Ah, but “the resistance” loves it, and that’s the target audience.

3. A news media double standard note. Both President Clinton and Barack Obama promised in their campaigns to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capitol. Both failed to keep their pledges. Trump made the same promise, and kept it. The overwhelming verdict by the news media and pundits: he’s a reckless fool, because if Trump does it, it must be bad. Unless you can detect another reason…

4.  Somebody tell Professor Butler. You will recall that when I explained to NPR’s Michel Martin that a woman who viewed a sexual advance as welcome decades ago could suddenly decide it wasn’t and accuse Donald trump (or Al Franken) of sexual harassment years later, my fellow panel member Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler interjected, “Come on!”

Legendary Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue model Paulina Porizkova, whose career peaked  in the Eighties, told an interviewer that sexual harassment was such an ingrained part of the modeling business that it was viewed by the models as a “compliment.”  After all, if nobody was hitting on you, maybe you weren’t as hot as you thought you were. Some, though far from all, of the #MeToo mob’s witch hunt is based on a sanctification of “presentism,” imposing current standards on past conduct. It is not politically correct to admit it. Good for Paulina.

5. CNN Fake News Update. The arrogance of CNN in the wake of its misreporting of a story to make it appear as incriminating as possible for the Trump campaign is signature significance, and would be enlightening for the public if any mainstream media sources reported it. How ironic!

  • Behold!

That’s right. President Trump is lying again. CNN isn’t sorry it falsely told the nation that there was what sure seemed like smoking gun evidence of his collusion with the Russians, and CNN didn’t apologize. Is it fair to say ABC’s Brian Ross, who sparked a Dow Jones panic by another anti-Trump false report, should have been fired, rather than banned from reporting on anything Trump related? Gee, tough question. Should a senior reporter who can’t be trusted to report accurately and fairly on the President of the United States continue to be employed by major news organization? That’s a real puzzler!

  • And recall this, from yesterday..

Stelter’s CNN show, by the by, is called “Reliable Sources.” That Brian, the media ethics watchdog! Such a kidder!

  • The Federalist’s Molly Hemingway has “some questions for CNN to answer to restore trust between the reporters on the story, editors on the story, the news organization itself, and viewers and readers.”  If CNN was a responsible and ethical news organization, it would answer them. It won’t, of course. In fact, if CNN were ethical, it would have answered Hemingway’s questions already.

1. Did CNN ever see the email before running the story on it?

2. Does CNN believe it’s ethical to write about a document and not let readers and viewers know up front that reporters and editors haven’t seen the document?

3. If CNN didn’t see the email, who told CNN about it?

4. Why did CNN believe these sources?

5. Were they Democratic Members of Congress on the House Select Committee on Intelligence leaking information from this week’s testimony?

6. Were they staff of these members?

7. Are these sources independent or in the same office or otherwise related to each other?

8. What other stories have these individuals sourced for CNN and what dates were they published?

9. What is being done to check these stories out for inaccuracies?

10. How many of these stories related to the Russia investigation?

11. How many other stories has CNN reported where it never actually saw the documents it reported as fact?

12. Can CNN point to another big story anchored to documents that its journalists haven’t authenticated?

13. Will the reporters on this story continue to cover this beat? If so, why?

14. Which editors worked on and approved this story?

15. How will editorial processes on Russia conspiracy stories change going forward to avoid similar errors?

16. Given that the story is meaningless, as corrected, why hasn’t the story been retracted in its entirety?

17. Will CNN use these sources in the future? If so, why? If not, how can readers be sure they are not used as future sources?

18. Given the seriousness of their error and the damage they caused to the reputation of the news outlet, will CNN out the sources? If not, why not?

6. Not joking, unfortunately...On the other hand, if none of the above troubles you as a fair and patriotic American, this company will sell you this charming and inspirational ornament to crown your Christmas tree…

Each purchase comes with a priority admission to a mental heath facility.

Or should.

_________________

Pointer: Instapundit

 

Arrgh! They Made Me Defend Sean Spicer!

Yes, he’s an idiot. Still...

The latest Sean Spicer controversy was so, so stupid that I swore—swore I tell you!—that I would not lower myself to write about it.

The Trump Administration spokesman, making the dumb assertion that Assad is even worse than Hitler because Hitler “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” was absurdly—gleefully?— attacked as a Holocaust denier.ThnkProgress, which I am going to have to place on my “never trust these hacks” list, wrote that Spicer “argued that the Nazis never used chemical weapons during the Holocaust,” which is a lie, flat out. Spicer didn’t mention the Holocaust at all. Then The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect released a statement saying,

“On Passover no less, Sean Spicer has engaged in Holocaust denial, the most offensive form of fake news imaginable, by denying Hitler gassed millions of Jews to death.”

This is perhaps not quite a lie, since the combination of confirmation bias and paranoia could make this organization see Holocaust denial behind every rock, but it is no less ridiculous, inflammatory and unfair. Then some of my 2016 election-deranged friends—I now picture them wrapped in tin foil, wearing Groucho glasses and spreading DDT around as they sit cross-legged in a teepee with a flaming penguin on their heads—began citing the Anne Frank Center slander with approval, and garnishing likes from a lot of people who I usually like and who once had brains larger than marbles.

So now I have to defend Sean Spicer. Yecchh.

Observations:

1. Everyone is calling for Trump to fire Spicer. Of course he should fire Spicer. He should have fired Spicer  months ago. Sean Spicer is incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone. He is even more incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone than Robert Gibbs, who was the most incompetent, bumbling, inarticulate and gaffe prone press secretary I ever had the pain of watching. (Obama’s subsequent press secretaries were just liars.). Spicer is much worse than Gibbs, though he doesn’t say uh-uh-un-um-um-um as much. I wish he would: they would be an improvement over what he does say. Spicer looks stupid and sounds stupid, so he represents the President and his entire administration as stupid WHICH THEY MIGHT BE, but his job is to place both in the best light possible. He does the opposite. This Hitler botch was just the most recent example.

2. Trump promised to appoint and hire “the best people,” so having one of the worst people imaginable representing his Presidency to the news media and the public leaves “incompetent” in the dust as “suicidal” takes over. This is especially true since the President knows that the news media is actively hostile to his leadership and is actively allied with the Democrats to bring him down and cancel out that damned election by any means possible. Trump’s situation screams out for a spokesman with the credibility, suave and wit of the late Tony Snow or the fierce intellect and articulateness of the very much alive Laura Ingraham. The fact that Trump can’t see that, and that his advisors haven’t threatened to walk out and join an anti-Trump rally if he refused to fire this clod and send him back to the Budget car rental desk or wherever he came from is really ominous. If “best people” means people like Spicer…well, I don’t like to think about it. And if the “You’re fired!” executive won’t fire someone who performs as horribly as him, who will he fire?

3. The Hitler statement was, no question, idiotic. At best, it was the most egregiously warped use of Rationalization # 32. The Unethical Role Model imaginable: Spicer was really saying, “why couldn’t Assad be more like Hitler?”! At worst, it  was like walking into the buzz-saw of the Trump-hate narrative that the President and his team are virtual Nazis and secret anti-Semites. It was so dumb that the fact that Spicer didn’t physically try to stuff the words back into his mouth as they started coming out is signature significance that the man belongs in a home. Continue reading

The Washington Post’s Very Bad, Very Revealing Day: How Often Does This Have To Happen Before Journalists Decide Their Bias Is Making Them Stupid…And Untrustworthy?

Yesterday, the Washington Post, one of the three alleged standard-bearers of U.S. print journalism, published gossip and lies as news, got caught and humiliated..twice!.., and again illustrated vividly why the distinction between hoax stories, what the mainstream media condemns as “fake news,'” and their own false reporting due to incompetence and bias, is illusory.

First, the Post published a weird and alarming story about how Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was behaving like a sultan and ordering subordinates to lower their gaze in his presence:

“Many career diplomats say they still have not met him, and some have been instructed not to speak to him directly — or even make eye contact”

This, of course, sparked widespread ridicule by the Left’s bloggers, commentators, journalists and other tweeters, despite the fact that no sources were named to back up the claim. We have here an example of confirmation bias at its most foolish,  on the part of the reporter, the editor, the paper, and the eager partisan bigots who think businessmen are monsters and the Trump administration is made up of freaks and creeps.  The Huffington Post happily published a collection of celebrities, politicians and random social media users reacting to the  story, including Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu , who said he found the article “disturbing.”

So do I. I find it disturbing that the Post, like the New York Times, cannot be trusted to check out inflammatory slurs against public official before declaring them facts. Note that the quote says the diplomats SAY they have not met him, but that some HAVE been instructed not to make eye contact. The Post stated what sounds like obvious holdover-staff rumor-mongering and sabotage as truth, opening the door for widespread contempt and disrespect of the Secretary of State without justification. Yes, that’s disturbing.

It was fake news. I didn’t believe it. I assumed this was the Post’s anti-Trump bias once again seeping into its deteriorating organizational brain. To his credit, Associated Press reporter Mike Lee immediately called foul, B.S., and fake news. Lee said that he had heard the allegation about employees being forced to avert their gaze in the presence of the Secretary of State two weeks before the Post’s story was published, and after checking into the claim,  determined that it was a rumor without basis.

“It’s compelling gossip. I have looked him  in the eyes and not turned to stone. At least not yet…This is not true and people repeating it are making it more difficult to address very real issues.”

When challenged to back up his statement that the story was false, Lee replied,

“Because I have covered State since 1999. Because I know people who didn’t start in 2009 [that is, Obama era partisans].”

Can anyone defend this Post sliming as anything but biased hackery?

But wait, there’s more! Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Secretary of State John Kerry

Kerry Hiroshima

“It is a stunning display. It is a gut-wrenching display. It is a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries … to create and pursue a world free from nuclear weapons.”

—-Secretary of State John Kerry in Japan, as he toured the Hiroshima Peace Memorial and Museum this week before meeting foreign ministers at the G-7 Summit.

I couldn’t quite bring myself to call this an unethical quote, though it is an infuriating one. It is certainly a stupid quote, but we all know John Kerry’s verbal and intellectual deficiencies, and he was indeed in a tough spot. What would have been an appropriate statement to make in this setting, that would not risk insulting his hosts and setting off yet another debate about Hiroshima that would be a distraction from the G-7 Summit’s objectives?

While I agree philosophically with the editors of the Federalist that it would have been more satisfying if Kerry had said that the display was “a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries to stop extremist regimes like Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons” or perhaps that it was “a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries to ensure that we are well prepared for the next force that threatens peace,” each carried its own diplomatic and political risks. So would “Sorry you made us do this, but we didn’t bomb ourselves at Pearl Harbor,” which is what I would have been tempted to say. I’m no diplomat, however, as you may have noticed. Continue reading

A Jumbo For Sulu

SuluGeorge Takei, the Japanese-America actor permanently enshrined in pop culture history for his role of Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series. He has essentially lived off that one felicitous part for forty years, recently acquiring less moldy,  non-sci-fi following by being a gay rights advocate.

Takei recently skimmed, or just didn’t comprehend, Clarence Thomas’s  audacious dissent to the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling and Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion declaring same-sex marriage to be a fundamental right protected by the Constitution. Apparently he also does not comprehend that Supreme Court dissents are both stimulating and useful to legal scholars as well as those, unlike Mr. Sulu, possessing an open and curious mind.

Thomas made the unusual but provocative argument that human dignity is innate:

Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which
this Nation was built.

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

Thomas was expressing  his disagreement with the majority that the government withholding the right to marry from gays robbed them of human dignity. I think it is a rather pedantic argument that has more validity in the abstract than in reality, but the position that rights come from creation rather than the government is a core concept in the Declaration of Independence, and one that statists, as in “modern Democrats,” like to ignore. If individuals are born with rights, they cannot be truly taken away. If citizens must look to the government to have their rights granted to them, then government is granted too much power in exchange. Thomas’s philosophical argument is classic conservatism. Naturally, that means, in Takei’s intolerant and partyist world view, that he deserves abuse. Continue reading