Ethics Cleansing, 1/27/2021: I’m Afraid This Edition Exceeds The Limit For Disturbing Stories…

Horrible text message

As a prelude, I don’t know why some commenters are arguing that the 1876 William Belknap impeachment trial is a valid precedent for trying a private citizen no longer in office on a charge that has no other purpose but to remove that individual from his or her federal office. It’s just a bad argument, which is why Belknap has only been raised by desperate anti-Trump zealots. As I pointed out in the comments, an unconstitutional act doesn’t change the Constitution. There have been many, many unconstitutional actions by our government that were allowed to occur in the past (President Jackson’s defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court to forec the Trail of Tears is an especially egregious one.\); they still can’t be cited as proof that the actions were Constitutional, or precedent for violating the Constitution again. Balknap, who had resigned as Grant’s Secretary of War just as he was about to be impeached by the House, submitted to the Senate’s unconstitutional trial. I have always assumed this was because he was certain that he would be acquitted, so he could later claim innocence. (He was incredibly guilty.) Since he was acquitted, there was no occasion to challenge the trial, the issue being moot.

The entire system was in chaos in 1876; if the Belknap trial is binding precedent that a private citizen can be tried by the Senate to remove him from office when he isn’t in that office, why not make the same claim about the unconstitutional deal between Republicans and Democrats to install the loser of the 1876 Presidential election (Hayes) in the White House in exchange for removing federal troops from the former Confederate states?

1. An example of ethical trolling, I think:

Ironic Tweet

Miller is getting all sorts of outraged responses from critics online who seem to have missed the critical fact that he was just quoting Maxine Waters’ call for harassment of Trump administration officials. Normally I regard deliberate posting of positions one doesn’t believe as unethical unless the poster makes the sarcasm or irony obvious. This one is obvious, unless the reader wasn’t paying attention to how irresponsible and vicious Democrats were in the past four years, and if the such a reader was that ignorant, he shouldn’t be involved in the discussion at all.

Continue reading

Yes, It’s Bizarro World—But The Mainstream Media Anti-Trump Bias Is Still Ridiculous

The President’s master-trolling display before Thanksgiving plunged us squarely into Bizarro World Ethics territory. I cannot imagine any previous President of the United States pulling a public stunt even close to as juvenile and silly as tweeting the photo above out to his followers and, inevitably, the world. I can’t imagine another President even considering it. The leader of the free world, the dignified occupant of the White House, the leader and role model of millions just doesn’t do something like that. He just…just..doesn’t, that’s all!

Yet there it was , just before 11:00 am on November 27. And like so many other seemingly vulgar and impetuous acts and statements that President Trump has authored, the deranged foes of the President managed to make it look like a brilliant stratagem. First the Washington Post—surely there must be some perceptive people working there, wouldn’t you think?—sent out this hurrumphing tweet:

Oh, it’s doctored! Good sleuthing, Post! Quick, add this to your recent list of Trump mendacities: he tried to make the public think that he’s built like Rocky under those blue suits, the liar!

And “unclear why”!!! Unclear why? How bone-headedly biased does someone have to be to not understand why Trump would tweet out a photo of himself as “Rocky” (in “Rocky 3”, to be accurate)? Has anyone on the Post staff seen “Rocky,” or is so stuffed with culturally ignorant naifs whose idea of an ancient inspirational movie is the ten-year-old “The Blind Side” that “Rocky” (1976) and its descendants are buried in their “Irrelevant films my grandparents watched” files? Continue reading

“It’s OK To Be White” Strikes Again, And Drives People Crazy Again! GOOD!

The first Ethics Alarms post about the trolling masterpiece “It’s OK to be white” was in 2017. The message, apparently launched by those puckish trouble-makers at 4Chan,  first appeared on stickers appearing on the Harvard campus, sparking an idiotic response from an African American dean. I concluded, in part, that the sticker campaign was brilliant “no matter who came up with it or what the motive was,”;  that anyone who was troubled by the message is part of the problem the stickers are responding to, and  that the stickers would have  been harmless if they were treated as harmless, and they should have been.

The Ethics Alarms’ self-appointed Voice of the Woke at the time took umbrage, saying, “The stickers are stupid. No one disputes that it’s OK to be white….The correct response from average citizens to this display of faux persecution should be mockery and ridicule, not outrage.” Realizing a hanging curve over the middle of the plate when I say one, I replied in part, ,

“You know, it’s easy to deal with any problem if you make up your own facts. Nobody says its not OK to be white? This list took me less than 10 minutes:

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/texas-am-wont-fire-professor-who-called-for-killing-white-people/article/2622810
http://www.theroot.com/college-campus-shut-down-after-professors-letthemfucki-1796334903
http://www.theroot.com/for-black-people-who-have-to-deal-with-white-people-thi-1797835711
https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/10/06/opinion/ta-nehisi-coates-whiteness-power.html?smid=fb-share&referer=http://m.facebook.com
http://www.thecollegefix.com/post/38149/
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lady-gaga-the-problems-with-non-racist-white_us_59960aeee4b033e0fbdec279
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/toxic-whiteness-healing-white-people-internalised-racism-woman-sandra-kim-new-york-a7595216.html

Then there’s the Ethics Alarms anti-white racism tag…https://ethicsalarms.com/tag/anti-white-racism/ All resulting in THIS:
http://www.npr.org/2017/10/24/559604836/majority-of-white-americans-think-theyre-discriminated-against

As I may have mentioned, I was explicitly told that the only reason I was not hired as an Assistant US Attorney in DC …a life and career-altering result for me…was that I was white. Now, I think it is reasonable to assume that if I was not hired because I was white, there was something “not OK” with my being white. I’m not unhappy or bitter about this, but it happened.

The problem with being an ideologue… is that it requires distorting reality.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Cooler, 7/21/2019, Because The Last Thing We Need Is A Warm-Up: “Oh, Just Bitching About Stuff” Edition

Hot enough for ya?

1.  THIS should drive my Facebook friends crazy...The latest SurveyMonkey/NBC poll out at the end of last week gives President Trump’s approval rating  at 48%. He reached 49% in a daily YouGov.com poll this month. In short, the concerted effort by Democrats and the news media to tar him as racist (again) as a result of his dumber-than dumb tweet conflating all four Democratic socialist freshmen with Somali immigrant Omar and evoking his alleged “shithole” comments about third-world countries failed (again.)

Yet a) nobody should trust polls, b) “approval/disapproval has a weak correlation at best with voting, and c) there’s a long way to go before November 2020. Still, I am tempted to post the story on Facebook just to evoke the howls of anger and protest I know it will trigger. After all, I have to keep reading, day after day, week after week,  the obsessive posting of the most ridiculous anti-Trump links imaginable. For example, who cares that some Holocaust survivor says that the U.S. today reminds him of “1930s Berlin”? That’s an idiotic, ahistorical, unsupportable opinion whether the opiner is a Holocaust survivor, Hillary Clinton or a man in a rubber room. The statement is no more respectable or worth posting than if he said the U.S. today reminds him of “Avatar,” the Gobi Desert or “Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.”

It’s unethical to post things just to drive people crazy, though. So I won’t.

But I’d like to.

But I won’t.

2. Want to see a clinical example of the kind of people who can’t handle Ethics Alarms? Meet Taffy. I allowed Taffy Marchand’s comment on the Dad-drinking-daughter’s-breast- milk post, and now have had to ban or spam several insulting and/or idiotic comments that followed. Here’s what she wrote:

I am a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. We deal with breast milk all day long. I was taken aback by your consideration that this is, in any way, incestuous. I think that may have more to do with they fact that breastmilk comes from breasts. Which, perhaps you have sexualized to an extreme. If the father was nursing from his daughter that would be in question. She is merely pumping milk and leaving it in a container for him. We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk? Is it going to cure his cancer? It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that breastmilk has a plethora of health benefits. I explain this over and over again to families that mom’s breast milk is the ideal nutrition for her infant, followed by donor breast milk because it is species specific, followed by formula, which is essentially expressed breast milk from another species. Also, I have all the empathy for a family struggling with a cancer diagnosis. I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label. It certainly won’t cause any harm for him to consume breast milk.

  • The post didn’t say that it was incestuous. The quote: “What do we properly call a father consuming his daughter’s breast milk? Is that too close to incest for comfort? Does it matter if it’s close, as long as it isn’t quite?” As is much on the blog, and as the title suggested, the point was to think about ethical distinctions. “Close” to unethical conduct isn’t unethical, is it? Or is it?
  • Breasts are considered sexual equipment and sexually provocative in this culture, and indeed most cultures. Accusing me of “sexualizing them to an extreme” is a cheap shot, and unethical debate tactics.
  • “We drink milk pumped from other species, so why are we so freaked out about human expressed breast milk?” Well, heck, Taffy, why not just use mom and any teenage daughters in the house as cow substitutes, and save dairy expenses?
  • “It’s very doubtful but there is clear evidence that…” Signature significance for someone who isn’t thinking before they type. I’m not going to take insults from someone capable of writing that…
  • Empathy is irrelevant to the issue raised by the post. It is also the Universal Get Out Of Ethics Problems Free card.
  • “I think it lacks compassion and consideration of their circumstance to consider an incestuous label.” No, Taffy, it is never wrong to consider anything. NOT considering uncomfortable possibilities is the path to ignorance and ideological cant. Of course, when your mind is made up and you regard anyone suggesting a different perspective as a pervert, I can see how might miss this.

3. Well, there’s one more museum I can’t trust. The National Museum of African-American History and Culture by the Mall in D.C.  will be showing and old documentary on Angela Davis titled, “Free Angela Davis and All Political Prisoners.” After the screening Davis will be interviews and answer questions. From Smithsonian’s press release press release:

“We all recognize that Prof. Davis is a figure for the ages, as fascinating to us now as she was at the height of her incarceration and trial” (in 1972)…[hers ]“is a quintessential American story of activism,” and that “because of her activism in support of social justice, she was criminalized and named on the FBI’s 10 most wanted list.”

Why, of all places, is the Smithsonian engaging in fake history? From The Bulwark (and many other sources that corroborates this):

[Angela Davis] was tried for purchasing guns for a courtroom raid carried out by her lover George Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, whose use of these guns in a shootout (while attempting to flee) killed one of the four people he had taken hostage, a man named Judge Harold Haley. The purchase of these guns was easily traced to Davis who, rather than surrendering, fled to avoid being captured. She was eventually found at a motel on 8th Avenue in New York City, where she was taken into custody, having been charged by superior court judge Peter Smith with “aggravated kidnapping and first-degree murder.”

Rather than working for civil rights in the manner of Martin Luther King Jr., James Farmer, or A. Philip Randolph, Davis was a leader of the American Communist Party, and a member of the violent and armed Marxist group, the Black Panther Party. After her arrest, the international Communist movement declared her a martyr and Moscow orchestrated an international group of gullible Europeans who proclaimed her innocence and demanded her freedom. In Communist East Germany, school children were told to write postcards to her expressing their support and solidarity.

At her trial, the jury surprisingly found her innocent even though 20 witnesses had testified against her. Careful investigation later revealed how compromised the jury was. One of the jurors, Mary Timothy, would go on to have an affair with Communist Party member (and head of the official Committee to Free Angela) Bettina Aptheker. Immediately after Davis was acquitted, another jury member faced the reporters and TV networks and gave them the clenched-fist salute regularly used by revolutionaries. That juror, Ralph Delange, explained “I did it because I wanted to show I felt an identity with the oppressed people in the crowd . . . and to express my sympathy with their struggle.”

Great…just what we need: Communist indoctrination at the Smithsonian.


From The Ethics Alarms Lost Files: The Firing And Un-Firing Of Sam Seder

Somehow I lost this one for a week, then found it today, reminding me how much it ticked me off.

Sam Seder, an MSNBC political commentator and host of the “Majority Report” podcast, had sent a tweet  in 2oo9—that’s 8 years ago, folks—obviously mocking the Hollywood supporters of fugitive film director and child rapist Roman Polanski.

The tweet said,

“Don’t care re Polanski, but I hope if my daughter is ever raped it is by an older truly talented man w/ a great sense of mise en scene.”

That is called artful satire, and if you can’t tell that, you really should restrict yourself to Nickelodeon and “Good Night Moon.”

Then Mike Cernovich, the far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, who is not an idiot, though he is many other unpleasant things, tracked down the tweet and began to complain to  MSNBC’s media relations department and other journalists about Seder using the same kind of political correctness crack-brained mania that the Left typically inflicts on the Right. Cernvich was trolling MSNBC, I assume, and maybe he was trying to accomplish what he eventually did accomplish: he got the left-wing cable channel management to fire Seder for “inappropriate and insensitive remarks.” Or maybe he was just trolling, though before the axe fell, Seder accused Cernovich of attempting to silence his criticism of President Trump and Roy Moore….you know, like the way the Seder-sympatico Media Matters has tried to silence Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity.

Now one would think that MSNBC execs would be able to tell Seder’s tweet was witty, and also have enough faith in the brain pans of its viewers to assume they, unlike most conservatives, who for some reason don’t have much if a sense of humor, would understand that there was nothing offensive about the Polanski tweet, except to Polanski and child rape fans in France and Hollywood. But no: out he went, as Cernovich lifted a glass of Korbel somewhere with Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

Then thousands of people signed a petition demanding that Seder be rehired, and he was. MSNBC’s head Phil Griffin wrote: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: CNN Reporter April Ryan

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

CNN’s April Ryan, yelling to White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders as today’s press briefing ended. She really did.

President Andrew Jack…no, that’s wrong. It’s President …Johnson, right? Lyndon Johnson? No, no..Barry Lyndon? No…Barry Goldwater? Barry Bonds? U.S. Bonds? U.S. Grant? Boy, history is hard

I assume that this was intended as a rhetorical rebuttal to the position of President Trump and those non-totalitarian-minded citizens—I hope not just conservatives and Republicans— who regard toppling statues and memorials of important figures in America’s past as a form of Orwellian thought control and manipulation of the historical record. Maybe she attends Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t journalism, fair, or professional. Since Ryan knew the only answer that could or would be given, if Sander had been foolish enough to dignify the insult with a reply, it was really just partisan harassment and race-baiting, the equivalent of  a reporter shouting out at a Johnson era press conference, “How many did LBJ kill today?,” calling out after a Bush briefing, “Hey, any signs of those weapons of mass destruction?,” or calling out after an Obama White House briefing, “Does the President still promise that if we like our health plan, we can keep it?”

A news organization that doesn’t immediately discipline a reporter behaves like this at a White House press briefing—and Ryan should have been suspended, removed from the White House beat, or exiled to cute kitten stories on Headline News—it is announcing one of the following:

a) This new organization will  no longer apply minimal standards of respect, fairness and professionalism to coverage of this President.

b) This network no longer has any standards.

c) This network will allow gross demonstrations of bias and partisan animus by its reporters.

Under these conditions, the White House has no obligation to permit such an organization to attend press briefings, any more than it has an obligation to permit anti-Trump demonstrators to attend, or to tolerate reporters chanting slogans and carrying placards. And it should not. If CNN won’t uphold minimal standards of professional journalism, then the White House must. CNN should be told that until it receives a public apology for Ryan’s outburst, she is replaced by a trustworthy reporter, and the network pledges that it will not permit such conduct by its employees to occur again, CNN will no longer be invited to briefings. Its place will then be taken by Ethics Alarms, or Weekly Reader, or any entity with a concept of journalism ethics superior to CNN’s.

Meanwhile, while we are on the topic of professionalism, I have this to report: Continue reading

The Lesson Of Berkeley’s “Free Speech Week” Fiasco: Jerks Make Terrible Champions And Martyrs

Conservative agitator/ campus troll Milo Yiannopoulos’s Free Speech Week in Berkeley, California was advertised as a major event, bringing some of the most Left-reviled  conservative speakers and rabble-rousers together for four straight days of speeches and events on a campus that has repeatedly disgraced itself by being hostile to speech its primarily progressive denizens consider “hate speech.”

The University of California was taking elaborate measures to avoid the violence that protesters there and at other campuses have brought to appearances by many of the featured speakers. It was rumored that as much as $600,000 would be spent on security. The prospect of the rhetoric of such professional provocateurs as Yiannopoulosas, Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter, to name the best known, echoing around the school where it was least welcome promised an instant cultural touch-point, like a right-wing Woodstock, while challenging leftists and ideological censors to reveal their ugly, totalitarian sides.

But by the end of the week, many were predicting that the event was a mirage. Speakers whose names had been promoted on preliminary schedules either pulled out, denied they had been contacted  or said they were never planning to go. The campus publication sponsoring Yiannopoulos’s circus, The Berkeley Patriot, never reserved indoor school venues. Yiannopoulos kept up the pretense, announcing on Instagram a planned march through campus tomorrow in protest of Berkeley’s hostility to free speech. “It’s time to reclaim free speech at UC Berkeley and send shockwaves through the American education system to every other college under liberal tyranny,” Yiannopoulos wrote.

Today, the day before the “Week” was to begin, UC Berkeley announced  that ‘Free Speech Week’ was officially cancelled, saying,

“Representatives of the Berkeley Patriot student organization have informed UC Berkeley’s administration that all of the events scheduled for the coming week have been canceled. It is extremely unfortunate that this announcement was made at the last minute, even as the university was in the process of spending significant sums of money and preparing for substantial disruption of campus life in order to provide the needed security for these events.”

Now there is mass confusion, with strong indications that the event was a sham from the start. Lucian Wintrich, one of the planned speakers, e-mailed Cal spokesman Dan Mogulof this morning,  to say that the event had been a set-up from the start. “It was known that they didn’t intend to actually go through with it last week, and completely decided on Wednesday,” Wintrich wrote.

“Wait, whoah, hold on a second,” replied Mogulof. “What, exactly, are you saying? What were you told by MILO Inc? Was it a set-up from the get-go?”

 

Wintrich replied, “Yes.”

An account of the chaos and miscommunications surrounding the event published by The Atlantic yesterday certainly made this development seem probable. Milo, as late as this afternoon, insisted that the intention was always to hold a real week of speeches. He has as much credibility as someone who makes his living creating controversies and infuriating his ideological foes deserves to have: none.

What’s going on here? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: July Fourth, 2017

Good Morning, everybody, and Happy Independence Day.

1. A minor item cross-filed under “Twitter makes you stupid and careless,” “Oh, sure, our public schools are terrific!” and “Is we getting dumber?”: Yesterday, whoever the History Channel allows to handle its Twitter account tweeted out the fact that July 3 was the anniversary of the final day of the Battle of Gettysburg, and included a picture of General…George Washington.

2. Is trolling ever ethical? When it’s pointed, clever and deserved, perhaps. Boston-based businessman and inventor V.A. Shiva Ayyadurai,  a Republican who received a Ph.D. and his undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is running for the GOP nomination to oppose Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. He’s running on the slogan: “Only a real Indian can defeat the fake Indian.” V.A. sent Warren a DNA test so she could prove that she’s part Cherokee, as she asserted in the past to get the benefit of affirmative action recruiting programs at Harvard Law School and the University of Pennsylvania. The Senator refused to take the test, prompting her tormentor to tweet,

“I’m deeply saddened @SenWarren refused my thoughtful (gift-wrapped) Birthday Gift: the 23&me DNA Test Kit,” Ayyadurai tweeted Sunday. “Most unfortunate! #FakeIndian.”

He then posted screenshots of the DNA test kit he purchased online.

Why doesn’t Warren just take the test? If it shows she has Native American DNA, then she’s killed an issue that has haunted her since 2012, and will continue to unless something changes. If it shows that she isn’t an “Indian,” then all she has to do is say that she was mistaken, she had bad information from her family, and regrets taking advantage of the affirmative action programs to the detriment of real minority academics. (Harvard listed her as a teacher “of color.”)

The answer is that Warren would rather claim that the Indian issue is a manufactured slur by the right, so she can continue to claim minority status and victim status. The answer is that she’s a cynical, cowardly fraud.

Warren, Hillary, Bernie Sanders, Tom Perez, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters constitute the mots visible leadership of the Democratic Party.

Res Ipsa Loquitur. Continue reading

20 Ethics Observations On The President’s Charge That Obama Tapped His Phones

In the first week of March, in the midst of the over-blown flap regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador, President Trump issued arguably his most explosive  tweet yet:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.

Later, he  tweeted,

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

It has been more than a week, and we know only a little more about what prompted this extraordinary accusation than we did then. However, there are some relevant ethics point to be made. Here we go…

1.  It is irresponsible and unpresidential to issue tweets like this. It is also unfair. If the Trump administration wants to make a formal complaint, charge or indictment, or announce an investigation, it should be made through proper channels, not social media. That stipulated, he will not stop doing this, and at some point we will have to accept it. Is this how Presidents communicate? It is now.

2. Thus the tweet is unethical even if it is true. However, the fact that it is unethical, or that Trump the Liar sent it, doesn’t mean it is untrue. An astounding number of pundits and journalists have made exactly that assumption, proving their bias against the President and their knee-jerk defensiveness regarding former President Obama.

3. The tweet cannot be called a “lie,” and anyone who does call it a lie based on what is known is revealing their confirmation bias.

4. One more point about the tweet itself: the fact that it has a typo and the level of articulation of the average 9th grader is itself an ethics breach. The President should not sanctify carelessness, or seem to embrace it. He is a role model.  Nor should a significant charge be written in haste, as this obviously was.

5. There seems to be a significant possibility that the President was trolling. Having had enough of the months long, absolutely evidence-free news media and Democrat innuendos that his campaign was coordinating election tampering with the Russians, he may have decided to make a sensational, unsubstantiated charge of his own to get the Russian hacking speculation off the front pages. If it was trolling, it was excellent trolling. The McCarthyism purveyors  deserved it; the accusation was a deft tit-for-tat,  one of the President’s favorite rationalizations.

6. As an example of what Trump has been and is being subjected to, we have Rep. Keith Ellison, vice-chair of the DNC.  He told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day last week,”

“This is stunning when you think about it. Far worse than Watergate, when you believe a hostile foreign power engaged in an attempt, and with the collusion of the sitting administration to manipulate an election.”

By sheerest moral luck, Camerota that day was feeling ethical, so she actually corrected a Trump-basher from her own party, said, “Well you don’t know that,” and pointed out that there is no evidence of collusion.

“I’m not saying there was collusion, I’m saying those meetings indicate that there could be, and I think that needs to be investigated,” Ellison then said, immediately after saying there was collusion.

These are awful, vicious, conscience- free people who subcribe to total political war and the ends justify the means. They are trying to bring down an elected government without winning an election. Even that does not justify treating them unethically, BUT… Continue reading