NOTE: The text-to-speech software reads titles and text. It also reads footnotes, which can be confusing, since the listener is not told it is a footnote.
April 27, 2021
image above: Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair
chart below: The Washington Post, Fatal Force
WN: Ethicist A. J. Coates writes in The Ethics of War:
The moral prohibition of lying, for example, makes good sense in the context of personal relations, but no sense at all in affairs of state. Telling the truth is a moral luxury that politicians and diplomats can rarely afford. More than that, the fulfillment of their public duty will require them not only to conceal the truth but to suppress it and twist it constantly (The Ethics of War, p. 36; first edition).
He draws on noted just war theorist Michael Walzer, who claims, that it is impossible to govern innocently.
. . . sooner or later the ruler will be required to override some basic moral principle in pursuit of a political good. (p. 34)
He also draws on the thought of Hans Morgenthau, citing his words,
. . . ‘there is no escape from the evil of power’ and that ‘to know with despair that the political act is inevitably evil, and to act nonetheless, is moral courage’ . . . (p. 33)
This of course is no less the case for (only) two other kinds of actors in our modern democracies: the police and the military, both authorized to employ “just,” including lethal, violence against others. The modern state in other words has sole license to harm and to kill, sole authorization to do violence.
When then actors such as Trump and white police wielding guns, “legitimize” incessant lying and (almost?) routine killing of nonwhites, this nonetheless strains far beyond any notion of decency in a modern state that authorizes violence. The Washington Post‘s database from 2015 to 2021 presents these facts:
Black Americans are killed at a much higher rate than White Americans
Although half of the people shot and killed by police are White, Black Americans are shot at a disproportionate rate. They account for less than 13 percent of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of White Americans. Hispanic Americans are also killed by police at a disproportionate rate.
The rate at which black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. This from The Washington Post, Fatal Force database.
I have a close relative who (invariably) knows better than the above “fake news.” He just never seems able to point to (reputable) statistics and graphs to prove it.
What one is up against!:
I think I speak for many people in that Trump has never actually been wrong, and so we’ve learned to trust when he says something, that he’s not just going to spew something out there that’s wrong and not verified,” she said, referring to Trump’s baseless claims that widespread electoral fraud caused his loss to President Biden in November.–Debra Ell, a Republican organizer in Michigan.
Then this: Honestly, Trump lied at a mind-boggling pace—almost like he’d been training his whole life for that epic four-year stint/[sprint].– , Daily Kos Staff; GOP lawmakers relinquish party control to wackadoodle conspiracy theorists overrunning the states. Sigh. . . Such ubiquitous bald-faced gullibility!
Another example of “whackadoodle” (see pullquote to the right) is of course multiple right wing (nut) news outlets claiming U.S. Elections fraud. This article, April 30, 2021, by Jacob Shamsian is about the first of doubtless many: Newsmax settles a defamation lawsuit from a Dominion executive at the center of election conspiracy theories and issues an apology. We read:
On Friday, Newsmax issued a retraction and apology on its website saying it found “no evidence” that earlier claims about Coomer and the 2020 election were true.
“There are several facts that our viewers should be aware of. Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer [of Dominion Voting Systems] interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so,” the statement reads. “Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization.”
Another article by Rudy Giuliani Sued by Dominion Voting Systems Over False Election Claims, states:,
The lawsuit notes just how quickly and widely the lies and false narratives had spread leading up to the riot at the Capitol. “Over a three-hour period on December 21, 2020, the terms ‘dominion’ and ‘fraud’ were tweeted out together by more than 2,200 users with over 8.75 million total followers,” the suit says.
The reach of the disinformation about the company brought countless threats of violence against employees, the suit claims. One employee received text messages stating: “We are already watching you. Come clean and you will live.” A voice mail message to customer support said, “We’re bringing back the firing squad.”
Because of these threats, Dominion has spent $565,000 on personal security, according to the lawsuit. The company claimed to have incurred $1.17 million in total expenses relating to the disinformation campaign after the election.
We also read:
The threats from Dominion have prompted some conciliatory responses from conservative news outlets hoping to avoid a legal battle. This month, the American Thinker, a conservative website, posted an apologetic note saying that its reports about Dominion “are completely false and have no basis in fact” and that “it was wrong for us to publish these false statements.”1
It has been suggested that defamation/libel lawsuits might prove to be the all-time best check on THE BIG LIE “fake news” right-wing promulgators. It stands to occasion at minimum a great cash cow for the individual plaintiffs. One can only say: May they become a herd (immunity) stampede!
The Washington Post also keeps a database of lies told by politicians. The last time the database for Trump’s lies/misleading statements was updated was his last day in office: January 20, 2021. See: In four years, President Trump made 30,573 false or misleading claims. Click on the graph in the article to find out how many daily and monthly as well. Astounding!–NOT! (Wayne’s World)
That same relative invariably offers the vapid response: Yeah, but who’s checking the fact checkers? That’s as far however as he goes. Not even “alternative facts” are offered. Yet he regularly railed against Obama’s lies while a two-term President; and against Hilary’s lies in running for President. He fell however strangely silent when Trump ran for President, and ever since about the guy’s prevaricating tsunamis. Not a peep. So much for even a modicum of rational consistency. Or . . . the relative is another run-of-the-mill Debra Ell as in above pullquote?
You may also wish to read this article, Trump and his 3,500 suits: Prosecutor and author reveals in interview his portrait of ‘Plaintiff in Chief’ by Robin Lindley, . In it we learn of the 2019 book pictured here: Plaintiff in Chief: A Portrait of Donald Trump in 3,500 Lawsuits, by . In it we read as well:
Plaintiff in Chief is not a partisan screed but a carefully documented legal study.
In his book, Zirin scrupulously details Trump’s life in courts of law. Based on more than three years of extensive research, the book examines illustrative cases and how they reflect on the character and moral perspective of the current president. Zirin references page after page of court records and other evidence to illustrate Trump’s legal maneuvering.
As Zirin points out, Trump learned how to use the law from his mentor, notorious lawyer Roy Cohn. Trump took Cohn’s scorched-earth strategy to heart.
“Trump saw litigation as being only about winning,” Zirin writes. “He sued at the drop of a hat. He sued for sport; he sued to achieve control; and he sued to make a point. He sued as a means of destroying or silencing those who crossed him. He became a plaintiff in chief.”
Zirin argues that Trump has shown a chronic scorn for the law. “All this aberrant behavior would be problematic in a businessman,” he writes. “But the implications of such conduct in a man who is the president of the United States are nothing less than terrifying.”
James Zirin: I think he enjoys lying. I think it’s part of his DNA. I don’t think he has any grasp of the facts at all, so he says whatever he thinks will help him and whatever comes into his head. It is expedient, I suppose, to lie in litigation if you crossed an intersection through a red light. You can lie and say it was a green light, and that changes the legal outcome of your case. And that’s the way Trump operates. But he would go beyond that because he would say the heck with you and the horse you rode in on as he did in the House impeachment inquiry. Then he denounced Adam Schiff and denounced Jerry Nadler and denounced the witnesses. He tried to subvert the whole proceeding by denouncing the whistleblower and by showing that those people who lined up against him were of low character and were themselves liars.
James Zirin: He has continued, and I think he will continue. And I think the rule of law has been seriously undermined. Our democracy has been seriously compromised because the framers of the Constitution never thought the system would work this way. Republican senators deserve part of the blame because of their need to retain power or whatever, they did not respect the oath they took to be fair and impartial judges of the facts and the law but instead voted along party lines to acquit him [during the impeachment trial].
Moral of the above article and book: There is little hope that Trump’s base will ever get it. For when one has the likes of Ms. Ell making statements as above–despite the reality that Trump is The Ultimate Liar, Con Man, Grifter, Narcissist, All-Around Amoral/Immoral Ugly American–there is really nowhere to discern even a toehold of semblance of rationality from such overwhelming Gargantuan Gullibility and Character Misjudgment.
But I step back to ask a few simple questions: Does morality around police killings of nonwhites; around political leaders/Prime Ministers/Presidents constantly lying, matter?
Or: How many disproportionate police killings of nonwhites in Western democracies are too many–as we seem to know (when) it is so in totalitarian regimes? Or are Western “democracies” such as well? How many politician’s lies does it take to destroy public credibility? Or do we in the West just expect and accept?
Some rejoiced when Billy Graham became a “nuclear pacifist.” But how many (potential) bomb victims does it take to make one even that? And what if the tally of such potential victims was reduced by 1; by 100; by 1000; etc., to make dropping nuclear bombs after all at some (mythical?) point (by Graham’s standards) kosher? What is that magic threshold? Or are he and other just war advocates just kidding themselves?
It feels like this has been happening in the Republican Party for a really long time,” said Whitney Phillips, an assistant professor of communication and rhetorical studies at Syracuse University. “If you allow an entire contingent of your caucus to be steeped in conspiratorial thinking, what . . . do you think is going to happen? They’re going to turn on you.”
And before you know it, the pitch forks are headed your way.—Kerry Eleveld
President Joe Biden, in announcing an ostensible end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan, is continuing his streak of paying eloquent lip service to progressive causes while maintaining the implied status quo. In a televised address from the White House on April 14, Biden said, “it’s time to end America’s longest war. It’s time for American troops to come home.” But just a day later, the New York Times reported without a hint of irony that “the Pentagon, American spy agencies and Western allies are refining plans to deploy a less visible but still potent force in the region.” This means we are ending the war, but not really.
Biden also failed to mention in his speech that there are tens of thousands of private military contractors employed in Afghanistan. According to the Times, “[m]ore than 16,000 civilian contractors, including over 6,000 Americans, now provide security, logistics and other support in Afghanistan.” The Times did not see fit to ask how the war can be declared over if mercenaries remain on the ground, nor how Biden can declare the war as ending if airstrikes will continue.
Dr. Hakeem Naim is an Afghan American lecturer in the Department of History at the University of California, Berkeley; he was raised in Afghanistan and has lived in multiple countries as a refugee and immigrant before moving to the U.S. In an interview, he explained what Biden refused to mention: that “the U.S. created chaos by supporting the most corrupt elite groups and created a mafia-system of economy run by the drug lords, warlords and contractors.” Worst of all, “the Taliban is back in power,” he said, implying that Afghanistan is essentially back where it started in 2001.
Please click on: Biden Lies About AfghanistanFootnotes
- The full statement reads: January 15, 2021, Retraction, by Thomas Lifson:
We received a lengthy letter from Dominion’s defamation lawyers explaining why they believe that their client has been the victim of defamatory statements. Having considered the full import of the letter, we have agreed to their request that we publish the following statement:
American Thinker and contributors Andrea Widburg, R.D. Wedge, Brian Tomlinson, and Peggy Ryan have published pieces on www.AmericanThinker.com that falsely accuse US Dominion Inc., Dominion Voting Systems, Inc., and Dominion Voting Systems Corporation (collectively “Dominion”) of conspiring to steal the November 2020 election from Donald Trump. These pieces rely on discredited sources who have peddled debunked theories about Dominion’s supposed ties to Venezuela, fraud on Dominion’s machines that resulted in massive vote switching or weighted votes, and other claims falsely stating that there is credible evidence that Dominion acted fraudulently.
These statements are completely false and have no basis in fact. Industry experts and public officials alike have confirmed that Dominion conducted itself appropriately and that there is simply no evidence to support these claims.
It was wrong for us to publish these false statements. We apologize to Dominion for all of the harm this caused them and their employees. We also apologize to our readers for abandoning 9 journalistic principles and misrepresenting Dominion’s track record and its limited role in tabulating votes for the November 2020 election. We regret this grave error.