Category Archives: Citizenship

Ethics Dunces: Bitter, Spoilsport, Fuddy-Duddy Republicans and Conservatives

Nope, no Republicans there...

Nope, no Republicans here…

A grand welter of celebrities ranging from Pussy Riot and Paul Krugman to Willie Nelson and Big Bird joined comic Stephen Colbert in his farewell to Comedy Central, as he prepares to step into David Letterman’s shoes and hopes to do a Jimmy Fallon as Dave’s (overdue) replacement, rather than a Conan O’Brien. Obviously the producers and Colbert sought a ridiculously diverse group symbolizing U.S. culture and whimsy, and sent out invitations far and wide. Instead, the got an overwhelmingly liberal and progressive group that may make up half of MSNBC’s total viewership, a group that would almost all have been at home on the floor of the Democratic National Convention.

Don’t blame Colbert. It was clear that ideological animus with Colbert’s almost entirely anti-conservative schtick was no bar to the option of participation. Republicans and conservatives, however, almost unanimously decided to sulk, stay home, and boycott the party. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, U.S. Society

What Michelle Obama Calls Racism…Today, Anyway

Target Michelle

The current People Magazine has a feature titled “The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” in which both Obama’s reflect on their personal experiences with a racist America. It begins like this…

“The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.”

Here is a relatively recent experience, the first one cited by Mrs. Obama in the article, that “stung”:

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the First Lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target [in 2012], not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the First Lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.” 

That’s right, Michelle feels—or says she feels—that this incident was proof of incipient racism, one of the “micro-aggressions” that white society inflicts on African Americans daily, sapping their self-esteem, confidence, and trust in society.

She’s right that it “happens in life” and isn’t new. In fact, it happened to me, in the local Target, coincidentally, just last month. A very short elderly Asian woman asked if I would take down a large container of laundry detergent from a high shelf. Obviously, she thought I worked at Target and was denigrating me, applying racial stereotypes to a large bald Greek-American man.

I can say with no hesitation whatsoever that what happened to Michelle at Target was not an incident of racial stereotyping. The photo above shows how Michelle was dressed on the fateful day, and anyone who would mistake her flowered blouse, Nike hat, shades and shopping cart as the uniform of a Target employee had recently escaped from a Home for the Bewildered. What wasn’t new about the encounter is that in a healthy, ethical community strangers should ask each other for kindly help and assistance, and normal, non-paranoid, non race-obsessed citizens—and especially their leaders, who are supposed to model responsible  behavior— ought not to be so warped by ideologically-dictated confirmation bias that their immediate reaction is, “Hmmmm…what did she mean by that?” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Journalism & Media, Race, U.S. Society

Comment of the Day on “Comment of the Day on ‘The Perils Of Over-Regulating The Police: A Case Study'”

Robocop

Stephen Mark Pilling contributes the second consecutive Comment of the Day providing perspective on the issue of police militarization, in response to the first. Here is his Comment of the Day to the post (by dragin_dragon, which you should read first if you haven’t yet), Comment of the Day on “The Perils Of Over-Regulating The Police: A Case Study”

When critics speak of the “militarization” of the police, not all are looking at it from the same viewpoint. Some are, of course, sociopathic or are conspiracy theorists. Some have swallowed the loudly flaunted concept that policemen are evil racists, corrupt ward healers in uniform or just about anything heinous, as they represent law as an absolute, not a relative.

There is a rational based distrust, however. Many of us grew up in a time where the police still walked a beat or patrolled his neighborhood in a squad car, armed with nothing more than a revolver. We’re also the product of an old tradition of law enforcement that stems from the British mold. Unlike the continental European system of paramilitary gendarmes, we adapted a system of localized lawmen, run by an elected county sheriff. The metropolitan police department is still a relatively new phenomenon, started in late 19th Century London.

To many citizens, police who are unaccountable to a directly elected chief and who sport automatic weapons strike a sour note. But recently, people have been seeing them acquiring armored vehicles, military assault training and a tendency to wearing black uniforms. They’ve also noted an increased likelihood of these tactics and weapons being utilized and the increased incidence of “no knock entries”. Likewise, citizens have been imaging police making arrogant idiots out of themselves and caused other cops to become ever more touchy about cell phones, whether they’re right or wrong.

These and other factors have been serving to create a gap between the citizens and the police. That’s never a good thing, of course, because that trust is vital in a free society. Citizen distrust only deepens when they perceive policemen in whom this sense of civil mastery is full blown. As a former military cop, as a private citizen and as a friend or relative of a lot of civilian cops, I’ve seen all this from different angles. I’ve also seen the divide deepen in recent days.

One small note. The funding of police units on all levels directly from federal sources coincides with the worry by many that state and local police units may be more or less within the pocket of federal departments. The actual militarization of once innocuous federal police units and the memory of Obama’s projected National Civilian Defense Force has resulted in fear that this is an intentional part of a program to create an instrument of oppression. For myself, I highly doubt that any street cops would lend themselves to some “martial law” based takeover of the homeland of America. What I’m not sure of, though, is how many in higher authority have not conceived of the notion and would execute it if they could.

Again; it’s vital that the bonds of trust be strengthened between the police departments and those law abiding citizens whom they “serve and protect”. They must never- ever- be heard to make disparaging remarks about “civilians”, as that only deepens the gulf. In the Army Military Police Corps, the official motto is “Of the troops and for the troops”. It’s a good motto. It should also carry over to every local police or sheriff’s department in America. “Of the citizens and for the citizens”. Policemen who embrace that attitude will seldom go wrong. Both they and the communities they serve will benefit.

Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Comment of the Day, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights, Science & Technology, U.S. Society, War and the Military

Deval Patrick’s Indefensible, Terrifying Admission

Welcome to my nightmare...

Welcome to my nightmare…

It is 4:30 AM. I can’t sleep, and among the reasons are not, as you might think, the fact that my father died five years ago today and I miss him terribly, or that this is my birthday, and I am that much closer to my own death. No, the cause for my tossing in bed is that I read  Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s comments on “Meet the Press” about the Michael Brown shooting (yes, those eleven Ferguson posts still weren’t enough) just before retiring, and they have been giving me nightmares.

What Patrick’s remarks suggest to me  is that this incident is quite literally driving Democrats, civil rights activists and African-Americans crazy, causing them to lose their grip on basic principles of ethics and democracy. Here is what Patrick said, in part, in his interview with Chuck Todd, who, incompetently, did not ask properly probing questions in response (falling over in a dead faint would have also been appropriate):

“Look, without knowing all the facts, of course I wanted to see an indictment. And mostly because I think a trial and the transparency of a trial would be good for the community. And because so many of us have the supposition that police officers are not going to be held accountable and not going to have to answer for the shooting of unarmed, young, black teenagers.”

I challenge any civil libertarian to defend this statement. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quiz: The 90-year-old Scofflaw Humanitarian vs. The Heartless Mayor Who Isn’t Really

Seiler

[Fred, one of my two regular ethics issue scouts (Alexander Cheezem is the other, and what I would do without their assistance, I do not know: thank you, thank you, thank you, guys!), flagged this classic ethics conflict several weeks ago.]

Some sources reported that a “90-year-old man was arrested for feeding the homeless.” This set off typical fact-free indignation on the social media and talk shows, not to mention the angry e-mails from around the world: Charity illegal???  A kind old man arrested just for trying to help the poor! Cruelty!!! ARGGGHHH!!!

Naturally, this was not what really happened.

For 23 years, since he was 67, 90–year-old Arnold Abbott and his non-profit organization, Love Thy Neighbor, have provided food for the homeless at a public beach in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on Wednesday of every week at 5:30 p.m. This year, on October 21, the City of Fort Lauderdale Commission passed an ordinance that banned such food distributions in public. The ordinance required that organizations distributing food outdoors would have to provide portable toilets for use by workers and those being fed. It’s a health and safety regulation, for the benefit of homeless and vulerable. A few days after the ordinance took effect, on a Wednesday, at a bit after 5:30 PM, Abbott  was approached by police officers and cited for violating the ordinance. He was not arrested. He was told that he must appear in court.

After Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler was called everything from a monster to a Republican (he’s a Democrat), someone finally asked him what the ordinance was all about and questioned his police department’s treatment of the kindly senior. “We hope he feeds, ” Seilor said. “He has a very valuable role in the community. All we’re saying is he can feed the next block over. He can feed at the church. We want them to be in safe secure settings. We wanted them to be in a sanitary matter. We them to have facilities available before and after.” That seems reasonable.

Seiler has also offered an explanation for the ordinance, which was backed by the Chamber of Commerce, that sounds more, well, Republican, saying that  providing the homeless food in public only enables homelessness, and that Fort Lauderdale wants the homeless to use government and church services. “If you are going to simply feed them outdoors to get them from breakfast to lunch to dinner, all you are doing is enabling the cycle of homelessness,” Seiler says. Well, that’s debatable, but it isn’t unreasonable.

Still,  it’s hard to teach old humanitarians new tricks, and Arnold is defiant. Continue reading

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Filed under Charity, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Quizzes, U.S. Society

Obama’s Immigration Order: The Ultimate Leadership Flatline

It never changes...

It never changes…

Barack Obama’s inexplicable inability—or unwillingness—to learn what his job is and how to do it properly has reached a terrible crescendo in his Executive Order on illegal immigration. You can read the likely details here; the details don’t matter. The order itself guarantees chaos on more fronts that any Presidential act in memory, and more institutional damage over the long term. There is literally no excuse for it, but the explanations are clear. Obama painted himself into a political corner because he does not know how to do his job. He has set a precedent that will invite far more abuse, in real terms, than the order at issue now, guaranteeing a Constitutional crisis, and perhaps many—because he does not know how to do his job. Having pledged to bring the country together, he has taken a needless and gratuitous step that will divide the nation further—-because he does not know how to do his job. And he has all but guaranteed that the next two years will be marked by more poisonous partisanship in Washington and outright warfare between the parties and the branches of the government, further discouraging citizens and reducing trust in the American system to a dangerous level because…well, you know.

Let me discard the inevitable justification for this action at the outset, the rationalization given by Obama himself: He is taking action on immigration because the system is broken and Congress won’t fix it. The decisive rebuttal: tough. That’s the system. The President agreed to be part of it when he ran for office. Laws must be made by Congress and signed and enforced by the President. There are no exceptions in the Constitution waiving this system when the President is really, really sure he knows best, or when the President is really, really frustrated because he wants his way but doesn’t want to do the dirty work of schmoozing, horse-trading, building alliances, collecting I.O.U.’s , bluffing, getting half a loaf, compromising, angering his “base” know that they have nowhere to go, and agreeing to measures or he hates in order to get some he wants, or when he’s made promises he shouldn’t have made. As Obama himself once said, he can’t act like an emperor, because that’s not the system the Founders decided on. Obama has proven that he can’t act like a President, however, so now he’s giving emperor a try. Mind-boggling is the best description I can come up with right  now.

Obama, among other reasons, is in the midst of this fiasco because he backed himself into a corner with the Hispanic activists in his party. Again, this is evidence of a flat learning curve. He has trapped himself repeatedly—by drawing a “red line” in Syria, by promising what his health care plan couldn’t deliver, by sending empty threats to Putin, by guaranteeing that he will not send ground troops in to fight Isis. It makes him and America look weak; it results in bad policies and late implementation of needed measures, and diminishes his stature and trustworthiness. Never mind: Obama seems to be the only one who hasn’t noticed. So now he is forced to follow through on a measure of dubious constitutional validity that will make it look as if he is choosing the welfare of lawbreakers over the convictions of a majority of the legal citizens in the country.

What a wonderful plan.

His method is also one we have seen before: dishonesty. The order is being justified as “prosecutorial discretion’…you know, like the bombing of Libya wasn’t hostilities under the statute requiring Congressional approval, like the authorization for the Iraq invasion in 2002 was still sufficient to constitute approval of bombing Isis, and like the unilateral amending of the Affordable Care Act was just administrative action. Obama has achieved a Bizarro World integrity by consistently showing no integrity at all.

All of this, mind you, to guarantee no deportation of people who were not going to be deported, to assure work papers for those already working, and to make the ethically incoherent statement that the longer an illegal immigrant breaks the law by staying here, the less illegal he should be, and the more children she dumps into the care of Nanny Sam, the more the nation should embrace the family.

I agree with Obama regarding the need to give the illegals who we have allowed to stay here too long some way to achieve legal status. I agree that Republican opposition is a dead end rooted in rejection of facts over the embrace of impractical idealism. His job, however, is to solve the problem under the system, make it palatable to the public, and not blow up the political system in the service of people who showed no respect for the system in coming here.

Obama, however, doesn’t know how todo  his job.

And he’s obviously never going to learn.

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement

The Gruber Corruption Files: Another University Decides A Cover-Up Is “The Right Thing To Do,” While The News Media Spins For Obama

Who cares?

Who cares?

After the Jonathan Gruber video that included the Obamacare insider crowing about passing a misleading health care bill thanks “the stupidity of the American voter” in an October 2013 panel appearance at The University of Pennsylvania, the institution, good, compliant, loyal to Obama and apparently complicit in the Administration’s philosophy of deception, hid the damning comments by taking the video offline. The university reposted it after being compared to the Soviet Union and condemned for censoring knowledge rather than spreading it.

On Monday, the University of Rhode Island also attempted to assist the progressive cover-up of its contempt for the public and democracy, removing its video of  2012 discussion where Gruber explains how the law was passed to “exploit” the American voters’ “lack of economic understanding.” So far, URI has offered no explanation regarding why the video was pulled, and it doesn’t have to.

The video was pulled because the overwhelmingly left-leaning academic establishment in the U.S., like the similarly slanted journalistic establishment, have taken sides, choosing to assist and abet the desperate, anti-democratic efforts by Democrats to lie, hide and spin their way out of the fair and clear implications of Gruber’s inconvenient truths. This is frightening, and every citizen regardless of political preference should understand that the effort must be foiled if our system of government is to regain lost trust and integrity. Universities and journalists are supposed to be truth-seekers, and in this matter are behaving like political operatives. Note that only Fox and the National Review, so far, have reported Rhode Island’s efforts to bury Gruber’s statements, and that is just a continuation of a disconcerting theme throughout this fiasco.

From an excellent Examiner summary of how the mainstream media is spinning the story: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society