Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show” riff on the Gaza conflict was praised to the skies by anti-Israel pundits, like MSNBC’s Cenk Uyger and the Daily Beast’s Dean Obeidallah as providing some kind of much needed moral clarity. In truth it was exactly the opposite, with the Obeidallah column unintentionally showing exactly what’s wrong with Jon Stewart.
Knowing that a disturbing number of Millennials (and an even more disturbing number of ignorant, impressionable older viewers who should know better) see the comedian as a truth-teller, Stewart makes no allowances in his comic routines for that fact. He intentionally encourages the idea that he is a legitimate pundit, then retreats to the convenient bunker of “Come on! I’m a comedian! Don’t take me so seriously!” when he is called out for lazy, misleading and biased—but funny! commentary. (Stewart criticizes Democrats with approximately the frequency of a lunar eclipse, which would be just fine for a comedian who didn’t pose as an objective critic of American politics.) Continue reading
Maybe he should run for Vice-President on a ticket with Elizabeth Warren.
Quoth revered British actor Ian McKellen, Magneto (and Gandalf ) in the flesh:
“The one thing you can ask, I think, is that actors get paid a living wage. I would like it if all the repertory theaters that currently exist could do that. It would make a huge difference.”
It sure would. It would put most small professional theaters out of business, make theater unaffordable for any but rich theater-lovers, and eliminate a huge number of acting jobs. It is an idiotic, ignorant, irresponsible, but very, very nice, liberal, compassionate, well-intentioned and Elizabeth Warrenish suggestion that willfully ignores reality and basic economics—in other words, it is consistent with progressive mythology. We owe the Magster a debt of gratitude for illustrating exactly what is wrong with blanket endorsements of minimum wage increases and “living wages.” Continue reading
I thought I might run an ethics quiz asking whether this current and mind-bogglingly stupid argument that keeps popping up from my sentiment-addled Facebook friends is more unethical than the pro-Hamas hashtags being appended to twitter comments by the “Think of the children!” saps led by celebrities like Jon Stewart, Selena Gomez, and John Cusack. Pondering on it, however, I realized that as ethically misguided as Stewart at al. are, the above quote and its ilk are worse….especially since state governors and U.S. Senators have more credibility than comedians and Disney pop tarts. Not that they should, mind you.
If I really have to make a detailed argument explaining why Deval’s quote and Leahy’s ( “Think of all those Jews that went to the ovens because we forgot our principles. Let’s not turn our backs now.”) are unforgivably irresponsible, we are just as dim-witted as those demagogues (or, more likely, as dim-witted as they hope and think we are.) The statements are no more nor less than an invitation to every parent of every child in every poor, war-torn, politically foul, culturally poisoned, dangerous, corrupt nation in the world to somehow get them to the U.S. border, paying shady and often treacherous agents to do so, because the United States will not “turn its back,” and turn them back. The question isn’t whether this is a legitimate, responsible or sane position worthy of debate and serious consideration: of course it isn’t. The question is how anyone can think it is. Continue reading
The scourge of political correctness causes many kinds of damage, but the most ominous is that it intentionally greases a steep slippery slope. The effort to constrain private and public expression according to an endlessly versatile definition of “offensiveness” is a desirable weapon for political activists, grievance bullies, censorious and debate-challenged advocates, weenies, and busybodies. Once one specious argument for strangling another small sliver of free speech succeeds, usually after capitulation in the face of relentless vilification and hounding aided and abetted by the press, this ugly and anti-American faction of the progressive movement just moves on to another target. The process will never end, although it will get more oppressive, restrictive and absurd. That is, it will never end until a backlash and an outbreak of rationality stops it in its tracks.
The Patent Office’s politically motivated (and doomed) attack on the Washington Redskins was an example of political correctness at its worst, and sure enough, here comes another deluded censor with a related and even sillier grievance. Simon Waxman wrote a jaw-dropping op-ed for the Washington Post arguing that the military’s use of Native American names and works on its helicopters and weaponry is a “slur.” Why, you ask? Because the white man cheated and defeated the Indians using superior fire power, that’s why. Yeah, sure, we pretend to honor their bravery now, but that’s just to salve our guilty consciences. He blathers…
The message carried by the word Apache emblazoned on one of history’s great fighting machines is that the Americans overcame an opponent so powerful and true that we are proud to adopt its name. They tested our mettle, and we proved stronger, so don’t mess with us. In whatever measure it is tribute to the dead, it is in greater measure a boost to our national sense of superiority. And this message of superiority is shared not just with U.S. citizens but with those of the 14 nations whose governments buy the Apache helicopters we sell. It is shared, too, with those who hear the whir of an Apache overhead or find its guns trained on them. Noam Chomsky has clarified the moral stakes in provocative, instructive terms: “We might react differently if the Luftwaffe were to call its fighter planes ‘Jew’ and ‘Gypsy.’ ”
One of the Washington Post’s rare conservative columnists has a solution for GOP candidates and office holders whose views on some subjects are likely to make them targets of furious criticism: refuse to express them. She writes in her latest column:
“Not everything is a political issue, nor one on which politicians have any particular insight. Candidates are not asked their views on divorce, for example. Each state has laws on the topic, and one’s religious views aren’t a topic for public debate. It is not (and shouldn’t be) asked of nor answered by politicians…Creationism? Unless you are running for school board and intend to be guided by your religious convictions, it does not matter. Born again? None of my business.
“…[Q]uestions about creationism, gay marriage, the nature of homosexuality and other value-specific questions serve no purpose other than to provide targets for faux outrage. These questions are designed to divide the population into believers and nonbelievers, between those who share the same cultural touchstones and those who differ.
“If a topic has no relevance to public policy or character or fitness to serve, why ask the question and why answer it? We aren’t electing pastors, family counselors or philosophers; we’re electing politicians whose job description and qualifications don’t include a great many topics. If we are heading for a more tolerant society, we have to agree to disagree on some issues and to respect some realm of private opinion and faith. For Republicans running in 2016, I would suggest a simple response to the sort of question intended to provoke divisiveness over irrelevant topics: “I can’t think of a single instance in which [creationism/the origin of homosexuality] would be relevant. I’m not here to sow division or take sides in faith-based debates. Let’s talk about something germane to the presidency.”
Incredibly wrong. Continue reading
Let’s begin with the basics: it’s unethical for the President to lend his name and office a Twitter account that purports to send out messages from him when in fact he neither sends out the messages nor approves them. It’s also stupid, and it’s unethical because it is stupid. A President’s credibility must be protected, by him and everybody else. If Obama isn’t sending a tweet, he shouldn’t permit an official tweet to go out that suggests otherwise. “Everybody” knows Obama isn’t sending the tweets, you say? If so, then why do so many Twitter users follow Fake Obama? Whether they believe it is him or not, he implicitly endorses and approves whatever is tweeted under his name. He is responsible.
From this follows the next point: it is irresponsible to hire a grade school drop-out to represent the President of the United States on the internet. Stating that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1963 isn’t a typo: this was embodied in a graphic, and requires deep, frightening historical ignorance. I wouldn’t expect the President to have time to oversee this kind of petty operation, especially since he can’t find the time to oversee the I.R.S., the N.S.A, the V.A., the Secret Service, the Armed Services, or the Justice Department, all of which he should be holding to some standards of competence. I would expect, however, that whoever that supervision is delegated to would understand that making sure POTUS isn’t made to seem like Jessica Simpson on Twitter is paramount. I would also expect that the President himself would want to exert some effort to control the words others place in his mouth, as that would be the smart, responsible, professional and presidential thing to do.
But that is obviously expecting too much.
Source: Ed Driscoll
It would be an Unethical Quote of the Month, if it weren’t also so stupid. As it is, the newly minted endorsement of conversion therapy for gays in the party platform serves to remove any reason to respect the Texas Republican Party, and like a projectile vomiting episode, contaminates anyone who identifies with the GOP, not just in Texas, but anywhere.
This despicable and ignorant platform states:
“We recognize the legitimacy and efficacy of counseling, which offers reparative therapy and treatment for those patients seeking healing and wholeness from their homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy.”
This was composed by bigots, enacted by fools, and adopted by intellectually lazy and mean-spirited dolts. Continue reading
Quick, get a non-lawyer to pay you to teach him about the law, then you will have rent money, and he’ll be unemployable!
From the Fordham Law Review comes an article making an important point about American life: it is so intertwined with laws, regulations and procedures that citizens are overwhelmed, and at risk of serious adverse consequences. This provides a function for lawyers, indeed an essential one: allowing citizens of a democracy to be protected and served by laws rather than victimized by them. That is a function lawyers often serve, however, after legal ignorance has raised the specter of harm. From the abstract of Bridget Dunlap’s “Anyone Can Think Like a Lawyer,” which argues for “legal empowerment” for non-lawyers, and the duty of lawyers to provide it: Continue reading