Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: California State Senator Ted Lieu

Sen. Lieu wants Lowe's to see things his way...or else.

In what is beginning to look like a full-blown ethics train wreck, the Florida Family Association’s attack on TLC’s “All-American Muslim” reality show has claimed its first victim among the show’s defenders: California State Senator Ted Lieu, a Democrat. The incident inspired him to out himself as a Constitutionally ignorant bully who can’t be trusted with legislative power. Thanks, Florida Family Association!

This was only after Lowe’s, the lumber, hardware, garden supply chain, outed itself as a sniveling confederacy of unprincipled cowards by caving to the FFA’s boycott threat, a threat motivated by anti-Muslim bigotry and nothing else. Lowe’s pulled its sponsorship of the show, muttering nonsense about how the show was controversial and how such controversies should be left to communities to hash out, which was a non sequitur and offensive, as it suggested that whether or not bigotry is acceptable in America is a valid debate topic, and that Lowe’s has no opinion on the matter. How refreshing it would be if a company like Lowe’s, capitulating to a boycott threat, came right out and said,

“Look, we’re in business, and we sell to bigots and non bigots alike. There are a lot of bigots, too many of them, but they still have a right to live, remodel their homes and have gardens, and we’ll take their money any time. The fact is that we didn’t think sponsoring this harmless program would get their panties in a bunch, but it did, and in this economic climate, no company, at least not this one, can afford to take a principled stand that will lose sales and money. Advertising, after all, is supposed to add to profits, not lose them, and since we are convinced that our sponsorship of “All-American Muslim” is no longer financially defensible from a business perspective, we are pulling the ad. Lowe’s in the lumber and hardware business, not the civil rights business. We’re sorry, but that’s the way it is.”

It’s not the bravest thing to say, but at least it is honest and doesn’t treat the public as if we are idiots. Nevertheless, the outrage expressed by Ted Lieu is idiotic. He says he is considering promoting a boycott of Lowe’s. What? An elected official cannot use his office to promote vindictive economic action against a corporation for exercising its rights, which include the right to spend its money in any way it chooses. If the State Senator wants to get in the economic bullying business, let him start his own doctrinaire, undemocratic group like, say, the Florida Family Foundation. Moreover, what would it prove if Lowe’s caved to Lieu’s proposed boycott? That it is a craven bunch of amoral bean-counters? We already knew that! Would it show that Lowe’s was suddenly a passionate advocate for respecting Americans regardless of race, color or creed? No, because the company would be doing Lieu’s bidding out of coercion, not enlightenment. Lieu apparently never got the “two wrongs don’t make a right” lecture from Mother Lieu. Or the respecting individual choices lecture. Actually, he missed a lot of the ethics lectures—fairness, modesty, autonomy, responsibility, abuse of power.

Yet Lieu’s boycott threat is not only even the trigger for his designation as December’s most incompetent elected official. This is: he told the Associated Press that he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads.

Dear California: Impeach this man. Now.

Never mind Obamacare’s individual mandate and the slippery slope applications that would allow Congress to force us to eat broccoli: Lieu is living proof that there are legislators running free who believe they have the right and the duty to make us contribute money to their causes. Who believe they can pass laws making you—and Lowe’s—apologize for your legal business decisions, foolish or wise. Who believe that their high office gives them the power to use the state to punish you when you do something they don’t like. Ted Lieu is an autocrat, a fascist, and an ignoramus, whose supporters apparently accept these disqualifying traits because they agree with his politics, and thus are sufficiently confident that he won’t try to use the iron fist of the state to control how they think, act, or spend their money.

Lieu and elected officials like him are, I believe, far more dangerous to American values and institutions than radical Islamists, bigots like the Florida Family Foundation, or corporate weenies like Loew’s.


13 thoughts on “Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: California State Senator Ted Lieu

  1. It’s not the bravest thing to say, but at least it is honest and doesn’t treat the public as if we are idiots.

    I think that would actually be a pretty brave statement. Calling the bigots out for being bigots? Saying the show really is harmless? Noting that they are putting profits above civil rights?

  2. State Sen, Lieu didn’t propose legislation to force anybody to do anything. According to the L.A.Times he said he “would consider urging a boycott and drafting a legislative resolution denouncing the company’s actions.” Hardly a serious threat to the Republic.

    • You read the Times, Bob, I read the Free Press. The quote there: “Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, told the Associated Press he would also consider legislative action if Lowe’s doesn’t apologize to Muslims and reinstate its ads.” I don’t call a resolution “action.” I also don’t find an exact quote about what he has said–based on what I have read, he may have threatened all of this and firebombing too. But that suggests using the legislature and the threat of government action—unconstitutional government action—to punish a company for what it has every right to do. Legislators like Lieu, who don’t comprehend Constitutional limitations ARE a threat to the Republic–all you need is enough of them. They are in both parties, and they need to be tagged, bagged, and sent away. Quick.

  3. How is what the Senator said any different than Morgan Freeman calling the Tea Party racist? Or the Tea Party calling the President a Muslim Socialist? Or Hank Williams calling the President the enemy? Or the Florida Family Association calling Muslims dangerous to the American way? Or groups calling the Florida Family, bigots. Glenn Beck calling Obama, racist?

    • OK, you tell me. How is Lieu different? Hint: it has something to do with power, the state and the Constitution. Every other incident you mentioned involves private entities expressing opinions. A legislator threatening state action is not vaguely similar, and is an abuse of power. Easy quiz. You can do better than that.

          • I believe it is relevant. My question was; if you are going to hold one person to high ethical standards, shouldn’t you hold all to the same?

            • It was irrelevant, but to answer the question: 1) There are posts on many of the examples you mentioned. 2) They are not all in the same category 3) The standards for elected officials are higher and 4) A threat is not the same as an opinion, and the standards are different there, too.

              Hank Williams did NOT call Obama “the enemy,” and even if he did, a country western singer’s opinion of a president is a) predictable and b) insignificant. A black celebrity actor whom plays virtuous figures I hold to a higher standard regarding irresponsible statements, which is why Freeman got an ethics dunce. My analysis of Beck as the right’s answer to Keith Olbermann can be found elsewhere on the blog. “Socialist” is not an epithet, and the opinion that Obama is a socialist may be hyperbole or inaccurate, but it can be defended, and is not in the category of the others at all.

              The Florida Family Association’s conduct makes “bigots” a fair description.

              And, as I keep having to write, apparently, writing about something does not obligate me to write about everything.

              • Jack, I understand this your blog. You make the rules. A threat of legislation? How far do you think that would go in the process? Even if the bill did pass, I’m sure California’s Supreme court may judge differently. Many bills are brought up on opinion. Most of them die in committee. Secondly, Mr. Williams DID call Obama “the enemy”. I have seen it too many times for me to think he said or meant anything else. And to say that you can not compare the opinions of celebrities is a bigoted statement in my book. They are both in the entertainment industry. I hold both of them to the same standards. Not doing so is wrong in my book. They both said things that their fans will pick up and support and to say they won’t is ignorant. I ask these questions to figure out what is your benchmark in ethics. And I will not stoop to calling someone dumb, silly or any other name. I may respectfully point things out, but I will not disrespect any human being regardless of intelligence or any other intangible.

                • I don’t comprehend your reasoning at all. Threats are a form of coercion. Opinions are opinions. Obviously some public figures have more influence than others. And Williams did NOt call Obama “the enemy” in the sense you are implying. He said he thought it was foolish for politicians to try to benignly negotiate with “the enemy” in the sense of “the adversary.” Obama used the same sloppy terminology during the campaign. Neither is in the same class as a legislator threatening state action based on legal, protected activity. And you argument that it doesn’t natter because the Supreme Court would strike down such legislation is beyond laughable. The post was about an incompetent elected official, and saying you are considering impossible legislation is the epitome of incompetent.

                  And since the post was about elected officials, your original comment WAS irrelevant. Which is where I came in…

  4. Unless I am mistaken, The American Family Association (AFA) has a long-running and ongoing boycott call against the other large hardware chain, Home Depot, stemming from the corporation’s continued kindness toward persons whose sexual practices are objectionable to AFA. To my knowledge, Home Depot has not caved. I don’t know whether the AFA-led boycott has had any effect on Home Depot’s business. I wonder if Lowe’s examined Home Depot’s situation prior to its decision – if it’s even relevant.

    Over time, I have become a much more selective and reluctant boycott-joiner. I would like to think that any boycott I might join would be so justified, so humanitarian, so economically and morally and ethically correct, that even the collateral damages and unintended consequences would be tolerably recoverable, or “for the best in the long run” – but I know I’m dreaming. A boycott just seems more and more to me like a “nuclear option” a la Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One day I may feel I have no other option, but then, I will know ahead of time that abiding by it (a boycott) won’t soothe me any more than having never taken part in it, even if I “win.”

    • I’m not sure whether the Florida “Family Assn”, whatever its name, is affiliated with the national AFA. But it’s of no consequence. In my not-so-humble opinion, they are all a confederancy of dunces, a bunch of power-hungry jerks.

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