Ethics Warm-Up, 1/6/2020: On The Eve Of Destruction Edition!


Just kidding.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned Barry McGwire’s hilariously overwrought rendition of P.F. Sloan’s silly lyrics before. Everyone should listen to this song every few months or so to remind them that we were pronounced doomed 55 years ago, yet here we are. The lack of historical perspective and general knowledge about the real world of geopolitics is driving so much of the over-heated laments we are hearing and reading—I think laughing is a better response that rolling one’s eyes, but I’m open to being convinced otherwise. Yes, sometimes leaders and countries have to draw red lines, and it is always best if the world believes them when they do. It never believed Barack Obama.

1. Fake news, headline-style...Yesterday, the New York Times headline, in bold,  “this is really important!!!” point type, told us that Trump’s military advisers were “stunned” at his decision to kill Iran’s head terrorist. Oh, no! His decision was surprise? Tt came out of the blue? They had recommended against it? Well, no. The story under that intentionally misleading headline says that the President was presented with several options, and the pros and cons of all were discussed. They expected him to choose one of the other options, that’s all. “Stunned” carried negative implications that the facts didn’t warrant, so naturally that’s what the Times editors chose. All the better to undermine trust in the President.

2. Not all celebrities are America-hating dolts:

3.  For the record...I don’t think George Lopez’s remark upon hearing Iran’s 80 million dollar bounty on Trump’s life (“We’ll do it for half!”) is a true threat, and the Secret Service should leave him alone. It’s just a cheap, hateful, pandering joke any thug on the street could have made. Unfortunately, I’m sure the President will tweet about it.

4. KABOOM! The first item in this week’s “Social Q’s,” the advice column by Phillip Galanes, made my head explode. A woman asked him the proper way to respond to this:

Three friends gave her a gift card on her birthday. When she tried to use it, there was no balance on the card, though she had never taken it out of her wallet. The friend who purchased the card had gone back to the store with her receipt and had it reissued so she could use it to buy a dress for herself!

I have no idea what I’d do. The crime—that was a theft— made no sense; it was bound to be discovered. It’s not like she took the gift money to buy medicine for her sick child. It’s just a horrible thing to do to anybody, but especially a friend.The larcenous friend  has to be confronted—the question is, can she be forgiven? Should she be forgiven? She certainly can never be trusted again.

This sounds like something George or Elaine would do on “Seinfeld.”

5. More reasons I’m glad my son decided that college was a waste of money. The College Reform reports that a student at Rutgers University was told by his professor that he should not  use Bible quotes in academic papers, because, the professor argued, quoting Christian scripture was unnecessary to explain Christian beliefs and could be offensive to a Muslim or Jewish person. Later the student asked to meet with the professor to discuss the episode, which resulted in his losing a half-grade. His recording of this conversation (presumably without the professor’s consent–unethical!),the professor is heard to remind the student of  the “separation of church and state”while noting that the Bible “may not be for everyone.” The professor added,  “I think for instance this wouldn’t work for a Muslim or Jewish person.”

The professor–her name is Professor Kathe Sandler—  is too ignorant to teach.

Anyone. Anywhere.

I was thinking about the Bible over the weekend, when I had occasion to see the original “Time Machine” film, starring Rod Taylor. (Did you know he turned down an offer to be the first James Bond? He would have been a good one.) At the end of the film, the professor has boarded his invention to return to the post-apocalyptic future, to help the Eloi rebuild civilization. Three books are missing from his library, and his friend, played by Alan Young (Mr. Ed’s owner on TV) wonders which three books he took. (This twist is original to the screenplay. It’s not in H.G. Welles novel.)

I think the first two books are obvious: The Complete Works of Shakespeare, and the Bible. (I assume the third would have to be an up-to-date book about basic science or mathematics.) For a college professor not to recognize the Bible’s importance as literature, and to think that the separation of church and state would prevent a student from quoting it in a paper (How?), is irrefutable proof of bias, incompetence, and intellectual bankruptcy. And she teaches at Rutgers!

6. I knew this all seemed familiar! New blogger on the scene Andrew Davis recalled when Ronald Reagan decided it was time to retaliate against a Middle East evil-doer:

This entire episode is reminiscent of the showdown between Ronald Reagan and Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. In the mid-eighties Gaddafi’s goons blew up a night club in Berlin, injuring hundreds and killing a Marine. Reagan retaliated swiftly, dropping sixty tons of explosives on targets across Libya, including Gaddafi’s own home. The usual suspects hit him with the same barrage they’re hitting Trump with today. Maniac, bloodthirsty, senile etc. Gaddafi targeted us with terror attacks, and Reagan blew his house up the next day, killing a member of his family. There was no war. Gaddafi was an American lapdog for the next twenty-five years until, in her infinite wisdom, Secretary Clinton organized his ouster.


This is the Twitter link  that Facebook–so far–will let you post:

30 thoughts on “Ethics Warm-Up, 1/6/2020: On The Eve Of Destruction Edition!

  1. Eve of destruction? Ha!

    There was a man once who was the architect of the deaths of 2,403 Americans. There was neither conflict nor state of war between this man’s nation and the United States when this took place. He never let the Americans he killed see the attack coming. Almost half of them were killed before they could take even the first step toward avoiding death, leave alone defending themselves or fighting back. He went on to be responsible for the deaths of many more, but by that time an actual conflict was declared, and at least those targeted by his actions were able to fight back. Nice guy, eh? Hardly. I bet just by hearing that you think this guy was a bastard who deserved to be hunted down and killed for what he did.
    Well, you won’t be disappointed. The man I speak of was Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto of the Imperial Japanese Navy, developer, planner, and executor of the dastardly attack, without a declaration of war, on Pearl Harbor, the “date which will live in infamy.” For two more years he oversaw the prosecution of the Japanese Empire’s attempt to take over the whole Pacific and beyond. Then, in April of 1943, US naval intelligence intercepted a message that Yamamoto would be flying on an inspection tour from Rabaul to Balalae airfield in the Solomon Islands on April 18, departing at 8 and arriving at 10 local time.
    To attempt a targeted elimination was risky. It risked planes and pilots, it risked compromising the fact that the Japanese codes had been broken, maybe it even risked the progress of the war. Nonetheless, at 7:35 a.m. local time, 18 P-38s of the USAAF’s 339th Fighter Squadron took off from Guadalcanal. Their assignment was called Operation Vengeance, and their mission was to kill Yamamoto.
    I won’t take up a whole lot more space and time with a blow by blow account of the mission. Suffice it to say the US fighters made the planned intercept. Although they did lose one pilot and had a few planes damaged, they shot down Admiral Yamamoto’s plane and killed him. He was mortally wounded by American machine gun fire before his plane hit the ground. The Japanese lost their best naval strategist and commander and the dead of Pearl Harbor were avenged.
    You didn’t hear anyone say that this was a murder. You didn’t hear anyone say we shouldn’t have done this, because it might made the Japanese angrier. You didn’t hear anyone say that Congress should have been informed before the 339th went ahead with the mission. You didn’t hear anyone say Yamamoto didn’t deserve what happened to him. You sure as hell didn’t hear anyone apologize to the Japanese Empire or say that FDR’s administration was a terrorist regime, so please don’t target us ordinary Americans.
    Fast-forward to the present. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been in an undeclared cold war with the US, which their now-dead supreme leader Khomeini used to refer to as “the Great Satan” since he came to power in 1978. Iran, both itself and through proxies, is the greatest sponsor of state terrorism in this world and has been since the fall of the Soviet Union (which found terrorism a useful weapon against the West) in 1991, just shy of three decades ago. Major General Qasem Soleimani oversaw those efforts for 23 years.
    It is estimated that his efforts resulted in the deaths of 608 American personnel, military and diplomatic, and the wounding of thousands more, mostly by IED attacks they never were allowed to see coming. Not all at once, true, and not even very many at a time. However, not one of them was killed in Iran itself, and Iran never declared a state of war existed between it and the US. Almost all, if not all, were killed in Iraq, a nation that Iran has no special right to interfere in.
    His actions were neither secret nor untraceable. He did not move in and out of the shadows like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (killed by a USAF airstrike in 2006) , nor make himself nearly impossible to find, leave alone access, like Osama bin Laden (killed by SEAL Team 6 in 2011). He relied on the belief that the American upper echelon considered Iran too dangerous to risk a conflict with. Therefore, as a high Iranian official, he was untouchable. He could go on killing Americans and damaging their interests until he decided he’d had enough and was ready to retire to a secure villa on the Caspian shore.
    The previous US administrations gave him no reason to believe otherwise. Apparently Bush the younger ruled out targeting him on the grounds it would destabilize relations with Iran, but I will allow him that on the grounds that he was already trying to manage two conflicts and that a third one would be too much was a reasonable belief. Obama, on the other hand, not only chose not to go after him, but alerted Iran that Israel had plans to do so, forcing Israel (who has had its own problems with him) to scrub a planned operation. Hmmm, with friends like that, who needs enemies? But I digress.
    Donald Trump was of a different mindset, and decided that his latest operation that took American lives was one such operation too many. It was time to send a clear, unequivocal set of messages: first, that this behavior needed to stop, and second, that Iran was no longer untouchable. Its fomentation of terrorism would no longer be given a free pass, and America’s soldiers and diplomats would no longer be considered a flock of expendable sheep from which Iran would occasionally be thrown a few sacrificial lambs in the name of avoiding a bigger conflict.
    It came as a pretty big shock to Iran that their top officer was killed out of nowhere, with relative ease, and that the US didn’t even attempt to hide who did it. This did not compute. However, he was in a conflict zone, causing problems for the US, and overseeing operations that targeted its military personnel for ambush attacks. The US was well within its rights, and the president well within his powers, to order this destroyer of our soldiers and menace to those not destroyed eliminated himself. Like the Japanese, the Iranians now find themselves minus their top operational commander, and as with Yamamoto, many US soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines killed by dirty attacks are avenged.
    In return what do we hear? The mainstream American left at best can muster weak sauce to the effect of “not sorry he’s gone, but the president really should have talked to Congress first,” or “he was a bad guy, but the president may have just made things more dangerous by upping the ante.”
    Mmmhmm, the president should have told the very congressional leadership that’s trying to undo his election what he was going to do, just in time for them to leak it and scrub the mission. And please explain how it’s possible to up the ante with a nation that still calls us the Great Satan. The far lefties, like borderline traitor and borderline anti-Semite Ilhan Omar, say Trump is just trying to “wag the dog” and distract everyone with a war, when everyone should be trying to stop him, like she is. Then there’s the usual rhetoric from the professional peaceniks about how this risks creating a bigger conflict and risking lives and why can’t the president rely on diplomacy to get things done like a civilized guy. The icing on the cake is crazy stuff like Rose McGowan, saying that the US just disrespected Iran and Trump is the terrorist, so please don’t kill us nice ordinary folks who didn’t vote for him.
    I just don’t get it. Few said anything about the targeting of bin Laden, except maybe not to celebrate his death (or anyone’s) like the relief of Mafeking (lifting of a siege in the Boer War which resulted in riotous celebrations up and down the UK). No one said a word when Zarqawi’s internal organs were liquefied and he was no longer a danger. I can’t even possibly conceive of anyone at the time of WW2 seriously saying that the targeting of Yamamoto was wrong. I honestly don’t believe those bleating now think much more than “how can we deny a victory to the president or turn this into something bad for him?” Ironically, the same leftists said that trying to make the last president look bad or hoping he failed was treason. What does that make them now?
    I have some respect for principled peaceful people. I have a limited respect for those who believe the taking of life is always wrong, but do not follow their thoughts beyond that. I have none for those so blinded with hatred for one leader, which they really can’t even explain, that they turn against their own nation and their own military.

    • This is why teaching significant speeches in schools is necessary.

      From FDR’s 12/08/1941 speech:

      ” I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.”

      We continue to forget…each time.

    • Nice going, Steve-O, especially the analogy with Yamamoto. Thanks.

      Recommending: Another compelling read that unravels the complexities of Pearl Harbor, fore and aft, is Scott Rank’s “Ultimate Guide to the Attack.”

  2. 4. The appropriate response in the Great Midwest would be for the woman to never, ever speak a word to the “friend” who stole the balance on the gift card. No confrontation, no shaming. Just not a single word ever again. Next question.

  3. “Everyone should listen to this song every few months or so to remind them that we were pronounced doomed 55 years ago, yet here we are. The lack of historical perspective and general knowledge about the real world of geopolitics is driving so much of the over-heated laments we are hearing and reading”

    Someone should look at the similarities and differences between what happened 55 years ago and what’s happening today. I grew up in those turbulent years and I’m not so sure there are more than a few similarities. Our society has certainly changed a lot in those 55 years.

    P.S. Barry McGwire’s posture in that video was TERRIBLE! They should have sat him down on a tall stool.

  4. (3) In a similar ‘comic remark’, a NY man was acquitted for stating that he would scrape together $500 for anyone who would kill an ICE agent. He also asked others to donate money to the cause. This is protected speech. So, Lopez’s comments are nothing compared to that and are definitely protected free speech.

    Only vaguely related,

    As I was looking at all these anti-Trump conspiracies that have unfolded, it is evident that most of them couldn’t have happened if the federal employees had any type of conflict of interest rules and my brain combined the two topics. Federal judges do have conflict of interest policies, don’t they? Here is a very hypothetical question. Let’s say after another outrageous federal court ruling, someone tweeted that they would pay $50,000 to anyone who would kill a federal judge, could they even be tried in federal court? I mean, wouldn’t any judge have to recuse themselves? You can’t very well preside over the trial of someone who tried to pay for your assassination? If they were tried, would that count as ‘free speech’? If not, where is the line? Is it because the guy in NY only offered $500 or is it because guy in NY had previously called on people to murder John McCain and police officers?

  5. 6. It wasn’t quite that simple, was it? Didn’t Gaddafi get his revenge first by blowing up the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie?

  6. What about this?

    4. The woman who received the gift card (“Woman A”) should buy a gift card as a gift for the woman that stole hers (“Woman B”). I don’t suggest that form of confrontation under most circumstances, but these women are friends, and guilt can be a powerful tool when used judiciously. If “Woman B” admits her wrong and repents to “Woman A” – maybe even making restitution – it’s possible that a friendship is saved. If “Woman B” refuses to admit wrong, “Woman A” has her answer and “Woman B” probably wasn’t a real friend to begin with.

  7. Re: No. 5; the Biblically Biased Professor:

    So, this professors, Kathe Sandler (any relation to Adam?) dismisses the Bible as a proper reference text. I wonder what the assignment was. Oh. according to Campus Reform, the assignment was autobiographical paper in the student’s “Intro to Gender, Race, and Sexuality” class. I guess the professor really thought that the separation of church and state precluded references to any religious text. Odd. Dumb. Completely uniformed about the First Amendment, but hey. Professor Sandler (still any relation to Adam?) is not a Constitutional Scholar. No, her interests lie in Sexual violence, Critical disability studies, Sexuality, Trauma studies, according to her Rutgers bio. That explains it. As we all know, the Bible is the preeminent cause of all thinks related to Sexual violence, Critical disability studies, Sexuality, Trauma studies, so why would you cite to that book for anything? I mean, the Torah explicitly endorses misogyny, right? And in the New Testament, St. Paul’s writings expressly state that wives must be subservient to their husbands, and forget about those same-sex and trans thingies.

    It turns out that the student actually used biblical references to reject a friend’s mother’s rejection of his friend’s gay identity. That is a tortured sentence but you get the picture. The student received a B+ for a grade and reached out to the professor, who then issued her edict that he “[a]void quoting scripture in academic papers unless you are commenting on scripture[,]” The Campus Reform article states, “In his conversation with his professor, Cordi explained why he believed that his use of the Bible was entirely appropriate and necessary since he would not expect his readers to simply take his word on how Jesus would not be supportive of the hateful mother in his story. He believed that using a direct line from the Bible would make an objective point about the tenets of Christianity.

    However, Sandler insisted it was not necessary, asking ‘do you need the scriptures? Do you really need the scripture?’

    ‘I think you could work without the scripture, but that’s my personal opinion’ she argued.”

    It seems to me that the professor is either not very well informed or downright biased. It could be that Professor Sandler (Adam? Adam?) suffered from a migraine and simply didn’t want St. Luke discussed in her paper that day so she banged the paper with a B+. Maybe there have a series of incidents with the student underlying this issue. Perhaps our intrepid learner constantly talks about religion in the class, whether related to the points or not, and it drives the professor to distraction. (The Campus Reform article seems to point to “groupthink” that bothers our student.) Maybe this a molehill desiring to be a mountain. Or, perhaps the teacher simply hates the Bible as a reference for anything and is sick of Christians showing it down her throat.

    I wonder what Prof. Sandler (??) would have thought if another student quoted the Torah or the Koran, or the Bhagavad Gita. I suspect that would have been fine.

    • Agreed wholeheartedly as to the last sentence.

      Tangential point. I finished undergrad in 1973 at a school that despised grade inflation, I’m having a hard time thinking a student gets “dinged” with a B+. The really smart guys got As. Does everyone get As just for turning something in? Anything less than an A is unacceptable?

  8. Re: #2 Good for Herschel Walker. Anybody know how old he is now?

    Jack, I sent you a fairly important (for me) e-mail. Would you check SPAM for it?

      • Walker’s a class act, always has been, and it was the USFL that he signed with. He’s also (IMO) one of THE most gifted, from a pure athleticism perspective, that’s ever laced up cleats or pulled on spikes.

        He holds a 5th degree black belt in Tae-Kwon Do, a style not for the weak of mind or body, and was a world class bobsledder. He was definitely the most outstanding RB College Football’s ever seen,

        And he got royally screwed. In going up against the NFL, the USFL was trying to preemptively sign all the top guys that year (Class of 1982).

        Going from memory here, but Walker had one year of eligibility left, and all those execs got him into a room and were trying to get him to sign a contract with which he was uncomfortable.

        They claimed the contract had a “Cooling Off” provision which would give him the ability to back out if he changed his mind. What they neglected to disclose was that “Cooling Off” or not, the second he signed that contract, he would ineligible for amateur status going forward.

        Reckon he made the best of it; he really didn’t have any choice.

        Were I Donald Trump, I wouldn’t be bragging about my stint with the USFL.

  9. I guess having bombs dropped on your own home does sometimes make you consider your career choice as a terrorist. Anyway, Hillary’s and Obama’s choice to oust Gaddafi led to an American Ambassador being murdered in an inadequately protected Embassy despite some special forces help. I hope when Hillary finally passes she can explain to Gaddafi in hell why his being ousted was necessary.

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