Category Archives: History

Comment Of The Day: “Christmas Music Blues”

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In addition to honoring his Comment of the Day, I also have to thank texagg04 for his timely comment to last year’s lament here, “Christmas Blues,” about the state of Christmas music as presented by the media. Christmas and holiday music is a useful, if depressing, window into the state of U.S. culture, and if he hasn’t written this commentary, I would have had to. Unfortunately, the tex’s list is res ipsa loquitur, and what it speaks of isn’t good. Christmas, the most ethical of holidays, has been substantially stripped of its ethical foundations by pop culture.

Here is texaggo4’s Comment of the Day on the post “Christmas Music Blues.” For added perspective, you may also want to revue last year’s post, On the Importance Of Christmas To The Culture And Our Nation : An Ethics Alarms Guide.

As of noon today (Monday, 28 Nov), I ran a quick survey of songs played on our local “Christmas” station since the start of last Monday.

95 songs played (though 161 if you separate them by Artist and Version of the song) for a total of 1,893 times.

Here’s the list and how many times they were played (Down on the list are some weird outliers involving the Magnum P.I. and Miami Vice soundtrack. I have no clue how those landed on the station’s playlist archive…but they were there, so I’ve included them): Continue reading

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Texas Republican Elector Art Sisneros

art-sisneros

….As an Elector, I came to conclusion I have three options under our current system. I can 1) vote for the nominee of their party under which I was elected, 2) vote for someone else and be considered a faithless elector (a term I despise), or 3) I could resign my position if the candidate turns out to be someone I can not, in good conscience, vote for. I believe under the right circumstances every option is not only valid, but can be ethically the righteous thing for a Christian to do. The question that everyone wants answered is, what will I, an Elector who is under the conviction that our nominee is not a biblically qualified candidate, do? After wavering back and forth, my conscience is finally at peace with the decision I’ve made….If Trump is not qualified and my role, both morally and historically, as an elected official is to vote my conscience, then I can not and will not vote for Donald Trump for President. I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God. The reality is Trump will be our President, no matter what my decision is. Many are furious that I am willing to have this discussion publicly. Personally, I wish more civil officers would be honest about their convictions. Assuming a Trump Presidency is their ultimate goal, they will get that. The problem is, that isn’t what they want. They want a democracy. They will threaten to kill anyone who challenges their power to vote for Skittles for dinner. That is evidence alone to prove that our republic is lost. The shell may remain, but in the hearts of the people and functionality of the system our republic is gone.

…I believe to resign is to honor the intent of the pledge as it relates to the people of my district. Since I can’t in good conscience vote for Donald Trump, and yet have sinfully made a pledge that I would, the best option I see at this time is to resign my position as an Elector. This will allow the remaining body of Electors to fill my vacancy when they convene on Dec 19 with someone that can vote for Trump. The people will get their vote. They will get their Skittles for dinner. I will sleep well at night knowing I neither gave in to their demands nor caved to my convictions. I will also mourn the loss of our republic.

This excerpt doesn’t do the tortured elector justice, as he expounds on his torment in detail in this remarkable blog post.

Observations:

1. His ultimate decision was the ethically correct one, the “book answer”: Resign, and let someone who can and will do what the voters expect take his place. He reached it using some unethical and crooked paths, though.

2. His post is a rationalization-fest with muddled thinking and dubious history thrown in. Sisneros inadvertently makes an ironclad case for why we don’t want electors like him to have the power to veto the electorate. This guy is too confused and emotional, not to mention biased and theocratic, to be trusted for such a job. Who knows? The other electors may be even worse. Continue reading

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Ethics Quiz Follow-Up: Signature Significance And Kind Words For Castro

Look at the good side!

Look at the good side!

Democrats and progressives have been “otherizing” the President Elect by incessantly referring to the fear he inspires in so many, including young children. This, as I hope to explore in another post, is part of a wide ranging  and dangerous de-legitimizing strategy, as wrong as calling Barack Obama by his middle name, or claiming that he isn’t a citizen. In the weekend’s Ethics Quiz, I answered answer to the question of whether Trump’s unequivocal condemnation of Fidel Castro in response to his death was ethical in the affirmative, and I concludeed with this:

Rather than using the occasion to find another excuse to attack Trump, Democrats should think about why it is that so many Castro admirers are in their ranks.

Now let me be more pointed: everyone surveying that national political scene should be concerned and alarmed that so many Castro admirers and apologists are in the ranks or progressives and Democrats….especially progressive and Democrats.  It is signature significance. No one who is committed to liberty, the Constitution, the democratic process and basic principles of autonomy, respect, fairness and free speech can seriously praise Castro.  The ominous turn of the increasingly radicalized Left in the United States to an “ends justify the means,” totalitarian methodology-endorsing philosophy is something to watch carefully.  You want genuine fear? I am genuinely frightened of liberals who say that Castro “did some good things” on the way to shrugging off how he did those things, and how many lives it cost.

A good friend of mine and a nice, smart, man who is also an extreme liberal wrote on his Facebook page,

RIP, Fidel. A huge figure of the 20th century, one with faults and virtues. Believed his island belonged to all its people and not just the rich. A better man than the one who was just elected…

Res ipsa loquitur. Continue reading

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More Ethics Movies For The Holidays: “Woman In Gold”

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The movie critics site “Rotten Tomatoes”calls “Woman in Gold” dull, which tells you pretty much all you need to know about “Rotten Tomatoes.” No, there are no explosions, no sex scenes, no CGI, just a well-acted, powerful story of how justice can take a long time to prevail, but given enough dedication, integrity and luck, it still does prevail with sufficient frequency to stave off despair.

“Woman in Gold” is a 2015 film starring Ryan Reynolds and Helen Mirren. It is a virtual docudrama telling the true story (mostly accurately) of Maria Altmann (Mirren), a plucky Jewish refugee in Los Angeles, who, assisted by her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, battled the government of Austria  to obtain the return of Gustav Klimt’s renowned portrait of her aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. That painting, along with more by Klimt and  other painters as well, were among the art treasures stolen by the Nazis  prior to World War II. The legal battle ended up before the Supreme Court of the United States, and the conflict was finally settled by a shocking decision by an Austrian panel of mediators. You can read about the real case here.

It may be dull to dull minds, as Red Smith famously said about baseball, but I have seen the film twice now, and it moved me to tears both times. “Woman in Gold” shows once more, as I fervently believe, that right can and often does triumph over bureaucracies, greed, power and stupidity, and that lawyers, maligned as they are, are often essential to that process. Schoenberg shows us the epitome of a zealous and courageous lawyer, making personal and professional sacrifices for a cause he comes to believe is important both to his client and to humanity. Continue reading

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Holiday Ethics Assigment: Quick! Watch These 25 Great Old Ethics Movies Again Before You Go Bonkers Too!

movie-theater

I am compiling a new list of great ethics movies to help those troubled by the recently completed Presidential campaign, the election and its aftermath. I haven’t decided whether to reveal it piecemeal, or collectively as I have before, but I do need to begin by presenting the previous list of 25, actually the combination of several previous posts. Ethics films I have covered individually since those lists debuted, like Spotlight and Bridge of Spies, will eventually be added.

For now, here’s the top 25. Don’t pay attention to the order.

1Spartacus (196o)

The raw history is inspiring enough: an escaped gladiator led an army of slaves to multiple victories over the Roman legions in one of the greatest underdog triumphs ever recorded. Stanley Kubrick’s sword-and-sandal classic has many inspiring sequences, none more so than the moment when Spartacus’s defeated army chooses death rather than to allow him to identify himself to their Roman captors (“I am Spartacus!”)

Ethical issues highlighted: Liberty, slavery, sacrifice, trust, politics, courage, determination, the duty to resist abusive power, revolution, love, loyalty.

Favorite quote: “When a free man dies, he loses the pleasure of life. A slave loses his pain. Death is the only freedom a slave knows. That’s why he’s not afraid of it. That’s why we’ll win.” [Spartacus (Kirk Douglas)]

2.  Hoosiers (1986)

“Hoosiers” is loosely based on true story, but its strength is the way it combines classic sports movie clichés—the win-at-all-costs coach down on his luck, the remote superstar, over-achieving team—into a powerful lesson: it isn’t the final victory that matters most, but the journey to achieving it.

Ethical issues highlighted: Forgiveness, generosity, leadership, kindness, courage, loyalty, diligence, redemption.

Favorite quote: “If you put your effort and concentration into playing to your potential, to be the best that you can be, I don’t care what the scoreboard says at the end of the game, in my book we’re gonna be winners.” [ Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman)]

3. Babe (1995)

A wonderful movie about the virtues of being nice, the greatest civility film of all time. Second place: “Harvey.”

Ethical issues highlighted: Civility, kindness, reciprocity, loyalty, courage, love, friendship, bigotry, bias.

Favorite quote: “Fly decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that sheep were stupid, and there was nothing that could convince her otherwise…The sheep decided to speak very slowly, for it was a cold fact of nature that wolves were ignorant, and there was nothing that could convince them otherwise”  The Narrator (Roscoe Lee Browne) Continue reading

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Well, These Episodes WOULD Have Helped Elect Donald Trump, If He Hadn’t Been Elected Already…

kkk-art

I can’t bring myself to be thankful for the election of a President who has horrified and revolted me for the better part of a decade, but I am thankful that some troubling trends and attitudes in our society and culture have received the metaphorical slap in the face that Trump’s victory delivered. The Ethics Alarms tag “This will help elect Donald Trump” is about to be retired, but when mourning progressives ask you today, while passing the gravy, “Why? Why?”, you should direct them to this link, and this post.  If they don’t help, they are are beyond helping.

Three awful stories surfaced after the election, two of them yesterday, that illustrate the kinds of social dysfunction that have been nurtured in the Obama years, and if a Trump administration can erase them and their ilk, returning some sanity to the national landscape, no one will be able to say the Trump experiment was a total bust…

1. First, and most unforgivable, we have this recent quote from Bernie Sanders’ former spokeswoman, Symone Sanders (no relation). Appearing on CNN yesterday and talking about the future of the shell-shocked Democratic Party, she said in part…

“In my opinion we don’t need white people leading the Democratic party right now.”

On April 6, 1987, Dodger executive Al Campanis appeared on  the ABC News show “Nightline,” and infamously said that black people couldn’t be major league baseball managers. The statement caused an uproar, and Campanis, whom nobody who knew him regarded as a racist, lost his job and career. Symone Sanders’ comment, which like that of Campanis equates the ability to do a job with race, is no less offensive than what Campanis said, but similar sentiments are broadcast frequently from black public figures without widespread obfection or consequence. ( Sanders also said sarcastically this month, after the election, when shown a video of a mob beating up a Trump supporter, “Oh my goodness, poor white people!”)

Acceptable anti-white racism and a bigotry double standard both defy American values, including basic decency, respect and fairness, but there are seldom consequences for shameless bigots like Sanders, except the cumulative one of having the people she and others denigrate for their color and ancestry sticking the human thumb named Donald Trump in their eyes.

It is no more racially biased for white Americans to take offense at the broad negative stereotyping endorsed by Sanders than for black Americans to oppose white supremacists…or clueless passive bigots like Al Campanis. Their anger at being told their skin disqualifies them for any job is justified, and the fact that news media talking heads nod respectfully at racist bile like the comments of Symone Sanders is further justification. (  Ted Koppel’s reaction to Campanis’s jaw-dropping statement 30 years ago can be fairly summarized as, “Wait…what? ) Not happily voting for a political party that embraces individuals who want to marginalize you because of race or gender isn’t bigotry, as the current Bitter Hillary Fan narrative now styles it. It is common sense.

Promoting racial division and bias is unhealthy and un-American no matter what direction it comes from. Until everyone can be certain that the Democratic Party is on board with that concept, and until proud and arrogant racists like Symone Sanders are shown the same level of tolerance Al Campanis received—that is, none—distrust of  progressives and the news media will grow, and should. Continue reading

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A New Poll Shows That President Elect Trump’s Popularity Is “Soaring”…GOOD!

Yes, it's that cognitive dissonance scale again! See, if the nation and the U.S. Presidency is +10, and a newly elected POTUS was -3 before being elected, what happens?

Yes, it’s that cognitive dissonance scale again! See, if the nation and the U.S. Presidency is +10, and a newly elected POTUS was -3 before being elected, what happens?

Ann Althouse, who blogged about the poll, seemed surprised. “Why do you think this happened?” asks the astute, well-educated, presumably historically informed law professor.

Why? Because that’s the way it’s supposed to work, and that’s the way it has always worked, that’s why. I explained this phenomenon here, to the jeers of skeptics. I also wrote, “Most people don’t understand the Presidency or their own culture,” though I’m a bit surprised that it applies to Ann. In the original post about the vicious attempts on the Left to undermine the new President before he has even taken office, I explained,

“Americans have always realized that the slate is cleared when someone becomes President, and that the individual inherits the office and the legitimacy of that office as it has been built and maintained by it previous occupants. He (no “he or she” yet, sorry: not my fault) becomes the symbol of the nation, the government and its people, a unique amalgam of prime minister, king and flag in human and civilian form. That immediate good will, respect for the Presidency, and forgiveness of all that went before has made the transfer of power in the US the marvel of the world, and has kept the nation from violence and division. It is part of our strength as a society. It is part of the election process, and a vital one.”

Let me quote the Gallup piece I cited before, backing this up:

“In general, the American public rates all new presidents positively — all have received majority approval in their debut ratings — though Obama is clearly near the top of the list. The three presidents who took office after the death or resignation of their predecessors tended to start out with even greater public support, as the nation rallied around the new chief executive in times of crisis. These include Harry Truman in 1945 with an 87% approval rating, Lyndon Johnson with 78% in 1963, and Gerald Ford with 71% in 1974.”

The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll of registered voters found that 46% of voters now have a very favorable or somewhat favorable opinion of the previously reviled Trump.  Now only 34%  have a very unfavorable opinion of him, with 12% somewhat unfavorable. Continue reading

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