Now THAT’S A Threat To Democracy!

“That” in this case, meaning the abysmal, irresponsible quality of individuals both parties present to the public for election to Congress, and the willingness of lazy, intellectually-stunted Americans to vote for them.

Let’s just look at two, a sitting member of the House and a candidate for the job, the former a Democrat, the latter a Republican.

First, the Congressman, Democrat Modaire Jones of New York (that’s him on the left, above). On the floor of the House yesterday, Jones stated that Officer Brian Sicknick was “bludgeoned to death” in the Capitol on January 6th, 2021. That’s an outright, calculated lie, and has been a lie ever since the news media belatedly corrected its false narrative and admitted that Sicknick died of a series of strokes the next day that no physician could tie to his experiences in the riot; the medical examiner ruled his a death of “natural causes.” True, President Biden continued to use the false narrative either because he’s dishonest or because he’s sliding into dementia, but Jones doesn’t have the latter excuse. He made a deliberately false statement to continue the absurd “the riot in the Capitol was the worst thing ever and proves we’re threatened by fascism” theme that Democrats hope will keep them from being wiped out in November. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC.) couldn’t let him get away with it, and corrected Jones on the spot. Continue reading

UPDATE! “Wait: Why Did It Take A Congressional Commission To Point Out That A KKK Plaque Wasn’t Appropriate At West Point?” Answer: Because It Was Completely Appropriate…

I don’t like to reflexively blame the news media and it biases for my blog’s misinformation and wrong turns, but in this case, it’s justified. In yesterday’s post “Wait: Why Did It Take A Congressional Commission To Point Out That A KKK Plaque Wasn’t Appropriate At West Point?”

I expressed amazement that a Congressional commission had to protest the presence of a bronze artwork apparently commemorating the Ku Klux Klan that had been hanging in a West Point building for decades. “Finding out that a Klan plaque was on display all this time at West Point is like discovering that St. Paul’s Cathedral had a statue of Satan hanging around for centuries without anyone objecting,” I wrote, endorsing the commission’s clear belief that the plaque should be taken down.

My source was the New York Times, which yesterday professed that the origins of the plaque were shrouded in mystery, and which also provided no context or explanation for why the Klan made it into halls of the academy at all. Nice reporting there, Times! Today, in the same article, this appeared:

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Wait: Why Did It Take A Congressional Commission To Point Out That A KKK Plaque Wasn’t Appropriate At West Point?

[NOTICE: This post was materially wrong, based as it was on bad and incomplete information. An UPDATE is here]

This does not give me great faith in the military’s powers of observation and urgency.

That bronze panel above is one of three mounted at the entrance of Bartlett Hall Science Center U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York. It’s unclear how long it has been there (I bet Woodrow Wilson had something to do with it, KKK fanboy that he was) but it wasn’t exactly hidden from view for the decades cadets passed under it. Yes somehow, it wasn’t until the report released by a congressional panel this week pointed out the damn thing that West Point was moved to do something.

The panel, called the Naming Commission, was created by Congress to provide recommendations for the removal or renaming of Defense Department places, decorations and things that commemorate the Confederacy, including those that appear at the military academies. The commission flagged the KKK plaque but said that recommending the its removal fell outside of its scope because the Ku Klux Klan, though founded by former Confederate soldiers, doesn’t technically relate to the Civil War, but rather to Southern resistance to post-war Reconstruction. That still doesn’t explain why the plaque was still up at West Point. One can argue about the effort to erase Confederacy figures from the nation’s honors and memorials (although the military has the strongest argument for doing so: the other two bronze plaques honor Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, who fought against the U.S. military), but the Klan is irredeemable, and has been an unambiguous symbol of hate, racism and evil at least since the 1950s. Finding out that a Klan plaque was on display all this time at West Point is like discovering that St. Paul’s Cathedral had a statue of Satan hanging around for centuries without anyone objecting.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2022: Twitter Wars And More

But first, a cheerful song, because it’s all downhill from here…

Speaking of music, some opening notes are in order:

  • Yesterday was the anniversary of the much-heralded Scopes “Monkey Trial,” a 1925 ethics train wreck that I wrote about extensively last year, here and here.
  • Today, July 11, marks two of the most vivid examples of how random chance changes everything—history, culture, values, traditions– in ways that cannot be imagined. The first was the foolish duel in 1804 between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr that resulted in Hamilton’s premature death (but ultimately in a boffo Broadway musical!). The second was Count Claus von Stauffenberg’s close-but-no-cigar assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler in 1944.
  • Nearer to the present, the apparent collapse of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter is disappointing, because it would make reporting on various Twitter-Twiggered ethics issues a lot easier if I could start an account again in good conscience, as I was prepared to do once the service got out from under the clutches of its current censorious and progressive-biased masters.
  • I also haven’t felt like participating in Facebook of late, as the Woke Hysteria among my once rational friends there over the recent SCOTUS decisions is too great a temptation–as in “target”— for me. Right now they just want an echo chamber to scream in, and that’s what they have. Someone somewhere on the web opined yesterday that late night talk shows,  “Saturday Night Live” and its ilk were no longer primarily about comedy, but rather therapy sessions for angry and depressed progressives and Democrats, with the shows using mockery and insults to reaffirm their convictions about “the others”—those dumb, evil, racist conservatives. I think that may be a perceptive analysis. “Saturday Night Live” is a particularly vivid example: the show that once reveled in portraying Gerald Ford as a bumbling klutz and George W. Bush as an outright moron week after week while they were in the White House now hesitates to exploit the comedy gold represented by Biden’s misadventures and Kamala Harris in general. It proves that SNL is more interested in hanging out with the cool kids than actually being funny—which is supposedly its mission. This is a conflict of interest, and the producer and writers aren’t even attempting to resolve it ethically.

1. Twitter Wars #1: @Ka1zoku_Qu0d, an idiot of the sort that literally clogs Twitter, posted this: “Hold on I want to make sure I say this carefully. Yeah Anne Frank had white privilege. Bad things happen to people with white privilege also but don’t tell the whites that.” This caused so much static on the platform that “Anne Frank” ended up “trending.” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Kim Phuc Phan Thi

“I thought to myself, “I am a little girl. I am naked. Why did he take that picture? Why didn’t my parents protect me? Why did he print that photo? Why was I the only kid naked while my brothers and cousins in the photo had their clothes on?” I felt ugly and ashamed.”

I always  uncomfortable with that photograph from the moment I saw it, and thought it was cruel and unethical. Would the AP have published a similar photograph of a white American girl? I don’t know, but I don’t trust the Associated Press (or any press, at this point). It won Ut a Pulitzer Prize and helped energize the anti-Vietnam war effort in the U.S., but the photo (shown in the underlined link above) fails two basic ethics systems: Reciprocity, as in the Golden Rule, and Kant’s Categorical Imperative, which forbids using another human being as a means to an end. Can it be justified under Utilitarian principles, as a balancing of outcomes? Was the benefit of publishing the photo sufficient to make it ethical conduct, despite the harm it would do to an innocent child?

 Not on my scorecard.

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From The Res Ipsa Loquitur Files: Social Media Integrity In A Nutshell

From the Facebook community standards: “We remove content that glorifies violence or celebrates the suffering or humiliation of others…”

Required addition: “…except when its violence we approve of or that sufficient number of our users will cheer.”

As I noted in the previous post: the Big Tech leaders are untrustworthy people. The fact that they wield so much power and influence over American beliefs and attitudes is terrifying.

More Weird Tales Of The Great Stupid: Anti-Russian Bigotry Mania

I thought the virtue-signaling, mindless attack on all things Russian crossed the line into bigotry and persecution when an eminent Russian-born conductor lost his job with two German orchestras because he refused to publicly condemn Vladimir Putin. (I wouldn’t publicly condemn Satan if an employer ordered me to. That would be submitting to an abuse of power.) Then the Met fired a principal soprano for the same reason, and things really got weird.

Bars and restaurants started banning vodka. Russian cat breeds were banned from cat shows. A popular french fries with cheese curds and gravy dish was taken off menus in France and Canada because the name for it sounded like “Putin.” Today, the Cardiff Philharmonic Orchestra has removed Tchaikovsky from its  upcoming concert because, the announcement said, playing compositions by the Russian composer, who died in 1893 is considered by the orchestra ‘to be inappropriate at this time.’ Continue reading

A Jumbo For The United Nations!

“War? What war?”

The United Nations’ Department of Global Communications sent an email instructing its staff  not to the war currently raging in Ukraine as the result of Putin’s illegal and murderous armed invasion as either a war or an invasion.

Instead, they were told to use the descriptions “big misunderstanding” or “rod trip gone horribly wrong.” Okay, that’s not true. But the first part is.

Like Jimmy Durante in the Broadway musical “Jumbo,” whose answer to a sheriff confronting him trying to sneak out of a circus with biggest elephant in the world on the end of his rope with the question, “Where do you think you’re going with that elephant?” and replied, “Elephant? What elephant?,” the United Nations has scaled the heights of audacious dishonesty. Jimmy’s line, however, was a joke. The U.N.’s version is a self-indictment. Continue reading

Serious Question: What Kind Of Person Would Want Someone To Be U.S. President Who Would Consider Something Like This…

…never mind say it out loud?

During a speech to donors in New Orleans, Louisiana a few days ago, Donald Trump actually, really, honest-to-goodness said that maybe the U.S. could trick Moscow and Beijing into fighting each other by disguising its F-22 fighter jets with Chinese flags “and bomb the shit out” out of Russia! “And then we say, China did it, we didn’t do, China did it, and then they start fighting with each other and we sit back and watch.”

Oooh, good plan!

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Comment Of The Day: The Alamo, March 4, 1836

I hope a lot of you are enjoying Michael West‘s generous labor of love during the countdown to the Alamo’s fall. It is, as I’ve said here often, one of the most vivid and fascinating of all ethics chapters in U.S. history, and the fact that it is neglected in popular culture and public education to the degree it is disgraceful, like much of this nation’s negligent and cavalier attitude toward history.

I want to apologize to readers and especially Michael for a mistake I have made. One of my sources, echoing others, printed the Mexican dictator’s name as “Santa Ana,” with one “n.” Convinced that I had been perpetrating an error, i began lnocking off the second “n” in Michael’s posts and my own, though I always had assumed that “Anna” was correct.

Well, it was and is correct. His full name is Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón. Now I have to go back and correct the correction.

Here is Michael’s focus on Day 11 of the siege, March 4, 1836.

***

It was cold that evening that the Mexican Artillerymen of the 1st Brigade under command of General Gaona settled down into their camp somewhere south of modern day Yancey, Texas. They had been on a forced march since late January. The moon was full that evening, perfect for night operations – and despite the Texans being bottled up about 45 miles away, Native American raiders were still a possible threat. Reports had been received that straggling soldiers had been ambushed. Continue reading