Category Archives: War and the Military

From The “When Ethics Alarms Don’t Ring” Files: Newt Gingrich’s December 7th Tweet

gingrich-tweet

Some random thoughts on an incredible display of terrible taste, as I wrestle to keep my cranium from blowing…

1. Why in the world would Newt do this? How could he, or anyone, not understand that this would be hurtful to many, and appreciated by none? Has he decided to compete with Donald Trump for most Reckless Twitter-User? Is he trying to make Trump look responsible by comparison? Why, Newt? Why?

2. Perhaps this is the beginning of regular laudatory tweets from Newt in appreciation of other geniuses that did Americans harm.

March 6: “Today we celebrate Santa Anna’s brilliantly executed surprise dawn raid on the Alamo, and his efficient slaughter of more than 200 Texans in 1836”

April 14: “A date for all Americans to commemorate John Wilkes Booth’s superb planning and marksmanship, confounding President Lincoln’s security to shoot him in the head with flair in 1865!”

August 8: “Let us not fail to admire surgical precision with which the dedicated follower of Charles Manson carried out their slaughter of five people in 1968”

September 11…well, you get the idea.

3. What’s truly nauseating is that poor, insecure Newt is so desperate for affirmation that he will use, of all things, the tragedy of the attack on Pearl Harbor to make himself appear, (he thinks), worldly, cerebral and analytical. All he really accomplished is to reaffirm what most cognizant Americans have known for decades…

4. …that Newt is about as big a jerk as this society has ever produced.

 

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, History, Social Media, Unethical Tweet, War and the Military

Does The Pentagon Hiding Its Waste Of 125 Billion Dollars Qualify As An Obama Administration Scandal? Nah! Don’t You Know That The Obama Administration Is Scandal Free?

the_pentagon

Scandals? In the Obama Administration? Of course not! David Brooks said so, remember?

“President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him. He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free. And so there are people in Washington who do set a standard of integrity, who do seem to attract people of quality.”

The IRS targeting conservative groups to blunt their influence on an election? Not a scandal! HHS rolling out a non-functional website for Obamacare that cost 2 billion dollars? The Veterans Administration being mismanaged at epic proportions while veterans died waiting for care? Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter”? The Secret Service showing utter incompetence repeatedly? The head of the CIA giving classified information to his mistress? The NSA allowing a low-level contractor to steal and publish crucial secrets? The Office of Personnel Management allowing hundreds of thousands of government employees to have their sensitive information hacked? Unprecedented sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Services? Fast and Furious? Wait, wasn’t there a Secretary of State who violated her own department’s security policies, covered it up, lied about it, and did so with the knowledge of the President? The Attorney General meeting with the husband of a target of an FBI investigation, when that husband was the former President who once promoted that AG? No scandals?

Nah, President Barack Obama administration is scandal free!

I was watching CNN and Headline News this morning specifically to see if the Washington Post’s scoop last night was deemed worthy of mention. Of course, it wasn’t, and so far, almost all of the mainstream news media apparently believes that it’s less important for Americans to know about than, well, just about everything. Here what Google’s software ways are the top stories based on what the web is reporting:

Donald Trump
Oakland
Manchester United F.C.
College football
Westworld
Seattle Seahawks
Manuel Valls
OPEC
New York Jets
Pat McCrory

Clearly, what the  Post’s Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward  reported last night is trivia—fake news, really, since we know there are no scandals in the Obama Administration: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, War and the Military

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

portrait-of-adele-bloch-bauer-i-by-gustav-klimt

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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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, War and the Military

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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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture, Professions, U.S. Society, War and the Military

KABOOM! Gary Johnson Argues That His Ignorance Is A Virtue

Bite your tongue, Gary!

Bite your tongue, Gary!

I’m not going to include the traditional KABOOM! graphic of a head exploding, since the explosion that has evidently occurred inside Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s head is the issue here. Normally I wouldn’t care about a third party candidate and few others would either, but many voters who recognize how certifiably disgraceful the choices presented to us by the two major parties. They are desperately looking for an alternative. How nice, and timely, and opportune it would have been if the Libertarian Party had come through in the clutch and  nominated someone who presented themselves as competent, honest, and trustworthy! Unfortunately, it nominated Gary Johnson.

Asked on MSNBC to explain his twin failures to show that he ever reads the World News section (showing complete unfamiliarity with the epicenter of the Syrian disaster in one interview and not being able to name a single world leader  in another—he has yet to offer any explanation for his bizarre tongue episode), Johnson took another leap into weirdness. Instead of offering one of the excuses his supporters defended him with on Ethics Alarms and elsewhere (“It was a simple lapse;” “it wasn’t significant;” Trump and Hillary are so bad that he’d be a better choice if he couldn’t remember his own name…), Johnson came up with the head-exploding argument that it’s good for him to be ignorant. He really did., espousing this original theory to Andrea Mitchell

“The fact that somebody can dot the i’s and cross the t’s on a foreign leader or a geographic location then allows them to put our military in harm’s way,”

Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, History, Kaboom!, War and the Military

A Thoughtful, Rational Entry In The “Give Me An Ethical Reason To Vote For Donald Trump” Contest

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

Would Bobby Kennedy have been a Trump supporter?

As regular readers here know, I have been on a fruitless quest to find a single articulate, informed, unemotional and substantive argument for Donald Trump’s Presidency. Not only have no such arguments surfaced, nothing has come even close. This entry is different. It does not blather on about “elites,” or “tearing it down,” or use rationalizations like “we’re all doomed anyway.” It does not default to reasons why Hillary Clinton is worse, an increasingly plausible theory, but still not a case for Trump. The argument that Trump is a better risk than Hillary because she would get away with her excesses while a biased news media will keep Trump under the scrutiny that they should subject every President  to but reserve only for Republicans  is too pretzelian to be taken seriously, but otherwise intelligent analysts keep proposing it. They are that desperate.

The article by former Robert Kennedy speechwriter Adam Walinsky is different in kind, and deserves attention. His perspective is interesting, and his gauzy perspective on Jack and Bobby is what I would expect from an ancient True Believer. Call me cynical, but those who extol the commitment to peace of a President who set the fuse for the Vietnam War and whose projction of weakness to the Soviet Union nearly sparked a nuclear war are not credible nor respectable advocates. Still, his argument is novel and his position is sincere, with many valid observations leading to what I judge as an absurd and reckless conclusion.

It is worth reading, though: I Was RFK’s Speechwriter. Now I’m Voting for Trump. Here’s Why….The Democratic Party has become something both JFK and RFK would deplore—the party of war.

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, War and the Military

Thanks For The Memories, Greta Friedman: This Encore’s For You!

kiss

I was puzzled about why an old 2012 Ethics Alarms post was suddenly getting heavy traffic today, and until I read that GretaFriedman had died. She was the nurse famously kissed by a never-identified celebrating sailor on V-J Day, frozen in history forever thanks to a now iconic  Life magazine photograph.  I had written about Greta, that moment, and the determination of a lot of tunnel-visioned feminists and sexual-terrorists to turn what was a beautiful thing into something ugly and sinister in the distorted world they see through their shit-tinted glasses. The post was called The Times Square Kiss, and Feminist Blogs’ Fanatic Crime Against Joy.

I’m always a bit nervous when I go back and read old posts I’ve forgotten about; I’m afraid I won’t agree with them, but thankfully, I usually do. I do in this case. In fact, I really like the post, and am proud of it. On the theory that most current Ethics Alarms readers haven’t seen it before, I’m reposting today, in honor of Greta.

The Times Square Kiss,

and

Feminist Blogs’ Fanatic Crime Against Joy

The blog posts at issue make me angry. Usually it is silly to be angry about mere opinions, I know. However, the opinion registered by “Lori” on the blog Feministing, taking her cue from another feminist blogger, is a symptom, a symptom of the scourge of pernicious, political-correctness zealots, who refuse to recognize the important distinctions between malice and human beings being human, and seek to wipe out that distinction by distortion, sophistry, historical revisionism and bullying. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society, War and the Military