To The Un-American Secessionists

Led by Texans, the White House is being deluged with petitions from all around the nation asking that various states be allowed to secede from the U.S. because the prospect of another four years of President Obama is so heinous. My immediate reaction is that this proves that conservatives are lazier than progressives, whose solution to a similar disappointment with parties reversed in 2004 was to pack up and move to Canada, or at least to make noises about it.  Conservatives apparently want to stay at home and leave the U.S.too. How convenient.

In 2004, when liberals and Democrats were acting like spoiled brats, I posted the following essay entitled “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy.” I think it is instructive to re-publish this post unedited to clarify what is wrong with the conservative tantrum of 2012. Oh, I could have changed “left” to “right,” Canada to Texas and Bush to Obama and Alec Baldwin to Ted Nugent, but it hardly seemed necessary, for my diagnosis and conclusions are exactly the same, just with a different group. It also seems prudent to leave the essay in its original form to remind smug liberals like Jon Stewart, now having a ball mocking Republicans, that Democrats disgraced themselves in a similar manner not that long ago. Being a hysteric, an alarmist, a bad citizen and a poor loser isn’t confined to members of one partisan group—it just seems that way at the moment. Now the conservatives are the silly people who are rejecting the principles of self-government that they were fervently  lecturing us about, because, you see, those principles didn’t work out their way…this time.

Here is “Escape to Canada and the Ethics of Democracy,” from The Ethics Scoreboard on November 17, 2004: Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Non-Voting Americans

“Eh, what’s was the big deal?”

Amazingly, after all the ink spilled and  broadcast blather about how vital this election is to the future of the nation, it now appears that fewer eligible Americans cared enough to haul their butts to the polls than four years ago. Did anyone predict this? I sure didn’t. With an unusually stark choice and the intensifying of social media, I assumed that intensity levels would be higher, or certainly as high, as 2008.  The conservatives and Republicans in particular, who had all their heralds proclaiming death and destruction, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together—I’m either quoting “Ghostbusters” now or Mark Levin—and uber-blogger Glenn Reynolds warning of the “broken glass factor,” with anti-Obama patriots so energized that they would be “crawling over broken glass” to reach the polls, flopped like a dead fish in Sonny Corleone’s lap. All the pundits are wondering how it is that a liberal President with low approval ratings and high unemployment could win the election in a nation that is supposedly “center right”?  What’s the mystery? Less than 60% of that public cared enough to participate in their own government! Who knows or cares what they believe or think–they can’t be bothered to do anything. If conservatives are horrified and angry, let them be horrified and angry at those who may have agreed with them but who abdicated their duty as Americans because they were too lazy to follow the issues, too illiterate to understand the positions, too complacent to work for change, too irresponsible to share the burden of self-government. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: Donald Trump

“We can’t let this happen. We should march on Washington and stop this travesty. Our nation is totally divided!…Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us…This election is a total sham and a travesty. We are not a democracy!…Our country is now in serious and unprecedented trouble…like never before…Our nation is a once great nation divided!..The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

—-Republican Designated Buffoon Donald Trump via Twitter, in the wake of last night’s election results.

Stay classy, Donald.

I can’t stand another picture of Donald Trump, so here is a great photo of a mastiff with a friend. I love mastiffs.

While most Americans instinctively understand that the great strength of our democracy is that after the votes are counted, we stand behind our collective decisions and support our chosen leaders. Not Trump. He doesn’t comprehend that vile comments like these, published to the world, are not merely irresponsible but also unpatriotic.

There is an upside to Trump’s poor impulse control, however. The possibility that a Romney administration might have found any role for Trump at all should make everybody, even die-hard partisan Republicans and end-of-civilization Rush Limbaugh conservatives feel better about last night’s vote tally.


Pointer: Ron Sarro

Source: The Examiner


Chris Christie and the Curse of Consequentialism

It will be scant consolation to Chris Christie, who probably lost forever any chance of becoming President, but his bi-partisan actions in the wake of Superstorm Sandy provide a perfect example of how a completely ethical and responsible decision can have consequences that cause it to be judged unethical and irresponsible.

Even before Obama won Ohio’s electoral votes, guaranteeing his re-election, analysts were pointing to Christie’s much-photographed stroll with (and hugging of) the President, and the well-timed opportunity it provided to allow Obama to appear both Presidential and willing to co-operate with Republicans, as the tipping point in a close race, breaking Mitt Romney’s momentum and undercutting the argument that only he could “reach across the aisle.” I doubt that Chris and Barack’s New Jersey Adventure was in fact the primary reason Romney lost, but I have no doubt at all that conservatives will blame Christie, among others, for the loss. Continue reading

Why Nate Silver Is Wrong

Funny, Nate, I don’t see “leadership” anywhere in here…

I have wrestled with whether to write this post for about a month now. I am not in the election predicting business, which is a fool’s game, and this is tangential to ethics at best. On the other hand, leadership and American culture are among the subjects frequently explored here. Nate Silver’s analysis of the Presidential election on his New York Times blog has been at once fascinating and aggravating for me, though it has been a godsend to my nervous friends on the ideological left. Silver has insisted that his statistical analysis of the polls fortells an Obama victory with increasing certainty. Last I looked, his model was showing the election to be all but in the bag for the President, with, Silver calculates, an 86% chance that Romney goes down to defeat.

I don’t question Silver’s figures or formula. He’s a statistics whiz. His mistake is trying to use the tools he has used to great success on the poker table and in the world of sabermetrics to analyze the election of a President of the United States, without acknowledging or understanding the core of the process, or the culture and context in which it occurs. In many elections, most perhaps, his model would work perfectly. This time, it is going to fail. Silver won’t see his failure coming because as brilliant as he is in his chosen field, his demonstrated expertise is in economics and statistics. He really believes, apparently, that American history doesn’t matter, that what Americans think about when they choose a President is irrelevant, and that numbers purify the discussion and remove all the bias and static. He couldn’t be more wrong. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Unethical Quote of the Month, or Just A Joke?

“If you’re thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: black people know who you are and they will come after you.

—– HBO’s alleged comedian and one million dollar Obama contributor Bill Maher, on his current events commentary show, “Real Time.”


Oh, I know, I know: it’s a joke. Maher even followed it up by saying, “I’m kidding!”  Maybe you even think it’s funny…there are arguably funny racist, sexist and anti-gay jokes too. This one hits all the keys: suggesting that Romney is anti-black, attempting to intimidate voters, and stereotyping Africa-Americans as violent and dangerous. (And, of course, the comment is divisive, but on that score, Maher is only taking his cue from the Obama campaign, which has reminded everyone that Romney “isn’t one of us.”)

No conservative could make this “joke.” A races-reversed version of the joke would cause an eruption of anger from the Left. Since humor is utilitarian (if it’s funny enough, anything goes), is this joke sufficiently hilarious to justify it? Maher also thinks it’s a joke to call Republican women “twats” and “cunts.” He’s a funny guy.

Here is your Ethics Quiz:

Should Maher’s comment be excused as being within acceptable bounds for a political comic, or is it unethical nonetheless?


Pointer: Newsbusters

Graphic: Libertarian Punk

Ethics Hero: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie

WHAT? A Republican being cooperative and respectful toward the President? What’s the matter with him?”

In the wake of Superstorm Sandy,  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is being labelled a turn-coat by some fellow Republicans and conservative commentators for supposedly “sucking up” to President Obama.

“The president has been all over this and he deserves great credit,” the Governor said.  “He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done—as far as I’m concerned—a great job for New Jersey.” Christie not only praised the President’s responsiveness to the plight of his state, along with New York the hardest hit of Sandy’s victims, but also toured disaster sites with Obama, giving the President photo-ops that could bolster his re-election campaign in the crucial final days. Rush Limbaugh bitterly slammed Christie, somewhat cryptically calling him Obama’s “Greek column,” and other talk radio hosts and political pundits followed suit. Here’s the Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis: Continue reading

A Disappointing and Damaging Ethics Dunce: The Obama Campaign

No matter who wins the Presidency on November 6, one thing is for certain. We now can be sure that the day will come when a future Presidential campaign runs an ad that concludes, “Don’t vote for him: he’s an asshole!” For that, we will be able to place the blame on, of all people, Barack Obama, and his 2012 campaign. This is the same Barack Obama who promised, the first time he was running for President, to change the tone in Washington; the same President Obama who told a group in 2010…

“But there is a sense that something is different now, that something is broken, that those of us in Washington are not serving the people as well as we should,” Mr. Obama said. “At times, it seems like we are unable to listen to one another, to have at once a serious and civil debate. This erosion of civility in the public square sows division and cynicism among our citizens. It poisons the well of public opinion….Civility is not a sign of weakness.”

Yet his 2012 campaign’s embrace of gutter-level name calling and divisive rhetoric, with the full participation of both the President and the Vice-President, has guaranteed that the tone Obama promised to change will change for the worse, and that the well of public opinion will be more toxic than ever. Continue reading

The Benghazi Express: It’s Hard To Hide An Ethics Train Wreck

Did you hear the gross and inappropriate remark Joe Biden made to the father of one of the soldiers killed in the Benghazi attack? Of course not! Because it makes the Vice President appear to be a clueless and insensitive fool…we can’t have THAT…not before an election!

It’s pretty simple, really. The American people have a right to know what really happened in Benghazi, and as new questions keep arising, the appearance of a cover-up on the part of the Obama Administration keeps getting more difficult to deny.

  • On 9/11 of 2012, an armed attack on the American embassy in Libya left four dead, including the Ambassador. After the attack, the only official U.S. comment was on the website of the Cairo embassy, which had experienced a violent protest, disavowing an anti-Islam film trailer that had been posted on YouTube, essentially suggesting that the violence had been provoked by offensive American speech.
  • Many days afterward, that remained the official position of the Obama Administration, to such an extent that ten days after the raid the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. visited all the Sunday talk shows to describe the attack as spontaneous, not planned terrorist actions, and sparked by indignation over the video. President Obama went before the U.N., and again disavowed and blamed the video. Continue reading

Innocence Abuse, 2012

Stop it.

In the view of many (including me), the exact moment Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 Presidential election was when he used the closing minutes of the only Presidential debate to spin the tale, dubious at best, about his solemn conversation with his daughter Amy. Carter claimed that he asked her about her assessment of the most important issue facing the nation, and that  “the control of nuclear arms” was his thirteen-year-old advisor’s sage response. The story seemed insincere and manipulative, all the worse for Carter’s placing his answer in his daughter’s mouth for tactical purposes. Carter used Amy as a prop and a ventriloquist’s dummy. Even if the story was true, the tactic was offensive.

Here in Virginia, a closely contested “purple” state, the tactic of using children to carry political messages in full bloom. An ad for Republican Senate candidate George Allen, attacking opponent Tim Kaine and President Obama for their pro-abortion stance shows a series of cute “potential” children, facing the camera and telling us what they would have been in their lives—a mother, a fireman, a soldier (no homeless, serial killers or drug dealers, oddly enough)—if their existence hadn’t been snuffed out in the womb. Meanwhile, President Obama recently descended to the rock bottom level of the rest of his campaign by calling Mitt Romney “a bullshitter” by placing the epithet in the mouth on an anonymous 6-year-old girl.

With that kind of leadership model to follow, I suppose it shouldn’t be too shocking that far worse was on the way. A pro-Obama group called “The Future Children Project” has released an ad that represents a new low in the use of children as programmed messengers. Created by advertising agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, the spot shows a chorus of dead-eyed, sad children, shot in black and white, singing from a dystopian future about what America became because it didn’t re-elect Barack Obama. The lyrics: Continue reading