Now THAT’S A Norm Presidents Shouldn’t Mess With…

Apparently President Trump lobbied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to bar two of the President’s least favorite members of Congress, Representatives Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota,  from entering Israel for official visits. Israel then reversed an earlier  decision to admit the two Muslim Democrats, both supporters of the international Israel boycott movement.

From the Times:

An Israeli official close to the prime minister’s office said on Thursday that a call came from the Trump administration as recently as this week pressing Mr. Netanyahu to bar the congresswomen. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss delicate information, said the prime minister found himself in a “lose lose” situation, having to choose between upsetting Mr. Trump or the Democrats.

Of interest but irrelevant to the ethics issue is this morning’s news that Tlaib is now being allowed to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds in order to visit her 90-year-old grandmother, provided the Congresswoman pledges  “not to  promote boycotts” while in the country. That’s nice. But it doesn’t change the analysis of what Trump did.

One of the “Big Lie” attacks (I haven’t yet added this one to the Ethics Alarms Big Lie Directory, but it will be #6) on President Trump, spurred by partisan academics and gullibly swallowed whole by history-challenged members of the public, has been that this President uniquely ignores or violates so-called “democratic norms,” meaning that he frequently takes actions that may be within his power, but that traditions, precedent and the practices of his predecessors have established as un-Presidential or even taboo. For the most part, this is contrived criticism representing a double standard and requiring historical amnesia. Presidents break norms, and the stronger ones break them frequently. Democrats attempting to equate  breaking precedents as the equivalent of “high crimes and misdemeanors” are showing their hand: this complaint is just one more unethical justification for a “resistance” coup.

The fact that there is nothing automatically wrong with breaking norms does not mean that all norms should be breached, or that breaching a particular norm is wise, responsible, or ethical. A President enlisting a foreign ally to take negative action against a member of Congress is one norm that shouldn’t be violated.

The action is unethical by any ethical standards. From a Golden Rule standpoint, no President would tolerate members of Congress lobbying foreign governments to take adverse action against him, though I have little doubt that this has been attempted by legislators in the past. Kant’s Rule of Universality would reject the practice as a new norm, and from a utilitarian standpoint, it’s hard to see how such conduct by a President would result on balance in more beneficial consequences than negative ones. Continue reading

Heroes, Villains And Fools In The Latest “Donald Trump Candidacy Ethics Train Wreck” Disaster

Circus Train wreck

In a single post I can’t possibly cover all of the heroes, villains and fools who have emerged in the aftermath of the explosion of Trump’s latest hand-grenade tossed into the Presidential campaign. I have to start somewhere, though.

At the outset, I want to officially designate Trump’s campaign as an ethics train wreck, neatly paired with the Hillary Clinton Campaign Ethics Train Wreck (more from that later.) Do you sense that the number of Ethics Train Wrecks are proliferating? You are correct, and it is both a direct result and an indirect result of the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck. When leadership is feckless, weak, dishonest, unethical and ineffective, a society’s ethical standards start to unravel.

Now on to the initial designations regarding Trump’s declaration that Muslims should be banned from entering the country.

Hero, Villain, AND Fool: Donald Trump. Trump is a hero in his own mind; in ethics terms, the status is accidental, an example of doing a good and courageous thing for all the wrong reasons. In his typical, bully-in-a china-shop  way, Trump has forced the national debate to focus on nasty realities rather than operate from President Obama’s fantasy world, where radical Islamic terrorists somehow are not Islamic, and Hillary Clinton’s delusion/lie that terrorism has “nothing to do with Muslims, whatsoever” even after two Muslims, because they were Muslims, killed 14 citizens in a terrorist attack. Muslims who have been radicalized or who have ties to terror groups are a real and existential problem that requires a coherent policy addressed at the problem. Chanted nostrums like “This isn’t who we are” don’t get the job done. A frank debate is mandatory, and sometimes only a boor, a maniac or a boob with less than acute intellectual skills will have the guts to force such a debate. Clarence Darrow regarded nut-case John Brown as such a hero, arguing that some problems require someone whose disregard for conventional societal standards to “cut the Gordian Knot.” By Darrow’s definition, then, Trump is a hero. Continue reading

Ethical Quote Of The Month: PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler


“One would have to lean way over backwards to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was simply shedding light on the administration’s view of portions of Netanyahu’s arguments. But to personalize it by saying, “Take that, Bibi” is, in my book, inexcusable for an experienced journalist who is the co-anchor of a nightly news program watched by millions of people over the course of any week.”

—PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, giving no quarter and making no rationalizations to slam PBS news host Gwen Ifill for her” “Take that, Bibi” taunt via Twitter.


Note that he also is saying that Ifill’s defense is a lie. As indeed it was. Later, as you can read, he makes it clear that he believes that Ifill is too experienced to make the mistake she claims she made. She made a different mistake: letting her bias rule her judgment and professionalism.

What do you know, a real, honest ombudsman who doesn’t view his job as spinning for his bosses!

I wonder why the New York Times can’t find one.

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: PBS’S Gwen Ifill

gwen ifill tweetThis was, of course, in reaction to yesterday’s developments that indicate sufficient Democratic support for President Obama’s Iran nuclear deal.

Ifill defends her tweet: of course she does. She has been a brazen cheerleader for the President since he was campaigning in 2008, and made it very clear that she sees nothing wrong with that, even when she was the moderator for the 2008 Vice-Presidential debate while her book about the inspiring achievement of Obama’s ascent to the Presidency—he hadn’t been elected yet, remember—was awaiting publication. PBS proved its bias (as if further proof were necessary) by shrugging off a blindingly clear conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety on her part then, and it will doubtlessly do so now. Ifill is defiantly pro-Obama. The tweet, however, is worse than that.

An American journalist taunting  the leader of an important American ally is unprofessional and, in this case especially despicable. Isreal’s legitimate concern about the Iran agreement is that under the best of circumstances, the scenario that the advocates for the deal admit, Iran will gain the resources to vastly enhance its support of terror in the Middle East, much of which will be focused on harming citizens of the nation that Iran has openly vowed to destroy. Take that, Bibi! Jews are going to die! Nyaa nyaa! Under the worst case scenario, the treaty makes it easier for Iran to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. How dare a nation’s leader express concern about his nation’s security and survival? Yeah, let’s make fun of him as the U.S. all but ensures a nuclear Iran 15 years from now.

Curt Schilling has been suspended by ESPN for making a legitimate historical observation that didn’t affect or relate to his job as a baseball analyst at all. Ifill’s tweet insults a world leader, displays gross partisanship, undermines PBS’s official pose as an objective news source and shows not merely terrible judgment, but the arrogance and shamelessness  that those who view themselves as immune from consequences eventually embrace.

My Answers To The “Ten Questions For Supporters Of “The Movement For Black Lives” And Anyone Else With The Guts To Consider Them”

Yes, it IS the same thing as "out of the circle": you know, Rude.

Yes, it IS the same thing as “out of the circle”: you know, Rude.

I allowed, for the most part, the debate following the post from last week, “Ten Questions For Supporters Of “The Movement For Black Lives” And Anyone Else With The Guts To Consider Them.” to continue largely unimpeded by interjections by me. I did this in part because of lack of time and energy–I am still wiped out by a bout with bronchitis—but eventually because I wanted to see where the discussion went without me. I saw. I read. I was depressed.

Here is how I would answer the ten questions. I will for the most part use Charlie Green’s responses as a foil, because he can take it.

To briefly review for those who did not see the initial post, the questions were sparked by an incident following the a three day conference held at Cleveland State University for the Movement for Black Lives.

On the final day, as supporters of Movement for Black Lives were leaving CSU, they saw Greater Cleveland RTA officers with a black teenage boy in handcuffs at a bus shelter. The rest is from, linked in the article:

The conference participants immediately assumed that the police – not the boy – had done something wrong and began rallying against the police, demanding to know why he was in handcuffs and that he be released. Nobody could have known what was going on. But that didn’t’ seem to matter. The crowd fed on itself.

The RTA later explained that its officers had removed the boy – who they suspect was intoxicated — without incident from a bus and sat him at shelter at Euclid Avenue and East 24th Street so they could get information from him and call his parents. The police officers said in a report that they found the teen on the bus passed out and drooling. He was cuffed as a matter of procedure. As the crowd swelled, the police placed the boy in a police car for his safety, the RTA said in a statement. Then, protesters — many of whom were filming the action on their cell phones – surrounded the RTA police car and prevented the police from moving the teen. (Normally, RTA officers take juveniles to police headquarters, where they are released to an adult.)

An RTA officer then did something stupid. He shot pepper spray at people blocking the patrol car — a move that incited the crowd and played perfectly into the conference narrative about police. Several people were hit and were seen washing out their eyes with water, according to video of the incident posted online….

When an ambulance arrived to check on the teen boy, the crowd moved to allow him to be examined. As police walked him to the ambulance, the crowd chanted “Take them off, take them off” in reference to the handcuffs. The teen was released to his mother, who arrived on scene, and the incident ended….

Brandon Blackwell, a crime reporter for the Northeast Ohio Media Group who frequently covers police and demonstrations, saw the pepper spray video and rushed to the scene. When he arrived, the police were gone but the crowds remained. Blackwell then did what he always does. He started recording with his cell phone and asking questions. On Sunday, he used Twitter’s Periscope app to broadcast the scene live. But the crowd turned on Blackwell as he filmed a large group gathered in a circle on a sidewalk outside of a CSU building. A man announced the circle was only for people of “African descent.”

Blackwell, who is white, was dressed in his daily uniform of jeans, a black T-shirt and Converse shoes. He stepped outside the circle and continued to record. Then, people began blocking his camera with shirts, theirs hands, signs and other objects, including an orange traffic cone….During one of the tense moments in the exchange, Blackwell demanded that those blocking his view not touch his camera.

“I got 800 black people behind me, what the fuck you going to do,” a man responded, getting in Blackwell’s face while continuing to block his camera.

Blackwell asked for someone to get the guy away from him, but more people came at Blackwell instead.

1. How was this rally ethically distinguishable from a white supremacy or a KKK rally?

To begin with, it was a spontaneous rally arising out of an organized gathering. The apparent purpose of the demonstration, a protest against alleged police mistreatment of black citizens, is ethically valid, unlike protesting the “mongrelization of the white race” or equal rights for African Americans. However the manner of the protest and its demonstrated values—animus to another race and presumed bad character and lack of trustworthiness of “the other,” in this case, those not of “African descent,” is similarly exclusive, unjust, divisive, unfair, irresponsible and prejudiced—racist.

The answer, therefore, is “Not enough.”

Charles answered, “The same way an anti-Jewish Nazi rally is ethically distinguishable from a Jewish anti-Nazi rally. Does this really require explanation given history?” It’s a flip answer, but it is also dead wrong, and more than a little bit of a deflection. The crowd was protesting abusive police practices, supposedly, not white abuse practices, and not whites. Why would an anti-Klan rally or an anti-Nazi rally  demand a racial or ethnic qualification to participate? Presumably anyone who objected to these racist movements would be welcome to a protest, and if they weren’t, then there is a rebuttable presumption that was demonstrating against something more than just conduct.

2. If Blackwell refused to “go to the back of the bus” as commanded, why would he be any less in the right than Rosa Parks?

Charles’ deflection got more desperate here. He wrote:  “That is an absurd analogy. Blackwell was not a minority. Parks was not a reporter. You didn’t state whether the press was allowed, or disallowed. I honestly don’t know enough to answer, but if you do, you should have mentioned it. Not enough info, and an inflammatory metaphor on your part.” I said that the rally was on public property, and that is enough. The press cannot be excluded from a public event, which this was, on public property.

Let’s assume, for Charles’ comfort, that this spontaneous rally of race-baiters who automatically assumed that a drunk and drooling kid being taken off a bus for his own good was going to be executed a la Walter Scott took place on the bus itself—which is no more or less public than the  street or a public university. Blackwell was being relegated to second-class citizen status—“out of the circle” is no different from “the back of the bus,” and arguably it is worse—due to his skin color, and for no other reason. That’s racism. That’s oppression.  That’s unethical; that’s wrong. That he may not be a “minority” according to the demographic of the nation—gee, can he feel discriminated against in 2050, when whites will be a minority, Charles?—is absolutely irrelevant, unless you believe, as I am sure Charles does not, that prejudice and discrimination on the basis of skin color is only wrong if a majority member does it. Moreover, Blackwell was not in the majority there, as the nice gentleman who threatened him with mob violence was kind enough to point out.

The correct answer: Blackwell had every bit as much right to hold his ground in a public place against a racist command that denigrated him as a human being and as a citizen as Rosa Parks did.  If it’s an inflammatory comparison, that is only because those rationalizing the conduct of the demonstrators recoil at the ugly truth.

3. If this is the developing tenor of the BlackLivesMatter movement, why shouldn’t the movement be regarded as a racist one and treated accordingly?

Is it the tenor of the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as “The Movement For Black Lives”? That certainly seems to be what all the signs point to, though I am willing to wait a bit longer. In this case, the group instantly began interfering with legitimate police work, without knowing any facts. That is certainly bigotry, if not racism. Bigotry arises from an irrational, automatic assumption that a group’s members are not trustworthy because they are assumed to possess unattractive and negative characterizations and behavior traits.

Answer: If the various movements continue to act in a bigoted, prejudicial or racist manner, and they have, then they should be regarded and treated as they are.

Charles answered, in a line he may long regret, “Rudeness still does not constitute racism under the law, at least as I understand it. A false conclusion.” Ordering a black man out of a restaurant because of his skin color is rude—it is also dehumanizing, humiliating, offensive, cruel, divisive, and racist. So is telling a reporter that he must “leave the circle” because of where his ancestors came from.

4. How can a university justify allowing a racially segregated event like this to occur on campus?

Trick question. The university didn’t, because the event itself wasn’t segregated. Reports indicated that the conference was racially diverse. However, no public institution could ever ethically use its authority to allow a racially segregated group to hold an event. White students must be allowed to take Black Studies courses.

Charles wrote: “This is the question that colors all the others. Is the university allowed to distinguish between in-group meetings, or not? If it permits such meetings, I see nothing unique about race that would distinguish it. If you’re allowed to have Jewish-only or gay-only groups, then how can you argue you shouldn’t have race-only groups?”

My position is this: if racial minorities do not want to be excluded on the basis of race, then they cannot argue that racial exclusion is justified. The Golden Rule applies. Any other stance is hypocrisy, and permanently undermines progress in eliminating racial bias as long as it persists. This is why affirmative action is both ethically wrong and counter-productive. It is why there should not be televised awards shows for black athletes and black entertainers, and it is why the race-based appointment policies of the Obama Administration have undermined racial trust. You cannot end discrimination by discriminating, and you cannot simultaneously condemn racism while practicing it.

5. Why isn’t condemning such demonstrations a liberal and progressive obligation, and supporting such a demonstration a reactionary one, hostile to civil rights?

Answer: It is an obligation. Because civil rights advocates are unwilling to give up the racial spoils system that sustains them and their organizations, they refuse to meet it. Obviously supporting a race-segregated demonstration is hostile to civil rights.

6. Is there an African-American leader, elected official, commentator or reporter with the courage and integrity to state that this conduct is unethical, illiberal and damaging to the social fabric of the country?


7. Are there any white ones with that courage and integrity?

Charles jumped the shark here, answering: “If it’s not unethical or illegal, then the race of someone refusing to agree with you is irrelevant.” This both unethically re-frames the question as being about me, and eliminates a key element of the question, that the conduct is unethical. The conduct involved discrimination based on skin color and ancestry, and that is per se unethical, racist and wrong, no matter who engages in it. That is not my opinion; that is truth. The reason that I selected these individuals for the query is that their societal roles makes truth-telling part of their professional and ethical obligations. As for whites, the issue is fear of being called racist by a panel on CNN or MSNBC.

Answer: If there are, they have been mighty quiet about it.

8. If a rally at the University of Massachusetts demanded that all non-whites leave, this would be a major news story and pundits would be warning that a new wave of anti-black racism was on the rise on college campuses. Why didn’t this incident spark the same kind of publicity and commentary?

Charles denied that a white mob at UMass demanding that a black reporter step to the back of the circle would get negative publicity, a denial that defies explanation, logic and history.

My answer: It didn’t attract the same kind of publicity and commentary because there is a pernicious double standard among the commentariat and in the culture that excuses and rationalizes anti-white racism, just as Charles does.

Here I will address briefly the cultural comments Charles made in a subsequent comment…briefly, because I believe long-time commenter here Glenn Logan knocked them over the wall. A lot of these discussions end up in dead-end alleys where an advocate for a manifestly bigoted and racially biased-position held by the African American community argues that whites don’t understand why blacks feel the way they do. This was the issue that got me censored on Ampersand’s progressive blog, and ended his helpful, if predictable, ideological contributions here. His f0llowers insisted that it wasn’t unreasonable for blacks to feel that George Zimmerman should have been convicted of murder—absent any convincing evidence other than the color of the victim, Trayvon Martin—because of history, and accumulated grievances. Similarly, this was the argument for why the shooting of Michael Brown should have led to charges against Darren Wilson–because everybody knows “this” happens all the time, ergo it is reasonable to assume that it happened to Brown, regardless of the facts. This was essentially the damaging rationalization offered by President Obama in the wake of the Ferguson riots.

This reasoning is just a rationalization for bias, emotion over reason, bigotry, injustice and prejudice. I can understand how people become racists or sexists or anti-Semites, and why blacks assume that every black suspect killed by a police officer was an unarmed innocent who had no part in his own demise, can’t you? I understand why so many blacks distrust people because of the color of their skin; what I can’t understand is why they can’t figure out that if they act exactly like the whites who made them distrust whites, whites will continue to distrust them. This is all bias, and people telling me that a destructive bias should be accepted because there’s a reason for it is not a persuasive or a responsible argument. Biases always come from something; there are always reasons people are biased. So what? It’s still bias, and anti-white biases are no more acceptable and no less destructive than other biases.

9. How is the sentiment, message and conduct illustrated by demonstrations such as these helpful, productive, or anything but destructive?

Answer: It’s terribly destructive, and since it is, it should be called such by the most respected and trusted voices in the culture, and not minimized with euphemistic terms like “rudeness.”

10. A popular and much quoted tweet, attributed to various conservative wags, is this. It is dismissed by Democrats and progressives as being an anti-Obama shot and no more. Why isn’t its underlying message undeniably true?

Charles said:  “This is inflammatory, ridiculous, and goes to the heart of the matter. You know better and it is beneath you. It is people like the echo chamber you lead on this particular issue who insist that racism is the fault of the victims, that Obama has been the cause of greater racism, and that blacks should shut up, ignore history, behave themselves and all of us agree to pretend that racism is something that happened long ago, and if everyone just acted white it would all go away.”

I have never insisted or argued that racism is the fault of the victims. And Charles knows this is no echo chamber. On this topic, it is the mainstream media that is the echo chamber.

But the “underlying message” is 100% true. Railing against those with the integrity to call out the divisive—not always intentionally divisive, but incompetently, irresponsibly divisive—policies, manipulations and rhetoric of the Obama Democrats doesn’t obscure what surveys show, what we see and hear, and the sudden spike of murder statistics across the country as a direct result of casting law enforcement as racial conspiracy.

It all was seeded, of course, by the cynical strategy, developed even before Obama was elected, to characterize the same kind of criticism all recent Presidents have been subjected to as racially-motivated, even as this ill-prepared leader has lurched from one disaster to another, domestically and abroad. This was excellent for the goal of making sure that African Americans, whose fortunes have suffered more under this President than any other group, voted for skin-color over self interest in 2012. It has also been a social and cultural calamity. Still, the strategy continues. In the Washington Post last week, for example, African American columnist Colbert King relayed this:

U.S. representative and caucus member James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat, said he regarded Netanyahu’s speech as an “affront to America’s first black president.” In an interview with USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham, Clyburn called Netanyahu’s White House end run “a real in-your-face slap at the president, and black folks know it. . . . [Netanyahu] wouldn’t have done it to any other president.” Pressed as to why Netanyahu would disrespect Obama, Clyburn responded, “You know why.”

That’s right, opposition to the insane Iran deal is all about racism. Netanyahu isn’t worried that a nuclear powered state that continues to declare that it will wipe Israel off the face of the earth might just do it; naw, he just doesn’t like blacks who are presidents. And since Republicans gave him a chance to plead for his nation’s existence, this is just more proof that they are racists too.

Hey, but I understand why they feel that way, so it’s okay.


Announcement: The Winner Of The “Take Down Monica Brennan!” Contest Is…

With a third of the vote, texagg04 lapped the tough competition. He will receive an ethics movie classic of my choosing as his prize.

Congratulations to Tex, and to all the competitors. I hope Monica was following closely, and that she learned something. I doubt it: I’m sure she is cheering the news that there is agreement on the basic terms of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and wiping Israel off the face of the earth, which, according to Monica and Christiane Amanpour, is all a bluff anyway. Besides, Iran knows what happened to Assad when he crossed Obama’s “red line,” so it as absurd for Israel or anyone else to think that it doesn’t intend to keep its word.

This was certainly encouraging: hours after the administration announced the good news about the deal, Iran accused the U.S. of lying about it.

But I digress. Thanks to everyone who voted.


The Ethics Alarms “Take Down Monica Brennan!” Contest Finalists


Early this month, I wrote a post about Christiane Amanpour’s bizarre commentary on Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress. She said,

“It was a very dark Strangelovian speech painting the picture of a dystopian world, raising the spectre of a genocidal nation, a genocidal regime spraying nuclear weapons to annihilate the whole world and the whole region. Now, obviously many people are very concerned about Iran and there is a deep lack of trust, but surely the same was said of the Soviet Union all those years ago.”

I made her analysis the “Ethics Quote of the Week” on the grounds that it was so rife with bias and logical fallacies. The main thrust of the post:

Amanpour’s quote is, not to be overly blunt, stupid, ignorant, and disturbingly lacking in historical perspective. It raises ethics issues, but does not rise to the level, quite, of an unethical quote. It does raise the ethics issues of incompetence in the media, political bias robbing us all of IQ points, irresponsible journalism, and what happens when one is incapable of placing oneself behind another individual’s eyeball.  She is trying to be descriptive, so I would not term the quote itself unethical, just shocking. She has long been respected as a reporter on international events, but this statement is so devoid of its proper context that I think her credentials need to be reconsidered.

The second comment on the post came from a newcomer to Ethics Alarms, Monica Brennan, who entered this provocative defense of Christiane:

Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist, who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know. She was born in Tehran, and educated in a Catholic school in England. She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I, and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground. Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar,, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.

The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran. Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?). Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy). And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?

The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?

The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times. Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light. Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.

Now, I am not in the habit of siccing the articulate, sharp-elbowed and occasionally merciless regulars here on the throats of misguided commenters; I think this was only the second time I have done it.  I think it was the combination of the “your hero” crack, as if I have some kind of bias in favor of the Israeli Prime Minister, and the historically obtuse inference that the Soviet Union was just bluffing and that whole Cold War thing was a big farce that set my teeth on edge. For whatever reason, I announced a contest:

Ok, a prize for the best takedown of Monica’s historically jaw-dropping, ad hominem appeal to authority, defense of Amanpour’s bizarre take! A CD of a film, ethics classic, my choice.

There were many excellent entrees, punctuated by increasingly obnoxious retorts by Monica, who I am guessing is a grad student at some middle-tier university that is stealing her money while indulging her liberal-talking point fueled proclivities. (I ended up banning her, since she never engaged any of the rebuttals and just ranted without substance.)

I have selected the finalists, ranging from the concise to the encyclopedic. Some commenters arguably had more than one eligible comment that was prize-worthy, but I have limited the field to one per individual. Seven made the finals:


Well, this isn’t going to win any prizes, but…sorry…she’s also an idiot.

“Genocidal…dystopian regime” exactly describes the Soviet Union “all those years ago.” And the only reason they didn’t get to “spray nuclear weapons all over the region” is because the United States had more of them. She’s acting as if the entire Communist nightmare of the 20th century didn’t actually kill 100 million people; it was all just some red herring cooked up by McCarthy. People who aren’t idiots don’t say things like that.

Iran may not be a superpower like the USSR was, but they’re dangerous enough if your country is the size of New Jersey and they want you dead.

Inquiring Mind

When it comes to national survival, there is no such thing as “half a loaf” – are we saying that it would be okay if Iran wiped out only 49.99999% of Israel? Netanyahu knows that is a foolhardy notion at best, as should most any rational person.

Incidentally, why did the Soviets become more reasonable? Because Reagan was building up the American military – and making it a priority. He also put tons of pressure on the Soviets in other ways, like getting the Saudis to ramp up production (which killed Soviet oil exports).

Read the book Victory by Peter Schweizer for some of the real history behind the Reagan strategy that won the Cold War. Many of Obama’s political persuasion back then said the Soviet Union couldn’t be taken down. Yet Reagan did it without firing a shot in anger.

So why is it that Obama’s defenders on this react to strongly to efforts to replicate that strategy against Iran, which is no Soviet Union? Granted, this theocratic regime’s leadership may be less mentally stable/sane, but Iran presently has far less that can hurt the United States or its allies.

So, why can’t they do the responsible thing and take down this regime?


“Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist”

Brian Williams is was a highly-respected journalist. Highly respected, honestly, in those types of circles, doesn’t really mean much. It just means, you’ve done your time, shmoozed with the right people, and said the right America/Western Culture denigrating things to the right people. Great. By those standards, half the Sandimas High School Theater Club are highly-respected journalists…

“who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know.”

So, probably not qualified to speak on the topic?

I’m guessing…

But either way, this is hardly a qualifier either, and if anything reveals a likely bias. Something a journalist should fight, which no doubt she doesn’t. Remember, she’s highly-respected, and in modern journalism, you have to grossly biased to be respected. And trust me, in her circles, anti-Israel bias is the norm.

“She was born in Tehran,”


“and educated in a Catholic school in England.”

Wasn’t the author of the James Bond novels also educated in one? That’s a pretty cool factoid. I wonder if she had to wear one of those short plaid skirts…retch.

“She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I,”

Nifty resume. But all rounding out your appeal to authority.

“and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground.”

Bill O’Reilly has something to do with this?

“Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar,, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.”

You should probably educate yourself on the nuances of Geopolitics. These little things called Geopolitical Imperatives hinge exclusively on Survival. They follow a very rigid pattern, followed by EVERY SINGLE NATION, customized of course by the constraints of geography. Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact.

Let me say that again:

The 1st Rule of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

Just for Effect:

When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

When Iran says they want to wipe Israel off the map, that isn’t a joke. WORLD LEADERS do not joke. What they say is their Vision for the world. Only fools discount what World Leaders say….

Wait, let me clarify, Only fools discount what *Serious* World Leaders say…and there is no reason, none whatsoever, to believe the Iranian leadership isn’t serious. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with what an existential threat is, a nation with the capability to destroy you that declares an intent to destroy you is what we call an “existential threat”. You’ll note the root word for “existential” is “existence”.

Now, right now, Iran doesn’t possess the capability to destroy Israel. But that is Obviously what is in question. Isn’t it?

So IF Iran gains the ability to destroy Israel, what must Israel do? Refer to Rule #1. Overreact. The only option.

Well, in a game of nuclear holocaust, overreaction means that if Iran can get a bomb in 20 years, Israel has to act like it can get a bomb tomorrow. Plain and simple. He may have “lied”, but that is part of his overreaction. And he must. It is that cut and dry. It is that serious.

The one variable in all of this that can change? Iran’s hatred of Israel. Stop indicating a sincere desire to destroy every last Jew on the face of the planet (as Iran’s proxy communicated), then perhaps Israel won’t have to overreact to your desire to become a nuclear power. Funny how getting over genocidal hatred can really lead to more world peace.

Now Iran isn’t completely irrational. It probably wouldn’t nuke Israel. But one of Iran’s challenges is keeping control over it’s wildly diverse interior…one of those methods of control is Islam, what better way to inspire the faithful than to hate Jews. So they popped off about annihilating Israel. Well, Israel has ZERO reason to assume that whatever Iran says to keep control over it’s interior shouldn’t be taken seriously.

As long as Iran does not backtrack on it’s commentary about Israel’s existence, Israel must take all action to forestall or stop Iranian capability.

“The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran.”

Are you serious? Are you f-ing serious? You’re entire tone on this topic derives straight from Leftist talking points and now you are going to say we need to worry about our sources of oil? Geez… here I thought we hated wars over oil…

You have noticed, that as of late, the Saudis aren’t our primary source of oil, right?

“Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?).”

Geopolitical rules apply just as much internally as externally. Dying creatures become desperate and do desperate things. A dying vicious creature that doesn’t want to die should be trusted even less than while it was thriving. Your comment only undermines your conclusion.

“Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy).”

Does this not undermine your previous commentary about Netanyahu not needing to worry about how quickly Iran can get a nuke?

“And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?”

1) I’m not sure invasion of Iran is necessary. So this is a fallacious argument.

2) I’m not sure the invasion of Iraq was a boondoggle…well at least not until Obama royally screwed the pooch.

“The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?”

Hindsight bias. Back to Geopolitics. We had no reason not to believe the Soviets when they stated their vision for the world and we had no reason to wait until they had the capacity to fulfill that vision. Another rule of Geopolitics: Wait until it is too late to act, and it will be too late to act. Therefore you must act when it may seem to early.

“The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times.”

There’s no reason to negotiate. The West still has MIGHT…if it would just friggin care. But it doesn’t. So between War or Dishonor, it picks Dishonor. Only it will still get War.

“Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light.”

Geopolitical Rule #1.

“Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.”

And yet, you still haven’t made a single argument for why she is right other than saying she is Christiane Amanpour.


At first I wasn’t sure if this was a response from Christiane Amanpour’s PR group. I then thought about what I was taught about geopolitics during college and the comment falls right into the ‘a bad deal is better than no deal’ position in negotiations. Christiane Amanpour’s positions are striking, though not unexpected from the prevailing main stream media. The general review of Netanyahu’s speech concluded that it was over the top and full of bravado. The views expressed by Amanpour and her defenders drip with condescension and naivete. The Iranian government doesn’t care about world perceptions. In fact, the Iranian government scoffs ah the West with the highest contempt and ridicule.

I think Texagg04 sums it up with his take down, especially considering his comment about “Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact” and Jack’s many comments that a country’s prime minister or leader has a moral and ethical obligation to protect its citizenry.

History seems to suggest that genocidal thoughts shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed at the delusional ravings or a mad man. “Mein Kampf” outlined Hitler’s plans. What was the result? I recently saw a documentary called “Night Will Fall” on HBO, documenting the making of two World War II documentaries about Nazi genocide. Powerful and gut-wrenching imagery. I fully appreciate Israel’s hard-line stance with its adversaries in the region. Israel’s position is: “Well, we waited for the world to help the Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and look where that got us. We aren’t doing that again. If Iran, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or other groups openly declare their intent to destroy the state of Israel, we are going to take them at face value, believe that is their intent, and respond accordingly. Proportionality is a pipe dream. We will hit them and hit them hard.” I cannot find fault with that position.

Steve-O-in NJ

Christiane Amanpour’s credentials as a “highly respected” journalist were tarnished years ago in Bosnia when she said, when accused of being pro-Muslim (and overly emotional in her delivery) that it wasn’t important to be neutral because when you are neutral you become an accomplice. No, Christiane, when you are neutral you become a fact and truth teller, which is the job of the journalist, not to be some kind of adventurer trying to sensationalize one side or the other in a fight, whichever you might think is right. She’s also half-Iranian, hmmmmm, does anyone else here think that might at least give the appearance of bias to the point where she should be extra careful NOT to appear biased, not the other way around? The mention of her credentials vs. Bill O’Reilly’s is irrelevant to this discussion and a cheap shot to blunt or silence expected conservative criticism.

Netanyahu, a twice-wounded and decorated Special Forces captain, whose brother was killed in Operation Thunderbolt, might also know something about having boots on the ground. He also authored “Terrorism: How the West Can Win,” in or before 1988, which touched on every single issue that came to the forefront here only after 9/11. In other words, he was out ahead of the curve on Islamic terror. He also has access to a fair amount of classified material, both from the Mossad and probably other agencies, that Amanpour will never get near. Saying she knows the facts, implying she knows them better than the prime minister of one of only two democracies in the region is bare idiocy. “Control over American foreign policy?” That verges dangerously close to the old chestnut “that all the problems in the region are because of the JOOOOOOS!” Do you really want to go there?

The hard-liners’ grip becomes more tenuous each year? How tenuous can it be when every candidate for high office must have the imprimatur of the supreme leader, himself an Islamic hard-liner, unaccountable to anyone and incapable of being removed without a coup? Even in the Communist countries the leadership wasn’t THAT untouchable, witness Nikita Krushchev being pushed out by his own party when his policies became erratic and the Cuban Missile gambit failed to net him the complete win he wanted. Pakistan and Iran cooperating to build a nuke? The Pakistanis and their leaders might be a little erratic, but they know which side the bread is buttered on, and they know the US will put up with a lot from them, but they won’t put up with that.

Jack already got it precisely right as to the comparison with the USSR, and I’d argue Iran in some ways could be even more dangerous than Nazi Germany, which had similar policies aimed at the destruction of particular peoples. The Nazis and the Communists were both unspeakably evil, but they worshipped power only. Power is no good to anyone who is not alive to enjoy it. That’s why when the Germans were beaten, for the most part they surrendered, save Hitler, Goebbels and a few other extreme ones. That’s also why the USSR stepped back when they saw Reagan, Thatcher, and the other NATO leaders deploying cruise missiles that could whack them in 20 minutes and Trident submarines that they could never seriously hope to find at sea. Suicide was not high on their list of things to achieve. I would make a comparison with Imperial Japan, where it was all about dying for the divine emperor and going to meet your ancestors in the great beyond, whereas defeat meant eternal shame. It was this toxic brand of religious fanaticism that made Japanese soldiers make banzai charges until they were all dead, and pilots crash explosives-laden planes and even manned missiles into US aircraft carriers. The Iranian leadership is dangerously close to being this level of fanatic (I hesitate to use the word zealot because I think fanatic is more appropriate) and MIGHT be crazy enough to risk the horrible damage a nuclear attack on Israel might do for the sake of Allah and 72 virgins. Only a fool takes a chance on a roll of that level of dice.

Of course sometimes you take half a loaf when the whole loaf can’t be had…when you’re divvying up resources or port access or something mundane like that. Israel is dealing with a potential existential threat, and there is no such thing as half existence or half sovereignty. Faced with destruction or Finlandization any nation worth its salt will fight, and rightly so.

Monica, I don’t know you. I can’t say whether you are looking at the world through the blue lenses of the Democratic Party and therefore can’t see how anyone associated with the other side might have a point, or if you are looking through the rose-colored lenses of the pacifist and dismiss anyone who stands up to evil or tyranny as a cowboy or dangerous because he might make the tyrant angry. What I can say is that you are looking at this situation with a very incomplete set of facts, enough to be dangerous. I will also say that you are putting your faith completely in the wrong person and the wrong type of people. Journalists have their place, and it’s a very important one, but essentially scoffing at a speech from an elected national leader who’s trying to keep his nation safe while accepting a criticism from a known biased reporter with no special expertise tells me you are not looking for truth, you are looking for confirmation wherever you find it. In this case your confirmation source is dead wrong, and I am sorry to say so are you.

Michael R.

Why is she a respected reporter on foreign events? Because she has an accent and she always speaks contemptuously of the American people.

The liberal mainstream has certain facts that must be held no matter the evidence. If you just listen to them and join the correct side of history, you too can understand the wisdom of Christiane Amanpour.

Israel is wrong. They must be held to the same moral standard as European nations who aren’t facing constant terrorist attacks. By this standard, the Israelis are oppressors and need to be treated as a hate group.

Muslims can’t be held to the same standard as Israel because they are the underdogs. No Arab nation has ever attacked Israel, all those wars were wars of conquest by a brutal Israel.

The Israelis have no valid complaints about their Arab neighbors.None of them were ever stripped of their property and citizenship and forced to move to Israel.

All Israel is Palestinian territory. Jews have no business in the middle east. If they would just leave or die, the Middle East can have peace.

Iran is an ancient, civilized nation. They have a superior culture to the US and we should follow their lead in foreign affairs. They would never engage in a bitter war with a neighboring country and they super special definitely wouldn’t use any weapons of mass destruction. at their disposal (like chemical weapons). Ask the Iraqis if you doubt. They would never do anything brutal or barbaric like kidnap and hold hostage an entire embassy staff. Iran only threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map because they are Jews and Jews deserve no better. You can always trust the Iranians to abide by any nuclear treaty. They would never build giant, secret, underground nuclear facilities that the US would be forced to disable with an advanced computer virus.

The US is always wrong. We are the most backward, most racist, most imperialistic country in the history of the world. We have built our entire country by robbing, conquering, and oppressing other countries. That is why everyone in the world hates us and no one ever wants to immigrate to the US. We need to give other countries what they demand from us, then they will like us. This is what President Obama says and our standing on the world stage has greatly improved under his guidance.

If you just submit to the unquestionable rightness of the points above, you too can be as correct and sophisticated as Mrs Amanpour.

Cal Brizzi

Jihad is not Nikita Khruschev shoe banging. Religious fanatics openly advocating blowing Israel off the Earth is not saber rattling. Couple this with the fact that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism – this point even our apologist President concedes and we all have reason to worry. But reason and logic are trumped by soundbites in the romper room of modern day political discourse. Netanyahu is a spoiled child because he concludes that once Iran has a nuclear weapon it wont be long before Hammas, Hezbollah, Al Queda or ISIS will have a nuclear weapon (credit to the prior poster). Netanyahu further reasons that once this occurs; Tel Aviv will be first in the crosshairs. The nerve of that brat!

At the risk of waxing too dramatic, the future of our nation, and maybe the planet, depends on the ability to appreciate and address the danger of militant Islamic states possessing nuclear weapons. Israel understands the threat because they are surrounded by it – this ain’t their first rodeo. We should listen more and swagger less. American politicians should save the vitriol and name calling for the machete wielding murderers who deserve that and much more. We owe the Prime Minister an apology. This is no way to treat friends.


You know who deserves to be taken even more seriously than the CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour regarding the crisis in the Mideast?

The Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei. And I think he would disagree with the idea that Netanyahu’s speech was Strangelovian or that Netanyahu was engaging in hysteria. I don’t think he would want anyone to imply that he is soft on Israel. And from what he has said, Israel has quite a bit to be worried about. I’m going to take his word for it. Even though Amanpour is a very respected reporter.

It is, as you can see, a strong field. I was initially going to make the selection myself, but have decided to get input from readers as well. I have given a 10 vote head start to my own choice, but will submit to the will of the assembled if another entree surpasses it when the votes are tallied. The polls are open until midnight Monday, March 30. Good luck to all!


Flat Learning Curve Update: Yet Another Jaw-Dropping Leadership Fail From President Obama


In the midst of yet another flashing neon display proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Barack Obama has the worst grasp of the Presidential leadership of any POTUS in over a century, a cheerful CNN/ORC poll found that 50% of those polled assert that Obama tenure has been a success, and 53% believe that things are peachy in the United States. It is beyond comprehension.



Unethical Quote Of The Month: Christiane Amanpour


“There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”

——Christiane Amanpour in 1996, responding to critics who called her reporting on the Bosnian War biased.

Now THIS is an unethical quote, in contrast to the earlier one from Christiane, which I posted yesterday as an “Ethics Quote of the Week.”

I’m posting this one 20 years after it was uttered because…

1. It explains the previous quote from yesterday.

2. It tells us everything we need to know about Christiane, which is to say, she cannot be trusted as a reporter.

3. For some reason I was unaware of it.

4. It appears to have become the motto of all reporters.

5. It is unethical to the core, and

6. A lot of people, including most journalists, don’t know why. Continue reading