Reconsidering “Lincoln,” Lincoln…And Trump

I’ve been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln of late. A book by William Hanchett called “The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies” reminded me that while President Jackson is the closest historical match for the populist, outsider aspect of Donald Trump’s rise, the startlingly close match for the antipathy and hatred Trump has faced from the moment of his election eerily traces the experience of Abraham Lincoln.

Like Trump a minority President, Abe won only 39.8% of the popular vote but was still comfortably elected by the Electoral College. As with Trump, his opposition refused to give him a chance to govern or unify the nation, although in his case, the Democrats divided the country literally, seceding from the union before Lincoln took the oath of office. Today’s Democrats are without that option (thanks to Lincoln!), but are doing everything else in their power to undermine the elected leader. (And California, the most Democratic state, is saber-rattling about seceding.) Also like Trump, Lincoln did not concede that his lack of a popular vote majority in any way robbed him of a mandate to govern.

From the moment the election results were known, many Democrats proclaimed the election of Lincoln itself to be an act of aggression, a “declaration of war.” Many in Lincoln’s own party—even his own Attorney General—accused him, with some justification, of engaging unconstitutional measures. The Governor of New York evoked the Revolutionary War generation, saying that they would not stand for such incursions on their rights. Constitutional expert George Ticknor Curtis of Massachusetts predicted that the Lincoln Presidency would “be an end to this experiment in self-government.”

Meanwhile, pundits and critics heaped personal abuse on Lincoln, calling him grotesque, a barbarian, ” gorilla.” Diarist George Templeton Strong, whose words are so often quoted by Ken Burns in his documentary about the Civil War, called him a “yahoo.” It was said that fashionable New Yorkers would be ashamed to be seen in the presence of someone as boorish and uncultured as Lincoln;  it was rumored that he rejected handkerchiefs and “blew his nose through his thumb and forefingers, frontier-style.” As late as 1864, a New York editor wrote,

“[The President] is an uneducated boor. He  is brutal in all his habits and in all his ways. He is filthy. He is obscene. He is vicious.”

Somehow, despite this cruel barrage of ad hominem rhetoric, arguably more successful then that it would be now since the public has more knowledge of the President and can make their own observations, Lincoln persevered to meet the greatest challenges any President ever faced.

While still pondering some of the parallels with today’s relentless attacks on our current President, I watched again the 2012 Stephen Spielberg-directed film “Lincoln,” which was almost unanimously praised when it was released, and which I enjoyed a great deal when I first saw it. This time, however, “Lincoln” revealed itself as an ethics corrupter. Continue reading

Georgia’s Religious Liberty Bill Was An Ethics Abomination, But So Is Letting Corporations Dictate Laws In A Democracy

...and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

…and corporate pressure had nothing to do with it. No, really.

Ethics Abomination I: Georgia’s HB 757

Gov. Nathan Deal  vetoed the controversial  “religious liberty” bill yesterday. Well, good. HB 757 was an ugly, ignorant, unethical  law in many ways, and almost certainly unconstitutional on its face.

It began with outrageous fear-mongering, appealing to right-wing hysteria and ignorance…

[R]eligious officials shall not be required to perform marriage ceremonies, perform rites, or administer sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion; to provide that no individual shall be required to attend the solemnization of a marriage, performance of  rites, or administration of sacraments in violation of their legal right to free exercise of religion;

Ridiculous. No law, state or national, can require a pastor or minister to perform a wedding, nor could any citizen be required to attend one. These are both unalterable First Amendment no-nos, and any legislator who doesn’t know that is too ignorant to hold office. Laws should not be sops thrown to slobbering mobs, and that’s what this part of the law is—unless it’s proof that Georgia legislature is itself a slobbering mob.

Then the law ends by greasing the wheels for outright anti-LGBT discrimination:

Except as provided by the Constitution of this state or the United States or federal law, no faith based organization shall be required to hire or retain as an employee any person whose religious beliefs or practices or lack of either are not in accord with the faith based organization’s sincerely held religious belief as demonstrated by practice, expression, or clearly articulated tenet of faith.

A refusal by a faith based organization to hire or retain a person pursuant to subsection (b) of this Code section shall not give rise to a civil claim or cause of action against such faith based organization or an employee thereof or result in any state action to penalize, withhold benefits from, or discriminate against the faith based organization or employee based on such refusal.

You have to really, really hate and fear gay citizens not to reject such a bill. Continue reading

ThinkProgress’s Intentionally Dishonest Headline

Muslim protester

I have said it before, and will undoubtedly have many more opportunities say it: If you can’t find fair and factual ways to discredit Donald Trump, you really shouldn’t be in the journalism profession. Walmart beckons.

Today’s disgrace is ThinkProgress. I know that progressive reporters have long accepted the anti-journalism ethics philosophy of their “by any means necessary” political heroes, but even by the dismal standards of recent years, Judd Legum and his editors really abandoned all respectability with this one. The headline:

Muslim Woman Gets Kicked Out Of Donald Trump Rally For Being Muslim

This isn’t even deceit. The headline is an outright lie. The woman, Rose Hamid, was warned as she entered a Trump campaign event in South Carolina that any demonstration or disruption would be met with ejection. Nevertheless, she and a companion, complete with message t-shirts and symbolic yellow stars protesting Trump’s position on Muslim immigrants, stood up in their seats behind the GOP frontrunner while he was speaking. As promised, they were escorted out.

Hamid was not kicked out “for being Muslim.” She was kicked out for violating the rules of a private event. She stood up as a protest. It wouldn’t matter if she  was dressed in Islamic garb, in a Franklin Pierce costume, or in Scout’s ham outfit from “To Kill A Mockingbird.” She was protesting. Out. That was the deal. The headline is deliberately false.

So was Legum’s first sentence, though it directly contradicted the headline: “A Muslim woman was kicked out of a Donald Trump rally on Friday night for no apparent reason.” Continue reading

The Washington Post Drops Its Resident Op-Ed Socialist. Good.

Workers Unite

The Washington Post has jettisoned Harold Meyerson, who has been the leftest of the leftists on the Washington Post op-ed pages for about 13 years…not surprising, as he also serves as editor at large for The American Prospect. Mayerson, according to his last column, was told that he was a goner because he was losing readers and because his columns were repetitious, which they certainly were. How many times, after all, can one read “Workers Unite!”?  From Occupy Wall Street to BlackLivesMatter, there was no revolt of the oppressed and downtrodden that Meyerson didn’t support, nor any standard issue socialist/progressive position that he did not wholeheartedly embrace.

The Post has other kneejerk leftists among their pundits, a disproportionate number in fact (this was also part of the Post’s motivation to let Meyerson go), but I found Meyerson more infuriating than the others because he seemed so much more intelligent than his positions and statements would suggest. He was the epitome of an opinion journalist whose opinions seemed to be calibrated to achieve a grander agenda, rather than honest expressions of truth or even what he really believed. He is a columnist in the Saul Alinsky tradition of liberalism, willing to bend truth for the greater good, to win converts for the Great Worker Rebellion, or whatever it would be.

No newspaper should employ a journalist who is willing to deceive its readers, even on the pretense of saving the world.

Continue reading

Message To An Unethical Teacher: Children Are Not Your Guinea Pigs

No LEGOS for YOU!

No LEGOS for YOU!

Fire this teacher now.

Karen Keller, a kindergarten teacher at Captain Johnston Blakely Elementary on Bainbridge Island, Washington, think it is her role to use 5 year olds for her own social science experiment. She’s wrong. But then, she’s wrong about so much, and so arrogant about it. If she is allowed to continue her abusive manipulation of her young charges without being stopped, reprimanded, or given a pink slip, the negligent parents of her victims must carry the blame. Every now and then a teacher will go power mad and run amuck—I had one of those. There is no excuse for not acting quickly before someone gets hurt.

Keller has decided that it is her mission in life to combat what some studies show to be lower spatial and math skills development among girls as a group, as compared to boys. Thus she has decided to forbid boys from playing with LEGOS during the “unstructured play period” of 40 minutes that the kindergarten day includes. Keller told a local paper that it drove her crazy  that the girls wanted to play with dolls while boys flocked to the plastic building system, so she decided to take action to erase those gender-based proclivities. “Until girls get it into their system that building is cool, building is ‘what I want to do’ — I want to protect that.”

Want to fire her yet?

How about this statement…

“I always tell the boys, ‘You’re going to have a turn’ — and I’m like, ‘Yeah, when hell freezes over’ in my head,” she said. “I tell them, ‘You’ll have a turn’ because I don’t want them to feel bad.”

Now do you want to fire her? Continue reading

As Ethics Corrupters Run Amuck, Ethics Alarms Presents “Ethics Corrupter Weekend”! Part I: “Truth” Is False

Truth

“Truth” is in theaters now, and reportedly bombing. As soon as I learned about the source of the film (disgraced ex-CBC producer Mary Mapes’ memoir, “Truth and Duty: The Press, the President, and the Privilege of Power”) and its plot, I resolved not to watch it, as I would just end up walking out of it. Nonetheless, the fact that Robert Redford is connected with the project is profoundly disappointing. Redford is the ultimate Hollywood liberal, but his films have often been about ethics, and I regard him, or perhaps past tense is more appropriate, as having principles and integrity. True: actors need not agree with or endorse their roles or the projects of others, but Redford is unusual: he lends credibility to any project he allows to carry his name.

Connecting his name to “Truth” is a betrayal. The film makes martyrs of Mapes and Dan Rather, who attempted to tilt the 2004 election by smearing George Bush, without evidence, on “60 Minutes.” Not only was this a political hit job by biased journalists, it was one tainted by intentionally manufactured evidence. Mapes and Rather presented a forged document alleging that Bush went AWOL during his Texas Air National Guard service in the early 1970s. It was all the pair had that went beyond hearsay to make the allegation, and after the document was decisively shown to be a forgery (its font wasn’t available on the typewriter that had to have been used to make the original document.) Once the forgery was discovered by an enterprising blogger and confirmed by multiple document specialists. Rather and Mapes embarked on a rationalization orgy. Rather, to his undying shame, repeated his defenders’ argument that the forgery as “fake but accurate,” and does to this day, in essence rejecting journalism ethics wholesale. So determined was he to prove what he believed to be true but couldn’t prove fairly or ethically that he cheated, playing dishonest political operative to achieve worthy partisan goals “by any means necessary.”

Bias makes us stupid, and in this case, bias made Dan Rather corrupt.

AND stupid. Continue reading

Move-On And The Progressive Fondness For Silencing Opponents Rather Than Rebutting Them

And what's more democratic than preventing your opposition from speaking?

And what’s more democratic than preventing your opposition from speaking?

As if to prove my recent post about the totalitarian thrust of the recent Democratic candidates’ “debate,” aka socialist infomercial and the disturbing number of Democratic supporters who are falling into lockstep, here come Move-On.Org  and a Hispanic advocacy group to demand that NBC rescind an invitation to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to host the November episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

Of course they are. These are the same people who shouted down Republican or conservative speakers in college, or got their spineless  school administrator to ding any commencement speaker who would challenge the cant they absorbed from their leftist professors. Hillary Clinton was gleefully accepted by her corrupted Democratic supporters as a  SNL guest this month, but having both parties’ frontrunners get  TV exposure on the same prestige venue is what so many progressives hate and fear—an even playing field. Here’s part of the petition on Move-On: Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: Five Democratic Economists

Senator Warren, who is always right.

Senator Warren, who is always right.

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass)  was annoyed that Robert Litan, a nonresident and unpaid economics fellow at the reliably liberal Washington think tank, the Brookings Institute, dared to author a study critical of financial advisor regulations being pushed by Warren and the White House. Thus she sent a letter to Brookings last week, challenging the independence of the study and the integrity of Litan, since the study was, as Litan states up front, “supported by the Capital Group, one of the largest mutual fund asset managers in the United States.”

Warren called the report “highly compensated and editorially compromised work on behalf of an industry player seeking a specific conclusion.”

You know, unlike the various donors to Warren’s political war chest, who are not trying to buy specific policies and votes from her.

Literally hours after receiving the letter, Brookings, knowing which side of the bread its butter was on, dutifully forced Litan to resign.

The issue isn’t whether the policy Warren wants is a good one or not; personally, I tend to agree with Warren on the need for the regulation, which would make 401(k) and 403(b) advisors as well as other compensation-related retirement plan advisors be subject to fiduciary duties. the issue is Warren’s embrace of the increasingly popular tactic from the Left of dealing with adversaries by silencing them. Continue reading

Senator McCaskill, A Cheater And Proud Of It

Inexplicably, Richard Nixon never wrote an article boasting about how his campaign forged an attack letter that tricked Edmund Muskie into an emotional meltdown that let George McGovern get the 1972 Democratic nomination.

Inexplicably, Richard Nixon never wrote an article boasting about how his campaign forged an attack letter that tricked Edmund Muskie into an emotional meltdown that let George McGovern get the 1972 Democratic nomination. Strange…

What is increasingly disturbing is that so many of our representatives and high elected officials appear to have no idea what ethical conduct is. This leads them, as Donald Trump did in the Republican candidates debate, to boast about their unethical conduct in public and assume that the public, as well as the news media, will nod approvingly. It is more than disturbing that they are usually correct, and thus are both exploiting the nation’s ethics rot and contributing to it as leaders are uniquely able to do.

This was what the leader of Senate Democrats, Harry Reid did when he expressed no remorse for lying about Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign (“Romney lost, didn’t he?”). Now, in a signed article in Politico, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has explained how she gained re-election by manipulating the democratic process in Missouri. Obviously, she sees nothing the matter with what she did: the article is essentially one long gloat.

With it, she marks herself as a cheat, a fick, and an ethics corrupter, as well as a disgrace.

But she’s a winner, so it’s all good!

In the essay called “How I Helped Todd Akin Win — So I Could Beat Him Later,” McCaskill explains how, after her campaign identified Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin as the weakest Republican candidate to run against her, it ran cognitive dissonance ads engineered to increase his support among the most ignorant and extreme Republican primary voters. She writes,

So how could we maneuver Akin into the GOP driver’s seat? Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a “dog whistle” ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people. I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad—and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad….Four weeks out we would begin with a television ad boosting Akin…then we’d go back into the field and test to see if it was working. If it was, we’d dump in more “McCaskill for Senate” money, and we’d add radio and more TV in St. Louis and Kansas City. ..As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign..

Let me explain this so even the most hopeless “the ends justify the means” partisan can understand it. The idea behind democracy is to have the best possible candidates run for office, and to give the public good choices rather than lousy ones. Each party has an obligation to run a fair competition to find the candidate it believes is 1) best qualified for the office and 2) most able to prevail in the election. It is not fair, ethical or legitimate politics for the opposing party to interfere with this process to ensure weaker competition. This is not fair to the public, which has a right to have a good choice, not a horrible one. It is also undemocratic. It is wrong, no matter how clever it is. Continue reading

Observations On The Gruber Tapes: Tipping Points, Integrity Checks, Totalitarian Tactics and Very Loud Ethics Alarms

domino

A lot of people in the Obama administration, the media, and even some of your friends would like to characterize the many videos of Jonathan Gruber revealing, as Geraldo Rivera called it, himself an apologist for the administration, “the ugly side of the political process” as no big deal. It is a big deal. I recognized it as a big deal from the first of the videos, as every objective and honest American should. The tapes are as significant and important as the Nixon White House tapes, which revealed  a conspiracy at the highest levels of the government to cover up a criminal attempt to rig the political process and corrupt democracy. Those tapes prompted reforms and political upheaval. So should Gruber’s inconvenient truths, if we believe that our form of government is worth saving. This should be a tipping point. We cannot tolerate this, nor long survive it.

We all should make sure that the many ideologues, activists, hacks and villains who want to ignore the significance of the Gruber tapes fail, and while doing so, metaphorically mark their chests with a giant, red “C” for “corrupter,” if not a “T” for “traitor.” I have heard all the excuses. lies, spin and rationalizations now. If you care about the American system, and want to be part of the solution to this ethics rot in our government and leadership rather than siding with those who want to continue it, then just think a bit. If you banish your biases, you’ll come to the right conclusion, which is this: what Gruber has revealed is serious, dangerous, and wrong.

Some specific ethics observations and conclusions:

1. Apparently the entire Democratic party, the progressive movement and many of the elites in journalism and academia have embraced the undemocratic principle, a key tenet of the theories of Lenin, Islam, Mao, Joseph Alinsky, Goebbels, Joe McCarthy and Big Brother, to mix historical and fictional villains, that deceiving the public and the use of lies are  virtuous and necessary means of governing, because the public does not know what is in its own best interest. This is totalitarianism. There is no disguising it. It is sinister and intolerable. It should not be sugar-coated, and the public needs to be told, in unambiguous terms, why this is more than political expediency. It is a rejection of the premises and ideals that the nation was founded upon. We must reject it, and reject those who excuse it, rationalize it and employ it, in either political party.

The party that has been caught red handed, however, with no plausible escape, is the party of the Affordable Care Act.

2. Every bob and weave, lie and double-lie in response to Gruber’s videos, have failed. The fact that the lies were attempted, however, underscores how serious the corruption is. I immediately went to Media Matters when the story broke. The one-sided advocacy group that pretends that progressives can do no wrong and that there is a conservative media conspiracy, if you can read that without passing out from laughing, has been in rare form in its frenzied efforts to pretend that Gruber’s exposés are meaningless. It headlines its empty defense “The Fraudulent Media Campaign To Scandalize Obamacare’s Passage,” though the mainstream (that is, liberal) media, to its permanent shame, tried to ignore the story longer than I would have thought possible. Then MM tries to bolster White House spokesman Josh Earnest’s risible claims that the Affordable Care Act was passed with unusual transparency. Yes, I’d say lying outright about what the bill would do is unusual transparency, though that’s not what they mean.

This is, as I already pointed out, a Jumbo-–a desperate lie that is obviously a lie to anyone with their eyes open. No law that complex is transparent; no bill that isn’t permitted debate in its final form is transparent; no text that is so long and convoluted that it can’t be read (or printed out from the internet without owning a paper store) is transparent. If it was transparent, we wouldn’t be heading to the Supreme Court over what the proponents of the law term a “typo.” If it was transparent, then what was always intended to be a tax would not have been furiously defended as not being a tax. If it was transparent, the President would not have told the public over 30 times that the law’s passage would not cause anyone to lose a healthcare plan they liked.  The passage of Obamacare was not transparent. Anyone who claims otherwise is one of the liars, earning that big, red “C.” Continue reading