Tag Archives: character

John Kelly’s Statement About General Lee And The Civil War Was Fair, Benign And Accurate, And The Historians And Journalists Claiming Otherwise Have Exposed Themselves And Their Professions, Not Kelly, And Not The President

[I’m sorry: this post is long. The provocation for it is serious, however, and I couldn’t thoroughly shred this despicable media effort to make what John Kelly said yesterday something it was not and not even close to being without going over my word limit. I hope you read it. It’s hard to try to counter a concerted effort to mislead and lie to the public from this tiny outpost.]

This development yesterday really depressed me. Either the leftward professions are losing their collective minds, or they are so dedicated to turning the public against the president that they will engage in complete fabrication. Both conclusions are frightening.

Yesterday, CNN reporter April Ryan thought it was appropriate to end a White House press briefing by shouting, “Sarah, is slavery wrong? Sarah, is slavery wrong? Does this administration think that slavery was wrong? Sarah, does this administration believe slavery was wrong?” What, other than a complete absence of fairness and professionalism, provoked this unethical outburst? It was this statement by Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly, as he was interviewed by Fox News’ latest star, Laura Ingraham, regarding the The Confederate Statuary Ethics Train Wreck, specifically the Charlottesville controversy over the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Here is Kelly’s entire statement:

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man.He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

Based on that statement, April Ryan, and other hair-trigger “resistance” zealots, concluded that there was now a question whether the Trump administration “thinks slavery is wrong.”

Astounding.

But such is the dishonest and biased state of the news media today.

Let’s begin by examining the components of Kelly’s statement.

A. “I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man.”

There are no contemporary  accounts from anyone who knew Lee that he was not honorable, meaning honest, moral, ethical, and principled, the usual synonyms for honorable. I doubt Kelly was using the word in its most literal sense, “worthy of honor,” but he might have been, The argument is, and I would make it, that such traits a honesty, integrity, courage and other ethical values make any individual, famous or not, worthy of honor.

Lee was terribly, tragically wrong in his choice regarding which side to fight for during the Civil War. I am not an admirer of Lee for this reason. However, during his life there were many episodes where he exhibited exemplary character.  His immediate acceptance of responsibility for the failure of Pickett’s Charge was one, meeting his returning soldiers personally and exclaiming, “It was all my fault.” Another was his insistence that the Confederate army surrender rather than take to the hills in guerrilla resistance that might have extended the Civil War indefinitely.  Lee was flawed, and few men in history who were so admired by their contemporaries have made such a tragic mistake. That does not alter the fact that he was an honorable man.

The problem is that the modern Left does not believe that it is possible to be honorable and to not embrace the Left’s most fervently held principles, even if you lived centuries ago. This is, in part, why  our politics are so uncivil, and why partisans today show less respect to those with differing opinions on public policy than Lee and many of his generation showed to members of the enemy army who were trying to kill them.

B. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days. Now it’s different today.”

This is a statement of fact. Lee’s position was certainly consistent with Kelly’s statement. In some kind of magic, un-negotiated  conspiracy to take what Kelly said to mean something he emphatically did not say, one writer after another has claimed that Kelly was arguing that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. Here, for example, is Vox:

“Though this view has long been promoted and even taught in schools around the country, there has been a new push to recognize the cause of the Civil War as rooted in a disagreement about slavery and the refusal of Southern states to give it up…”

Though what view?  Kelly wasn’t opining on the reason for the Civil War, or what was the root cause. He was talking about Robert E. Lee. Is there any question that if Virginia had decided not to secede—as of course it seceded over slavery—Lee would have fought with the Union? I have never read any historian or biographer who said otherwise. Here’s Biography.com, usually an uncontroversial distiller of historical consensus in its Lee biography:

“But Lee’s commitment to the Army was superseded by his commitment to Virginia. After turning down an offer from President Abraham Lincoln to command the Union forces, Lee resigned from the military and returned home. While Lee had misgivings about centering a war on the slavery issue, after Virginia voted to secede from the nation on April 17, 1861, Lee agreed to help lead the Confederate forces.”

That’s what Kelly said. Not every soldier thought that loyalty to state over country was the correct priority, and Kelly wasn’t saying that Lee’s position was the dominant one. It was a common one, however. 1861 was less than a hundred years after the culturally diverse Colonies came together to fight the American Revolution, and the states had been fighting over the balance of power between the federal and state governments almost non-stop ever since. Kelly was acknowledging the fact that Lee’s extreme state loyalty seems odd today, when so many citizens live in several states during their lives, and move from one to another without giving it a second thought. 150 years ago, citizen bonds to the state of their birth was a far, far greater issue, and being asked to take up arms to fight against that state would have posed a wrenching dilemma for most Americans.

That is all Kelly said. If one doesn’t understand the context of Lee’s decision to fight on the same side as the defenders of slavery, then one cannot begin to assess Lee’s status as an American figure. Anyone leaping from that statement to “the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery” is engaging in a clinical level of confirmation bias, and that’s exactly where the attacks on Kelly are coming from. This statement, that doesn’t mention slavery, isn’t about the root cases of the Civil War, and that only explicates Robert E. Lee’s  overwhelming reason for fighting for the Confederacy, is being deliberately distorted to show that President Trump and others in his administration are apologists for racism. The fact that nothing in Kelly’s words even hint at that didn’t stop this example of mass race-baiting, based on air. Continue reading

92 Comments

Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media

A White House Of Assholes?* This Post Has Everything: An Ethics Dunce, An Unethical Quote Of The Month, An Incompetent Elected Official And, Of Course, KABOOM!

I wouldn’t have thought that a Trump Administration employee’s unethical conduct could make my head explode. I thought I was safe. After all, my hopes may be too high, but my expectations are so low. But there are my brains, dripping off the ceiling.

President Trump has a ludicrous burning crisis of chaotic management, undisciplined leadership, incompetent subordinates and mass competition for the National Foot-Shooting Championship. I suggested that months ago that this could only be addressed by the President appointing an experienced political professional with proven management skills and leadership ability to whip the White House into shape. President Trump had a better solution to the burning crisis: throw the human gasoline named Anthony Scaramucci  on it!

Brilliant!

What an idiot.

Yes, the Incompetent Elected Official of this post is President Donald J. Trump.

But the rest is all Scaramucci, the new White House Communications Director with no experience or acumen in the field of communications and public relations. This was immediately evident from his first substantial communication with the news media,  a vulgar, unprofessioal, undignified, embrrassing and vicious phone interview with the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza unlike any interview by any White House figure ever.

Highlights, or rather points of signature significance, each showing that a) the man is an arrogant asshole and 2) President Trump possesses no judgment in his choices of staff whatsoever. Negative judgment.

1. He said, “I’m not [Trump advisor] Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock … I’m not trying to build my own brand off the fucking strength of the President. I’m here to serve the country.”

2. After Lizza asked Scaramucci about a private dinner that he had with President Trump,  Scaramucci boasted: “I fired one guy the other day. I have three to four people I’ll fire tomorrow. I’ll get to the person who leaked that to you. Reince Priebus—if you want to leak something—he’ll be asked to resign very shortly.” Continue reading

104 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!, Leadership, Workplace

Faking The Unicorn: The Hoover Institution’s Victor Davis Hanson Explains Why Republican Will Vote For Trump

unicorn2

Loyal reader and frequent Commenter “Other Bill” sent me this essay by conservative writer Victor Davis Hanson of the Hoover Intstitution, with the note that it is “Probably as close as you will get to what you’ve been looking for.” I think he’s correct, but since what I’ve been looking for is a single rational reason to vote for Trump, and Hanson’s essay consists of irrational beliefs, rationalizations, terrible logic and skewed values that many Republicans will adopt, it is like sending someone searching for a unicorn this…

horned woman

It’s interesting but disgusting, and not what I’m after.

Hanson’s piece begins…

If Donald Trump manages to curb most of his more outrageous outbursts by November, most Republicans who would have preferred that he did not receive the nomination will probably hold their noses and vote for him.

How could that be when a profane Trump has boasted that he would limit Muslim immigration into the United States, talked cavalierly about torturing terrorist suspects and executing their relatives, promised to deport all eleven-million Mexican nationals who are residing illegally in the U.S., and threatened a trade war with China by slapping steep tariffs on their imports?

A number of reasons come to mind.

Hanson has already invalidated his essay at the outset by material omission. If the items he mentioned were the only reasons to oppose Trump, his subsequent arguments might make sense….well, more sense than they do. But to even try to list the reasons Trump is unfit is to understate the case. In addition to what Hanson mentions,

  • Trump reduces all debates to ad hominem attacks, which would degrade the standard for all debate, culture wide, with devastating effects should he become President.
  • He has advocated the virtues of bribery, while mocking the virtue of integrity.
  • He sees nothing unethical about conflicts of interest.
  • He has endorsed the use of doxxing to retaliate against critics, indicating his disregard for privacy and confidentiality.
  • He endorses vengeance.
  • He is a misogynist, a sexist, and a sexual harasser.
  • He has lied repeatedly, and then lied about lying.
  • He refuses to apologize even when he has been exposed as engaging in reckless wrongdoing.
  • He has refused to engage in serious study of the issues, preferring instead to improvise answers to policy questions, showing laziness and a lack of seriousness.
  • He is a clinical narcissist, meaning that he is unstable and suffering from a crippling personality disorder.
  • All of the individuals he has appointed to represent him in the media have been exposed as incompetent, indicting Trump’s judgment as well as his claim that he’ll “appoint the best people.”
  • He has endorsed the views of white supremacists.
  • He is incapable of giving a dignified, articulate, coherent speech.
  • He does not understand the difference between rationalizations and ethics.
  • He has no military experience.
  • He has no government experience.
  • He would probably be the least intelligent President in U.S. history. (There are a few we could have a legitimate argument about. Those Presidents, however, had other virtues Trump not only doesn’t have, but doesn’t care about.)
  • This.

Is there more? Of course there is more…much more. Pages and pages more. Hanson gives five policy-based reasons to object to Trump, plus the fact that he is “profane.” (This is equivocation: Trump isn’t just profane; he is vulgar, boorish, undignified and crude.) That’s misleading. That’s deceit. That’s how the supporters of Hillary Clinton, if they were Trump supporters, would falsely try to mislead critics.

Here are Hanson’s “reasons” that “come to mind”—I may not be able to resist an occasional bolded remark before I’m through quoting—: Continue reading

15 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test

lawn chairs

I’m not exactly disappointed that Biden passed on challenging Clinton and Sanders for the Democratic nomination, in part because if I ended up having to vote for him next November, I might have gone directly from the voting booth to the bridge. Still, ol’ Lunchbucket Joe would have offered some hope that a presidential candidate would emerge in this election cycle that it wouldn’t be historically irresponsible to vote for.

Conservative pundits keep writing that Biden would be identical to Obama, his third term. In our history, do you know how often that assumption has proven accurate.? Never. Van Buren was supposed to be Andy Jackson’s third term; Taft was Teddy’s, Bush was Reagan’s. The only difference now, and it is significant, is that in those three instances, the previous POTUS was strong and effective. Obama, on the other hand, has been weak, ineffective, destructive and incompetent. It is difficult to imagine how Biden could be worse.

Forget about Obama, though: why would Biden have been preferable to the Democrats who are serious candidates? Chafee and O’Malley aren’t worth discussing; they aren’t going to be on the ballot. As for the rest… Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Leadership

A Nation Of Assholes: The Ultimate, Undeniable And Crucial Reason Donald Trump Must Never Be President

assholesI have had this essay ready to go for at least a month; I honestly didn’t think it would be necessary to post it. Nonetheless,  I kept in on the bench, just in case. I was confident that the point to be made was too obvious, and that even those bitter, angry, irresponsible, ignorant whateverthehelltheyares who are keeping Trump’s candidacy afloat—and thus making it more difficult to sort out the real candidates—would have figured it out by now. I was wrong.

There are lots of reasons why Donald Trump shouldn’t be anyone’s candidate to be President. He is a narcissist, for one thing, and that is a pathology. Narcissists are dangerous in positions of power. He has no experience in politics, which he appears  to believe, based on his statements, consists primarily of bribing people, since that is what it largely means in his eternally corrupt businesses of construction and gambling, and pitching them things, which is not the same as persuasion.  He seems to think leading a company and leading a nation are similar jobs: they are not, though they involve some common skills. Trump is largely ignorant of most issues facing us, and takes pride in winging it, simply saying the first thing that pops into his mind. What Presidents of the United States say have cascading impact: think about the horrible consequences of Obama’s infamous “red line” statement, which has led to the willingness of despots and terrorists to defy U.S. interests and warnings, confident that nothing would be done by a confrontation-averse President. Anyone assuming President Trump would be different in this regard from candidate Trump is the sort of person who would trust Iran to follow a nuclear agreement, a current monstrosity that is also, in part, the result of Obama’s “red line” gaffe.

The one area where Trump has actually put forth a fleshed-out policy is red meat nonsense, completely unworkable and impractical, as well as offensive to core American values. That is his absurd “Deport them all, build a wall, amend the Constitution” illegal immigration prescription. Yes, the illegal immigration joint negligence perpetrated by greedy business interests and cynical Democratic party strategists who would trade the best interests of the nation and the rule of law for long term demographic trends favoring their party is infuriating and frightening. Still, proposing ludicrous solutions that can’t be accomplished (even if sane people wanted them to be) is neither a mark of intelligence nor responsible leadership.

Beyond immigration, Trump is all generalities and posturing. He’s “tough.” Tough can be good; tough without principles, and Trump appears to have none, is, by turns, bluster, stubbornness, cruelty, recklessness and bullying. Donald Trump really seems to have no regard for ethics at all, which makes him, by definition, untrustworthy. Being untrustworthy is an ethical deficiency no leader can have. Continue reading

66 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: Not Only Anybody Who Actually Thinks Donald Trump Would Be Anything But An Existential Disaster As President, But Anyone Who Isn’t Disgusted By His Existence

Megyn Kelly's "wherever," according to Donald trump.

Megyn Kelly’s “wherever,” according to Donald trump.

I’m not exaggerating. At this point, saying that one supports Donald Trump as President—or that one even “likes” such a destructive and despicable jackass—is signature significance. Such a person rejects responsible citizenship, basic decency, and civilized values. Such a person is warped and a misanthrope, or so stupid that their ability to function at all is a medical miracle.

The ethics tipping point even for the most jaded and alienated American who tolerated this juvenile delinquent in billionaire’s clothing (my tipping point was years ago, I am proud to say) should have been the combined impact of Trump’s outrageous comment to CNN, as he attacked Fox journalist Megyn Kelly for her questioning him on his uncivil public rhetoric, and his lie about it afterwards.

As I already noted in this post, Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon, “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her wherever.”

The man is a thug and a boor with money, the political equivalent of a four-year-old with an AK-47. His vaunted “candor” (as in “lack of couth, taste, civility, prudence, decency and restraint),  caused him to say, in essence, “this woman must have been on the rag” on national television. Is this worse than calling a tortured prisoner of war like John McCain less than a hero because he was captured? Sure it is: the earlier comment was stupid and disrespectful, but if that’s what Trump thinks, great: Out with it. The attack on Kelly is misogyny and gutter-level rudeness that must not be tolerated at the dinner table, in the workplace, or in polite company, much less in national politics. It transforms the whole nation into a cheap saloon, and tears down a wall that once gone, will eventually permit tossing feces like apes and aimed projectile vomiting before the entire civilization collapses in the stench of its own corruption.

This isn’t just a “war on women,” it’s war on dignity, decency and civilized discourse. You like that? You support that?

You’re a moron. Continue reading

45 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics

Debate Ethics: Megyn Kelly’s Challenging Donald Trump For His Uncivil Rhetoric Was Not Only Fair, It Was Necessary

Trump and Kelly

It sometimes takes episodes like the hard right’s reaction to the Republican candidates’ debate Thursday night to remind me how ethically-challenged some—a lot, too many— of these people are. Why does this keep surprising me?

I honestly didn’t see it coming: one conservative pundit after another has criticized Megyn Kelly for challenging Donald Trump regarding his repeated episodes of using vulgar, crude, and uncivil language to denigrate women. In case you don’t recall, here was the exchange:

Kelly: One of the things people love about you is you speak your mind and you don’t use a politician’s filter However, that is not without its downsides, in particular, when it comes to women. You’ve called women you don’t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.

Trump: Only Rosie O’Donnell.

Kelly: For the record, it was well beyond Rosie. You once told a contestant on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ it would be a pretty picture to see her on her knees. Does that sound to you like the temperament of a man we should elect as president?

Instapundit understudy Elizabeth Price Foley called the question “silliness.” Examining the ethical values of a potential President, and civility is a cornerstone of them, is not “silly.”

Lindsay Graham, who apparently has decided that he should say anything, even stupid things, to keep his name in the news, defended Trump, telling the media that

“At the end of the day, ask the man a question that explains his position and his solutions rather than a ten-minute question that describes him as the biggest bastard on the planet.”

No, Trump’s own conduct and rhetoric describe him as one of the biggest bastards on the planet. He was given a chance to explain why reasonable people shouldn’t think they disqualify him to be President. After all, they do. Continue reading

26 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership