Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/6/2018: Moore, Marx, Polls, And #MeToo And Legal Ethics Don’t Mix

Good Morning!

1. Remember, this creep is a popular and influential “progressive.” Here was what Michael Moore tweeted yesterday on Karl Marx’s birthday:

“Happy 200th Birthday Karl Marx! You believed that everyone should have a seat at the table & that the greed of the rich would eventually bring us all down. You believed that everyone deserves a slice of the pie. You knew that the super wealthy were out to grab whatever they could.”

Nobody who spins Marx this way after his abstract theories were used to enslave and kill millions while leaving nations devastated and impoverished is worthy of respect, or indeed anything but horror. Such a statement requires ignorance, delusion, dishonesty or idiocy, probably all three. Moore is the Left’s Richard Spencer.

Birthdays deserving of more public remembrance than Karl’s: Arnold Stange, Harold Staasen, Melody Patterson, and Phil Linz, among others, as well as every world citizen who lived his or her life without playing a role in making the planet more miserable. Continue reading

The West Point Communist, How Cultures Rot, And The Whistleblower’s Letter…

West Point graduate and infantry officer Spenser Rapone recently caused a sensation through his advocacy and support of communism, while being an “official socialist organizer” of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). Rapone recently posted a photo of himself as part of a declaration of support for professional football player Colin Kaepernick, including the phrase “Communism will win” with the tag “Veterans for Kaepernick.”  Rapone later posted a second photo of himself in uniform with a Che Guevara T-shirt underneath his jacket.That led to scrutiny of the hundreds of pro-Communist tweets by the former cadet, including one  calling Defense Secretary James Mattis “evil” and “vile” and another saying he will “happily dance” on the grave of Sen. John McCain.

This was not extensively covered by the mainstream media—After all, what’s the matter with Communists, as long as they don’t help Donald Trump?—though some attention was paid when Senator Rubio demanded that the Army remove Rapone. The Army said last week is it investigating and that the posts “in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army.”

I sure hope not!

Now the military community and others are asking how this is possible, and how West Point could produce a  graduate like Rapone.  In response to the episode, retired LTC Robert M. Heffington has written an open letter about what he sees as the deterioration of the culture at the storied military academy. Heffington was an assistant professor at West Point for several years, until this past August.

Note, please…

I. This is how one blows a whistle.

II.  Heffington describes how cultures rot: inattention,  poor leadership, refusal to apply standards, corruption from political agendas, silence from within.

III. Desperate and politically driven efforts to achieve diversity at the expense of integrity and quality are a major factor.

IV. West Point is a part of the higher education community. It would be surprising if it were immune from the same deterioration that the rest of America’s colleges and universities are suffering from. Thus this passage…

“…an entire semester of military history was recently deleted from the curriculum (at West Point!). In all courses, the bar has been lowered to the point where it is irrelevant. If a cadet fails a course, the instructor is blamed, so instructors are incentivized to pass everyone. Additionally, instead of responding to cadet failure with an insistence that cadets rise to the challenge and meet the standard, the bar for passing the course itself is simply lowered. This pattern is widespread and pervades every academic department.”

V. Before I read the letter, I guessed that it would have a passage like this one, and sure enough:

“The plebe American History course has been revamped to focus completely on race and on the narrative that America is founded solely on a history of racial oppression. Cadets derisively call it the “I Hate America Course.” Simultaneously, the plebe International History course now focuses on gender to the exclusion of many other important themes.”

VI. Repairing a broken culture is a long and difficult process. It involves…

Exposure

Acknowledgement

Intervention

Investigation

Transparency

Resolve

Punishment

Dedication to standards and values

Measurable goals

New leadership

Oversight

Refusal to compromise

Routine Assessment of progress

 Robert M. Heffington is an Ethics Hero. Here is his remarkable and remarkably disturbing letter: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Harry Belafonte

“In a few weeks from now, if there is a platform on which I will be privileged to stand and speak, my opening remarks will probably be something like “Welcome to the Fourth Reich.”

—Legendary singer and long-time civil rights activist Harry Belafonte, now 90, speaking at a “Democracy Now!” event with an audience of 2000.

Harry Belafonte radiated sunniness and spirituality when he sang in his unique, whispery voice, but his political activism was always angry, radical, and with the passing years, increasingly bitter and paranoid. It was predictable that, health allowing, “The Banana Boat Song” artist would be in his element in the 2016 Post-Election Freak-Out and Ethics Train Wreck, and, sadly, he did not disappoint.

In his remarks, Harry mentioned with affection Paul Robeson, the late actor and singer who left the U.S. for the worker’s paradise of  Stalinist Russia, and America-hater Noam Chomsky. He might have mentioned Fidel Castro, for whom Harry frequently expressed his admiration in the past. Back in 2012, Belafonte told another one of his pals, Al Sharpton, that since the evil, racist Republicans wouldn’t do Barack Obama’s bidding, “The only thing left for Barack Obama to do is to work like a third-world dictator and put all these guys in jail!”

But Donald Trump is a Nazi. Continue reading

Further Thoughts And Questions On “The Lottery Winner’s Sister-in-Law” (Part 1)

lottery win

The last ethics quiz posed the questions of whether a financially struggling (that is, like most people) brother [NOTE: In the earlier version, I incorrectly said they were twins. Why, I don’t know, except that it makes the set up more perfect. I apologize for the error. It didn’t change the issues any, or the commentary.]  in his Sixties should suggest to his lottery-winning brother, now 50 million dollars richer, that he could use some of that excess cash…and whether the brother would be unethical to refuse.

The more I think about it, the more I am sure that Slate advice columnist Emily Yoffe was answering a fictional hypothetical carefully devised to coax out the answer it did. I write these things for a living, and the brothers element is suspicious. The idea was to emphasize the perception of unfairness: here we have two genetically similar human beings raised with the same advantages and disadvantages, not just metaphorically “created equal” but equal in fact. How cruel and unfair that, in “Dear Prudence’s” words,  “your brother-in-law, through no effort of his own—save the purchase of a quick pick—was smiled on by fate and now enjoys luxuriant leisure. Especially since the two brothers suffered from a start in life that would have crushed many, it’s disturbing that the lottery winner hasn’t been moved to share a small percentage of his good fortune so that his brother doesn’t spend his last years scrambling to meet his basic needs.”

I didn’t exactly give my preferred answer to the quiz, but I did suggest that Yoff’e’s answer and the orientation of the questioner were redolent of the prevailing ethos of the political left. This was met with some complaining in the comments, but come on: “it’s disturbing that the lottery winner hasn’t been moved to share a small percentage of his good fortune so that his brother doesn’t spend his last years scrambling to meet his basic needs” would be a great Occupy Wall Street poster if it wasn’t so long, and it perfectly states the ethically dubious mantra we can expect from Bernie, Hillary or Elizabeth and probably any other Democrat who is selected to be called “a lightweight” and “a loser” by Republican nominee Trump.  In fact, I think this hypothetical would be a great debate question….and better yet if we explore some of the  variables.

For example: Continue reading

Pete Seeger Was No Hero, But That’s OK

“Was Pete political? Of course,” wrote singer Tom Paxton in a featured Washington Post salute to folk legend Pete Seeger, who died this week at the age of 94.“He was political as Walt Whitman was political, as Clarence Darrow and Woody Guthrie were political; as, for that matter, all of us should be political. He felt that ordinary people deserved protection from bullies of all stripes and his was the gift of being able to express this belief in music and in the way he lived his life.”

Reading Paxton’s dewy-eyed remembrance and the formal obituaries and tributes from most of the news media, one would never suspect that Pete’s belief in protection against all bullies didn’t stop him from being a fervent supporter of and an apologist for one of the worst bullies in human history, Josef Stalin, and not just momentarily, but for most of Seeger’s life. The fact that supposed news organizations nearly unanimously decided to gloss over that element of Seeger’s legacy tells us a lot about the Left, our journalists, bias….but not a lot about Pete Seeger.

If I followed my heart and my tapping foot but not my brain (and if all I knew about Pete was what I read in the newspapers and read from my theater colleagues on Facebook—And only in our Orwellian reality would someone of such incomparable achievement, one who displayed such overwhelming humanity, have been held in contempt of congress. An inspiring life,” wrote one, who should know better), I would have made Seeger an Ethics Hero Emeritus. He had some notable heroic moments, as when he stood up to the House Un-American Activities Committee, refusing to take the Fifth Amendment while defying the Committee in defense of the First, and getting himself cited for contempt of Congress and blacklisted as a result. I was thrilled and proud of him in 1968, when fresh off the blacklist he appeared on the Smothers Brothers show and sang his “Big Muddy” song (which you can watch above) with anger and passion, condemning the Vietnam war in metaphor and calling LBJ a fool on national television at a time when such a direct insult against the President was taboo. I didn’t even completely agree with Seeger at the time, but this was brave protest art at its finest and most effective.

If only the hypocrisy of continuing to support a system of government and a regime that tolerated no freedom of speech and that would have squashed a protester like Seeger as if he were a maggot had occurred to the folk singer while he was doing these things. But it did not. Folk singers tend to be like that, and Pete Seeger, one of the greatest folk singers, was more like that than any of them. Continue reading

Why Does MSNBC Give Melissa Harris-Perry A Platform?

This isn’t a free speech issue at all.

Soviet schoolchildren, 1954. They belong.

Soviet schoolchildren, 1954. They belong.

Prof. Perry, an MSNBC talking head, has the same right to make inflammatory, un-American statements that any of us do—and that is the kind of statements she regularly makes—but she is a Marxist. Her ideas and words are cultural poison. A cable network that promotes them is irresponsible.

Now, this is MSNBC, the network that allows Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz to broadcast their hateful rants to the nation, so we knew it was irresponsible, I suppose. These two buffoons, however, are not preaching concepts alien to core American values, and Harris-Perry is. Their presence on the network is unprofessional and obnoxious. Hers is unforgivable.

In a recent MSNBC promo advertising its house communist, Perry, scripted and saying exactly what she intended to convey, is heard saying that Americans..

“…haven’t had a very collective notion that these are our children. We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to their communities…Once it’s everybody’s responsibility and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”

Here’s the video:

She was shocked—shocked!—that these words were controversial and widely condemned. She took to her blog to condemn her critics and, she claimed, “double-down” on her statement. She did not double down, however. She lied and obfuscated, just as any good communist, radical and totalitarian must.  Continue reading

Exceptionalism and the United States of America’s Grand Ethical Dilemma

Today’s morning headlines were full of violence in Syria, Bahrain, Libya, and the threat of new conflict in Egypt, as popular uprisings against entrenched dictatorships continue to grow. As the U.S. tries to somehow avoid a lead role in the international intervention in Libya, the question looms regarding its responsibility to other nations whose people yearn to be free—or at least freer. As important as what America ultimately decides to do will be for the futures of these nations, the U.S. economy, and foreign relations, something far more important is at stake. These difficult choices once again challenge the United States to affirm or reject its ideals, the very essence of what has made America what it is.

We have come to these crossroads four times before. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: New York Times Op-Ed Writer David Brooks

“Besides, the legitimacy of a war is not established by how it is organized but by what it achieves.”

—-David Brooks, writing in the Times about the messy United Nations coalition now intervening in the Libyan civil war.

This is blatant consequentialism, and Brooks is incredibly mistaken to write it. Would Lincoln’s war have been “illegitimate” if it had resulted in a defeated North and two nations, one still clinging to slavery? W.W.II “achieved” virtual slavery for million of Europeans whose freedom was conceded to the Soviet Union, the frying of two Japanese cities full of civilians, the opportunity for Mao to launch the worst genocide in human history, and 40 years with a very real risk of a nuclear war that might have exterminated humanity. Was that war legitimate?

The legitimacy of a war is measured by whether its cause is just, and its objectives are both vital and beyond accomplishing by any other means. What any war ultimately achieves is determined by events and factors impossible to know when the war is commenced, as well as pure, dumb luck..

Glenn Beck vs. George Soros: Beck Cheats, Soros Wins

It is easy, and even enjoyable, to call foul when Fox News side-show barker Glenn Beck slanders a great American and personal hero like Theodore Roosevelt. It is less enjoyable when his target of abuse is someone I am far less fond of, George Soros. I don’t like to see billionaires use their checkbook to prop up juvenile Angry Left slime-artists like Move-On. Org, or to foist another family and  character-wrecking drug on society by pushing us toward the legalization of marijuana. But fair is fair, and lies are lies, and never the twain shall meet. The fact that Glenn Beck doesn’t agree with George Soros’s political activities can’t justify or excuse Beck’s use of falsehoods to paint him as something he is not.  Continue reading

The Tragedy of the Climate Change Fiasco

Americans woke up today to a snow-covered world that might not be getting warmer after all.

You may not hear about it or read about it right away, depending on what your news sources of choice are. Many news organizations and reporters have disgraced themselves, their profession and their professional ethics standards (values trashed: competence, diligence, responsibility, honesty, objectivity, fairness) so thoroughly that they will surely wait as long as possible before admitting they were wrong, if not how wrong they were. But I know where this is going, and it is not going to be good for anyone. Ethics fiascos, a.k.a ethics train wrecks, never are. Continue reading