Ethics Hero: Senator Rand Paul

I am not a Rand Paul aficionado, but Congress and the government would be far, far better off if more elected officials possessed his integrity and courage.

Currently he is being attacked, as those with integrity and courage often are, for objecting to the text of a piece of pure legislative grandstanding called the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, which would make lynching a federal crime. “You think I take joy in being here?” Paul said. “I will be excoriated by simple minded people on the internet who think somehow I don’t like Emmet Till or appreciate the history or memory of Emmett Till.”

Indeed he has been, but Paul’s point is unassailable:  there hasn’t been a lynching in this country in more than 50 years, so the bill has approximately the same urgency as the Albert Packer Anti-Cannibalism Act, or a law making slave-hunting a federal crime. Most Senators, indeed all of them except Paul, seem to be willing to pass by unanimous consent this bill designed to further pander to the George Floyd demonstrators/rioters/looters, perhaps because some commentators and activists in their enthusiasm called Floyd’s death a “lynching.” Justice Thomas, as I recall, also called the effort to smear him and block his ascent to the Supreme Court by producing pre-#MeToo accuser Anita Hill a “high tech lynching.” But neither were lynchings; as Lincoln observed, calling a dog’s tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.

Among his many objections to the bill, Paul pointed out that nearly none of his colleagues have read it, that it was sloppily written, and that too many laws get passed this way. “Someone has to read these bills and make sure they do what they say they’re going to do rather than it be just a big PR effort,” he said.

I can vouch for that: I read the bill, it is incomprehensible, and it’s primarily a  mea culpa for Jim Crow pretending to be a bill. It  goes on and on about the history of lynching and how it once was a terrible problem, but never suggests that anyone is still being lynched, because no one is.  Never mind: the anti-lynching law, we discover when we get to the very end, will apply to any “hate crime” in which an individual is harmed by police out of racial animus. It is, in fact, an entire law embodying the hot rationalization of recent weeks, #64, Yoo’s Rationalization, or “It isn’t what it is.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/14/2020: And The Ethics Beat Goes On…

Good morning.

That’s a perfunctory good morning, to be transparent. Mourning would be more accurate. Yesterday’s news that Red Sox manager Alex Cora, a man who had impressed me with his leadership ability, personality and, yes, ethical values, was exposed by an investigation as the primary instigator of cheating schemes that involved two baseball teams and World Series champions (the Astros and the Red Sox), disillusioned two fan bases, harmed his sport, and led, so far, to the fall of two of the games most successful and admired management figures. Cora is also the first minority manager the Red Sox have had, and was regarded as a transformational figure for the team and the city, both of which have long and troubled histories of prejudice and discrimination. Smart, articulate, creative, funny, brave, knowledgeable—all of his positive qualities, rendered useless by the lack of functioning ethics alarms.

1. Congratulations to Ann Althouse…on this, the 16th anniversary of her blog. With the demise of Popehat, she supplanted Ken White as my most admired blogger, and most quoted by far. The fact that her fiercely non-partisan analysis of ethics issues so frequently tracks with my own is a constant source of comfort for me , particularly during these difficult times. Ann has an advantage that I don’t—“I only write about what interests me” is her description of her field of commentary— because this blog is limited to ethics and leadership. Fortunately, Ann is interested in ethics, though she seldom says so explicitly.

2. Bernie vs Liz. Feeling that Bernie Sanders was pulling away as the standard-bearer of the Leftest of the Democratic base as her own support appears to be waning, Elizabeth Warren went low, and had her aides reveal the content of what was supposed to be two-hour a private summit between the fake Native American and the Communist sympathizer in December 2018. According to them, Bernie told Warren that he disagreed with her assertion that a woman could win the 2020 election. Bernie denies it. Observations:

  • This kind of thing stinks, though it is kind of fun to see Democrats dirtied by it instead of President Trump. Anonymous accounts of what was said in phone conversations and private meetings in which the participants reasonably believed they could speak freely are unreliable, untrustworthy and unethical.
  • The Warren camp’s spin on Bernie’s alleged statement is that it shows he’s a sexist. That makes no sense. If I say that I can’t win the election in 2020, does that mean I’m biased against myself? There is no logical reason to assume an opinion like “A woman can’t win is 2020” represents bias, though it could. I will state here and now that a gay man can’t be elected President in 2020, even if that man weren’t a pandering asshole like Pete Buttigieg, but I am not anti-LGBTQ is any way. The statement reflects my objective analysis of the state of the culture.
  • I suspect that Sanders meant, “YOU can’t win in 2020, nor can Kamala Harris nor any of the other equally weak announced female candidates.” The truth may hurts, but that doesn’t make it biased
  • (Psst! Bernie! A delusional septuagenarian socialist who honeymooned in the Soviet Union can’t win either!)

3. No, the fact that there are no more African-Americans running for President doesn’t mean an African-American can’t win. It means weak African-American candidates like Cory Booker, who just dropped out, and Kamala Harris, who is long gone, can’t win, not because of their race, but because they can’t convince voters that they could do the job. Continue reading

Last Sunday Of The Decade Ethics Alarms, 12/29/2019: Herman Kahn Rolling Over In His Grave Edition

Good morning!

In my one, fortuitous one-on-one conversation with futurist Herman Kahn, then regarded as the most brilliant man in America, he observed that society periodically for forgets everything it has learned over the years, and then chaos reigns temporarily until bad ideas and horrific mistakes re-teach the lessons that once were accepted as obvious. He was talking about the Sixties, but it is clear that this is another one of those periods. Kahn also noted that some of the forgotten lessons are re-learned too late to save society from permanent harm. The Sixties gave us socially acceptable promiscuous sex and the resulting normalization of children born out of wedlock, the re-assignment of of abortion as ethical (somehow) rather than criminal, and societal sanctions of recreational drug use.

Nice work, Boomers…

1. Speaking of abortion...can there be a more empty, fatuous justification of it than what Senator Cory Booker tried last week? ”Abortion rights shouldn’t matter to men because women are our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends,” Booker tweeted. “They should matter to men — to everyone — because women are people.”

How profound. Nobody has ever disputed that women are people, and Booker’s non-logic—the statement compels the response, “And SO…????”—is an appeal to emotion without substance. It also makes its own rebuttal screamingly obvious to anyone but a pro-abortion zealot: “Abortion should be repugnant to men and women…and Presidential candidates…because unborn babies are living human beings.” Continue reading

The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity

There is mass outrage in the Democratic Party, we are told,  over the fact that Cory Booker and Deval Patrick won’t be on the debate stage in December’s candidate’s debate, and neither will former housing secretary Julián Castro, or Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. True, Andrew Yang has qualified, but Asians don’t count as minorities to progressives, because they are so successful and don’t commit many crimes, heaven knows why.  That’s why Harvard can discriminate against them and get away with it. But I digress…

There’s just one reason Yang will be the only non-white candidate on the stage: the other minority candidates couldn’t justify their candidacy, even among the frightening weak competition of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Naturally, Democrats being Democrats and primed to blame any result they don’t like on racism, sexism or bias, this obvious example of democracy working the way it’s supposed to is being condemned.  Well, I should clarify that: It’s working the way I think it’s supposed to, the way the Founders thought it was supposed to, and pretty much the way everyone thought it was supposed to until progressives came up with the moonbat idea that results were only fair if they distributed benefits in strict accordance with demographic percentages, and were even better if they gave an edge to “historically disadvantaged minorities.”

Thus, even though the process of deciding the winners in the slow motion musical chairs of the Democratic nomination game seems to rely on who the voters think is best qualified, that process is, according to moonbattism, bad, as in racist and unfair, if the process doesn’t yield sufficient numbers of contenders with the  right skin shades. The party really thinks like this, or at least significant numbers of the party to render the entire party untrustworthy.

I don’t understand how anyone can responsibly put a party in power that has adopted such an obviously destructive and non-democratic position.

“What message is that sending that we heralded the most diverse field in our history and now we’re seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign?” Senator Booker asked a crowd in Iowa. He darkly suggested that Kamala Harris left the race “not because Iowa voters had the voice. Voters did not determine her destiny,” but because bigotry was afoot.

The message being sent , Senator, was that lousy candidates like Kamala Harris (and you), who bungled every debate and who appear to have no leadership qualities at all, don’t appeal to voters seriously looking for a President rather than a symbol, like Bracak Obama. It is deeply self-serving for Booker to attribute Harris’s failure to racism, since he appeals to even fewer voters than she did, and is also, like her, wearing skin in the darker range.

The New York Times gasps, “The Democratic primary is facing a reckoning. In two weeks, Democrats will gather in Los Angeles for a debate that is likely to feature an entirely white roster. That is not, several candidates and prominent party members say, how the party that emphasizes diversity and fairness should want to represent itself.”

How about the fact that none of the candidates on that stage appear to be competent, trustworthy or responsible? Shouldn’t that be more of a concern than the skin-tones of the various socialists and panderers debating each other?

Not in Democrat Quota Land, I guess. Here’s a howler from the Times that only a thoroughly brain-washed progressive zombie could read without laughing:

“Some blame the rules for qualifying for the debates. The polling requirements give an advantage to candidates who can invest in extensive television advertising to get their name out. Others note, however, that the candidates of color in the 2020 field have not drawn significant support from black and Latino voters.”

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 8/3/19: Lies and Ridiculous Lies

Bad day, right from the start.

An old friend, and one of my favorite people in the world, just suffered a terrible tragedy, one of those random, devastating, lightning strikes to the heart. He is much loved, and will be hearing from many, including me, once I figure out what to say. I’m always flummoxed in such situations, hating to mouth platitudes (I’m so sorry for your loss), but unable to think of anything more helpful.

1. The Washington Post factchecker is trying to be non-partisan again. I wonder how long it will last this time? He gave Cory Booker four Pinnochio’s for his statement during the last debate, “We lost the state of Michigan because everybody from Republicans to Russians were targeting the suppression of African American voters.”

That one missed the cut in the Ethics Alarms post. It is a complete lie, absolutely baseless. It is exactly as false and irresponsible as President Trump’s claim, unmoored to anything but wild speculation that widespread voter fraud cost him California. That, of course, was roundly mocked and condemned by some of the same pundits who are rooting for Booker.

Glenn Kessler explains in his article that there are absolutely no facts that support Booker’s claim. It is just made up. No data exists that indicate that Russian social media hi-jinks cost Clinton votes in Michigan, or anywhere, for that matter, much less the thousands of votes needed to flip the state. Nor does Michigan have any new measures that that would have suppressed African American voters. Indeed Clinton lost because the African American turn-out was not as strong as 2012, but that was expected, and the fall-off was approximately what was predicted. Kessler concludes, “[W]e could not find any specific examples of new laws enacted between 2012 and 2016 that could have reduced African American turnout. In fact, the Republican governor in 2012 vetoed a bill that would have required a photo ID for absentee voting.”

The worst thing  about Donald Trump, we are told, is that he habitually makes statements like Cory Booker’s. Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week, And Incompetent Elected Official: Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)

“My testosterone sometimes makes me want to feel like punching [Trump], which would be bad for this elderly, out-of-shape man that he is if I did that — a physically weak specimen.”

U.S. Senator—yes, that’s Senator, not “junior high locker room blow-hard”—Cory Booker, on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

How statesmanlike and dignified. How elevating to the public discourse. How respectful to our institutions. What a fine example of civility to pass on to the young. How substantive and intellectually edifying. And what a factually ridiculous assertion: Trump’s energy at 70+ is remarkable, as the seven day a week regimen of any President would floor many a younger man.

Booker might be able to beat up several of the women running against him for Congress, as well as ancient Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. I’m surprised he is boasting about that. It’s pretty much the extent of his claim to be any better candidates than they are, and they’re nothing to cheer about.

What a stunning dimwit this man is, to think that pandering to Seth Myers’ foolish audience by spewing ad hominem insults and posing as some kind of warrior by saying what he would like to do but never would [Blogger Jim Treacher: “Let’s take a moment to imagine any Republican going on national TV and saying something like this about a Democratic POTUS. And let’s take another moment to contemplate the amusing idea of Cory Booker possessing testosterone….”] enhances his status as a worthy candidate for the Presidency.

He’s not even an honorable member of the Senate.

Another Mass Shooting, More Reminders Of Why The Anti-Gun Left Cannot Be Trusted

When there was a mass- shooting in Virginia Beach last week, I wondered if this time the determined gun-grabbers would pretty much leave it alone. After all, it was carried out with hand-guns, legally purchased. The perpetrator had no criminal record or psychiatric issues. None of the so-called “sensible gun regulations” that we are lectured about constantly would have stopped him.

My curiosity was quickly slaked when the sad, openly partisan shell of Dan Rather, who was once respected when he was able to pretend that he was an ethical, objective  journalist before the mask dropped, appeared  on “CNN Tonight,”  to accuse Second Amendment-respecting members of Congress who do not rush to disarm law-abiding Americans in the wake of every shooting as “bought and paid for by the gun lobby.” This, of course, is the present disgraceful ideological certitude of the Left: no one of good faith and virtuous objectives can possibly disagree with progressive cant, so dissenters must be evil or corrupt. But, to take an example I am extremely familiar with, if the trial lawyers spend millions to support mostly Democratic legislators who refuse to accept “sensible” reforms to the current civil justice system that makes plaintiffs’ attorneys millionaires, the representatives who vote their way have just been persuaded by the innate rightness of their arguments. The same is true of Democratic support of illegal immigration, abortion, climate change policies, legalizing pot, and on and on—but according to Rather, only gun supporting Congress members are “bought and paid for.”

Boy, do I feel like a chump! Here I am, thinking I was a non-gun owning ethicist who has studied our history, the law, the court cases and the statistics, and thought about the issue a great deal over many years.  I’ve concluded, without anyone paying me a cent, that the Second Amendment is the bulwark of the Bill of Rights, and one of an essential and indispensable defense against the desires of power-seeking politicians to reduce individual liberty in the U.S. to advance an agenda of suffocating government control. What’s the matter with me?

Then came another of the Democratic Presidential candidates, this time the slippery Cory Booker, who also addressed my internal curiosity. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/13/2019: Oh, All Sorts Of Things…

A rainy good morning from Northern Virginia!

1. Weekend Update: I’d like to point readers to two posts from the weekend, recognizing that many of you don’t visit on Saturday and Sunday. I think they are important.

The first is” I Hereby Repudiate My Undergraduate Degree, As My Alma Mater Has Rendered It A Symbol Of Hypocrisy, Ignorance, And Liberal Fascism” about Harvard’s shocking punishment of a college dean and Harvard law professor for defending Harvey Weinstein. There was more to the story than I knew when I posted about it (thanks, Chip Defaa! ). Ronald Sullivan’s  wife is also being stripped of her position as a dean—Harvard now designates both spouses as “deans” when they lead residence Houses. It’s not exactly  “guilt by association,” since she also only had the job by association, but she still lost her job and cpmpensation. Ronald Sullivan had quit his position as a defense attorney for Weinstein the day before Harvard announced he would not be dean of Winthrop House for the next school year. That’s not very admirable on his part, but I sympathize with his dilemma.

The other is this multi-lateral ethics break-down, which I am upset about now and will continue to be. It demonstrates how far gone rational ethical decision-making is in  some segments of our society, and honestly, I don’t know what to do about it.

2.  Here’s one of the many little ways the “resistance” is undermining the President (and in so doing, our democracy.) The Children’s Hospital Association paid for a full page ad last month in the New York Times, thanking “Congress and the Administration” for passing the Advancing Care  for Exceptional Kids Act (ACE  Kids). This is pandering, partisan, ungrateful cowardice. Laws are passed by Congress and the President, who must sign legislation into law. “The Administration” has no Constitutional role in passing laws. This pusillanimous association was afraid of backlash if it dared to publicly thank Present Trump for making their bill law.

Presidential policies, words and actions that the “resistance” can complain about are over-publicized; accomplishments that they can’t find fault with are ignored or attributed to someone else.

Here’s another example, from this week’s Times book section. In a review of a book about the decision to fight the Iraq war, the reviewer refers to “Trumpian malpractice.” That’s just an unsupported and gratuitous slur, assuming that readers believe that the President’s name is synonymous with incompetence, or trying to embed the idea that it is. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 4/16/2019: The Wide, Wide World Of Ethics

1. Notre Dame fire ethics:  Michael West, whose rare (of late) comments are valued as pearls, offered a proposed poll regarding the proper response to the destruction of the ancient cathedral’s spire. Here it is, with a few tweaks from me:

At the risk of tainting the voting, I have a pretty strong opinion about this. The structure  should be left as it is. Did they repair the Great Sphinx’s nose? Did they cover up the crack in the Liberty Bell? Once a part of an ancient structure or monument us gone, it’s gone. Replacements and restorations are ersatz and deceptive. The fire is part of the cathedral’s history, and what remains should reflect it. There are far better—and more ethical– uses for the many millions it will take to restore the spire.

2. Thanks for all the kind comments in light of Ethics Alarms hitting two major milestones on the same day. In commemoration, the blog will launch a new series, Ethics Alarms Retrospective (EAR), focusing on one or more of the  10,000+ posts I have immodestly placed here, most of which even I have forgotten.

For the first installment of EAR,  I offer “The Unethical Humiliation of Sister Rita X”from August 10, 2010. The topic was Sean Hannity’s practice of allowing clearly deranged progressives to have extended exposure on his radio call-in show, so he could engage in cheap mockery with the implication that they are representative of the Left generally. The comments are especially fascinating, almost all of which were Hannity fans who concocted all manner of distortions and rationalizations to justify what was the equivalent of exploiting the mentally ill for laughs. Comment highlight? This:

Again- I don’t expect you to respond- because you already said you would cut this conversation off.
Again- typical lib.
And I have facts.
What have you got besides a hollow ideology and kool aid?

That’s me, all right: a typical lib! By the way, that (minor) post was shared 4 times on Facebook, where as the last several hundred or so have received none. Continue reading