Ethics Quote Of The Month, Terrifying Thoughts Division: Daniel Greenfield

“The Mueller investigation is about removing President Trump from office and overturning the results of an election. We all know that. But it’s not the first time they’ve done this. The first time a Republican president was elected this century, they said he didn’t really win. The Supreme Court gave him the election. There’s a pattern here. Trump didn’t really win the election. Bush didn’t really win the election. Every time a Republican president won an election this century, the Democrats insist he didn’t really win. Now say a third Republican president wins an election in say, 2024. What are the odds that they’ll say that he didn’t really win? Right now, it looks like 100 percent. What do sure odds of the Dems rejecting the next Republican president really mean? It means they don’t accept the results of any election that they don’t win.

“It means they don’t believe that transfers of power in this country are determined by elections.

“That’s a civil war.”

—–Writer and journalist Daniel Greenfield in a speech he delivered last week.

Oh-oh.

I don’t want to believe Greenfield is right, though I have written essays noting the same phenomenon, and long before “the resistance” tried to take down Trump. This is essentially the reason I decided late in the 2016 campaign that I could not vote for Clinton even though I would not vote for Trump. Since the election, my analysis has been confirmed, though I spend time each day wrestling to the ground the inevitable conclusion that follows, because I don’t want to believe it, so I don’t. Greenfield, however, declares it outright in his next section, saying,

There’s no shooting. At least not unless you count the attempt to kill a bunch of Republicans at a charity baseball game practice. But the Democrats have rejected our system of government.

This isn’t dissent. It’s not disagreement.

You can hate the other party. You can think they’re the worst thing that ever happened to the country. But then you work harder to win the next election. When you consistently reject the results of elections that you don’t win, what you want is a dictatorship.

Your very own dictatorship.

The only legitimate exercise of power in this country, according to the left, is its own. Whenever Republicans exercise power, it’s inherently illegitimate.

The attacks on Trump show that elections don’t matter to the left.

Continue reading

Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

“Stop quoting Maxine Waters!”

I just arrived at Virginia Beach Double Tree after a four hour plus drive in the dead of night. This gave amble time to obsess to the point of madness on Facebook post I saw from a friend. This is a smart, educated person; published in fact. Yet the post was (I am paraphrasing):

“I don’t understand Republicans. They must prefer Pence to Trump: why won’t the join Democrats in impeaching the orange bastard? I don’t get it.”

This post garnered many likes in the Facebook echo chamber, and several theories.

Now, this is not just an uninformed opinion. It is a dangerous opinion. It misinforms everyone who reads it and who has reason to trust and respect the writer. It is written in complete ignorance of the Constitution, and an irresponsible misinterpretation of what American democracy is.

I shouldn’t have to explain this further, but what the hell: if the Founders intended for our system to be a modified parliamentary arrangement where the public can try to elect a President but if Congress decides it prefers someone else, like the Vice-President, it can veto the election with a sufficient majority, then Madison, Mason et al. would have made that clear. Instead they made it clear that an elected President can only be impeached upon a guilty verdict in a Senate trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which means unequivocal, serious and substantive wrongdoing, usually criminal. Yet a frightening number of progressives, driven to fantasy by listening to irresponsible and incompetent elected demagogues like Maxine Waters, actually embrace an imaginary version of our government that, if real, would render democracy a cruel fraud. Continue reading

20 Ethics Observations On The President’s Charge That Obama Tapped His Phones

In the first week of March, in the midst of the over-blown flap regarding Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ two meetings with the Russian ambassador, President Trump issued arguably his most explosive  tweet yet:

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.

Later, he  tweeted,

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

It has been more than a week, and we know only a little more about what prompted this extraordinary accusation than we did then. However, there are some relevant ethics point to be made. Here we go…

1.  It is irresponsible and unpresidential to issue tweets like this. It is also unfair. If the Trump administration wants to make a formal complaint, charge or indictment, or announce an investigation, it should be made through proper channels, not social media. That stipulated, he will not stop doing this, and at some point we will have to accept it. Is this how Presidents communicate? It is now.

2. Thus the tweet is unethical even if it is true. However, the fact that it is unethical, or that Trump the Liar sent it, doesn’t mean it is untrue. An astounding number of pundits and journalists have made exactly that assumption, proving their bias against the President and their knee-jerk defensiveness regarding former President Obama.

3. The tweet cannot be called a “lie,” and anyone who does call it a lie based on what is known is revealing their confirmation bias.

4. One more point about the tweet itself: the fact that it has a typo and the level of articulation of the average 9th grader is itself an ethics breach. The President should not sanctify carelessness, or seem to embrace it. He is a role model.  Nor should a significant charge be written in haste, as this obviously was.

5. There seems to be a significant possibility that the President was trolling. Having had enough of the months long, absolutely evidence-free news media and Democrat innuendos that his campaign was coordinating election tampering with the Russians, he may have decided to make a sensational, unsubstantiated charge of his own to get the Russian hacking speculation off the front pages. If it was trolling, it was excellent trolling. The McCarthyism purveyors  deserved it; the accusation was a deft tit-for-tat,  one of the President’s favorite rationalizations.

6. As an example of what Trump has been and is being subjected to, we have Rep. Keith Ellison, vice-chair of the DNC.  He told Alisyn Camerota on CNN’s “New Day last week,”

“This is stunning when you think about it. Far worse than Watergate, when you believe a hostile foreign power engaged in an attempt, and with the collusion of the sitting administration to manipulate an election.”

By sheerest moral luck, Camerota that day was feeling ethical, so she actually corrected a Trump-basher from her own party, said, “Well you don’t know that,” and pointed out that there is no evidence of collusion.

“I’m not saying there was collusion, I’m saying those meetings indicate that there could be, and I think that needs to be investigated,” Ellison then said, immediately after saying there was collusion.

These are awful, vicious, conscience- free people who subcribe to total political war and the ends justify the means. They are trying to bring down an elected government without winning an election. Even that does not justify treating them unethically, BUT… Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo”

Person voting

The weekend was awash with excellent comments, and this one, from three days ago, was inadvertently left on the runway. It begins with a quote from Pennagain’s COTD from 1/13, and continues boldly, as last year’s Commenter of the Year often does, into a related but different issue. The original topic was race relations in the U.S., and President Obama’s fantasy that they have improved under his stewardship.

The comment also has the immense virtue of not invoking Donald Trump in any way.

Here is Humble Talent’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo””

“Meanwhile, back in the ghetto, Black Lives Matter gets a firm grip on the larger – and ever-growing larger – black underclass, those who couldn’t “discuss” their beliefs if they wanted to.”

That’s actually a very salient point, one that isn’t unique to any particular demographic, and that I think needs addressing.

I won’t even hazard a statistic, but I believe it to be likely that the vast majority of Americans (And Canadians, we aren’t immune) don’t actually understand politics, economics, or the law in much more than a cursory manner. I don’t think the average person at any protest would be able to with even a bird-taking-its-first-flight bumbling grace put into words the feelings that have them attending their event.

The language, I think, of Joe Protester is that of fear. Fear of authority, fear of corruption, fear of lethal forces, fear of economic hardship… They don’t know what the answer is, hell, they might not even know what the problem is, they might not even identify their feelings as fear. They just have feelings, and feel a need to do something about them.

It’s their right to do so, and I’d never say otherwise. But there’s a danger here… I find myself often drawn to the corrupting influence of having people agree with me. This might sound ridiculous, but it isn’t… If these people around me are those fearful people that don’t know what the answer is, don’t know what the problem is, and have feelings that just so happen to align with mine, it’s… hard…. to resist getting caught up in the tide and carried on to other positions those people have, just as ill informed, that I might not have come to on my own.

While the possibility of this is absolutely prolific on both sides of the argument, I think (and I’m sure I’ll get disagreement on this) that this kind of thought permeates the left more frequently than the right… I think that for two reasons:

First: The left often bribes their voters. Year over year, study after study shows that financial problems top people’s anxiety lists. More than terrorism, More than discrimination, More than death (sometimes, death usually wins.). And both of the parties have an answer for that! From the right, they say that reducing taxes will create jobs, and throttling immigration will reduce competition for those jobs. From the left, they say that they’ll do things like increase the minimum wage, regulate companies to pay better benefits, and lower welfare requirements. The reason I think that the left has a more appealing (if less convincing) case is because people are biased towards laziness and entitlements are much easier to collect than work is to earn.

Continue reading

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations

crying-clinton-supporters

After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.

Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single  electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California.  Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.

The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his  intention  not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.

George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.

Three Ethics Observations from one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history: Continue reading

From Facebook, Two Comments Of The Day: The Election

Police form a line to contain protesters outside a campaign rally for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on Thursday, June 2, 2016, in San Jose, Calif.  A group of protesters attacked  Trump supporters who were leaving the presidential candidate's rally in San Jose on Thursday night. A dozen or more people were punched, at least one person was pelted with an egg and Trump hats grabbed from supporters were set on fire on the ground. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Two regular commenters,  johnburger2013 and Alexander Cheezem, cross-posted their Facebook essays about the election on Ethics Alarms. Both are worthy Comment of the Day.

First, from johnburger2013:

A  Facebook friend told me to let this go. However, I can’t, especially after reading countless postings about the end to the US as we know it. This post is most particularly directed at the person accusing me of white-male-entitled-complacency, who has never had to worry about storm troopers kicking in my front door.

Trump won. Clinton lost. This has been a long, painful, contentious election cycle, extraordinarily dividing the nation into bitter, blinded hemispheres with unbelievable and unnecessary bloodletting.

Yet, take heart. The US republic will survive. Will Trump be a good president? Who knows? Nobody. Got that? Nobody. Time will tell.

Give some credit to the citizenry. The US, for all of its past and present errors, has tried to live up to its mission to form a ‘more perfect’ union. It has constantly tried to right the ship and steer it away from the rocks. Hopefully, the thousand cuts inflicted by this election will heal and the nation will find itself stronger. I have read that a broken bone is stronger when it heals. Hope springs eternal.

To those lamenting and wailing that your candidate lost: Stop it. Please. For the sake of the nation. Just stop it. Trump’s presidency does not, and will not, lead to mass incarceration, deportation, or the building of ovens. The US is nowhere near where the Weimar Republic was in the 1920s. Nor is it anywhere close to pre-Mussolini Italy, pre-Franco Spain, pre-Chavez Venezuela, or pre-Morales Bolivia. And no, Trump’s presidency will not, under any circumstances, be a catalyst for religious reactionaries calling for pregnant women to be chained to the stove.

More particularly, stop hurling Nazi memes around. Nazi Germany led to unspeakable evil, targeting Jews for extermination. Do not, under any circumstances, diminish what Jews suffered under Nazi genocide by claiming that Trump and his supporters are one clothing store away from brown shirts. Do not tell me that my ‘white-privilege complacency’ blinds me to the realities of Kristallnacht. It is insulting and cruel. I am from the Cleveland, Ohio, area, which had a large survivor community. I saw the fear. I heard the stories survivors endured. Worst of all, I saw the despair in the eyes of ordinary people targeted because of their religion. I don’t need to experience first-hand what happened at Treblinka or Auschwitz to know that that is pure, unbridled evil.

Furthermore, I saw that Kristallnacht has been trending on Facebook, and, ironically, began on November 9, 1938. Believe, me, I do not support Donald Trump – I think he will be a terrible president (I hope I am wrong). However, I am disheartened and saddened that fellow citizens cannot put aside partisan differences. Reading Facebook postings comparing Trump to Hitler, and his supporters to the Schutzstaffel, is morally offensive, especially having known people who suffered through Nazi genocide, people forever scarred by the horror they lived and having to relive it every single moment they look at numbers brutally carved into their skin

Trump’s victory absolutely does not mean that minorities will be hauled back to plantations in chains, or marriages recently upheld will be obliterated.

As for Trump and his supporters: Drop the “Clinton-is-a-criminal” stuff. Your candidate won. Stop gloating. It is immature and unbecoming of the republic. Your candidate will take the highest executive office in the land. Demand that your candidate govern with the dignity, respect, and vision that office requires. Demand that he stop saying stupid things. Demand that he develop a filter and impulse control expected of the office.

Disagree over policy. Disagree over ideas. Disagree all you want about Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush or Obama, but they behaved in the manner called for by the Office of the President of the United States of America.

The US is a great place to live because of the liberties enshrined and guaranteed and protected by the Constitution. If we, as citizens, hold to true to those values, the nation will be a better place.

Now Alexander Cheezem’s Comment of the Day, on the theme of accountability, an Ethics Alarms favorite. I’ll have a brief comment at the end: Continue reading

The Ethics Of Threatening To Leave The Country…And Leaving It

leaving

Leaving the U.S. just because of the result of an election is an anti-American move for a citizen, a per se demonstration of poor character, ignorance, and a lack of understanding of history and how the government works. Primarily, it is an insult to everyone  in the country, the nation itself, and a rejection of the social compact.

We live in a republic where everyone agrees to participate in the process of government, and that means accepting the benefits, privileges, rights and the responsibilities flowing from that citizenship. Certainly anyone here has a right to try to live where they want to live. However, the nation is no different before an election than immediately after it.  If one doesn’t like living in American, I think you’re nuts, and obviously you don’t crave my association very much, but okay, bon voyage! The attitude of the post-election refugees, however, is “Democracy is only a good thing when I get my way.” Nope, that is not the deal.

If you are willing to accept what you think are the benefits of winning, then you are obligated to accept the results if you lose, and keep working to make your nation and society better as you and your like-minded citizens see it. Leaving after the votes are counted flunks the Kantian test: what would happen if everyone acted like that? It would make democracies unworkable, and ultimately extinct.

The ethical time to leave is before the election. Stupid, but ethical.

Speaking of stupidity, the current freakouts by people—including some of my close friends and relatives—demonstrate the ravages of civic ignorance. They are embarrassing. No, the election doesn’t mean “the end of legal abortions.” No, it doesn’t mean “the suspension of civil rights.” No it doesn’t mean that “Muslims will be put in camps,” or that there will be “mass deportations.” These kinds of wild apocalyptic claims are irresponsible, but mostly show a lack of comprehension of the law, the Presidency, the legislative process and the courts. Now, Donald Trump, who is similarly ignorant of our government and our legal system, may want to do some of these things, just as he may want to make the national language Swedish. But he can’t. If you think he can, your focus should be on improving the educational system, because it failed you mightily. As Barack Obama discovered to his chagrin, legislation is hard, takes skill and perseverance, and requires process,  moderation, compromise and broad consensus.

So the citizens who actually leave aren’t committed to democracy, have little pride in the culture and history of the United States, and when they don’t get what they want,  they pick up their marbles and quit. Good riddance. The nation is stronger and healthier without them. As for their less wealthy but more stout-hearted soulmates, those currently engaged in protesting the results of the election, the equivalent of a public hissy fit, they may have some societal value, eventually.

Maybe they’ll grow up.

And maybe not. “Not our President”Not our President”??? You see, children, that’s the bargain. He is your President, because that’s the deal you make with a democracy: you agree to accept the results of the election, whether you voted for the winner or not. Wait, wait, I’m so confused! Wasn’t one of the reasons you and your Party and your candidate’s media mouthpeices were saying that Trump was a Nazi was that he suggested that he might not “accept the results of the election”? Bill Maher, Professional Asshole, apologized to Bush, McCain and Romney last week for calling them fascists, because it was unfair—rump, he said, Trump is the real fascist!

I think I recognize who are acting like fascists, and the behavior fits the tactics of the party and the candidate they supported.

Yet I digress. For this post is not about those wan and selfish souls who do export themselves, but the rich and famous who threaten—promise, actually— to leave if their candidate doesn’t win. What’s going on with them? Continue reading

The Boaty McBoatface Affair, And What It Means For Donald Trump

Boaty McBoatface

Great Britain’s National Environmental Research Council has a new $300 million ship being readied for a 2019 launch. It is a 128-yard-long, 15,000-ton beauty designed to serve as a “new polar research vessel which will deliver world-leading capability for UK research in both Antarctica and the Arctic.”  The Council put naming its new ship to the public, and asked for it to choose a name. Apparently in the grip of a Monty Python hangover, the name overwhelmingly chosen in an online vote was “Boaty McBoatface.”

Uh, no. Science Minister Jo Johnson announced that another, more suitable  name would be chosen.“The new royal research ship will be sailing into the world’s iciest waters to address global challenges that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, including global warming, the melting of polar ice, and rising sea levels. That’s why we want a name that lasts longer than a social-media news cycle and reflects the serious nature of the science it will be doing,” he said.

Jonathan Turley, who has written two posts about “Boaty McBoatface,” is expressing dismay that humorless bureaucrats would reject “democracy.”  And I’m sure if George Washington Law School decided to have the public pick a new name for the professor’s employer, he’d embrace whatever whimsical, law-mocking choice they made, like “The Greedy McLieface School of Law.”

Turley thinks the ship’s popular name is funny, ergo he thinks its just fine. Of course, he doesn’t have to justify the agency’s budget, or put the gag name on his resume, or convince people to take the projects of an organization seriously when its flagship presents itself as a lark.

Johnson and his colleagues have a higher ethical duty than blindly accepting a “democratic” vote from people who don’t really care about the National Environmental Research Council’s work. “Boaty McBoatface” would be detrimental to the Council’s public image, self-image, moral and effectiveness. They had a duty to reject it. Prof. Turley thought it would be great for T-shirt sales.

He really needs to get off campus more.

Final thoughts: Continue reading

Super Tuesday Ethics: Bill Clinton’s Ultimate Arrogance

laws_for_little_people_anti_hillary_clinton_2016_This kind of thing is what makes people cynical about democracy. Well, this and the fact that Donald Trump can win so many primaries.

In Massachusetts, Bill Clinton clearly violated the law repeatedly by lobbying primary voters on behalf of his wife at polling places. Not only is this against the law in every state, but it is obviously wrong, as in cheating. The law:

Voting and Counting Procedures for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 

Within 150 feet of a polling place as defined in 950 CMR 53.03(18)(c), no person shall solicit votes for or against, or otherwise promote or oppose, any person or political party or position on a ballot question, to be voted on at the current election.

Never mind—when did trivia like law and ethics ever apply to the Clintons? According to a report filed from boston.com, the former President “chatted up voters, kissed an old lady on the head, posed for photos, and bought a cup of coffee.”   After Bill visited a number of polling stations throughout the eastern portion of the state. Massachusetts officials “reminded” the Clinton campaign about the statute, as if they didn’t already know about it. In New Bedford, Bill Clinton’s presence interfered with the voting, and one annoyed voter videoed the scene and placed it on YouTube. Continue reading

There’s Nothing To Do About This, But “13 Hours” Is Unethical

13-hours-poster-image-2015

“13 Hours,” directed by Michael Bay,dramatizes the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the Benghazi consulate in Libya, a tragedy, and also the center of an ongoing controversy over Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State and her truthfulness. The movie hits theaters today,  two weeks ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

“The release of ’13 Hours’ will re-start the conversation over Benghazi and introduce a whole new audience to the events of that night,” says Brian O. Walsh, president of Future45, a conservative, Clinton-hating super PAC.  “Coming just weeks before the first votes are cast and in the form of a major motion picture from Hollywood, the timing couldn’t be worse for Secretary Clinton.”

He’s right. I haven’t seen the film, but the subject matter is bad enough. It is brutally unfair and an abuse of its influence and power over public opinion for Hollywood to release a feature film distorting a relevant historical event during the run-up to a national election. Doing so turns entertainment into propaganda, and confuses an already bewildered, ignorant and intellectually lazy public. It is irresponsible. Continue reading