If House Democrats Have Functioning Ethics Alarms, They Won’t Do This…

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Wait, what am I saying?

Iowa certified Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican, as the winner in the state’s 2nd Congressional District by nearly the thinnest of margins, defeating Democrat Rita Hart by only six votes. Hart hasn’t challenged the result. What she has done is to ask Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, to have her House majority seat Hart anyway. The theory, apparently, is that this strategy will force Iowa to review the current ballot count. Right now, the Miller-Meeks victory will be investigated by the House Administration Committee.

The Washington Times, which reported this last night, says, “The refusal by a Democrat to accept certified results is likely to fuel supporters of Mr. Trump, who believes he has valid reasons for contesting his apparent loss.” Ya think?

If you want a “literal civil war,” as some illiterate conservative hotheads are already claiming we have, this is a great way to push us in that direction, and I might grab a musket myself. Are Democrats really so deluded and power mad that they would try to seat a defeated House candidate by fiat in defiance of the state’s certification even as they deride the President’s campaign for challenging the results in several key states where vote-counting shenanigans appeared to be rampant?

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Monday Between Halloween And Scary Election Day Ethics,11/2/2020 [CORRECTED]

I had a conversation with a friend who said she would never speak to anyone so devoid of values and intelligence to vote for Donald Trump (she was bluffing) and then immediately thereafter demonstrated that she was incapable of explaining what was so unbearable about the President beyond generalities, Big Lies, and deflections (when the quality of the President’s advisors are a go-to argument three minutes in, you’ve got nothin’…) Upon cross examination, she could not coherently justify voting for Joe Biden either, except through denial (“He’s not senile, he’s just not as sharp as he used to be, and at that age, who is?” Yes, and that’s why nobody has run for President at that age. And no, Joe did not used to forget who he was running against, what office he was running for, or repeatedly get thousands mixed up with millions) even when it was acknowledged that he was far from the sharpest tack in the package. Finally, she said, “I’d vote for Biden even if he was completely demented.’

And there it is: the rational, informed, analytical Democratic voter. In the end, it’s mostly about hate.

  1. Speaking of dementia…Conservative flame-breathing pundit Kurt Schlichter tweeted that Sean Connery’s last words were “Elect Donald Trump.” Sure, Kurt. Yesterday I learned that 007 had been losing a long bout with dementia. If he was no longer compos mentis, that endorsement really isn’t worth much, and he would have been much more likely to endorse Biden out of comradery.

2. What’s going on here? What are we to make of all of the sudden reports that the President is surging in multiple states? For example, yesterday the Des Moines Register described the poll results showing that what had been a Biden lead was now a 9 point Trump advantage:  “Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded…”

There are similar stories coming out of other states, and more than one pollster is now predicting a decisive Trump win. Are pollsters deliberately trying to avoid a catastrophic embarrassment by hedging their bets at the last minute? Are conservative media forces trying to bolster GOP confidence to get out the vote? Are we witnessing another election where the undecideds suddenly all flip in the same direction in the final hours, like in 1948, 1980, 1988, and 2016?

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Lost Day Ethics Catch-Up, 9/19/2020: Even Ketchup Can’t Cover The Bad Taste Of This Post!

1.  Is it possible that this is real? A couple allegedly sent this email to wedding reception invitees, explaining that their meals would be determined by the value of the wedding gifts they planned on bringing.

Are there really people this crass? Who in their right mind would do anything but send a curt “Bite me!” note to such a couple, and resolve never to waste a second on them again?

2. OK, I don’t see anything wrong with this, at all. The assignment for an Iowa City school district online learning program asked students of all races to write four sentences about what they would do if they were a slave who was freed.

“Think very, very carefully about what your life would be like as a slave in 1865,” the students were asked.  “You can’t read or write and you have never been off the plantation you work on. What would you do when you hear the news you are free? What factors would play into the decision you make?” After an uproar from parents, the assignment was removed and the teacher was placed on administrative leave. A statement from the district called the assignment “inappropriate” and said it “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.”

What would that be? Assignments that call for critical thought and imagination?

Dibny Gamez said her 14-year-old daughter, Ayesha, who is black, would not complete the assignment because it made her feel uncomfortable. “She just starts tearing up,” Gamez said. “And I was, like, ‘No, listen, you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are.’ I said, ‘You are beautiful for who you are. Don’t let not one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.’” How would that assignment make a rational student be ashamed of who she is?

Justin Grinage, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Minnesota , claims that assignments asking students to role-play enslaved people or slave owners trivialize or distort the actual events of slavery. “The best-case scenario with lessons like this is that students come away with a fabricated lie about history. So, best-case scenario, they don’t really learn anything, or they learn the wrong thing,” Grinage told reporters. “Worst-case scenario is that it’s a deeply traumatic experience for students of color, particularly Black students.”

Why? Because he says so? Such an assignment is an excellent way to open up the topics of slavery, how it persisted, what led to its abolition, and why it is such an emotional and controversial issue, as well as empathy, the Golden Rule, and ethics. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Iowa State Senator Dennis Guth (R-Klemme)

I really looked hard to find a non-creepy photo of this guy. This was the best I could do.

How does Congress end up with so many ignorant jerks with malfunctioning ethics alarms? This is how: states elect legislators like Dennis Guth.

Guth drafted  legislation after being upset by the story of one of his constituents whose marriage fell apart because her husband turned out to be gay. Naturally, it’s up to government to solve every problem, so Guth’s brain child, Senate File 2130, requires applicants for a marriage license  to specify whether they are bisexual, heterosexual, homosexual, questioning, or “unsure.” Those who later engage in conduct contrary to that declaration would be considered by law to be liable for the dissolution of the marriage, and their transgression could result in their losing custody of their children. The Senate bill would make “sexual orientation fraud” a crime  on the same level as spousal abuse. If a member of a couple refuses to answer this intrusive question, the couple could not get a license. Continue reading

Now We Know Who Simpson College Is Named For, I Guess.

It must be Homer, because that appears to be the level of cognition being  taught to its students, by equally dunder-headed faculty.

I’ll try to make this short, because we’ve had the same discussion recently. I have made a vow, however, to remark with disgust on such idiocy every time it raises its hole-riddled Homer-shaped head.

John Bolen, a retired professor of religion working part-time at  Simpson College, uttered the dreaded shibboleth “nigger”  during a class. He used the word to discuss the word, of course, and not as a racial epithet, but Homer and similarly handicapped students can’t make such nuanced distinctions. Bolen was using the word to make the hackneyed, stale and simplistic analogy with the Washington, D.C. pro football team’s nickname “The Redskins,” but he triggered mass outage by not using baby-talk (“N-word”) or Pig Latin (“Iggernay”) instead of English as if his audience consisted of  adults and could hear a word used to describe itself without having a psychotic episode because of the color of the speaker. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/29/19: Sick Room Edition

I hope you’re feeling better than I am.

1. Sick Ethics. Being sick on the job is always an ethical conflict, and riddled with bias. My father’s approach, so characteristic of him as someone who insisted on going into the Battle of the Bulge as an officer with a mangled, recently-repaired foot that was still oozing blood, was to ignore the illness and soldier on. There are two problems with that, however. First, you are working at diminished capacity, and second, you risk infecting others. The problem is a bit easier when you have a home office like I do, but there is still a trade-off issue: if I “soldier on” like my father, do I risk a longer illness and reduced capacity for far longer than if I just took a day or two off to recuperate? In my case, this is always a tough call: I am very vulnerable to bronchitis and pneumonia following chest colds (that’s what I’ve got, big time, starting last night), and when the stuff I cough up starts attacking me through the Kleenex, I’m in big trouble that has sometimes lasted for months. There is also a bias problem when you feel rotten. Right now, I would love to lie down. I can’t think of anything I would like more. I bet I can rationalize air-tight reasons why I should lie down, despite all of the very valid reason not to.

2. And speaking of sick...All 50 states require vaccinations before children to attend school, but 47 of them  (California, Mississippi and West Virginia are the exceptions) allow parents to opt out of vaccines if they have religious beliefs against immunizations. Eighteen states also allow parents to opt out of vaccines if they have personal, moral or philosophical beliefs against immunizations, including beliefs that they can think straight when they are in fact idiots and get their medical advice from Jenny McCarthy and other hysterical anti-vaxxers. Oregon and Washington are among the states that allow for a parent’s personal beliefs to exempt their kids from being immunized, along with Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin and Vermont.

You know. Morons. Continue reading

Mid-World Series Hangover Ethics Warm-Up, 10/27/2018: Mike Tyson, Intimacy Coordinators, And The Blackface Teacher Principle

This is how my morning began…

1. To get this out of the way..I watched every  second of every inning on last night’s longest post-season baseball game in history, as any loyal, ethical baseball fan is obligated to do. It was worth it, too, even though my team lost. The game was the sports equivalent of The Odyssey, “War and Peace,” “King Lear,” “The Ring Cycle,” “The Ring Trilogy,” “Nicholas Nickleby” or “The Seven Samurai,” a complex morality and adventure tale that had suspense, disappointment, wonder, exhilaration , humor and tragedy, heroes and villains. Such games reward all of the time and suffering a fan puts into following baseball seriously. It is worth the investment.

Ironically, this epic occurred shorty after the Wall Street Journal published a truly ignorant and idiotic opinion piece called , “Our Insane Ideas to Save Baseball/Baseball has problems. There aren’t enough hits. There are too many pitchers. The games take too long. So we bullpenned our solutions. Are you ready for Strike Four?”

It is a wonderful example of the incompetent variety of criticism I call “Wanting to change what you haven’t taken the time to understand.” I get it: the authors don’t like baseball, and barely pay attention to it., or, in the alternative, they are just seeking clicks. In any event, you can’t argue with people who say that the problem with opera is that it’s too often in a foreign language, or that the problem with hip hop is that it isn’t music, and shouldn’t, or that the problem with our democracy is that people can say things that upset other people. And you shouldn’t argue with them. They don’t respect the topic enough to be educated about it.

2. Of course, baseball games ARE too long, and the overwhelming reason is TV ads, which add about a half hour to every game, and more to post-season games. The disgusting response of Fox is to stick 10 second commercials into a split screen during the game, like between batters. Here’s a slugger walking to the plate in a tense situation, and half the screen is devoted to a quickie plug for “Ralph Breaks The Internet.” I hope fans are burning up social media attacking this greedy new form of broadcast pollution.

3. How is this possible? In a #MeToo Mad era when simply being accused of sexual assault without proof is deemed by even lawyers who should know better as sufficient justification to inflict serious and permanent consequences on the accused, Mike Tyson is the star of an animated TV show, is cast in movies, and is now shopping a TV show, based on the ex-boxer’s life as a marijuana grower and marketer, starring him and called “Rolling With the Punches.” Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms “It’s About Time!” Files: Iowa Strikes Down A “Dangerous Animal” Ordinance

Pinky was a happy, healthy pet dog  until March 2016, when a friend visiting Pinky’s owner let her into the yard unsupervised. The neighbor’s cat, Rebel, had wondered into the yard, and Pinky had the feline in his maw until her owner ran out and commanded her to drop it.  Rebel survived the trauma, but needed three dozen staples for her wounds.

Pinky was impounded after the city’s humane officer declared her a dangerous animal under the city ordinance. Of course, Pinky is a pit bull mix, so bias was already working against her. The Des Moines ordinance that bans the keeping of “dangerous animals” includes banning any animal “that has exhibited vicious propensities in present or past conduct, including such that the animal … has bitten another animal or human that causes a fracture, muscle tear, disfiguring lacerations or injury requiring corrective or cosmetic surgery.”

Such an ordinance could only be written by someone willfully ignorant of the behaviors of dogs as well as the vicissitudes of moral luck. Our wonderful and gentle English Mastiff, Patience, for example, once caused a bloody wound to my wife’s scalp when she gave the dog an unexpected buss on the muzzle. The dog jerked her head in surprise, nicking my wife’s head with a tooth. The wound bled profusely, and required stitches—and it was 100% my wife’s fault. Patience literally wouldn’t hurt a fly…indeed, she was afraid of flies.

As for Rebel, any cat that invades a dog’s home turf is asking for trouble. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Iowa Student Kaleb Vanfosson

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Iowa State student Kaleb Vanfosson accepted the job of introducing Bernie Sanders at a pro-Hillary rally last week. Instead of doing what he agreed to do, he used his moment at the microphone to rant about how awful Clinton was, saying in part before he was escorted off the stage (above) by a guy that looked like the principal in “Back To The Future”…

“The only thing she cares about is pleasing her delegates, the billionaires. The only people that really trust Hillary are Goldman Sachs, Citigroup can trust Hillary, the military-industrial complex can trust Hillary.”

There has been a lot of this kind of unethical conduct lately, notably from performers hired to sing the National Anthem who then do a Colin Kaepernick impression instead. What are they teaching in Iowa? It is never ethical to make a commitment to perform one task and not perform it as agreed. It is even worse to do the opposite of what was agreed, and to embarrass and undermine the objective of the enterprise.

Just because something is styled as a protest doesn’t make it fair, responsible or right. Vanfosson was grandstanding, and he was cheating. Sanders takes questions, and in a Q and A session was the time and place to make his points. He used misrepresentation to do it from center stage.

The interesting ethics question is whether the student’s conduct gets a pass because his victim, Bernie Sanders, embraces such guerilla protest tactics, or did when he was that age. The answer is no. The ethical approach would have been to ask Bernie himself if he would accept an anti-Clinton rant as his introduction. Vanfosson didn’t, perhaps because he knew what the answer would be.

 

Wow: A Whole Unethical TOWN!

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In Somers, Iowa, Homer Martz  flew his  U.S. flag upside down  to protest the future placement of an oil pipeline near his home.  He has been charged with desecrating Old Glory under Iowa code 718A , which makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail  to “publicly mutilate, deface, defile or defy, trample upon, cast contempt upon, satirize, deride or burlesque, either by words or act, such flag, standard, color, ensign, shield, or other insignia of the United States, or flag, ensign, great seal, or other insignia of this state…”

The law, however, is unconstitutional. So said an  Iowa Federal District Court judge in 2004, when he ruled Iowa’s flag desecration laws violated the First Amendment. Martz, a U.S. Army veteran, has told anyone who will listen that the Supreme Court has ruled citizens can burn the American flag, so presumably flying it Bizarro World-style is also okay. He’s right, too. In 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in Texas v. Johnson491 U.S. 397 (1989), that prohibitions on desecrating the American flag were unconstitutional.. It reaffirmed the holding in  1990.

Writes an exasperated Jonathan Turley, a Constitutional law expert,  “The town of Somers appears to lack a single lawyer — or a telephone number for a single lawyer — to explain free speech protections to them.”

Is it too much to expect a municipality to absorb a First Amendment right that was settled almost a quarter century ago, and not persecute a veteran for exercising the rights he served to protect and preserve?

Apparently. They could google flag burning and learn that this law is void. Such incompetence in government, at any level, is unconscionable.