Founders’ Are Denigrated In Their Own Homes …And An Organized Protest Is Required

Apparently the Mad Left’s historical air-brushing mania that began with toppling statues of important American figures from the Confederacy such as Robert E. Lee, moved on to removing statues of Teddy Roosevelt and banning benign college mascots that evoked the Revolutionary era (like George Washington U’s “Colonial”), and generally has sought to “cancel” any American patriot or President who owned slaves, is now turning tours of Thomas Jefferson’s and James Madison’s homes in Virginia into attacks on the two essential figures in our democracy.

At Monticello, Jefferson’s self-designed home that is a tourist attraction in Charlottesville, Virginia, the non-profit operating the site is using its progressive political agenda to make a visit less a pilgrimage of respect than indoctrination into anti-Jeffersonism. A recent visitor described the experience as “depressing and demoralizing and truly upsetting,” with Jefferson-hostile tour guides claiming that his reputation is “wildly overblown.” Of course, this is all because Jefferson was a slave-holder, in direct contradiction of the values and rights he espoused in the Declaration of Independence. Arguably, Jefferson’s slave-holding was more revolting than that of other men of his time, as it included treating one of his slaves, Sally Hemings (and his dead wife’s half-sister) as his concubine. Ick. But Jefferson was a weak and conflicted man with a brilliant and perceptive mind; his slave-holding and other personal flaws, and there were many, are not why he must be celebrated and honored as one of those most responsible for the nation’s existence.

Continue reading

Ethics Irony: The Day The Author Of The Declaration Of Independence Sold An American To The Author Of The Constitution

John-Freeman-sale-to-JM-LOC

April 19 is a pretty bad day in U.S. history generally. In 1775, the Revolutionary War started with a rout in Lexington, Massachusetts, just a few minutes by car up Massachusetts Avenue from my childhood home in neighboring Arlington, then Menotomy. 700 British troops, having shot up that hamlet and its defenders on the way, found 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker opposing them on Lexington Green, now a large traffic circle. It took a just few minutes to kill enough of the barely trained Colonists for the ragtag army to disperse, but the British marched into a much larger force at nearby Concord Bridge, and a much worse result for the Empire. In 1993, a botched siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas ended with 22 children and almost 80 adult religious cultists burning to death. In 1995, the U.S. was introduced to domestic terrorism on a grand scale with the Oklahoma City bombing. But none of those events create the ethics trauma of considering a little noted financial transaction between the former third President and the newly sworn in fourth.

On April 19, 1809, Thomas Jefferson, seemingly always lacking cash, prepared a contract to transfer ownership of an indentured servant with the ironic name of John Freeman to freshly installed President and fellow Virginian James Madison.

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/17/17: My Ethics Gig For The Boy Scouts, Dallas Heads Down The Slippery Slope (I Told You So!), More Sign Language Follies And Misbehaving Marshalls

GOOD Morning!

1 In an earlier Warm-Up, I criticized the needlessly distracting signers for the deaf who stood by gesticulating and mugging as various officials communicated safety measures for the public as hurricanes approached. Belatedly I ran across a YouTube entry from 2012, in which the poster happily commented that “Interpreter Lydia Callis steals the show during Hurricane Sandy press conference.” Interpreters are not there to “steal the show,” and the fact that so many of them think they should compete with the main speakers for audience attention proves my point.

They should stand off-camera, and in the venue, away from the podium.

Then there’s this guy:

From the Times:

As Hurricane Irma charged toward Florida, officials in a county on the state’s west coast held a news conference to inform residents of mandatory evacuation orders for those most at risk. “We just need you to be safe,” Robin DiSabatino of the Board of County Commissioners in Manatee County said at the Sept. 8 briefing. She urged those in low-lying areas and flood zones to seek higher ground and consider staying at shelters.

But for residents who were deaf or hard of hearing, the message was quite different: “Pizza,” the interpreter appeared to sign. Then, “Bear monster.”…

“It was atrocious,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive of the National Association of the Deaf. Mr. Rosenblum, who is deaf, said through an interpreter in a phone interview that the association considered what happened a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act. “We believe that Manatee County failed to provide information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to the same extent that it provided to all others,” he said….

The interpreter, identified by the county as Marshall Greene, could not be reached for comment.

Nicholas Azzara, a spokesman for the county, said in an email that Mr. Greene, who is a lifeguard for a county-run beach, has a brother who is deaf. Mr. Greene was asked to sign because there was little time to find an interpreter before the news conference.

It’s not unusual for family members of the deaf to have only a rudimentary understanding of American Sign Language, said Beth Barnes, a certified sign language interpreter who has several deaf family members, including her parents.

No, but it is unusual for a signer who agrees to translate crucial information for deaf viewers to not know what the hell he is doing. Greene defenders, quoted this morning on HLN, said that he was just trying to help out, and host Robin Meade, not having one of her smart days, muttered that the “poor guy” wasn’t doing a bad job “intentionally.”

Oh! That’s all right, then!

The ethical values being breached are trustworthiness, responsibility and competence. Greene is the passenger who volunteers to fly the airliner with a stricken crew and flies the plane into the ground nose first. Good intentions don’t matter. He volunteered for a job he was incapable of performing competently.

2. I don’t spend a lot of time saying I told you so, but it would be gratifying to receive some “I shouldn’t have doubted you” notes from all those readers who mocked me for suggesting last year that the slippery slope created and smoothed by the historical cultural airbrushing mobs on the Left would eventually lead to Founders like Washington, Jefferson and Madison.

Here is a Facebook post  from Dallas School District member Dustin Marshall, no relation to Marshall Greene (I will be applying to change my last name accordingly, probably to “Lee”…) Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured Crisis: The Comey Firing Freakout”

With so much loose talk about impeachment going around (and by “loose” I mean “inexcusably ignorant”), texagg04’s review of the Constitutional standard for the removal of a President is a gift to readers of Ethics Alarms, and one of the most interesting and informative comments ever to appear here.

He was reacting to a New York Times op-ed, cited by another commenter,  by political scientist Greg Weiner (no relation) titled, “Impeachment’s Political Heart,” in which the author concluded,

“The question is by what standards they should conduct this work, and that question provides an opportunity to correct the mistaken assumption according to which presidents can forfeit the public trust only by committing what the law recognizes as a crime. That is a poor bar for a mature republic to set. It is not the one a newborn republic established. And that is why the idea that the conversation about impeachment is simply a political persecution of a man who is technically innocent of a literal crime not only jumps the investigatory gun. It misses the constitutional point.”

Having studied the issue myself, I immediately rejected Weiner’s analysis (which still is worth reading in its entirety) on the ground that a constantly evolving standard of what is a “high crime and misdemeanor” simply means that Presidents can be impeached for behaving, or governing, in ways that enough members of Congress, the news media and the public don’t like. That is what is being advocated now, and that approach would undermine our democracy, the power of elections, and the office of the President.

My gut response, however, is wan and insubstantial compared to tex’s masterful historical review and astute analysis, which (whew!) reaches a similar conclusion.

Here is texagg04’s fascinating Comment of the Day on the post, “Reluctant Additional Ethics Notes On A Manufactured “Crisis”: The Comey Firing Freakout”…I’ll have one brief comment afterwards:

[Weiner] is making an argument from the same source material I mentioned, chiefly the Federalist papers. I still haven’t found Madison’s own specific arguments regarding it, but I think the source is irrelevant as the body of work published by the Founders (“Federalist” and “Antifederalist” alike) should be read as a single work documenting an internal dialogue, to be used as clarification when and where the final adopted documents possibly contain ambiguity. This could very well be one of those cases. That being said, the body of work by the Founders which may aid in revealing their intent or at least how they believed their philosophy of our political system out to be enshrined in the constitution, isn’t the only body of work used to interpret their intent. There is precedence and tradition, which the author of this article disregards when he says “Our tendency to read the impeachment power in an overly legalistic way, which is ratified by 230 years of excessive timidity about its use, obscures the political rather than juridical nature of the device.”

He’s right in nothing but that many of the earliest drafts and proposed language of the impeachment standards were very vague, such as (not an exhaustive list):

Continue reading

Encore! Presidents Day Ethics: The Presidents of the United States on Ethics and Leadership

It’s President’s Day, and I see that it has been five years since the most popular Ethics Alarms President’s Day post was published. That one, from 2011, reminds us of the ethics wisdom and leadership acumen of the remarkable men who have served their country in the most challenging, difficult, and ethically complicated of all jobs, the U.S. Presidency.

In the middle of a campaign season littered with some disturbingly unethical candidates, it seems especially appropriate to re-post that entry now….with some updates. In 2011, I left out three Presidents, including the current one. Now all are represented, most of them well.

So…

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States of America:

 

George Washington: “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”

John Adams: “Because power corrupts, society’s demands for moral authority and character increase as the importance of the position increases.” 

Thomas Jefferson: “On great occasions every good officer must be ready to risk himself in going beyond the strict line of law, when the public preservation requires it; his motives will be a justification…”

James Madison: “No government any more than any individual will long be respected without being truly respectable.”

James Monroe: “The best form of government is that which is most likely to prevent the greatest sum of evil.”

John Quincy Adams: “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.”

Andrew Jackson: “One man with courage makes a majority.”   (Attributed)

Martin Van Buren: “No evil can result from its inhibition more pernicious than its toleration.”

William Henry Harrison: “There is nothing more corrupting, nothing more destructive of the noblest and finest feelings of our nature, than the exercise of unlimited power.” Continue reading

A Presidents Day Celebration (PART 1): I Love These Guys, I Really Do. Yes, Every One Of Them.

Hall of the Presidents

I have a lifetime love affair with the Presidents of the United States.

I love these guys, every one of them. The best of them are among the most skilled and courageous leaders in world history; the least of them took more risks and sacrificed more for their country than any of us ever can or will, including me. Every one of our Presidents, whatever their blunders, flaws and bad choices, was a remarkable and an accomplished human being, and exemplified the people he led in important ways. Every one of them accepted not only the burden of leadership, but the almost unbearable burden of leading the most dynamic, ambitious, confusing, cantankerous and often unappreciative nation that has ever existed. I respect that and honor it.

I have been a President junkie since I was eight years old. It’s Robert Ripley’s fault. My father bought an old, dog-eared paperback in the “Believe it or Not!” series and gave it to me. It was published in 1948. One of Ripley’s entries was about the “Presidents Curse”: every U.S. President elected in a year ending with a zero since 1840 (William Henry Harrison) had died in office, and only one President who had dies in office, Zachary Taylor, hadn’t been elected in such a year. The cartoon featured a creep chart—I still have it—listing the names of the dead Presidents, the years they were elected, and the year 1960 with ???? next to it. When Jack Kennedy, the youngest President ever elected, won the office in 1960, my Dad, who by that time was sick of me reminding him of the uncanny pattern, said, “Well, son, so much for Ripley’s curse!”

You know what happened. (John Hinckley almost kept the curse going, but Ronald Reagan, elected in 1980, finally broke it.) That year I became obsessed with Presidential history, devising a lecture that gave an overview of the men and their significance in order. My teacher allowed me to inflict it on my classmates.  Much later, Presidential leadership and character was the topic of my honors thesis in college. When I finally got a chance to go to Disneyland, the first place I went was the Hall of Presidents. When the recorded announcer said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States!” and the red curtain parted to show the audio-animatrons of all of them together, it was one of the biggest thrills of my life.

Today I will honor our past Presidents with some of my favorite facts about each of them, trying hard not to get carried away. Is it ethics? It’s leadership, which has always been the dominant sub-topic here, but yes, it’s ethics.  I know I’m hard on our Presidents, as I think we all should be: supportive, loyal, but demanding and critical. I am also, however, cognizant of how much they give to the country and their shared determination to do what they think, rightly or wrongly, is in the country’s best long-term interests. File this post under respect, fairness, gratitude, and especially citizenship. And now…

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States!

Continue reading

Presidents Day Ethics: The Presidents of the United States on Ethics and Leadership

In commemoration of President’s Day, Ethics Alarms presents the ethics wisdom of the remarkable men who have served their country in the most challenging, difficult, and ethically complicated of all jobs, the U.S. Presidency.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States:

George Washington: “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Continue reading

Why Future Juan Williamses Will Be Fired, As George Mason Rolls Over In His Grave

College speech codes are the American Left’s special shame, and it the time for them to go the way of parietal hours and mandatory chapel attendance is overdue. There are monstrosities of thought control in schools across the nation, but those in state universities are especially offensive and ominous, since they are in slam-dunk defiance of the First Amendment prohibiting government restrictions on speech. As Barton Hinkle notes in an eye-opening piece in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, not only are state schools stomping on free speech, state schools dedicated to the legacy on the men who wrote the First Amendment are doing it. If there is anything more unethical  than educators stifling thought and the expression of it, that would be it. Continue reading

Rahm Emanuel, History and Hyperbole Ethics

There are times when obvious exaggeration is nothing worse than politeness, nothing more than an expression of admiration and affection. “You’re the best boss anyone ever had,” is in this category, especially when the boss is retiring or dying. But when one is speaking in public about controversial and historical matters involving well-known public figures, the margin between excusable hyperbole and unethical dishonesty or worse is much smaller. Al Gore learned this when he played loyal Vice-President on the day his President was impeached by vote of the House of Representatives. Gore’s statement that Bill Clinton was “a man I believe will be regarded in the history books as one of our greatest Presidents” was intended as supportive, but interpreted as a toadying endorsement of Clinton’s unsavory and dishonest conduct, impeachable or not. It probably cost Gore the Presidency.

Worse yet was Trent Lott’s clumsy effort to praise the ancient, infirm and mentally failing Sen. Strom Thurmond at his 100th birthday party. Lott said, “I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have all these problems over all these years, either.” Thurmond, running on the Dixiecrat ticket, had opposed segregation, and Lott’s comment, less fact than flattery, made him sound like he longed for the days of Jim Crow and “white only”rest rooms. The lessons of these hyperbolic gaffes are similar: if the well-intentioned compliment concerns a public figure in historical context, historical exaggerations either appear to be unjust to history or its important figures, seem to make inappropriate value judgments, or come off as a blatant effort to mislead the public.

Rahm Emanuel hit the Trifecta with his fawning farewell to President Obama, as he left the White House to run for Mayor of Chicago. Obama, he said, is “the toughest leader any country could ask for, in the toughest times any president has ever faced.”

Wow. Continue reading

The Price of American Principles

As everyone knows by now, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, a 39-year-old Arlington-born Army psychiatrist, shot and killed 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas, wounding many more.  Although he originally told the Army that he was not especially religious, Hasan had become a devout Muslim in recent years. You didn’t have to be the Amazing Kreskin to predict what the combination of a Muslim soldier and a shooting spree would spark from some voices on the Right: immediate “I told you so’s” about how politically correct squeamishness prevent sensible profiling that could prevent such tragedies. Continue reading