Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/12/17: Hurricane Reports, And Poor Charles M. Blow Needs A Vacation”

G.K. Chesterton (above), perspective, and most of all, optimism: Ryan Harkins’ Comment of the Day, prompted by the post Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/12/17: Hurricane Reports, And Poor Charles M. Blow Needs A Vacation, (about NYT columnist Charles Blow—the idiot– declaring today’s USA “Hell on Earth”)  has all of these, and wisdom too.

Here it is:

Okay, I tried to read the article, and I made it no further than Blow describing Trump’s America as the ninth circle of hell. When one strikes that level of hyperbole, it eradicates any credibility one might have possessed.

One of the greatest counters to depression and despair is an attitude of gratitude, something I truly see lacking in anything coming from the left. We have a great nation. We have great opportunities, and we have a culture that truly seeks – if sometimes in very strange, even damaging ways — to right wrongs and make life as fair as possible. If you look around the world, and if you look at just about any culture that existed since the dawn of history, you won’t find any people who have been so richly blessed as those in our country today. This is especially true when you consider the stability our nation has, and its lack of credible enemies that pose any existential threat to our nation. We can go about life assured that tomorrow will indeed be much like today.

Even in the face of hurricanes, we have much for which to be grateful. We have incredible technology that gives us quite a bit of advanced warning that the storms were coming. We have minimized death tolls in the face of these natural disasters, and we have a government willing to pour billions of dollars into rebuilding communities destroyed by the hurricanes. We have seen an incredible outpouring of generosity from the nation at large to help the hurricane victims (the Knights of Columbus alone raised $1.3 million). Yes, the devastation is traumatic, and yes people have lost livelihoods, all their possessions, and even family members. But this strikes against one very important aspect of life. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub”

At 7:23 AM this morning, veteran commenter Pennagain was sufficiently lucid to Penn this helpful commentary and reminiscence regarding civics, education, debate, perspective  and proportionality. I am duly impressed.

Here is Pennagain’s Comment of the Day on yesterday’s post on the significance of middle school students deliberately disrespecting the Speaker of the House, “What’s Going On Here?”: The 8th Grade’s Speaker Of The House Snub”:

I grew up in a thoroughly corrupt local political community (Jersey City, Hudson County, 1940s) where politicians mostly scared the hell out of us kids. They never hid their opinion of children as nuisances (non-voters, non-party-contributors, non-influential: period); as pawns to gain them applause (recipients of school awards or sponsored – not paid for – say, a week at summer camp or a trip to the carnival); as slaves (untipped or unpaid car washers, runners, leaf-rakers, lawn-mowers, paperboys etc.); or as flat out enemies (boys in particular who set off firecrackers or let their dogs loose at a rally or dared put their dirty, sticky hands on our officeholders’ bright black Buicks).

These refugees from Tammany Hall were no more considered respectable, responsible, worthy leaders than Dick Tracy’s B.O. Plenty and the school-age kids knew it. “Boss” (Mayor) Hague (“Listen, here is the law! I am the law!”), who ruled the city directly from 1917 to 1947 and indirectly for at least another 30 years, was universally hated and often feared, second to none in political corruption. Nonetheless, lip service and stiffly polite behavior was the rule in public, if only because parents were the greater examples; and they held the direct punishment power. Possibly, too, much as peer pressure obtained on the playground, children away from school lacked almost all the authority they would obtain in the next decade. We had an allowance if we were lucky, but no real buying power — we were a marketing force only in terms of breakfast cereal and comic books. Even toys and candy remained pretty much classics. Though we were a widely mixed group ethnically, in the classroom or the gym, we had no separate clubs or meeting places for our particular interests. We attended the afterschool activities, sports, religious observations and social functions dictated by our parents (I was treated to a few weeks of ballroom dancing classes one horrid Fall). Aside from running wild virtually unsupervised during any free time — and we found plenty of free time — we heard the opinions of our parents, ministers, teachers, newspaper-reading assignments, and listened with family around mealtimes to whatever was on the radio. Continue reading

Once Again, Stop Making Me Defend President Trump, And Tell Fox To Stop Making Me Defend The People Who Are MAKING Me Defend Him!

 

See? What does Comey have to complain about?

Fred, my topic scout, sent me this and suggested that it was the apotheosis of  Rationalization #22, Comparative Virtue or “It’s not the worst thing.”

Boy, was he right.

In last night’s episode of the Tucker Carlson show—right-wingers are actually impressed with Tucker’s skills at taking down lame liberal fanatics, which is sad in so many ways—featured the Fox News conservative dilettante agreeing with guest James Rosen, who was making the fatuous and ethically offensive point that people shouldn’t get so upset about what Trump does because the Civil War and the Cold War were worse.

This argument is the Mother of All Terrible Rationalizations, and especially bad because it spoils a good point, which is that absent historical perspective, it’s not easy to know what a real crisis is. Arguing that people shouldn’t object to something, however, because something else was worse is the mark of desperation as well as intellectual deficiency. Explain why the alleged crisis isn’t one (as in the Comey firing); explain why the assumed harm is exaggerated, or being hyped, or the product of bias and emotion. But to say, as Rosen, a “conservative historian,” which only means he isn’t an aggressive leftist like almost all of his colleagues, did,

“During Watergate, the term ‘crisis’ was thrown around as well and there were people at that time who were old enough to remember when there were legless Civil War veterans still in the streets of Washington.”

And I’m sure conservative historians were reminding those Civil War casualties while their legs were being sawed off without anesthesia that the Civil War wasn’t nearly as horrible as the Black Death. “Ah, I feel much better now,” they smiled. “Just call me ‘Stumpy!’

Here, for the sake of reference, is the description of #22 on the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations List: Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: John Adams, 1814

“I dare not look beyond my Nose, into futurity. Our Money, Our Commerce, our Religion, our National and State Constitutions, even our Arts and Sciences, are So many Seed Plott’s of Division Faction, Sedition and Rebellion. Every thing is transmuted into an Instrument of Electioneering.”

—John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, Feb. 1814.

To add some perspective.

Of course, John was always a Gloomy Gus.

Aspie Savant’s Amazing Hypocritical Self-Indicting Blog Post

Israel slur

This blog post, an instant candidate for the Ethics Alarms Awards’ most unethical blog post of 2015, initially had me fooled. It announced itself as a list of the “16 Basic Principles of Mass Indoctrination,” and since there has been a lot of that going around lately, especially as the news media clears its collective throat to cover for President Obama’s failures and stump for a Democrat to succeed him, I scrolled through it. Indeed the principles listed were all spot on:

1. Start while they’re young.
2. Create the illusion of political freedom.
3. Use simplistic stereotypes to sway public opinion.
4. Mix facts with lies.
5. A big lie is more convincing than a small lie.
6. Give the masses “bread and circuses” to keep them well-fed and distracted.
7. Simplify complex issues by portraying them as dichotomies. Eliminate nuance.
8. Spread propaganda by all means possible.
9. Ostracize dissident voices through ridicule or defamation.
10. Faith in the correctness of a religion or ideology is more powerful than force.
11. Manipulate history records to support your religion or ideology.
12. Control different sides of the same debate and you control the outcome.
13. The masses are less swayed by reason than by stirring their emotions.
14. Drive the opposition in a corner. When they fight back, act like a victim.
15. Label all non-conforming behavior as pathological and promote “cures” for them.
16. Use rituals and mass events to keep people occupied and strengthen their faith.

Each was also illustrated, often very effectively, by a drawing, chart or cartoon. When I hit #14—“Drive the opposition in a corner. When they fight back, act like a victim”-–the illustration was the cartoon above, a standard issue, anti-Israel, fact-slanting slur coming uncomfortably close to anti-Semitic bigotry. More importantly, given the topic of the post, the cartoon embodied many of the techniques of indoctrination that blogger “Aspie Savant” was supposedly warning against. Continue reading

Announcement: The Winner Of The “Take Down Monica Brennan!” Contest Is…

With a third of the vote, texagg04 lapped the tough competition. He will receive an ethics movie classic of my choosing as his prize.

Congratulations to Tex, and to all the competitors. I hope Monica was following closely, and that she learned something. I doubt it: I’m sure she is cheering the news that there is agreement on the basic terms of a deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb and wiping Israel off the face of the earth, which, according to Monica and Christiane Amanpour, is all a bluff anyway. Besides, Iran knows what happened to Assad when he crossed Obama’s “red line,” so it as absurd for Israel or anyone else to think that it doesn’t intend to keep its word.

This was certainly encouraging: hours after the administration announced the good news about the deal, Iran accused the U.S. of lying about it.

But I digress. Thanks to everyone who voted.

 

The Ethics Alarms “Take Down Monica Brennan!” Contest Finalists

mushroom-cloud

Early this month, I wrote a post about Christiane Amanpour’s bizarre commentary on Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech before Congress. She said,

“It was a very dark Strangelovian speech painting the picture of a dystopian world, raising the spectre of a genocidal nation, a genocidal regime spraying nuclear weapons to annihilate the whole world and the whole region. Now, obviously many people are very concerned about Iran and there is a deep lack of trust, but surely the same was said of the Soviet Union all those years ago.”

I made her analysis the “Ethics Quote of the Week” on the grounds that it was so rife with bias and logical fallacies. The main thrust of the post:

Amanpour’s quote is, not to be overly blunt, stupid, ignorant, and disturbingly lacking in historical perspective. It raises ethics issues, but does not rise to the level, quite, of an unethical quote. It does raise the ethics issues of incompetence in the media, political bias robbing us all of IQ points, irresponsible journalism, and what happens when one is incapable of placing oneself behind another individual’s eyeball.  She is trying to be descriptive, so I would not term the quote itself unethical, just shocking. She has long been respected as a reporter on international events, but this statement is so devoid of its proper context that I think her credentials need to be reconsidered.

The second comment on the post came from a newcomer to Ethics Alarms, Monica Brennan, who entered this provocative defense of Christiane:

Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist, who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know. She was born in Tehran, and educated in a Catholic school in England. She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I, and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground. Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.

The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran. Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?). Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy). And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?

The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?

The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times. Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light. Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.

Now, I am not in the habit of siccing the articulate, sharp-elbowed and occasionally merciless regulars here on the throats of misguided commenters; I think this was only the second time I have done it.  I think it was the combination of the “your hero” crack, as if I have some kind of bias in favor of the Israeli Prime Minister, and the historically obtuse inference that the Soviet Union was just bluffing and that whole Cold War thing was a big farce that set my teeth on edge. For whatever reason, I announced a contest:

Ok, a prize for the best takedown of Monica’s historically jaw-dropping, ad hominem appeal to authority, defense of Amanpour’s bizarre take! A CD of a film, ethics classic, my choice.

There were many excellent entrees, punctuated by increasingly obnoxious retorts by Monica, who I am guessing is a grad student at some middle-tier university that is stealing her money while indulging her liberal-talking point fueled proclivities. (I ended up banning her, since she never engaged any of the rebuttals and just ranted without substance.)

I have selected the finalists, ranging from the concise to the encyclopedic. Some commenters arguably had more than one eligible comment that was prize-worthy, but I have limited the field to one per individual. Seven made the finals:

Isaac:

Well, this isn’t going to win any prizes, but…sorry…she’s also an idiot.

“Genocidal…dystopian regime” exactly describes the Soviet Union “all those years ago.” And the only reason they didn’t get to “spray nuclear weapons all over the region” is because the United States had more of them. She’s acting as if the entire Communist nightmare of the 20th century didn’t actually kill 100 million people; it was all just some red herring cooked up by McCarthy. People who aren’t idiots don’t say things like that.

Iran may not be a superpower like the USSR was, but they’re dangerous enough if your country is the size of New Jersey and they want you dead.

Inquiring Mind

When it comes to national survival, there is no such thing as “half a loaf” – are we saying that it would be okay if Iran wiped out only 49.99999% of Israel? Netanyahu knows that is a foolhardy notion at best, as should most any rational person.

Incidentally, why did the Soviets become more reasonable? Because Reagan was building up the American military – and making it a priority. He also put tons of pressure on the Soviets in other ways, like getting the Saudis to ramp up production (which killed Soviet oil exports).

Read the book Victory by Peter Schweizer for some of the real history behind the Reagan strategy that won the Cold War. Many of Obama’s political persuasion back then said the Soviet Union couldn’t be taken down. Yet Reagan did it without firing a shot in anger.

So why is it that Obama’s defenders on this react to strongly to efforts to replicate that strategy against Iran, which is no Soviet Union? Granted, this theocratic regime’s leadership may be less mentally stable/sane, but Iran presently has far less that can hurt the United States or its allies.

So, why can’t they do the responsible thing and take down this regime?

Texagg04

“Christiane Amanpour is a highly-respected veteran foreign journalist”

Brian Williams is was a highly-respected journalist. Highly respected, honestly, in those types of circles, doesn’t really mean much. It just means, you’ve done your time, shmoozed with the right people, and said the right America/Western Culture denigrating things to the right people. Great. By those standards, half the Sandimas High School Theater Club are highly-respected journalists…

“who has undoubtedly forgotten more about the region than you will ever know.”

So, probably not qualified to speak on the topic?

I’m guessing…

But either way, this is hardly a qualifier either, and if anything reveals a likely bias. Something a journalist should fight, which no doubt she doesn’t. Remember, she’s highly-respected, and in modern journalism, you have to grossly biased to be respected. And trust me, in her circles, anti-Israel bias is the norm.

“She was born in Tehran,”

Biased.

“and educated in a Catholic school in England.”

Wasn’t the author of the James Bond novels also educated in one? That’s a pretty cool factoid. I wonder if she had to wear one of those short plaid skirts…retch.

“She covered the Iran-Iraq war, the fall of European communism, and Gulf War I,”

Nifty resume. But all rounding out your appeal to authority.

“and unlike Bill Oh,Really?, her boots were on the ground.”

Bill O’Reilly has something to do with this?

“Your hero Netanyahu was caught out as a liar, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/23/leaked-spy-cables-netanyahu-iran-bomb-mossad, according to leaked cables from Mossad (the Iranians have enough U-204 to make a few bombs, but are neither ready to nor apparently interested in taking the next step). His apparent self-interest is in his own political future, and maintaining control over American foreign policy. And of course, he would overlook facts that do not suit him. But Amanpour knows the facts, and Bibi’s game.”

You should probably educate yourself on the nuances of Geopolitics. These little things called Geopolitical Imperatives hinge exclusively on Survival. They follow a very rigid pattern, followed by EVERY SINGLE NATION, customized of course by the constraints of geography. Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact.

Let me say that again:

The 1st Rule of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

Just for Effect:

When facing an Existential Threat, the ONLY appropriate option is to OVERREACT.

When Iran says they want to wipe Israel off the map, that isn’t a joke. WORLD LEADERS do not joke. What they say is their Vision for the world. Only fools discount what World Leaders say….

Wait, let me clarify, Only fools discount what *Serious* World Leaders say…and there is no reason, none whatsoever, to believe the Iranian leadership isn’t serious. Now, in case you aren’t familiar with what an existential threat is, a nation with the capability to destroy you that declares an intent to destroy you is what we call an “existential threat”. You’ll note the root word for “existential” is “existence”.

Now, right now, Iran doesn’t possess the capability to destroy Israel. But that is Obviously what is in question. Isn’t it?

So IF Iran gains the ability to destroy Israel, what must Israel do? Refer to Rule #1. Overreact. The only option.

Well, in a game of nuclear holocaust, overreaction means that if Iran can get a bomb in 20 years, Israel has to act like it can get a bomb tomorrow. Plain and simple. He may have “lied”, but that is part of his overreaction. And he must. It is that cut and dry. It is that serious.

The one variable in all of this that can change? Iran’s hatred of Israel. Stop indicating a sincere desire to destroy every last Jew on the face of the planet (as Iran’s proxy communicated), then perhaps Israel won’t have to overreact to your desire to become a nuclear power. Funny how getting over genocidal hatred can really lead to more world peace.

Now Iran isn’t completely irrational. It probably wouldn’t nuke Israel. But one of Iran’s challenges is keeping control over it’s wildly diverse interior…one of those methods of control is Islam, what better way to inspire the faithful than to hate Jews. So they popped off about annihilating Israel. Well, Israel has ZERO reason to assume that whatever Iran says to keep control over it’s interior shouldn’t be taken seriously.

As long as Iran does not backtrack on it’s commentary about Israel’s existence, Israel must take all action to forestall or stop Iranian capability.

“The cost of yet another needless conflict in the Middle East would be Saudi oil, as one shore of the Strait of Hormuz is in Iran.”

Are you serious? Are you f-ing serious? You’re entire tone on this topic derives straight from Leftist talking points and now you are going to say we need to worry about our sources of oil? Geez… here I thought we hated wars over oil…

You have noticed, that as of late, the Saudis aren’t our primary source of oil, right?

“Worse yet, continuance of the status quo strengthens Iranian hard-liners, whose grip becomes more tenuous with every passing year owing to demographic changes (remember the Green Revolution?).”

Geopolitical rules apply just as much internally as externally. Dying creatures become desperate and do desperate things. A dying vicious creature that doesn’t want to die should be trusted even less than while it was thriving. Your comment only undermines your conclusion.

“Moreover, the Iranians could build a nuke in a few years, especially with Pakistan’s help (don’t forget that they have nukes, and are only a little less crazy).”

Does this not undermine your previous commentary about Netanyahu not needing to worry about how quickly Iran can get a nuke?

“And can we even AFFORD another multi-trillion dollar boondoggle in the Middle East?”

1) I’m not sure invasion of Iran is necessary. So this is a fallacious argument.

2) I’m not sure the invasion of Iraq was a boondoggle…well at least not until Obama royally screwed the pooch.

“The same thing WAS said of the Soviet Union. Have you seen the video of Nikita Khruschev, banging his shoe?”

Hindsight bias. Back to Geopolitics. We had no reason not to believe the Soviets when they stated their vision for the world and we had no reason to wait until they had the capacity to fulfill that vision. Another rule of Geopolitics: Wait until it is too late to act, and it will be too late to act. Therefore you must act when it may seem to early.

“The art of negotiation is in knowing when to take half a loaf. This might be one of those times.”

There’s no reason to negotiate. The West still has MIGHT…if it would just friggin care. But it doesn’t. So between War or Dishonor, it picks Dishonor. Only it will still get War.

“Hysteria is Bibi’s stock in trade, and his speech should be seen in that light.”

Geopolitical Rule #1.

“Amanpour knows of what she speaks, and deserves to be taken seriously.”

And yet, you still haven’t made a single argument for why she is right other than saying she is Christiane Amanpour.

johnburger2013

At first I wasn’t sure if this was a response from Christiane Amanpour’s PR group. I then thought about what I was taught about geopolitics during college and the comment falls right into the ‘a bad deal is better than no deal’ position in negotiations. Christiane Amanpour’s positions are striking, though not unexpected from the prevailing main stream media. The general review of Netanyahu’s speech concluded that it was over the top and full of bravado. The views expressed by Amanpour and her defenders drip with condescension and naivete. The Iranian government doesn’t care about world perceptions. In fact, the Iranian government scoffs ah the West with the highest contempt and ridicule.

I think Texagg04 sums it up with his take down, especially considering his comment about “Rule Number 1 of Geopolitics: When facing an Existential Threat, the only appropriate option is to overreact” and Jack’s many comments that a country’s prime minister or leader has a moral and ethical obligation to protect its citizenry.

History seems to suggest that genocidal thoughts shouldn’t necessarily be dismissed at the delusional ravings or a mad man. “Mein Kampf” outlined Hitler’s plans. What was the result? I recently saw a documentary called “Night Will Fall” on HBO, documenting the making of two World War II documentaries about Nazi genocide. Powerful and gut-wrenching imagery. I fully appreciate Israel’s hard-line stance with its adversaries in the region. Israel’s position is: “Well, we waited for the world to help the Jews in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, and look where that got us. We aren’t doing that again. If Iran, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, or other groups openly declare their intent to destroy the state of Israel, we are going to take them at face value, believe that is their intent, and respond accordingly. Proportionality is a pipe dream. We will hit them and hit them hard.” I cannot find fault with that position.

Steve-O-in NJ

Christiane Amanpour’s credentials as a “highly respected” journalist were tarnished years ago in Bosnia when she said, when accused of being pro-Muslim (and overly emotional in her delivery) that it wasn’t important to be neutral because when you are neutral you become an accomplice. No, Christiane, when you are neutral you become a fact and truth teller, which is the job of the journalist, not to be some kind of adventurer trying to sensationalize one side or the other in a fight, whichever you might think is right. She’s also half-Iranian, hmmmmm, does anyone else here think that might at least give the appearance of bias to the point where she should be extra careful NOT to appear biased, not the other way around? The mention of her credentials vs. Bill O’Reilly’s is irrelevant to this discussion and a cheap shot to blunt or silence expected conservative criticism.

Netanyahu, a twice-wounded and decorated Special Forces captain, whose brother was killed in Operation Thunderbolt, might also know something about having boots on the ground. He also authored “Terrorism: How the West Can Win,” in or before 1988, which touched on every single issue that came to the forefront here only after 9/11. In other words, he was out ahead of the curve on Islamic terror. He also has access to a fair amount of classified material, both from the Mossad and probably other agencies, that Amanpour will never get near. Saying she knows the facts, implying she knows them better than the prime minister of one of only two democracies in the region is bare idiocy. “Control over American foreign policy?” That verges dangerously close to the old chestnut “that all the problems in the region are because of the JOOOOOOS!” Do you really want to go there?

The hard-liners’ grip becomes more tenuous each year? How tenuous can it be when every candidate for high office must have the imprimatur of the supreme leader, himself an Islamic hard-liner, unaccountable to anyone and incapable of being removed without a coup? Even in the Communist countries the leadership wasn’t THAT untouchable, witness Nikita Krushchev being pushed out by his own party when his policies became erratic and the Cuban Missile gambit failed to net him the complete win he wanted. Pakistan and Iran cooperating to build a nuke? The Pakistanis and their leaders might be a little erratic, but they know which side the bread is buttered on, and they know the US will put up with a lot from them, but they won’t put up with that.

Jack already got it precisely right as to the comparison with the USSR, and I’d argue Iran in some ways could be even more dangerous than Nazi Germany, which had similar policies aimed at the destruction of particular peoples. The Nazis and the Communists were both unspeakably evil, but they worshipped power only. Power is no good to anyone who is not alive to enjoy it. That’s why when the Germans were beaten, for the most part they surrendered, save Hitler, Goebbels and a few other extreme ones. That’s also why the USSR stepped back when they saw Reagan, Thatcher, and the other NATO leaders deploying cruise missiles that could whack them in 20 minutes and Trident submarines that they could never seriously hope to find at sea. Suicide was not high on their list of things to achieve. I would make a comparison with Imperial Japan, where it was all about dying for the divine emperor and going to meet your ancestors in the great beyond, whereas defeat meant eternal shame. It was this toxic brand of religious fanaticism that made Japanese soldiers make banzai charges until they were all dead, and pilots crash explosives-laden planes and even manned missiles into US aircraft carriers. The Iranian leadership is dangerously close to being this level of fanatic (I hesitate to use the word zealot because I think fanatic is more appropriate) and MIGHT be crazy enough to risk the horrible damage a nuclear attack on Israel might do for the sake of Allah and 72 virgins. Only a fool takes a chance on a roll of that level of dice.

Of course sometimes you take half a loaf when the whole loaf can’t be had…when you’re divvying up resources or port access or something mundane like that. Israel is dealing with a potential existential threat, and there is no such thing as half existence or half sovereignty. Faced with destruction or Finlandization any nation worth its salt will fight, and rightly so.

Monica, I don’t know you. I can’t say whether you are looking at the world through the blue lenses of the Democratic Party and therefore can’t see how anyone associated with the other side might have a point, or if you are looking through the rose-colored lenses of the pacifist and dismiss anyone who stands up to evil or tyranny as a cowboy or dangerous because he might make the tyrant angry. What I can say is that you are looking at this situation with a very incomplete set of facts, enough to be dangerous. I will also say that you are putting your faith completely in the wrong person and the wrong type of people. Journalists have their place, and it’s a very important one, but essentially scoffing at a speech from an elected national leader who’s trying to keep his nation safe while accepting a criticism from a known biased reporter with no special expertise tells me you are not looking for truth, you are looking for confirmation wherever you find it. In this case your confirmation source is dead wrong, and I am sorry to say so are you.

Michael R.

Why is she a respected reporter on foreign events? Because she has an accent and she always speaks contemptuously of the American people.

The liberal mainstream has certain facts that must be held no matter the evidence. If you just listen to them and join the correct side of history, you too can understand the wisdom of Christiane Amanpour.

Israel is wrong. They must be held to the same moral standard as European nations who aren’t facing constant terrorist attacks. By this standard, the Israelis are oppressors and need to be treated as a hate group.

Muslims can’t be held to the same standard as Israel because they are the underdogs. No Arab nation has ever attacked Israel, all those wars were wars of conquest by a brutal Israel.

The Israelis have no valid complaints about their Arab neighbors.None of them were ever stripped of their property and citizenship and forced to move to Israel.

All Israel is Palestinian territory. Jews have no business in the middle east. If they would just leave or die, the Middle East can have peace.

Iran is an ancient, civilized nation. They have a superior culture to the US and we should follow their lead in foreign affairs. They would never engage in a bitter war with a neighboring country and they super special definitely wouldn’t use any weapons of mass destruction. at their disposal (like chemical weapons). Ask the Iraqis if you doubt. They would never do anything brutal or barbaric like kidnap and hold hostage an entire embassy staff. Iran only threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map because they are Jews and Jews deserve no better. You can always trust the Iranians to abide by any nuclear treaty. They would never build giant, secret, underground nuclear facilities that the US would be forced to disable with an advanced computer virus.

The US is always wrong. We are the most backward, most racist, most imperialistic country in the history of the world. We have built our entire country by robbing, conquering, and oppressing other countries. That is why everyone in the world hates us and no one ever wants to immigrate to the US. We need to give other countries what they demand from us, then they will like us. This is what President Obama says and our standing on the world stage has greatly improved under his guidance.

If you just submit to the unquestionable rightness of the points above, you too can be as correct and sophisticated as Mrs Amanpour.

Cal Brizzi

Jihad is not Nikita Khruschev shoe banging. Religious fanatics openly advocating blowing Israel off the Earth is not saber rattling. Couple this with the fact that Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism – this point even our apologist President concedes and we all have reason to worry. But reason and logic are trumped by soundbites in the romper room of modern day political discourse. Netanyahu is a spoiled child because he concludes that once Iran has a nuclear weapon it wont be long before Hammas, Hezbollah, Al Queda or ISIS will have a nuclear weapon (credit to the prior poster). Netanyahu further reasons that once this occurs; Tel Aviv will be first in the crosshairs. The nerve of that brat!

At the risk of waxing too dramatic, the future of our nation, and maybe the planet, depends on the ability to appreciate and address the danger of militant Islamic states possessing nuclear weapons. Israel understands the threat because they are surrounded by it – this ain’t their first rodeo. We should listen more and swagger less. American politicians should save the vitriol and name calling for the machete wielding murderers who deserve that and much more. We owe the Prime Minister an apology. This is no way to treat friends.

Sharon

You know who deserves to be taken even more seriously than the CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour regarding the crisis in the Mideast?

The Supreme Leader of Iran Ali Khamenei. And I think he would disagree with the idea that Netanyahu’s speech was Strangelovian or that Netanyahu was engaging in hysteria. I don’t think he would want anyone to imply that he is soft on Israel. And from what he has said, Israel has quite a bit to be worried about. I’m going to take his word for it. Even though Amanpour is a very respected reporter.

It is, as you can see, a strong field. I was initially going to make the selection myself, but have decided to get input from readers as well. I have given a 10 vote head start to my own choice, but will submit to the will of the assembled if another entree surpasses it when the votes are tallied. The polls are open until midnight Monday, March 30. Good luck to all!

 

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Christiane Amanpour

amanpour

“There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”

——Christiane Amanpour in 1996, responding to critics who called her reporting on the Bosnian War biased.

Now THIS is an unethical quote, in contrast to the earlier one from Christiane, which I posted yesterday as an “Ethics Quote of the Week.”

I’m posting this one 20 years after it was uttered because…

1. It explains the previous quote from yesterday.

2. It tells us everything we need to know about Christiane, which is to say, she cannot be trusted as a reporter.

3. For some reason I was unaware of it.

4. It appears to have become the motto of all reporters.

5. It is unethical to the core, and

6. A lot of people, including most journalists, don’t know why. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Christiane Amanpour

“It was a very dark Strangelovian speech painting the picture of a dystopian world, raising the spectre of a genocidal nation, a genocidal regime spraying nuclear weapons to annihilate the whole world and the whole region. Now, obviously many people are very concerned about Iran and there is a deep lack of trust, but surely the same was said of the Soviet Union all those years ago.”

—-CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, commenting to Wolf Blizter on Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial address to Congress.

That's funny...he doesn't LOOK Jewish...

That’s funny…he doesn’t LOOK Jewish…

This is a propitious opportunity to clear up a question I have been asked a few times, namely, “What is the distinction between the Ethics Alarms “ethics quotes” as opposed to the unethical and ethical quotes of the week or month. Sometimes, it’s a close call, like now. An ethics quote either illustrates, in a positive or negative fashion, an ethics principle or raises an ethics issue. Unethical quotes are those that are themselves harmful, dishonest, or that promote ethics misconceptions and unethical conduct. Ethical quotes are those that display ethical values or accomplish something that is objectively good.

Amanpour’s quote is, not to be overly blunt, stupid, ignorant, and disturbingly lacking in historical perspective. It raises ethics issues, but does not rise to the level, quite, of an unethical quote. It does raise the ethics issues of incompetence in the media, political bias robbing us all of IQ points, irresponsible journalism, and what happens when one is incapable of placing oneself behind another individual’s eyeball.  She is trying to be descriptive, so I would not term the quote itself unethical, just shocking. She has long been respected as a reporter on international events, but this statement is so devoid of its proper context that I think her credentials need to be reconsidered. Continue reading

Ethics Hero, Ghost Of Christmas Past Edition: Dwight Gooden

Dwight-Gooden

For me, Christmas triggers not only memories fond and bittersweet, but also regrets, realizations, and discovered clarity about where I have been and how I got where I am. This was really what Charles Dickens was expressing in “A Christmas Carol, and why it resonates even with the kinds of people who would be tempted to put a zombie Nativity on their front lawn.

Last week, former New York Mets pitching ace Dwight Gooden, known in his prime as “Doctor K” (a “K” is a strikeout, and if you didn’t know that—wow) and eventually just “Doc,”penned a brave and inspiring piece for The Player’s Tribune, in which he addressed his younger self, warning the young, cocky kid with the world seemingly begging to be his playground and cheering section in 1984 about the traps and landmines lying in his path.

Gooden, for those of you who face life every day without the accumulated wisdom bestowed by the love of baseball, and who somehow live through cruel winter without the promise of Spring Training warming your nights, looked like he might become the greatest, coolest, most unhittable pitcher in baseball history when he arrived on the big league scene in ’84, winning 17 games with a deadly curve and a 98 mile per hour fastball at the tender age of 19. He became the youngest player ever to pitch in an All-Star Game that year (he struck out the side), and the next season, at 20, he won 24 games, lost only four, and led the National League with a miniscule 1.53 earned run average.

And he was never that good again. He began losing speed on his fastball the next year, and steadily declined thereafter. Eventually there were drug problems, alcoholism  and other embarrassments, and Doc Gooden, instead of being the lock for the Hall of Fame that he seemed at 20, was washed-up at 35, and an unofficial member of the Pantheon of Disappointing and Fallen Sports Heroes.

Today, as the former pitcher nears 50, Gooden is a dedicated father and grandfather to  his children and grandchildren. He is the president of Best of the Best Sports Management, where he works with his oldest son, Dwight Jr. and is also a spokesman for PinkTie.org , a Long Island-based charity dedicated to fighting breast cancer.

In his essay, titled, “Letter to my Younger Self,” Gooden is frank, uncompromising, wistful, self-critical, funny, and never indulges in self-pity. He ends it this way:

Drugs and alcohol are only a false sense of security. Neither thing will fill the void you feel. Unfortunately it might take you a few missed Christmas Days with your family to learn this.

You will want to try to fix your issues on your own. This is how you think a man handles his problems. It isn’t. Being a man is about reaching out for help when you need it. If your curveball isn’t working, you’ll know how to fix that. If the control on your pitches is off, you’ll know how to fix that. But you will face a lot of hardship because of your inability to realize that you can’t fix yourself.

Finally, please know this: I love you. It’s going to take you a long time and a lot of pain to realize this, but accepting it will go a long way towards healing. The journey will be trying, but it ends in a good place.

Keep getting those Ks,

You’re a hero after all, Doc.

Merry Christmas.