Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/9/19: “Nothing Can Bother Me Because It’s Opening Day At Fenway Park” Edition

All’s right with the world..

…despite all evidence to the contrary!

At least for today…

1. Psst! HLN! It’s called “stealing,” you morons. According to a recent survey, 14% of Netflix users share their passwords to the streaming service. That’s about 8 million people. I just watched giggling news-bimbo Robin Meade on HLN and her sidekick Jennifer Westhoven go on about how they hoped Netflix didn’t “crack down” and how this was like “ride-sharing.” No, it’s not like ride-sharing at all. If you want your friend to have  Netflix and they can’t afford it, pay for their subscription. This is theft. Talking heads that rationalize dishonest behavior on TV is one of many cultural factors that incapacitates the ethics alarms of a critical mass of Americans.

And Robin? Being beautiful doesn’t excuse everything.

2.  The Alternate Reality solution to race relations! Professor Chad Shomura of the University of Colorado at Denver has  banned discussions of any white men in his course on American political thought. No Locke,  no Jefferson,  no Rousseau, no Madison, no Hamilton, and  no President before Obama .  Such an irresponsible approach to his course’s topic can’t be prevented by the university because of academic freedom, of course: if a professor thinks he or she can teach physics by playing with puppies, that’s up to them. I would suggest, however, that any student incapable of figuring out that such a course is an extended con is a fool and a dupe. What’s the equivalent of this? Teaching the history of baseball without mentioning Babe Ruth?

3.  Pop Ethics Quiz: Is this fair? After legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ” will forever be known as the ‘woman who put children in cages,” conservative pundit and ex-Justice Department lawyer T Beckett Adams tweeted, “I doubt it. People have short memories. There’s a reason we don’t call Toobin the “married man who knocked up a former colleague’s daughter and had to be taken to court to pay child support.”  Adams’ description is fair, but is using it in this context ethical?

I tend to think not, but it’s a close call. [Pointer: Althouse] Continue reading

The Democrats Have (At Least One) Openly Anti-Semitic House Representative. Now What?

The Democratic Party’s female, Muslim Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, was openly anti-Semitic before she was elected, but her party was too busy celebrating her as a triumph of diversity to notice. And really, don’t we need some diverse opinions about Jews in the House too? Shouldn’t anti-Semites have representation too?  Actually, they are well represented in the new Democratic class, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich) also making her bias clear. Thus Rep. Omar felt comfortable in tweeting, in response to muckraker Glenn Greenwald’s defense of Tlaib and her own trope about big money Jews controlling international policy and business has been the bedrock of anti-Semitism for more than a century, “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby!”  When asked to explain where the money she was referring to came from, Omar tweeted: “AIPAC.” Her spokesman then said the tweets “speak for themselves.”

This is a tricky time for Democrats, who thrive on painting the other party as sexist, racist and intolerant and who now are trying to find ways to explain why it has two blackface artists and one twice-accused rapist filling out the top three political positions in Virginia. Would it shrug off turn-back-the-clock claims by a Democrat that Jewish money controlled U.S. policy?

Amazingly, no! Speaker Nancy Pelosi  co-signed a statement with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC), Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Caucus Vice Chair Katherine Clark (D-MA), saying

“Anti-Semitism must be called out, confronted and condemned whenever it is encountered, without exception, We are and will always be strong supporters of Israel in Congress because we understand that our support is based on shared values and strategic interests. Legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies is protected by the values of free speech and democratic debate that the United States and Israel share. But Congresswoman Omar’s use of anti-Semitic tropes and prejudicial accusations about Israel’s supporters is deeply offensive. We condemn these remarks and we call upon Congresswoman Omar to immediately apologize for these hurtful comments.”

The GOP’s recent slap-down of perpetual embarrassment Steve King for his pro-white nationalist statements made this response more necessary than sincere, perhaps. The American Jewish Committee demanded an apology, calling Omar’s suggestion that AIPAC is paying American politicians for their support “demonstrably false and stunningly anti-Semitic.” The organization pointed to a 2018 Gallup poll showing that 64 percent of Americans sympathize with the Israelis over the Palestinians.  “American politicians are pro-Israel because Americans are.”

Isn’t this all just posturing though? As blogger Allahpundit writes, “Let’s not pretend Omar isn’t getting a speaking gig at the convention next year. Or that she won’t get a standing O from the crowd when she walks out.” No, Steve King will NOT be speaking at the GOP convention. And what, exactly, does it mean when a blatant anti-Semite like Omar apologizes, saying, as she did in a tweet,

 “Anti-Semitism is real and I am grateful for Jewish allies and colleagues who are educating me on the painful history of anti-Semitic tropes. My intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole. We have to always be willing to step back and think through criticism, just as I expect people to hear me when others attack me for my identity. This is why I unequivocally apologize. At the same time, I reaffirm the problematic role of lobbyists in our politics, whether it be AIPAC, the NRA or the fossil fuel industry. It’s gone on too long and we must be willing to address it.”

Continue reading

Fairness Inquiry: Is Rep. Steve King A Racist?

[This is long. I’m sorry.]

I wrote earlier today that the Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) situation had become a full-blown Ethics Train Wreck, and that is true. It is an ETW because there is virtually no way one can get involved with the controversy in any way and not risk blundering into unethical conduct. If one rushes to condemn the Iowa Congressman without examining the evidence, that is unfair. If one tries to excise him from his position before the end of his term without more than just an objection to his choice of words, one is interfering with the free choice of his constituents regarding whom they want representing their interests in Washington. If one attempts to defend him, there is a risk of rationalizing and excusing bigotry on the part of a lawmaker. If one sides with his critics enemies, one may be facilitating a cynical effort to mis-characterize King and distort his sentiments to use him as a weapon against President Trump, Republicans, and conservatives generally, for “Trump, Republicans and conservatives endorse racism and white supremacy” is one of the loudest narratives that has been promoted since the 2016 election and before.

Let us not forget that King himself started this train wreck rolling with his own careless and defiant rhetoric. His latest was a quote from an elusive interview in the New York Times, in which King said,

“White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?”

Despite King’s protestations that he had been misunderstood, Republicans, Democrats and the news media condemned his statement as racist, and he was stripped of all committee assignments by his party, as Democrats readied an attempt to have him formally censured.

It is not difficult to clarify the difference between an admiration for the amazing and undeniable achievements of Western culture, and a belief that the color of the people responsible for building it was a factor in its success. Despite the fact that King raises the issue frequently, however, he has somehow never managed to make the distinction clear. There is therefore a rebuttable  presumption that he doesn’t believe there is a distinction. The alternative is that he, much like the President of whom he was an early supporter, lacks the command over the language to explore such distinctions competently. If that is true, then he is disrupting national discourse and seeding division and hate through incompetence.

I regard King as a less articulate, less intelligent, less amiable version of Pat Buchanan, the conservative gadfly and pundit who helped defeat George H.W. Bush’s bid for reelection and who inadvertently helped elect his son President. Buchanan is an anti-Semite, a xenophobe, a homophobe and a racist. He is very clear that he regards immigration as a threat to what he believes must be a Christian, white, European-dominated culture in the U.S. Unlike King, he is direct and unambiguous about it:

  • “If we do not get control of our borders, by 2050 Americans of European descent will be a minority in the nation their ancestors created and built,” Buchanan wrote in his 2006 book “State of Emergency.”
  • In “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?,” he wrote, “[T]he decline in academic test scores here at home and in international competition is likely to continue, as more and more of the children taking those tests will be African-American and Hispanic.
  •  Buchanan, though calling Anders Breivik, who murdered 77 people  in Norway “evil,”  added : “As for a climactic conflict between a once-Christian West and an Islamic world that is growing in numbers and advancing inexorably into Europe for the third time in 14 centuries, on this one, Breivik may be right.”
  • From his column “Are Liberals Anti-WASP?” May 14, 2010: “If [Elena] Kagan [President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court] is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats. Is this Democrats’ idea of diversity?”
  • Extolling the good old days in “Right from the Beginning”: “In the late 1940’s and 1950’s…race was never a preoccupation with us, we rarely thought about it….There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘Negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours.”
  • “How is America committing suicide? Every way a nation can. The American majority is not reproducing itself. Its birthrate has been below replacement level for decades. Forty-five million of its young have been destroyed in the womb since Roe v. Wade, as Asian, African, and Latin American children come to inherit the estate the lost generation of American children never got to see…our minority population rose 2.4 million to exceed 100 million. Hispanics, 1 percent of the U.S. population in 1950, are now 14.4 percent. Since 2000, their numbers have soared 25 percent to 45 million. The U.S. Asian population grew by 24 percent since 2000, as the number of white kids of school age fell 4 percent. Half the children five and younger today are minority children….The Anglo population of California is down to 43 percent and falling fast. White folks are now a minority in Texas and New Mexico. In Arizona, Hispanics account for more than half the population under twenty. The America Southwest is returning to Mexico.”  That’s Buchanan just 11 years ago, in Pat’s “Day of Reckoning: How Hubris, Ideology, and Greed are Tearing America Apart.”
  • Also from the same book: “The United States, the greatest republic since Rome, and the British Empire, the greatest empire since Rome, may be said to have arisen from that three-cornered fort the Jamestown settlers began to build the day they arrived. But that Republic and that empire did not rise because the settlers and those who followed believed in diversity, equality, and democracy, but because they rejected diversity, equality, and democracy. The English, the Virginians, the Americans were all ‘us-or-them’ people. They believed in the superiority of their Christian faith and English culture and civilization. And they transplanted that unique faith, culture, and civilization to America’s fertile soil…This was our land, not anybody else’s. But today America and Britain have embraced ideas about the innate equality of all cultures, civilizations, languages, and about the mixing of all tribes, races, and peoples, that are not only ahistorical, they are suicidal for America and the West.”

There are many quotes like these, for Buchanan writes a lot. As you probably noticed, either King reads a lot of Pat’s work,  he thinks the same way without quite being able to express it clearly or perhaps he doesn’t have the courage that Buchanan has to say what he believes and accept the consequences. Some of those quotes sound a lot like King.

What makes it difficult to accurately and fairly define what’s wrong with King’s statements through the years, in addition to his own lazy speech habits, is the ongoing tendency of the leftward, anti-conservative news media to assert that statements that are not racist are, and indeed to obliterate any precise meaning of racism into convenient vagueness. For example, a New York Times article called A History of Steve King’s Racist Remarks” almost convinced me to defend King. It is incredible that the Times would be so dishonest, inflammatory and unfair as to assemble the “remarks” it chose under the description of “racist.” The fact that it would tell us more about the biases and untrustworthiness of the Times than it does about King. The problem is that while the Times and others will claim that almost anything King (or Donald Trump) says is proof of racism, there are enough real racist and xenophobic sentiments in the mix to justifiably conclude that King is Buchanan II.

Here’s the list:

“Mr. King, in the Iowa State Senate, files a bill requiring schools teach that the United States “is the unchallenged greatest nation in the world and that it has derived its strength from … Christianity, free enterprise capitalism and Western civilization.”

Not racist. Not even close.

Mr. King is the chief sponsor of a law making English the official language of Iowa, [and ] Mr. King introduces the English Language Unity Act, a bill to make English the official language of the United States.”

Again, not even close. Many people of good faith, including me, believe that the U.S., its culture, education and commerce would be well served by declaring English to be the official language.

Mr. King sues the Iowa Secretary of State for posting voting information on an official website in Spanish, Laotian, Bosnian and Vietnamese.’

Stupid, yes. Racist, no.

At a rally in Las Vegas, Mr. King calls the deaths of Americans at the hands of undocumented immigrants “a slow-motion Holocaust.” He claims that 25 Americans die daily because of undocumented immigrants, an unsupported and illogical leap from government statistics, which years later influences talking points by President Trump.”

The “slow motion Holocaust” conspiracy theory is a white supremacist trope. Racist.

On the House floor, Mr. King demonstrates a model of a 12-foot concrete border wall topped with electrified wire that he designed: “We need to do a few other things on top of that wall, and one of them being to put a little bit of wire on top here to provide a disincentive for people to climb over the top or put a ladder there. We could also electrify this wire … We do that with livestock all the time.”

Oh, I get the theory: the Times is implying that King is comparing illegals to animals. No, he’s comparing fences.

Mr. King on the House floor, speaking of how law enforcement officers can spot undocumented immigrants: What kind of clothes people wear … what kind of shoes people wear, what kind of accent they have … sometimes it’s just a sixth sense they can’t put their finger on.

Apparently the Times thinks that even discussing illegal immigrants is racist. Seriously, how is this a “racist remark’?

Mr. King in a speech opposing the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to cover contraception: Preventing babies being born is not medicine. That’s not constructive to our culture and our civilization. If we let our birthrate get down below the replacement rate, we’re a dying civilization.

Race isn’t mentioned or alluded to, yet the Times calls this a “racist remark.” Amazing. Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

On a panel at the Conservative Political Action Conference with Peter Brimelow, an open white nationalist, Mr. King referred to multiculturalism as: a tool for the Left to subdivide a culture and civilization into our own little ethnic enclaves and pit us against each other.

Is any statement to a white nationalist “racist”?

Mr. King on why he opposes legal status for Dreamers, who were brought into the country as children: “For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

I don’t know what to make of that one, but the Times seems to believe that anyone opposing the “Dreamers” is a racist. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/13/19: Walking Through The Ethics Woods On A Snowy Evening

Good evening!

1. Pro tip for James Comey: appealing to the Cognitive Dissonance Scale is the tactic of a scoundrel. Also an idiot. Comey, responding to one of President Trump’s anti-Comey tweets—it doesn’t matter which–responded yesterday,

It takes only a rudimentary knowledge of world history to recognize how many absolute villains, psychopaths and sociopaths could and would make that statement. Vlad Tepes (aka “Dracula,”), feared foe of the Turks. Joseph Stalin, enemy of Hitler. Hitler, enemy of Stalin. Comey and President Trump are both equally loathed by Hillary Clinton: puzzle that out.

How did someone with Comey’s character deficits last as long as he did, and what damage did he do over that time that we don’t know about? The mind boggles.

2. And speaking of mind-boggling: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Apparently not capable of figuring out that her problem is her own big mouth and some serious critical thinking issues, the irrepressible Congresswoman from New York is playing the pity AND the victim cards simultaneously. Unfortunately, as is her wont, she also inadvertently played the “unqualified to be in Congress because she never read the bill of Rights” card. “When does nonstop criticism of me by the Daily Caller rise to the level of ‘harassment’?” she tweeted plaintively.

Of course, as any reasonably well-educated 6th grader should be able to explain, the answer is “never,” or perhaps, “Never, you idiot,” even if the frequent criticism wasn’t warranted, which it obviously is.

3. Political Hot Stove suggestion. This is the time between baseball season known as the “Hot Stove League,” where baseball fans concentrate on free agent signings and trades, real, hoped for, or imagined. Here’s one involving politics: the Republicans should offer to trade Steve King (R-Iowa) to the Democrats for Rep. Ocasio-Cortez. The problem is that even the Democrats aren’t stupid enough to take the bait. King is a long-running disgrace and embarrassment, the embodiment of what the news media and Democrats want the public to think every Republican and conservative is really like. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)

You know when I mentioned that Ted Lieu was NOT the most “foolish, dumb, frightening” member of Congress? Steve King was one of the people I was thinking of.

In case you haven’t heard the widespread mockery, King asked Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai  at this week’s House Judiciary Committee hearing about alleged bias and abuse of power by the tech behemoth,

“I have a 7-year old granddaughter who picked up her phone during the election, and she’s playing a little game, the kind of game a kid would play. And up on there pops a picture of her grandfather. And I’m not going to say into the record what kind of language was used around that picture of her grandfather, but I’d ask you: How does that show up on a 7-year old’s iPhone, who’s playing a kid’s game?”

Pichai responded,  “Congressman, the iPhone is made by a different company.”

Kindly leaving out the obligatory, “You moron.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/29/18: Baseball Opening Day Edition, Plus Earlobes, Insults, And Tampons…

Good Morning, And Play Ball!

1. To Tony C.  This is always a happy day for me, but I want to mute my joy a bit by dedicating this baseball season to the late Tony Conigliaro. Since my teens, he has been my constant inspiration to live every day to its fullest, because no matter how bright and promising the future seems at any moment, everything can change in the blink of an eye, or an errant pitch from Fate right into your face.

That’s what happened to Tony C. on a cruel August night in 1967. He was playing right field and batting clean-up for his home town baseball team, in a season that would see them win a miracle pennant. He was young, handsome and incredibly talented. He had become the youngest player ever to hit a hundred home runs,  and was in his fourth big league season at the tender age of 22.Then everything changed. Tony’s existence was swept up and placed on a new and dark road that ended with a fluke heart attack and stroke at the age of 37, and a lingering twilight half-death in brain damage until he mercifully passed away eight long years later.

All we can do now is remember a beautiful young man and a brilliant athlete who gave his home town many thrilling moments to savor in the brief time allotted to him, who had everything, and then lost it without reason, warning or justice…and also remember that every day should be lived right, and well, with the determination to be the best we can be, because we may never have a chance to be any better.

Yes, this baseball season is dedicated to you, Tony.

For me, I guess they all are.

2. No, this isn’t The Onion. This is a real tweet from the Democratic Party, authored by Congresswoman Grace Meng:

She continues

“Women deserve equal access to our economy, not punishment for their gender. That’s why I’ve been working with my fellow women to fight for more access to tampons, pads, and the full range of menstrual products since 2015. …I’ve introduced legislation to make these products more affordable — because leveling the playing field and stopping period-shaming give women, especially low-income women, a better chance to succeed in our economy…What else would give women a better chance to succeed? Electing more women to fight these fights with me — because we need leaders who understand the experiences of those they represent. ..Head to and commit to vote in 2018 and beyond, because women can’t wait for economic fairness any longer.”

I hope I don’t have to explain what is wrong with this, and I eagerly anticipate being able to parry any brain-melted partisan who reads something like this and says, “Hey, what a good idea!” Yet obviously millions of people are in thrall to this kind of slippery slope progressivism: if a gender, or a race, or a nationality or any other tribe has a unique need or problem, then all of society must help pay for it, or life is unjust. Was a virus released into the water system of certain major cities.? What else can account for such abdications of personal responsibility being accepted as fair and reasonable?

Hey! Why doesn’t the government pay for my electric razor? Continue reading

The New York Times “Explains” The Terms Of Immigration Reporting, Exposes Its Bias, And Then Ignores What It Concluded

My eight hours transit cross country yesterday to give a one-hour talk on bias wasn’t a total waste.. I did get to catch up on my New York Times back-up. However, the near head explosion my reading triggered was a threat to aircraft and passengers.

On March 10, page two, the Times published an ombudsman-like explanation of what terms it believes the paper should use when discussing illegal immigration. It begins,

“Illegal immigrant.” “Unauthorized immigrant.” “Undocumented immigrant.” “Illegal alien.” “Migrant.” “Noncitizen.” All of these terms, and some others, have been used in The New York Times to describe a person who has entered, lived in or worked in the United States without proper authorization — and each has been met with criticism.

The fact that terms meet with criticism doesn’t prove there is anything wrong with all the terms. Some of these terms, when used to describe illegal immigrants—and that is the correct term—are simply misleading, or so incomplete as to be useless. “Noncitizen”? A non-citizen is not necessarily illegal, nor is a non-citizen necessarily an immigrant. Ding. “Unauthorized” and “undocumented” immigrant are both euphemisms to duck the problem and the issue: the immigrant is illegal, and its not good to be illegal. The fact that the immigrant is illegal is the immigrant’s fault, not some passive bureaucratic snafu that robbed him of authorization or the documents he needs.

There is no controversy or problem here, but the Times  spends over a thousand words pretending that there is.

“In a debate as contentious as the one surrounding immigration policy in the United States, where even the most basic terminology is fraught with political implications, how do journalists decide, in a given instance, what term to apply?” Steven Hiltner whines. Uh, Steve? It’s in the Times ethics code. Just tell the truth, clearly and objectively. That means use “illegal immigrant,” period. The issue is people coming into our nation, immigrants, who do so in violation of our laws—illegally. What’s the problem?

The Times style guide, Hiltner explains, says that the term “illegal immigrant” may be considered “loaded or offensive” by “some readers.” The guide suggests “not taking sides” and using “alternatives” that describe the specific circumstances of the person in question. HOLD IT. “Illegal immigrant” isn’t loaded, or political, or partisan. It is clear English and undeniable fact. That one side of the political spectrum, for the most cynical of reasons, wants to disguise the nature of the act in question does not make telling the truth that this side of the spectrum wants to unethically obscure “loaded” or “taking sides.”  There is the pro-illegal immigration “side,” the dishonest, anti-law side, and the truth, which is the side the Times is obligated to embrace. Why should the Times care if “some people” want news sources to obscure the truth to aid and abet their agenda? Because a political party has embraced obfuscation and denial as a strategy, the Times is obligated not to allow fact to get in the way? Nonsense.

That the Times even feels like it has to engage in this navel gazing shows that it is hostage to the Left. The individuals in question are illegal immigrants, and that is what a responsible, neutral, objective and ethical newspaper should call them, so there is no confusion….even though Democrats, progressives and activists want there to be confusion. Continue reading