Comment Of The Day: “Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate”

Joel Mundt picks up his second Comment of the Day opining on the ever-green and always perplexing ethics controversy of slavery reparations, which was again broached in the recent Democratic candidates debate in New Hampshire.  The topic has had  a resurgence in recent years due to the advocacy of the current rock star of race-baiting , Ta Nihisi Coates, who regards the mass white to black wealth transfer as a the only way to solve America’s persistent economic gap among the races.

It has also had a long record of debate on Ethics Alarms, notably in the commentary on this 2019 post, where I admitted that I had momentarily lost my mind  in this one from 2016, in which I made…

“….no sense whatsoever. While again rejecting the concept of reparations (“the hell with that. [The idea is] to punish [whites] for the sins of slavery committed by their ancestors by arranging a massive transfer of wealth based on principles of tort law and damages. This has always been a pipe dream of civil rights extremists, couched in the language of revenge, as if the nation and the nation’s white citizens have made no efforts, sacrificed nothing, expended no resources or wealth, to try to undo the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Reparations are not going to happen, as the concept itself is unjust….”), I proposed a solution….that was indistinguishable from reparations…”

I concluded that mea culpa post by writing,

I’m better now. I am also, unfortunately, also back at Square One, my “Do something!” phase regarding race in America having accomplished nothing, as “Do something!’ arguments always do, and I still see no solution on the horizon.

I still don’t. Joel’s perspective can’t address that.

Here is Joel Mundt’s Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Observations On The ABC Pre-New Hampshire Primary Democratic Candidates Debate:

The issue of reparations has tied numerous candidates up in knots. Now it’s Steyer’s turn, though I think he’s a knot-head regardless. I firmly believe that reparations have already been paid. If the practice of slavery had been cut off solely by Presidential decree or Executive Order, or because the South simply decided to halt it, one could make an argument, however painful and convoluted, that financial reparations had a place at the table of discussion.

But I believe that slavery was ended with bloodshed. Those who supported slavery and secession from the Union paid dearly for it. Hundreds of thousands of Confederate soldiers died for their cause, cities were razed and burned, and their newly-formed government was terminated. And the North paid, too, with the lives of hundreds of thousands of young men who fought to save the Union and ultimately, to end slavery.

And now, 160 years later, people like Steyer (and Buttigieg, and others) say that’s not enough. They are, in effect, telling those soldiers, “Thanks for the sacrifice, but this is more about money than you getting eviscerated by cannon shot and having your body eaten by gangrene.” I’m not sure spitting on their graves is worse.

But it does get worse. Continue reading

Verdict: Worst Candidates Debate Ever, Part IV: Weak, But Strong On Pandering [Corrected]

You want “a weak presidential field”? I’ll show you a weak presidential field!

[Part 1 is here; Part II is here; Part III is here, and the November debate review is here.]

David Leonhardt, whom I sometimes think is the worst of the horrible stable of New York Times op-ed writers until Michelle Goldberg launches into another fact-free rant or Charles M. Blow authors the latest escalation in his campaign to convince readers that President Trump is the spawn of Satan, wrote an op-ed last week attacking the parties’ nominating processes and asserting that “We have an unnecessarily weak presidential field, especially the incumbent.” Read the article. There is no logic to it, nor consistency; it is yet another “I wonder how gullible and ignorant my readers are?” experiment. Essentially the piece is anti-democratic, as a majority of progressives seem to have soured on democracy once it “failed” by not electing Hillary Clinton President. (I regard the election of Donald Trump over Clinton as one of the most important and exhilarating expressions of democracy in our history, though it was substantially due to moral luck.) Leonhardt’s argument is also historical nonsense, as he claims that the parties were better at picking qualified and electable candidates in the past. They most certainly were not: overage generals like Winfield Scott*, W.H. Harrison and Zachary Taylor, the latter two who, though elected,  promptly died, thus elevating to the White House VPs that nobody ever wanted or envisioned as Presidents…popular generals with no governing experience whatsoever, like U.S. Grant and John C. Fremont…wildly popular outgoing Presidents’ handpicked successors who would never have been nominated otherwise, like Van Buren, Taft, and Bush? Packaged puppets like Warren G. Harding and William McKinley? Doomed losers like Horace Greeley, James Cox, Bob Dole, Walter Mondale, George McGovern, Mike Dukakis  and (yechh) John Kerry? Already once or twice beaten past candidates like Henry Clay, William Jennings Bryan, Thomas Dewey and Adlai Stevenson?  Brilliant!

Leonhardt even offers Abraham Lincoln as an example of the effectiveness of past party nominating systems, ignoring, or, based on his established level of acuity, unaware of the fact that Abe won despite getting only 38% of the vote, or about the same proportion Barry Goldwater and George McGovern received while losing in landslides. That he turned out to be a great President was more moral luck: Lincoln had no executive governing experience at all before being thrust into the most difficult challenge a President had faced since Washington, hadn’t even been a general, and was known mostly for his wit and oratory. With the nation teetering on destruction, the candidates selected by the Democratic and Republican parties in 1860 consisted of Lincoln, John Breckinridge, Buchanan’s inert Vice-President, who had also no executive governing experience, and Stephen Douglas, who also had never run anything and had been a full-time legislator for two decades. In his favor, he had a lot more relevant experience than Lincoln. On the deficit side, he would die in 1861, meaning that if Douglas had been elected the new President would have been the immortal Herschel Vespasian Johnson.

Leonhardt explains why the current field of Democrats is so weak, as if that wasn’t already depressingly obvious, but he never points to a single current non-candidate who would be any more promising, because there aren’t any.  He muses about Democratic governors who might be more promising: Like who, exactly…the ridiculous Andrew Cuomo? How many Democratic governors have distinguished themselves enough to have any national name recognition at all, other than Cuomo and Virginia’s Ralph Northam, of blackface fame?

It’s not the process, obviously, it’s the people. Then Leonhardt ends with “Of course, the biggest sign that the process is broken isn’t any of those seven. It is the man in the Oval Office.” Got it. The op-ed is just more anti-Trump teeth gnashing.

Whatever Donald Trump may be, the fact that he beat a supposed Democratic star overwhelmingly expected to win proves that he was not a weak candidate by definition, and as an incumbent President, he is stronger now. Incumbent Presidents are usually strong candidates because no matter who they are, if the economy is thriving, their foreign policy weaknesses haven’t crippled them, and there’s no prominent third party candidate to siphon votes away, they win, like Obama, Bush, Clinton, Reagan, Nixon, Ike, Truman and FDR (and going back further yet to the beginning of the 20th Century, , Wilson, Teddy, and McKinley).

But I digress. The shocking deficiencies of the current Democratic hopefuls were on full display as the awful awful, awful December debate wound down.

Pete Buttigieg began the worst pander-fest of the evening: Continue reading

Mrs. Q’s Corner: Political Mascot

 

by Frances Quaempts-Miller

Towards the end of British author Douglas Murray’s latest book The Madness of Crowds is a call to find significance beyond politics:

 “One of the ways to distance ourselves from the madness of our times is to retain an interest in politics but not to rely on it as a source of meaning.  The call should be for people to simplify their lives and not mislead themselves by devoting their lives to a theory that answers no questions, makes no predictions and is easily falsifiable.  Meaning can be found in all sorts of places.  For most individuals it is found in the love of the people and places around them: in friends, family and loved ones, in culture, place and wonder.  A sense of purpose is found in working out what is meaningful in our lives and then orienting ourselves over time as closely as possible to those centres of meaning. Using ourselves up on identity politics, social justice and intersectionality is a waste of a life.”

 Murray ends his book arguing, “To assume that sex, sexuality, and skin colour mean nothing would be ridiculous.  But to assume that they mean everything will be fatal.”

 In the last year and a half my wife and I have lost six loved ones, including two grandmothers last month, only three weeks apart.  Between us we have lost three grandparents, a cousin, an aunt, and my father. Ours has been a house of grieving that has prompted both of us to re-examine what has brought us a sense of purpose and what we need to focus our energies on in the future.  After spending not just years but decades fighting for equality, it has become clear, with so much death, that such supposed noble efforts have only rendered a more broken heart in a more broken world. 

 At the age of fourteen I went to my first protest to express concern for the United States involvement in El Salvador.  At the time, I didn’t really know what our country was doing wrong but I did know that the exhilaration of marching in the middle of the street, after the police told us through their bullhorns not to, while yelling various slogans repeatedly, was intoxicating.  All my frustration with whatever complications life had thrown my way dissolved instantly.  Suddenly I was a part of something bigger than myself while believing my actions and those of the other protesters were on “the right side of history” (see 1B. The Psychic Historian on the list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions). For a somewhat shy teenager, I was instantly transformed by that march into a powerful person.  Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2A, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

The transcript is here.

4. Asshole comment of the night: Pete Buttigieg saying that we have to ask how Donald Trump even got “within cheating distance of the Presidency.” The Democrats still refuse to admit that the election of the President was legitimate, without any evidence whatsoever. I don’t care who they are running for, the White House or mayor of East Podunk. I am not forgiving or trusting such a party until they recant, or are properly punished.

5. Do these people realize how ridiculous and irresponsible they sound regarding climate change? Beto O’Rourke: “I listen to scientists on this, and they are very clear. We don’t have more than 10 years to get this right.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of catastrophe when it comes to our climate.” How many times does the boy have to cry wolf before people catch on?

And, incredibly, there was support expressed by the two top demagogues on the stage for the absurd and totalitarian “Green New Deal.” Warren  (who proved her intellectual dishonesty and lack of integrity by co-sponsoring the Green New Deal bill, though it wasn’t worthy of a sixth grade science student, much less a Harvard professor): “Climate crisis is the existential crisis for our world. It puts every living thing on this planet at risk.”  Classic fact-free fear-mongering. Absolutely no scientist has suggested that “every living thing” is as risk even with the most dire climate chance models. As I have noted before regarding Warren, she deliberately tries to exploit public ignorance, and asserts things that we know she knows are not true. How can anyone support someone like that?

Then comes Bernie Sanders: “We can create what the Green New Deal is about. It’s a bold idea. We can create millions of good-paying jobs. We can rebuild communities in rural America that have been devastated. So we are not anti-worker. We are going to provide and make sure that those workers have a transition, new jobs, healthcare and education.”

The crypto-communist knows that what the Green New Deal is all about is, as Ocasio-Cortez’s guru, Saikat Chakrabarti, explained to the Washington Post,  the  Green New Deal isn’t “a climate thing at all,” but a stealth “how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.,” and, necessarily, a put government’s iron boot down on personal liberty thing, though neither Bernie, Liz, Saikat or the other aspiring totalitarians in the party will say so out loud.

6. When moderator Jake Tapper asked “whether the middle class should pay higher taxes in exchange for universal coverage and the elimination of insurance premiums,” Sanders rebuked him for using “a Republican talking point.” Thus was born a new progressive dodge. The next night’s debate participants quickly took up the task of distorting yet another term to make honest debate more difficult.  My favorite was Julian Castro’s “Open borders is a right-wing talking point.” Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2A, Part I

The candidates in the second round of debates, Part A, were Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. John Hickenlooper,  former Rep. John Delaney, Rep. Tim Ryan, Gov. Steve Bullock, and New Age guru Marianne Williamson.

The transcript is here.

1. In some kind of record for the earliest controversy in a debate, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan raised metaphorical eyebrows by keeping his arms by his side during the singing of the National Anthem, while every other candidate put their hands over their heart. This could not have been accidental, especially with the Left’s “Let’s diss the Natonal Anthem because Colin Kaepernick says so, to the extent that we can make any sense out of what he says” fad, most recently embraced by Megan Rapinoe.  So Ryan was virtue-signaling, to those who think such cynical disrespect is virtuous.

Yet he did not have the guts afterwards to admit it. Asked about his gesture, Ryan told ABC News: “I love this country as much as everybody else. The national anthem plays at football games, I put my hand on my heart for the Pledge of Allegiance,” . “I don’t know, the choir was singing and it was great.”

Ethics verdict: He’s a weasel and a weenie. A weensel. Continue reading

Comments Of The Day: “Open Forum…Again!” (Reparations Thread)

This week’s Open Forum was epic. All four major topics raised—children allowed to attempt dangerous challenges, Southern Democrats, Artificial Intelligence, and reparations for slavery, led to excellent, varied and provocative debates. I feel a bit guilty for co-opting the child exploitation thread with a full post; several of the comments in that thread were COTD quality, especially A.M. Golden’s at 8:12 am on the 20th.

The A.I. thread was one of the very best on any topic in the history of the blog. I started out  trying to choose a Comment of the Day from that discussion, and after realizing that there was one  great comment after another, considered re-publishing the whole sequence, but it is too long. I urge anyone who hasn’t done so already to read it all. The participants were adimagejim (who gets credit for opening  the topic), Michael R, Steve Witherspoon, Alex, johnburger2013, and Bad Bob.

I chose the reparations thread to highlight the comments because the topic was recently the subject of a hearing on the Hill, and because I think the “debate” is and has always been intellectually dishonest on the part of “reparations” advocates, who, I suspect, know exactly how impossible their demands and proposals are. Nonetheless the news media treats the arguments with reverence, and are happy to assist when naysayers are accused of insensitivity and bigotry. The Comments of the Day that follow  effectively show just how absurd—and unethical—the reparations case is.

Steve Witherspoon: Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Reparations Again”

Reparations for slavery are 1) impossible 2) unaffordable  3) offensive, and 4) guaranteed to worsen race relations rather than repair them, but as long as progressives feel the need to pander to a victim mentality among blacks and think they can prosper by professing to support what they must know is a cynical fantasy, we will continue to hear about them. Ethics Alarms, in turn, will have to keep noting the proposal is unethical.

We got a classic example of the kind of “logic” applied by reparations-mongers when one of the more obscure and unqualified contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination—you can imagine how obscure and unqualified that must be—announced her support for taking the money from other races to enrich anyone who identifies as the offspring of slaves. Marianne Williams—quick, now, who is she?—told CNN over the weekend,

“It’s simply a debt we owe. This country will not heal until we take a serious moral inventory. A nation must undergo the same level of deep moral inventory [and] admission of our character defects. Racism is a character defect. Let’s end this. Let’s fix this. Let’s solve this. Reparations won’t end everything but it will be a profound gift. It implies a mea culpa. It implies a recognition of a debt owed and therefore, it carries not only economic power but spiritual force — whatever it costs, it’s time to do this.”

Sure.

Here is A.M. Golden’s Comment of the Day on the post, Reprations Again.

I’ll be back with a brief comment after A.M. has his say.

I oppose reparations. It’s no better than the lottery or a medical settlement.

In the Black Community, the concept of “Giving Back to the Community” is huge. It’s expected that, if you run a business in the neighborhood, you will use your largess to help your neighbors. This is, in part, why Asian-owned businesses that tend to be family run get flack because they don’t hire within the community. A wealthy resident or a business owner is made to feel obligated to fund a community center or food pantry (though this is really just making the lottery winner a forced charitable organization or even an extension of government). But, in many cases, “Giving Back to Community” means that you just hand over money to people as loans that are, in actuality, gifts.

I remember attending a sci-fi convention a few years ago with a notable black actor who spent many years working at his trade before becoming famous. At his Q&A session, he talked about a charitable organization he is involved with that sends minority children out into a type of summer camp in open places like Montana so they can be exposed to nature and a different environment. Halfway through the panel, an African-American fellow walked in, sat down, raised his hand and asked what the actor had done to “Give back to the community”. The actor then repeated his earlier description of his charitable work. After that, the newcomer left…probably to go into other Q&A sessions to determine if other black actors were pulling their weight. Continue reading