Unethical Meme Of The Week: Democratic Underground


I know I could batter internet memes all day, but this one, by the Democratic Underground, particularly annoys me, as has the “chicken hawk” canard that knee-jerk anti-war activists have been wielding for decades.

To begin with, it’s an ad hominem argument, and thus unethical on its face. The question is whether a military option is the best and most responsible solution to an international problem, not who is asserting that it is. It is also an incompetent argument, as in stupid. There  is nothing about typical military experience that conveys expertise in foreign affairs or international politics. Military service, as in training, marching, being deployed and shooting a gun, and military action, as a strategic tool of diplomacy and international politics, are two different things. Lincoln was a superb Commander in Chief, but he didn’t gain that ability from his brief combat experience fighting Black Hawk Indians.

In fact, what is  the statement above supposed to imply? No Commander in Chief has had to risk personal combat if he chose war. Because there has been no draft since the the Nineties, the only way a political leader would ever have military experience would be if he chose a military career, which would mean that the meme suggests that a military career is a prerequisite for national leadership. But Democrats don’t believe that; nobody believes that. In fact, Democrats are wary and suspicious of the military, which they believe, with some justification,  is biased toward military involvement. They don’t even especially respect military service: look at how James Webb was treated in his brief presidential run. Continue reading

Stephen Colbert’s Comedy Terrorism

This was a lesson for me. I fell into the trap of looking past unique unethical conduct because it resembled harmless conduct I had seen many times before, a close cousin of using “everybody does it” to excuse and invalidate the inexcusable. Thank goodness Washington Post columnist Colbert King was paying attention.

In King’s column today, he catalogues the activities of Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert’s faux presidential run. I had already commented on Colbert’s gag earlier this week, but the target of my criticism was George Stephanopoulos, who devoted a ridiculous amount of time to a pointless interview with the comedian at the expense of real news. I assumed Colbert was just another in a long line of comedians who have used a presidential election year as a prop, and thus harmless….and I stopped paying attention to his antics. But as King ( his first name is pronounced KOHL-bert; the comedian’s name is Kohl-BARE) points out, Colbert has moved beyond satire into something akin to comedy terrorism, actively attempting to warp and influence the presidential selection process for laughs, and casualties be damned. King writes: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Greta Van Susteren

Newt: ” Honey, I’m divorcing you to marry the woman I’ve been cheating on you with for the last 6 years.” Marianne: “Fine. Just wait til you run for President. I’ll be ready.”

Newt Gingrich’s second (of three) wife, Marianne Gingrich, has said in the past that she had it within her power to  end her ex-husband’s career with a single interview. This is not as remarkable as it sounds; just consider how many political spouses past and present have or had that power regarding their own power partners. Let’s see: Eleanor Roosevelt…Jackie Kennedy…Coretta Scott King…Lady Bird Johnson….Pat Nixon…Hillery Clinton, of course…Bill Clinton…Laura Bush…Tipper Gore. That’s just for starters. I have no doubt that Marianne Gingrich might be able to tell tales that would make any of these women feel fortunate by comparison, but on the other hand, what could she say that would be a surprise? Anyone who doesn’t know by now that Newt is about as miserable an excuse for a human being as one can be and avoid being shot or imprisoned hasn’t been paying attention.

This is the problem, however. People don’t pay attention, and have the memories of Eric Holder under Congressional questioning about Fast and Furious. After Gingrich’s deft response to Juan Williams’ accusatory race-baiting question at the last South Carolina debate sparked a standing ovation, you would have thought that he was the new star on the scene to hear callers on conservative talk-radio rave.* Yes, yes, Gingrich is smart and articulate. So were Richard Nixon, Tom DeLay, Huey Long and Joe McCarthy. So were Professor Moriarty and Goldfinger. We know Newt is smart; we also should know other things about him by now, like the fact that he’s an untrustworthy narcissist and a cur.

Apparently Marianne Gingrich has decided to do America a favor and to remind amnesiac Republicans once and for all who they were cheering this week. She has taped a two-hour spill-the-dirt interview with ABC News. The Gingrich camp is in a panic, and supposedly there is an ethics debate at ABC about whether the interview should air before the critical South Carolina primary, possibly Newt’s last chance to stop the Mitt Romney juggernaut, or after. Fox host and legal analyst Greta Van Susteren comes down on the side of holding the interview in the can until Monday. On her blog, she writes: Continue reading

Saluting the GOP’s Most Ethical Candidate, Distrusted For Doing the Right Thing

We'll miss his daughters, too...

Jon Huntsman is gone, finally quitting the hunt for the Republican Presidential nomination long after the futility of his quest had been established. Huntsman was easily the ethics favorite in the competition, though Ron Paul’s candor and integrity also get high marks. He began his campaign with a call for civility, and seldom missed the high standard he set out for himself. Best of all, he correctly identified the ethics core of our nation’s various problems: the trust deficit. Huntsman began hitting this theme hard in Iowa, but perhaps not hard enough. The collapse of public trust in all our institutions is a very real threat to our democracy, for democracy, more than any government philosophy, requires trust to survive. Whatever it is that Republicans want right now, however, trust isn’t very high on the list, and neither is civility. Continue reading

Thank you, Donald Trump

I can't bear to post another picture of Donald Trump, so I'm using this cute Jack Russell puppy's photo instead. I would also vote for the puppy for President before I would vote for Donald Trump.

I had been having misgivings about annointing Donald Trump the Ethics Alarms Jerk of the Year last spring, since so many strong contenders emerged as the year went on—Rev. Terry Jones, Alec Baldwin, Newt, Leroy Fick, of course, and others. Trump, however, took matters in hand, and locked up his award with a flourish by announcing yesterday that he had forsaken the Republican Party and was seriously considering a third party run  for the presidency. For reaffirming my original assessment, thank-you, Donald Trump.  For everything else, curses are more appropriate.

The man is totally without shame. Two weeks ago, he was fully prepared to be the moderator of a GOP candidates debate…a blatant and outrageous conflict of interest for anyone who had the faintest glimmer of a presidential bid still in what passes for his mind. When all but the equally shameless Newt Gingrich and the desperate Rick Santorum declined to be Trump’s props, he withdrew as moderator, and now this. Is he running for President out of spite? I suppose that would be more admirable than his earlier fake pass at a run, which was evidently designed to pump up ratings for his reality show. This public buffoon is willing to distort the democratic process and throw a monkey wrench into an extraordinarily important national election on a whim, a lark, or a hissy fit. Continue reading

The Donald Trump Follies: An Integrity Check for GOP Presidential Contenders

Some of the people more qualified to moderate a presidential debate than Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is staging yet another debate among the increasingly depressing field of Republican presidential contenders, with The Donald as the moderator, in Des Moines on December 27. This is extremely useful in assessing the field, and everyone in America owes him a debt of thanks, for anyone who agrees to participate in this offensive farce is unqualified to be President of the United States. Trump has created an excellent integrity test.

Several candidates have already flunked.  Newt Gingrich has agreed to participate—granted, there weren’t many questions about his integrity, so this is no surprise. So has Rick Santorum. I am somewhat surprised at this: Santorum holds some truly objectionable views, but integrity has never been one of his ethical  weaknesses. Well, the Trump Debate is a judgment test too—if you agree to go, yours is none too good. Now that I think about it, Santorum’s decision was predictable too. Continue reading

The Cowardly GOP Presidential Field

Cowards. All of them.

In three consecutive Republican presidential debates, members of the partisan audience have displayed obnoxious and callous attitudes in response to questions directed to the candidates. In the first, a portion of the assembled conservatives cheered an accounting of the convicted murderers put to death by the Texas penal system. During the second, vocal members of the audience shouted “Yeah!” to Wolf Blitzer’s questioning whether uninsured Americans should just be allowed to die without medical care. Then, in this week’s debate, the crowd jeered a videotaped soldier who declared himself as gay before asking if the candidates would support the recent elimination of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” as military policy.

Pundit efforts to characterize these outburst as typical of the Republican, conservative or Tea Party constituencies are blatant stereotyping, cynical and unfair. Anyone who has any experience speaking or performing to an audience knows that a few people can dominate audience reaction without being representative of it. No, it is not the Republican constituency that was exposed by these incidents, but the contenders for that party’s and the nation’s leadership. The failure of any one of the assembled candidates, nine in the first two debates, ten this week, to clearly and emphatically condemn the offensive reactions and the “thinking” underlying them suggests that none of the candidates possess the integrity, courage, confidence and values required to be a trustworthy leader of the United States. Continue reading