I am a student of Presidential assassinations (as you might guess by the posts on McKinley and Garfield), and have been most of my life, ever since I saw a TV special called “Web of Conspiracy” when I was 10, about the Lincoln murder. That led me to read the best-selling book the special was based on, an 800 page, sensational analysis of the mysteries behind Lincoln’s death, by mystery writer Theodore Roscoe, who dabbled in history. The book’s theories and insinuating style are more convincing to a ten-year-old than an adult (I read the book many years later, and it drove me crazy), but the book still has a lot of fascinating tales and theories in it. I was hooked.
Oddly, the one Presidential assassination that has interested me least in recent years is the one I lived through, the assassination of President Kennedy. Blame Oliver Stone, Kevin Costner and Jim Garrison: “JFK” was the most dishonest movie I had ever watched (still is) and I walked out of it when its lies and distortions got too much for me about a third of the way through. Even before Stone’s brilliantly directed piece of crap. I was sick of the conspiracy theories, though Stone manufacturing a link to Lyndon Johnson was the final straw. Yes, the bitter Vietnam veteran really got back at LBJ; I hope it made him feel better. I, however, was soured on the whole topic.
I should have been paying more attention. Netflix is showing a documentary with the generic conspiracy theory title of “JFK: The Smoking Gun,” which was shown on cable two years ago. I missed it; if I had been aware of the film, the title and the subject matter—Oh, who’s behind it now? The Mafia? Nixon? Woody Harrelson’s father?—would have kept me away. But while I was on the road for a couple days doing ethics seminars for VACLE, my wife watched the documentary, and when I returned, sleep deprived, weak and submissive, she made me watch it.
That explosion (see Kaboom!) was based—I’m guessing now, since I don’t control when my brain blows—-on my shock that the President actually could be President and believe that, as well as not be aware how deluded he appears to assert such something so contrary to evident reality. Is he really that estranged from what is happening in the country he leads? Frightening. Is he really incapable of comprehending the single biggest, most damaging, most unexpected and most dangerous failing of his entire administration? Pathetic. Does he not watch TV? Read blogs? Does he exist in a separate, narcissist parallel reality where everything is as he wills it to be? Wow.
I know that the networks he watches and the newspapers he reads didn’t report them for the most part, but every poll shows that the public overwhelmingly believes that race relations have worsened. You can dispute the value and accuracy of polls with considerable justification, but these are the kinds of polls most likely to be accurate. How plausible is it that race relations, defined as how the races feel about each other and how they are getting along, could improve with the public believing they have worsened? Here’s polls from Pew, Gallup (“The percentage of Americans naming “race relations” or “racism” as the most important problem in the U.S. has climbed dramatically to 13%, the highest figure Gallup has recorded since a finding of 15% in 1992, in the midst of the Rodney King verdict.”), NBC, IDB ( “By an almost 3-1 margin, Americans say race relations have worsened under the man who was supposed to usher in a golden era of “post-racial” relations.”), Bloomberg, and Politico, and there are many others, all with the same message. Moreover, all of them were taken before the ‘killer racist cops ‘ campaign by Sharpton and his cohorts culminated in the assassination of two police officers by a deranged African American seeking to take “two of theirs for one of ours.” Let’s see a show of hands: how many think race relations have improved in the last two weeks?
A New York Times feature from October 3 tells the inspiring tale of a friendship between two scholars, one a Christian, the other an atheist. Their friendship does not thrive in spite of the conflict between their core beliefs, but rather because of it.
Prof. David Skeel, the Christian, recently published a book, “True Paradox: How Christianity Makes Sense of Our Complex World.” His atheist friend, Patrick Arsenault, is acknowledged in the book and quoted as well, and the Times notes that “True Paradox” “might not have existed at all, or certainly would not exist in its present shape and voice, without the secular scientist as its midwife. And that odd reality is testament to a rare brand of mutual civility in the culture wars, with their countervailing trends of religious fundamentalism and dogmatic atheism.” Says Skeel:
“One of the things we talked about was whether it matters if we persuade each other. I long to have Patrick converted to my perspective. So how can we have a friendship? I see it as toleration in the deepest meaning. We don’t just ‘put up’ with each other’s beliefs. We interrogate them.”
Arsenault tells the Times that “in the culture wars, the rhetoric is acerbic on both sides. On the humanist side, there’s this tendency to view people of faith as not rational. And David is clearly rational. He’s just looked at the same evidence as me and come to a different conclusion.”
Contrast this attitude—rational, respectful, practical, fair, constructive and profoundly ethical, with the “partyism” and bigotry being practiced with increasing intensity as the mid-term elections approach. There is Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in the video clip above, for example, not merely accusing Republicans of fear-mongering, but suggesting that their criticism of the Secret Service is insincere: Continue reading →
On “Face the Nation” this Sunday, host Bob Schieffer mentioned to guest Elijah Cummings (D-MD) that it was being reported that many African-Americans are worried the Secret Service would better protect a white president. “Eighty-five percent of all African-Americans that come to me mention what you just said, Cummings replied, “and I don’t agree with it.”
Well, that’s mighty big of the Congressman. He has been one of the many black elected officials who have periodically claimed that criticism of the President stems from a race-based hatred unrelated to his performance or policies. A responsible black leader would have said, not “I disagree” as if this was a matter for rational debate, but rather, “This is obviously unfair and untrue.”
I think the Congressman should have said, to be completely candid, something like this:
Eighty-five percent of all African-Americans that come to me mention what you just said,and I must say, Bob, I think Democrats, liberal pundits, Hollywood, the civil rights establishment, activists and many others like Chris Matthews—all of MSNBC, really—Bill Maher and Eric Holder, should pause to pat themselves on the back. After all, handed a shining opportunity to ease the tensions of racism with the election of a black President, we’ve managed against all odds to convert the majority of the U.S. African-American population into a paranoid, racist, fearful, whites-hating bloc that we should be able to keep voting Democratic for decades, while we convince the growing Hispanic-American population that whites hate them too. Of course, we have to appreciate the efforts of the media in painting that Trayvon Martin tragedy as a mad racist shooting harmless child for “walking while black”—that helped a lot.
Luckily, whites don’t attribute all of the endless screw-ups of government agencies under the supervision of this black President to his hatred of them, or we might really have a race problem in this country. But that would be racist, anyway. Actually, we could use that.”
The well-established pattern of the Obama administration has been ineptitude followed by denials and dishonesty, culminating in efforts to blame someone else. This is a familiar sequence in management incompetence, and it is one reason why incompetence is unethical. Not doing a job well is not itself unethical unless one falsely creates trust that the job will be done well, refuses to admit that it was not, and continues to be incompetent by avoiding both accountability and self-criticism.
As I have written here too often, this is the tragic history of Barack Obama’s Presidency, once regarded with such hope, now an abject lesson in how good intentions and optics are not enough to lead a nation. Since the last time I made an accounting, there have been several more serious fiascos born of miscalculations, naiveté, lack of diligence, and outright laziness, as indeed I predicted years ago that there would be. What I said was the effects of cumulative lax management, incompetence, political manipulation and arrogance were cumulative, and that we would see more and more results as time went on. This took no great acumen on my part: it did require astounding partisan bias and misrepresentation by so many pundits and journalists to deny it. Let’s see: since the last full accounting we have seen Russia’s slow-motion invasion of the Ukraine, the illegal Bowe Bergdahl prisoner exchange, the Iraq implosion and the rise of ISIS, the bizarre American “plan” to deal with it, the swarming of the border by illegal immigrants, and the revelation that the Secret Service is untrustworthy. Does even worse lie ahead?
Of course it does.
Thus the assurances that the country’s health authorities are handling the Ebola threat with proper thought, efficiency and care can only be accepted ay face value by someone who intentionally rejects the life lesson of “Fool me 2,438 times, shame on you.” I now the Washington Beacon is a conservative news and commentary source, but writer Matthew Continetti wrote truth and common sense in a recent column titled, “The Case for Panic.” He wrote in part… Continue reading →
Laura Ingraham, for my money, is the most civil and entertaining of the far right talk show hosts. She does not engage in off-the wall rants, like fellow lawyer Mark Levin, she does not intentionally provoke the Left with politically-incorrect eye-pokes, like Rush Limbaugh (though he is awfully good at this, and sometimes very funny), and her passion for dignity and decorum in the culture is admirable, though Laura’s sense of what is smut and “poison” seems to have been formed while watching re-runs of “Father Knows Best.” Today, however, she hit the hypocrisy jack-pot while complaining about Jimmy Kimmel’s low-life performance as the MC at the White House correspondents’ dinner, and the unseemly tenor of the annual event generally. To be fair, she was absolutely right about a great deal:
The event is a national and international embarrassment. When it was a private affair allowing the White House to show appreciation for the hardy crew of journalists that dogs its occupant’s every move, allowing the President to josh with the reporters and let his hair down if he had any, an argument could be made that the event was harmless at worst, and beneficial at best. Now that the dinner is broadcast on cable TV, however, it has become increasingly cringe-worthy, as the Chief Executive is required to play stand-up comic next to the likes of Kimmel, diminishing his stature and making foreign cultures even more contemptuous of the U.S. than they already are. It should be held privately, or not at all.
The President should not be subjected to a performance that includes vulgarity and crudeness. Kimmel was both vulgar and crude, as he always is—don’t blame him, blame the fools who hired him. The President should not sacrifice respect and dignity to appear “cool.” Then again, this President does not comprehend Presidential leadership, and apparently never will. I am not a Reagan worshiper, but Ronnie would have been livid at an entertainer who resorted to such words as “asshole” in his presence. JFK would have made heads roll, and Ike would have had to restrain himself from having Kimmel shot.
For the President to be seen and heard joking about life and death issues, policies and episodes is offensive. He is the one American who has to be perceived as taking these matters seriously…always.
The last is where Laura hit an iceberg. She played an audio clip of a White House spokesperson earlier this year declaring how serious the recent Secret Service scandal was (You remember, don’t you? South American hookers and all that?) being taken on Pennsylvania Avenue, and they played Obama’s scripted joke from the dinner making light of the episode. She then segued into the hypocrisy of the mainstream media, which happily gives this President, whom they all voted for, carte blanche to make such irreverent gags, but who attacked President Bush for his “searching for the weapons of mass destruction” video routine at one of his White House dinners. Good one Laura…wait, what?You didn’t criticize President Bush’s routine then. You’re being more of a hypocrite than they are. Not only are you applying a double standard to the Presidency according to who’s in the office, you’re criticizing journalists for applying the exact same double standard you are!
And here’s strike three on Ingraham: Bush’s joke was inexcusable, Obama’s was just a mistake. The WMD fiasco got the U.S. into war and led to the deaths of thousand of soldiers and civilians, American and Iraqi. There is no comparison to President Obama’s quipping about the Secret Service episode.
Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at firstname.lastname@example.org.