Comment Of The Day: “Today’s Chaos, Ethics And Alternate History Note: Teddy’s Fateful Decision”

This unique Comment of the Day, by Steve-O-in NJ,  has come closer to cheering me up than anything else today. Taking of from my post about the historical chaos set off by Theodore Roosevelt’s decision to split the Republican Party in 1912, Steve-O draws on his impressive knowledge of history to give us what Paul Harvey called, “The rest of the story. Well, what would have been the rest of the story.

Here is Steve-O’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Today’s Chaos, Ethics And Alternate History Note: Teddy’s Fateful Decision”:

I’m late to the table, but I love playing “what if?” So, here’s my take on the alternative future where Teddy Roosevelt did not run in 1912. He was a year back from Europe and disgusted that Taft was approaching the task of governing completely different than he had. To Roosevelt, a president was a trustee of the people’s power, to use it for them as best he saw fit. Taft saw the president as more a chief magistrate, who should be careful not to exceed his enumerated powers – when not hitting the links. Roosevelt swore he’d topple Taft, if not as the Republican nominee, then as the nominee of his own party. However, a few of his friends who could talk to him frankly told him, “Ted, there are times you act like you’re about six years old, but this is the six-year-oldiest. You can run, but all it will do is split the Republican vote and hand the White House to that dead-eyed, ivory-tower, political neophyte from Princeton. Is that what you want? This country isn’t yours to use for your own vendetta or destroy when you don’t get your way.”

Angry, but seeing the point, Teddy dropped out of public life and retired to Sagamore House in Oyster Bay to write and figure out what was next for him at 54. Although he took no part in the 1912 election, his neutrality was enough to guarantee Taft a second term and send Woodrow Wilson back into academia. Vice President James Sherman died shortly before the election. As a gesture to his former friend, who he still respected, Taft replaced him with political sage and longtime Republican public servant Elihu Root. Roosevelt’s account of his many meetings with the rulers of Europe during his time there, “The Gilded Path,” was published in 2013, and his proposal for a stronger international community and a possible international court, “A Firmer Foundation,: was published the next year…a month before the assassination of Franz Ferdinand touched off a war between Serbia and Austria-Hungary, and the Kaiser foolishly delivered “the German Blank Check.” Continue reading

Today’s Chaos, Ethics And Alternate History Note: Teddy’s Fateful Decision

On this day in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was nominated to run for  Presidency by the newly formed Progressive Party, quickly dubbed “the Bull Moose Party” after Teddy said he felt like Bull Moose. Roosevelt’s platform called for the direct election of U.S. Senators, woman suffrage, and many social reforms based on fair business competition and increased welfare for the poor. As anyone could have told Roosevelt and many tried, this move was based on vanity and anger, and almost certainly ensured that Woodrow Wilson would end up President after Republicans split their votes between Roosevelt and President Taft. Wilson was indeed elected, and the result for the country was disastrous. A proud racist, Wilson endorsed Jim Crow and eliminated what had been the gradual racial liberalization of government agencies. He took the U.S. into World War I, something a re-elected President Taft would not have done (but, alas, Teddy would have, since he liked wars), helping to spread the Spanish flu world -wide. Wilson allowed the treaty ending he  war to be excessively punitive to Germany, planting the seeds of World War II, the Holocaust, and the rise of the Soviet Union. Continue reading

Ethical Quote, Fair Quote, Unethical Quote, Share Quote…

The ethical quote:

These words are on the outside wall of the Museum of Natural History near the Teddy Roosevelt statue that will be coming down, according to the museum.

The quote is a far better memorial to Roosevelt  and his character than the statue.

The fair quote:

The question is how soon this will dawn on the groveling, and how soon the intimidated will have the courage to speak the truth.

The unethical quote:

The Washington Post issued a justification for its widely (and correctly) criticized 3000 word story about a politically incorrect  costume that a woman wore at the Halloween party of Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles two years ago. Because two vicious social justice Furies who were guests at the party decided that the current George Floyd Freakout presented  an opportunity to humiliate the woman and contacted the paper, it published 3000 words about an old, private incident, resulting in the woman losing her job, and Toles, who had refused to identify her when one of the vengeful and self-righteous women called him to re-open the episode, was embarrassed by his own employer.

The Post’s own readership found the paper’s news journalism ethics atrocious (as do I), prompting this response from a spokesperson to Fox News:

“Employees of The Washington Post, including a prominent host, were involved in this incident, which impelled us to tell the story ourselves thoroughly and accurately while allowing all involved to have their say. The piece conveys with nuance and sensitivity the complex, emotionally fraught circumstances that unfolded at the party attended by media figures only two years ago where an individual in blackface was not told promptly to leave. America’s grappling with racism has entered a phase in which people who once felt they should keep quiet are now raising their voices in public. The story is a microcosm of what the country is going through right now,”

A simple “We’re sorry, we screwed up, the story never should have been written and we don’t know what came over us and we pledge to be more responsible and to exercise better judgment in the future” might have salvaged a smidgen of the paper’s rotting reputation. Instead we have more evidence of just how unethical and untrustworthy this rag is: Continue reading

Good JOB Everybody! The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Affair Becomes The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Ethics Train Wreck

The last time we visited the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, things seemed ready to slip into relative calm. Yes, the captain has breached policy and navy protocol as well as the chain of commend, but he had received the necessary punishment that he had to know was coming. His gambit had worked, focusing sufficient media and public attention on ship’s plight to goad the Navy into acting with more compassion and dispatch, getting the Wuhan-infected sailors off the carrier and into treatment. The Acting Navy Secretary had made the proper, if unpopular call, and the President had backed him up. Yes, the mainstream media was stirring the pot and making it seem like the captain had been unfairly punished—didn’t the cheers of his crew prove that?—but the public is used to this dance by now: the “Whatever the President and  His Appointees Do Is Wrong Waltz.” Here was how the Times, the national “paper of record,’ described Captain Crozier’s firing yesterday, for example:

“Mr. Modly’s response last Thursday was to fire Captain Crozier, accusing him of circumventing the Navy’s traditional chain of command by copying more than 20 people on the emailed letter.”

Fake news. The use of the word “accuse” falsely suggest that there was any doubt in the matter. Crozer did circumvent the Navy’s  chain of command by copying more than 20 people on the emailed letter, ensuring that it would reach the public. This was a major breach of security and military procedure, a firing offense in every branch.

And of course it was deliberate.

But I digress. The inability of the Times and virtually every other  news source should be an assumption by now. That’s a different Ethics Train Wreck. Continue reading

The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Affair

Captain Brett Crozier was the  commander of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt which had been docked in Guam following a Wuhan virus outbreak among the crew of more than 4,000. With about a hundred members of his crew infected, he decided to take the extraordinary step of sending a letter to the Navy pleading  for resources and to have the afflicted sailors quarantined from the rest. In the four-page letter sent via a “non-secure, unclassified” email that included at least “20 to 30” recipients in addition to the captain’s immediate chain of command, including some crew members.

Crozier wrote that only a small contingent of infected sailors had been off-boarded, with most of the crew remaining  on board the carrier, where following official guidelines for 14-day quarantines and social distancing was physically impossible. He wrote

“Due to a warship’s inherent limitations of space, we are not doing this. The spread of the disease is ongoing and accelerating…Removing the majority of personnel from a deployed U.S. nuclear aircraft carrier and isolating them for two weeks may seem like an extraordinary measure. … This is a necessary risk…We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset — our Sailors….Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

Of course, the letter leaked to the press, and the situation became a news story and a subject of unwelcome controversy for the Navy. Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly initially told CNN in response to questions about the appeal,

“I know that our command organization has been aware of this for about 24 hours and we have been working actually the last seven days to move those sailors off the ship and get them into accommodations in Guam. The problem is that Guam doesn’t have enough beds right now and we’re having to talk to the government there to see if we can get some hotel space, create tent-type facilities.”

Although the letter had the desired result, with members of the crew gradually being removed from the carrier, the Captain had broken the cardinal military rule never to go outside the chain of command. Crozier had multiple conversations with the chief of staff to Modly before his letter was publicized in the San Francisco Chronicle. The Navy had told Crozier to  “call us any time day or night,” and gave him  Modly’s personal cell phone number to update the situation and raise further concerns.

Then the e-mail leaked. Crozier was dismissed as captain by the acting Navy Secretary for what Modly called “extremely poor judgment,” going outside the chain of command, and  disseminating the memo over an unsecured system. President Trump backed his appointee’s unpopular decision. Continue reading

From The “I Told You So Files”: First They Came For General Lee…[UPDATED]

UPDATE: Because the first two news sources I had were in error, I originally posted that the event described occurred this week. It did not: it occurred in October of last year.

Just a few hours ago, I was explaining to a usually wise and rational commenter why her willingness to allow periodic purges of statues and memorials honoring those individuals who past members of our society determined were worthy of continuing honor. The figure in question was Robert E. Lee, not one of my personal favorites, but a generally recognized military genius and easily a man whose life and accomplishments included several justifications for permanent memorials. My favorite: Lee personally vetoed the Confederacy’s fallback plan of taking the war to a guerilla stage, extending the conflict indefinitely. It might well have worked, but Lee refused. I’ll happily grant him some perpetual statuary for that. But the self-righteously intolerant practitioners of presentism want Lee cast as a an irredeemable villain, and his statues toppled.  There are many reasons why this kind of self-imposed cultural amnesia is offensive, harmful and stupid, but in my exchange with that usually wise and rational commenter, I focused on the slippery slope, writing,

You cannot articulate what the stop is on that slippery slope that doesn’t end with blowing up Mount Rushmore.

Imagine my surprise, not to be proven right, for that occurs often, but to be proven right so quickly by a news report I just read concerning a protest  by more than 200 political correctness  maniacs inside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Their goal: take down the statue of former of Theodore Roosevelt—historian, author, scholar, orator,  political philosopher, war hero, patriot, cowboy, explorer, public servant, the father of conservationism, the creator of the National Parks system, President and one of progressivism’s founding pioneers—and, of course, one of the Mount Rushmore Four. The protest’s organizers, NYC Stands with Standing Rock and Decolonize This Place, called the statue of the former New York City police commissioner and former New York governor  a “stark embodiment of the white supremacy that Roosevelt himself espoused and promoted,” adding in a statement that “The statue is seen as an affront to all who pass it on entering the museum, but especially to African and Native Americans.” The protesters carried signs that read “BLACK LIVES MATTER,” “DECOLONIZE THIS MUSEUM,” and “ABOLISH WHITE SUPREMACY.”

Of course they did.

Continue reading

Which Presidents Would Have Tweeted Trump-Style If They Had A Twitter Account?

The tweet above from the President as he doubled down on his unusually stupid attack tweets against Joe and Mika got me thinking. He’s not entirely wrong. Trump is the first President to use social media personally and for candid statements and observations, bypassing the news media, and almost all of the previous Presidents had no choice in the matter. Fourth of July weekend always gets me thinking about the Founders, and the Founders get me musing about the Presidents, and I found myself playing this mind game: Which of our Presidents, had they has access to Twitter, would have used it in a Trumpian manner?

I should clarify some issues at the outset. None of the Presidents would have used Twitter in a stupid, juvenile and boorish manner like President Trump, because none of them were that stupid, juvenile and boorish. (On the other hand, none of their critics, being comparatively responsible and sane, would have argued that stupid, juvenile and boorish tweets were justification to remove the previous 44, as Keith Olbermann thinks.) By using Twitter in a Trumpian manner, I mean using it…

..Personally…

…for the purpose of by-passing the news media and White House spokespersons…

…in order to make declarations of intent, emotions or satisfaction, or

…to attack, accuse, denigrate, compliment, rebut, defend, joke, troll, or otherwise

…communicate directly with the public.in an unfiltered manner.

One other caveat: Trump would definitely be establishing new Presidential norms were his tweets less obnoxious and embarrassing. By the time his term(s) are over, he mat have given Presidential tweeting such a bad reputation that no future POTUS will dare use Twitter for fear of being compared to the Mad Tweeter of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

All right, on to the inquiry!

Which of our previous Presidents would have used twitter in one or more of the ways Trump uses it. based on what we know of their character and leadership styles?

Continue reading