The Ethical Take

Published: March 2, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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With all the fuss surrounding the optical illusion about “that dress,” the Take offers its own spin. In the disillusion pictured, do you see a clown or House Speaker John Boehner?


Answer: Actually the clown represents the “self-righteous, delusional” wing of the Republican Party, as described by Republican Peter King.

The New York Times reported (Mar. 1), that “King, who noted that three men were arrested in New York just days ago for allegedly attempting to join the Islamic State militant group, urged other House members to back Boehner.

On the CBS News program Face the Nation, Boehner was asked about the clear discord within his own party and how he could lead them. “I think so,” Boehner said. “I’m not going to suggest it’s easy, because it’s not.”

“The House narrowly averted cutting off funds to the Department of Homeland Security on Friday,” the Times writes, “after Boehner failed to rein in conservative Republicans. They were insisting on tying the issue to blocking President Barack Obama’s move to shield millions of illegal immigrants from deportation.”

The real question before the House Speaker is how; how can he get the “self-righteous, delusional” members in line. As one Times reader wrote: “Forget being able to work in a bipartisan fashion. It’s clear the House and Senate are having trouble even working in a partisan fashion.”

One thing is sure: With ISIS clearly staring all of us in the face every week, a majority of Americans is opposed to holding the Department of Homeland Security political hostage.

The Ethical Take: The Speaker needs to get the crazies in line. Maybe it’s time for the big stick approach.

Change Depends Upon Trust –

Veterans Affairs Chief Robert McDonald apologized to all veterans and pledged “to do better.”

The Times reported (Feb. 24), that “Representative Jeff Miller, the Florida Republican who is the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, said he was ‘disappointed’ in Mr. McDonald’s comments. ‘After a rough couple of weeks that also included inflated claims of accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs, I hope Secretary McDonald will redouble his efforts to ensure his statements — and those of all V.A. officials — are completely accurate,’ Mr. Miller said in a statement.

In the wake of exaggerations from NBC News Anchor Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly, the last thing the beleaguered VA needs is someone who cannot be trusted to tell the truth – even about his own service. McDonald better get his act together fast if he wants to gain the trust and confidence of the people he has been tasked to serve.

The E.T.: Shape up or Ship Out!

Speaking of Veterans –

Former Alaska Governor and Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin was greeted with a standing ovation as she delivered a speech about the care of veterans at CPAC.

Palin said, “…the suicide rate among our best and our brightest is 23 a day. …in these four days, 92 of our veterans will have taken their lives.”

The Washington Post Fact-Checker got to work.

“The main source of this figure,” the Fact-Checker writes, “is the VA’s 2012 Suicide Data Report, which arrived at the same range of 18 to 22 daily veteran suicides by using death certificates filed at the state level. …

“First, researchers, in the study, warned against even using the 22-deaths figure in the first place: ‘It is recommended that the estimated number of veterans be interpreted with caution due to the use of data from a sample of states and existing evidence of uncertainty in veteran identifiers on U.S. death certificates.’

“In addition, the sample size was fewer than half the states, and it did not include some states with the largest veteran populations, such as California, Arizona, North Carolina and Texas. So depending on the death certificates from those states, the rate of suicides may change. …

“But, more to the point, Palin took this unreliable figure and suggested it was emblematic of the most recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She included it in a long section of statistics about the impact of those wars on recent veterans, mentioning both post-traumatic stress disorder and a high suicide rate. But when it comes to this population, this statistic is inapplicable.”

The Fact-Checker writes, “It would have done Palin — and the public — a favor to do some extra Google searches about the number or spend a few minutes describing just what exactly it means to have 92 veteran suicides during the conference. Her use of this statistic in the context of Iraq and Afghanistan is almost worthy of Four Pinocchios, but not quite.” Palin earns 3.

E.T.: For the love of God, will someone please take the mic away from this woman!




Despite his extensive repertoire as actor, director, poet, and singer, Leonard Nimoy will forever be remembered as the detached, logic-driven Mr. Spock from the original NBC series, Star Trek.

Watching the show growing up, Spock was the perfect counterpoint to the reactionary Captain Kirk and ship’s doctor “Bones” McCoy, partly because he was a human/Vulcan hybrid.

“Mr. Nimoy, who was teaching Method acting at his own studio,” the Times writes (Feb. 27), when he was cast in the original ‘Star Trek’ television series in the mid-1960s, relished playing outsiders, and he developed what he later admitted was a mystical identification with Spock, the lone alien on the starship’s bridge.”

Originally planned as a background character, Spock quickly gained popularity and fans wrote in, eager to see him in more stories and creator Gene Roddenberry was happy to oblige. Roddenberry would later describe Spock as “the conscience of ‘Star Trek.’ ” And that conscience could be heard in many of the best lines in the show that eventually worked their way into Nimoy’s consciousness, as well:

– “Change is the essential process of all existence.” — Spock, Star Trek: The Original Series

– “Insufficient facts always invite danger.” — Spock, Star Trek: The Original Series

– “I’m touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful — collecting these shards of spirituality — that we may be helping to bring about a healing.” — Leonard Nimoy

– “Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end.” — Leonard Nimoy

– “Without followers, evil cannot spread.” — Spock, Star Trek: The Original Series

– “Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” — Spock, Star Trek

Of course that last quote originated with the Arthur Conan Doyle character Sherlock Holmes (A Study in Scarlet), another brainy creation who focused on reason as a means to problem solving.

Over the years and many, many Star Trek conventions later, Nimoy would come to embrace the character and disclosed that “His religious upbringing also influenced the characterization of Spock. The character’s split-fingered salute, he often explained, had been his idea: He based it on the kohanic blessing, a manual approximation of the Hebrew letter shin, which is the first letter in Shaddai, one of the Hebrew names for God.

“ ‘To this day, I sense Vulcan speech patterns, Vulcan social attitudes and even Vulcan patterns of logic and emotional suppression in my behavior,’ Mr. Nimoy wrote years after the original series ended. “But that wasn’t such a bad thing, he discovered. ‘Given the choice,’ he wrote, ‘if I had to be someone else, I would be Spock.’ ”

To millions of followers like me, he was and always will be Spock.

“Live Long and Prosper.”


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