Category Archives: Character

How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical? [The First In A Special Ethics Alarms Election Year Series]

Mary Burke

Mary Burke

With this post, Ethics Alarms launches a  special limited series, “How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical?” or HCPCVFCTU for short. My goal will be to have approximately equal numbers of Democrats and Republicans named by election day. It should be hard. Please send your nominations and suggestions to me at jamproethics@verizon.net.

The first candidate in the series: Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke.

A substantial portion of Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke’s published jobs plan for Wisconsin was lifted directly from the plans of three earlier Democratic candidates for governor in other states

Burke’s economic plan “Invest for Success” includes virtually word for word sections from the jobs plans of Ward Cammack, who ran for Tennessee governor in 2009, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (in 2008) and John Gregg who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Indiana in 2012. Buzzfeed has links to all of these, as well as Burke’s plan that uses them all.

Burke is blaming a campaign consultant, now fired, named Eric Schnurer. Apparently he also worked on the other campaigns, and engaged in self-plagiarism. Nevertheless, this is a pathetic excuse, and doesn’t relieve the candidate of full responsibility for trying to foist a phony plan on constituents:

  • This is supposed to be her plan, not a consultant’s off-the-shelf retreads.
  • Obviously, if it is substantially based on what was proposed for other states in plans as much as six years old, the “plan” has little to do with Wisconsin’s particular needs in 2014.
  • The “plan” proves that Mary Burke gave no thought to an important part of what she is allegedly running to accomplish in Wisconsin, and just rubber stamped something that sounded good by campaign fudging standards.
  • Is this the kind of employee Burke hires? Fakers and cheats? Is this the sort of oversight she provides? None? What is she doing, planning on running for President? Is this how much the public can trust her to be serious, substantive, attentive and trustworthy? Not one bit? It would seem so.
  • Then, when she is caught at being lazy, careless, dishonest, superficial and deceptive, Burke’s response is to deny responsibility, and blame someone else because she put her name on a stolen, recycled, vague and superficial “plan.”

How Can People Consider Voting For Candidates This Unethical?

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Leadership

The ISIS Mission: Once Again, “The March of Folly”

March into wall

[I'm back home., and am almost finished with doing six ethics presentations in seven days in four states. I just added the photo of the Faber band marching into the wall in "Animal House"---the ultimate "march of folly"--- and more importantly, fixing about ten typos in the post. I knew ttey would be there. I had an 8 AM start time for my seminar, which would end at noon, and then had to drive to Boston, ditch my rental car, and fly back to Virginia. I wanted to get the post on this topic up, but knew it would be rushed, and that I wouldn't have time to proof it carefully until late in the day. Maybe I should do that; I don't like posting sloppy content. I apologize for the typos, but it was either a timely post with mistakes, or a late post without.  My choice; I'll accept your verdict.]

“The March of Folly” was historian Barbara Tuchman’s most specific exploration of the theme of many of her works. It was a cold-eyed retrospective of how supposedly brilliant people in power can follow through on destructive and objectively stupid policies; how a mission, ordered by a  leader, travels the arc from aspiration to delusion, and how the public, paralyzed by deference to authority, inertia, restraint, and irrational hope. accepts flawed premises long after the damage they are doing and will continue to do are obvious and undeniable. Tuchman calls this lethal tendency of policymakers throughout history a “process of self-hypnosis.” She concentrates on its long and bloody history using examples spanning the Trojan War,  through the British handling of the American rebellion, and the Vietnam War. In another book, she applied similar analysis to the infamous Charge of the Light Brigade. This is exactly what is going on with the ridiculous and pre-doomed Obama plan to arm the Syrian rebels to fight ISIS—but not the Syrian regime, which is who they are currently fighting. I doubt whether anyone with the necessary influence will stop it until it becomes a chapter in another historian’s sequel to Tuchman’s classic.

Because I have been in a hotel room between three ethics presentations in the Providence area, I have had a rare opportunity to watch much of the hearings on the proposed ISIS plan, as well as listen to the reaction on all of the news networks, from all sides of the political spectrum. I have also watched the President’s speeches on the subject. Seldom has something involving national policy unfolding before my eyes so clearly indicated a shocking deficit of either ethical leadership, or, in the alternative, competent leadership.

I don’t need to bombard you with links: nobody, with the possible  (and frightening) exception of President Obama, believes the proposed plan to defeat-degrade-stop-“send to the Gates of Hell” (pick your rhetoric) can possibly work as it has been described. Not the generals; not Republicans; not Democrats, not CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Carol Costello, who kept shaking their heads in amazement during the hearings, and not Fox News’ Shepard Smith, who was  hilarious as well as eloquent in his sarcasm and dead-eyed disgust while questioning various experts and pundits about what was being said on Capitol Hill.

Nobody believes that American air power and “advisors” alone can accomplish the objectives of this campaign without eventually involving combat troops. The idea is being ridiculed by anyone who knows the region, the participants, and the facts of military strategy, and who is not under orders by the President to toe the official line. (Who knows what poor John Kerry and Chuck Hagel think?Who knows if they are even thinking….) Yet it appears Congress is going to approve this born-to-fail plan anyway. Why? Well, some Republicans and Democrats believe that when the Commander-in-Chief asks for Congressional approval in a military action, he should get it. This is irresponsible. Some Republicans want an Obama military fiasco to hang around his neck, and are willing to spend billions and kill people to do it. Some Democrats would support their man in the White House if he asked them for a resolution that the moon was made of cheese. And some are undoubtedly idiots.

Is the President? No, he’s not an idiot. He is a hopelessly, tragically over-matched leader without the skills or character required for the job, making terrible choice after terrible choice and lacking the courage to forget politics and lead. He hates war–real war, not video game war, but war in which  Americans get shot, blown up and killed, and where the bad guys can’t be attacked solely from the safety of the skies, which is to say, war. His ideals in this respect are and always were completely contrary to the requirements of being the President of the United States. He is as close to a pacifist as we have ever had in that office, and pacifists do not belong there.

Sometimes, international crises and threats require American soldiers, with weapons, fighting. The President doesn’t like it? Too bad. (“I…hate…war,” said Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in one of his many memorable speeches.) The public is tired of combat? Tough. The nation still has obligations, and sometimes there are no happy choices. “I’m tired of being responsible; I’m tired of having to sacrifice; I’m tired of being part of the constant battle against chaos that is life”—none of these are rational and responsible sentiments, and a competent leader has to know when to ignore them. The Democratic Party’s progressive base is, in essence, pacifist in philosophy? Gee, sorry. Republicans have their screwballs too. This isn’t the time for politics, partisanship, or ideology unhinged to the real world.

What’s going on here?

Incredibly, it really seems to be this simple: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Government & Politics, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Leadership, War and the Military

Crotch-Grabbing Ethics: A Pitcher And An Umpire Make A Dunce/Hero Pair, And Baseball Teaches The NFL About Values

Jonathan Papelbon

I don’t know about you, but I need a break, however brief, from the NBA’s political correctness self-immolation and the NFL proving that it really has no idea what’s right or wrong when its players are violent off the field. Fortunately, Major League Baseball has its own, rather less societally significant ethics scandal for this baseball fan to focus on.

Philadelphia closer Jonathan Papelbon has been very good this year, unlike the rest of his team., but he was lousy Sunday, blowing a big lead for the last place Phillies in front of a home town crowd over the weekend. The Philly fans, as they are famous for doing, booed him lustily as he left the field, so classy Papelbon grabbed his cup and gave it a heave, as he stared down the mob. Translation: “Boo THIS!”

At this point, home plate umpire Joe West, a crummy umpire from a technical viewpoint but notable as an outspoken arbiter of the conduct of players, threw Papelbon out of the game. This was unusual, because Papelbon was almost certainly through for the day anyway. The ejection under such circumstances  didn’t mean the umpire’s usual, “You are unprofessionally challenging my authority regarding a call that does not favor your team and delaying the game, so you can’t play today any more,” but the more succinct and far more rare, “You’re really an asshole.”

Papelbon then took offense, and furiously confronted the umpire. Now Major League Baseball has suspended Papelbon for seven days, and is enjoying it, telling sports fans and the media, “See? The NFL suspends its players for a game or two when they punch women in the face and beat their kids with a log. We kick out our players for seven games just for being rude.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Etiquette and manners, Professions, Sports, Workplace

Is There An Ethical Interpretation of Hillary’s Response To The Illegal Immigration Activist In Iowa?

Psst! The "thumbs up" really means, "I like your shoes"...

Psst! The “thumbs up” really means, “I like your shoes”…

In case you missed it while waiting for the next NFL player to beat up someone, Hillary Clinton, who is in Iowa theoretically testing the waters for a Presidential bid, answered this way when pressed by an activist on the rope line to give her views on President Obama’s delay of his promised executive order granting some privileges to illegals…

“I think we have to elect more Democrats.”

What did she intend to convey by this, and can such an intent possibly be defended? Some possibilities:

A. Translation: “I am running for President, and to be successful, I can’t possibly tell you my real views on this topic, since whatever position I take will lose votes. So I’m going to answer with a non-sequitur, as if I didn’t hear the question.”

Is this ethical? No. It’s an important issue, and if she is running for President, she has an obligation to communicate her views. If she has a position but doesn’t have the integrity and courage to communicate it, that’s cowardly and a breach or responsibility.

B. Translation: “We risk losing at the polls in November if voters know what the President really intends to do, and those who stand to benefit from his unilateral act circumventing the democratic process will vote Democratic anyway, even if the delay infuriates them. So it’s the smart move.”

Is this ethical? Surely not. It’s an admission that the President is trying to gull low-information voters, and that she approves of the strategy. It’s an expression of support for allowing the deportation of human beings for speculative political gain. It’s an endorsement of “the ends justify the means.” Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Rights

I Don’t Believe It! Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) Betrayed Someone Who Trusted Him? NO!

SANFORDSignature significance. It is the one act that shows that “anyone can make a mistake” is the confounding rationalization that it is. For there are single instances of bad conduct that tell you everything you need to know about someone’s character. If, for example, a state Governor disappears, leaving his aides to lie that he’s “hiking,” when he really is AWOL and cheating on his wife with his “soul mate” in South America, this is signature significance. This man can’t be trusted, and its a good bet that he’s not playing with a full deck, either.

I am speaking, of course, about Rep. Mark Sanford, once the Governor of South Carolina. His tenure in that high office was a casualty of his being stricken with overwhelming amorous feelings for Argentine beauty Maria Belen Chapur, who, he said, was the love of his life. The previous love of his life, Sanford’s wife, was understandably bitter, but not the forgiving, absurdly gullible voters of South Carolina, who after waiting a couple of years, allowed Sanford back into a position of power over their lives, electing him to the House of Representatives.

The fools! Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, The Internet

NUCLEAR KABOOM! CNN Assigns Jay Carney To Cover Obama’s Speech: Could It Be More Contemptuous Of Fairness And Objectivity?

head explodes

My head hadn’t exploded for a while, and I thought perhaps it had built up some immunity from the detonating effects of ethics breaches that defied all reason. Then I read this in Politico:

Former White House Press Secretary Jay Carney will join CNN as a political commentator, the network announced Wednesday.

He will start Wednesday night as President Barack Obama makes a primetime statement about the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant , Sam Feist, CNN’s Washington bureau chief said in a statement.

“Jay’s unique experience as both a journalist and a White House press secretary make him an invaluable voice for the network as we cover the final two years of the Obama Administration and look ahead to the coming campaigns,” Feist said. “We’re fortunate to have Jay on our air tonight to provide analysis and insight surrounding the President’s address to the nation.”

KABOOM!

Get the squeegee and the ladder, hon—my brains are on the ceiling.

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Kaboom!

Janay Palmer’s Ethics Fallacy Cornucopia

horn_of_plenty

I suffer pangs of conscience as I do this to Janay Palmer, who has plenty of other pressing problems, but it you are going to put out a public statement on social media that threatens to melt the ethics alarms of millions, you can’t reasonably expect me to stand by and take it.

Palmer produced this on Instagram in response to the NFL’s bizarre do-over on her husband’s punishment, which combined with his team, the Baltimore Ravens, releasing him as persona non grata, effectively makes Ray Rice an ex-star running back for the foreseeable future:

I woke up this morning feeling like I had a horrible nightmare, feeling like I’m mourning the death of my closest friend. But to have to accept the fact that it’s reality is a nightmare in itself. No one knows the pain that the media & unwanted options from the public has caused my family. To make us relive a moment in our lives that we regret every day is a horrible thing. To take something away from the man I love that he has worked his ass off for all his life just to gain ratings is a horrific [sic]. THIS IS OUR LIFE! What don’t you all get. If your intentions were to hurt us, embarrass us, make us feel alone, take all happiness away, you’ve succeeded on so many levels. Just know we will continue to grow & show the world what real love is! Ravensnation we love you!

Observations:

  • Who is her “closest friend?” Ray Rice, her husband and sparring partner? If your best friend is prone to punch you silly in elevators, I think your relationship either has trust issues, or should have. Does she mean his career, which is what actually “died”? That’s telling, if so, and crassly. Was her best friend really Ray’s 8 million dollar a year pay check? Did that justify standing up for the right of rich, famous celebrities to knock their arm-candy around when they think nobody’s looking?
  • Competence check: like it or not, Janay is in the public eye, and what she has to say right now is likely to be read far and wide. How about having someone literate check out your screed before reminding us again what a cheat the public school system is?
  • Janay’s husband beats her unconscious, she lets him get away with it and sends the message to women trapped in abusive relationships that security and a ring is worth the occasional black eye, and her position is that Rice’s demise is the fault of the media and the public? Let’s go to the videotape, shall we?

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Romance and Relationships, Sports, The Internet, U.S. Society