Category Archives: Incompetent Elected Officials

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

Baltimore riots

Being the mayor of any city in the throes of a race riot is a losing proposition; being an African-American mayor when the rioters are all black and the riot was sparked by the mysterious death of a black man in police custody is a hopeless proposition. Last night’s riot in Baltimore actually justified the kind of para-military response that got Ferguson, Missouri condemned by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, but that approach was politically impossible. I don’t know what I would have done in Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s hot seat, except hope against hope that President Obama didn’t come out with a statement that Freddie Gray could have been his son. So this is not the time to second-guess the mayor’s actions.

For the record, my assessment is that the volatile combination of acculturated black community contempt for policy authority and long-incubating and neglected racist inclinations in police departments was activated nationwide by seven years of cynical exploitation of racial divisions and distrust by President Obama, Eric Holder and the Democratic Party for electoral gain. Race riots were the predictable  consequence, and I say that with confidence because I predicted it in 2012, when Trayvon Martin’s death was elevated to a national issue just in time for the President Obama’s re-election push. Rawlings-Blake may have been part of that effort; I haven’t investigated that. She certainly inherited its results.

My verdict of incompetence in her case focuses less on her failure to prevent or contain the riots than on her inept communications skills. Leaders have to communicate clearly. If they can’t, they have a duty to learn: the skill can be taught. (I’m looking at you, W.) If they can’t communicate, their leadership ability is intrinsically crippled. Leaders who have to constantly “clarify” what they said, or “walk back” comments, or claim that they were “quoted out of context” when they were just quoted lose the public’s trust, and deserve to.  Public officials have to be careful  what they say, and how they say it, and this is a crucial, indispensable skill in their chosen field.

Rawlings-Blake held a press conference as the riots in her city were unfolding, and said this:

“And I’ve made it very clear that I worked with the police and instructed them to do everything that they could to make sure that the protesters were able to exercise their right to free speech. It’s a very delicate balancing act because while we try to make sure that they were protected from the cars, and the other things that were going on, we also gave those who wish to destroy, space to do that as well. And we work very hard to keep that balance, and to put ourselves in the best position to de-escalate and that’s what you saw.”

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race

Inevitable, Unethical, Technological Incompetence By Our Governments

Hey, what could go wrong?

Hey, what could go wrong?

The legal profession is in the midst of an ethics crisis not of its own making. New technologies, including social media, have created opportunities for vastly improved legal services, to such an extent that the American Bar Association has decreed that an ethical, competent lawyer, must use them. It has also made it clear that using them carelessly to the detriment of clients is unethical as well. It all sounds reasonable, except for this: few lawyers are equipped by education, training or nature to be adept at technology. Worse, technology is now changing so fast that few lawyers can keep up with it.

Thus they make mistakes. Costly mistakes, disastrous mistakes, stupid mistakes, and there is no learning curve, because by the time lawyers understand and master a new technology, it is no longer new, and it has taken on a different form that requires them to start all over again. The ABA and other bar associations have acknowledged this through inaction. After numerous instances where their ethical guidelines regarding the use of technology were obsolete or wrong from the moment they were issued, these bodies have resorted to general edicts only, essentially saying, “You must master available legal practice technology, and you must not screw it up. Don’t ask us how, we’re as confused as you are.”

Gee, thanks.

Unfortunately, it is not just the legal profession that is in peril from technological overload, unrealistic expectations and the speed of innovation. Our various levels of governments are, if anything, in even worse peril from the same phenomenon.

One week ago, the Virginia State Board of Elections frantically voted to  decertify use of the AVS WinVote touch-screen Direct Recording Electronic voting machine, meaning that the machines, which were used by dozens of cities and towns in Virginia, are effectively banned. Virginia is holding primaries  just two months from now, so this has thrown those local governments into a panic. The decision was unavoidable, however, after a shocking a report that demonstrated that the machines could be hacked, and elections rigged, by a 12-year-old…that is, anyone with more technological expertise than local government officials.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Professions, Science & Technology

Typo Ethics: Early Accountability Check For Candidate Clinton

“From her mother’s own childhood – in which she was abandoned by her parents – to her work going door-to-door for the Children’s Defense Fund to her battling to create the Children’s Health Insurance Program, she’s fought children and families all her career.”

 

That doesn't mean they don't matter, however...

That doesn’t mean they don’t matter, however…

That was the startling news in Hillary Clinton’s long-awaited presidential candidacy announcement: that Hillary has fought families and children all her career. As an ethicist, I find the candor laudable, but I am surprised that Mrs. Clinton is making such a strong bid for the anti-family and child-hating voting bloc.

OK, it’s a typo. The Clinton campaign website fixed it, and her spokespeople reassured the news media “that the former secretary of state has not been secretly fighting children all these years.”

I almost passed on this story, being seldom able to post a typo-free 800 words myself despite reading the damn things repeatedly, but that would have been cowardly. This is not necessarily trivial. This bears some watching. I know that the large Hillary Zombie Squad, which appears to care only about the former First Lady’s chromosomes and nothing else, won’t give a second’s thought to this if her destruction of e-mail evidence and willful skirting of her own agency’s transparency and security policies don’t trouble them, but it is not insignificant. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

A Thought Sparked By Another Incredible Revelation: Could It Be Ethical To Just Accept Outrageous Government Incompetence?

idea-spark

A persistent election cycle joke is the candidate who swears the deficit can be brought into line without cutting any sacred cow programs or entitlements, or raising taxes. All that has to be done, the candidate explains, is to eliminate the billions of dollars lost to “waste, fraud, and abuse.”

The theory is either dishonest or proof of disqualifying naiveté. Massive systems create massive inefficiencies, and massive systems that confer power and influence attract the inept, the foolish and the corrupt like the Clintons attract cynics. Not only is it impossible to significantly eliminate waste, fraud and abuse from the government, as long as the government keeps growing, their incidence will only increase.

Every time I see evidence of flagrant waste of taxpayer money, or absurd programs that encourage irresponsible behavior and public assistance dependence on a crack-brained theory based on misplaced compassion, I wonder if it’s even worth flagging any more for the unethical betrayal of public trust that it is. Nothing changes, or is likely to change. The waste and unconscionable lack of responsible government has persisted my whole life, though administrations of both parties.

It is true that this administration seems to be the first that doesn’t even try to be competent or responsible, or perhaps that places such negligible value on those qualities that their absence isn’t even viewed by its supporters as a flaw. Good intentions are all that matter. To me, this is insanity, as well as deadly arrogance and obvious incompetence, but it is the theme of the Obama Administration. The attitude appears to be reaching its apotheosis in the rhetoric surrounding the Iran nuclear deal, with the President’s recent comments suggesting that it is a good deal because the alternative is facing a reality we don’t want to face. Even though John Kerry claimed that the operating negotiation philosophy would be that no deal was preferable to a bad deal, he was clearly either lying or off mentally wind-surfing somewhere, because that is not the way his own administration reasons. A bad health care law is better than no health care law, so bad is really good. A bad illegal immigration policy is better than no illegal immigration policy, so the bad policy is good. A terrible recovery from the recession is better than no recovery at all, so the administration is crowing about depressing job numbers and more citizens on public assistance than ever before. This entire administration and its political culture is based on the rationalization I have termed the worst of them all, #22, Comparative Virtue, or “It’s not the  worst thing.”

Nearly seven years of this have  turned the brains of many Americans and especially Democrats to Swiss cheese, and that may have terrible consequences down the road. For example, a recent poll showed that 59% of Americans favor the pending deal with Iran, and 59% also don’t think it will work. Hmmmm. Now, I’m going to be kind and assume that the 41% of my countrymen who don’t like the deal are in that second 59%, but even then, this leaves a significant 18% who like a deal they don’t think will work. Why? Because it’s well-meaning.  Because the President is doing “the best he can.” Because they really think that hoping and wanting and avoiding unpleasant truths is a good way to live. Anyone who is in both 59%  groups is brain-washed or brain dead, and a victim of this President’s acceptance of incompetence without accountability as a management model.

My most recent thoughts on this topic were prompted by this incredible item: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

Statue Ethics: “Hey Lucy, I’m Ho…OH GOD NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!”

Lucy statueIconic comic actress Lucille Ball was born in Celoron, New York, and in 2009 the town’s residents commissioned a statue to honor her. It was designed to show the comedienne performing one of the most famous of her routines on “I Love Lucy,” the “Vitameatavegimin” bit.  For some reason, however, the sculptor either decided to portray Lucy as a creature from Hell, or had never actually seen a picture of Ball and just guessed, badly, at what she looked like. The result, which a sighted “Let’s Honor Lucy” committee member should have rejected at first glance, now stands in the town park, an eyesore and an insult to Ball’s memory.

Now some of the residents are trying to get the town to junk the statue, and rallying Lucy fans to put pressure on the town leadership to act. My question is, what took them so long? Six years of this incompetent abomination is six years too long. A memorial is ethically obligated to honor its subject, not insult and defile her memory. Would the public tolerate a Lincoln Memorial where Abe was sculpted to look like an ape? Would it have stood by at the unveiling and said, “Well, okaaay, I guess we can live with that…I guess. I mean, its paid for and all”?  What’s the matter with the populace of Celeron?
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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Popular Culture

Tales of the Indiana State Legislature: “Your Baby Is A Racist!”

Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers. (All right, not really, but I couldn't resist. Read the story and you'll get it.)

Indiana State Rep. Vanessa Summers. (All right, not really, but I couldn’t resist. Read the story and you’ll get it.)

Can it get worse than this? During the debate  in the Indiana House  over the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act,  state Rep. Vanessa Summers, (D-Indianapolis) rose to set a new record in outrageous race-baiting.

“I told [Republican colleague] Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color.”

Responding to a rumble of protest from her assembled colleagues, Summers insisted, “It’s true.” When challenged on the assertion later. she defended her accusation, saying:

“He (the eighteen-month-old child) looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him (McMillin) you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared.”

There are so many take-aways from this episode that it’s difficult to know where to begin, or where to stop.

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Filed under Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Professions, Race, Rights

Post “Hands Up!” Race-Baiting Accountability Sagas: Antonio French and Taraji P. Henson

French

Thanks to three related factors…

1. The uncritical acceptance of Dorian Johnson’s false characterization of Mike Brown’s shooting by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, leading to a society-wide condemnation not only of Wilson but police departments across the country and white Americans as racially hostile to young black men, and

2. The fact that police officers have been shooting and killing an awful lot of unarmed black men, young or not, and

3. Inflammatory and irresponsible rhetoric from national and local leaders and elected officials

….we are in a dangerously unstable environment of virulent racial distrust, where the police are regarded as immediately suspect and placed in a defensive posture with a presumption of racism and excessive violence virtually any time an African American is the object of police action, regardless of the circumstances or justification. This is being exploited by those arrested, their families, civil rights activists, elected officials, protest organizers and the news media.

Here are two ugly sagas that illustrate the problem: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement