I am assuming, based on the fact that this story was featured on the conservative muckraking website Brietbart, that some people think it is inappropriate to award three Daytime Emmys for children’s programming to Kevin Clash, the Muppets puppeteer whose career as fuzzy red monster Elmo on Sesame Street ended with a series of child molestation accusations.
If I am right, these people are dead wrong. Clash is an artist, and a talented one. Whether or not the allegations of his having illicit contact with under-aged boys are true, and none have been tested in court, his skill in manipulating and voicing the cutest and most vulnerable of the Muppets is beyond debate. The Emmy has never been nor claimed to be a character award. An Emmy recognizes excellence in television, in this case children’s programming, and it doesn’t make a smidgeon of difference if an artist is a child molester, a bank robber, a cannibal, a Nazi or a Billy Ray Cyrus fan—if he or she delivered the best artistic product, the honor is deserved.
Spark, Facts and Graphic: Breitbart
Treasury Dept. IG J. Russell George. NOW I get it!
I certainly feel ignorant and foolish about this. Silly me: I always thought that inspector generals, those charged with flagging and investigating incompetence, corruption and wrongdoing in our government, were independent and objective, and beyond political influence from above. Why did I think that? I thought that because without such independence, what we may be getting in these supposedly honest and thorough IG reports is not the whole truth and nothing but the truth, but rather what the particular IG thinks he or she can get away with and still keep the job. Was I the only one who didn’t know this?
Thus the popular shrugging talking point by Obama Administration defenders on the partisan payroll (Jay Carney, White House staff, enabling members of Congress, Axelplouffe, etc.) and off of it (the news media) that the IRS inspector general J. Russell George “investigated” and found no political influence in the decision to target and impede conservative organizations is even more dishonest that I originally thought. That oft-repeated statement was always misleading spin, because George, by his own admission, only performed an audit, which is supposed to be the prelude to a full investigation. Now, however, a former IG has explained that inspector generals who displease the Obama high command risk losing their jobs. (Presumably this has always been a peril of the IG job, so I am not suggesting that this unacceptable state of affairs is unique to this administration.)
In his testimony before Congress, George said that he never was able to determine who, if anyone, directed the ideologically-based scrutiny, because no one would tell him. Former IG Gerald Walpin writes, Continue reading
The video is self-explanatory.
Pointer: Alexander Cheezem
This was bound to happen.
A graph of President Obama’s leadership learning curve since January, 2009. This is actually a new graph, including data since the last one of these I posted, though I recognize that the difference is hard to see…
Waaay back in 2009, when the new President improvidently and recklessly commented on a local dispute between a Harvard professor and a Cambridge policeman, I pointed out that Obama needed to learnthe ethical limits on his power and influence. Teddy Roosevelt’s “bully pulpit” is not license for the highest office-holder in the land to try to mold public opinion on every conceivable matter, local or national, and to influence decisions solely within the authority of others. For the President to state his personal verdict on anything he wakes up concerned about risks putting a weighty thumb on the scales of justice. It is an abuse of power—a President behaving like an emperor.
This is not a difficult concept; indeed, with occasional lapses, every other President has grasped it instinctively. Not Barack Obama. Brilliant Barack Obama. “Constitutional scholar” Barack Obama. For while the Gates episode may have been a rookie mistake, he has engaged in exactly the same unethical, arrogant conduct repeatedly, here, and here, and here and here, and here, and especially here—and I’m sure I may have missed a few.
Each time I pointed out this inexcusable habit, I was barraged by glossy-eyed readers who made excuses for Obama and rationalized his grandstanding remarks, accusing me of being biased and hypercritical. But with each new instance, it should have been progressively clearer that I correctly diagnosed this malady in 2009. Now, after Obama has done it yet again, commenting inappropriately about the military sexual harassment scandal, this proclivity has finally had tangible legal consequences. You can’t say I didn’t warn him. Continue reading
“Carie? Your ex-husband is here to see you!”
Domestic violence victims advocates are outraged over an incident in which second-grade teacher Carie Charlesworth, a teacher at San Diego’s Holy Trinity School, lost her job because of threatening conduct by her ex-husband. After an incident where the school was placed on lock-down because Charlesworth’s ex, undeterred by a restraining order, came to the school to confront her, the school district decided that her continued employment was a risk to the safety of the school and its students.
In a termination letter, the district informed Charlesworth said that her ex-husband’s “threatening and menacing behavior,” made it impossible for her to continue teaching at the Holy Trinity School. Predictably, Charlesworth is angry, and suing. “They’ve taken away my ability to care for my kids,” she says. She has four. “It’s not like I can go out and find a teaching job anywhere.” Now she is publicizing her dilemma to dramatize the plight of domestic violence victims.
She is focusing her resources and anger on the wrong parties. Continue reading
There has been much ink and pixels spilled about the supposed hypocrisy of Republicans and Democrats in their disparate reactions to the revaluation of far more extensive phone and internet data-gathering by the government than those of us not wearing tin-foil on out heads ever suspected. For example, a recent Pew survey shows this...
Naturally, Republicans and Democrats are calling each other hypocrites, suggesting dishonesty and lack of integrity. There are surely some hypocrites in there, but for the most part, the flip-flopping is neither dishonest nor theoretically unreasonable. Even if we assume that the level of NSA intrusion under Bush and Obama administrations are the same (and to be fair, it appears that the current gathering of all domestic phone records goes well beyond what we understood to be the limited surveillance permitted under the Patriot Act), they are materially different in one key aspect, from the perspective of partisan citizens.
Think about it this way: Let’s say on successive days you discover your best friend and your business rival, both of whom visited your home for various reasons, looking through bills and financial papers on your desk. They did the same thing, but while you might be peeved at your friend, if he had a credible explanation like “I think I can save you some taxes,” you would not view his actions as sinister, and might even be grateful for it. When you found your rival looking over the same private papers, however, you would be furious, suspicious, and justly so. The difference is a matter of trust. You trust your friend, his motives and loyalty; you don’t trust your rival. Continue reading
Clockwise from Left: “These aren’t my pants!”…”A ghost did it!”…”I was just trying to revive her!”…”Elephant? What elephant?”
There is no question that Rodger William Kelly deserves his Jumbo Award, the Ethics Alarms honor periodically bestowed on “an ethical miscreant who continues to try to brass his or her way out of an obvious act of ethical misconduct when caught red-handed and there is no hope of ducking the consequences.” But there is a legitimate issue over whether his explanation to the St. George, Utah police regarding why he had sexual intercourse with his unconscious, 29-year-old female neighbor becomes the new champion as the most ridiculous excuse ever.
To refresh you memory, the current champ is Michael West, the Wisconsin wife-beater who swore to police that his bruised and bloody wife had been attacked by a ghost. He dethroned long-time champ Lindsay Lohan, who began her long, sad descent by explaining to police, when she was still a movie star and caught with cocaine on her person after a vehicle arrest, that she was wearing someone else’s pants.
I think West’s short reign is over, however. Kelly told officers that he found the woman passed out in front of her apartment and, concerned for her welfare, he brought her inside his own apartment. There he changed her clothes and put her on his bed, and tried to “warm her” by laying down next to her, hugging her, and then, as a desperate measure since nothing seemed to be working, inserting his heat-emitting penis into her to try to “raise her temperature.” Later he tried more conventional CPR. He’s not a rapist. He’s a hero! Continue reading
Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell
The New York Times, anticipating next year’s Supreme Court consideration of the gay marriage problem, tells a fascinating story about the late Justice Lewis Powell, who was the swing vote in the 1986 case of Bowers v. Hardwick, which was overturned in 2003, upholding a Georgia law outlawing sodomy.
During the consideration of the case, Powell told his colleagues that he had never met a homosexual, though in reality he had more than one gay law clerk during his tenure, and according to at least one of the former clerks, knew it. (Powell even quizzed one of them about the mechanics of gay sex.) The reason he told his fellow Justices an untruth, the theory goes, is that he knew there was a stigma in the legal profession and in Washington connected to being gay, and he wanted to protect his law clerks.
Yet Powell, after flip-flopping on Bowers, finally came down on the side of a state’s right to make homosexual sex a crime. Continue reading
My current ethics observations on the unfolding NSA story:
- I do not have enough facts to conclude that what NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden did was truly heroic, but if one is going to be a whistleblower, Snowden did it the ethical way. Snowden decided not to hide his identity, and accepted responsibility for his actions. If his motives are as he has represented them-–“I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions,” but “I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant,” he wrote in a note accompanying his first set of leaked documents—-then he acted courageously and selflessly. Whether or not he also acted responsibly depends on whether he correctly weighed the possible harm of his leak against its benefits. Since its benefits include exposing what may well be ruled to be an unconstitutional and overly broad violation of citizens’ rights, I’m not certain any harm would sufficiently outweigh them in ethical balancing.
- If it is true, as he says, that Snowden himself had the power to examine private communications of citizens who were not suspected of any crime, then the representations of Sen. Feinstein, the President and others that the NSA program was reasonable and not an abuse of power is not only untrue, but a lie. Snowden is a high school dropout, a consultant, about whose judgment, reliability and trustworthiness the NSA knew next to nothing, and what they thought they knew was obviously wrong, since he betrayed the agency. If such massive power to invade private communications and thoughts is casually placed in the hands of such an individual by a security agency, what other faceless future power-abusers have been similarly armed? Continue reading