The ethics issue here is very straightforward and uncontroversial. As the New York Times put it:
“Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.”
I don’t know why the Times says “may have violated.” Her exclusive use of personal e-mail does violate the rules, and in fact the law, as the Times correctly states in the final sentence. Moreover:
1. This is a blatant example of Clinton again refusing to abide by rules and laws other officials are required to abide by. As the Washington Post notes, it was intentional: Clinton’s personal account was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State., and the expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election. Continue reading
One of my knee-jerk progressive Facebook friends is addicted to terrible analogies. Here is his recent attempt to frame the controversial appearance by Benjamin Netanyahu before Congress today:
“At the invitation of Speaker Yuli Edelstein, President Barak Obama will appear before the Israeli Knesset on Thursday to give a major speech on the Netanyahu adminstration’s bungling of the Palestinian conflict, territorial abuse to build settlements, and allocation of US foreign aide…”
What’s wrong with that? You have three seconds.
Time’s up. That is a lousy analogy, because the positions of the U.S. and Israel are not accurately reversed as a good analogy would demand. If Netanyahu was appearing before Congress to lecture it on U.S. policies regarding illegal immigration over the Mexican border, that would justify my friend’s hypothetical. What Netanyahu is here to talk about, however, is the future of his people and his nation, not ours.
As I wrote here about a month ago, there is no question that this is a breach of diplomatic protocol, nor is there any doubt that Congress is defying tradition, separation of powers and probably the Constitution to invite the Israel Prime Minister to, in essence, lobby the public regarding the President’s conduct of foreign policy. Congress’s actions are objectively unethical, a calculated tit for the President’s equally unethical tat of using executive orders to circumvent the lawmaking process. This episode is ethically more complicated than that, however, and when the criticism is doled out, other ethical considerations and principles are relevant.
Here is the chief one: Netanyahu does not trust the judgment, motives, negotiating skill and competence of the Obama Administration. Continue reading
“OK, you can go, but we want everyone to know that the US Government thinks you’re a racist and a murderer.”
The Justice Department’s press release yesterday regarding the final rejection of a civil rights charge against George Zimmerman was despicable and unprofessional, political, as everything Holder’s department has done from the beginning, unethical,and an abuse of its power and influence.
Raising this issue adeptly is reader J. Houghton in his Comment of the Day on the post, Pop Ethics Quiz: Welcoming Rev. Talbert Swan, Late Passenger On The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck. He ends with a question; I’ll return to answer it.
I am curious about the statement by Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta that: “Our decision not to pursue federal charges does not condone the shooting that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin and is based solely on the high legal standard applicable to these cases.” It seems almost like an unnecessary statement of the obvious, like, yes of course; this is a tragedy; mistakes were made; bad judgment happened; and somebody died needlessly. Of course, we all would hope that such tragedies “do not occur in the future” as the JD press release stated… ever! this is a most wonderful thought.
However, what exactly is it that the Justice Department does “not condone” ? Is it possible that General Gupta is suggesting that the Justice Department does not buy into the basic idea of shooting someone in self-defense if believed necessary to protect ones self, or perhaps she questions the basic idea of being legally allowed to carry a concealed handgun by permit for self-defense? Or is she questioning the wisdom of the Neighborhood Watch program which might encourage citizens to… God forbid… watch too closely the goings on in their neighborhoods? What exactly is it that the Justice Department does “not condone” in this particular case?
Not to say that the claim of “self-defense” is always justified… because it most assuredly is not. Nor am I defending in any way Zimmerman for the events that unfolded with very unfortunate results. But I am wondering about the chill this incredibly long and ultimately fruitless federal investigation might put on the fundamental right of self defense to protect ones self or others who might find themselves in the position of facing a real threat. Are citizens going to possibly face federal prosecution in the future for becoming “too involved” in the security of their own neighborhoods, or for protecting themselves or their neighbors if the unlawful aggressor and righteous defender in a specific incident happen to be of the “wrong” ethnicity or race?
I was going to post this story as an Ethics Quiz when I first saw it yesterday at the Huffington Post. The most recent head of the troubled Veteran’s Affairs Dept., Robert McDonald, falsely claimed in a videotaped comment that he served in the Army’s elite special forces. In fact, his military service of five years was in fact spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late 1970s. The quiz question was going to be whether this alone required his dismissal.
My conclusion: assuming that he only did something like this only once, and it was not a Sen. Richard Blumenthal or a Brian Williams situation involving repeated self-glorifying falsehoods, I would have been willing to let this pass were he not in the position he is in: Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Veterans are justly sensitive on the topic of stolen valor and imaginary service. The last individual to hold McDonald’s job was asleep on the job and betrayed his constituency: they should not be asked to trust a successor who lies about his military service, even once. I understand that this is a tough verdict, and why others could reasonably argue that one casual remark to cheer a homeless veteran should not be a career catastrophe. In fact, as I write that, I’m thinking that I could be persuaded to adopt that position as well.
However, that is not all there is to this situation. For McDonald had already shown a tendency to play fast and loose with facts, perhaps influenced by his boss, who is similarly inclined, and the Vice -President, of course, when he isn’t harassing women. Continue reading