Category Archives: Leadership

Unethical Words And Actions Have Consequences Dept.: The Baltimore Shooting Spree

baltimore-police-attacks

Since the Freddie Gray incident, Baltimore’s murder and criminal violence rate has climbed to record-setting levels, with over a hundred shooting deaths in the city this year. The Charm City’s police reported that 28 people were shot, and 9 of them killed, over the Memorial Day weekend alone.

Speaking to CNN anonymously, a Baltimore police officer attributed the spike to police officers in his city no longer doing their job proactively. This wasn’t a slowdown, he said, just low-risk policing, and the criminals are taking full advantage.

This seems extremely likely, and I would expect that the same phenomenon will take hold in other city police forces unless national leadership takes steps to…oh, what am I talking about? That’s not going to happen.

President Obama and Eric Holder’s racialized Justice Department planted the seeds of this with their irresponsible response to the Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown shootings, and those responses were modeled by a biased, unethical and politically ambitious state’s attorney in the Freddie Gray death. The war on police officers by African-American activists, Democrats and the Left was bound to have the result we are now seeing in Baltimore. Either the opportunistic pols, pundits and race-baiters wanted this, or they were too focused on gaining a political edge to foresee it. Now they are reaping what they have sown, and we should not allow them to deny accountability.

Why would any police officer engage in proactive policing when an unexpected turn of events, a resisting suspect or a single mistake in judgment under pressure will trigger protests and prejudging by mobs and the media, resulting in show trials ordered by cowardly prosecutors regardless of the evidence? It is a no-win situation for police, with personally, financially and professionally catastrophic consequences to an individual cop who ends up in the maw of one of these public lynchings. I expect that the next shoe in the process of dropping will be a sharp reduction in police recruits, except of the type that departments use at their peril.

There is no reason for any sane or intelligent individual to subject themselves to working conditions like this, where a disproportionate number of criminals and suspects he or she is going to encounter are African American, and any negative consequences to one of them under ambiguous circumstances will be attributed to racism, bias, homicidal tendencies or hate. We are going to end up with police forces made up entirely of insane or stupid cops.

CNN’s Carol Costello interviewed an African American community activist from Baltimore and asked the question I just did. His answer was a defiant “Because it’s their job!” Wrong. The job was not accepted with the risk of being thrown to the dogs by the Justice Department, state and local officials as an agreed-upon condition of employment. Police must be able to assume, as they once could, that the city, state and national leadership will support them and be reasonable regarding the occasional tragedies that the nature of the job will inevitably entail. Now they clearly cannot.

Had the pendulum swung too far to giving police the benefit of the doubt in every instance? Absolutely. Where the pendulum is swinging now, however, will result in urban chaos. That chaos, ironically, will fall most heavily on African American. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Workplace

Memorial Day Values And Ethics

arlington-cemetery-address

Many events, stories and trends have collided in the run-up to Memorial Day 2015, which itself illuminates a common theme, and, perhaps, emerging wisdom.

In recent weeks we have seen:

1. The terrorist scourge of ISIS, as many predicted, continuing to expand its power and destructive mission while the U.S. resists actively engaging it.

2. Through the prism of the British elections, the realization that our traditional ally and the nation closest to the U.S. in values, culture and commitment to democratic ideals, has surrendered its role as a world power, with its armed forces soon to be at a diminished level last reached in the 18th Century.

3. The growing national distrust and rejection of local police forces.

4. A resurgence of the debate over the Iraq war, with its related issue of the Obama administration’s premature and disastrous withdrawal of troops from that theater,

5. Reports that the United States is no longer regarded abroad as reliable as an ally and

6. The first credible evidence of an ISIS-related attack in the U.S.

And it’s Memorial Day, which is set aside to honor the Americans who died in foreign wars, and who did so under the impression that they were protecting and strengthening our nation’s values and ideals. Obviously, a large segment of the population, and virtually an entire political party, no longer shares those ideals, nor do they honor the sacrifice this holiday was created to recognize and validate. Hence this, from the Democratic Party’s twitter feed…

The Democrats ‏@TheDemocrats May 23 Memorial Day Weekend SALE. Save 15% when you enter MEMORIALDAY15 at The Democrats ✔ @TheDemocrats Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

The Democrats ‏@TheDemocrats May 23
Memorial Day Weekend SALE. Save 15% when you enter MEMORIALDAY15 at The Democrats

@TheDemocrats
Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

What’s going on here?

The ethics issues are policing, values, responsibility, and, yes, American exceptionalism.

It has become a cliché to say that the U.S. can’t be the world’s policeman, and the Obama foreign policy is entirely based on that assertion….except that the assertion is now that we won’t be the world’s policeman, so we will make certain that we can’t. In that assertion by Obama, which I would term essentially un-American as well as unwise and unethical, is a rejection of the national ideals that formed the basis for the U.S.’s participation in World War II, the Marshall Plan, the Korean War, and the Cold War, among others. The problem with the assertion is that it ignores salient and irrefutable facts:

  • The world needs a policeman, and is a chaotic and dangerous place without it.
  • In the absence of a policeman, the brutal, Machiavellian, and genocidal and despotic run amuck.
  • The United Nations, created with the world’s consensus that a police force was necessary, is now structured to prevent it from filling that role.
  • Somebody needs to fill that role, and the role must be filled by a nation that is obligated by its values not to seek to abuse its power to impose its will on others for its own enrichment and benefit.
  • The United States, as the only nation formed with the mission of recognizing and upholding basic human rights, remains the only nation qualified to fill that role.

In short, it’s a lousy, dirty, thankless job, but someone has to do it, and there is nobody else that the world, or we, can or should trust to do it  Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society, Government & Politics, History, Around the World, War and the Military, Leadership, Citizenship, Character, Rights

FactChecker Ethics: I Know This Is A Bit Late, But If Glenn Kessler Is Going To Give Out “Pinocchios,” He Needs To Learn What a Lie Is

Time to revisit the classics, Glenn...

Time to revisit the classics, Glenn…

Newspaper “fact-checking” is a mostly unethical and misleading exercise in which media partisans use the format to call positions they differ with ideologically and politically “lies.”  PolitiFact is well established as the worst and most biased of these features; Annenberg’s Factcheck.org is easily the best (but still shows its leftward bias), and somewhere in between is Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post’s “Factchecker.” Today’s installment of his periodic column shows that after many years at his job, he still doesn’t know what a lie is. Amazing.

This is not, or should not be, necessarily for a factchecker, as long as he sticks to checking facts, and not characterizing why the facts don’t jibe with a particular public figure’s public statements. PolitiFact’s specialty is making questionable interpretations of statistics and events, declaring them the revealed truth, and attacking anyone,  usually a Republican, who has come to a different conclusion. To his credit, Kessler doesn’t do that very often. He is typically fair and objective in his research and presentation of facts. But the Post’s Factchecker uses the device of one to four little Pinocchio heads to indicate the seriousness of a factual misstatement, and as he should know, Pinocchio’s nose grew long when he lied. Even one Pinocchio indicates that Kessler believes he has proven that someone lied.

It seems a little late for Kessler to be mistaking opinions that he disagrees with, analyses of facts that reach different conclusions than he would, and obvious mistakes as lies. Kessler, who is should be in the business of checking facts but has chosen a gimmick that makes him conclude by accusing others of lying, is ethically obligated to know what a lie is: an intentional misstatement of fact that is designed and intended to deceive. He either doesn’t know that, which means he’s incompetent, or he does and misrepresents mistakes and opinions as lies, which means that he’s the liar. Whichever it is, this is ethically unacceptable for a “factchecker.” Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Literature, War and the Military

And Now, A Rueful Parody: “Hillary, Brady and George”

hillary-brady-george

I’ll let Dion set the mood first…

Now my updated version, in its own way even sadder than the original. (You can sing along, if you like…)

Does anybody here care ’bout influence peddling?
Can you tell me why it’s wrong?
She got a lot of money
And it sure looks like quid pro quo
But Hillary’s prospects stay strong.

***

 Anybody here care ’bout conflicts of interest?
Can you tell me why they’re wrong?
George gave a lot of money,
To Hillary’s foundation
(He’s been a supporter all along.)

***

Anybody here care ’bout lying and cheating?
Do you think that they’re wrong?
The quarterback messed with
The balls that he scored with
And still is cheered by the throng.

 ***

Should we admire the values they stand for?
Won’t their lies corrupt it all for you and me?
And society
Some day soon, if we don’t make them sorry…

***

Everybody here see our old friend Bubba?
(I can’t stop my rising gorge)
As I watch  him walkin,’ and laughin’ at all of us…

With Hillary, Brady and George.

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Filed under U.S. Society, Sports, Arts & Entertainment, Popular Culture, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Citizenship, Character

“What’s Going On Here?” Ten Ethics Observations On The Miami Beach Police Force Racist E-mails

Police games...

Police games…

Fred, my tireless and apparently sleepless issue scout, alerted me to this ugly story out of Florida:

MIAMI (AP) — A handful of Miami Beach police officers sent hundreds of racially offensive and pornographic emails and possibly jeopardized dozens of criminal cases in which they are witnesses, the department’s chief said Thursday. An internal investigation revealed that two of the 16 officers were high-ranking within the Miami Beach Police Department and were the main instigators, Chief Daniel Oates told reporters. One has retired, and the other was fired Thursday.Oates said the probe revealed about 230 emails demeaning to African-Americans and women or pornographic in nature. Many were depictions of crude racial jokes involving President Barack Obama or black celebrities such as golfer Tiger Woods. One shows a woman with a black eye and the caption, “Domestic violence. Because sometimes, you have to tell her more than once.”

One of the racially offensive emails depicted a board game called “Black Monopoly” in which every square says “go to jail.” Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said about 540 cases in which the officers were witnesses are being reviewed to determine if they are tainted racially. Some charges could be dropped as a result or prisoners freed from jail

Fred comments, beginning with the favorite Ethics Alarms first step to ethics analysis:”What’s going on here? A widespread failure of leadership and personnel screening.”

That, for sure. Unfortunately, there is even more:

1. Number 2, after leadership, is training. It is mind-blowing that any police officers in the United States of America would not be aware of the degree to which such conduct jeopardizes community relations, trust and the effectiveness of the department, but I read about equally idiotic e-mail behavior from judges, lawyers, elected officials and business executives weekly. The message that this kind of thing is as destructive to the department and everyone in it, and won’t be tolerated even once, must be sent regularly, formally, and emphatically. Obviously, it wasn’t.

2. Do such e-mails prove that the Miami Beach police, or even the police officers involved, perform their jobs in a racist manner? The answers are 1) no, and 2) it doesn’t matter.

Once anything like this becomes public, trust is impossible for two reasons. First, it is more likely than not that someone who thinks e-mails like these are amusing does not sufficiently respect women and minorities, and second, it is beyond argument that their judgment is horrific. People who think it’s amusing to denigrate any group are not certain to be racist in their interactions with such groups, but given a choice, those groups would rather take their chances with someone else, and so would I. Meanwhile, people whose judgement is this horrific shouldn’t carry guns. Continue reading

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Filed under Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society, Workplace

The Jeb Bush “Gotcha!”: Unfair Question, Dumb Answers

Enough about Iraq, Jeb: When did you stop beating your wife?

Enough about Iraq, Jeb: When did you stop beating your wife?

In the vast history of unfair questions, even including such immortals as “When did you stop beating your wife?,”none is more unanswerable in a substantive way than the question Jeb Bush was asked on Fox News—yes, that’s the same Fox News that supposedly lobs softballs for any Republican. The question: “Knowing what we know now” would he have authorized the Iraq war?

What possible use is that question, other than as an exercise in complete hindsight bias? If the answer is no, it appears to validate the dishonest criticism of the war decades ago, by those who attributed new knowledge about the infamous WMD’s to the original decision, which wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction in the first place. If it is yes, it is evidence of insanity.

Now we know that the invasion would be botched, the U.N. would cravenly and irresponsibly withhold support for enforcing its own resolutions, that our hillbilly soldiers would torture Iraqi prisoners and take photos of it, that the new Iraqi government would be incompetent and corrupt, that the news media would assist Democrats in re-writing the history of the decision, and most of all, that even after the situation in Iraq had finally been stabilized, an incompetent President would prematurely pull out our troops, causing the government to implode and ISIS to thrive.

George W. Bush had even said when he was President that if he had known that no WMD’s were there, he would not have invaded Iraq. That was also a dumb answer at the time, and I believe a dishonest one. But today, W. would give the same answer, and knowing what we know now, it would be both correct and honest. That’s if he were silly enough not to say, as his younger brother was too dim to say, this:

“I’m not answering that. It’s pointless. Would Lee have ordered Pickett’s Charge, knowing how it would turn out? Would I have left the dock as captain of the Titanic, knowing that it would hit an iceberg? Would I have approved the Space Shuttle program, knowing that two shuttles would meet with disaster? “Would you still go to see ‘Our American Cousin,’ Mrs Lincoln?” A decision can only be judged based on what the known situation is at the time. It cannot be fairly judged based on the results of the decision, immediately or years later. That’s consequentialism; it’s a logical fallacy.

and

“Nor can I answer the question of what I would have decided in my brother’s place, because I do know how things worked out, and he, of course, could not know. So asking that question is unfair to me, and answering it would be unfair to him. “

But Jeb was too dim to say that. So first he answered… Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Integrity Fail: Republicans Pass An Anti-Abortion Bill, Thus Undermining Their Argument Against Unconstitutional Overreach By Democrats

I bet this guy is a Republican.

I bet this guy is a Republican.

The bill the Republicans in the House just passed to ban abortions after 20 weeks undermines every argument the party has made against the abuse of the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to allow the federal government to meddle in state matters. One’s position on abortion isn’t relevant to the ethics and law here: I agree whole-heartedly with the ban in principle.

Abortion isn’t commerce, however. For decades, the Commerce Clause’s provision giving Congress the power to “regulate commerce . . . among the several states” has been stretched beyond all reason and the limits of language by Democratic majorities.  It has been conservative legislators, scholars and pundits who have screamed about it. Indeed, this was the primary basis for the attack on Obamacare in the Supreme Court case NFIB v. Sebelius, and the majority did find that the so-called “individual mandate” exceeded Congress’s Commerce Clause limitations.

The abuse of the Commerce Clause has been the primary means by which the Founders’ intentional restraints on federal  government power over the states and individuals have been circumvented by big government advocates. Some of the measures that were ingeniously slipped by the Commerce Clause using dubious justifications have been necessary and beneficial, like Federal laws against discrimination. Those measures, however, greased an ever-slipperier slope that has made the Clause a virtual nullity.

Supposedly, Republicans believed that it was important to start taking the Constitutional limits on Congressional power seriously again, because the alternative would be a Congressional dictatorship over the states. Now we know that the Republicans are just as willing to trample the Commerce Clause as Democrats are, as long as their pet social issues are being served. Continue reading

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