Category Archives: Leadership

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Sgt. Shane Ortega

Trans Military Service Member

“You have to exercise patience with people, but people are not going to understand the subject overnight.”

—-Sgt. Shane Ortega, helicopter crew chief in the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, speaking to the Washington Post about his legal battle with the U.S. military, which continues to classify him as a woman despite his transition to a man.

The reason we say that “hard cases make bad law” is that the toughest cases fall between the cracks in rules and regulations, and they all have cracks. The law seeks consistent precedents, so anomalous fact patterns threaten the integrity and efficiency of otherwise effective laws and rules that work well in the vast majority of situations. Yet those hard cases usually indicate flaws in policies, rules and laws, and sometimes point to the need for change.

Often, an organization, especially a bureaucratic one like the military, will deal with such disruptive cases by simply looking past the actual facts, and treating them “by the book.” Ortega represents a particularly glaring instance of this phenomenon, which in his case not only harms his career, but also makes the military appear rigid to the point of absurdity.

Yet, as his Ethical Quote of the Month indicates, he understands. Change is painful, and it takes time. Continue reading

84 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Health and Medicine, Leadership, War and the Military, Workplace

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

16 Comments

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

Once Again, President Obama Displays His Aversion To Accountability

It's far from the only missing piece in the Obama leadership puzzle, but it's a big one...

It’s far from the only missing piece in the Obama leadership puzzle, but it’s a big one…

The so-called liberal news media (also called “the news media”) has largely ignored the implication of the President’s recent comments on the link between child health and climate change, but not every source. In a couple of recent interviews, Obama has attributed his determination to control global warming to a personal interest in childhood asthma.

A White House “fact sheet” on climate change notes that the percentage of Americans with asthma has “more than doubled’ in the last three decades [ I haven’t checked these statistics; as you know, the President fudges numbers frequently], and says that “climate change is putting these individuals and many other vulnerable populations at greater risk of landing in the hospital,” with those at greatest peril including children, the elderly, the poor, those who are ill and minority communities. “Rising temperatures can lead to more smog, longer allergy seasons, and an increased incidence of extreme-weather-related injuries,” the document informs us.

Speaking on ABC with chief health correspondent Dr. Richard Besser, the President connected climate change to a frightening Obama family episode. “Well you know, Malia had asthma when she was four, and because we had good health insurance, we were able to knock it out early,” the President said. The children of less successful parents, however, won’t be as lucky, Obama said. “It will be an all-around benefit to society if asthma can be curtailed.”

This is standard issue climate change fear-mongering, along with the convenient and cynical use of children to drive emotional responses from the public rather than allow them to rationally weigh facts, options, and the balancing of costs with benefits and risks. The entire climate change debate has been waged in this unethical manner, on both sides of the issue, and thus has been incompetent, irresponsible, and untrustworthy.

There is something else here, however.

USA Today makes a strong case that there was another more likely cause of Malia’s breathing problems: her father. Continue reading

11 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Childhood and children, Environment, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Science & Technology

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

14 Comments

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

Tom Delay, Ethics Dunce Emeritus

I know, I know...it's mean to use the mug shot. Good.

I know, I know…it’s mean to use the mug shot. Good.

I am grateful to ex-Republican House Leader and former Texas Rep. Tom Delay for putting himself back in the news with a quote remarkable for its ignorance, hatefulness, and corrupting potential. There are many reasons:

1. It provides a little perspective for Republicans who are excessively smug about the unethical depths to which the Democratic leaders, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, will sink. Yes, they are ethically atrocious. DeLay, however, was as powerful as either of them for a very long time and was a major power in causing the Bush years to collapse in a smelly pile of corruption. The fact that the Republican Party would follow such a man is easily as damning as Democrats tolerating Reid and Pelosi.

2. It gives me the opportunity to name Tom Ethics Alarms’ second Ethics Dunce Emeritus. The first was Bill Clinton. Tom Delay makes Bill Clinton look like Atticus Finch. Think about that.

3. I miss pointing out how despicable Tom DeLay is. On Ethics Alarm’s predecessor, The Ethics Scoreboard, he was worth a post on a regular basis.

4. His statement is so ridiculous that it is bound to make thoughtful people wonder if they should be agreeing with the man, and reexamine their current anti-gay positions critically.

Here is what DeLay said, discussing the various religious rights protection measures and the controversy surrounding them, on an interview with Newsmax, with some restrained commentary by me in bold: Continue reading

38 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

An Irish Gay Marriage Ethics Quiz: Ethics Hero, Ethics Dunce…or What?

gay-marriage

It’s comforting, I think, to realize that the U.S. isn’t the only Western nation that is in cultural upheaval over the gay marriage issue.

The  Irish Government, for example, will be holding a referendum on same-sex marriage at the end of May, only two decades after homosexuality was decriminalized.  Now polls suggest that  almost 80% of the Irish people favor legalizing same-sex marriage. Kowabunga, or rather, Faith ‘n Begorrah!

 Father Martin Dolan, the long-time priest at the Church of St Nicholas of Myra in Dublin’s city center for 15 years, called upon his congregations at the Saturday night Mass and Sunday morning service to support same sex marriage in the upcoming Irish vote. Then he announced that he was gay himself.

Dolan’s revelation received applause and a standing ovation.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz for the day:

Was this conduct by the priest ethical?

I have some observations.

1. Since the Catholic Church does not approve of homosexuality, I believe that it is doubly unethical for a gay man to be a Catholic priest. First, it is dishonest, and second, it is hypocritical.

2. Announcing that he is gay is a good campaign tactic, as his parishioners presumably admire him, but it is making a national and cultural decision personal.

3. Father Dolan, being gay himself, has a personal interest in the result. He is therefore not an objective advocate, and as a priest, giving guidance to a congregation, he is obligated to be objective and without conflict.

4. Yes, it is more ethical for him to disclose his bias than not. It is still a bias, and still taints his judgment and credibility on the issue.

5. If this is a moral, religious issue, then Father Dolan has jurisdiction to provide his guidance and advice. If it is a political question, then he is abusing his power and influence, and that is irresponsible. This involves a vote that isn’t binding on any church, which means the referendum is a political issue, not a religious one.

6. Verdict: abuse of power.

7. Is it ethical for a priest to directly challenge Church teachings as an official, employee and figure of authority in the Church, with a public statement he knows would not be approved by his superiors? No. It is a betrayal of trust.

My view:

The priest’s advocacy was unethical.

_______________________

Pointer: Fred!

Facts: Irish Central

121 Comments

Filed under Around the World, Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Leadership, Professions, Religion and Philosophy

First Lady Ethics: Sorry, Michelle Obama Fans, But This Is Way Over The Line

I was silent the first time this happened, because I was trying to provide the benefit of the doubt with an assumption that the First Lady would realize why it was inappropriate. I was wrong.

I can predict the “Get off my lawn!” retorts, the “Things have changed!” excuses and the “Lighten up!” deflections already, but this has to be said. The leadership of the free world and the office of the Presidency of the United States demands the assumption and maintenance of a basic measure of dignity, decorum, prudence and restraint. I realize the erosion of these qualities, not just in the White House but in society generally, is ongoing and that this will trigger the usual rationalizations.

Nevertheless, the First Lady represents her husband and his office. She is not a clown, an entertainer, a red carpet celebrity or a comedian’s sidekick, and every time she acts like any of these, no matter how pleasantly or charmingly she does so, it diminishes the prestige of the office and the nation. I don’t want to hear about how a majority of a public that wears tank tops on airplanes and flip-flops to the theater think it’s just wonderful for the First Lady to cavort with Jimmy Fallon in a manner indistinguishable from what we would expect from the latest flavor-of-the-month pop-tart.  Part of her job is modelling conduct for the clueless and unmannerly, and not sinking to their warped conduct of dignified professional conduct.

I am well-aware that this ethics verdict will be mocked. Never mind. I’m right.

Back to rationalizations: I’m expecting at least 17 of them from the Ethics Alarms list. None justify Michelle’s televised antics: Continue reading

57 Comments

Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Leadership, U.S. Society