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
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
There may be good arguments to support that massive trolling of Verizon Business phone records by the NSA revealed yesterday, but so far, the justifications are either disingenuous, rationalizations, or leaps down the slippery slope. None exemplified this better than the Wall Street Journal, in its editorial defending the recently revealed surveillance. My favorite paragraph:
“The critics nonetheless say the NSA program is a violation of privacy, or illegal, or unconstitutional, or all of the above. But nobody’s civil liberties are violated by tech companies or banks that constantly run the same kinds of data analysis. We bow to no one in our desire to limit government power, but data-mining is less intrusive on individuals than routine airport security. The data sweep is worth it if it prevents terror attacks that would lead politicians to endorse far greater harm to civil liberties.”
- “The critics nonetheless say the NSA program is a violation of privacy, or illegal, or unconstitutional, or all of the above.” “The critics?” Can someone honestly say that taking my personal and private phone communications data without my knowledge or consent is not a violation of privacy? To argue that is the definition of Orwellian. “We’re not violating your privacy, we’re just secretly examining your private communications.” Oh. Continue reading
“Within hours of the disclosure that the federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights. Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability. The administration has now lost all credibility. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”
—–The New York Times, a largely passive Obama cheerleader and enabler for the past four years, in an editorial regarding the revelations of NSA monitoring of personal phone calls of American citizens, The Times approvingly quoted Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, (R-WI), who introduced the Patriot Act in 2001, that “Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”
There is not much that needs to be added to this, except… Continue reading
This is a mercurial story, several in fact, but one of its most valuable uses is to allow us to sort out various individuals and institutions for their trustworthiness and character based upon their words and conduct regarding the multiple scandals hurtling around Washington.
- Fool: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Mn). Bachmann is talking impeachment, which has signature significance: any elected official who brings up impeachment now or anytime before hard evidence turns up proving that President Obama personally delivered a bag of gold to the IRS leadership to make sure proprietary tax information was leaked is an utter, irresponsible dolt. 1) No President has ever been convicted after their impeachment, and heaven knows we have had multiple Chief Executives factually guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is a waste of time, an all-encompassing political warfare glut that this nation can’t afford at this point, especially when the U.S. Senate is in control of the same party the impeached POTUS belongs to. Yes, I agree with the principle that corrupt Presidents should be punished; I’m glad Bill Clinton got his just desserts, but I also know that if he and the rest of the government had been concentrating on what was going on in the world rather than hiding blue dresses, the Twin Towers might be standing today, and 3000—10,000?—-Americans wouldn’t be dead. Impeachment is like using a nuclear bomb: it’s a useful threat, but the reality is too horrible to permit. 2) Anyone who thinks making Joe Biden President is a solution to anything is certifiable. 3) There is nothing at this point that would support a legitimate impeachment. 4) Putting the scandals in that context just supports the agreed-upon White House and media spin that this is all about politics. Shut up, Michele.
Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Public Service, Philanthropy, Charity, Rights, War and the Military, Workplace
John Andrew Weldon, and the mother of his baby, and her property.
John Andrew Welden is being held on first degree murder charges for tricking his girlfriend, pregnant with his child, into taking an abortion bill ( Cyotec, a drug used to induce labor) that she thought was an antibiotic, because he had tampered with the label. The fetus, nearly seven weeks old, miscarried as a result. You can read this ugly story here.
She wanted to have the baby, he didn’t. He arranged his own abortion, deceiving her, betraying her, mistreating her terribly. But how did he commit murder? What he tricked her into aborting wasn’t a human being. NARAL says so. Sandra Fluck says so. President Obama says so.
The ethical and logical problem with our abortion laws, as well as the rhetoric and conduct surrounding them, is that they lack integrity and embarrassingly so. A seven week fetus is not treated as a human life if a mother chooses to have an abortion, and a doctor performs it. This must mean, in any sane, fair and ethical system, that it is not a human life. If it is not a life if a doctor aborts it, it isn’t a life if a boyfriend tricks the mother into aborting it. How can it be? The fetus hasn’t changed, and the conduct hasn’t changed. All that has changed is the agent, and there are only a few ways that can alter the act. “A deceptive killing?” A killing without authority,” perhaps. But the agent can’t make eliminating something first degree murder, if it wasn’t a human being that was eliminated. Continue reading
Nice hand, Mr. President.
Not everybody should be a leader, and it is no shame if you have no talent for it. It is tempting to think that all intelligent, educated, articulate people within a certain range of emotional stability and sanity can learn to be effective leaders, but history and experience tell a different story, and it has many tragic chapters.
I know many readers think that I get great joy out of criticizing President Obama for his lack of leadership skills and instincts, but in truth I find myself consciously avoiding writing about this almost every day, because the problem is on display that regularly*, and this isn’t a Bash Obama blog. I do find it remarkable that such an obviously intelligent man is so immune to leadership instincts, and that he hasn’t resolved to at least try to learn from his more naturally leadership-gifted predecessors. For example, the White House made a point of noting that the President was a great admirer of Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals,” which recounts how Abraham Lincoln assembled a Cabinet made up of political enemies, adversaries and rivals whose perspective and abilities he managed and used to great advantage. Yet Obama’s choice of Cabinet members and advisors, as even his supporters have pointed out, is unusually insular, passive and narrow, with the same loyalists being recycled into position after position (Hillary was the exception). True, this may reflect the President’s recognition of his own leadership limitations, for Abraham Lincoln, a once-in-a-century example of a born leader, is a daunting model. This is a pattern, however. When various voices in the Obama-worshiping media, such as did the New York Times last week, lament that Lyndon Johnson would have been able to get gun control measures through Congress, they are commenting on the same phenomenon. LBJ was a natural leader, and Obama, whatever his other virtues, is not. Continue reading
The SECOND Nazi soldier Ethics Hero!
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist-Schmenzin didn’t accomplish anything heroic, but boy, did he try. The last surviving member of the most famous and closest call of the many failed plots to kill Adolf Hitler, von Kleist-Schmenzin is a ringing example of how the only difference between a a deathless hero and some guy with an unspellable name that you never hear of until he dies sometimes is just luck, and moral luck at that.
von Kleist-Schmenzin was 90 when he perished at his home in Munich this week, outliving almost all of his fellow conspirators in Operation Valkyrie by just short of seven decades. After that near-miss assassination attempt failed (because the bomb-in-a-briefcase dropped near Hitler’s feet by chief conspirator Claus von Stauffenberg was inadvertently moved just enough to save Der Fuhrer’s miserable life), von Kleist-Schmenzin managed to convince Gestapo interrogators that he wasn’t part of the plot, though in truth he was originally given the assignment of planting the bomb. He ended up in prison (the fact that his father was also involved in the plot and was one of those executed guaranteed that) and later was sent back onto the battlefield, but only random chance prevented him from being remembered as the man who ended the war…in fact, it foiled him twice. Continue reading
Karl Penny adds some useful perspective on children’s war games, which were referenced in my post about the school that deemed tiny toy World War II soldiers like the ones featured in “Toy Story” a threat to student peace and safety. Here is his Comment of the Day to the post, More School Abuse of Students and Culture: The Deadly Cupcake Caper:
“My friends and I used to organize war games, armed with toy guns, with which we would industriously go about “killing” each other. Today, of course, we are all psychopathic, gun-obsessed, would-be killers, just waiting for the trigger event that will send us off to wreak the next massacre at someplace where people gather.
“If I had uttered the preceding sarcasm at any sort of school function, I’d shortly be explaining to the police that no, officer, I’d never dream of shooting up anyplace, and I just spoke carelessly, and I’ll never do it again, and please don’t take me to jail…. For heavens sake. Continue reading