Tag Archives: abuse of power

Ethics Quiz: The Martin O’Malley Dilemma

hooked-off-stageI didn’t mention it in the post on the last Democratic presidential candidates debate (I should have), but the NBC moderators went out of their way to give as little attention and camera time to former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley as possible. The frustrated third wheel found himself begging for time like Jim Webb in the first debate, and several commentators have noted that Andrea Mitchell and Lester Holt were openly disrespectful to him, making it clear to all that he was irrelevant.

Disrespect is usually unethical, and the conduct of the moderators was indeed disrespectful, essentially marginalizing O’Malley and muzzling him as well. The context, however, is that they may have a point. O’Malley has been running from the start. He has said nothing to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, other than remind everyone that he’s the only ex-governor in the race. He is polling in Lincoln Chafee territory, even though his opposition is a superannuated socialist whose positions make no sense, and a previously rejected serial liar who is facing a possible indictment. Is he the equivalent of the guest who won’t leave the party?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz question today:

Is the news media treating Martin O’Malley unfairly?

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

How Censorship Takes Root: The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Bans Fun

high school fans

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association has commanded students at high school basketball games to stop taunting, mocking or teasing the opposition, which as I recall was the only reason one attends high school basketball games. The WIAA  has published a guide to sportsmanlike activities, and much of it is reasonable and wise. Not its specific prohibitions for fans, however. The content-specific bans are redolent of campus hate speech bans, but even sillier.They do teach future adult citizens the uses of censorship by authorities, however.

Maybe that’s the idea.

Here are the prohibitions on fan speech and conduct (1-23) and also athlete conduct (24-29) that are identified in the guide (I’ve rearranged them a bit), which means that schools not controlling such conduct sufficiently to satisfy their fun-hating overlords risk official sanctions. The inexcusably censorious prohibitions are in red. The overly strict or general prohibitions are in pink. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Etiquette and manners, Sports, U.S. Society

Ethics Perspective: All Leaders Do Awful Things, And Many Are Awful People: All We Can Do Is Identify Leaders Who We Can Trust To Try Be Ethical, While Having The Ability To Lead

Roosevelts

Case Study I: Theodore Roosevelt.

Teddy’s easily my favorite President, both as a personality, a leader, and a human being. Almost all of his flaws, and he had plenty—the excessive animal-killing, the imperialism, the love of war, his sexism and intrinsic belief in white supremacy—are directly attributable to his times and class. He learned, because he was brilliant and intellectually curious. Like George Washington, TR was capable of evolving. He wanted to do good, and like all of us, was on a lifetime journey to find out what good was. Like most leaders who are capable of leading, he thought he had a pretty good idea of what was right, and one that was better than those of almost everyone else.

In at least one instance, however, Roosevelt personality and leadership style led to a terrible injustice.

On August 13, 1906, there was a race-related fight in Brownsville,Texas. It got out of control, turned into a full-scale riot, and one white police officer was wounded while another man, a bartender, was killed. The town blamed the black soldiers of the 25th Infantry stationed at nearby Fort Brown; tensions between the soldiers and the all-white town had been growing since the blacks arrived.  The town produced spent shells from army rifles as evidence of the soldiers’ guilt, and investigators accepted them as incriminating, though they probably were planted.

All the soldiers protested that they were innocent. Their white officers backed up their claims that the soldiers had been in their barracks at the time of the melee.  No military trial was ever held, but a Texas court cleared the black soldiers of wrongdoing. Nevertheless, President Roosevelt discharged  the entire regiment without honor anyway: 167 men, but only the blacks; the white officers were not disciplined.  The alleged cause for the harsh punishment was that the blacks had engaged in a “conspiracy of silence” to protect the guilty member of their regiment. Some of the men dismissed had over twenty years of  honorable service; one had fought alongside Roosevelt during the Spanish American War. Many were only a short time away from retirement and vested  pensions. The 168 lost their careers, reputations, and retirement income. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Leadership, Race

Observations On Obama’s Executive Orders On Guns And The Golden Dancer Presidency

Rocking Horse

Before I begin, here are the orders, which almost none of the news media are explaining or in most cases, even mentioning. The list is from Forbes:

Gun Violence Reduction Executive Actions:

1. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.

2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.

3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.

4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.

5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.

6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).

9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.

10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.

11. Nominate an ATF director.

12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.

13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.

14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.

15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to developinnovative technologies.

16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.

17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.

18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.

19. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.

20. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.

21. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.

22. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.

23. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

Observations:

1. I want to get this out of the way first, because it annoys me even more than other things connected with the announcement and its coverage. Jeb Bush was ready for the Obama orders with a signed op-ed titled, “Barack Obama’s executive orders trample on the Second Amendment.” Trample? They barely nick it. Maybe the orders infringe on the Amendment’s personal space. Bush wrote (or, more likely, had someone write for him) the essay before Obama’s measures were known. It’s obvious: Bush never mentions any of them. This is exactly the sort of idiocy from gun rights supporters that Obama, Democrats and anti-gun zealots are counting on, so they can say—with justification!—“See? Republicans don’t want to do anything to make us safer! They oppose measures before they even know what they are! How can anyone expect the President to work with these people?”

Jeb is an embarrassment, especially to himself. He should do everyone a favor and get out of the race.

2. Nicely timed to the orders is an excellent article in Reason called  “You Know Less Than You Think About Guns: The misleading uses, flagrant abuses, and shoddy statistics of social science about gun violence.” It would be nice, even responsible, if those clapping their hands like trained seals to Obama’s cynical grandstanding here actually read it.  A brief highlight: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Rights, U.S. Society

Cast Your Vote For The 2015 “Curmies,” Disgraces To The Field Of Education…

Charles Addams

Rick Jones, whose blog has been a past award winner at Ethics Alarms and who is also a much-cherished commenter here, has posted the nominees for his annual “Curmie Awards” (his blog is, after all, Curmudgeon Central.) The Curmies are “presented to the person or persons who most embarrass the profession of educator.”

This time, only one of his nominees were the objects of posts on Ethics Alarms. Following is the list of finalists; then go here to read more of Rick’s riffs on the nominees, and to recoil in horror at Rick’s dishonorable mentions, like the  Texas high school that “not only painted Christian zealotry on the corridor walls, they used made-up quotations from the likes of George Washington and Ronald Reagan to do it.” (I’m really sorry I missed that one.)…

1. …Gustine ISD in Texas, where Principal Alan Luker faced a rather unique problem: someone was leaving feces on the gym floor. So, naturally, a couple dozen 4th and 5th graders were carted off to separate rooms for girls and boys and made to drop their pants….

2. … Harrisburg (PA) Sci-Tech High School, where an (of course) unnamed Assistant Principal threatened senior Alexus Miller-Wigfall with suspension for wearing a dress that was “too revealing” to prom…apparently motivated by the fact that Ms. Miller-Wigfall has “more boobs than other girls,” who “have less to show.” (More boobs? Two aren’t enough for this girl?) [Ethics Alarms post here.]

3.…The State Education Department in Florida, which devised a testing apparatus whereby students who got perfect scores on a standardized test actually hurt their school and their teacher by not improving on the previous year’s perfect score. How often does this happen? Actually, tens of thousands of times annually. Yes, there’s a provision that allows districts to correct the record, and indeed the problem might have been fixed by now, but the mere fact that the default position was to punish teachers and schools for not improving on perfection tells us everything we need to know about the corporate-driven lunacy that now infests public education. [ I omitted this initially, finding it so incomprehensible that I, I don’t know, thought Rick was having a stroke or something. He assures me it’s real.]
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Filed under Childhood and children, Education, Gender and Sex, Religion and Philosophy

Observations On Donald Trump Playing The Bill Card On Hillary Clinton.

dueling_bills_12-30-15-1

Veeery interesting.

After Hillary accused Donald Trump of being a sexist, which, of course, he indubitably is, Trump, who believes that when hit one should hit back twice as hard, immediately pointed out, in his typically clumsy, sloppy but somehow effective way, that for someone married to Bill Clinton to play “the woman’s card” was, shall we say, hypocritical. Then fate took a hand: Bill Cosby finally faced a few bars of music in court, and some journalists and pundits began musing about the differences and similarities between Bill C. and Bill C. (I flagged this problem for the Clintons over a year ago.)

Then elder pundits did some figuring, and realized that a large number of younger voters, the Democratic Party’s base, don’t know very much at all about Monica, Paula, Kathleen, Juanita, Gennifer and Dolly, Bill Clinton’s impeachment, or loss of his law license, in part because the news media has been an active Clinton family enabler for over a decade, and in part because our education system fails to educate. Thus a decisive component of the Hillary cheering section just think of Bill as a revered former President elder statesman, and did not gag, as I did, when this guy of all guys was made the centerpiece of the 2012 Democratic National Convention themed to decry the “war on women.”

But wait! There’s more! When Trump carried his new vendetta to the Today Show, lovely, light-weight, biased co-host Savannah Guthrie revealed herself to be both ignorant and a tool by calling the Monica affair “alleged.”  Mary Bruce on  Good Morning America also referred to Bill’s infamous womanizing as “alleged sexual misconduct and infidelity.” Ignorance or Clinton protecting? Bill’s infidelity is as “alleged” as O.J.’s skills with a knife.

Finally, a feminist, Democrat, usually reliable Clinton ally on the Washington Post editorial staff, Ruth Marcus, Trump is right: “Bill Clinton’s sordid sexual history is fair game.” for Hillary opponents.

Which, of course, it is.

Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

A Rubio Scandal, And Now The Test: How Does He Handle It?

lit fuse

It looks like the Washington Post has Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio dead to rights on a substantial conflict of interest scandal, or worse. It dates back to 2002, when the Florida Senator was a rising politician serving as majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives.

The Post convincingly documents that Rubio used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law Orlando Cicilia, a convicted cocaine trafficker released from prison 20 months earlier. Rubio sent a letter on his official statehouse stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate, recommending  Cicilia “for licensure without reservation.” The letter did not disclose that Cicilia was married to Rubio’s sister,  or that the convicted cocaine dealer was then living with Rubio’s parents. Rubio merely wrote that he had “known” Cicilia “for over 25 years.”

This is deception by omission, as well as an abuse of power and position. There is also the unanswered question of whether Rubio or his family received financial assistance from Cicilia when he had access to drug money from $15 million worth of cocaine he was convicted of distributing in 1989. The federal government seized Cicilia’s home, but the money has never been found. Moreover, the Post reports, Rubio-affiliated PACs and campaigns, including his current one, have paid Cicilia’s two sons more than $130,000 in the past decade. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership