Tag Archives: abuse of power

President Obama’s Unexpected Legacy: The Deadly Deterioration Of Racial Reconciliation And Trust

Murdered cops

I really hate thinking this, much less writing it.

At this moment, race relations in the United States are in a more precarious and dangerous state than at any time since the 1960s. The arrogance, incompetence, biases, and in some cases intentional political machinations of the nation’s first African American President and his party are substantially and perhaps primarily responsible for this tragedy. This is a catastrophe for the nation and its society, though one that the mainstream media will deny, obscure, or refuse to admit. It is still true.

As we begin December 21, 2014, two NYPD police officers named Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, one white and one Asian, are dead, having been assassinated by a deranged African American criminal who drove from Baltimore to New York in order to put “pigs in a blanket.” He announced his plan with message referencing the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, as well as “them” and “us”—“us” being black men, “them” being police officers.

You will hear and read Obama/Holder/Sharpton/ De Blasio defenders furiously denying the connection between these politicians’ repeated suggestions that white police officers were profiling black men and often killing them, and the racial hatred currently focused on police. They will say that the killer, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, was insane, and perhaps that he was more likely a lone wolf Islamic terrorist. The journalists  should be reminded that they were immune to such alternative theories when they blamed the Tucson attack that maimed Congresswoman Gaby Giffords on the rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, even though the shooter in that case had no smoking hashtags that indicated any motivation other than insanity.

Ironically, their arguments apply fairly now, when they did not then. Re-read Paul Krugman’s infamous column from 2011, substituting the “climate of hate” he attributed to attacks on big government by conservatives (because, like the Michigan professor who authored this, Krugman doesn’t regard what he and other liberals express as hate, just well-earned contempt) with the real and deadly racial distrust and suspicion nurtured by the rhetoric of black leaders, progressive pundits, and others, suggesting that young, black men are being hunted down and killed for the crime of being black. Krugman won’t make that argument now, but if he had any integrity or objectivity, he would.

President Obama, elected on the promise that he would bring the races together, lit the long fuse for this unfolding disaster for our democracy in July of 2009, less than a year into his first term. A prominent African American professor, Henry Lewis Gates, Jr., acted like a jerk to a white Cambridge, Mass. police officer responding to a call, and was arrested for disturbing the peace. Obama, in the first of his many unethical pronouncements that interfered with local matters completely unrelated to his job, made public comments suggesting that Gates was treated unjustly because of his race. The facts indicated that Obama had impugned the character of not only a model police officer, but one recognized for extraordinary sensitivity in the area of black community relations. There was no public apology from Obama, however, and the fuse was lit. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: George Stevens, Jr.

Abuse of power, abuse of position, disrespect, unfairness and old-fashioned pettiness—these are just some of the ethics fouls the Kennedy Center’s George Stevens, Jr. committed during the 37th Kennedy Center Honors program last night in Washington, D.C.

“Take this job and shove it” is a pleasing anthem of the abused and disaffected in the workforce, but acting on the sentiment is usually a bad idea, and in some cases, like this one, a terrible idea. The Kennedy Center Honors program was Stevens’ baby from its inception nearly two decades ago, a gala honoring the greats of American culture with a star-studded stage show attended by the glitterati of Washington and Hollywood. Through his skill and showmanship—it runs in his family: he is the son of the great Hollywood director George Stevens, who directed “Shane,” among other classics–he had made the annual event an institution. The awards were considered the official confirmation of icon status, and the program was one of the few culture-related presentations remaining that was deemed worthy of a yearly network telecast. Apparently, Stevens felt that he made the Honors what they were, so he had the right to warp it to his own selfish ends.

Kennedy Center Chairman David Rubenstein thanked the audience for its support, and then, in a gesture unchanged from past years, thanked producers George Stevens Jr. This time, however, instead of waving from the audience as in past years, Stevens came on stage and announced that Rubenstein was forcing him out as producer after 37 years. “We accept that this will be our last Honors,” Stevens said. “This is our good night.” It was hardly a spontaneous show of pique, for he had programmed his comments into the teleprompter.

The sour note interrupted the flow of the evening, and cast a pall over the tributes to honorees Lily Tomlin and Sting, which had not yet begun. (The celebrations of the careers of Tom Hanks, ballerina Patricia McBride and soul singer Al Green had been completed.)

Stevens had been engaged in contentious talks with Kennedy Center management, which wanted to move the Honors show in a new direction and sought a fresh creative vision. In a messy split redolent of Jerry Lewis’s divorce from the Annual MS Labor Day Telethon, an aging creator of a cherished tradition was being retired against his will, and felt betrayed.

Jerry Lewis, however, did not crash the telethon to announce his departure.

This kind of petulant and vindictive exit may feel good in the doing, but is always destructive. The victims included the honorees, the audience, and Steven’s own good will and reputation, as well the event itself.  Can this be justified by the momentary satisfaction of telling his foes at the Kennedy Center off, and holding them up for brief, unwanted criticism? Of course not. All this act accomplishes is to make it clear why the leadership of the Kennedy Center concluded that it was time for Stevens to go. This was not the act of a professional nor the act of a gentlemen. It is the act of an egotist, or perhaps that of someone who has stayed too long and through age or complacency forgotten that maxim of both the theater and life, that you always want to leave your audience wanting more.

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Now THIS Is Abuse Of Police Power

Andy and Opie

No riots are anticipated, fortunately.

Police Lt. Brian Keller, an assistant sheriff,  used his unmarked black Dodge Charger, with emergency lights flashing, to stop a school bus so he could hand his son his lunch, which the boy left home without. The bus was not within Keller’s jurisdiction….not that his actions would be much better it it has been.

There was a complaint,  which Lake County (Illinois) officials are investigating.

This is the kind of thing Sheriff Andy Taylor might have done for Opie in little Mayberry, but such abuse of power is neither cute nor funny outside of TV Land. I don’t care if he’s a single dad (like Andy); it doesn’t even matter if the kid had crucial, life saving prescription drugs in the lunch bag—insulin, maybe. Using official authority for a personal matter like this is the sign of an untrustworthy cop who doesn’t comprehend his job. It is small wonder that police labor under the public presumption that they don’t respect the law or the limitations of their authority.

___________________

Pointer: Mediaite

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Michael Brown’s Parents Go Rogue

Why wait for U.S. Justice to work, when we can be dictated to by representatives of Chile, Senegal, Georgia, and Mauritius?

Why wait for U.S. justice to work, when we can be dictated to by representatives of Chile, Senegal, Georgia, and Mauritius?

Wherever the line lies where grief and anger no longer excuse irresponsible, irrational and destructive conduct, the parents of slain police shooting victim Michale Brown have charged over it.

On Veterans Day, Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. addressed the United Nations Committee Against Torture  in Geneva, Switzerland. The Committee supposedly works to address brutality by governments around the world, but based on this stunt, and stunt it is, the panel is just one more U.N. sham entity with an anti-American agenda. Whatever is going through the minds of Brown’s parents, their willingness to be part of this transparent attack on the U.S. is in the spirit of treason.

“We need answers and we need action. And we have to bring it to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson,” McSpadden told CNN. It should be obvious that neither parent has any direct knowledge of what happened to their son, and would not be allowed to testify in any court proceeding held to determine the truth. That the United Nations would behave otherwise is proof positive of bad will and nasty intent, and for McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr. to participate in this despicable effort makes them accessories to a plot devised by their own nation’s enemies. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: “Girls” Creator/Actress Lena Dunham

Dunham

Lena Dunham, creator and star of the inexplicably critically acclaimed HBO series “Girls,” has written a memoir, “Not That Kind of Girl.” Here are ten inquiries regarding its most controversial passages, like the one above,  and the reaction to them:

1. What does one say about a Hollywood figure who puts a passage like this in her memoirs, writing about her relationship with her sister, who was six years younger…

“As she grew, I took to bribing her for her time and affection: one dollar in quarters if I could do her makeup like a “motorcycle chick.” Three pieces of candy if I could kiss her on the lips for five seconds. Whatever she wanted to watch on TV if she would just “relax on me.” Basically, anything a sexual predator might do to woo a small suburban girl I was trying.”

2. Or this…

“I shared a bed with my sister, Grace, until I was seventeen years old. She was afraid to sleep alone and would begin asking me around 5:00 P.M. every day whether she could sleep with me. I put on a big show of saying no, taking pleasure in watching her beg and sulk, but eventually I always relented. Her sticky, muscly little body thrashed beside me every night as I read Anne Sexton, watched reruns of SNL, sometimes even as I slipped my hand into my underwear to figure some stuff out.”

3. Or, most famously, this...

“Do we all have uteruses?” I asked my mother when I was seven.

“Yes,” she told me. “We’re born with them, and with all our eggs, but they start out very small. And they aren’t ready to make babies until we’re older.” I look at my sister, now a slim, tough one-year-old, and at her tiny belly. I imagined her eggs inside her, like the sack of spider eggs in Charlotte’s Web, and her uterus, the size of a thimble.

“Does her vagina look like mine?”

“I guess so,” my mother said. “Just smaller.”

One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my curiosity got the best of me. Grace was sitting up, babbling and smiling, and I leaned down between her legs and carefully spread open her vagina. She didn’t resist and when I saw what was inside I shrieked.

My mother came running. “Mama, Mama! Grace has something in there!”

My mother didn’t bother asking why I had opened Grace’s vagina. This was within the spectrum of things I did. She just got on her knees and looked for herself. It quickly became apparent that Grace had stuffed six or seven pebbles in there. My mother removed them patiently while Grace cackled, thrilled that her prank had been a success.

?

I say that that the Hollywood darling apparently used her little sister as a sex toy for at least a decade, was never stopped or admonished for doing so by remarkably negligent parents, and has grown to adulthood without recognizing that there is anything wrong with her conduct.

The first passage not only treads on the borders of incest, but also leaves the uncomfortable question of what else she did to her sister that emulated a sexual predator. The second is profoundly creepy, and the third describes what, if true, is abuse of an infant in terms designed to sound erotic. As blogger Ann Althouse points out, does anyone believe that an infant would stuff pebbles in herself “as a prank,”or that a compos mentis parent wouldn’t immediately assume that the older girl had done it to the younger girl? At best, Dunham is lying, and doesn’r realize that her lie puts her and her family in a terrible light.

4. What can we conclude about the character of a celebrity who proposes such conduct as harmless fun, apparently unaware that it violates standards of fairness, respect and caring, to be emulated and embraced by her readers and anyone whom they have influence over, including their own children, as a legitimate cultural norm? I conclude that her values are seriously and perhaps clinically warped. and that the more critics point this out, the safer everyone is, present and future. Lena Dunham is an ethics corrupter. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: Monica Lewinsky

Under that bus is Monica Lewinsky, and it wasn't Matt Drudge who threw her there.

Under that bus is Monica Lewinsky, and it wasn’t Matt Drudge who threw her there.

It truly pains me to have to write anything negative about Monica, who was exploited and humiliated by a President of the United States, and had her life permanently derailed because she trusted and even loved a rogue who regarded her as little more than an animated sex toy. Her re-emergence now, however—yes it is sad and desperate and makes me furious at Bill Clinton all over again—in the new guise of a “cyber-bullying” victim is intolerable, a delusion on multiple levels, despicable blame-shifting, and a welcome weasel-out of-accountability-free card for the Clintons. Yeccch.

I’m sorry for what happened to you, Monica, but you’re 40 now: it’s time to start seeing life more clearly—especially your own and the reasons why you are in the mess you are.

“Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one. I was Patient Zero,” Lewinsky said in a speech Monday to Forbes’s Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia. “The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

It has to take a near-fatal injection of self-serving historical air-brushing for the ex-intern to say this with a straight face, and it tells us volumes about the audience that it didn’t start throwing tomatoes:

  • She wasn’t a “completely private figure.” She was a woman having a sexual affair with the President of the United States while he lied about it—to his wife, his staff, and under oath (I haven’t covered all of the lying, either.) That makes her an individual who is engaged in conduct with tremendous public and official consequences who is only “private” because a powerful official is using his power to make it so. The proper term is “inevitable public figure waiting for the dam to break.”
  • The reason for her humiliation was and is William Jefferson Clinton, and no other. He is the one who described her as “that woman,” while denying what was true. He is the one who made his relationship with her part of a legal record while he was trying to avoid the consequences of another “bimbo eruption,” as his long-time “fixer” liked to call them.

Continue reading

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Supplemental Comments On The President’s Ordered Kiss

I’m in NYC for a law firm seminar, and expect to get back to Ethics Alarms late if at all, so I want to make a couple of clarifications lest the comments on yesterday’s Ethics Quiz go astray.

I am not blaming the President for what is a standard, culturally embedded demonstration of male dominance, presumed female submissiveness and abuse of power. He is part of the culture that tolerates this, and while it would be immensely beneficial if he used his influence as a role model to move us away from this conduct that is a major, if under-recognized, way that the glass ceiling is kept intact, I recognize that this is a lot to ask, and that he has other pressing matters to deal with.

Make no mistake, however, that the male power-hug, power-kiss is a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy. I know that astute feminists (and others, like me) know this, and the fact that they don’t have the integrity or the courage to condemn the conduct when it surface’s in  a political ally is disappointing if not surprising.

To those who (absurdly) claim that the woman’s response in the video was consensual, I only ask them to speculate what her alternative to submitting to the POTUS ordered smooch was. She knew the incident was on television. He is the leader of the free world, she is, by comparison and to the public, at least, nobody. Should she have embarrassed him by refusing? Should she reject the President of the United States when he his being “nice,” thus instantly making herself the center of a controversy? Of course not. This is why the position the President placed her in was unfair.

It is, however, incredibly, disturbingly common. From Richard Dawson’s mandatory kisses from female contestants on the original “Family Feud,” to the old lions of the plaintiffs bar trying to cop a feel with my young female staffers at an association convention, men in power, and men generally, feel they have a right to this culturally accepted invasion of a woman’s physical person, and women feel obligated to permit it. Every time they do, they do their little bit to keeping men in a step ahead of them.

That’s the real issue here, not sexual assault.

 

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