Tag Archives: abuse of power

Obamacare Game Plan: The Lies Worked, Now On To Deceit

gameplan

As President Obama was in the midst of his unseemly, unwise and typically unleaderlike victory lap over the Obamacare sign-up figures, Tonight Show comic Jimmy Fallon had the cheek to point out that it’s amazing how many people will sign up for something when the law says they have to. (In a slightly different version of the same point, Daily Standard editor Bill Kristol said on ABC today that this is like  saying, “…you’ve got to give the Soviet Union a lot of credit. 200 million people bought bread in their grocery stores. If it’s the only place you can buy health insurance, they’re going to get people to buy health insurance there.”)

Yes, that would be an example of the near constant spin and deception that the President and Democrats have been relentlessly throwing at the American public regarding the “success” of the Affordable Care Act.

The way I would put it, as indeed I did when I was shouting at the TV screen during the President’s statement in the wake of the final totals on March 31, is that how many people sign up for the Affordable Care Act doesn’t make the law successful. Whether the law accomplishes its goals at an acceptable cost will determine if the law is successful. Whether the government proves to be capable—as all evidence to date suggests it isn’t—of administering such a complex and wide-reaching law will determine if it’s successful. Most of all, the fact that the law almost certainly can’t be repealed now doesn’t make the Affordable Care Act a success, and any politician who thinks that way should be despised and distrusted.

No law should ever be beyond the possibility of rejection or repeal, if it becomes obvious that it was poorly conceived or that another approach would be better. I understand that’s not the way our busted system currently “works,” as horrible, expensive, corrupt, unworkable and wrongful laws routinely become imbedded in bureaucratic cement, and that the last large scale law to be repealed was probably Prohibition. This forward-ratcheting effect is one of the factors that makes our growing debt so frightening, as our leaders lack both the will and the means to stop anything, no matter how ill-considered, once it has a budget and a lobby. But for any national leader, especially the President, to celebrate this dangerous and dysfunctional feature of American lawmaking is profoundly disturbing, and demonstrates a preference for political warfare over governing. (This is perhaps, understandable in Obama’s case, as he is adept at the former and hopelessly inept at the latter.)

The goal, may I remind all participants, is to come up with policies that are good for the nation, not to “win” by inflicting laws that the other side can never remove. “HA! We won! Now you’ll never be able to repeal the lousy law we rammed down the country’s throat!” (of course, I’m paraphrasing) is unseemly, and shows toxic and unethical priorities .

Whether the verdict on the ACA law is ultimately positive or not—and despite what the pols say, the jury is obviously still out—it should never be forgotten or forgiven that its path has been paved with lies. Yet another one came to light this week. Leading up to March 31, press releases, tweets and blog posts from the Administration emphasized that the last day in March was the final opportunity to get health insurance in 2014, as in this White House blog post on the so-called “deadline”:

Continue reading

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Privacy, Facebook, And School Abuse of Power

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

I bet the school officials never even said they were sorry, did they, Riley?

It can a bit late to the party, in my view, but the ACLU just delivered a crucial blow to Big Brotherism in the schools. Addressing an issue that Ethics Alarms flagged in 2011, Minnewaska Area Schools (in Minnesota) agreed to pay $70,000 in damages to

for violating her rights. It also agreed, as part of the federal court settlement, to rewrite its policies to limit how far a school can intrude on the privacy of students by examining e-mails and social media accounts created off school grounds.

In 2012, the ACLU Minnesota Chapter filed a lawsuit against the Minnewaska School District after it suspended Stratton for a Facebook post, written and published outside of school, in her home, in which she expressed hatred for a school hall monitor who she said was “mean.”  After the suspension, Stratton used Facebook to inquire which of her “friends” had blown a whistle on her. School officials brought the young teen into a room with a local sheriff and forced her to surrender her Facebook password. Officials used it to searched her page on the spot; her parents were not consulted.

“A lot of schools, like the folks at Minnewaska, think that just because it’s easier to know what kids are saying off campus through social media somehow means the rules have changed, and you can punish them for what they say off campus,” Minnesota ACLU attorney Wallace Hilke said. “They punished her for doing exactly what kids have done for 100 years — complaining to her friends about teachers and administrators. She wasn’t spreading lies or inciting them to engage in bad behavior, she was just expressing her personal feelings.”

Not that it was any of the school’s business if she was spreading lies or inciting others to bad behavior. This phenomenon, where schools decide that they have a right to punish students for non-school activity, words and thoughts  was discussed on Ethics Alarms, and condemned as unethical, here, here, here, and here, and more recently here.

Minnewaska Superintendent Greg Schmidt protested (the school settled without admitting any wrongdoing) that the school only wants to make sure kids understand that actions outside of school can be “detrimental.” “The school’s intent wasn’t to be mean or bully this student, but to really remedy someone getting off track a little,” Schmidt said. Not your job, you officious, censorious, child abuser. This is the sole realm of parental authority. I have seen enough wretched judgement from your breed, Mr. Schmidt—like (I’m picking examples randomly) here, here, here, here and here—to convince me and anyone with a cerebral cortex that school administrators lack the training, wisdom and judgment to know what “going of track a little” is for a 13-year old.

Stay out of my kids’ life and my family’s life. You have enough trouble running schools properly…work on that.

________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, ACLU, Minnesota Star Tribune

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Second KABOOM! of the Day: The Worst Example of “No-Tolerance” Ever

Not again!!!!

Not again!!!!

Sometimes it seems as if there is a team of fiction writers concocting absurd school no-tolerance scenarios just to see what idiocy the news media will believe. Unfortunately, the topic defies parody, and now, just as I cleaned my office up after the cranial detonation earlier today, there is this:

At Bayside Middle School, in Virginia Beach,* Virginia, sixth grader Adrionna Harris saw a classmate cutting his arm with a razor blade. She took the blade from the student, threw it away and persuaded him that what he was doing dangerous and wrong. Then she told the school’s administration about the incident. Because saving the boy from serious harm required her handling a dangerous weapon on school grounds, Adrionna received  a 10 day suspension with recommendation for expulsion.

KABOOM!

In an example of the news media’s  remarkable facility for misunderstanding just about anything, a local TV station reporting on this story asked, “Was the school’s zero tolerance policy taken too far?” Yes, for all you idiots and teachers out there, was this the right thing to do?  What a stupid, stupid, question. Of course it wasn’t. Of course the school’s zero tolerance policy was taken too far. Any no-tolerance policy is by definition “taken too far” because it eliminates common sense and discretion (assuming that school personnel are capable of either) and leads to fiascos like this. That is not the question raised by the episode. Note to our sad and incompetent journalists: if you can’t do better than that, just report the news and shut up. You aren’t helping.

Among the legitimate and urgent questions that are raised by what happened to Adrionna Harris are these: Continue reading

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Filed under Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Kaboom!, Professions

“Can The Democrats Find The Right Message On Obamacare?” You Mean Other Than, “We Lied To You And Gave You A Law That Doesn’t Work Right But You Should Still Trust Us To Fix It”?

One more time....

One more time….

“Can Democrats find the right message on Obamacare?” asks the Washington Post’s “Wonkbook,” as it reviews various strategic options for threatened Democrats after the party’s “fix Obamacare” candidate lost a winnable Congressional race in Florida. The question, objectively interpreted, really means “Can Democrats fool voters into trusting them one more time?” That’s a good question, and the answer is far from certain. The use of the word “right,” however, is cynical.  The Post means “effective.” The right message, as in the ethical and honest one, would have to be based on these undeniable and unpleasant facts: Continue reading

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Now THIS Is An Unethical Public Employee

That's Campatelli on the right,

That’s Campatelli on the right,

This is the beginning of the Boston Globe’s front page story about an investigator’s report on the conduct of Patricia Campatelli, the Suffolk County (in Boston, Mass.) Register of Probate, an elected position:

“Patricia Campatelli often worked only 15 hours a week at her $122,500-a-year job as Suffolk County register of probate, and she spent much of that time taking “numerous smoking breaks, scratching lottery tickets, looking at East Boston real estate on the Internet, and filling out puzzles,” according to employees quoted in a confidential report obtained by the Globe.

Even before the embattled Campatelli was accused of punching an employee in the face…”

The rest of the story didn’t make coffee come out my nose like the last part, but it was pretty jaw-dropping nonetheless. Campatelli, who is clearly a piece of work, is currently on administrative leave and denies everything in the report, despite the statements of virtually everyone who works with her that were provided to the court-appointed investigator Ronald P. Corbett, Jr. Corbett’s report has been forwarded to a committee of the Supreme Judicial Court for possible disciplinary action. Continue reading

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Ethics Quote of the Week: The Detroit News

“While it may be politically expedient, rewriting a law passed by Congress simply to avoid ballot box consequences is an outrageous abuse of executive power…No law should be reshaped for the sole purpose of benefiting a single political party.”

—-The Detroit News, condemning the cynical and nakedly political decision by the Obama administration to postpone the consequences of the Affordable Care Act until after the 2014 mid-terms, to protect vulnerable Democrats from voter anger.
train-wreckSo many of Ethics Alarms’ reflexive Obama administration apologists have fled lately that I wonder if anyone will have the fortitude to take to the parapets and defend the latest turn of the Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck. Highlights from the clear-eyed Detroit News editorial: Continue reading

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Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month: Chicago City Council

Rugby, my pure Jack Russell Terrier (though "pure" is an oxymoron with Jacks)

Rugby, my pure Jack Russell Terrier (though “pure” is an oxymoron with Jacks)

Laws affect our lives too much to be concocted by dolts. If elected officials are going to restrict our freedom, they have an obligation to do so only with good cause, careful consideration, precision, and after making certain that unintended consequences will be minimal.

On the other hand, elected official could just say “What the hell, let’s see how this turns out,” and be like the Chicago City Council, which passed an ordinance banning the sale of pure breed dogs.

This is as nice an example of good intentions gone stupid as we are ever likely to see. The intent is to cut off the supply of dogs from s0-called puppy mills, which are rightly regarded as too often cruel and irresponsible. However, in pursuit of that elusive goal, the city council didn’t bother to craft a law that addressed the problem effectively, or that even made sense.

Continue reading

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Filed under Animals, Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, U.S. Society

Post-Sandy Hook No-Tolerance Encore: Another Finger-Gun Massacre

"Level One or Level Two gun? Wait...I'm sorry! It's just a finger!"

“Level One or Level Two gun? Wait…I’m sorry! It’s just a finger!”

Should Ethics Alarms post on substantially the same ethics stories every time they occur? The news that an Ohio fifth grader has been suspended from school for three days for the offense of making an imaginary gun out of his fingers is just such a repeat. I wrote about a similar no-tolerance episode in Montgomery County a year ago, here and here. What is left to say, and why say it again?

I think you have to say it again, in this case at least, because it didn’t sink in the first time. In Montgomery County, Maryland, the school system was forced to revoke the suspension and even apologized to the boy as a result of the ridicule that showered down on the hapless administrators who inflicted the absurd punishment. Officials at Devonshire Alternative Elementary School, where ten-year-old Nathan Entingh wielded his deadly digits “execution-style,” couldn’t have missed the Maryland fiasco, yet they failed to absorb its lesson, which seems extremely obvious to the reasonable, the fair and the responsible: “This is stupid, cruel and abusive treatment. Don’t do it.”

Why didn’t they heed the lesson? I think one reason may be that such hysterical policies are now less about hysteria than they are about thoughtful anti-gun indoctrination. Continue reading

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“Killer Karaoke” And Cultural Corruption

In “Ricky’s Hawaii Vacation.” a famous episode of “I Love Lucy,” the Riotous Redhead was so desperate to win tickets for her neighbors (Fred and Ethel, or course) to accompany her and husband Ricky to Hawaii that she agreed to appear on a sadistic radio quiz show, in which the host, Freddie Freeman—played by the immortal Frank Nelson of Jack Benny skit fame (“Yyyyeeeeeeessssssss???”)—tortured his contestants with various indignities before awarding prizes. This was funny at the time, because it was a wild exaggeration of current TV quiz show programming. It was also funny, as with all slapstick, because the mayhem being inflicted was, the audience knew, part of a comedy skit and not real. A real Freddie using a contestant’s desperation for a prize as an excuse to degrade and humiliate her would have been unacceptably cruel…in the 1950′s.

Now, however, we have True TV’s new reality/game show, “Killer Karaoke.” It is a reality/game/ comedy show of shocking sadistic glee, the result of more than a half century of incremental slippage in standards of decency and public tolerance for cruelty. Take that episode of “I Love Lucy” and take it through a journey that includes stops at “Beat the Clock,” “Truth or Consequences,” “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Scare Tactics,” “Wipe Out,” “Fear Factor,” “Survivor,” the worst of the “let’s watch a human train wreck as desperate ex-celebrities beg for exposure and pay-checks” reality shows, and nightmare futuristic sci-fi movies like “The Hunger Games” and “The Running Man,” and “Killer Karaoke” is what you get.  The show has been hailed by TV critics as “brilliant.” I admit: it is difficult to watch it without laughing. So why are those ethics alarms going off in my head? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

A Good Reason To Question Chris Christie’s Ethics

Thank you for that completely voluntary and generous contribution to the new ethics center at  my alma mater! You can leave your cell now."

Thank you for that completely voluntary and generous contribution to the new ethics center at my alma mater! You can leave your cell now.”

In a long report published in the Washington Post a week ago, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s conduct as a federal prosecutor was examined, under the headline, “Chris Christie’s long record of pushing boundaries, sparking controversy.” This is euphemistic, to say the least. What the report describes is clear-cut, undeniably unethical practices by Christie. They were arguably legal and technically permitted at the time (though no longer), but never mind: they were unethical, and would quickly set off the ethics alarms of any ethical lawyer or politician. For Christie, they did not.

I’ll focus only on the main practice in question. The Post’s Carol Morello and Carol D. Leonnig write,

“As the top federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Chris Christie struck an unusual deal with Bristol- Myers Squibb. In exchange for not charging the drugmaking giant with securities fraud, Christie’s office would require it to fund a professorship at Seton Hall University’s law school — Christie’s alma mater.The $5 million gift, one component of a larger agreement between the company and prosecutors, was hailed by the school, in South Orange, N.J., as a cornerstone of its new center on business ethics.”

Now there’s irony for you: a center on business ethics funded with an unethical gift from security fraudsters. For the passage above just as easily, and more accurately, might have read: Continue reading

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