Anyone who understands President Obama’s behavior the last few months is invited to step forward, and anyone who has a benign explanation for it need to step in front of him. It is so bizarre and unprecedented that amateurs and professionals alike are offering psychological diagnoses. Has any American leader ever responded to failure, adversity and crisis with this kind of a disgraceful combination of defiance, bitterness, and detachment? I can’t think of any.
It is said that during the darkest days of Watergate, President Nixon sank into depression. Franklin Pierce coped with the stress of watching the Union unravel over slavery by staying smashed as much as possible. Woodrow Wilson’s battles with Congress probably helped provoke the stroke that incapacitated him. None of these are really comparable to the current President sinking to gratuitous campaign mode, calling Republicans derogatory names and impugning their motives and humanity, while openly alternating between obsessive fundraising and vacationing the rest of the time as the world is desperate for American leadership.
Say what you will about Bill Clinton, and I often do, but the man never capitulated, gave up, or stopped battling no matter how much (legitimate) fire he was under during the Monica scandal and his impeachment. At very least, one would think Barack Obama would see the need, as past Presidents have, to model virtues like diligence, responsibility, fortitude, courage, and perseverance for the nation, especially the young.
Nope. Continue reading
Chris Cilizza’s latest of several attempts to relieve President Obama of responsibility for his spectacularly incompetent and disastrous presidency is too full of falsities, fallacies, rationalizations and illogical assertions to let pass, as I would dearly love to. Duty calls, however, so here we go. I’m not going to comment on the quoted “terrific” Ron Brownstein piece, which is not essential. Cilizza is in bold, my comments are not….
“Being president is the most powerful job in the world. At which you will almost certainly fail.”
- First, I must ask, fail at what? Fail at solving problems? Fail at being popular? Fail by leaving the country in worse shape than when the President took office? Fail at leadership, at management, at foreign policy, at vision? Fail at handling crises? Fail by not dealing with long-term problems? By not bothering to define the central concept of his thesis, Cilizza just betrays his ignorance and laziness. If he won’t define his terms, he can’t be challenged.
- Let me give Mr. Cilizza, who is really, absurdly arguing that succeeding as President is harder now than it has ever been, a brief history lesson focusing on how difficult this job has proved to be for others. George Washington, numero uno, had by far the most difficult job, being President of an unstable, new, confused nation with no precedents for his office, all while being second guessed by some of the most brilliant minds the nation ever produced, who were fighting among themselves to steer the country’s culture and government in radically different directions. He did a superb job, because Washington was a natural leader, perfectly suited for his grand moment in history. The next three Presidents were not, and had a terrible time of it (Jefferson’s reputation was saved by having the Louisiana Territory fall into his lap, but he was no leader, and call me a stickler, but any time a foreign power burns down the White House, I’m calling that President–James Madison—a flop), but James Monroe got the job down, beginning with having Cabinet members–like Daniel Webster–who were smarter than he was and properly delegating and managing them. The job defeated John Quincy Adams, but the next natural leader, gutsy, crazy Andrew Jackson, managed to keep the nation from dissolving over regional differences, and solved potentially disastrous financial problems, in part because he was able to project strong leadership. Being a killer will do that….
“Expect this to play out in thumbsucker columns on whether America is ‘ungovernable.'”
-—Professor Glenn Reynolds, the conservative “Instapundit,” in 2009 commenting on a blog post by Ed Morrissey about growing evidence of President Obama’s deficits in leadership skills and management competence.
I mean, who can do this? It’s impos—oh. Right.
Sure enough, here comes a the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, with an offensive, unethical and false column in the Washington Post titled “It’s virtually impossible to be a successful modern president.”
This is a continuation of the six year strategy of the White House and Democrats to argue the ethical value of accountability out of existence. After all, if a job is impossible, you can’t be blamed for failing at it.
If there is any analyst ill-prepared to make such an analysis, it is a journalist, who in most cases, and definitely in the case of Cilliza, have never led or managed anything. Leadership and management challenges always look overwhelming when an amateur is overwhelmed by them.
I have to rush off to a seminar, so I will let you all dissect Cillizza’s pitiable excuses for the President, and return to the topic when I get back.
It’s time to launch a new dubious honor here at Ethics Alarms: The Donald Sterling Award Award.
The DSAA gets its name from the embarrassing “Man of the Year” award that the San Diego NAACP was preparing to bestow on Donald Sterling shortly before his racially offensive comments to his mistress were recorded and leaked to the news media. Sterling had already engaged in conduct that seemed to make NAACP recognition both unlikely and ill-advised, so his award, which the organization retracted, is the perfect model to emulate for future organizations determined to undermine their values and objectives by choosing inappropriate honorees.
And the first nomination for the The Donald Sterling Award Award is The American Bar Association, for its decision to give its 2014 Robert J. Kutak Award to New England Law/ Boston dean John F. O’Brien. The award is given annually “to an individual who has contributed significantly toward increased cooperation among legal education, the practicing bar, and the judiciary.”
Well, maybe O’Brien technically deserves that award, but then Sterling had given a lot of money to local projects benefiting African-American kids in San Diego, too. The problem is that O’Brien could serve as the poster boy for the ugly underbelly of legal education and its disconnect to the current economics of the legal profession. In 2013, he gave his school unwanted publicity when it was revealed that he earned a salary of $867,000, among the very highest law dean salaries in the country, while low-ranked New England Law/ Boston charged $40,904 for yearly tuition. Before considering lowering his own compensation, he started cutting faculty positions, until he finally relented and took a pay cut to a paltry $650,000 a year. I know, it’s less than three Hillary Clinton speeches. But the going rate for deans at the top law schools has been estimated to be “only” $450,000, and O’Brien runs a school that is the opposite of “top.” Continue reading
“We are all connected. We can’t just build a wall or a fence and say no more. This is America. Our doors are open. #AskDems”
-–-Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), in a tweet that is part of a concerted Democratic effort to announce to the world that U.S. immigration laws will not be enforced.
“The doors are open.”
“The doors are open”???
How can any sensible, honest, objective American read this, from a leader of the Democratic Party, and not be appalled? This is an assertion of open borders, in defiance of U.S. sovereignty. This is an abdication of the rule of law. Go to twitter and search for #AskDems: Lewis’s tweet is the worst, but many of the Democratic leadership are making similar, and similarly irresponsible statements that undermine the effort to stop illegals, including the current torrent of illegal children, from streaming across the border. Continue reading
Eight ethics observations on the army of child illegals clogging the Mexican border:
1. I predicted this would happen four years ago, and anyone who was paying attention should have been able to as well. Both the actions of President Obama, in essentially enacting the unethical “Dream Act” by fiat, and the rhetoric surrounding the “Dream Act” itself, constituted a national invitation to parents to send their children to the border. A nation cannot provide incentives to break the law, celebrate those who break it, and then credibly tell us that they are dismayed when a flood of law-breakers appear.
2. Even more influential in attracting desperate children to the border has been the loud, reckless and irresponsible messages coming from all quarters that the U.S. doesn’t regard law-breaking as anything but admirable and forgivable when children are involved. California, to the applause of lawyers and most of my colleagues in the legal ethics establishment, has allowed an illegal immigrant, brought here as a child, to practice law. Jeb Bush, proving himself to be muddle-headed, a rank sentimentalist, or a coward, pronounced illegal immigration with children as “an act of love.” Come on—the United States of America isn’t going to make love illegal, is it? Didn’t we just go through this with gay marriage? Democrats and illegal immigration advocates use the term “comprehensive immigration reform” as a code for “open borders,” and the code has been cracked in South America. Continue reading
Filed under Around the World, Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, U.S. Society
One of the Washington Post’s rare conservative columnists has a solution for GOP candidates and office holders whose views on some subjects are likely to make them targets of furious criticism: refuse to express them. She writes in her latest column:
“Not everything is a political issue, nor one on which politicians have any particular insight. Candidates are not asked their views on divorce, for example. Each state has laws on the topic, and one’s religious views aren’t a topic for public debate. It is not (and shouldn’t be) asked of nor answered by politicians…Creationism? Unless you are running for school board and intend to be guided by your religious convictions, it does not matter. Born again? None of my business.
“…[Q]uestions about creationism, gay marriage, the nature of homosexuality and other value-specific questions serve no purpose other than to provide targets for faux outrage. These questions are designed to divide the population into believers and nonbelievers, between those who share the same cultural touchstones and those who differ.
“If a topic has no relevance to public policy or character or fitness to serve, why ask the question and why answer it? We aren’t electing pastors, family counselors or philosophers; we’re electing politicians whose job description and qualifications don’t include a great many topics. If we are heading for a more tolerant society, we have to agree to disagree on some issues and to respect some realm of private opinion and faith. For Republicans running in 2016, I would suggest a simple response to the sort of question intended to provoke divisiveness over irrelevant topics: “I can’t think of a single instance in which [creationism/the origin of homosexuality] would be relevant. I’m not here to sow division or take sides in faith-based debates. Let’s talk about something germane to the presidency.”
Incredibly wrong. Continue reading
Heading to downtown Washington D.C. for an early morning ethics presentation for the Federal Bar (at the GAO building), I encountered an ethical dilemma that got the day off to a challenging start.
Traffic in D.C. is ridiculous, so I arranged to have an Alexandria cab pick me up at 8:15 AM for a 9:30 AM presentation, assuming that I would arrive close to 9:00. I would have too, except that my young, African-accented cab driver had no idea where he, or I was going. I should have foreseen the problem when the cab was ten minutes late (this company knows my address and typically arrives early), but it came into sharp focus when the driver asked “So you know how to get there, right?” (No, I don’t know how to get anywhere, which is why you are the cab driver, and I’m not) and made it startlingly clear that he didn’t know how to read his GPS. As a result, he made multiple wrong turns, even though the screen in front of him was showing him the way, and I ultimately had to interpret the GPS directions for him. I barely arrived on time, and felt like I had done the driving.
My initial instinct was to call the company and complain. I even took down the cab number.
And my thinking went like this: Continue reading
Research is frequently polluted by confirmation bias; personally, I believe this is the case more often than not. A particularly vivid example is the work on “vocal fry,” described as “slowly fluttering the vocal cords, resulting in a popping or creaking sound at the bottom of the vocal register.” Supposedly a 2011 study determined that two-thirds of college women were doing it, and now a paper by Rindy C. Anderson, Casey A. Klofstad , William J. Mayew, and Mohan Venkatachalam announces the results of further research showing how harmful it is. I admit: I’ve now read a lot of stuff about vocal fry, which I had never heard of until recently, and I’m still unclear on exactly what the hell it is, other than “talking in an annoying fashion.” The Atlantic tells us that this is vocal fry, which means it consists of talking like Zooey Deschanel does here:
Got it? OK, now you can explain it to me.
Anyway, what the exact phenomenon is doesn’t matter to the ethics issue; all you have to know is that a respected, serious, scholarly study has spawned lots of media attention by claiming that its data shows that women and men who exhibit vocal fry in their speech patterns will tend to be hired less often than job interviewees who don’t, because employers view them as untrustworthy, among other things. (The study’s catchy title is “Vocal Fry May Undermine the Success of Young Women in the Labor Market,” because, as we know, women are all that matter these days, having had war declared on them and all.) Continue reading