I am drowning in important ethics topics and short of time, so I’m reluctantly employing the rarely-used (here) flotation device of briefly noting three stories that would normally warrant full posts. I’ll reserve the right to change my mind and fully explore one or more of them later.
1. Wait: who’s the journalist here?
Six days after Ethics Alarms noted the ridiculous fact that the IRS has hired—for about 5 million dollars of taxpayer money— the same group of incompetents who botched their 800 million dollar job of getting Healthcare.gov up and running, the Washington Post ran the story (on page 18). The new contract itself dates from August: I regard my nausea over it as late, but I regard the Post’s failure to report the story until now a) suspicious, b) incompetent and c) indefensible.
2. Netanyahu lobbies Congress
Everyone is freaking out over Congress doing an end around the White House and inviting the Israel Prime Minister to address it without President Obama’s assent and approval. There are good reasons for that: the President is empowered to carry on international diplomacy; the spectacle of Netanyahu denouncing Iran on Capitol Hill may undermine delicate talks with Iran; the wisdom of Israel insulting Obama by throwing in with the Republican Congress is dubious, and then there’s this: it’s probably unconstitutional. From a political point of view, however, the episode demonstrates what is wrong—arrogant, incompetent, irresponsible and also unconstitutional, at least in spirit—with Obama’s approach of demanding the Congress follow his commands or accept that he will act unilaterally, as in the dubious decision to allow millions of illegal immigrants to stay in the country unmolested as long as they aren’t criminals. Yes, two wrongs don’t make a right, and Boehner’s slap at Obama using Isreal is classic Tit for Tat when viewed in a vacuum. On the other hand, Congress’s options are limited when confronting abuse of Presidential power, and this is a vivid way of making a point that needs to be made: if the Executive Branch defies tradition and ethical government principles, it needs to recognize that Congress can do the same. Should it do the same? No comment. But unethical acts have consequences, and the Netanyahu invitation is a direct consequence of the fact that we have a President who doesn’t know how to be one.
3. Blow’s “explanation”
Charles M. Blow had an interview with Anderson Cooper in which he purported to justify omitting the fact that the Yale police officer who arrested his son was African American. I think it is a clear example of res ipsa loquitur, the res being that Blow is a liar, a race-baiter, and an arrogant hack whose presence on the New York Times op-ed page is a scar on that publication’s reputation and trustworthiness. Am I wrong? Do I have to devote a post to explaining why his responses to Anderson are as dishonest as his original column?