Well, it was nice while it lasted. Thanks to prurient interest in a minor “Naked Teacher Principal” post, traffic on Ethics Alarms this week resembled those heady days of 2016, before ultra-Trump polarization, liberal commenter cowardice and Facebook’s ban took over. Incidentally, despite many thousand of “clicks,” the post in question didn’t get a single comment from the first-time visitors, meaning that said clicks were meaningless and useless.
Miriam Amanda Wallace (“Ma”) Ferguson (1875-1961), was the first woman governor of Texas. She served as the first lady of Texas during the gubernatorial terms of her husband James Edward Ferguson, who was impeached during his second administration for extensive corruption. When James failed to get his name on the ballot in 1924, Miriam entered the race for the Texas governorship, promising that if elected she would essentially be guided by her husband and that Texas thus would gain “two governors for the price of one.” She defeated the Republican nominee, George C. Butte, and was inaugurated fifteen days after Wyoming’s Nellie Ross, Miriam Ferguson became the second woman governor in United States history. Thus “Ma” helped set the precedent for future examples of wives being elected (irresponsibly) to offices they were not qualified for as substitutes for their husbands. “Ma” wasn’t the feminist pioneer she has sometimes been represented as. She was the opposite–you know, like Hillary Clinton.
Ma Ferguson (the “Ma” comes from her initials) pardoned an average of 100 convicts a month, and there was considerable evidence that she and her puppeteer husband were taking bribes of land and cash payments. The Fergusons also appear to have leveraged highway commission road contracts into lucrative kickbacks. Though an attempt to impeach Ma failed, these controversies allowed Attorney General Daniel James Moody to defeat her for renomination in 1926 and win the governorship. She (that is, puppetmaster Pa) was back in office in 1932, as she won the governorship again on the wave of discontent over the Great Depression.
The portrayal of “Ma” as a strong, independent executive in “The Highwaymen” would have to be judged misleading.
2. Speaking of women, sort of...An intersex hero and role model may have emerged through the dim fog of history. Scientific researchers at Georgia Southern University claim that after years of study, their examination of skeletal remains of Revolutionary War hero, General Casimir Pulaski, ‘the Father of the American Cavalry’ has revealed that he was biologically female.
Imagine if these had been George Washington’s remains…
3. Desperately seeking Plan O: As we knew they would, House Democrats have demanded the last six years of President Donald Trump‘s tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service in a letter from the House Ways and Means Committee to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, seeking both personal and business tax information from 2013-2018, including individual and corporate tax returns. Democrats have been apoplectic that candidate Trump broke decades of tradition by refusing to reveal his taxes during the campaign, and have convinced themselves and “the resistance” that the returns will show criminal activity.
The Committee says it must see Trump’s taxes because to ensure “the accountability of our government and elected officials. To maintain trust in our democracy, the American people must be assured that their government is operating properly, as laws intend.” Ha. Translation: Impeachment plots A-N seem to have flopped, so we need a “Plan O.” The Committee also disingenuously claims that the it needs the records to help establish tax policies, unethically trying to use the authority under the tax code granted only to tax-writing committees in Congress that gives the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee the power to request tax information on any filer.
This is so obviously a fishing expedition (or witch hunt, if you prefer) and it will be challenged in the courts. I would support a law requiring Presidential candidates to release their taxes, but there currently is no such law. The President can fight this and legitimately claim to be protecting the privacy of all citizens, and I think he’ll win.
4. Not that not being bitter makes one an Ethics Hero, but still: Is there anyone on earth with more reason to be angry and bitter than original Beatles drummer Pete Best, who was dumped by the group in favor of Ringo just before they were launched into fame, fortune, and immortality? Yet in a recent documentary, Best appears to be at peace, without rancor, and untainted by his epic bad luck. From The Spectator:
“Best, it turns out, remains a twinkly-eyed, cheery cove, more than reconciled to his place as a footnote in history, delighted to have spent his recent career — after a 20-year stint in the civil service — as a touring musician playing the kind of raw rock’n’roll the band did in Hamburg….as an exemplar of triumph over adversity, enduring happiness snatched from transient misery, Best does seem a pretty useful role model for all those of us who don’t even have a ‘Yellow Submarine’ in them, let alone an ‘Eleanor Rigby’ or a ‘A Day In the Life’.”
5. Will the truth about Medicare for All ever be made clear to the voting public? Fox had a town hall last night for a group of Democratic candidates, most of whom endorsed Bernie Sanders’ socialist vision of “Medicare For All.” Nobody, including the Fox News moderators, challenged the increasingly popular idea, which can be fairly summed up in the words of “Sidney Wang”:
In addition to being ruinously unaffordable, — co-sponsored Senator Bernie Sanders’s 2017 “Medicare for All” bill, co-sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren, would abolish private insurance and force all Americans into a single government-run plan covering nearly all medical services,including hospital and doctor visits, prescription medication, and dental and vision care. Even Great Britain’s socialized medicine doesn’t ban private insurance. And the results over the pond? From Forbes:
Nearly a quarter of a million British patients have been waiting more than six months to receive planned medical treatment from the National Health Service, according to a recent report from the Royal College of Surgeons. More than 36,000 have been in treatment queues for nine months or more….
Long waits for care are endemic to government-run, single-payer systems like the NHS. Yet some U.S. lawmakers want to import that model from across the pond. That would be a massive blunder.Consider how long it takes to get care at the emergency room in Britain. Government data show that hospitals in England only saw 84.2% of patients within four hours in February. That’s well below the country’s goal of treating 95% of patients within four hours — a target the NHS hasn’t hit since 2015.
Now, instead of cutting wait times, the NHS is looking to scrap the goal.
Wait times for cancer treatment — where timeliness can be a matter of life and death — are also far too lengthy. According to January NHS England data, almost 25% of cancer patients didn’t start treatment on time despite an urgent referral by their primary care doctor. That’s the worst performance since records began in 2009.
And keep in mind that “on time” for the NHS is already 62 days after referral.
Unsurprisingly, British cancer patients fare worse than those in the United States. Only 81% of breast cancer patients in the United Kingdom live at least five years after diagnosis, compared to 89% in the United States. Just 83% of patients in the United Kingdom live five years after a prostate cancer diagnosis, versus 97% here in America.
The NHS also routinely denies patients access to treatment. More than half of NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, which plan and commission health services within their local regions, are rationing cataract surgery. They call it a procedure of “limited clinical value.”
It’s hard to see how a surgery that can prevent blindness is of limited clinical value. Delaying surgery can cause patients’ vision to worsen — and thus put them at risk of falls or being unable to conduct basic daily activities….