Category Archives: Government & Politics

Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month: The Charlotte City Council

ziannaoliphant

Awww!

 9-year-old Zianna Oliphant spoke at a Charlotte City Council meeting about race, police violence, and reform. Tears streamed down her cheeks, and, of course, the video “went viral.” She has kept talking, expert on urban governance and law enforcement that she is, since she earned her fifteen minutes of fame. “I was just feeling like what the police are doing to us, just because of our skin, is not right,” the fourth-grader told NBC.

Of course, she knows absolutely nothing about the issues involved. She has no idea whether what happened to Keith Lamont Scott was ” done to us, just because of our skin” or done to him, because he threatened a police officer. (It was done to him, by a black cop, who, if he was doing it because of the color of Zianna’s skin needs to be put on a suicide watch.)

All Zianna knows is what she has been taught, and based on what she said, she has been indoctrinated by her family and community into be a police-fearing, anti-white racist. Now that this is happening to the black children of Charlotte and elsewhere is important information that should be part of the discussion, but that’s not how her statements are being used. She is being exploited by adults who know that their opinions become more persuasive coming out of the moths of babes, and she is being accorded undeserved  moral authority because she is young and innocent. Zianna also has a fourth grade education and maybe six years of life experience. Wow.

What can such an individual contribute to a public policy debate so complex that elected officials, scholars and public policy experts don’t know how to proceed? Nothing. N-O-T-H-I-N-G. A nine year-old girl, even the most brilliant nine-year-old girl who has ever lived, is useless. A City Council that would waste deliberation and consideration of  critical issues on the testimony of children, however moving,  should just hand in their resignations en masse. They are incompetent and a disgrace.

In the alternative, Charlotte should give voting privileges to anyone over the age of five. Maybe they will. Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

Without Courage, Integrity And Professionalism In The Legal Profession, The Rule Of Law Hasn’t A Prayer: The House of Representatives v. Burwell Saga

" Nice law firm you got here. Too bad if something were to happen to it..."

” Nice law firm you got here. Too bad if something were to happen to it…”

As I explained  here and here in 2015, the process of judicially determining whether the Defense of Marriage Act was constitutional or not was unethically sabotaged by  threats to and improper lobbying of the law firm that had agreed to defend it. The Justice Department and the President had refused to do their sworn duty to uphold the laws of the United States, and same-sex marriage activists pressured the biggest client of the firm that had accepted the case to pass the pressure along. It worked. The firm dropped the case, precipitating a resignation by the partner handling it and this ringing assertion of traditional legal ethics:

“…[D]efending unpopular positions is what lawyers do. The adversary system of justice depends on it, especially in cases where the passions run high. Efforts to delegitimize any representation for one side of a legal controversy are a profound threat to the rule of law.”

This was, we are learning, not an anomaly. On the Volokh Conspiracy, law professor Josh Blackmon relates how the same strategy of applying of unethical political pressure, and the unprofessional capitulation of major law firms to it, nearly made a legitimate challenge to illegal payments to insurers under Obamacare impossible. He explains in part: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

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I’ve been aware as I watch the election unfold that I am rooting for Donald Trump. I don’t intellectually embrace him or much of what he is saying, but I know — it’s so clear — that I’m rooting for him. That’s an observable phenomenon, and it’s undeniable.

—-Law prof. Ann Althouse, in a post that compares Hillaty vs Trump to Nurse Ratched vs. McMurphy, or the “Goody 2 Shoes” sister, “getting away with stuff on the sly” vs. the brother who “thinks it’s all bullshit” and who is “not going to be your good little boy.”

And the truth shall make us free.

This admission is very brave of Althouse, a professor in a liberal stronghold, Madison, Wisconsin, and a member of an increasingly politically monolithic profession in which favoring a Republican, much less a villainous fool  like Donald Trump, is the equivalent of dire heresy. Her confession is perceptive and illuminating. It explains why this election is so perplexing and conflicting despite Trump’s crippling character deficits. It explains why Hillary “isn’t 50 points ahead.” It is also perhaps the single aspect of the widespread Trump support that taps into something undeniably positive about the United States of America…unlike, for example, the fact that so many voters are ignorant.

I too find myself rooting for Trump while reviling him. It disturbs me, but the response is emotional. People like Hillary Clinton in our lives deserve to face rebellion, and need to be both opposed and exposed. I have spent much of my own life fighting a lot of Hillary Clintons (of both genders).* Seeing their smug, sneaky, cynical and self-satisfied faces covered with pie is one of the great thrills of existence, especially when you have had a hand in steering the course of the pie. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Literature, Popular Culture

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: The Despicable Howard Dean

howarddean-tweet

What can you say about this kind of slimy, unethical innuendo from a former Democratic Party chair? How hateful and uncivil the brand of politics and partisan nastiness that it symbolizes and advances? That it represents gutter political smearing at its worst and most unforgivable? That a party with any dignity and sense of decency would demand an apology and a retraction or cut ties with such a shameless creep? That someone who would do this has never heard of the Golden Rule, much less follows it?

The only remaining question is whether this ugly tweet allows Dean to surpass  or merely  Harry Reid as the most loathsome individual on the political scene, edging past the disgraced Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

I’m trying to think of a similarly ethically irredeemable Republican. Chris Christie hasn’t sunk to this level; Newt Gingrich is close, but he wouldn’t do this. Ironically, the only one I can think of is…Donald Trump.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Unethical Tweet

Observations On The First Trump-Clinton Debate

first-2016-debate

It was as predictable as it was tragic: on Drudge shortly after the debate, his debate poll showed that over 90% of Matt’s readers—almost as high a percentage as that of black Americans who believe Barack Obama has been a great President—believed that Donald Trump won. At CNN, the percentages weren’t as lopsided, but still reversed: about 70% believed Hillary won. Confirmation bias rules supreme in such settings, and bias makes us stupid. Fortunately, as my analysis of these two awful candidates should have proven by now, I have no biases in this race. I would like to see both candidates lose,and badly. Indeed, as both are the political equivalents of virulent cancers on the culture and potentially the office they seek, I would like to learn that both have mysteriously vanished without a trace, like Judge Crater, Ambrose Bierce, Rick Moranis, or Gilbert O’Sullivan

Observations on last night’s debate:

1. The conservative websites are whining about Lester Holt serving as the “third debater” last night. In a word, baloney. Holt did all right, not great,  in an impossible role, primarily by letting the combatants talk; in fact, a heavier moderator hand would have been preferable.  The birther question to Trump and the “Presidential look” questions were undoubtedly moderator shots at Trump, but shots like that are opportunities too. Trump didn’t handle either well. Character is the issue with Trump, not policy, and those were character questions that he should have been prepared for. Maybe he was; maybe those pathetic answers were Trumps’ idea of good ones. Yes, Holt pressed Trump on the ultimately irrelevant issue of whether he was or was not in favor of the Iraq invasion and when, but that was also an appropriate approach for a moderator, and it gave Trump a chance to clarify his position, if one can ever use “clarify” and “Trump” in the same sentence.

As an aside, I wonder if “Sean Hannity can back me up” is the lamest defense ever uttered in a Presidential debate. It may be.

2. Trump was Trump, that’s all, and perhaps a slightly less offensive and more substantive version than usual. Hillary was smug, with a frozen smile and an expression that said, “Boy, is this guy an idiot!” all debate long. That’s a big mistake, for virtually nobody likes smug. Trump’s expression toward Hillary was usually one of a wary and respectful foe. He was listening, she was sneering. Her repeated call for “fact-checking” was weak, and appeared to be appeals for assistance. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, Rights, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society

The New York Times Proves Why Journalists Can’t Be Trusted To “Fact-Check” Since They Don’t Know What A Lie Is

jaccuse2

Ugh.

I finally grabbed a barf bag and read the New York Times attack piece from the weekend titled “A Week of Whoppers.” Silly me: Donald Trump lies so often that I simply took it on faith that the Times would have no trouble finding real and substantive lies to expose from The Donald. Instead, what I found were a few genuine lies of no great significance lumpod with statements that were obviously not meant literally, off-the-cuff remarks that any objective listener would assume were just generalizations, self-evident hyperbole, or opinion. None rose to the level of outright attempts to deceive on the magnitude of “I never sent or received classified material,” or “wiped? Like with a cloth?”

Needless to say, but I’ll still say it, none came within a Washington mile of lies like “I did not have sex with that woman,”  which is one Hillary Clinton attempted to facilitate. It is depressing that any reporter, editor or reader would find the analysis that all 31 of these alleged “lies by Trump were “lies” fair, rational or convincing. Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman prove themselves to be partisan hacks with this weak piece of anti-Trump hype. The statements flagged here are so clearly the result of a concerted anti-Trump bias that editors must have assumed that few would actually read them, and just take the headline and sheer size of the feature as proof that the Times had legitimately proven massive dishonesty.

And it had: its own.

Here are all 31 alleged Trump “lies,” with the Ethics Alarms verdicts on each. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Discouraging Mylan Epipen Ethics Breakdown

epipen

My economics professor in college was the late John Kenneth Galbraith, a best-selling author, New Frontier favorite and celebrity, to the extent that an economist can be a celebrity. One of the foundations of his fame was his theory that big corporations were becoming the successors to nations. They were, he said, on the way to becoming more powerful than nations, and the working people of the world would begin being more loyal to them than nations or religions.There were a lot of economic and management consequences of this, but it was the ethical implications that most interested me.

Corporate cultures would increasingly steer individual beliefs and behaviors, and strong forces would push these industrial giants to be less driven by profits and more ethically reponsible, since employees would want to be a “citizens” of a corporate state in which they could take pride. Similarly, stockholders wanted to be able to be proud of their holdings, as well as make money with them. His book explaining this theory, “The New Industrial State,” was a sensation. Part of the motive behind the book, my professor being a big government advocate too, was to lay the foundation of the case that these new “states” had to be carefully guided and regulated lest one go rogue and abuse its power to disastrous effect. Still, the position of the book was optimistic: the new giant corporations were scary, but there were forces at work that would make them want to be good and do good while making all that money.

Well, so much for that college course. The unfolding ethics mess that is the Epipen fiasco shows us an ugly company with an unethical culture run by an unethical CEO and invested in by people who don’t give a damn that the company is despicable, as long as they make money. The regulatory system that could have been built on Galbraith’s fantasy has failed utterly.

To make a long, complicated and depressing story shorter, here is a summary with some links at the end. Continue reading

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