Category Archives: History

Why The World Doesn’t Work: The Case Of Jackie Kennedy’s Chef

hustebookThe world doesn’t work, and Ethics is always struggling to avoid losing ground. I collect stories that show why this is. Here is one from the obituary page, the saga of  the departed Annemarie Huste, who was Jacqueline Kennedy’s private chef.

In 1966, the former First Lady moved to New York from Washington, D.C., and in need of a private chef—rich person, you know— hired Huste, a young German immigrant whose previous employer, theater impresario Billy Rose (of “Jumbo” fame!), who had just died, rendering her skills superfluous. Huste did the job to Mrs. Kennedy’s satisfaction,  feeding the occasional hoards of family members who came to visit,  accompanying the Jackie, Caroline and John-John to the Kennedy compound Hyannis Port,  in the summers and playing with the children of JFK.

Then, in 1968, Weight Watchers Magazine approached her about cooperating in a feature called “Jackie Kennedy’s Gourmet Chef Presents Her Weight Watchers Recipes.” Huste dished about Jackie’s diets and dress sizes in the article, never asking for her famous employer’s permission or consent. Jackie Kennedy was horrified, and even tried to stop publication, something the Kennedy family was and is very good at. This time, it didn’t work.

A few weeks later,  Huste gave an interview to Maxine Cheshire, then the “beautiful people” gossip columnist for The Washington Post and syndicated nationally. In return for  inside-the-Kennedy-home details, Cheshire made Huste sound like the coming star of gourmet cookery, hinting that a television show, a cookbook, wealth and fame were just around the corner. What was really around the corner was unemployment: Jackie fired Annemarie Huste, who deserved it. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Character, History, Journalism & Media, U.S. Society

Note To The Over-Forty Crowd: The Obligation To Be Culturally Literate Has No Age Limit, And The Duty To Be Aware Is Forever

ignoranceIn the Washington Post’s weekly crank section “Free For All,” a reader chastised the paper for not quoting more extensively from Bob Dylan’s works in its piece about his Nobel Prize, writing:

“It may come as a shock to the young people who now write and edit the paper, but there are many of us who are not familiar with the lyrics of “popular” music.”

Granted, in respect to Dylan, the complaint makes no sense. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was written in 1963; I’d expect “young people” to be more unfamiliar with Dylan than seniors. How old IS this guy? Still, the letter raised a crucial ethics point related to life competence, an ethical obligation for all of us. Being willfully ignorant of current popular culture is as much of an ethical lapse, and as great a threat to societal cohesion, as young people not bothering to learn about “Moby-Dick,” minstrel shows, Will Rogers, Stephen Foster, Babe Ruth, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire or Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1987, University of Virginia English professor  E.D. Hirsch wrote “Cultural Literacy,” making the argument that nations require common cultural reference points for generations to communicate with each other. He argued—correctly— that teaching this cultural vocabulary was a primary duty of the schools, in part because cultural literacy is an inextricable element of individual autonomy and power. Since then, the problem of the fracturing of society and the breakdown in communications between segments of the population has worsened considerably, its deterioration propelled by the loss of common information sources and the rise of the internet. Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Education, History, Literature, Popular Culture, The Internet, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunce: The Smithsonian Institution


The new Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture is intended to celebrate the two aspects of African American influence on the nation mentioned in the title, and that includes honoring  influential and historically significant African American leaders. Among the figures ignored by the museum’s displays is Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, only the second black member of the Supreme Court. The museum does, however, celebrate the “heroism” of his last-minute accuser at Thomas’s confirmation hearings, law professor Anita Hill.

This is another and particularly sad reflection of the petty partisan bias and lack of integrity demonstrated by the Obama Administration at so many levels. It is stuffed with so many intractable ideologues, and often incompetent ideologues, that objectivity, respect and fairness are frequently too great an effort to muster. The museum honors Hill, who was recruited as a last ditch effort by Democrats to block President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of a black conservative judge to the Supreme Court and whose accusations of sexual harassment were never verified except by the confirmation bias of Democrats and Thomas’s enemies. It chose to snubThomas, which all involved had to know would be seen as an insult to the Justice, and a calculated one.

By all logic and reason, Hill should be, at best, a footnote to a Thomas display. Mean-spirited bias from the empowered Left under Obama has extended even to museum curating, which should be non-partisan. Continue reading


Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society

Trending On Ethics Alarms…


….this post, from July, now the all-time most viewed and shared Ethics Alarms post ever, and this post, from May.

Gee, I wonder why?

I only wish this post, from last September, was as well distributed, but I’m going to keep linking to it until it is, or until it’s moot.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, The Internet

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Hero Emeritus: Edna Gladney (1888-1961)”


I love when a well-considered comment is entered on an older post. It draws my attention back to topics I may have forgotten about, and as in the case of this Comment of the Day, it reminds me of people and things I really shouldn’t forget.

Rebecca, in her first visit to the comments wars, entered this reaction to the post about Edna Gladney (that’s her on the right above, with Greer Garson, her screen avatar, on the left), an amazing woman who should be better known than she is for her  pioneering work on behalf of orphans and unwed mothers. I suggest that you read the post about Edna first, and then read Rebecca’s Comment of the Day. Here it is:

I just recently saw the TCM movie and was instantly taken by her courage and perseverance, especially since I, too, consider myself a child and family advocate. However, once I read about the historical Gladney, I am saddened that Hollywood thought it necessary to change the storyline to “soften” the blow of Edna’s own illegitimacy. Just goes to show how much was (and still is) wrong with the media. Also goes to show how media perpetuates certain attitudes about our societal issues. For example, even though the movie was retrospect, and even though Gladney may have been successful in removing illegitimate designations on birth certificates, society itself was still hell bent on being judgmental….couldn’t even tell the story like it was for fear it wouldn’t be accepted.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Bioethics, Childhood and children, Comment of the Day, Ethics Heroes, Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History

Ten Ethics Obsevations On The New Bill Clinton Sexual Assault Accusation

The late Leslie Millwee...VERY late.

The late Leslie Millwee…VERY late.

From Politico:

Leslie Millwee, a former reporter for local Arkansas TV station KLMN-TV, has accused former president Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her three times in 1980, while Clinton was governor of Arkansas…Millwee told Breitbart she interviewed Clinton about 20 times publicly and also met with him in KLMN-TV’s newsroom. She said he groped her and rubbed his genitals on her while they were alone in KLMN-TV’s small editing room.

“He came in [to the editing room] behind me, started hunching me to the point that he had an orgasm,” she told Breitbart’s Aaron Klein. “He’s touching, trying to touch my breasts and I’m just sitting there very stiffly, just waiting for him to leave me alone. And I’m asking him the whole time, ‘Please do not do this. Do not touch me. Do not hunch me. I do not want this.’ And he finished doing what he was doing and walked out….Breitbart also interviewed three of Millwee’s friends, who said Millwee told them in the late 1990s about the alleged assaults.

…Millwee’s accusations are new, and Breitbart, which published a 19-minute video interview with Millwee, has been supportive of Trump and dismissive of the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault. The site is led by Steven Bannon, who took a leave from Breitbart to serve as CEO of Trump’s campaign.Millwee said she considered coming forward in the late 1990s, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but she was intimidated after seeing how the media treated other women who accused Clinton of sexual assault.

“I almost came out during the Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey situation,” she said. “I watched that unfold a little bit. I was very prepared to go forward then and talk about it, and I watched the ways the Clintons and Hillary slandered those women, harassed them, did unthinkable things to them, and I just did not want to be part of that. I had very small children at the time, I had a job at pharmaceuticals, it was a very conservative situation. I didn’t want to do anything to bring harm to my career and my family.”

Millwee said she decided to finally go public now because she believes that the media still has not held Clinton accountable for his alleged sexual assaults. A Breitbart spokeswoman said Millwee reached out to Breitbart on her own “months ago after Hillary’s ad that sex assault victims have a right to be heard.”


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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

In A Sufficiently Rational And Ethical Society, The Official Apology To African-Americans By The International Association Of Chiefs Of Police Would Begin A Productive Process Toward Healing Distrust Between Police And Black Communities. This Is Not A Sufficiently Rational And Ethical Society.

"Not a bad speech, Chief, but since we all know you and your kind are part of a racist conspiracy to murder unarmed black men, not nearly good enough."

“Not a bad speech, Chief, but since we all know you and your kind are part of a racist conspiracy to murder unarmed black men, not nearly good enough.”

Terrence M. Cunningham, the chief of police in Wellesley, Mass, and the president of America’s largest police management organization, announced a formal apology to the nation’s minority population this week.

Cunningham delivered his remarks at the convention in San Diego of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, whose membership includes 23,000 police officials in the United States. He said in part:

There have been times when law enforcement officers, because of the laws enacted by federal, state, and local governments, have been the face of oppression for far too many of our fellow citizens. In the past, the laws adopted by our society have required police officers to perform many unpalatable tasks, such as ensuring legalized discrimination or even denying the basic rights of citizenship to many of our fellow Americans.

While this is no longer the case, this dark side of our shared history has created a multi-generational—almost inherited—mistrust between many communities of color and their law enforcement agencies. Many officers who do not share this common heritage often struggle to comprehend the reasons behind this historic mistrust. As a result, they are often unable to bridge this gap and connect with some segments of their communities.

While we obviously cannot change the past, it is clear that we must change the future. We must move forward together to build a shared understanding. We must forge a path that allows us to move beyond our history and identify common solutions to better protect our communities. For our part, the first step in this process is for law enforcement and the IACP to acknowledge and apologize for the actions of the past and the role that our profession has played in society’s historical mistreatment of communities of color.

At the same time, those who denounce the police must also acknowledge that today’s officers are not to blame for the injustices of the past. If either side in this debate fails to acknowledge these fundamental truths, we will be unlikely to move past them. Overcoming this historic mistrust requires that we must move forward together in an atmosphere of mutual respect. All members of our society must realize that we have a mutual obligation to work together to ensure fairness, dignity, security, and justice.

It is my hope that, by working together, we can break this historic cycle of mistrust and build a better and safer future for us all.

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race, U.S. Society