Category Archives: Incompetent Elected Officials

Comment Of The Day: “How Many Rationalizations Can You Spot In This Op-Ed?”

In the post, How Many Rationalizations Can You Spot In This Op-Ed?, I challenged readers to read the depressingly meat-headed New York Times op-ed by a defender of Nashville mayor Megan Barry. and challenged them further to identify all of the rationalizations and fallacies it contained. Only one of you took on the challenge in its full, horrible scope, in part because not everyone pays to get past the Times paywall. Fortunately one who did take it on was the newly-minted Michael West, who dissected the essay as if it were a pithed frog.

Here is his Comment of the Day, freeing me from the obligation to post the answers to my question.

Having reviewed the Rationalizations List, here’s my go:

Paragraph 2:
“Along with this confession, the mayor offered the kind of full-throated apology we almost never get from public officials: “I accept full responsibility for the pain I have caused my family and his,” she said. “I knew my actions could cause damage to my office and the ones I loved, but I did it anyway.””

But she doesn’t accept full responsibility. If she did, and clearly her affair led to extreme financial irregularities which amount to defrauding the public, then accepting responsibility probably requires resignation.

Paragraph 3:
“She ended her statement with a pledge: “God will forgive me, but the people of Nashville don’t have to. In the weeks and months to come, I will work hard to earn your forgiveness and earn back your trust.””

I don’t think “God will forgive me” is a rationalization. It may be an actual deeply held belief, but the State of Tennessee is a bit more hard-nosed. At best this is just poll-tested platitude, but at worst, it is meant to convince some people to forgive her also (which makes it a diversion, not a rationalization). Working to earn their forgiveness and trust is an appeal to 21A Ethics Accounting: Criminal’s Redemption. She thinks future “good works” can atone for past sins. They cannot. What atones for past sins is having that sin and its effects blotted out, which in the case of defrauding the public, the only atoning that works is resignation.

Paragraph 4:
“This promise did not seem like an act of damage control. This is the way Megan Barry really talks. The language of full emotional availability is her native tongue.”

Appeal for sympathy, which is the opener for the next string of rationalizations.

Paragraph 5:
“Perhaps that’s why this city loves her. She hugs schoolchildren. She looks genuinely joyful at city parades and festivals. She grieves that too many Nashville teenagers are slain by guns. When Max Barry, her own son and only child, died suddenly last summer, the people of Nashville wept with her. When she spoke openly about the drug addiction that killed him, we marveled at her courage and admired her resolve to bring addiction out of the shadows of shame.”

This is Ethics Accounting again. She’s a really great person…so it’s implied we should overlook this one thing.

Paragraph 6:
“But in a red state like Tennessee, this liberal mayor also has powerful opponents, and they are not idiots. An editorial in the conservative Tennessee Star wasted no time in calling for her resignation: “Barry and the fawning, liberal Nashville media are trying the Clinton defense.””

This is a diversion away from the miscreant by accusing the accusers of bad faith motives. #48 Haters gonna hate. Her critics are ONLY demanding accountability because they want a political advantage or want to win a tactical maneuver. Continue reading

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Ethics Alarms Déjà Vu And The President’s Infrastructure Proposal

The President has proposed an infrastructure upgrade, more or less. I don’t care about the numbers: whatever it is, it’s not enough. It is, however, something, and infrastructure renewal is a national emergency, indeed a crisis, that should not be derailed by partisan bickering and gamesmanship. Will it further exacerbate the ballooning debt? Yes. Unlike much of the spending that has dug the nation a deeper hole than it is likely to ever escape, however, infrastructure is not discretionary spending.

Jonah Goldberg just issued a mind-meltingly ignorant and dishonest column for the Los Angeles Times titled “Is American infrastructure crumbling? Hardly.”

Shame on him. This is Trump Hate as national suicide. Our infrastructure has been crumbling for decades, with each year of neglect guaranteeing bigger expenses and hidden burdens on the economy, not to mention that cholera outbreaks when the sewage pipes and water pipes start breaking coast to coast.

I’ve been writing about this unethical nightmare of irresponsible leadership and government for years, here and elsewhere. Nothing has changed. Where necessary, as you read these excerpts from 2010 and 2011, just change the name of the President or the parties. The situation hasn’t changed, other than getting worse:

From Blame Everyone for Infrastructure Ruin: Unethical, Irresponsible Priorities from Reagan to Obama…

In the early Eighties, I oversaw and edited an independent study funded by the Highway Users Federation and the National Chamber Foundation called “Transport Tomorrow,” exploring the immediate need for transportation infrastructure repair and expansion in all modes of transportation: roads, railway, waterway, and airports. In the process of learning how dire the need for massive construction and repair was if America’s future commercial needs were to be met, the study commission made a disturbing discovery: urban water and sewer systems were crumbling too. There was literally not enough money to fix all the roads, bridges, tunnels, water mains and sewer pipes that had to be fixed, and the consequences of not doing so would be economic paralysis and worse, disease and even social unrest.

In the face of this looming and undeniably real disaster, the Reagan Administration did—pretty much nothing. Neither did the Bush, Clinton and Bush II administrations, and even the Chamber of Commerce failed to make infrastructure repair one of its key issues. Oh, there were new projects, of course, and when a major bridge started to dump cars into rivers it was repaired. Holes were patched, pipes were replaced here and there. But the full-fledged commitment to the unsexy and incredibly expensive job of keeping the infrastructure sufficient to meet the needs of the nation, and protecting it from the ravages of use and time was deferred, and deferred, and deferred. Something was always more important: wars…tax cuts…the environment…health care. The Obama Administration is following this irresponsible pattern, except it has combined with the profligacy of the Bush Administration to push the Federal deficit into unprecedented dangerous territory. New taxes on just about everybody and everything are going to be needed to stave off financial ruin, and there will be little political will to spend any of the income on something as mundane, but crucial, as sewers.

The problem, however, has become infinitely worse since 1983, when “Transport Tomorrow” was released, and then as now, the attitude of our elected leaders is to let the next guy deal with the problem. Is this responsible? No. Is it cowardly? Yes. Is it a blatant, intentional and knowing distortion of priorities that will threaten American prosperity, jobs, and lives? Absolutely….

From Ethics Heads-Up: When the President Talks About “Investment in Infrastructure,” Pay Attention: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: The State Of The Union Speech Didn’t Stink Edition

Good Morning.

1 About the President’s speech. In yesterday’s Warm-up, I yearned for the honesty of Gerald Ford, who had the courage to by-pass the usual State of the Union happy talk and admit that the nation was not in a good place. Now that President Trump has delivered his first State of the Union message, I have to admit that being positive, or as my late father would have said, quoting his favorite poem, keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, is a good approach too.

The President has managed to find an excellent speechwriter. That is an admirable and responsible thing. These were not, unlike his Inaugural speech was, Trump’s own words, but he gets credit for them, or should, just as much as Ronald Reagan got credit for Peggy Noonan’s soaring rhetoric and  Jack Kennedy deserved the accolades he received for Ted Sorenson’s justly famous scripting. [The full text of last night’s speech is here.] The SOTU was also well-delivered. I know a lot of people would say that any speech this President delivers was horrible and he looked like an ass even if it was the equivalent of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and delivered with the skill of Tom Hanks, but that’s their problem. Not to be repetitive, but  such people need to understand the effects of confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance if they are going to venture outside their little bubbles and echo chambers.

In fact, this is a good test of your Trump-hating friends’, or your own, integrity. If you can’t concede that the speech was at least pretty good, then you are no longer able to perceive reality where this President is concerned. In no way can that be a good thing. Fix it. Continue reading

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Al Green (D-Tex)

I’ve been neglecting the category, which is especially inexcusable since there are so, so many of them. Rep. Al Green, however, made his distinction easy, thanks to the most ridiculous impeachment theory yet.

 Representative Al Green burnished his credentials as an anti-Trump clown  by announcing that the President’s alleged, unproven and unprovable reference to “shithole–or was it “shithouse”?— countries” is  grounds for impeachment as a clear example of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” Green drafted up new articles of impeachment on the theory that “the president’s hateful comments can impact policy.” ( This time 66 fellow Democrats voted for them: Every one of the 66 qualifies as an Incompetent Elected Official. Be proud, progressives! This is your party!) Actually, that better be about how the President’s hateful comments can impact policy if they are unethically publicized by double-crossing Democrats.

What a great theory Green has! All that is needed to impeach a President is for a member of the opposing party to come out and claim that a President said something that “can impact policy” in a private meeting. Then the news media chimes in with, “Sure sounds like something he would say!, CNN obsesses about it for days, ” there’s an impeachment and a conviction, and in just a few more easy steps, according to a Harvard Law professor, so this can’t be a crackpot theory, Hillary Clinton is President!

And they say Trump has mental problems…

There are many plausible explanations for Rep. Green’s nonsense:

…He’s never read the Constitution.

…He has read it, but doesn’t understand it.

…He understands it, but he doesn’t agree with it.

…He’s been hanging out too much with fellow Congressional Black Caucus member—Does this group have a function other than to embarrass African-Americans?—Maxine Waters, who is on record as believing that just being Donald Trump is grounds for impeachment.

…He’s been listening to Chris Cuomo and believes that speech he doesn’t like is criminal.

…He has some kind of weird vendetta against Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, and wants to be humiliated it for graduating someone like him—yes, Green is a lawyer. No, he really is. I’m not kidding! He is! I wouldn’t lie to you! ( Kaboom.)

…Somehow, the wrong Al Green got into the House. This isn’t the lawyer and former judge, who presumably knows something about law and government! This the soul legend “Reverend” Al Green! Sing, Al!

…He’s grandstanding for the increasingly reason-challenged Democratic base, which doesn’t care about law or facts when the President’s impeachment is involved. It’s the thought that counts.

…He’s an idiot.

Rep Green has vowed to continue to keep coming up with impeachment articles: “I plan to do this as long as the President continues to make bigoted statements that are harmful to American society.”
________________________

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/2018: Three Tests!

Good Morning, All!

1 Derangement test! As I write this, Washington, D.C. is on high anxiety alert over whether there will be a government shutdown due to Senate Democrats staging a tantrum over DACA. Previous shutdowns, stupid all, and all ultimately a disaster for the party that triggered them, the Republicans, at least involved a dispute over the budget, which we call a “nexus.” In this one, however, the triggering party is the Democrats, who are grandstanding to their increasingly radical base, declaring the interests of about 800,000 illegal immigrants as a higher priority than the interests of the law-abiding citizens of this country who are not obsessed with “Think of the children!” and the imaginary right of foreigners to cross into the country illegally and stay here as long as they don’t rape someone and blow  their “good illegal immigrant” status.

Essentially the Democratic leadership has decided to test the question of how many Americans have had their brains and values scrambled by the emotion-based pro-illegal immigration argument battered into their heads by the progressive/maintsteam news media coalition. Oh…there’s also their collateral justification of “We can’t make a deal with the President because he used a bad word in a private meeting, or so some say.”

Since both Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have their unequivocal condemnation of the very same tactic they are now engaging in on videotape, they must really be convinced that social justice warrior cant now infests the population. Well, maybe they are right. Maybe they aren’t as incompetent as I think they are, and their flip-flop won’t strike anyone else as cynical and proof of an integrity deficit.

If a party is successful, even once, using this extortion tactic to pass legislation, then the legislative process will have officially collapsed. Democrats—this shut-down is a unilateral offense, not another “everyone is to blame” fiasco—signaled their emergence as a protest organization rather than a responsible party in 2016 when they held a sit-down strike in the House to try to force the unconstitutional measure of banning gun ownership for citizens placed without due process on FBI no-fly lists. If Republicans allow such a tactic to succeed now, however, they will share the Ethics Dunce honors.

And, of course, will use the tactic themselves when the time is ripe.

Let’s see if sufficient numbers of Democrats have their brain cells and values in sufficient good health to tell their representative that those DACA kids have their sentimental support, but not THAT much support, you idiots, don’t be ridiculous!

It should be interesting. Continue reading

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Now THAT’S Sexist And Racist…THAT’S Uncivil…And THAT’S…Troubling

Famous people have been misbehaving, but getting surprisingly little flack for it. Allow Ethics Alarms to supply some flack…

House Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi complained last week that the immigration negotiations with the President are being led by “five white guys.” The  “white guys” are presumably the Minority Whip, Pelosi’s No. 2, Rep. Steny Hoyer, plus Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly.

Hoyer immediately rebuked Pelosi for her characterization. “That comment is offensive. I am committed to ensuring DREAMers are protected and I will welcome everyone to the table who wants to get this done,” Hoyer said to Politico in a statement.

Using anyone’s skin color to suggest inadequacy or an inability to complete a task competently is racist by definition. Using anyone’ gender for the same reason is per se sexist.  Pelosi should issue an appropriate apology, and she should not be given a pass. Naturally, she already has been.

For days now, we have seen President Trump excoriated by Democrats and the news media for using “racist” language for alleged comments that a) have not been substantiated, b) were made in a private meeting, if at all, c) if made as reported, were not intended for public dissemination, d) were not recorded, e) did not reference color or race, and f) referred to locales, not human beings. Pelosi’s comments, in contrast, were aimed at named individuals, referred in derogatory fashion to their race and gender, implied that their race and gender made them unqualified for a project, and were made in public, on the record, and before TV cameras.

Not only was Hoyer legitimately offended, I’m offended, as a fellow white guy. How dare one my government’s leaders insult me like that?

Hello? Anyone?

Dinesh diSouza, conservative author and film-maker, tweeted, “Bristol Palin seems so much smarter than her horse-faced counterpart Chelsea Clinton” along with this meme..

What the hell? First, there is nothing especially”smart” abut the quote, or Bristol Palin, for that matter. But mainly, the tweeted comment is gratuitously cruel and insulting. I know it’s tempting to deal in hatefulness,  since so much of it is coming from the other side, but ethical, decent people are supposed to have better ethics alarms than that.

My theory that Twitter is a tool of Satan that robs users of their values and common sense seems more plausible every day. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 1/13/2018: Dumb and Dumber

GOOD MORNING!

(I really looked forward to Saturday mornings in those days…)

1 There has to be a special Ethics Alarms category for this…But what? Lizzie Dunn sprayed herself in the face with sulphuric acid, stumbled into a deli on Staten Island, and told horrified customers as her face was melting that a middle-aged black woman had attacked her when Dunn refused her demand cigarettes and money at a bus stop.  Local news outlets spread the frightening tale of the acid-spraying stranger before police questioned Dunn and she recanted.Apparently she has a history of hurting herself. I’d include the photo of what her face looks like now, but that’s no way to start a long weekend.

2. From the “This is getting ridiculous” Dept. Stan Lee, ta Marvel Comics icon and the creator of many comic book heroes,is 95 years old but still pretty spry s he enjoys late life celebrity. The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes invited hm to be its ceremonial pregame puck dropper for yesterday’s game, but cancelled its invitation after some of the nurses who had cared for Lee at his home accused him of sexual harassment. Lee not only denies the allegation from the company that employed the nurses that he has “spoken inappropriately” to some of them and had tried to “grope them,” he claims to be the victim of a shakedown. His lawyers have threatened to sue the company for defamation, and Lee’s current nurse providers say he is a “perfect gentleman.”

This is #MeToo bullying. As usual, we have no way to know who is telling the truth, but the Coyotes are cowardly and unfair to embarrass Lee publicly by behaving as if he is guilty when investigations so far have proven no wrongdoing. He deserves the benefit of the doubt, and the prospect of eldercare nurses being primed to cry sexual misconduct when some geezer engages in dubious but harmless behavior that he was raised to think was a privilege of old age is frankly frightening.  Lee is wealthy, famous, and at his age poses no physical threat to any caretaker nor creates a hostile work environment in a profession that routinely faces far worse daily indignities than a pat on the rear or a racy wisecrack. He would be easy prey for #MeToo extortion: all that would be needed is a group of nurses to agree to accuse him and split the pay-off.  Meanwhile, the Coyotes would hardly be regarded as enablers of sexual violence if they let the guy drop a puck. Continue reading

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