Ethics Hero: Former President Jimmy Carter

jimmy-carter

As its stands now, only Jimmy Carter among the four surviving former Presidents of the United States will be attending Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. on January 20. The others, Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes, will not, if their failure so far to RSVP to their official invitations means what most think it means.

President George H.W. Bush can be given a pass due to his advanced age and and precarious health; not so his son and Bill Clinton. Their absence will be petty and unpatriotic. Jimmy Carter knows what his duty is, and will do it. Good for him.

The inauguration of a new President is a national ritual and a vital one, signalling the support of the nation for a  leader duly elected to take the mantle of Washington, Lincoln and the rest. It is a tradition to celebrate the nation and its remarkable  system of peaceful transfer of power, and not, as I will soon explain to the Rockettes, the individual who will be President when the ceremony is over. It is a day to unite the country after an election, not to further divide it.

For former Presidents Bush and Clinton not to recognize this is no less than disgraceful…specially these Presidents, one who himself won office while losing the popular vote, and the other who never received a majority of votes cast in two elections. We know why Clinton and Bush are sulking. President Elect Trump, in his ugly campaign, personally insulted both Bush 43 and his younger brother Jeb, and Jeb may well regard his brother’s attendance at the Inaugural a betrayal. Well, Jeb needs to grow up. January 20 is about the United States of America, not hurt feelings or family solidarity. George Bush has an obligation to be there, not back in Texas snubbing the nation to get back at Trump. Continue reading

More From The “When Ethics Alarms Are Devoured By Hysteria And Partisan Hate” Files: KABOOM!

Thank you and Merry Christmas, Carl Palladino.

Thank you and Merry Christmas, Carl Palladino.

How somebody in the public eye can utter opinions like this for publication is absolutely beyond comprehension.  Hence the inside of my head is now outside my head. The red on the walls and ceiling looks kind of Christmassy, I must say.

A Buffalo weekly called Artvoice asked several prominent local figures what they wanted for 2017, asking several questions.

Carl Paladino, a local developer Republican member of the Erie County school board who was Donald Trump’s campaign’s co-chair in New York answered the first two questions this way:

1. What would you most like to happen in 2017?

Paladino: “Obama catches mad cow disease after being caught having relations with a Herford. He dies before his trial and is buried in a cow pasture next to Valerie Jarret, who died weeks prior, after being convicted of sedition and treason, when a Jihady cell mate mistook her for being a nice person and decapitated her.”

2. What would you like to see go away in 2017?

Paladino: “Michelle Obama. I’d like her to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

What is this? A breakdown? The equivalent of civic suicide? As I would assume the most mentally handicapped of socially-inept morons would expect, these vile comments, which Paladino knew would be published, immediately caused him to be condemned far and wide. Donald Trump’s transition team  called his remarks “absolutely reprehensible.”  Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz called on Paladino to resign immediately. Assemblyman Sean Ryan D-Buffalo said Paladino’s comments were “outrageous, dangerous and disturbing.” New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo described the remarks as “racist, ugly and reprehensible.”  Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown called the comments “terrible.”

By late yesterday, over a thousand people had signed an online petition calling for Paladino’s removal from the school board. Paladino’s response to the uproar?

“Yeah, I’m not politically correct,” he said. “They asked what I want, and I told them.” Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser”

 

Bill Maher, role model...

Bill Maher, role model…

Steve-O-in-NJ‘s reaction to the JetBlue flight harassment of Ivanka Trump by a lawyer could just as easily been written as a comment on this Ethics Alarms post, from shortly after the election, which began..

I have to adapt, with acknowledgement, a long-running gag wielded by Prof. Glenn Reynolds on his iconic conservative website Instapundit thus:

“I wrote if Donald Trump was elected President, we’d have a nation of assholes, and I was RIGHT!”

The problem is that the joke isn’t funny in this case. It’s tragic. What I am seeing in the news, watching on social media and reading on the web and in editorial pages shows me that the last eight years have done even more damage to American unity and ethics than I had realized.

Here is Steve-O-in-NJ‘s Comment of the Day on the post, “Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser,” and I’ll have a few comments at the end:

The left seems to be perfectly ok with raising jerkiness to a profession – I decline to call it an art form. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes I don’t use my brain and turn to vicious attacks. Jack was absolutely right that I am not helping myself in my lucid moments when I do that, and, in all fairness, he isn’t the first. Actually a judge here in NJ has seen both sides of me, and said to me once, in a rare ex parte discussion (as part of a “breakout” settlement conference) that “there are two of you, apparently, the thinking Steve and the angry Steve. I would request that only the thinking Steve appear here.” I’d also say that some other people here aren’t helping themselves with the same approach, BUT, that’s for Jack to say more about.

There are plenty of scholars and pundits on both sides politically, and they are of varying quality, from the very erudite to the not much more than trash talkers. Most of us, when we are in our thinking mode, can tell the one from the other, and would place more value on Victor Davis Hanson’s perhaps overly sonorous pronouncements than on Michelle Malkin’s near-rants, and more value on Alan Dershowitz’s legal analysis than on Jonathan Alterman’s self-important poking.

Continue reading

Obama, Trump, And The Avoidable “Two Presidents” Ethical Dilemma

trump-and-obama

Yesterday, Donald Trump sent out not just one but three tweets that directly interfered with current U.S. policy efforts, involving the costs of a new jet fighter plane, nuclear weapons, and a U.N. resolution criticizing Israel. This understandably is causing consternation in the Obama administration, because Trump is exercising influence without authority. Until January 20, 2017, Donald Trump has no official position or authority in the government at all. He does have power and influence, however, because everyone knows that he will have authority very soon.

What constitutes abuse of the power and influence? Should a President Elect be a mute and invisible presence until he is officially sworn in, so as not to interfere with the current President’s discharge of his duties?

For the lame duck Chief Executive, with slightly more than two months left in office and vastly diminished influence, the ethical problem is different. How much should he defer to the incoming President, and not take actions that will seriously interfere with the policy directions the new President  may choose to take? Once the will of the people has been made clear at the ballot box, is it fair and responsible for current President to actively work against the likely agenda of the incoming President?

Finally, if a lame duck President is attempting to undermine the objectives of the incoming President before that President Elect takes office, is it unethical for the President Elect to use his influence and power to stop him, or at least mitigate the damage? Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘When Ethics Alarms Are Devoured By Hysteria And Partisan Hate’ Files: Jezebel Readers React To The JetBlue Harassment Of Ivanka Trump”

family-arguments

Happy Holidays!

There will be at least two Comments of the Day posted today, and this is the most recent, but I felt that getting this one up was particularly urgent.

Here is Spartan’s Comment of the Day on the post, From The “When Ethics Alarms Are Devoured By Hysteria And Partisan Hate” Files: Jezebel Readers React To The JetBlue Harassment Of Ivanka Trump.

I think everyone needs to call a time-out. Emotions are running high, as is evidenced by “Angry Steve-O-In-NJ’s” appearance the other day. Right now, I am giving everyone a pass (be they left or right) on angry, emotional, or hurtful outbursts. We’ve gone through a crazy election cycle, have had a rough year generally (just about every important or talented person has died), we are living in uncertain times, and we’re now in the midst of the holiday season — and holidays can be rough for people in the best of situations.

This might sound like crunchy-granola-liberal-touchy-feely-mumbo-jumbo, but I am trying to respond to all family and friends with love and understanding right now. And it is working. First of all, I feel better and it is making me a happier person. So right there, I can count it as a win. Second, they (or at least some of them) feel better. No good comes from fighting with family, friends, or random people in airports. Listen to what other people have to say and if they espouse different beliefs, don’t challenge or ridicule them, people can have civil discussions without them becoming contests of wits. And call out (gently) anyone who is espousing hateful rhetoric. It immediately dials down the emotions — which is a good thing.

From The “When Ethics Alarms Are Devoured By Hysteria And Partisan Hate” Files: Jezebel Readers React To The JetBlue Harassment Of Ivanka Trump

love-hateHere are some comments reacting to the JetBlue incident from Jezebel, the feminist website. These are not the outliers. These are typical. I’ve checked some of the other progressive sites.  At Talking Points Memo, the consensus seems to be that it’s “fake news.” So far, the vast majority of the coverage is from conservative sites. Most of the left partisan sites don’t report embarrassing conduct by their compatriots if they can avoid it….or perhaps they just don’t want to inspire comments like these.

Jezebel’s blogger set the tone by invoking the “Tit for Tat” and “They had it coming” rationalizations with this coda to the post:

Given Donald Trump’s unabashed love of heckling people in front of a crowd—he singled out NBC reporter Katy Tur so many times she had to get Secret Service protection—I’m just surprised the administration didn’t give Lasner’s husband a cabinet seat right then and there.

From the comments…

I know i’m supposed to feel bad for Ivanka, but I can’t. Fuck her. Fuck her husband. They are going to make billions off the american taxpayer and have no shame or remorse or anything resembling human emotions. I might feel the slightest bit of pity for the kids, except then I remember they’re all fucking rich and will get whatever their bratty asses demand for their entire lives. So i guess i’ll save my concern for the millions of men and women of various races, creeds and sexual orientations whose lives will begin to become progressively worse on January 20th.

***

She knew exactly what she was doing and what the potential outcomes were from flying commercial. Part of me thinks Bannon set this up so this exact incident would occur and everyone would feel sorry for lil Vanky.

***

FUCK THAT NOISE.

If I saw a Trumpsatzgruppen member on a flight, I would be in jail right now, b/c I would not shut the fuck up about it the entire flight.

***

Seriously. Let’s not forget:

— At last count, 838 products in Ivanka Trump’s line, and not a single one made in the US.

— She’s already used her father’s position to further her business by selling dresses and jewelry, and she’s sat in on meetings with leaders of countries in which her business stands to benefit.

— It took more than a year for employees at her company to convince her to establish a maternity policy; she told one employee that when she had her baby, she was only out of the office for a week (she neglected to mention her in-home nanny when explaining this).

— For several months now she’s posted a job on her site for a Freelance Graphic Designer, a full-time job, Monday through Friday, 9-6. But as freelance, this person will not receive any benefits, including healthcare and maternity leave; and the contract is month to month, allowing Ivanka Trump’s company to cut that person loose at any time with zero notice. That’s some fine job creation right there.

In short, fuck Ivanka Trump. She’s a hypocrite just like her father, and while I would try to find a way of doing it without getting kicked off a plane, I’d have no problem telling her so.

***

Yeah the French should have just said “This cake is really good, don’t upset the Queen.” Or the people of Boston should have just drank the tea and asked politely to not be taxed. Fuck the trumps, they should be called out at every opportunity.

***

Going high hasn’t worked for us since what – 2000? i am sick of it. i am sick of us having to be the reasonable, rational ones. fuck all of that. they go low and they win. they go low and they obstruct a president for an entire 8 years. it is time to go low.

***

Fuck her and her three small children.

Late Nominations For 2016 Jerk Of The Year: Lena Dunham And Daniel Goldstein, Ivanka’s Jet Blue Harasser

jet-blue-tweet

I’m pretty sure the Ethics Alarms 2016 Jerk of the Year Award was locked up a while ago, but two new challengers for the title at least strengthen the field:

1. Daniel Goldstein, attorney

Goldstein, in the cabin of a JetBlue flight on which Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, was also a passenger, verbally accosted the soon-to-be First Daughter before take-off. Holding a child in his arms, the New York lawyer started shouting, “Your father is ruining the country!” Then he asked, “Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private!”

Ivanka, who had her own kids in tow, tried to ignore him and attend to her family until he was removed from the flight by JetBlue personnel. “You’re kicking me off for expressing my opinion?” he yelled as he was led off the plane.

What a rude and obnoxious jerk.

Other observations: Continue reading

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part II: Dunces, Heroes, Villains, And Fools

The failure of the ugly Electoral College revolt scheme that ended yesterday—let’s ignore the coming storm of frivolous lawsuits for now, all right?—with the official, irreversible, like it or lump it victory of Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton also settled some distinctions, some desirable, some not.

  • Ethics Heroes: All of the Republican electors who resisted the harassment, propaganda, intimidation and bad arguments and did their duty, avoiding a crisis and foiling the attempts of Democrats to cheat, which is exactly what the effort to flip the electoral vote was. The faithful electors get bonus points for making so many Democrats and progressives look silly in the process, a fate they richly deserved.

Come to think of it, it was predictable that Democratic appeals to electors would persuade more Democratic electors than Republicans. Which leads us to…

  • Ethics Dunces: A bevy of Hollywood B-listers joined forces in an offensive video that, like Brezenoff’s petition, misrepresented history and the Constitution to gull star-struck electors into defying the public’s will and its trust that their votes would be respected by electors. Led by Martin Sheen, who has no credentials in government or political science but played a wily President on TV, Debra Messing, James Cromwell, B.D. Wong, Noah Wyle, Freda Payne (Quick: who is Freda Payne?), “Better Call Saul’s” Bob Odenkirk, J. Smith Cameron (?), Michael Urie, Moby, superannuated M*A*S*H stars Mike Farrell and Loretta Swit, Richard Schiff, Christine Lahti, Steven Pasquale, Emily Tyra and Talia Balsam tell the electors that they will be following the Founders’ intent by rejecting Donald Trump. This is flatly dishonest, as they are attributing the contrarian position of Alexander Hamilton, who detested popular democracy, to all the Founders, who rejected Hamilton’s proposals on how the government should be elected and structured.

“What is evident is that Donald Trump lacks more than the qualifications to be president. He lacks the necessary stability and clearly the respect for the Constitution of our great nation,” say the celebrities. Obviously it is NOT evident, since Trump’s voters won the day.  The Federalist accurately describes what was behind the video:

“The message is clear: the candidate for whom these celebrities spent months shilling lost the Electoral College, the metric granted ultimate primacy by Article Two of the Constitution. Now, as individuals with no substantial political background, these celebrities have organized en masse to produce content designed to “educate” our electors, chosen for their political pedigree, on their electoral duty. The whole situation reeks of condescension, dirisiveness, and social hubris. What these self-ordained celebrities are demanding is nothing short of the very opposite of what they claim to be purporting. They assert that they “stand with…all citizens of the United States,” yet admittedly only if those citizens agree with their political viewpoint. If said citizens disagree, then, unfortunately, these celebrities decidedly do not stand with them. In fact, they would prefer electors to actively oppose the wishes of these very citizens, so that the candidate they personally believe to be the best suited has a second shot at the presidency.”

That’s about the size of it, yes indeed. Continue reading

The Electoral College’s Day Of Reckoning, Part I: Revelations

crying-clinton-supporters

After all the protests, the petitioning, the grandstanding, the misinformation and bad law and false history, after all the harassment and intimidation aimed at getting state electors to violate their pledges, duty and the trust of theirs state voters, all designed to keep Donald Trump from attaining 270 electoral votes and thus forcing the Presidential election into the House of Representatives for the first time since 1876, the results were just another humiliation for the Democrats and Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump was officially elected President of the United States, and it wasn’t close.

Four Democratic electors in Washington, a state Clinton won, voted for someone else, giving her just eight of the state’s 12 electoral votes. They will be prosecuted, apparently, for breaking a Washington statute. Colin Powell, a Republican, received three of the faithless elector votes and Native American tribal leader Faith Spotted Eagle received one, apparently because one elector decided that rather than vote for Senator Elizabeth Warren, a real Native American was preferable. Single  electors in both Maine and Minnesota attempted to cast ballots for Bernie Sanders, but state laws requiring electors to follow the statewide vote invalidated both rebellious ballots. One Hawaii elector did vote for Sanders, an especially outrageous betrayal of the vote since Hawaii went to Clinton even more decisively than California.  Never mind: this unknown, unvetted, undistinguished citizen decided that no, he or she knew better. That’s the model Democrats were promoting.

The one Republican elector, Texas’s Christopher Suprun, of Texas, who had trumpeted his  intention  not to vote for Trump despite his state heavily favoring the President Elect voted for Ohio Governor John Kasich as promised, and another Texas elector defected to vote for Ron Paul. Thus the almost six week Democratic push to use the Electoral College to pull victory from the jaws of defeat had the net effect of increasing Trump’s Electoral vote advantage over Clinton by three, with Hillary Clinton becoming the candidate with most defecting electors in over 200 years.

George Will’s favorite phrase “condign justice” leaps to mind. First the Wisconsin recount increases Trump’s vote total, and now this.

Three Ethics Observations from one of the most embarrassing spectacles in U.S. election history: Continue reading

Fake News Update: Fake History, Santa’s Number One Elf, And The Ornery Irishman

maine

Consider this three-headed post an exploration of just how tangled and gray the Fake New Ethics Train Wreck really is.

Let’s start with…

1. The Irishman.

Last week the obituary of Chris Connors was viral on social media. The first part of it read,

Irishman Dies from Stubbornness, Whiskey

Chris Connors died, at age 67, after trying to box his bikini-clad hospice nurse just moments earlier. Ladies man, game slayer, and outlaw Connors told his last inappropriate joke on Friday, December 9, 2016, that which cannot be printed here. Anyone else fighting ALS and stage 4 pancreatic cancer would have gone quietly into the night, but Connors was stark naked drinking Veuve in a house full of friends and family as Al Green played from the speakers. The way he died is just like he lived: he wrote his own rules, he fought authority and he paved his own way. And if you said he couldn’t do it, he would make sure he could…

I instantly liked Chris, as did millions of others. This was published on the obituary site, Legacy.com. People like me sent the obituary  around to friends, thought about it, and talked about it, because it made us feel good. Now there’s someone who did not go gentle into that good night!

Do I have any idea if this obituary is 100% accurate, or accurate at all? No. How often are obituaries fact-checked, if they aren’t written by a reporter? For normal people, like Chris Connors, almost never. Do you care? Do you care in this case? I don’t I am pretty sure that the obituary gives a fair sense of the kind of man Chris Connors was, even if it is hyperbolic, as I assume it was. Nevertheless, the obituary made me feel good, as it was supposed to. Christmas is starting to depress me as the years mount up: too many memories, too many lost loved ones, the sense of time passing too, quickly , of time running out. Chris’s story, which may have been only partially true, was a great, bracing, much-needed slap in the face. He had the right idea, or if he didn’t, whoever wrote his obituary did. Is there any harm anyone can attach to this inspiring farewell? If it was fake news by Facebook’s new standards, does it matter?

2. Santa’s Number One Elf

Continue reading