Tag Archives: abuse of power

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

10 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Baseball Installs An Anti-Hazing, Anti-Bullying Policy That Proves It Doesn’t Understand What’s Wrong With Bullying And Hazing

mlb-drag-1

Every year, Major League Baseball teams indulge in a high-profile, stupid and offensive ritual by forcing their rookies to dress in ridiculous costumes as they travel  home after their final road trip. This is  hazing, the team’s veterans humiliating the team’s young players and forcing them to show proper deference and character by submitting to it. Most of the time, the humiliation involved dressing in drag, because, as every red-blooded American male knows, nothing is worse than being compared to a woman. Continue reading

42 Comments

Filed under Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Social Media, Sports, Workplace

Ugh! Here’s One More Unethical Practice (Of Many) Trump Needs To Eliminate From His Repertoire, And Quickly

trump-tweet-at-union-head-jpg

It’s pretty simple, though President Obama hasn’t figured it out in in eight years:

The President of the United States must not attack or criticize private citizens or negatively characterize their actions, nor should he interfere with local matters, criminal justice, the courts, the news media, or private businesses,  unless it is absolutely necessary, which it almost never is. This applies to his treatment of journalists, celebrities, athletes, local officials, accused criminals, military personnel, lawyers, other professionals…

…and union representatives.

Chuck Jones, the president of the local chapter of the United Steelworkers union that represents Carrier employees in Indianapolis, told The Post on Tuesday that the Trump exaggerated the number of jobs he claims to have saved, since 550 of the union’s members will lose their jobs anyway. Trump immediately sent the tweet above, directly attacking Jones by name. Shortly after the tweet, Jones says, he began getting threatening phone calls. “Nothing that says they’re gonna kill me, but, you know, ‘You better keep your eye on your kids. We know what car you drive.’ Things along those lines,” he told the Post.

I’m not surprised, but Trump’s “punching down” would be just as wrong if there was no response at all. This is an abuse of power. It is an abuse of influence. It is an abuse of office, and once he is President, it will be an abuse of the “bully pulpit.” The conduct is bullying,  as well as irresponsible, dangerous, and stupid.

I did call it, though! My post in April about Gov. Rick Scott attacking a citizen, in his case a coffee shop critic, in a campaign ad ended with this statement:

It is hard to imagine a more petty, needless, demeaning example of “punching down.” Jennings isn’t running against Scott; she is just a citizen critic, if an especially rude and nasty one. For a governor to focus an attack ad on a mere citizen is an abuse of power and position. It is ethically indefensible.

It is exactly what Donald Trump would do, though.

It is far worse for a President-Elect to punch down, of course; it’s even unethical for a Presidential candidate nobody thinks can win to do it. Trump’s pre-emptively calling Bowe Bergdahl a traitor is now a fair trial problem in the ex-prisoner of war’s court-martial. This is a terrible habit to indulge, and it opens the door to far more harmful misuses of Presidential power.  Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Government & Politics, Leadership

Ethics Dunce: Texas Elector Christopher Suprun [UPDATED]

Shut up, Chris; shut up, Alexander.

Oh, shut up, Chris; you too,, Alexander.

Another faithless Texas elector has announced himself. This time, it’s Christopher Suprun, the latest previously anonymous figure to exploit the 2016 Presidential candidacy of Donald Trump for 15 minutes of fame. Let’s see: there was Trump’s former lawyer, who breached or nicked several legal ethics duties to get a column in the Huffington Post, Trump’s ghostwriter, and all of the women who never saw fit to complain of being sexually assaulted by the President Elect until their accusations could do maximum harm and spark maximum exposure. Now we have Suprun, who penned a self-righteous op-ed for the New York Times explaining why he feels he is entitled, all by himself, to ignore the will of the people and cast his vote as elector for someone other than the candidate Texas insisted he pledge to vote for: the winner of the most votes by participating Texas citizens in the November 12 election.

The measure of Suprun’s gravitas and qualifications to take this responsibility on himself is aptly illustrated by the first of his justifications for his untenable position: “Mr. Trump goes out of his way to attack the cast of “Saturday Night Live” for bias.” Naturally, he appeals to the authority of Alexander Hamilton, whose various employments in the post-election train wreck has convinced me that he, not Old Hickory, really should move off the currency and make way for someone with the right number of chromosomes. If I hear one more quote from Federalist Paper 68—which no one is 100% certain that Hamilton even wrote—I may strip off my clothes and run screaming Norse epithets into the night. Assuming, as most do, that the author was Hamilton, so what? The paper was written after the Constitutional Convention. Hamilton’s concept for that document and the structure of the government was rejected. He didn’t trust the public, or democracy, wanted George Washington to be king, and championed a system the resembled Great Britain’s. Using him to justify a concept of the Electoral College that has never been employed or accepted in the United States is a classic logical fallacy. Continue reading

145 Comments

Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History, Leadership

Thanksgiving Ethics From The “Fear Of Being Shot Causes Broken Ethics Alarms” Files

Bridgeport, Connecticut police stopped cars on the day before Thanksgiving, and surprised the motorists by handing them turkeys rather than tickets.

Awww!

Too bad it’s per se unethical conduct, an abuse of power and position, and a dangerous precedent. This is unpleasant déjà vu, for I’ve written this post before, more than once, and as many times in this year than the previous seven years combined. It’s pretty obvious why. Police, who were being shot and ambushed all over the country last week, are desperate to endear themselves to citizens and validate their role as a beneficent force in the community, which needs no validation.

“It’s a way of giving back, reaching out to the community and making sure everyone has a meal for thanksgiving,” says Bridgeport Police Capt. Roderick Porter, not getting it at all. I wonder what would have happened if one of those turkey stops was a fleeing felon. Would objections have been raised if the white cops only stopped black motorists, to say “We like you! We really like you! Here’s a turkey!”

Here comes the déjà vu again: As I wrote about the ice cream caper, which was pretty much the same thing: Continue reading

3 Comments

Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Rights

Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #4

kill-trump-tweets

The last of our four unethical missives (the previous ones are here, here, and here) comes from the CEO of Grubhub. But first, consider the election night Facebook discourse above, by the chief executive of San Diego cybersecurity start-up PacketSled, Matt Harrigan. The key tweets are a bit hard to read. The top left one says he’s going to kill the President-Elect. The bottom left says he’s getting a sniper rifle.

He has been placed on leave by his board.

Good move.

GrubHub Inc. CEO Matt Maloney was a bit more genteel, writing to his employees The Day After:

SUBJECT: So… that happened… what’s next?

I’m still trying to reconcile my own worldview with the overwhelming message that was delivered last night. Clearly there are a lot of people angry and scared as the antithesis of every modern presidential candidate won and will be our next president.  While demeaning, insulting and ridiculing minorities, immigrants and the physically/mentally disabled worked for Mr. Trump, I want to be clear that this behavior – and these views, have no place at Grubhub. Had he worked here, many of his comments would have resulted in his immediate termination. 

We have worked for years cultivating a culture of support and inclusiveness. I firmly believe that we must bring together different perspectives to continue innovating – including all genders, races, ethnicities and sexual, cultural or ideological preferences. We are better, faster and stronger together.  Further I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can.As we all try to understand what this vote means to us, I want to affirm to anyone on our team that is scared or feels personally exposed, that I and everyone else here at Grubhub will fight for your dignity and your right to make a better life for yourself and your family here in the United States. 

If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here. We do not tolerate hateful attitudes on our team.I want to repeat what Hillary said this morning, that the new administration deserves our open minds and a chance to lead, but never stop believing that the fight for what’s right is worth it. 

Stay strong, Matt

The key text was this…

“I absolutely reject the nationalist, anti-immigrant and hateful politics of Donald Trump and will work to shield our community from this movement as best as I can….If you do not agree with this statement then please reply to this email with your resignation because you have no place here.”

There’s nothing wrong with nationalism, in moderation. Trump isn’t anti-immigrant, he’s anti-illegal immigrant. What constitutes the politics of Donald Trump and whether or not it is hateful is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, Maloney is clearly saying that his employees must agree with his partisan views (and selective sense of diversity or inclusion), or they forfeit their jobs.

After it was pointed out to Maloney that the e-mail demanded ideological conformity, was probably illegal under some state laws (like California) and was gallactically stupid, he tried to explain with a deceitful apology, writing in part, Continue reading

25 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Facebook, Government & Politics, Workplace

Social Media Ethics: Speaking Of “Rigged” Elections….

social-media

Can someone give me a benign explanation for this?

From Zero Hedge:

“Does anyone else find it odd that ‘FBI Emails’ does not appear to be a hot topic, trending, big deal on any social media?”

Facebook… “Trending”…

 

Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Social Media, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump, U.S. Society