Tag Archives: fitness to serve

My Last Ethics Post About Roy Moore

I hope.

Unless he loses, and then my post, in its entirety, will read, “Good!”

The Republican Party reversed its previously signaled course this week, and appeared to be supporting the Senate candidacy of Roy Moore. This has been greeted by Democrats, the leftward pundits and news media as the equivalent of the GOP endorsing Jeffrey Daumer. “This is the end of the Republican Party!” I have read, in various forms. meanwhile, the predictable feckless Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also reversed himself. Once he said that Moore would not be seated if elected,  said he believes Moore’s accusers and called for the candidate to step aside. Now he’s saying it’s up to Alabama voters to decide. “The people of Alabama are going to decide a week from Tuesday who they want to send to the Senate,” McConnell said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday. “It’s really up to them. It’s been a pretty robust campaign with a lot of people weighing in. The president and I, of course, supported somebody different earlier in the process. But in the end, the voters of Alabama will make their choice.”

Observations:

  • The Republican Party had an obligation not to endorse (or run) Moore before a single accusation regarding his fondness for teenage girls surfaced. He was already unfit for office; it wold be unethical to support him if he had the personal life of Pat Boone.

If the party somehow decides that stalking shopping malls for dates and persuading mothers to pimp out 14 year olds was nothing to get upset about in a U.S. Senator, there would still be  the fact that Moore doesn’t believe in the rule of law, the Constitution, Equal Justice or the Bill of Rights, and that he’s an anti-gay bigot. These are more disqualifying than any sexual misconduct he engaged in 40 years ago. After all, I strongly suspect that 20-30, maybe more, U. S. Senators have engaged in past sexual misconduct that would make their continued presence in the Senate unpalatable. I don’t think any of them have acted or considered acting as Moore has, repeatedly violating the hierarchy of authority in the government, and arguing that that God has veto power over the Supreme Court. Mike Huckabee, at his worst, has said similar things, but he’s a talking head now; I can’t envision him actually defying a court order.

  • As I wrote back when the GOP had a chance to refuse to nominate Donald Trump, a political party is charged with maintaining the integrity of the government and our democracy, which means only offering for election candidates for office who are at least minimally qualified and trustworthy. That is a party’s duty: not just to win elections, but to win them with candidates of whom it can be reasonably and objectively said  will serve the nation with honor and competence. That can’t be said of Roy Moore, and it never could.

To a great extent, all the focus on his teen dates obscure the real problem with his candidacy. Since a majority of Alabama Republicans don’t believe Moore’s accusers, this has helped him. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Psychiatrists Board The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck

It’s pretty simple. Professionals must be trusted, and when it becomes clear that members of a profession are allowing themselves to be influenced by emotion and partisan political bias, they cannot be. One of the most troubling results of the mass abandonment of fairness, prudence, proportion, fairness and common sense in the wake of the 2016 Presidential election has been the public meltdown of reserve and restraint by so many professionals, which will have long-term effects on their ability to serve the public in the future.

Journalists, as we have seen and continue to see, have completely abandoned their profession’s duties of competence, objectivity and independence to join the efforts on the Left to undermine President Trump and his administration. Educators and school administrators, whose roles in society should have no political component whatsoever, have done the same. Historians, whose profession requires careful and dispassionate analysis of past events with perspective and objectivity, chose this moment to try to influence history as it was being made, and to push it into directions they prefer as partisans, not professionals. Law professors and lawyers have debased themselves arguing for crackpot theories to justify undoing the election. Judges have embraced the opposite of a judicial process to halt a Presidential order their political allies find offensive: rather than evaluating the limited travel halt based on what it is, they have delayed it based on a presumed motive calculated from past comments made on the campaign trail.

Legal ethicists, as I discussed here,  abandoned legal ethics to make bogus, politically motivated charges against a Trump aide who is not practicing law, and whose conduct in question wouldn’t have breached professional standards if she had been. Last week, scientists demonstrated on the National Mall to argue for policies they say their research demands, though a preference for specific policy applications biases research and makes it untrustworthy. Great: climate scientists want draconian climate change policies? Good to know; now we also know that we can’t be sure their research results aren’t tainted by their bias….though coming up with a predictive climate change model that actually works would be nice. Even the linguists have succumbed to the epidemic.

Now a significant number of psychiatrists have joined their colleagues in other professions by behaving like partisan hacks. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Leadership, Professions

Debate Ethics: Trump’s “Breathtaking Repudiation Of American Democracy”

debate3

Substance, of course, is officially irrelevant to the 2016 Presidential election. This is a bitter “be careful what you wish for” realization for Ethics Alarms and its author, as I have long argued that leaders’ values and character are more important and should be given more weight in any choice of candidates than their political affiliations or official policy positions. I did not foresee  a race in which both candidates have definitively proven that they are unfit for office and corrupt beyond repair or redemption, and one of those candidates is so unfit that even the epic dishonesty and democracy-corroding conduct of his opponent cannot begin to justify a vote for him by anyone with the sense of a bivalve mollusk.

Thus, once again as in the first two debates, the leading story coming out of last night’s snark-fest relates to character, not substance. In this case, it doesn’t even relate to practical reality. Donald Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace,

Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?

..and after talking around the question interminable, as usual, Trump finally answered,

What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?

Hillary Clinton immediately pronounced the answer “horrifying,” and her assessment is currently being echoed on editorial pages and by pundits and analysts as if Trump announced that he was raising an army of NRA members to take the White House by force. Gasped the Washington Post this morning, in an editorial titled, “Trump’s Breathtaking Repudiation of American Democracy,” “Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world….[Clinton’s flaws] fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.”The New York Times, in its editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Contempt for Democracy,” pontificated,

Mr. Trump’s meltdown in the closing weeks could be dismissed as a sore loser’s bizarre attempt at rationalizing his likely defeat. But his trashing of the democratic process, in service of his own ego, risks lasting damage to the country, and politicians of both parties should recoil from him and his cynical example.

It in no way excuses Donald Trump to take notice of the “breathtaking” dishonesty here.

Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Donald Trump (Of Course!)

“Take a look. You look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so.”

Donald Trump, denying People Magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff’s claim that he “brought her into a room, shut the door, “and within seconds, he was pushing me against the wall, and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

This is Trump accuser Cassandra Searles, who, Donald Trump wants us to know, IS the kind of woman he sexually assaults...

This is Trump accuser Cassandra Searles, who, Donald Trump wants us to know, IS the kind of woman he sexually assaults…

This comes as close to being funny as a man running for President who proves his sexism and misogyny even in the act of denying them can be. It is tragic, however.

Trump can’t help himself. He can’t help himself for two reasons. The first reason is that he really does, deep down, believe that women exist on earth for purely the carnal enjoyment of men, particularly wealth and powerful men. This is part of his world view, and he is incapable of changing or learning. When Trump said, in his second pseudo-apology for his recorded 2005 comments, that he had “changed,” implying that he had changed in regard to his enthusiastic endorsement of privileged sexual assault, he was lying, straight up. This comment, which is an ad hominem attack upon and insult to his accuser, proves it, not that the claim wasn’t an obvious lie when he said it in the apology video.

The second reason is that the man literally is incapable of thinking through what he says before he says it. We already knew this, too. He has pitiful self-control, de minimus common sense, and the  judgment of  Ryan Lochte.

In this instance, Trump reminded me of Fredo’s downfall  in “Godfather II,” when mere minutes after he pretends to not know Johnny Ola, Hyman Roth’s henchman (having previously denied to his Godfather brother that he had ever had any contact with him), Fredo loudly contradicts himself by telling the group including his brother that Johnny Ola had recommended the Havana sex club Fredo had brought them to.  Fredo, being an idiot, doesn’t even realize what he has done. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society

Comment Of The Day: “Donald Trump ‘When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It’ Apology, Take Two!”…Plus The Last Comments I’m Going To Make About Trump’s “Pussy” Tape, Because Life’s Too Short

princess-bride

Ethics Alarms works best when commenters take a post and extend the issue to the next stage, expanding the inquiry and making useful observations. This Comment of the Day by Charles Green is an example. I had just written three posts (including this, and this, that related to Charles’ commentary more closely than the post it actually followed) about various ethics aspects of the Trump-Billy Bush tape and the reaction to it, and Charles flagged enough additional material for a fourth.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Donald Trump “When You’re A Star, They Let You Do It” Apology, Take Two! (I’ll be back to add a bit to Charles’ points at the end.)

Trump is of course a troglodyte. But Jack, this is an ethics swamp – look at all the other arguments showing up.

The most obvious one is Billy Bush’s “It was a long time ago.” So, there’s a statute of limitations on unethical behavior? (Trump went him one worse, saying that was ten years ago – and look at what Clinton did 20 years ago!).

But there’s another meme that keeps showing up. For example, Mitch McConnell saying, “I have daughters, and I…” So, is what Trump said inoffensive if you only have sons and brothers?

Mike Pence says, “As a husband and a father” he was offended. So, my single childless son shouldn’t be offended?

Jeb Bush says, “As the grandfather of two girls…reprehensible…degrading…” Jeez, do you have to be a grandpa before you can be offended?

What about Paul Ryan, saying, “Women should be championed and revered.” As a friend of mine says, “Would that be like a Special Olympics athlete? Or the biblical Mary?”

In their own bizarre way, these conditional statements are as ethically suspect as Trump apologizing “if I offended anyone.”

The common logical construct is a leading clause which SOUNDS like it should have something to do with what follows. But really, does “I’m a grandfather, so what he said was reprehensible” make any more ethical sense than “I’m a vegetarian, so what he said was reprehensible.”

As someone might have said, “What difference does it make!?”

Continue reading

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Is “The Goldwater Rule” Necessary?

Barry Goldwater

From an  edict handed down last week by the head of the American Psychiatric Association:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Naturally, as he is significantly responsible for much that is going haywire in the culture—CNN experts using words like “dick” on the air, a Fox News star and a Wall Street Journal editor calling each other names on Twitter, the New York Times announcing that it no longer is even pretending to follow its own ethics code—this can be partially placed at the feet of Donald Trump, though Ann Althouse’s suspicions that it is really designed to protect Hillary Clinton cannot be discarded.

I agree that professional groups that use their collective weight and credibility to assume greater influence in political matters than their biases and relevant expertise warrant are abusing their positions. I agree that psychiatrists pronouncing public officials mentally unfit for office without the same kind of examination that they would demand with a patient is a dubious practice, ripe for abuse. Still, I wonder if the situation with Trump doesn’t pose a different problem. Continue reading

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