Rueful Observations On The Latest Development In Virginia Governor Northam’s Blackface Scandal

Well, let’s see: my college has embarrassed me, my law school’s professors continue to make me wish I had earned a law degree by drawing “Skippy” from the cover of a matchbook, black students were apparently insulted in my home city’s famous art museum, my baseball team allowed itself to be split by “the resistance,” and my adopted state of Virginia has the most ridiculous governor since Rod Blagojevich was making Illinois residents consider moving to Tierra del Fuego.

To refresh your memory regarding  the Ralph Northam Ethics Trainwreck, since it’s been stashed in the news media memory hole for a while: the same week  that he appeared to casually explain how post-birth abortion works while showing all the passion of someone describing how to replace a carburetor, Northam’s med school yearbook surfaced showing the governor-to-be either dressed as a Klansman or wearing blackface, unless you subscribe to the theory that the photo of two men in such get-ups was just randomly planted on Northam’s page.

In a dizzying sequence, the Governor 1) apologized for the photo and wearing blackface in it, apparently admitting that it was him 2) said that he didn’t think either figure was him, and he could “tell by looking at it” 3) admitted that he did once wear blackface to look like Michael Jackson in a talent show 4) said that he had to have someone explain to him recently that blackface was considered offensive.

The short version: he’s a babbling, untrustworthy idiot. Continue reading

Never Mind The Blackface: Governor Northam Should Resign Because He Is Cowardly, Untrustworthy, Dishonest And Too Weird For Words

And it is unethical for a governor to be cowardly, untrustworthy, dishonest and too weird for words. Virginia’s governor has embarrassed his state, it’s citizens, and everyone who voted for him. He is a source of humiliation for his party. He cannot lead, or do anything but harm while he remains in office.

You host here at Ethics Alarms is still sick and bed-ridden, but I had to crawl to my office for this. Wow. From the moment he appeared in the most unethical campaign ad I had seen from a Virginia candidate for office, appealing directly to anti-Trump derangement and hate by calling the President of the United States a “maniac,” I knew there was something seriously off about Ralph Northam, and, frankly, about anyone who would vote for him. His recent “oh, this is how you go about aborting a baby who has already been born” comments confirmed that assessment, ” but I was not in favor of forcing him out of office because he had appeared in blackface while a medical student 34 years ago. However, Northam’s conduct and statements since initially apologizing for the photo that surfaced this week are not 35 years old. They reveal the current character of the individual changed with overseeing the government of Virginia. That character is intolerable for any leader, and it was not what the Virginians who voted for Northam—I wasn’t fooled, but you can fool some of the people some of the time—believed they were electing.

In today’s Saturday Night Live-ready press conference, Governor Northam, his poor wife by his side, gave a bravura performance in self-character assassination: Continue reading

Stop Labeling The Sixth Circuit’s Approval Of Gay Marriage Bans As “Right Wing”

prop-8People who don’t (or can’t) read court decisions—and in this very large group I include most pundits and journalists—are prone to dismiss careful thought out and reasoned judicial arguments that took careful research and consideration as the product of political bias rather than what they (usually) are: sincere, honest, intelligent dissections of issues that are far more complex than advocates for opposing sides care to admit.

The Sixth Circuit just triggered an almost certain U.S. Supreme Court review of state same-sex marriage bans by upholding such bans in several states. Immediately, pro-gay marriage advocates and pundits attacked the decision as “right wing,” as if the court reached the decision from a starting point hostile to gays and homosexuality generally. The implication of this interpretation is that judges do not follow the law, legal principles and standards of jurisprudence and construction, but merely decide what result they wish to reach based on ideological and partisan biases, and then write essays of advocacy disguised as objective analysis.

The presumption is both ignorant, unfair, and convenient. It is ignorant because it assumes that the judicial profession and those in that profession ignore the primary ethical requirements of being a judge, standards that have stood unchanged and unchallenged for centuries and that every jurist swears to uphold. The first two Canons of the ABA Model Judicial Code state those standards clearly: Continue reading

Standards, the Salahis, Bluto, and Us

A sane culture discourages ethical misconduct by condemning and punishing it. The American culture, thanks to greed, intellectual rot and an irresponsible media, rewards unethical conduct by making it profitable. This isn’t a trivial matter.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi are about as despicable a pair as one can imagine, redeemed only by the fact that they haven’t caused any oil spills, aren’t abusing children and haven’t killed anyone. They are full-time grifters, and are diligently working to profit by exploiting America’s sick obsession with media celebrity. They crashed a White House dinner in November, costing several people their jobs, and launching multiple investigations that added to the tax-payers’ burden. None of that mattered to them, of course, because the irresponsible escapade advanced their idiotic, pathetic and selfish goal: joining the likes of Jose Canseco, Corey Feldman and Gary Busey on TV’s equivalent of belching, a reality show. Then, being completely shameless, they recently stalked a White House dinner again, getting themselves stopped by the Secret Service as they rode in a rented limousine, dressed in formal attire, with an “Inside Edition” camera crew in tow. This was just an “incredible coincidence,” they explained…wink-wink, nudge-nudge. Continue reading