Saluting the GOP’s Most Ethical Candidate, Distrusted For Doing the Right Thing

We'll miss his daughters, too...

Jon Huntsman is gone, finally quitting the hunt for the Republican Presidential nomination long after the futility of his quest had been established. Huntsman was easily the ethics favorite in the competition, though Ron Paul’s candor and integrity also get high marks. He began his campaign with a call for civility, and seldom missed the high standard he set out for himself. Best of all, he correctly identified the ethics core of our nation’s various problems: the trust deficit. Huntsman began hitting this theme hard in Iowa, but perhaps not hard enough. The collapse of public trust in all our institutions is a very real threat to our democracy, for democracy, more than any government philosophy, requires trust to survive. Whatever it is that Republicans want right now, however, trust isn’t very high on the list, and neither is civility. Continue reading

The Third Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The BEST of Ethics 2011

Why is the The Best in Ethics 2011 only about 33% the size of the “Worst”?

This troubles me. My objective is not to be negative. The problem, I think, is that ethical conduct is still much more common than unethical conduct, and it is usually less controversial to identify: most of the time, good ethics is self-explanatory. All of us learn more from mistakes and misdeeds, our own and those of others, than we do from meeting societal standards. Most of what Ethics Alarms does is to try to identify unethical conduct, what was wrong with it, why it happened, and how we can discourage it.

Which is all well and good, but I still would like to make 2012’s Ethics Alarms  more positive year than this one, if possible. Help me, will you, find more topics involving good ethics, so next year’s Best list can hold its own with the Worst.

Here are the 2011 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Best in Ethics:

Most Important Ethical Act of the Year: Acquitting Casey Anthony. The Florida jury charged with deciding if Casey Anthony murdered her daughter faced the ire of a lynch mob-minded public that wanted the unsympathetic Anthony convicted, based on suspicious conduct and a dubious explanation,  but the evidence just wasn’t there. Thus the courageous twelve upheld the American values of fairness, objectivity, and justice under the law. It is interesting that the most ethical act of the year also sparked some of the most unethical arguments of the year, by too many citizens who benefit from our nation’s ideals without comprehending them. Continue reading

So Who Do We Trust To Fight Crony Capitalism?

Shut out of the last Iowa debate because of low poll numbers, earnest, honest, ethical, reasonable, intelligent and boring candidate Jon Huntsman gave his assessment of the event to ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, saying that the main issue facing the country was a trust deficit:

“The most important issue of all was not even touched upon and that is the deficit of trust we have in the United States, in fact it may have played right into the trust deficit. That is, nobody trusts Congress anymore. We need term limits in Congress, we need to close the revolving door that allows members of Congress to move right on into the lobbying profession. No one has trust anymore towards the executive branch, no one trusts Wall Street with the banks that are too big to fail. So I would argue that the issues that are most salient in our political dialogue today were not even touched upon last night…”

Huntsman is right. It was especially astounding that this issue wasn’t addressed in the debate (and that those crack moderators Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos  didn’t mention it) after more than a month of Occupy Everywhere protests that sorta-kinda dealt with the trust issue (oh,  what a little focus could have wrought!)  and the recent “60 Minutes”  expose on insider trading by members of Congress. Also preceding the debate was this trust-buster: in July of 2008, Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson held a meeting with select Wall Street fund managers and gave them advance notice of government action that they could use to make significant profits: Continue reading

Trump Follies Integrity Test: The Grades Are In!

Today Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann  declined the invitation to participate in the NewsMax debate, moderated by Donald Trump. All the GOP Presidential contenders have now responded to the opportunity accept some television exposure in exchange for playing pawns in Donald Trump’s tawdry manipulation of the media, public attention and the political process for personal promotion purposes.

The Ethics Alarms grades are in for this integrity test,  based on rapidity in assessing the revolting nature of the exercise, clarity in condemning it, and personal integrity demonstrated by the handling of the whole embarrassing stunt.

Here they are:

AJon Huntsman and Ron Paul get the highest grades for declining quickly and for the right stated reason—Trump.

C+: Mitt Romney was the third to  decline, but also told Trump it was for scheduling reasons, losing points for weasel words, or, in the alternative, really not objecting to The Donald. As usual, who knows what Romney really believes?

D : Perry and Bachmann, for waiting until they knew who else was debating. Perry used the same excuse as Romney, and Bachmann declined “respectfully.” That loses points: Trump doesn’t deserve any respect.

D-: Rick Santorum. OK, he should flunk, but he’s desperate, and only a debate with nobody else at it would give him a chance to stand out. He couldn’t resist temptation. I sympathize.

F: Newt. He has no excuses. Or integrity.

Richard Cohen, National Interests, and the Ethical Duties of the US to the World

There used to be no columnist who infuriated me more consistently than Richard Cohen. Those were the hazy, golden days before I discovered E.J. Dionne, Paul Krugman and Harold Mayerson, however, whose rigid ideology virtually precludes objective analysis. Cohen isn’t biased, he’s just wrong more often than not. But he is also capable of bursts of moral and ethical clarity. Today was an example, as he took on the isolationist voices on the left and the right that make up a large component, if not the majority, of our elected leadership today.

Cohen begins by recounting a section from  Erik Larson ‘s book,“In the Garden of the Beasts,” about how the American foreign policy establishment in the Thirties resisted efforts by William Dodd, then ambassador to Germany, to protest the Hitler government’s increasing persecution of Jews. Humanity, and the U.S., paid a steep price for its inward-turning perspective after World War I, as we abdicated our traditional role as defender of liberty, freedom, democracy and human rights on the world stage. Continue reading

More Civility Confusion: Jon Huntsman’s Announcement


"Oh, NO...not THAT!"

To listen to the contempt and outrage expressed by conservative critics of Jon Huntsman’s official presidential campaign kick-off yesterday, one might have thought that he had pledged to conduct his quest for the presidency in Arabic. No, what infuriated Rich and Sean and Mark and the rightward bloggers who adore them is that he pledged…to be civil. Huntsman said:

“Now let me say something about civility. For the sake of the younger generation, it concerns me that civility, humanity and respect are sometimes lost in our interactions as Americans. Our political debates today are corrosive and not reflective of the belief that Abe Lincoln espoused back in his day, that we are a great country because we are a good country. You know what I mean when I say that. We will conduct this campaign on the high road. I don’t think you need to run down someone’s reputation in order to run for the Office of President. Of course we’ll have our disagreements. That’s what campaigns are all about. But I want you to know that I respect my fellow Republican candidates. And I respect the President of the United States. He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help a country we both love. But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better President; not who’s the better American.”

The horror… Continue reading