Tag Archives: Maine

A “Peace On Earth, Good Will Toward Men” Ethics Quiz: The Bitter Propane Dealer

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

A Skowhegan, Maine Trump voter.

The quiz itself has little to do with the fact that Michael Turner is the kind of bad American, bad neighbor, bad community member and  jerk who makes Ebenezer Scrooge seem like a mensch, but ponder on his conduct anyway.  If you are one of the residents in Skowhegan, Maine   and you call Turner LP Gas in Skowhegan, Maine to buy propane to heat your home, you get this message from the owner:

“If you voted for Donald Trump for president, I will no longer be delivering your gas. Please find someone else.”

No, it’s not a hate crime, it’s just hate. It gets cold in Maine, and Skowhegan, like the rest of the state, has a lot of poor people among it’s 8500 or so residents. It also has many who are elderly and poor, for whom having to find another propane supplier may be not just inconvenient, but life-threatening. This is why we have public accommodation laws: To protect us, especially the vulnerable among us, from bigots and bullies like Michael Turner.

He is no different in his lack of decency and the void of ethical values in his soul than the racists who refused to allow black citizens to frequent their establishments before the Civil Rights Act, bridal shop owners who won’t sell wedding dresses to same-sex couples, and the innkeepers who turned away a pregnant woman and her husband long ago, on a night we celebrate soon.

Ethics Alarms has discussed this ugly phenomenon many times. The Bush administration tried to validate it by approving the so called “workers’ right of conscience, ” that permitted a wide variety of health care workers to refuse to administer treatments they found morally repugnant. President Obama, to his credit, restricted that wide-open door to division and bigotry, then allowed the rest of his years in office to exacerbate societal schisms to the point that we have large numbers of a political party trying to overturn a legal election while calling  Americans who dared to vote differently than they did racists, sexists and fascists.

A recent Ethics Alarms post titled, “Americans: End This Slippery Slope Now, Before It’s Too Late,” about a Washington, D.C. restaurant that publicly apologized for letting an alt-right group to eat there, asked,

Are all groups, families and individuals now going to be required to declare their political and ideological positions before being allowed to order a lasagna? What is an acceptable group? If there is a protest over a Black Lives Matter dinner,  will Maggiano’s apologize? If Mike Pence and his family eats there and the “Hamilton” cast protests, does that mean they will refuse to serve cannoli members of the Trump administration? Despite the fact that the protests came from progressives, the attack on the restaurant is totalitarian in substance.  What is being commanded is conformity of thought.

Ah, but the persecutors are the good guys, don’t you understand? They know they are right, so they can rationalize hurting anyone who isn’t like them. Michael Turner is this breed of citizen. I must admit, when I warned that electing Donald Trump would turn the U.S. into a nation of assholes, I didn’t anticipate that it would be assholes like Michael Turner.

There’s no quiz on this topic, for it is settled ethics that his practice of punishing neighbors for their political views stinks. No, the quiz involves the conduct of Turner’s customers:

Today’s Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz is this…

If Turner required customers to state that they voted against Donald Trump in order to buy propane from him, would it be unethical for Trump voters to lie?

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Rights, U.S. Society

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R)

lePage

Those who want a glimpse into what a Donald Trump presidency would be like need look no farther than the perpetual self-created mess that is the tenure of Republican Paul LePage as governer of Maine. The New York Times recently provided a handy summary of his more recent embarrassments and attacks of absurd incivility and unprofessional behavior:

2016

April

Mr. LePage apologized after storming offstage and calling protesting students “idiots” during a public appearance.

March

Mr. LePage displayed “Wanted”-style posters aimed at environmentalist and union groups during a town meeting, saying those groups were holding the state back.

February

Mr. LePage said asylum-seekers brought disease and the “ziki-fly.” When asked to apologize at an event in June, Mr. LePage did not, and said conditions like hepatitis C and H.I.V. were on the rise in Maine. Mr. LePage also drew criticism that month for appearing to mock a Chinese businessman’s name.

That month, Mr. LePage also delivered his State of the State address in the form of a letter, breaking the tradition of giving a speech to lawmakers. He said it would be “silliness” to address lawmakers who had tried to impeach him.

January

Mr. LePage apologized for a “slip-up” after saying drug-dealers would come from out of state and “impregnate a young white girl” before leaving. The drug dealers, he said, in a comment that was widely perceived as racially charged, “are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty — these types of guys.”

2015

July

Mr. LePage apologized to the son of a cartoonist for The Bangor Daily News because he had told the son he would “like to shoot” his father. That comment drew criticism, with some noting its added insensitivity given the attack at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper in Paris earlier that year, although the son said he was not offended.

June

A charter school in Maine said Mr. LePage had threatened to take away its funding if it did not rescind a job offer to the House speaker, Mark Eves, a Democrat.

“The full power of the state was used to put a father of three out of a job because he was a lawmaker who disagrees with the governor on policy,” the editorial board of The Press Herald wrote.

Some Democrats called for impeachment, but an effort to investigate Mr. LePage — which would have been a precursor to impeachment in January 2016 — did not muster enough support for a vote.

May

Mr. LePage vowed to veto all Democratic-sponsored bills until the party accepted his effort to eliminate the state’s income tax. The question of whether Mr. LePage had vetoed 65 bills within the proper time frame ended up in the State Supreme Court, which found that the bills could stand as law.

2013

August

Two lawmakers, who remained anonymous, said they had heard Mr. LePage say at a fund-raiser that President Obama “hates white people.”

June Mr. LePage made a graphically lewd statement about Troy Jackson, a Democrat who was the assistant Senate majority leader at the time. He added that Mr. Jackson was a “bad person” with “no brains” and a “black heart.”

2012

July

Mr. LePage compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo in a radio address. Asked about the comment in a follow-up interview several days later, he said: “What I am trying to say is the Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the I.R.S. is not quite as bad — yet.”

2011

January

Mr. LePage said leaders from the N.A.A.C.P. who had questioned his decision not to attend Martin Luther King’s Birthday events could “kiss my butt.”

2010

September

During his campaign for governor, Mr. LePage told a group of fishermen that he would tell Mr. Obama to “go to hell.”

People like LePage and Trump don’t improve over time, because they don’t learn. If they did, they would not still behave like this at such advanced ages. Thus Governor LePage recently shattered his own record for outrageous conduct, whatever it was, beginning last week.  LePage told a town hall meeting addressing the current heroin-use epidemic in Maine that most drug dealers in the state were black or Hispanic, and that he had a binder to prove it. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, Race

The Case Of The Snoozing Prosecutor

cigar ash

There is a true story about Clarence Darrow putting a wire in his cigar and puffing it during an opponents closing argument to the jury. The idea was to create an absurdly long ash, so the jury would become distracted and watched to see when it would fall on his suit, when they were supposed to be paying attention to the summation. I’ve used that story in ethics seminars, asking attendees if this was unethical, and if so, was there a rule that could be used to punish a lawyer who did it.

Now comes word that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled  on Tuesday that there was no prejudicial error in the trial of Buddy Robinson, who was convicted in the death of his downstairs neighbor, despite the fact that the prosecutor, then Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, pretended to fall asleep during his Robinson’s lawyer’s closing. Robinson had appealed the verdict because of this and other questionable conduct by the prosecutor. Benson admitted that he sometimes pretended to be asleep in trials to annoy defense attorneys. In its opinion denying the appeal, the court concluded that the trial judge did not err in denying Robinson’s motion for a new trial, given the strength of the prosecution case.

It also said that the fake sleep bit “was sophomoric, unprofessional and a poor reflection on the prosecutor’s office.”

It’s also an ethics violation, a couple of ways. Maine’s Rules… Continue reading

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Two Stories To Look Back Upon Ruefully When The Nation Has Gone To Pot And It’s Too Late To Reverse Course

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

Once heroin is legal, there will be no more heroin problem...

One of the horrible results of the coming election—not as horrible as the possibility of electing Ben Carson, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump President, perhaps, but horrible still—will be the nation’s final capitulation to the movement started in the 1960’s to keep the country, the culture and the poor stoned. Cognitive dissonance will ensure it on the Republican side, as opponents to legal pot will be the same old fogeys who proclaim that gay marriage will destroy the earth, causing a valid and correct argument to be destroyed by a senseless one. Others in the party, caring about staying in power more than our society’s welfare, will just give in, citing the usual ethically inert rationalizations that legalizing drugs is the lesser of two evils and that we need to use treatment, not punishment. Meanwhile, Democrats will pander to its pot-loving base, while also stumping for state governments legalizing the crap to close budget deficits created by their fiscally irresponsible policies. Heck, even I would rather see the pot industry taxed instead of me.

And we will be bombarded by the pairing of pot legalization with the allegedly racist “mass incarceration problem,” which is really and truly the “too many African Americans break laws and expect to get away with it because their parents and culture don’t send the message that its a big deal” problem. The big deal they, and we, are now being told is that they get punished for breaking laws, which is racist because Black Lives Matter.

I was in court watching sentencings a couple months back in Northern Virginia. While the crimes the defendants being sentenced for were not drug related, every single one of those sentenced–-every one—had either  a pot charge dropped in favor of a guilty plea for a more serious crime, had record of drug arrests, or had tested positive for pot during while awaiting sentence or on parole. Bernie and Hillary and the gang (the gang including journalists, who like their weed) would have us believe that the prisons are just teeming with otherwise law-abiding black citizens who are there because they engaged in harmless recreational drug use and nothing else. The new paradigm, pushed by the President (of course), is that prison should only be for violent felons, not habitual scoff-laws who often dabble in violence too.

Ah, yes, this is all going to work out so well.

I  encountered two stories on the web that show the path we are on as well as the muddled thinking and dishonesty that got us there. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Literature, Popular Culture, U.S. Society

The Great Maine Diner Controversy

Marcys-Diner

Thanks to the internet, every day conflicts between ordinary citizens become opportunities for society-wide ethical evaluation . This can be extremely beneficial, helping to reveal disagreements regarding ethical conduct in common situations, and establishing social norms with efficiency that once would have been impossible. Of course, that requires that society reaches a reasonable consensus.

Last week a controversy emanating from a Portland, Maine diner called Marcy’s had blogs bloviating, pundits punditting and social media boiling over. Vacationing parents took their toddler to a crowded diner for breakfast, waited 30 minutes for a table and another 40 minutes for their food. The hungry child went on a crying jag that went on too long for the owner, who  suggested that the couple to leave in a less than polite manner, and finally shouted at the little girl to  “shut the hell up!” The couple left the diner.

The mother, Tara Carson, couldn’t resist registering her indignation on the Marcy’s Facebook page, the owner responded with even more colorful language than she did in the original confrontation, and social media appeared to divide into the “it takes a village so be sympathetic to parents of young kids and give them a break” camp and the “serves these entitled and incompetent parents right for being so inconsiderate and not controlling their child” camp, with the latter considerably smaller than the former. Then, not content to let the matter blow over, Carson got the Washington Post to publish her op-ed about the episode, which concluded, Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Family, Social Media, U.S. Society

A Rare Ethics Hero-Ethics Dunce: Maine Attorney General Janet Mills

I looked everywhere to find a picture of a combination Hero-Dunce. This was the best I could locate: the Maine Atty. Gen.

I looked everywhere to find a picture of a combination Hero-Dunce. This was the best I could locate: the Maine Atty. Gen.

If one’s only point of reference were Eric Holder, one might get the impression that the job of an attorney general is to use the influence and power of the office to pursue the executive’s political and policy objectives. That is not what an attorney general is supposed to do, however, because the top lawyer of a city, a state or the U.S. is pledged to represent all the people, not just those who patronize a particular party, and the top lawyer’s client is not the executive, but the entire government entity. If that entity becomes corrupt, then the client becomes the public that is being betrayed.

Maine’s Attorney General Janet Mills illustrated how the job should be done and can be, if the lawyer holding it is ethical and not merely a serving as a political yes-man. Governor Paul LePage, a Republican, wanted to appeal the federal government’s  denial of his request to remove about 6,000 low-income young adults, 19- and 20-year olds,  from Maine’s Medicaid program. Normally the Attorney General would handle the litigation, but Mills refused, insisting that it was  a case that could not be won, and would waste state resources. Excellent. Continue reading

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Ethics Train Wreck Updates: The Obama Presidency and The Washington Redskins

Obama golfing

1. Update: The Obama Presidency Ethics Train Wreck

This has been a week dominated by Ethics Train Wrecks old and new: the Ferguson Express, which will presumably slow down for a few months until we find out what the grand jury does and why; the previously dormant Donald Sterling choo-choo, which came around another bend in its tracks, and, predictably, the Ethics Train Wreck that is the entire Obama Presidency, highlighted by the President more or less intentionally refusing to act like an engaged leader, happily going back to fun on the links after making a statement regarding an American journalist beheaded on video by terrorists.

Naturally the latter concerns me more than the rest, but I have realized that most of those who are in permanent denial about this leader’s ineptitude simply don’t want to process the truth in this regard. Mention the obvious, or what should be, that this frightening confluence of crises domestic and foreign is an irresponsible time to be perceived as taking a break, and one is bombarded by specious comparisons with Bush or JFK’s home away from home on Cape Cod. Some observers have the integrity to concede what many–you know, those mean Obama critics who are out to get him because he’s black–correctly discerned long ago. Here’s The New York Times, consistently one of the President’s most incorrigible apologists:

“Yet the juxtaposition of his indignant denunciation of terrorists and his outing on the greens this week underscored the unintended consequences of such a remove. If Mr. Obama hoped to show America’s enemies that they cannot hijack his schedule, he also showed many of his friends in America that he disdains the politics of appearance. He long ago stopped worrying about what critics say, according to aides, and after the outcry over Wednesday’s game, he defied the critics by golfing again on Thursday, his eighth outing in 11 days on the island.

It was all the more striking given that Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain canceled his vacation after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria released the video showing Mr. Foley’s death because the accent of the masked killer suggested he came from Britain. Former Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News that Mr. Obama would “rather be on the golf course than he would be dealing with the crisis.”

But the criticism went beyond the usual political opponents. Privately, many Democrats shook their heads at what they considered a judgment error.”

It is not a judgment error at all. It is just another example of Obama’s flat, flat, flat learning curve regarding leadership. Continue reading

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