And The Michele Bachmann Memorial Award For The Most Disqualifying Ignorance Of American History Demonstrated By A Republican Presidential Candidate Goes To….

Michele-Bachmann1

Ben Carson, of course!

WARNING: the next person who tells me that Ben Carson must be intelligent because he separated conjoined twins is going to get a punch in the mouth, unethical or not.

The award is named for Bachmann because she repeatedly mangled American history on the way to becoming the 2012 Republican Presidential hopeful who most embarrassed her party, her gender, her species, bipeds,  and the American educational system. On the way to losing all respect, credibility and the nomination, Bachmann told her cheering, stupid crowds that the “shot heard round the world” was in New Hampshire, and that John Quincy Adams, a little boy in 1776, was a Founding Father. (Bachmann also confused John Wayne with John Wayne Gacy, the serial child killer, and I’m not forgiving that, either.)

Believe it or not, Carson’s award winning statement is worse. Yesterday,on C-SPAN, he said this in his usual inspiring eyes half closed, lips barely moving, droning delivery, when he was asked which of the Founders most impressed him:

“I’m impressed by a lot of them, but particularly impressed with Thomas Jefferson, who seemed to have very deep insight into the way that people would react. And he tried to craft our Constitution in a way that it would control people’s natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.”

No, that’s not a slip of the tongue. He specifically mentions Jefferson, and he was not talking about the Declaration but the Constitution, with which Tom had nothing to do—he didn’t write it,he didn’t sign it, and he wasn’t at the Convention.

Dr. Carson’s ignorant, he’s faking it, and he’s an idiot…just like Bachmann, who graduated from law school, remember.

Carson hasn’t bothered to acquire the basic knowledge of his country necessary to become an American citizen, much less to presume to lead  it.

When I interviewed for a job, I made sure that I knew the basics about the company or organization I was attempting to join, because that demonstrated that I was serious and responsible, and at least had a threshold understanding of what my job might require. Carson would flunk a basic job interview, even without being scored down for his terrible presentation—you can’t look an interviewer in the eyes with your eyes closed.

Would it be unfair to require as a prerequisite of running for the leadership of a nation to be able to answer 5th grade-level questions about that nation’s history? You know…who was the first President? Which side won the Civil War? Who delivered the Gettysburg Address?

Which founding document did Thomas Jefferson write????

I don’t think that would be unfair at all.

Here Doctor, you arrogant disgrace, watch this (it’s videoed from a TV screen—tough), since you obviously never read a history book:

 

 

 

Rand Paul, Anti-Vaxxing and Signature Significance

"Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!"

“Got it, Senator. NEXT!!!”

It would be nice if a genuine, rational libertarian candidate could be part of the national political debate. The problem is that there are no genuine, rational libertarians. To be genuine, a libertarian has to decide on his or her policy positions based on the dictates of the ideology, which is backwards: as a leader, rather than a professor or theorist, one must figure out what is going to work, and what you wish would work or what a pre-determined formula says should work are not germane to the issue. For proof of the flaw in the latter approach, all we have to do is consider the past seven years.

Thus libertarians are prone to saying things like, “The United States should never have entered World War II.” This has been a staple of Rand Paul’s deluded father, Ron Paul, and properly places pure libertarianism with pacifism, also known as Cloud Cuckoo Land. The Berrigans used to say the same thing, you know. I believe it was Philip who said that nobody tried passive resistance to defeat Hitler, so we’ll never know if it would have worked. When you say things like this for public consumption, you forfeit the privilege of being taken seriously. It is signature significance: your judgment can’t be trusted.

For me, Rand Paul’s libertarian moment of signature significance was when he questioned the need for the 1964 Civil Rights Act, essentially saying that the nation would have been just fine allowing people like Lester Maddox to chase African-Americans out of his restaurant with an axe handle, or bus drivers to force Rosa Parks to sit in the back of the bus until change occurred naturally, you know, like after the race war. Such statements are not isolated instances of momentary madness; they are markers of serious ethical and cognitive problems, and it was inevitable that the source of that opinion would have more of the same, and perhaps worse. Continue reading

“The Death of Klinghoffer” : The Metropolitan Opera Flunks Its Ethical Duty

Death of Klinghoffer

New York’s Metropolitan Opera is scheduled to present John Adams’s 1991 opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer” this fall. [Full disclosure: Adams, then an unknown, was one of my professors in college] The opera is a dramatization of the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking,in which the Palestine Liberation Front murdered the wheelchair-bound Jewish-American businessman Leon Klinghoffer. The opera has always been the target of Jewish and other critics who believe that it is too sympathetic to the Palestinians, and is thus anti–Semitic. Predictably (although for some reason the Met seemed not to be prepared for it) the Anti-Defamation League and conservative pundits are condemning the new production, typified by the reliably simple-minded Michele Bachmann, who denounced the Met for sympathizing with terrorists.

This is, and I state this without moderation or equivocation, is anti-cultural, anti-art, anti-free speech political correctness bullying from the right. This is an opera, and it, like any work of art, stands for itself. Whatever the political message of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” it is secondary to the main purpose of any opera, which is music and entertainment. The Met, as an organization dedicated to music and opera, should not be held to any standard in producing it other than whether it meets the company’s standards of excellence. An arts organization like the Met is apolitical, and should never allow the political or ideological messages of the artists whose work is presented there change its programming in any way. This means telling critics like those of “The Death of Klinghoffer,” be they advocacy organizations, would-be public censors or embarrassments to Congress like Bachmann to go fly a kite when they attempt to dictate what art is or isn’t “appropriate.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Oprah Winfrey

 “I always think of the millions of people who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.”

Oprah Winfrey, in an interview with Parade Magazine, discussing race in America, the use of the word “nigger,” and how young people in the U.S. don’t know “diddly squat” about the civil rights movement.

Yes, Parade Readers, it's true, whites tried to wipe us off the face of the map.

Yes, Parade peaders, it’s true, whites tried to wipe us off the face of the map.

Now, thanks to Oprah, those young people think they know that “millions” of blacks were lynched in the United States.

Oprah Winfrey, one of the most admired, respected and trusted public figures in the nation, decided to join the recent concerted effort to magnify racial hate and fear, this time by grossly misrepresenting U.S.history. Not only that, but she did so in the context of representing herself as knowledgeable about the history of race relations in America, while others know “diddly-squat.” The recklessness, lack of responsibility, and ignorance that Winfrey’s statement represents is staggering. Continue reading

No Surprise: Michele Bachman Lies On Her Way Out The Door

I won't have Michele Bachmann to kick around any more. Good.

I won’t have Michele Bachmann to kick around any more. Good.

Tea Party advocate and history-addled Congresswoman Michele Bachmann suddenly announced that she will not be running for re-election in 2014, and everyone knows why: she is the object of serious investigations regarding financial improprieties and violations of election laws during her run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. She was also facing a rematch against the same opponent she barely defeated last year. Rather than destroy her brand by losing in an overwhelmingly Republican district (Romney took it easily), Bachmann made the reasonable career decision to leave voluntarily before she was fired.

She didn’t have to lie about it, though. That’s just the way she is. Continue reading

Heroes, Dunces, Truthtellers, Liars, Spinners, Incompetents, and Fools: More Ethics Forensics On The Government Scandal Wave

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This is a mercurial story, several in fact, but one of its most valuable uses is to allow us to sort out various individuals and institutions for their trustworthiness and character based upon their words and conduct regarding the multiple scandals hurtling around Washington.

  • Fool: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Mn). Bachmann is talking impeachment, which has signature significance: any elected official who brings up impeachment now or anytime before hard evidence turns up proving that President Obama personally delivered  a bag of gold to the IRS leadership to make sure proprietary tax information was leaked is an utter, irresponsible dolt. 1) No President has ever been convicted after their impeachment, and heaven knows we have had multiple Chief Executives factually guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is a waste of time, an all-encompassing political warfare glut that this nation can’t afford at this point, especially when the U.S. Senate is in control of the same party the impeached POTUS belongs to. Yes, I agree with the principle that corrupt Presidents should be punished; I’m glad Bill Clinton got his just desserts, but I also know that if he and the rest of the government had been concentrating on what was going on in the world rather than hiding blue dresses, the Twin Towers might be standing today, and 3000—10,000?—-Americans wouldn’t be dead. Impeachment is like using a nuclear bomb: it’s a useful threat, but the reality is too horrible to permit. 2) Anyone who thinks making Joe Biden President is a solution to anything is certifiable. 3) There is nothing at this point that would support a legitimate impeachment. 4) Putting the scandals in that context just supports the agreed-upon White House and media spin that this is all about politics. Shut up, Michele.

Morning After Report: Six Steps Forward and Seven Back In The Quest For A Trustworthy Congress

We’ll never get a trustworthy Congress this way.

So much for “the wisdom of crowds.” Last night, knowing (theoretically, at least) that the one completely irrational choice for the nation at this critical juncture in its history is more gridlock born of ideological intransigence, voters sent a dysfunctional Congress back to Washington, opting for a radical conservative House and a radical liberal Senate despite telling pollsters that this was the least trusted Congress in history. Just to make sure compromise and movement would be as difficult as possible, the public also re-elected a President who, whatever his other virtues, has shown neither the ability nor the inclination to engage in effective negotiation with his political adversaries on the Hill. There were plenty of more responsible options available to voters:

  • Commit to the President, and give his party majorities in both Houses of Congress so he could get his policies implemented, for better or worse,
  • Give the Senate back to the GOP, so some of the bills the House has passed can be sent to the President’s desk
  • Sweep everybody out and try a new team to see if it can do any better.

But no. The American public, in its infinite wisdom, opted for nearly the exact toxic partisan mix that has served the nation so miserably for the past two years. Unquestionably, the biggest ethics failure on election night was this one.

Yet there was progress, as voters rejected some of the more unethical officials offering their services. Unfortunately, these wise and ethical choices were greatly diluted by other unforgivable ones. On the plus side: Continue reading

Proposing “The Bachmann-Plouffe Rule”

My new rule could stop this from happening to me in the very near future, and perhaps you as well!

I am ready to bestow my ever-lasting loyalty and admiration, not to mention a lifetime Ethics Hero award and maybe even a monthly stipend upon the first broadcast journalist who pledges to employ henceforward what I will call “The Bachmann-Plouffe Rule.”  ABC’s George Stephanopoulos emphatically did NOT employ the rule this morning in his back-to-back interviews of White House advisor David Plouffe and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, inspiring me 1) to name the rule and 2) throw my newspaper at the TV screen. Twice.

I don’t have the transcript, but I can fairly describe the exchanges. Plouffe was routinely mouthing Obama re-election talking points, when Stephanopoulos pressed him on the issue of gay marriage, specifically regarding the fact that the Democrats are talking about having a national campaign platform plank that explicitly endorses it, while the President has notably declined to give a clear endorsement of same-sex marriage. George asked why Obama doesn’t just declare that he supports it, and, if he does not do so, whether his ambivalence will place him at odds with his party’s position.

Plouffe didn’t answer the question. Continue reading

Iowa Aftermath: Five Ethics Lessons

The Iowa Caucuses produced a bumper crop of ethics lessons.

Ah, it may look like corn, but but there are kernals of ethics knowledge in those Iowa fields!

1. People may do the right thing for the wrong reasons, but what counts is that they do the right thing. Jaw-dropping statements from some Evangelicals in Iowa that they just couldn’t see voting for a woman to be President had many pundits writing that Iowa was too backward to have such a prominent role in electoral politics. The result of this particular bias, however, was to knock Rep. Michele Bachmann out of the race, a result she had earned with her serial irresponsible statements and half-truths. And it was a bias that she courted, both by her repeated nod to subservience in her own marriage and her self-identification with the Evangelical bloc. The bigotry that helped end her candidacy was a bigotry that she  supported, and that equals rough justice, but justice nonetheless.

2. The news media’s lack of diligence and professionalism warps the process. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Awards: The Sioux City GOP Candidates Debate

What do Mitt Romney, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich have in common with "Blazing Saddles'" Gabby Johnson?

There were ethics revelations, lessons and cautionary tales in last night’s final debate before the Iowa Caucuses. The envelopes, please!

The Boy Who Cried Wolf Award

Winner: Rep. Michelle Bachmann

Bachmann  twice protested that she was constantly being accused of not having her facts right, when she really did. This is a hard lesson for people like Bachmann, but she might as well learn it now: when you habitually make factual errors and then deny that you made them, people aren’t going to trust you to be responsible with your claims or to be telling the truth. Nobody has spun as many whoppers and jaw-droppers as Bachmann in the last year, and nobody has more consistently tried to deny the truth when her misrepresentations were brought to her attention. Or to put it another way: once a candidate has claimed that 6th President John Quincy Adams, who was all of 8-years-old when the Declaration of Independence was signed, qualifies as “Founding Father,” nobody is going to credit your representation of “facts” whether they are accurate or not.

The Gabby Johnson Award

Winners (tie): Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rep. Ron Paul Continue reading