Tag Archives: President Barack Obama

Few Political Stories Make Me Angry. This One Makes Me Angry. And Frightened.

brideg-collapse

In these three posts—Blame Everyone for Infrastructure Ruin: Unethical, Irresponsible Priorities from Reagan to Obama (2010); Ethics Heads-Up: When the President Talks About “Investment in Infrastructure,” Pay Attention (2011); Hole-in-the-Roof Ethics: If Obama Asks For Massive Infrastructure Renewal, the GOP Must Support It. (2011), I laid out the unanswerable case for making national infrastructure renewal a priority. Let me just quote from the three, to save me typing time…

In the early Eighties, I oversaw an independent study funded by the Highway Users Federation and the National Chamber Foundation called “Transport Tomorrow,” exploring the immediate need for transportation infrastructure repair and expansion in all modes of transportation: roads, railway, waterway, and airports. In the process of learning how dire the need for massive construction and repair was if America’s future commercial needs were to be met, the study commission made a disturbing discovery: urban water and sewer systems were crumbling too. There was literally not enough money to fix all the roads, bridges, tunnels, water mains and sewer pipes that had to be fixed, and the consequences of not doing so would be economic paralysis and worse, disease and even social unrest.In the face of this looming and undeniably real disaster, the Reagan Administration did—pretty much nothing. Neither did the Bush, Clinton and Bush II administrations…

Seldom is a solution to a problem so obvious, and so conducive to bi-partisanship. It is a solution to two problems, really: America’s dangerously rotting infrastructure, and the nation’s dismal unemployment rate. Spend the money, trillions if necessary, to repair and replace existing roads, railway beds, waterways, sewer systems, airports and bridges.  It still won’t get us where we need to be, but we’ll be much better off than if we let the current deterioration continue, and we’ll save money in the long run, too—real savings, not phony health care reform savings that evaporate once reality kicks in.

There is no justification not to do this, nor is there any legitimate excuse for any elected official not to vote for it. (And no, not wanting to give the President a victory is not legitimate…or ethical, or patriotic.) Repairing the infrastructure isn’t “discretionary spending,” it is essential, unavoidable and cost-effective spending, unless it is diverted into new boondoggles and pork. No new structures, unless they replace unrepairable old ones. No light rail systems or bullet trains; what is needed is basic maintenance and repair….everywhere. It is already late, but “better late than never” has seldom been as appropriate.Will fixing the infrastructure add to the deficit? Not really, because it already is an expense that we know will have to be made, or else. If the sewer systems and waterworks break down, we start dying. If bridges collapse, we die too. That isn’t even mentioning the increasing costs in energy and commerce caused by a decaying transportation system. The sooner we pay for it, the less it will cost, so sooner is per se better for the economy, and it is perfect timing given the employment crisis.

Yes, Obama better have a way to pay for it, with real budget cuts and reasonable taxes. If he plays politics with the proposal by making it impossible for the GOP to support (as some pundits, like the Post’s Eugene Robinson, have advised), shame on him. This has to be paid for, but it also has to be done…If Obama puts a fair, reasonable, relatively pork-free proposal on the table, Republicans would be despicably unethical to reject it.

As we now know, the Obama Administration proposed, and the GOP Congress opposed. This is a long-term bi-partisan failure, but it must be remembered that Obama had no credibility on this issue, and he never did propose a a way to pay for it “with real budget cuts and reasonable taxes.”

I was reminded of this issue when I read yesterday about how engineers have concluded that over 9% of the nation’s bridges are structurally deficient. Bridges are just part of the infrastructure disaster to come—just wait until the 200-year old sewer and water systems in some cities start breaking down, and we have Flint, Michigan times a thousand—but they are illustrative of our government’s failure. Continue reading

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Ethics Observations On The President’s “So-Called Judge” Tweet

Donald J. Trump - ø@realDonaldTrump The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned! 1:12 PM - 4 Feb 2017 Donald Trump Tweet

Ugh.

In case you were lucky enough to miss it, after Judge James Robart temporarily blocked  President Trump‘s Executive order halting  immigration from seven Middle East nations teaming with terrorists, nationwide, the President responded on Twitter yesterday:

Tweet 1.:

When a country is no longer able to say who can, and who cannot , come in & out, especially for reasons of safety &.security – big trouble!

Tweet 2.:

Interesting that certain Middle-Eastern countries agree with the ban. They know if certain people are allowed in it’s death & destruction!

Tweet 3.:

The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!

The last one inspired expressions of alarm and horror:

Senator Schumer: “POTUS’s attack on Judge Robart shows a disdain for an ind. judiciary that doesn’t bend to his wishes & lack of respect for the Constitution.”

Bernie Sanders: “Trump has to learn the very important truth stated by Washington AG Bob Ferguson: “No one is above the law, not even the president.”

Representative Jerry Nadler: ” No “so-called.” Judge Robart is a GWB appointee who was confirmed 99-0. We are watching closely your contempt for our Judicial Branch.”

Evan McMullin—remember, the Independent who ran to be President of Utah?—wrote,

“Disagreeing with a court decision is fine, but undermining the legitimacy of a judge and the Judiciary Branch is a threat to the Republic.”

(Somehow I just don’t think that a President who has for three months watched an entire political party seek to undermine the legitimacy of a duly elected POTUS–him–with protests, riots, recounts, an Electoral College rebellion, calls for impeachment, calls for military coups, Hitler comparisons, accusations of incest with his daughter,  insanity, and conspiracy theories involving Russia will take too seriously the argument that three words in a tweet is a “threat to the Republic.” I could be wrong…)

Naturally bloggers, pundits and social media users have reacted to the three words with even more intensity.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

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A Banner Day For Unfairness, Pettiness, Dishonesty, And Hypocrisy, Raising The Ethics Query: How Low Can Democrats And The News Media Go?

Actually, mudslinging would be an improvement...

Actually, mudslinging would be an improvement…

…as well as the related queries..

1. How low do they think they can go without alienating every American with a conscience and a brain?

2. Does any leader with integrity, courage and influence exist in either journalism or the political left to call out this escalating madness?

Yesterday was a stinking garbage scow of unfiltered anti-Trump hate and public deception.

The Prayer Breakfast Freak-Out: I wondered if the Washington Post, which has made very clear its own attitude regarding prayer (and religion generally), would have the gall to criticize the President for not being sufficiently pious during yesterday’s Prayer Breakfast. Just two weeks ago, the Post mocked the Secretary of Agriculture nominee for once “praying for rain.” (The mocking headline has been scrubbed now) Sure enough, the Post did have such gall; so did MSNBC and other media outlets that regularly display contempt for the genuinely religious, a significant majority of whom are conservative and Republican.

The critics of the President’s comments care nothing about prayer, basically like me, but unlike Ethics Alarms they are willing to plow new ground in hypocrisy by using this superfluous event to launch more gratuitous outrage. The Prayer Breakfast has the same origins as the addition of God to the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an anti-Godless Communism grandstanding stunt by Fifties era Republicans at the height of their Red-Baiting mode.  Now the same anti-religion liberals who routinely condescend to the faithful, and lobby for taking all references to “God” out of official documents, the same anti-religious  zealots who have condemned Betsy DeVos for her support of Catholic schools, are deeply, deeply offended that the President joked about “The Apprentice” at a Prayer Breakfast.

The Frederick Douglas freakout: The President spoke of Douglas in the present tense in his random remarks about Black History Month on February first, prompting multiple cheap shots and despicable contrived insults. The Post wrote yesterday, Continue reading

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Ethics Dunces Update: 59 And Counting Democratic Members Of Congress Boycotting The 45th President’s Inauguration

democrats-boycott-trump

The epic hypocrisy continues.

Last October, the Democratic Party furiously insisted that it was dangerous and undemocratic for Donald J. Trump to suggest that he might not accept the results of the 2016 election. Today, while their leaders stand mute, a large, prominents and vocal segment of that party and its leadership is refusing to accept the results of the 2016 election.

The #1 task fasing Donald Trump, say his critics (and his supporters too), is to heal the divisions and rifts in the nation. His foes (I’m a critic, not a foe) say that he is the primary cause of those divisions and rifts. (Of course, the primary cause has been the intentionally divisive Presidency of Barack Obama.) Now 59 members of Congress, all Democrats (it may be over 60 by the time I write this), have intentionally signaled to their constituents that they want and intend the division to continue, and indeed to worsen. They are leading their constituents to oppose and reject the government of the United States. They are rejecting their duty as representatives of that government, showing disrespect to the citizens who chose its leadership, encouraging civil discord and risking violence.

Their conduct is exactly like a citizens group holding a protest demanding that the government extinguish fires burning out of control around a town, then marching to each conflagration and tossing gasoline on it.

Piers Morgan, of all people, a British citizen and tabloid journalist who was sharply anti-Republican and anti- conservative in his unsuccessful run as the successor to talk show host Larry King on CNN, demonstrated that even he has a firmer grasp on this nation’s ideals and traditions than many Democrats, writing in part, Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

Accusation

I woke up this morning to not one but three Comment of the Day-worthy posts from readers, and there was already one waiting in the queue. We have to begin with this lovely post by Pennagain, in the discussion about President Obama’s remarkable conviction that U.S. race relations have improved on his watch, in defiance of all apparent evidence. ( Adding to the evidence countering the President’s self-serving delusion, a new Pew survey shows (among a lot of other things) that 75% of police officers report “increased tension between cops and the black community.” )

Here is the first Comment of the Day Of The Day, on the post, Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo:

My experience over the last four years – in my half-baked melting pot of a city – has been that the economic status has improved for self-identified non-whites who were already educated and on career paths. As far as social status goes, however, there has grown up a new “separate but equal” world mandated as Black which does not welcome non-melaninated visitors. This is not the Harlem of the 20s! It has a presence in nearly every neighborhood and does not require white financial investment, advertisement nor approval. It speaks its own language (particularly body language) that eschews the obviousness of Ebonics but has instead a sly, wry, deliberate anti-Establishment pronunciation to it that isn’t heard in the weekday workplace. Black people I did not previously so designate, those whom I have worked with for decades in many different jobs and at least three different professions, are not unfriendly; if anything, they are better comrades and easier bosses than ever before. But there is no longer any doubt that we will not be discussing Travon or Trump. The gates are closed. Continue reading

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Signature Significance: President Obama’s Farewell Speech Jumbo

jumbo-film

“Now, I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.”

It’s funny: when I was searching Google after entering this quote, I found one site the had as a headline, “2o Quotes From President Obama’s Farewell Speech That Will Melt Your…” and that’s where it cut off.  Which was it, I wondered, “heart” or “brain”? It was heart….and the 20 also included the quote about race relations.

I also checked the Washington Post, which “fact-checks” major speeches with annotations. In the transcript, that line was indeed highlighted—I thought there was a 50-50 chance, knowing the Post’s pro-Obama bias, that it would let that whopper slide. The annotation by reporter Aaron Blake in its entirety:

Obama has seen the polls. A July Washington Post-ABC News poll [showed 6 in 10 thought race relations were bad, and a majority thought they were getting worse](Poll: Majority of Americans think race relations are getting worse)

Now that’s a tentative fact-check! Obama has seen the polls, so …he must know something we don’t? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s basing this certitude on his own impeccable wisdom? Obama has seen the polls, so….he’s having a little fun with us? Obama has seen the polls, so…he’s lying through his teeth? What is the Post saying?

For this is rather significantly counter-factual. Yet demonstrating the hard-hitting investigative reporting that the Post is renowned for, the paper recently launched an investigation into whether Donald Trump was LYING when he told the Times, in one of his typical, off-hand, “this just popped into my head” moments, “There will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars [at the Inauguration] All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” AHA!  This is NOT TRUE! This is further proof that the man is NOT FIT TO BE PRESIDENT! And EEEEVIL!!! A Post reporter actually interviewed multiple dress shop owners, and concluded,

“It’s hard to imagine how Trump came to his conclusion, and a transition team spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But for all of the president-elect’s promises about economic stimulus, it doesn’t seem that he’s making Washington dress-shopping great again.”

In contrast, when the first African-American President of the United States, having seen his performance lead to the devastation of his party and the installment of a new President so antithetical to his world view as to risk the two of them exploding if they shake hands, makes a completely ridiculous assertion about a crucial American problem like race relations, we get a 27 word shrug and a link.

American journalism in 2017. Continue reading

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

A Lawyer Ponders: “Will Obama Pardon Clinton? And If He Does, Will She Accept?” An Ethicist Answers…

get-out-of-jail2

Over at The Hill, lawyer David Weisberg examines the questions in the title above. Frankly, I assumed that Hillary needing a pardon from Obama was a dead issue, but Weisberg persuades me that it might not be.

Let’s begin by pointing out that it would be gallactically stupid for the Trump Justice Department to prosecute Clinton. Doing so would be a guaranteed circus; it would inflame Democrats who are already resembling The Human Torch, and it would appear to be a political prosecution. A winning President tries to put his losing opponent in jail would reek of banana republic vengeance, and that’s one reason why no American President has ever done it.

This is Donald Trump we are talking about, however, so who knows? Certainly many of his more angry and less grey matter-blessed supporters would love to see Hillary in the slammer. I am hoping and praying that Trump either is smarter than this or has advisors who can talk him out of his worst ideas, but I am not as confident as I should be. Weisberg makes the reasonable point that Hillary may not be confident either:

“Since being elected, Trump has been remarkably warm towards the person he used to call “Crooked Hillary.” But how confident could Clinton be that the Justice Department, under a Trump administration, would not prosecute? Prosecutorial decisions are supposed to be independent of political considerations, so Trump’s recent friendliness should not be controlling once the new attorney general is in office.”

That last sentence is both true, and following the wretched partisanship of the Obama Justice Department, very much in the category of  legal fiction. Continue reading

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