Tag Archives: pride

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Secretary Of State John Kerry

mitchell-kerry_140226

“…I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution.”

John Kerry, in an interview on MSNBC, when asked if he had any regrets about the Administration’s handling of Syria;

The Sec. of State’s full answer:

Well again, Andrea, I’m going to have a lot of opportunities to be able to look back and digest what choices might have been made. I’m not going to do it now… Except to say to you, very clearly, that I’m proud of all the efforts we made to try to lead people to a peaceful resolution. And in fact, the only solution to Syria will be a peaceful agreement along the lines of what we laid out… and the several communiques that we issued, and the United Nations resolution that we passed. 2254. Those will be the basis for whatever happens, if they get there.

No, I’m not going to call Kerry’s statement an unethical quote, even as close as it came to making my head explode. Fortunately my expectations of John Kerry are basement-level low, from long experience. However, the latest fatuous sentiment from this veteran doofus is provocative and instructive.

In many pursuits, as we discuss here often, whether someone has done the right thing, made the ethical choice, should be evaluated on the basis of whether the conduct was competently considered and arrived at according to facts and ethical considerations before the conduct commenced. Judging its ethical nature  afterwards, when factors the decision-maker could not have foreseen or controlled have affected the result, is a fallacy: “It all worked out for the best” and thus the decision must have been ethical. This is consequentialism, and “the ends justifies the means” in its most seductive form.

A very recent example was the Republican leadership’s decision not to consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. No, the tactic wasn’t unconstitutional or illegal. It was unethical, however: obstructive, partisan politics defying tradition and fairness. It was also, as I pointed out at the time, stupid. When Obama, knowing of the GOP’s intent, appointed not a flame-breathing left-wing zealot but a moderate-liberal judge of impressive credentials, the GOP majority in the Senate should have rushed to confirm him, knowing well that a nomination by Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton, would unbalance the Court to a far greater degree.

The GOP lucked out, as we now know. Now President Trump will fill that vacancy on the Court, with major impact on important legal disputes for decades to come. That’s all moral luck, however. The ethics verdict on the conduct still stands. It worked, but it was wrong.

Success is not irrelevant to ethics, of course. Many jobs are ethically complex because getting a desired result is part of the mission. The result and the manner of achieving it are important. If your job is to win the war, you can’t say you did an excellent job if the war was lost. Competence is still an ethical value. A successful CEO’s company does not go belly-up by definition. Government is often analogized to sailing a ship to a destination, or flying a plane, with good reason. Part of the responsibility a government leader has is to make choices that work to the benefit of  those governed, and others as well. A captain whose ship sinks cannot say afterwards, “I did one hell of a job.” Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership

Ethics Hero: World War II Vet Burke Waldron

It is a day late, but I finally have my Memorial Day post.

Thank-you, Burke Waldron, for your service, for making me feel young, and for having the integrity not to embarrass yourself, your contemporaries, and everyone else by making pathetic attempt at throwing a baseball.

I’m not sure which elements of Ethics Hero 92-year-old WW II veteran Burke Waldron displayed yesterday, as he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Seattle Mariners game on Memorial Day. Call him a holistic hero. He’s a hero, like all of the fallen soldiers—including my dad—of past wars, because he risked the horrors of combat to defend our nation and the values it stands for…well, at least until Donald Trump is President.

He’s a hero because he represented his generation yesterday with style, verve and energy, running to the pitcher’s mound—in his uniform!as thousands cheered. Most of all, to me, he’s a hero because he took his assignment seriously, and didn’t emulate the pathetic rockers, politicians and even retired athletes who defile their first pitch honors by throwing the ball like a 7-year-old T-ball player, because they couldn’t be bothered to practice. Petty Officer, 2nd Class Waldron threw a strike to his catcher…

…just like another war hero, Ted Williams, did in his last appearance on a baseball field, at the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Heroes, History, Sports

Why Our Children Will Grow Up To Be Cheats and Liars: The Little League Champs Are Banned For Cheating, And Are Told That They Should Be Proud Anyway

Littel League champs

When the Tom Brady/ Bill Belichick/New England Patriots cheating issue was at high pitch [Aside: Notice how we have heard nothing about this at all since the Super Bowl, which the Patriots won. This is why NBC thinks it will get away with not firing Brian Williams…both the news media and the public have the attention span of closed head injury victims, especially when it comes to liars, cheaters and betrayal. They call this phenomenon “America’s belief in redemption.” It is actually is a product of America’s crippling domination by chumps, dolts, suckers….and people who are liars and cheats themselves.], a friend of mine brushed it all off saying, “It’s a game.” Well, children learn a lot about ethics from games, and if they learn that adults think cheating is acceptable (never mind that a billion dollar business is hardly just a “game”), they will cheat in their games, and later in life.

Today we learn that the inspiring 2014 Little League Champions, the Jackie Robinson West team that was the first all-African-American team to win the tournament, has been stripped of all of its wins, including those from its Great Lakes Regional and United States championships. As a result, the United States championship has been awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League from Las Vegas.

A Little League investigation revealed that the Jackie Robinson team, which was supposed to field a team exclusively from the Chicago South Side, secretly used an expanded boundary map. Team officials conspired with neighboring Little League districts  to build what was essentially an all-star team by acquiring players from well beyond the South Side. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Sports, U.S. Society

Ethics Observations On Mayor de Blasio’s Refusal To Apologize To His Police Officers

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor...

Integrity and leadership are not the same thing, Mayor…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relations with his own police force could not be worse, and this is not in the best interest of the citizens both the mayor and the police are duty-bound to serve. Can the rift be repaired?

This week de Blasio ruled out one avenue of peace: he said he would not apologize for his remarks following the Eric Garner grand jury decision not to bring charges against the officer who appeared to precipitate the unarmed black man’s death by using a choke-hold. The mayor said…

“You can’t apologize for your fundamental beliefs. The things that I have said were based on my beliefs, the truth as I know it. Can we do a better job communicating, and listening, and deepening an understanding of what our officers need? Yes.”

Fascinating.

I can’t think of a better example of a dilemma where the most ethical conduct is still irresponsible leadership, and thus, from the perspective of a leader’s obligations, unethical.

From an isolated perspective, de Blasio is asserting his integrity. “I could apologize and help smooth over my toxic relationship with the police, but that would require me to be insincere, and I’m not going to do that,” he is saying. He is saying that his constituents can trust him to be straight and honest, and if that means that he must pay a political price, he will pay it. This is admirable, on a human level. Praiseworthy…in a vacuum.

De Blasio, however, doesn’t have the luxury of being ethical in a vacuum. He is the mayor of a city with a lot of problems, controversies, obstacles to effective governance and people in need. The context of all of his words and actions must be his duties to address those issues, and his integrity, in this case, must be subordinate to getting the job he was elected to do done. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

Rangel’s Corruption Continues, Whatever He Calls It

“In all fairness, I was not found guilty of corruption, I did not go to bed with kids, I did not hurt the House speaker, I did not start a revolution against the United States of America, I did not steal any money, I did not take any bribes, and that is abundantly clear.”

—-Rep. Charles Rangel, less than a week following his historic censure by the House of Representatives for repeated violations of House ethics rules

Thus did Charlie Rangel embrace the Clinton Standard after proven unethical conduct, which can be loosely translated as “it’s not what I did that matters, it’s what I didn’t do that should have counted.” In Clinton’s case, the defense was that his lies and obstruction of justice were in the context of what he and his defenders dubbed “personal” misconduct, not the official “high crimes” required by the Constitution, and that his real offense was being a Democrat. Rangel’s adaptation: sure he broke rules, but that was not what the House has called “corrupt” in the past, and thus he can hold his head up high. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ethics Dunces: South Carolina Democrats, Voters and News Media

Mystery man Alvin Greene upset a respectable, accomplished and well-known opponent in the Democratic primary that decided who would try to unseat South Carolina G.O.P. Senator Jim DeMint in November. Even before the vote, it was widely reported that Greene was unemployed, with no political experience. After the vote and the stunning results, it came to light that in 2009, the victorious Democratic Senatorial nominee asked a young college girl to look at some pornography he had downloaded, leading to an obscenity charge that is still pending. Embarrassed, chagrined and confused by the fact that their standard-bearer appears to be a goof or worse, Democrats are accusing everyone in sight, especially Greene and Republicans, convinced that there must have been a plot, a scam, anything to explain what happened without focusing blame where it belongs: on the Democratic candidates who couldn’t defeat Greene, and the South Carolina voters who elected him. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Daily Life, Education, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, U.S. Society