Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/9/2019: “Your Host Is Finally Feeling Better’ Edition.

Good day!

1. More evidence that a lot of Americans have trouble with this “democracy” thing. Former Democratic Representative John Dingell ofMichigan died this week at 92. He became  the longest-serving member of Congress in history before he finally agreed not seek re-election in his 80s, but that’s not the real head-exploder in his obituary. It was this…

“Dingell first arrived to Congress in 1955, taking over the seat held by his father John Dingell, Sr., who had died earlier that year, and the younger Dingell continued to serve in the House for more than 59 years. He announced in 2014 that he would not seek re-election and instead his wife, Debbie Dingell, ran for his seat and is now serving her third term.”

A little googling will reveal that Daddy Dingell served in Congress from 1933 until Junior took over. That means that voters in the district have sent only members of the Dingell family to Washington for 86 years. Debbie Dingell, the alliterative named widow of the departed, had no apparent experience in legislation before she was elected to hold the Perpetual Dingell Seat.

This is laziness, civic inattention, vestigial aristocracy and passive democracy at work, or rather, in a semi-coma. There is no excuse for electing leaders based on family connections and name recognition, except that Americans have been doing it for a couple of centuries. I know you can’t fix stupid, but the parties are exploiting stupid, and that goes to the heart of democracy’s greatest weakness: government by the people means a lot of really lazy, ignorant, biased and irresponsible people are going to involved in government.

2. Of course. The New York Times today defends the ongoing efforts by Congressional Democrats to make it impossible for the elected President to govern by burying the administration in specious and intrusive investigations. “Harassment? Nope. Oversight.” is the disingenuous headline of the paper’s Saturday editorial. Oversight is an important Congressional function, but investigations based on the logic “Gee, this guy seems sleazy to me and we don’t trust billionaires, so let’s keep digging into his personal and business affairs until we find some dirt” or “So far our impeachment bills have gone nowhere, but if we keep investigating, I bet we can find some real offenses” are not oversight. Oversight must be handled in good faith, and there is no good faith among Democrats, who made their intentions clear the second Trump humiliated Hillary Clinton. Their stated objective is to get him removed from office by any means possible, and if that fails, at least to reduce his public support to the point where he cannot govern. Harassment in the workplace is defined by creating a hostile work environment that makes it impossible for the target to do his or her job. Could this describe what kind of work environment the “resistance” and the news media (the Times, in defending Congressional Democrats, is also defending itself) have created for President Trump any more precisely? Continue reading

Liar, Liar, Volt on Fire

Not a hotcake. Definitely selling like a hotcake.

There are times when I miss the David Manning Liar of the Month, a regular feature on my old Ethics Scoreboard reserved for flagging a breed of lie that I find the most annoying of all. These are the lies that even the liars know are unbelievable from the moment the dishonest statements leave their mouths. Then, when they are inevitably caught, the liars argue that the lie wasn’t really a lie because nobody believed it in the first place. Such lies tell us that the liar doesn’t think lying is anything to be ashamed of. Beware such people, especially when they dwell in high places. The lie may be trivial, but the attitude toward lying is not.

Spared the indignity of being a David Manning Liar by the Scoreboard’s dormant state is Rep. John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, who took umbrage at Mitt Romney’s statement that the Chevy Volt was “and idea whose time has not come.” Dingell protested, isssuing a press release that said, Continue reading

Anger and Accountability in the Obamacare Aftermath

“Anger” is the watchword in the media and blogosphere this week. Democrats are using the epithets and “hate speech” from the more uncivil members of the Right to demonize adversaries, try to muzzle the opposition, and raise money. Republicans are trying to harness anger to fuel their drive to triumph in November. Talk radio is trying to fan the flames, because it’s good for ratings. But anger is neither healthy nor conducive to clear thought. Antidotes vary according to the type and cause of the anger, but in this massive breakout, what is needed is the ethical value of Accountability. Neither the objects of the anger nor the angry themselves are blameless, and it would measure the anger level considerably if everyone would accept their fair share of  accountability for the rage: Continue reading