Anthony Weiner, Gov. McDonnell, Mayor Filner and the Rest: Degrading Democracy, Tainting Leadership

Hey, Mayor Filner, if San Diegans decide they have a proble being led by a serial sexual harasser, you can run for Mayor of New York!

Hey, Mayor Filner, if San Diegans decide they have a problem being led by a serial sexual harasser, you can run for Mayor of New York!

The mandate for leaders and potential leaders who have engaged in blatantly dishonest, corrupt, undignified or otherwise unethical conduct to remove themselves from office or consideration for office is not that, as hundreds of foolish pundits (like this guy) will try to convince you, hypocrites with a keyboard or a vote falsely pretend that such conduct is unique. There are two justifications for the unethical to resign from office, both undeniable and ancient. I have written enough, for now, about the first—that such conduct demonstrates untrustworthiness, the quality a leader must not have— and want to focus on the second, which is this: if they do not step down and away, such leaders and potential leaders mock the aspirations of democracy, insult its underlying hopes, and degrade, by their persistence, the standards of future leadership.

Once, this was thoroughly understood. Leaders who were exposed as lacking honesty, integrity, responsibility and respect for their own office resigned or withdrew from public life, as self-executed punishment and their last chance at redemption. Democracy, as John Adams wrote, is supposed to be a system that elevates the most accomplished, the most able, the most trusted and the most ethically sound to leadership, for obvious reasons. They are qualified to be leaders because, bluntly, they are better than the rest of us. They are also, because they are better, supposed to be capable of sacrifice and humility, and to recognize that power is a privilege, not a possession to be retained at all costs. Continue reading

Media Bias At Work: A Smoking Gun From The New York Times

Brava to blogger/ law professor Ann Althouse for catching this one.

Smoking gunYesterday, the New York Times, reporting the news, published this item:

“The inspector general… divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.”

This is not good, you know. This means that the fact that the I.R.S. was suspected of targeting conservative groups was known in time for the knowledge to give voters second doubts about the President’s trustworthiness and veracity, not to mention judgment in signing a bill that gives that same agency massive power in distributing health care. Given the choices among revealing it as a “transparent” administration should, claiming it was the fault of a YouTube video, or suppressing the facts, the Administration chose the latter. Thus the New York Times’ website’s headline, “Treasury Knew of I.R.S. Inquiry in 2012, Official Says,” was appropriate. No spin there, just the “news that’s fit to print.” Let readers decide whether they are satisfied allowing their leaders to parcel out information so as to make sure voters are only as well-informed as its convenient for them to be. Headlines are especially important, because many readers skim the news, and the headlines are all they read. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Angelina Jolie


I am pretty certain that actress Angelina Jolie could have undergone a prophylactic double mastectomy and never revealed it, She could have had reconstructive surgery and continuing to appeal to the sexual fantasies of moviegoers, which has been a significant aspect of her movie career. She had no need to disclose the operation, which she underwent last month, and no obligation to. Nonetheless,Jolie revealed her choice to the world in an eloquent, powerful, and courageous op-ed in the New York Times this week, and undoubtedly saved lives by doing so. She also made a critical cultural statement about the worth of women and how they are devalued by being reduced to their body parts in popular culture, the media, and the minds of men.

I think it is one of the most courageous acts by an entertainment figure that we have ever witnessed.

Jolie writes in part… Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week: Boston Red Sox Star David “Big Papi” Ortiz

“This is our fucking city!”

—Boston Red Sox designated hitter and icon David Ortiz, aka “Big Papi”, representing the team in a pre-game ceremony at Fenway Park honoring Boston in the wake of the past week’s violence, heroism and travails.

"Big Potty-Mouth"

“Big Potty-Mouth”

I love you, David, and you got us past the Yankees in 2004, but your choice of words  was classless, crude and unnecessary.

There were children in that crowd and watching on TV, as I was. You are a role model, and locker room language belongs in the locker room, not in public events. Your obviously calculated incivility moves the culture one more step away from public manners and toward obscenity as standard expression.

I’m disappointed in you, and you also embarrassed your sorority sisters at Delta Gamma.

Ethics Hero: Pope Benedict XVI

Celestine V, the last Pope who resigned because he didn't feel up to the 1294

Celestine V, the last Pope who resigned because he didn’t feel up to the job…in 1294

Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will resign at the end of the month, saying that at his advanced age and current state of health, he can no longer fulfill his duties adequately.


Now perhaps other aged, infirm, ill and declining men and women in important positions of power that they are increasingly unable to fill will get the message and resign too, giving up perquisites, influence, and celebrity for the good of the organizations and constituencies they serve. The current roster of Americans who should, if they were properly responsible, do “a Benedict” include members of Congress,U.S. Senators, Supreme Court Justices, doctors, lawyers, state legislators, college professors, corporate founders, CEOs, and many more. Staying beyond one’s pull-date is a national epidemic, one of the unintended bad consequences of increased longevity and better health care. A prominent role model to show the way was just what the doctor ordered—one of the young ones, who keeps up-to-date via the internet. Continue reading

Carla McKinney, Proud “Naked Teacher,” A.K.A. Ethics Dunce

This isn't Carla. But it's not far off, either...

This isn’t Carla. But it’s not far off, either…

The ever popular “Naked Teacher Principle” category is almost completely filled with school instructors who either placed their naughty bits online before teaching became their calling, had others do so without their knowledge or permission, or took some measures to ensure their embrace of questionable modesty and conduct would not come to the attention of their students. Not 23-year-old math teacher Carla McKinney, though! The Overland High School (in Aurora, Colorado) role model is a wild child and proud of it. Her Twitter page contained half-naked photos, and her tweets were filled with sexual innuendo, approving comments about drug use ( “Naked. Wet. Stoned”),  and even a boast that she had pot with her on school grounds.

“Watching a drug bust go down in the parking lot. It’s funny cuz I have weed in my car in the staff parking lot,” she tweeted happily. Another tweet reported that McKinney was high while grading her students’ class work. Yes, she is an idiot, and one who lacks the common sense, responsibility and character to train terriers, much less children.

The school has placed her on administrative leave, and if she isn’t fired, the administrators there fit my description of McKinney.

Again invoking and paraphrasing the immortal words of Faber College’s Dean Wormer, I say, “Naked, wet and stoned is no way to go through life, Carla.” But if that’s your choice, you have to do it as something other than a teacher.


Facts: Daily Caller

Ethics Hero: Kendra Wilkinson

“I have no talent. I have nothing to offer.”

Are you paying attention, "Sitch"?

With that honest, candid, unadorned, modest and undeniably true self-assessment in a recent interview with People magazine, cable reality show star (“Kendra”) Kendra Wilkinson instantly became an Ethics Hero, a role model for other empty-shell pop culture celebrities, and my favorite Hugh Hefner girlfriend of all time.

Now if Kendra’s integrity could only persuade Nicole Richie, Snookie, “The Situation,” Paris Hilton, Megan McCain, Bristol Palin, Tori Spelling, Lauren Conrad, Heidi Montag, Ivanka Trump, Jack and Kelly Osborne, Michael Lohan, and, of course, all the Kardashians, to make the same confession and voluntarily hurl themselves into a landfill (in Jersey, of course), our trivialized, brain-rotting culture can finally start to heal itself.

But you don’t have to go to the landfill, Kendra.

You do have something offer.


Tim Wakefield, the Knuckleball, and Character

My favorite baseball player retired a few days ago. Tim Wakefield, a knuckleball specialist who had pitched the last 17 years with my home town Boston Red Sox, finally decided to hang up his spikes at the age of 45. There were several remarkable aspects to his long and successful career (he won 200 games, something the vast majority of major league pitchers never do), not the least of which was throwing the knuckleball almost exclusively, an infamous and rare pitch that is almost as difficult to throw as it is to hit or catch. (Former catcher Bob Uecker famously quipped that the best way to catch a knuckleball was to wait until it stopped rolling, and pick it up.) The most remarkable, however, was the way Wakefield always exhibited exemplary character, on the field and off of it. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Actor Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling....ready for action!

Caught on video: Hollywood hunk Ryan Gosling (“The Notebook”) saw a fight developing on the streets of NYC, dropped his bag of groceries and used his personal-trainer toned bod to break it up.

Stopping violence in public can be dangerous, and I wouldn’t recommend it for everyone. Gosling obviously knew what he was doing, however, and what he was doing was fulfilling the citizen’s duty to fix a problem when he or she can. Proactive participation in society, including discouraging misconduct whenever possible, is profoundly ethical, and too rare. The actor not only stopped a brawl, he also established himself as a member of that endangered species, the celebrity who deserves to be a role model.

Gosling doesn’t just play heroes in the movies—-he knows how to be the real thing.