No, A Democratic Senator Attending A Party In Honor Of A Trump Appointee He Opposed Isn’t “Hypocrisy”…It’s Called “Statesmanship,” “Sportsmanship,” And “Professionalism”

To be fair, we see so little of either now that many may no longer be able to recognize the two traits any more.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news source wrote,

A Democratic senator who couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross still attended a ritzy cocktail party welcoming him to the nation’s capital.On Wednesday, Georgetown socialite and Washington Post editor Lally Weymouth, daughter of the paper’s former publisher, Katherine Graham, hosted a “Welcome to Washington, D.C.” party for Ross at the Georgetown mansion of former Republican diplomat C. Boyden Gray. West Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin attended that party, according to Politico Playbook, rubbing shoulders with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Manchin’s attendance marked an about-face for the Democrat, who attempted to block Ross’s cabinet appointment.

In February, Manchin said he could not “in good conscience … give Wilbur Ross a promotion.” The senator credited Ross’s career as a billionaire investor—which earned him the nickname ” King of Bankruptcy”—and his involvement in the West Virginia mining industry for his decision to oppose the appointment along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Following my extensive vetting, meeting with him, watching his nomination and reaching out to West Virginians who have worked with him directly, I cannot in good conscience look the families of the fallen Sago miners or the Weirton Steel workers who lost their jobs in the eye knowing I voted to give Wilbur Ross a promotion,” Manchin said in a statement at the time….

Steven Law, president of the GOP Senate Leadership Fund, criticized his attendance as a sign of “Washington hypocrisy.” “Apparently Joe Manchin’s ‘good conscience’ waits in the car while he stops in for cocktails on the Washington D.C. party circuit,” Law said in a statement. “Senate Leadership Manchin thinks he can fool West Virginia voters with his Washington hypocrisy, but we believe they are catching on to Manchin’s worn-out act.”

So it was principled, then, for Rep. John Lewis to boycott President Trump’s inauguration? It’s principled, then, for Democrats to refuse to respect the office of the President, because they didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Is that what Steven Law is saying?

Do Republicans think before they make statements like this? Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Former President Jimmy Carter

jimmy-carter

As its stands now, only Jimmy Carter among the four surviving former Presidents of the United States will be attending Donald Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C. on January 20. The others, Bill Clinton and the two George Bushes, will not, if their failure so far to RSVP to their official invitations means what most think it means.

President George H.W. Bush can be given a pass due to his advanced age and and precarious health; not so his son and Bill Clinton. Their absence will be petty and unpatriotic. Jimmy Carter knows what his duty is, and will do it. Good for him.

The inauguration of a new President is a national ritual and a vital one, signalling the support of the nation for a  leader duly elected to take the mantle of Washington, Lincoln and the rest. It is a tradition to celebrate the nation and its remarkable  system of peaceful transfer of power, and not, as I will soon explain to the Rockettes, the individual who will be President when the ceremony is over. It is a day to unite the country after an election, not to further divide it.

For former Presidents Bush and Clinton not to recognize this is no less than disgraceful…specially these Presidents, one who himself won office while losing the popular vote, and the other who never received a majority of votes cast in two elections. We know why Clinton and Bush are sulking. President Elect Trump, in his ugly campaign, personally insulted both Bush 43 and his younger brother Jeb, and Jeb may well regard his brother’s attendance at the Inaugural a betrayal. Well, Jeb needs to grow up. January 20 is about the United States of America, not hurt feelings or family solidarity. George Bush has an obligation to be there, not back in Texas snubbing the nation to get back at Trump. Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus (Independence Day Division): John Dickinson (1732-1808)

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

Villainous, singing version on the left; heroic, real life version on the right.

It is the American patriot John Dickinson’s curse that the very strength of character that caused him to stand out among the other Founders and that led them to respect him as much or more than any other also made him the black sheep in the inspiring tale of American independence. This led to relative obscurity. Although Dickinson is honored (along with his wife) by Dickinson College, Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University, and University of Delaware’s Dickinson Complex, he is largely unknown to most Americans. He would be even less known, had Peter Stone not chosen to make him the villain of his 1969Tony-winning musical “1776,” where he was portrayed as a conservative loyalist who almost single-handedly foils the efforts of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin to declare independence from Great Britain. Whatever that choice’s dramatic virtues, it was unfair to Dickinson in every way.

Raised a Quaker, educated as a lawyer and a farmer by trade, Dickinson began public life in 1760 when he was elected to the Delaware legislature. During the next fifteen years he served both in that body and in the Pennsylvania legislature, a rare dual service made possible because he owned property in both colonies.

When the British Parliament instituted measures in the Colonies to raise revenue and provide for the quartering of British troops, Dickinson was one of the most eloquent and persuasive critics of the Crown, always with the intention of finding a satisfactory negotiated accord that did not involve the threat of armed rebellion. He urged Americans to rely primarily on economic pressure to oppose the hated Stamp Act, and he enlisted the influence of British merchants on the colonists’ behalf. His diplomatic orientation seemed like a prudent antidote to the firebrands calling for revolution in Boston, so the Pennsylvania legislature appointed him to represent that colony at the Stamp Act Congress of 1765. There he advocated the proposition that reconciliation was possible if the King and Parliament would only realize that colonial opposition was in the grand tradition English principles of political liberty. Dickinson set his reasoning to paper in his “Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania,” a series of deft essays that brought Dickinson international fame as a man of reason and principle. Continue reading

An Ethics Breach That Matters: Betrayal Of The Rule Of Law And Democracy

In the endless Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck, the trains may be our democracy, and the Rule of Law.

In the endless Obamacare Ethics Train Wreck, the trains may be our democracy, and the Rule of Law.

The consensus among objective legal observers is that President Obama’s unilateral amendments to a bill passed by Congress and signed by him into law exceed his constitutional authority, are illegal, and violate his oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Worse, they create a precedent that endangers the nation’s freedom,  as protected by the rule of law and the system of checks and balances, by laying the foundation for more obtrusive and dictatorial acts by future Presidents, who are sure to notice that the negative consequences of this blatantly unconstitutional act were nil. The President and the executive branch shares responsibility for this dangerous and irresponsible display of autocratic lawmaking with both houses of Congress and both political parties, none of which have demonstrated either the integrity or the courage to oppose him, for varying reasons.

It is depressing and indeed disgusting that our successful democratic system of government  created out of the vision and sacrifices of so many men and women of character, ability and high ideals is being progressively undone by fecklessness, incompetence and political expediency. That, however, is the plot playing out on the national stage, and these are the perpetrators: Continue reading

Being Fair To Harry Reid: This Began With A Borking

Blame the first domino, not the last one..

Blame the first domino, not the last one..

I generally revile Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his hyper-partisan leadership of the Senate, his unethical statements and his manner of conducting himself.  Still, I am bound to take this rare opportunity to defend Sen. Reid, who is taking the brunt of  criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for weakening the filibuster last week. True: he didn’t have to take this course, and I think it will probably, as the talking head shows Sunday seemed to agree, make the toxic and dysfunctional politics in Washington worse, not better. Reid, however, is not the primary one at fault. He was doing his job as he saw it, dealing with circumstances that are now beyond his control.

What led to the so-called “nuclear option” becoming reality was an unplanned convergence of Machiavellian politics, breaches of professional duty, dishonesty, irresponsible legislating, lack of statesmanship, unfairness, disrespect, bad luck, incompetent leadership, and most of all, a cycle of revenge that is now only likely to continue. Most of this was out of Harry Reid’s hands.

History shows that U.S. Presidents were once virtually always given the benefit of the doubt regarding judicial appointments to the federal courts, except in the rare cases of serious ethical questions or dubious qualifications. It was a good system, and the right system, and both parties followed it, realizing that the ideological mix in the courts was fluid and cyclical, and that today’s new conservative judge would eventually be offset by the appointee of the next liberal President, and vice versa. Democrats destroyed that tradition and accord on judicial appointments when in 1987, the Senate Democrats blocked President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, who had been selected by President Reagan to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)

dunce-capSenators should not intentionally set out to make the American public stupid, or to validate invalid ethical constructs. Thus this explanation of his current proposal from Sen. Rand Paul needs to be derided, and should also cause concern for anyone who thinks it’s important for the Republican party to find some leaders who are trustworthy. Paul, in the course of pushing his stillborn, grandstanding plan to use a constitutional amendment to require government bigwigs to live with the same health care laws they impose on the rest of us, said this to The Daily Caller:

“My amendment says basically that everybody including Justice Roberts — who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare — gets it too. See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer. And if he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”

See, the fact that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional using a highly-controversial legal distinction in no way suggests that he personally “likes” it, and anyone who thinks that is what judicial opinions, especially Supreme Court Opinions, mean is shockingly ignorant of the judicial system, the legal system, the law, the role of judges in society, the Constitution, and by extension, pretty much most of the principles that give government, management and leadership any integrity or competence. The fact that such an anyone has risen to the level of U.S. Senator goes beyond shocking to terrifying. Continue reading

Ethics Mega-Dunces: The Republicans

"You're right, Abe; they're all rock-heads. I'd like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms."

“You’re right, Abe; they’re all rock-heads. I’d like to beat some sense into them with a big stick, but I have no arms.”

Not a single invited member of the Republican leadership accepted an invitation to attend the official March on Washington anniversary event yesterday.

This is practically all that needs to be said. That fact alone is sufficient to show an appalling lack of leadership, respect, common sense, common purpose, values and priorities within the highest reaches of the party.

Everyone had a “good reason,” of course—Boehner, Canter, McConnell, McCain, Romney, both Bushes,  But the excuses don’t matter. A responsible, intelligent, public minded, fair and  statesmanlike political organization would have made certain that a representative delegation attended, and prominently so. How or why no major Republican figures were present is irrelevant. If the commemoration of the March on Washington, Dr. King’s iconic and transformative speech, and the cultural transformation of America that they helped achieve are as important to the party as they must be--because of the GOP’s origins, because of what it represents, and because, dammit, Republicans are Americans, then attendance was mandatory. They manage to make it to the State of the Union and Presidential inaugurations, because they recognize it as important to do so. They should be able to recognize that showing solidarity with the  Democrats, African-Americans and the public on the core principle of equal rights for all is even more important. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)

That's Rep. Stockman on the right, naturally...

That’s Rep. Stockman on the right, naturally…

I told you the rodeo clown mess was an Ethics Train Wreck!

Heck, it seems like everything is an Ethics Train Wreck or getting close to one these days…the NSA, Egypt, San Diego, the New York Yankees, life…

I need a vacation.

Now Texas Republican rep Steve Stockman has come aboard by making the obnoxious, simple-minded and inherently offensive gesture of inviting the unfairly banned clown to perform his classy act at a Texas rodeo. Undignified, unprofessional, cheap, nasty, and stupid…I’m sure I left out some equally accurate descriptors. This is like George Zimmerman in miniature. Is it really so hard to understand that protesting unfair treatment of someone need not, and in some cases should not, be accompanied by affirmative endorsement…and that’s what the invitation by Stockman is. Is he really so dense that he doesn’t realize that? Or is he really such a hyper-partisan, unstatesmanlike boor that he thinks it’s responsible and appropriate for a member of Congress to express his approval of an entertainer who called the President of the U.S. a clown and invited a crowd to cheer at his metaphorical abuse by a bull, some of whom were undoubtedly motivated by bigotry?

I really don’t care. Stockman’s stunt is ethically objectionable on a grand scale, and either he, the House, Republicans, or preferably all three owe President Obama an apology. One would think a Congressman would understand that there are different standards for the high elected officials responsible for our laws and rodeo clowns. But toward the bottom of the ethical and intellectual barrel we call the Republican Party (God, I certainly hope it’s toward the bottom!), this is apparently untrue.

Rep. Stockman is more clown than statesman.

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Facts: Washington Post

Graphic: Google+

Gov. Mitch Daniels’ Self-Validating Decision

"My wife, may she always be right, but my wife right or wrong!"

“Simply put, I find myself caught between two duties. I love my country; I love my family more.”

Thus did Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels remove himself from consideration for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination, breaking the hearts of Mitt Romney haters everywhere. Seldom have eighteen words launched so much ethical analysis, or what passes for it in the media.

Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus, for example, applauded the Governor’s priorities while accusing Daniels of “throwing his wife under the bus.” Her point was that Daniels did not have to make it so crystal clear that his wife vetoed his own desire to run, that he should have simply said that he declined, and leave it at that. Indeed, that would have been chivalrous and kind. For a public servant and politician, however, it would also have been dishonest and wrong. Just as the public needs to know why a public figure is running for president (Gingrich: Because he’s deluded….Trump: Because its good for his TV ratings…), it needs to know why a public figure is not. Continue reading

Charlie Crist, Martyr for Civility

Florida’s beleaguered governor, Charlie Crist, has decided to bolt the Republican Party as the only way to continue his quest for the U.S. Senate. Tea Party darling Marco Rubio’s advantage has been “ideological purity,” much prized these days by conservatives who long for a new Ronald Reagan, conveniently forgetting that Reagan was as capable of choosing pragmatism over purity as any other successful leader. Crist, his critics say, is a chameleon, and can’t be trusted to stay in the conservative camp when the poll winds blow west.

Maybe. But what started the downfall for Crist, just months ago a rising star for the G.O.P., was his physical “embrace” of President Barack Obama last year when Obama came to Florida to stump for his stimulus package.  Continue reading