[TV is full of reruns these days, and sometimes I am grateful for them, for it gives me a chance to see episodes of favorite shows I had missed for some reason or another. Back in early March, I posted the following essay about the origins of America’s current crisis of trust in our government, and how it might be cured by our elected leaders. Since then, the crisis has deepened, and as I was doing some routine site maintenance, I reread the post. It is still very timely (unfortunately), and since far fewer people were visiting Ethics Alarms in March, I decided to re-post it today, with just a few minor edits. I promise not to make this a habit. Still, trust is the reason why ethics is so important in America: if there is a single post of the more than 700 I have written here since October 2009 that I would like people to read, this is it.] Continue reading
the Bush Administration
Essay: Ending the Bi-Partisan Effort to Destroy Trust in America
Both the Pentagon shooter and the Texas I.R.S. attacker were motivated by a virulent distrust of the U.S. government, the distrust mutating into desperation and violence with the assistance of personal problems and emotional instability. We would be foolish, however, to dismiss the two as mere “wingnuts,” the current term of choice to describe political extremists who have gone around the bend. They are a vivid warning of America’s future, for the media, partisan commentators, the two political parties and our elected officials are doing their worst to convert all of us into wingnuts, and the results could be even more disastrous than the fanciful horrors the Left and the Right tell us that the other has planned for us. Continue reading
Premature Ethics Alarm on Obama’s Judicial Appointment, Day 2
Amazingly, even liberal journalists are now presuming that Obama’s appointment of attorney Scott Matheson signals that a deal has been struck with his Congressman brother to reverse his previous votes and support the health care bill, whatever its current form may be. And they are saying that this is hardly sinister, as such deals are commonplace in the rough-and-tumble, amoral world of politics.
Deals like this one, if that’s what it is, are not commonplace. Not when the object is a major systemic overhaul costing billions, not when so much of the public is dubious about it, not when the legislation is so complex that almost nobody completely understands it and definitely not after previous efforts to buy votes–as in the “Louisiana Purchase” and Ben Nelson’s extortion—caused so much public revulsion that they swept a Republican into a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Nobody knows what unsavory back-room tactics L.B.J. used to get the civil rights legislation passed, but that’s the point: you don’t mind the little piece of rat in your sausage if you’re not certain it’s there. Continue reading
The Unethical and Illogical Smearing of Justice Dept. Lawyers
The Senate Republicans, bolstered by the political Right, are angrily criticizing Attorney General Eric Holder for having former Gitmo defense lawyers on the Justice Department anti-terror team. This demonstrates many things, none of them good, some of them sad.
At least seven Justice Department lawyers previously worked on the legal defenses of Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Apparently this makes them terrorist sympathizers in the eyes of the Angry Right. This is the sad part. A flat learning curve is always sad. Continue reading
Easy Call: Prof. Yoo’s Secret Class
Prof. John Yoo of the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law can’t do anything these days without attracting controversy, whether it be writing a book or appearing on The Daily Show. Yoo, you may recall, is the former Bush administration lawyer responsible for writing key legal advisory opinions justifying the use of waterboarding and other extreme measures to interrogate captured terrorists and suspects of terrorist activity. Since joining the law school faculty, he has been more or less continuously attacked by students, critics and protesters who believe that the memos he authored compel his dismissal, disbarment, prosecution as a war criminal, or worse.
Now Berkeley is being criticized for allowing Yoo to hold his spring semester Constitutional Law class in a secret location known only to class members. Anti-Yoo protesters demand to be permitted to disrupt his class in the name of free speech and campus discourse. Yoo, in his typically provocative fashion, says they are welcome to attend his class once they get admitted to the law school and pay their tuition. Continue reading