Tag Archives: the duty to resign

A Particularly Sad Ethics Dunce: Senator John McCain

As I already have noted here more than once, Senator John McCain’s ethical course was to resign from the Senate even before he got his brain cancer diagnosis, and definitely afterward.  He is a courageous and admirable man in many ways, but the one of the hardest duties in life is to give up power and influence, and say goodbye when the time comes. The senator is not alone in failing this ethics test, indeed he is in distinguished company: FDR, Babe Ruth, Frank Sinatra, Muhammad Ali, Lawrence Tribe,  Clarence Darrow, too many Supreme Court justices, including a couple current ones, and lots of U.S. Senators. Nonetheless, it is a failing, and in McCain’s case the failing has been compounded by his regrettable decision to use his status as a dying man to exploit the reluctance of critics to address the wrongdoing of the afflicted. He has decided top settle old scores in his final days. The conduct is petty and erodes his legacy, as well as the respect he had earned in his long career of national service. It is too bad.

Much of McCain’s self-indulgence is directed at President Trump, whom he is now insulting with mad abandon, banning him, for example, from the Senator’s funeral in advance. This is vengeance, nothing more ennobling, for Candidate Trump’s outrageous disrespect toward McCain and other prisoners of war when Trump said that he did not regard them as heroes. McCain revenge is thus a display of the kind of non-ethics Donald Trump believes in: tit-for tat, mob ethics, hit ’em back harder. The political theme since November 2016 is that the President’s enemies cannot resist lowering themselves to his level, or in some cases, below it. Strike-backs from beyond the grave are particularly unbecoming, but McCain is seething, and apparently can’t muster the other cheek, graciousness, or statesmanship. Too bad. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/18/2018: The Bad, The Beautiful, And The Stupid

Good morning, everyone…

1. Tales of the King’s Pass. Fox News put out a statement saying that Sean Hannity had its “full support.” We can assume that means no punishment, no sanctions, not even any public regrets, despite the fact, and it is a fact, that the right-wing talk-show host-turned-Trump propagandist went on the air and defended Trump’s fixer, Michael Cohen, without mentioning the fact that Hannity was Cohen’s client. Thus Fox is announcing, in effect, that undisclosed conflicts of interest are just fine and dandy if your ratings are good enough. This also means that Fox News is admitting that it really doesn’t care about candor, honesty, and objectivity, since it will ignore blatant violations of all three if the profit is sufficient.

In fairness to Fox, Hannity’s blatant biases toward all things Trump are no more egregious than the open Obama bias displayed across the mainstream media’s full spectrum of journalists and pundits; it just stands out more because he has less company. However, this is a specific conflict of interest, with Hannity having undisclosed connections to a newsmaker that could reasonably affect his commentary. The closest parallel would be ABC’s George Stephanopoulos reporting on the Clinton Foundation’s dubious activities without telling viewers that he was a $75,000 donor. ABC didn’t discipline him, either, but at least he made a public apology on the air.

To make the King’s Pass case even stronger, after Politico reported this week that dinnertime news anchor Bret Baier played nine holes of golf with President Trump over the weekend, Fox News acknowledged that Baier was admonished by the president of the network.  I don’t agree with the reprimand at all. The opportunity to spend that kind of time with a President is invaluable, a rare opportunity to acquire insight and access over an extended period of time. The idea, I assume, is that it creates the illusion of chumminess. It’s a dumb illusion. If I were a journalist,  I would play golf with anyone if it allowed me to learn something. If I were president of a network, I’d reprimand a reporter for turning down such an opportunity.

2. The Virtue-Signaling Hall Of Fame. Starbucks is reacting to the PR nightmare arising out of the arrest of two black men for refusing to order anything while waiting for a companion in a Philadelphia Starbucks by a grand gesture: it will close all U.S. stores and corporate offices on the afternoon of May 29 for “employee racial bias training.” I suppose this is good crisis management, though cynical and non-substantive. It also permanently tars as a racist the Starbucks ex-manager, who says she was following a locale-specific company policy in an area that had experienced problems with loitering. Continue reading

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Florida State Senator Frank Artiles Resigns After Calling Colleagues “Niggers”…

Obviously, we can’t have that conduct from an elected official. He had to resign; there is no question about that. Artiles was at a members-only club in Tallahassee earlier this week when he was speaking with fellow state Senators Audrey Gibson (D) and Perry Thurston (D), who are both black.  Artiles told them, in the course of an obscenity-rich rant, that “six niggers” had helped get Senate President Joe Negron  elected.

I’ll give Artiles credit for one thing: he didn’t resort the Pazuzu Excuse (“This isn’t who I am, and what I said does not reflect what I think or feel”), which is what almost all public figures in his self-authored predicament do. His resignation letter’s main section reads,

It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness. My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State. I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate. It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth.

Not bad.

What the episode made me ponder is this: what does using “nigger” when speaking about a black man or woman tell us about the speaker? Continue reading

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Marco Rubio’s Unethical Concept Of “Doing Your Job”

Senator Marco Rubio at work in the Senate this week.

Senator Marco Rubio at work in the Senate this week.

It would be nice if the most viable alternatives to Donald Trump didn’t go out of their way to show that they aren’t qualified to be President of the United States either.

Marco Rubio, who was already under well-earned fire for saying that he hated being a Senator and  not bothering to vote on Senate bills, a rather substantial part of the job he was elected to do, thought about it, shrugged, and then became the only Senator who couldn’t be bothered to cast a vote on massive $1.8 trillion spending and tax package engineered by new House Speaker Paul Ryan. There’s just no excuse for this, and Rand Paul was not being unreasonable to suggest that if all Rubio wanted to do was run for President–and many have commented that unlike Trump, Cruz, Bush and the rest, he isn’t even doing that very hard—he should resign and let someone else represent the people of Florida.

“It’s a trillion dollars in spending and I think earlier this week he talked about having some activity and then wasn’t here,” Sen. Paul told POLITICO. “So yeah I think it’s important to show up to your job. I think that really he ought to resign or quit accepting his pay if he’s not going to come to work.”

How can anyone argue with that?

For his part, Rubio offered a weak, weak, weak excuse for his no-show, saying, “In essence, not voting for it, is a vote against it.” No, not voting is also not voting against it. As Thomas More pointed out before he lost his head, the law’s assumption is that “silence gives consent.” If Rubio is correct, then a bill could be voted down by more Senators abstaining than voting for a measure. Is he correct? No.

But then he doesn’t show up to work that often, so it’s understandable that he’s confused.

Rubio’s conduct demonstrates arrogance, lack of diligence, integrity and trustworthiness, laziness, and it doesn’t encourage me about his judgment, either.

Somewhere, Donald Trump is smiling.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: Co-chair of the Colorado Springs American Civil Liberties Union Loring Wirbel

“The thing is, we have to really reach out to those who might consider voting for Trump and say, ‘This is Goebbels. This is the final solution. If you are voting for him I will have to shoot you before election day.’ They’re not going to listen to reason, so when justice is gone, there’s always force, as Laurie would say.”

Loring Wirbel, Co-Chair of the Colorado Springs American Civil Liberties Union, in a Facebook post.

As the post was circulated and criticism of Wirbel grew, he told the local paper that he was just joshin’.

Well, yes, I’d assume he wasn’t really going to start shooting Trump supporters. On the other hand, the ACLU is supposed to stand for freedom of expression, and an organization executive appearing to advocate violence to stifle unpopular political views is more than a little irresponsible. So is casually joking about shooting people in Colorado Springs.

What? Too soon?

“It was intended totally as a joke,” Wirbel said. “They are taking that stuff out of context. It’s smear politics.” No, actually it’s called “embarrassing your organization and calling its credibility into question.” He resigned today.

Good.

One does have to wonder, however, how thick the progressive bias and hatred for conservatives is in the ACLU’s culture, how it affects the organization’s judgment, and whether an organization led by people like Wirbel is really the best guardian of the First Amendment.

UPDATE: More on Wirbel, including some mind-blowing quotes, and the ACLU’s statement, here.

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Ethics Dunce: President George H.W. Bush

Bush watchThe big news on the Bush-bashing front is that Papa Bush, #41, has a biography coming out next week, and section released by the publisher shows that he didn’t care much for his son’s (#43) staff, as well as containing other critiques.

To begin with, Bush I is a selfish jerk for allowing his biography to be released during the 2016 campaign, when it can only be used as a weapon against his sons and his party. His publishers want that, of course, because it means sales, and other than the campaign controversy angle I cannot imagine a one-term President whose biography anyone but family members would be less interested in reading. Benjamin Harrison, maybe. (But I’ve actually read not one biography of Ben, but three: Harry J. Sievers’s three-volume biography of Harrison, published between 1952 and 1968. It wasn’t my idea.) Bush, however, doesn’t need the money. His ego has obviously swallowed his common sense and loyalty, or he is being manipulated in his dotage.

That’s one obnoxious feature of the book. The worst, however, is this passage from the Times story describing a section in which Bush confesses that nearly didn’t run for re-election: Continue reading

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Marco Rubio Better Have An Explanation For This Unethical Statement Other Than The Obvious Ones

Seen on Sen. Rubio's Senate office door...

Seen on Sen. Rubio’s Senate office door…

The obvious ones would be:

  • Because I can.
  • Because I lack integrity.
  • Because I’m as immature as I look.

I can’t make the Rubio quote making the rounds this morning an Ethics Alarms “Unethical Quote of the Month,” because it occurred, we are told by the Washington Post, on the evening of September 18 during the last Republican candidates’ debate. Why didn’t I pick up on Rubio’s statement then? I don’t know: no one else did either, based on a Google search.  I guess when there are 11 GOP candidates embarrassing themselves and their party seriatim (By the way, did you know that the WordPress spellcheck program says that the word I wanted to type there is “Maserati’?), it’s easy to miss a few outrageous statements.

Anyway,here is what Sen. Rubio said, however, after being chided by Donald Trump for missing so many Senate votes:

“That’s why I’m missing votes. Because I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection.”

The front page Washington Post story says that Rubio is frustrated with the unresponsiveness of the U.S. Senate to his attempted leadership:

Marco Rubio is a U.S. senator. And he just can’t stand it anymore.

“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said in an interview. “I’m frustrated.”

This year, as Rubio runs for president, he has cast the Senate — the very place that cemented him as a national politician — as a place he’s given up on, after less than one term. It’s too slow. Too rule-bound. So Rubio, 44, has decided not to run for his seat again. It’s the White House or bust…Rubio had arrived at one of the least ambitious moments in Senate history and saw many of his ideas fizzle. Democrats killed his debt-cutting plans. Republicans killed his immigration reform. The two parties actually came together to kill his AGREE Act, a small-bore, hands-across-the-aisle bill that Rubio had designed just to get a win on something.

Now, he’s done. “He hates it,” a longtime friend from Florida said, speaking anonymously to say what Rubio would not.

So Rubio is missing votes in the Senate because he hates his job?

That’s not exactly indicative of trustworthy character, not just for national leadership but for any position, including busboy. He ran for the job, got it, is being paid for it, and if it isn’t as much fun or as rewarding as he thought it would be, tough. Rubio still has an obligation to fulfill his duties as best he can. Who gets to goof off at work because he or she doesn’t like a job or is “frustrated”? Just Marco Rubio, it seems. Leaders have to be role-models and ethical exemplars. Rubio is modelling the “stop doing the job if you’re not good at it but still collect your paycheck” approach to the workplace. Who does he think he is?

Barack Obama? Continue reading

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