Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

September 5, 2017

Donald Trump, Hat-Salesman-In-Chief

President Trump visited storm-wracked, flood-ravaged Texas last Tuesday and offered victims these heartfelt words of comfort: “What a crowd. What a turnout!” He was accompanied by the current Mrs. Trump, easily identified by her five-inch heels and a black baseball cap helpfully labeled “FLOTUS.” If you want to buy Melania’s disaster-zone garb, the snakeskin Manolo Blahnik stilettos will set you back $600, and you’ll have to settle for a knock-off FLOTUS cap.

But you can get her husband’s hurricane hat, an Official 45th President “U-S-A” cap, by forking over $40 to the Donald Trump Re-Election Campaign. That’s right, 7 months into his first do-nothing term, Mr. Trump is already flogging hats to fashion-forward fans to fund his 2020 run. After all, that’s how he funded his 2016 campaign, remember?

President Trump and the missus got such bad press from Tuesday’s Texas stumble that they had a do-over on Saturday. Another chance to advertise the family head-wear business.

More:

“How President Trump turned hurricane relief into product placement for campaign swag,” Jordan Libowitz, Washington Post

“Trump’s ‘USA’ Hat Criticized by Ethics Group and Those Who Don’t Like Ugly Hats,” Adam K. Raymond, New York Magazine

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Can The Honorary Boy Scout President Be Impeached?

July 26, 2017

Can The Honorary Boy Scout President Be Impeached?

The programs of the Boys Scouts of America teach young men civic engagement and citizenship, and since 1910 the sitting President of the United States has always been the organization’s Honorary President. On Monday, President Donald Trump addressed 40,000 Boy Scouts at their annual Jamboree in an exercise that can only be called child abuse. The BSA leadership had reminded scouts and scoutmasters that their organization is nonpartisan and above politics, but their current Honorary President didn’t get the memo:

“Over the next 35 minutes, the president threatened to fire one of his Cabinet members, attacked former president Barack Obama, dissed his former rival Hillary Clinton, marveled at the size of the crowd, warned the boys about the ‘fake media,’ mocked pollsters and pundits, and said more people would say “Merry Christmas” under his presidency. He also told a rambling tale about a famous, now-deceased home builder that meandered from a Manhattan cocktail party to a yacht and then to places that the president would only allow the boys’ imaginations to go.”

— ” Trump’s Boy Scouts speech broke with 80 years of presidential tradition,” Katie Mettler and Derek Hawkins, Washington Post

[The full transcript of the speech is here.]

The speech “had the feel of a third world authoritarian’s youth rally,” tweeted former acting CIA director John McLaughlin.

The President introduced several of his cabinet members who were Boy Scouts, but Eagle Scout Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General, was conspicuously absent. Another Eagle Scout was MIA, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a Boy Scout board member who advocated letting gay boys join the scouts.

Mr. Trump’s last known involvement with the scouts was in 1989 when he paid Don Jr.’s Boy Scout registration fee. He took the $7 out of his charitable foundation.

More:

“Trump speech to Boy Scout Jamboree elicits widespread criticism for its partisanship, and profanity,” Jackie Calmes, Los Angeles Times

“After Trump Injects Politics Into Speech, Boy Scouts Face Blowback,” Alan Blinder and Mitch Smith, New York Times

“Boy Scouts of America distances itself from partisan politics after Trump speech,’ Politico

“The 14 Most Inappropriate Moments From Trump’s Speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree,” Margaret Hartmann, New York Magazine

“Donald Trump Tramples on Boy Scout Values,” Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker

“Despite that Trump rally, Scouting is about citizenship and togetherness,” Rosecrans Baldwin, Los Angeles Times

Update:

“Boy Scouts dispute Trump claim that their leader called his speech ‘the greatest,'” Jacqueline  Thomsen, The Hill

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The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns

July 13, 2017

The Head of the Office of Government Ethics Resigns
Walter Shaub, head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics, the federal agency charged with overseeing the executive branch ethics program and preventing conflicts of interest, resigned last week. President Trump has no ethics, so there really wasn’t much for Mr. Shaub to do.

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Conflicts of Interest: The President Is Still a Businessman

May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump is advised by his daughter and son-in-law while profiting from the world-wide Trump Organization, run by his sons. NPR’s Marilyn Geewax explains the ethics and conflicts-of-interest issues.

Related:

“Trump’s connection to his businesses leaves more questions than answers in first 100 days,” Alexander Mallin, ABC News

“After 100 Days of Trump, America’s Gotten Corruption Fatigue,” Bridgette Dunlap, Rolling Stone

Updates:

“Trump’s Business Ties to Middle East Precede Him,” Steve Eder and Jesse Drucker, New York Times

“Donald Trump Jr., Dubai business partner discuss ‘new ideas,'” Jon Gambrell, Associated Press

“Trump Family Bolsters Its Dubai Connection,” Russ Choma, Mother Jones

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Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

April 10, 2017

Steamy Scandal in the Heart of Dixie

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley appears to have had an affair with a top aide, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, a married woman. That’s been pretty embarrassing for the “Love Gov,” a former Sunday school teacher, who was married at the time, but it gets worse. While Ms. Mason was the governor’s senior political adviser, it still wasn’t legal for him to use campaign funds to pay for her legal defense. As usual, the cover-up is worse than the sexy-time crime.

On Wednesday the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause that Governor Bentley violated the Alabama Ethics Act and the Fair Campaign Practices Act. On Friday the state’s House Judiciary Committee released a 3,000-page report with scandalous details about security personnel seeing Ms. Mason “leaving the office with her hair tousled and her clothing in disarray,”mushy text messages between her and the Gov, and allegations the governor threatened his wife’s staffers for talking about the affair. On Saturday the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that the legislature can go ahead with impeachment proceedings, and lawmakers are expected to begin impeachment hearings today.

Updates:

“Robert Bentley, Alabama Governor, Resigns Amid Scandal,” Alan Blinder, New York Times

“Alabama Guv Resigns, Is Convicted On 2 Campaign Finance Charges,”Allegra Kirkland, TPM Livewire

“Kay Ivey becomes governor; promises open administration,” Brian Lyman, Montgomery Advertiser

“Why It Took Alabama’s Governor So Long to Resign,” alan Greenblatt, Governing

“Robert Bentley joins a growing list of Alabama governors who had trouble with the law,” Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post

“How Alabama’s Shady Governor Cultivated a Culture of Disenfranchisement,” Brentin Mock, CityLab

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Justice Scalia Lived as He Died

March 10, 2016

Justice Scalia Lived as He Died
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died in luxury at a ranch resort owned by a Texas millionaire who had business before the court last year:

“Though that trip has brought new attention to the justice’s penchant for travel, it was in addition to the 258 subsidized trips that he took from 2004 to 2014. Justice Scalia went on at least 23 privately funded trips in 2014 alone to places like Hawaii, Ireland and Switzerland, giving speeches, participating in moot court events or teaching classes. Just a few weeks before his death, he was in Singapore and Hong Kong.

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Dr. Carson’s Snake Oil

November 4, 2015

Dr. Carson's Snake Oil

One of the so-called “gotcha” questions Carl Quintanilla asked Dr. Ben Carson on CNBC’s October 28th reality show was about his involvement with Mannatech, a shady medical supplement company. “I didn’t have an involvement with them,” the candidate replied. “That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda,” the Doc harrumphed. A great media moment, but denying a verifiable fact is never a good long-term strategy.

Ten months before the debate, Jim Geraghty of the National Review described Ben Carson’s decade-long relationship with the purveyor of unproven “neutraceutical” nostrums, a firm that paid $4 million to settle a false medical claims suit, a firm thouroughly discredited in a 2007 ABC 20/20 investigation.

So Mr. Quintanilla’s debate question should have come as no surprise. Ben Carson shilled for Mannatech on PBS in 2014 and The Wall Street Journal‘s Mark Maremont had outlined Dr. Carson’s decade-long relationship with Mannatech just weeks before the CNBC event.

Since the debate, has Dr. Carson addressed the fact that for 10 years he promoted medical hokum for money? No. He tried to sidestep the issue of his personal and professional ethics by blaming his political opponents for raising this controversy, another clear falsehood. So much for the moral high ground.

More:

“What Ben Carson’s Mannatech Answer Tells Us,” Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Springtime for Grifters,”New York Times

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Donald Trump, Promise Keeper

September 6, 2015

Donald Trump, Promise Keeper

GOP presidential hopeful Donald Trump signed a loyalty pledge that he will support the official Republican Party presidential candidate and, if it’s not himself, he won’t run as a third-party candidate. Party loyalty means a lot to former long-time Democrat Trump, and a signed contract like that is surely sacred and binding to a man with three marriages and four bankruptcies.

And don’t worry, he’ll really get around to learning about foreign policy after his inauguration. It’s a promise.

More:

“Donald Trump’s empty loyalty vow: Man with three marriages, four bankruptcies reportedly pledging fidelity to GOP,” Joan Walsh, Salon

“Is Trump’s Republican Loyalty Oath Legally Enforceable?” Jacob Gershman, Wall Street Journal Law Blog

“Will the real Donald Trump please stand up?” Timothy Noah, Politico

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Psychology Association: Okay, We’ll Stop Helping Torturers

August 8, 2015

Psychology Association: Okay, We'll Stop Helping Torturers

“The American Psychological Association voted Friday in favor of a resolution that would bar its members from participating in national security interrogations.

The resolution by the country’s largest professional organization of psychologists passed overwhelmingly. The only dissenting vote came from Col. Larry James, a former Army intelligence psychologist at Guantanamo.”

— “Psychology Group Votes To Ban Members From Taking Part In Interrogations,” Dina Temple-Raston, NPR News

“The association’s ethics director, Stephen Behnke, coordinated the group’s public policy statements on interrogations with a top military psychologist … and then received a Pentagon contract to help train interrogators while he was working at the association, without the knowledge of the association’s board. Mr. Behnke did not respond to a request for comment.”

— “Outside Psychologists Shielded U.S. Torture Program, Report Finds,” James Risen, New York Times

Related:

“Larry James,” Center for Torture Accountability

“US torture report: psychologists should no longer aid military, group says,” Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

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Honest Abe Schock Says Farewell

March 27, 2015

Honest Abe Schock Says Farewell

Disgraced Congressman Aaron Schock (R, IL-18), who resigned to forestall an Office of Congressional Ethics investigation, compared himself to Abraham Lincoln in a farewell speech on the House floor on Thursday:

“Abraham Lincoln held this seat in Congress for one term. But few faced as many defeats in his personal business and public life as he did. His continual perseverance in the face of these trials, never giving up, is something all of us Americans should be inspired by, especially when going through a valley in life.”

Of course President Lincoln didn’t have the FBI and a grand jury investigating his possible misuse of campaign funds and taxpayer dollars.

Congressman Schock’s resignation is effective March 31st. He will be returning to his humble log cabin somewhere in the wilds of Illinois. Near a golf course, perhaps.

Related:

“Aaron Schock leaving Congress with $3.3M in campaign funds,” Chicago Tribune

“Ex-Schock aide dishes to FBI,” Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan, Politico

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length