Archive for the ‘Government’ Category

My ten favorite posts of 2011

December 31, 2011

 

There were 112 Ethics Bob  posts in 2011, and 14,000 page views. Here are my ten favorites:

  • Ex-Auburn Prof Jim Gundlach gets a mythical Sam Goldwyn award* for speaking truth to power—to Auburn football http://goo.gl/x3ro4
  • Turks trust strangers, and the trust is repaid http://goo.gl/4UBW6
  • Drew Brees: ethics hero and football hero. He lives by “If not me, who? http://goo.gl/RMzsV
  • Tim Pawlenty announces for President, grabs third rail of Iowa politics, earns mythical Edmund Burke Award. http://goo.gl/yBdXS
  • Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) defends Muslim judge Sohail Mohammed, calls opponents “crazies.” Hooray for an ethics hero http://goo.gl/KtCCQ
  • Three cheers for Bret Baier, Chris Wallace, and Byron York of Fox News, and for Rachel Maddow of MSNBC http://goo.gl/gsXAx
  • Ethics: I’m giving it away http://goo.gl/Rl1jB
  • LSU Tigers Coach Les Miles gets a mythical Chip Kelly Award* for suspending three stars for the big game with Auburn http://goo.gl/rjns5
  • Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street http://goo.gl/Sk5sV
  • Rose Bowl, BCS Bowl, Ethics Bowl http://goo.gl/MxGYu
  • The lesson from Penn State http://goo.gl/Tnn03

 

Shocking and inspiring: the story of the Little Rock Nine and the integration of Central High School

December 11, 2011

 

The story of fifteen-year-old Elizabeth Eckford and eight other African-American teenagers still takes my breath away, even though I lived through it on live television. I relearned the story last week on a visit to Little Rock, Arkansas, Central High School, the site in 1957 of ugly, beautiful and inspiring events that changed America.

Returning to Los Angeles I discovered that my friends of baby boomer and subsequent generations knew nothing about what happened outside Central High School on September 4, 1957. Like the story of the Israelites flight from Egypt and the story of the first Thanksgiving, the Central High School story merits retelling every year.

After the US Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregated schools violated the Constitution, the Little Rock School Board developed a plan to gradually integrate city schools, starting by admitting nine African-American students to prestigious—and white only—Central High School. On the eve of the first day of school, September 3, 1957, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus ordered troops of the Arkansas National Guard to Little Rock to prevent the nine children from entering the school.

Elizabeth Eckford was one of the nine. She took a bus that dropped her a block from the school, and from there walked with unimaginable grace and courage (Will Counts’s photo above) through a mob of screaming, spitting adults. She tried to enter the campus (more…)

Report from Zuccotti Park, and what’s next for Occupy Wall Street

November 18, 2011

 

I’m back from my annual ballet trip to New York, and back to my computer. Along with four wonderful performances by American Ballet Theater I got to visit Park 51, the Islamic Center three blocks from Ground Zero (about which more soon), and Zuccotti Park, the home of Occupy Wall Street.

Zuccotti Park was a friendly place, surprisingly orderly, contrary to expectations from television. People sweeping, others staffing the free food tent, others reading or cheerfully chatting with visitors like me. There was a library, several pet dogs (apparently OWS is dog-, not cat-friendly) and a few baskets seeking donations. I saw lots of American flags and posters, but nothing ugly or much beyond run-of-the-mill progressive political ideas.

OWS aspired to being a good neighbor (photo): zero tolerance for alcohol, drugs, or abuse of people or public property. Everybody I saw seemed to be compliant with the proclaimed good neighbor policy.

But Mayor Bloomberg decided, reasonably enough, that Occupy Wall Street was becoming a nuisance and a threat to public health, and ordered the NYPD to evict the occupants from the park in the pre-dawn hours of Tuesday. Most of OWS went peacefully, if sleepily; about 200 held their ground and were arrested. The park was cleared, cleaned, and the occupiers were readmitted, this time with tents and sleeping bags prohibited.

The police action may have reinvigorated a movement that had begun to bore the media and the public. Yesterday, the two-month anniversary of the start of the protest, the demonstrators (more…)

Women to the back of the bus! Montgomery, 1955? No—New York, 2011

October 22, 2011

On the morning of October 12, Melissa Franchy boarded the B110 bus in Brooklyn and sat down near the front. For a few minutes she was left in silence, although the other passengers gave her a noticeably wide berth. But as the bus began to fill up, the men told her that she had to get up. Move to the back, they insisted.

When Franchy asked why she had to move, a man scolded her. “If God makes a rule, you don’t ask ‘Why make the rule?’”

That’s from a story in Tuesday’s New York World.  The B110 line is a public bus line in New York operated under contract since 1973. But 38 years may be enough for the New York authorities. Mayor Michael Bloomberg told a news conference on Wednesday that gender separation is “obviously not permitted” on public buses. He added, “Private people: you can have a private bus. Go rent a bus, and do what you want on it.”

Let’s see when segregation ends on the B110. Bet it won’t be today.

Here’s an innovative idea from Herman Cain: 999, or crush the working poor

October 17, 2011

Herman Cain has a plan for America’s tax system: junk the federal income tax and payroll tax, and substitute his 999 system, in which everybody pays 9% federal income tax and 9% federal sales tax, and corporations pay a 9% income tax.

Elegant in its simplicity. But a crusher for the working poor, who now pay 8% in payroll (Social Security and Medicare) taxes, but get a substantial credit via the earned income tax credit, or EITC.

Here’s how a single mother of two earning the California minimum wage of $8 an hour would fare under the 2011 tax structure and under Cain’s 999 plan.

                                                                        2011 actual                Cain 999

Earned income                                             $16,000                     $16,000

    Less taxes:

               Federal payroll tax                               900                            -0-

               Federal income tax                               -0-                           1,440

               Federal sales tax                                   -0-                            1,440

               State/local taxes                                  1,600                       1,600

               Subtotal taxes paid                             2,520                        4,480

 

Net income before EITC*                           $13,480                      $11,520

EITC                                                                   4,800                                   -0-  

Net income                                                     18,280                         11,520

 

So under Cain’s plan her actual taxes paid increase by 77%  ($2520 to $4,480), and she loses the EITC of $4,800. Her net income is slashed by 37% ($18,280 to $11,520).

What does it say about the media and about Cain’s competitors for the Republican nomination that they let this barbarism go unremarked?

_______________

*Earned Income Tax Credit. Cain’s plan abolishes (“simplifies”) it.

Occupy Wall Street, the Tea Party, and the Ethics of Mass Action

October 17, 2011

Massive demonstrations have a place in society: many people get more attention than a few. And if you want to make a point make a splash. The more people the more splash. But they’re ethically troublesome.

I’ve written recently about the twin dangers of mass demonstrations: the cover that a lot of peaceful people can give to wrongdoers, and the potential for an incendiary clash of wills with the authorities. Fortunately America has escaped both dangers in the case of the Tea Party demonstrations, and—so far—in the case of Occupy Wall Street, the latter only when cool heads in New York government prevailed on Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zuccotti Park, to call off their plan to expel the demonstrators.

Rome wasn’t so fortunate, as the Occupy Wall Street movement spread there and erupted in violence (Photo).

Many in the Occupy Wall Street crowd have stated their intention to stay indefinitely. That’s especially troublesome. One- or two-day demonstrations can be policed and controlled, and with forbearance on all sides can end peacefully. But where there’s no time limit impatience and irritability can build up and inevitably lead to confrontation, and usually ends in violence.

America is a nation of laws, and when the laws don’t serve the country well it’s up to the lawmakers to change them. And the lawmakers must be able to operate without being under threat of violence—no matter how much you may want to brain Eric Cantor (just to name one lawmaker). (more…)

New York postpones cleanup of “Occupy” camp

October 14, 2011

New York has averted a potentially explosive confrontation with the Occupy Wall Street protestors. From FovNews.com a few minutes ago:

“The deputy mayor of New York City says a planned cleaning of the Occupy Wall Street protest encampment in lower Manhattan has been postponed.

“Late last night, we received notice from the owners of Zuccotti Park – Brookfield Properties – that they are postponing their scheduled cleaning of the park, and for the time being withdrawing their request from earlier in the week for police assistance during their cleaning operation. Our position has been consistent throughout: the City’s role is to protect public health and safety, to enforce the law, and guarantee the rights of all New Yorkers. Brookfield believes they can work out an arrangement with the protesters that will ensure the park remains clean, safe, available for public use and that the situation is respectful of residents and businesses downtown, and we will continue to monitor the situation,” Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway said in a statement.”

A high school ethics lesson from President Obama

September 29, 2011

President Obama focused on ethics in his annual back-to-school speech today at Benjamin Banneker High School in Washington. It’s worth thinking about what he had to say about ethics:

Now, if you promise not to tell anybody, I will let you in on a little secret: I was not always the very best student that I could be when I was in high school, and certainly not when I was in middle school. I did not love every class I took. I wasn’t always paying attention the way I should have. I remember when I was in 8th grade I had to take a class called ethics. Now, ethics is about right and wrong, but if you’d ask me what my favorite subject was back in 8th grade, it was basketball. I don’t think ethics would have made it on the list.

But here’s the interesting thing. I still remember that ethics class, all these years later. I remember the way it made me think. I remember being asked questions like: What matters in life? Or, what does it mean to treat other people with dignity and respect? What does it mean to live in a diverse nation, where not everybody looks like you do, or thinks like you do, or (more…)

Israel whistles, the United States comes running. No matter what’s right

September 23, 2011

Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, told a cheering UN General Assembly today, “I do not believe that anyone with a shred of conscience can reject our application for full admission to the United Nations.”

Who can disagree? The government of Israel, for one. And if the GOI objects, the American right will come right along. And so, sadly, will President Obama. Conscience takes a back seat when votes are about to be counted.

Obama’s speech to the UN was a craven surrender to the Israeli government’s demand that we oppose the Palestinian request. This is an ethical disaster, as well as a realpolitik one. It will wipe out the good will Obama earned with his earlier calls for honorable treatment of the Palestinians and his once-brave insistence on a halt to Israeli expansion into the West Bank. Forgotten, too, will be his siding with the Arab Spring, outweighed as it is among most Muslims and young people everywhere (including in Israel) by his opposition to Palestinian rights.

Obama did have support for his position. To Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Obama’s speech was a “badge of honor.” This is the same Netanyahu that President Clinton blamed, as recently as yesterday, for preventing a peace deal.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman liked the speech even more, telling a news conference, “I congratulate President Obama, and I am ready to sign on this speech with both hands.” Lieberman is widely despised in Israel as a racist for his proposal to rid Israel of its Arab citizens by “redrawing its map to ‘exchange’ part of the Arab population and create a more ‘homogenous Jewish state,’ as a solution to Israel’s Arab minority ‘problem.’ ”

Having sabotaged Israel’s own relations with Turkey over Israeli refusal to apologize for killing nine Turkish activists running the Gaza blockade, Israel is now sabotaging American relations with the entire Muslim world, which will have a hard time accepting that America preaches freedom for all, but not for occupied Palestine.

How to defeat Obama in 2012: rig the election

September 19, 2011

It’s looking iffy whether the Republicans can prevent President Obama’s reelection with a Tea Party-approved candidate. So let’s change the rules.

First, change the way electoral votes are tallied. Nebraska and Pennsylvania are headed this way. In Nebraska electoral votes are awarded congressional district-by-district. Obama carried Omaha in 2008, so earned one of Nebraska’s five votes. Nebraska appears headed for a winner-take-all system that would deny Obama that one vote.

Pennsylvania is a bigger deal. Obama carried the state in 2008, and its 21 electoral votes under winner-take-all rules. It is headed for a district-by district award—yes, the system Nebraska is abandoning—under which Obama would have only gotten 11 of Pennsylvania’s 21 votes in 2008.

So we could see a Republican gain of 10 votes in Pennsylvania and one in Nebraska—enough to swing a close election. But Republicans can improve the odds a lot more by making it harder for students, minorities, and low income people to vote at all.

To this end Republican-controlled state legislatures in Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin are moving to trim early voting days. Early voters are disproportionally Democrat.

If that’s still not enough to insure a Republican victory, legislators in 20 states are considering tighter ID requirements, including requiring a government-issued photo ID. Guess who don’t have photo IDs: lots of students, minorities, (more…)


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 62 other followers