Baby Boomers are still getting over their scorched retinas and flashbacks. We’ve been through the ups and down of America’s fondness for meth, which means when you get a cold you have to sign your name to feel better. Marijuana was the bane of our youth. Now it’s quasi-legal, taxable fun. In 2017 the drug crisis of choice is a difficult to spell catchall for narcotic pain killers and a windfall for Congress because it’s something both sides can agree on: an opioid drug epidemic.
When the ends justify the means government ethics is an anachronism. Classic abuses like corruption in office are difficult to ignore and are usually punished sooner or later. Sneaky bad behaviors like spreading propaganda and disinformation are subtle and do more damage because they are harder to spot and can influence millions.
Capitol Hill still hasn’t rid Washington of insider trading. Like term limits, that’s going to be a very difficult ethics rule to get everyone to agree to but at least it’s a conflict we know about.
Government ethics: the worst problems hide
The worst types of unethical behavior are the ones we don’t see coming. They undermine what America stands for and what we believe in. Examples are political rhetoric that distorts the truth, pandering to big money donors, and selecting special interests for legislative favoritism. All of these things point to how government ethics falls by the wayside when opportunity knocks.
The ethics of winning and losing
The rise and fall of Hillary Rodham Clinton and lingering anger among her supporters speaks volumes about America's ability to look the other way when confronted with ethical lapses.
With Donald Trump in charge ethics is about foreign interference in our government. Robert Mueller took the first head with the Manafort indictment. Now we’re warned that Michael Flynn could be another thorn in the administration’s foot in a scandal that likely won’t go away and may never be resolved.
On Capitol Hill government ethics has turned to harassment and sexual misconduct. America wanted bipartisanship, now a scandal that’s causing problems for both parties is giving us what we asked for.
What is the Government Ethics category about?
The government ethics category is about what happens when political opportunity takes precedence over doing the right thing. From fake politics to outright thievery, as long as there is money and power to be had ethics will be an inconvenience best ignored.
There is fake news and then there is fake politics. Anyone who trusts the news puts their beliefs at risk. News is entertainment. We should regard it with suspicion no matter where it comes from.
Fake politics is more insidious and damaging. The more cynical among us have learned never to trust a politician no matter how much we want to believe what they say.
Congress proposes lots of bills. It gives House and Senate members something to do when they aren’t busy putting on a circus like their Russian snipe hunt. We hear about bills when they are important enough to stand a chance of becoming law and especially when they punch a hot button. Some of the hype is true.
It’s been almost a week since we heard calls for unity on Capitol Hill. That’s what tragedy means to politicians. It’s an opportunity for speeches and press releases. This kind of empty talk is probably as much togetherness as our senators and representatives can endure. Holding hands isn’t really their style and negative politics sells. Do we approve?
Did Democrats make hate speech attractive? Our free society allows it within pretty broad limits, in part because hate speech means different things to different people. We learned from Kathy Griffin that at least one kind of expression is intolerable, in large part because it makes vehement anti-Trumpers look appallingly bad. That’s a good example because it set the stage for how we will react to yesterday’s shootings in Virginia.