The U.S Office of Government Ethics was established in 1978 through the Ethics in Government Act. It “provides overall leadership and oversight of the executive branch ethics program designed to prevent and resolve conflicts of interest.” Apparently the Trump White House has not welcomed such oversight. Consequently, the office’s director, Walter M. Schaub, Jr., announced he would resign on July 19, stating, “In working with the current administration, it has become clear that we need to strengthen the ethics program.”
Even prior to Donald J. Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, the OGE anticipated his potential conflicts of interest, encouraging the President-Elect to divest himself of his businesses. That did not happen. Other ethics issues arose, but Trump has been recalcitrant about addressing them. These issues highlight a distinction between what the law and ethics separately require. Think about it this way: what’s legal is not always ethical. For example, there is no law requiring U.S. presidential candidates or sitting presidents to disclose their tax returns. It is, however, not the norm, and for good reason. Continue reading “Conflicts of Interest, Ethics, and Donald J. Trump”
Trump the Bullshitter
While campaigning for the highest political office in the United States of America, Donald J. Trump charmed a celebrity journalist with exploits of sexual assault and attempted adultery, wowed his supporters with promises of launching a criminal investigation into his opponent, Hillary Clinton, invited Russia to hack into her email, for good measure, and boasted about not paying taxes.
Quite a few found Trump’s mode of communication refreshing, and didn’t seem at all perturbed by the content. No oblique political talk for this straight shooter, who promised to “make America great again” by “winning.” This would be accomplished, by, among other actions, forcing manufacturers to keep jobs in the U.S., cracking down on “bad hombres,” barring Muslims from entering the country, withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and eliminating environmental and business regulatory oversight.
Shortly after his inauguration as the 45th President of the United States at twelve Noon on January 20th, 2017, he began taking action on some of his campaign pledges, but dismissed others. It was not obvious how was one to know which he meant and which were comments tossed off the top of his head. Additional confusion was generated by extraordinary inarticulateness, which seemed to manifest in a rather disorganized management style and vague executive orders implemented in an apparently off-the-cuff style.
You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. — Abraham Lincoln
Some people believe that politicians attempt the ultimate fool: all of the people all of the time. Consequently, many observers find politics, and especially political campaigns, to be distasteful at best, and morally offensive at worst. Candidates, it is believed, will say anything to get elected, will engage in ruthless practices to win votes.
Of course, political “dirty tricks” and manipulative rhetoric disguised as argument are nothing new. That’s because they’re effective, inviting you to check your thinking skills at the door. The current master of this technique is the man who ‘has the best words,’ Donald J. Trump: