The Clinton Foundation’s OTHER Ethics Problem—And An Ethics Trainwreck Update

clinton_foundationEven if it weren’t being used for what looks like influence peddling…even if the foreign contributions to it didn’t create a textbook “appearance of impropriety,” which is prohibited for a Secretary of State…even if Hillary Clinton’s unilateral destruction of thousands of e-mails makes her surrogates’ (and imagine: one of those surrogates is an ABC new show host, and the network sees nothing wrong with that) argument that there’s no “smoking gun” evidence of wrongdoing a shining example of gall for the ages…there is another ethics problem with the Clinton Foundation, one that is beyond reasonable debate, and one that even the most shameless Clinton acolytes won’t be able to deflect by attacking the messenger.

It’s an unethical foundation, by well-established non-profit standards, and that has nothing to do with politics. Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Charity, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Leadership, Philanthropy

The End Of Manners: The President of The United States Declares That It’s Cute To Say “Fuck It” In Code

But he didn't exactly say it, see, so it's Presidential.  Me, I prefer...“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. ” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Or..."Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company."  – George Washington.  Or..."Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing." ---Abraham Lincoln. But I'm not cool, I guess...

But he didn’t exactly say it, see, so it’s Presidential.
Me, I prefer…“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. ” – Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Or…”Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for ’tis better to be alone than in bad company.”
– George Washington.
Or…”Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.”
–Abraham Lincoln.
But I’m not cool, I guess…

Well, I guess there’s not much point in me trying to blow the ethics whistle on lazy ad-writers substituting vulgarity for wit in prime time TV commercials if our nation’s leader and cultural role model is going to do the same thing. The lack of common sense and responsibility, not to mention sensitivity to his obligations as Chief Executive to raise societal standards rather than debase them, has been stunning from the beginning of Obama’s Presidency, but its depth and persistence continues to amaze, depress and disgust.

Saying he maintains “something that rhymes with ‘bucket list’,” a borderline tasteless and undignified joke, Obama went further. “Executive action on immigration? Bucket,” Obama said to laughs. “New climate regulations? Bucket. It’s the right thing to do.

“The right thing to do” would be not to debase the Presidency by sniggering vulgarity in public (this was broadcast live), and to empower teens to say “Buck off!” to their parents and teachers while citing the President of the United States as authority for why it’s harmless, since he used the same code to say “fuck” in front of a black tie Washington audience.

Sure, why not? Buck dignity, buck honor, buck civility, buck the Presidency, buck Lincoln, Washington,  and the rest. That’s Barack Obama, our President of the United States! Hail to the Chief.

I think you know how I’d love to end this post. But despite everything, I still have respect for his office.

Even if he does not.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Leadership, U.S. Society

KABOOM! ABC’s George Stephanopoulos’ Mind-Blowing Hypocrisy

Why this didn't happen to George this morning, I'll never know....

Why this didn’t happen to George this morning, I’ll never know….

I honestly don’t know why this one didn’t make  GEORGE’S head explode. For most people, there is only so much hypocrisy one can engage in without breaking down and screaming, “All right! ALL RIGHT! I admit it! I’m accusing someone of doing exactly what I’m doing THE VERY SECOND I’M ACCUSING HIM!!”

I will be discussing some of the more blatant efforts by the Hillary Clinton Shameless Rationalizers Brigade to spin away the fact of her unethical creation of a serious conflict of interests and appearance of impropriety once I have put my brains back into my skull. Meanwhile, I must briefly point out one of the most shocking examples of hypocrisy I have ever witnessed from a journalist, or anyone, for that matter.

On This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning, the opening interview was with Peter Schweizer, a conservative reporter and author of the soon to be published book, “Clinton Cash: The Untold Story Of How And Why Foreign Governments And Businesses Helped Make Bill And Hillary Rich.”  He is in the news because the New York Times and the Washington Post will be using his book, notes and sources to bolster their own investigative reporting, and one of its revelations regarding donations to the Clinton Foundation from foreign interests is already making waves for the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Stephanopoulos executed what I would call an adversarial interview, fair, but skeptical and hostile. It was also misleading, though not necessarily intentionally. George, like most journalists, isn’t too conversant in government ethics, or ethics generally. He kept hammering at the fact that no evidence of a crime had surfaced, as if that made everything fine and the story trivial. This is a classic Compliance Dodge: sneaky, dishonest, corrupt people are often expert at doing bad things without breaking the law. In fact, I just described the Clintons, and, sadly, a lot of lawyers. The fact that they didn’t break laws, or covered their tracks sufficiently not to leave evidence of law-breaking, does not mean that what they did wasn’t unethical, and seriously so. This is the case with the foreign contributions that just happen to have arrived in conjunction with matters where Clinton’ State Department had a decisive say that could benefit the donors. Accepting undisclosed contributions from such interests, in violation of a signed agreement that was a condition precedent to her confirmation as Secretary of State, is seriously unethical whether it was illegal or not. Because of this, it creates the appearance of impropriety, which officials in the Executive Branch, like Clinton, are prohibited by law from creating. This is a fact. Nothing more needs to be proved.

Stephanopoulos may not understand this, and I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he does not. If so, however, he is incompetent to perform the interview with Schweizer, who does understand it, because George should be trying to enlighten his audience, not confuse them. Harping on whether a law was broken does confuse his audience, and also abets the Clintons’ denial and confound efforts.

Schweizer was prepared; he anticipated all of the questions and the attempts to undermine his findings. He was patient and clear. Then Stephanopoulos suggested that his research was unreliable because he had worked for the Bush Administration and had ties to Republicans in the past.

Kaboom!

George Stephanopoulos was a long-time, close political aide and confidante of Bill and Hillary Clinton! Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: GoFundMe

“DESTROY THE EVIL CAKE DISCRIMINATORS!!!!”

If GoFundMe isn’t going to have the integrity to avoid taking sides in complex political and cultural disputes, it is functionally useless.

Perhaps it should change its title to “GoFundMyPoliticallyCorrectCause.”

Pusillanimous GoFundMe caved in to pressure from vindictive gay marriage activists and pulled the crowdfunding campaign on the site that had raised more than $109,000 for the Christian-owned bakery,  Sweet Cakes by Melissa.

The cake shop in Gresham, Oregon, became ground zero for the same-sex marriage debate  in January 2013, when it turned away customers who wanted cakes for a same-sex wedding. The spurned couple filed a complaint to the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries, claiming their civil rights under the Oregon Equality Act had been infringed. In defense, the owners of the business stated that they  refused to cater  the wedding because of their religious beliefs, and thus their decision was protected by the U.S. Constitution. They subsequently closed the shop, and carried out their business from home. The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries proposed a damages award Friday of $135,000 against Aaron and Melissa Klein, the owners, for being in violation of the state’s anti-discrimination law. The award, which is not final, would provide $60,000 in damages to Laurel Bowman-Cryer and $75,000 in damages to Rachel Bowman-Cryer for “emotional suffering stemming directly from unlawful discrimination.”

After taking down the page raising money for the bakery in the belief that they have been unfairly targeted, victimized and mistreated, GoFundMe said in a statement that the campaign violated the site’s policy against raising money “in defense of formal charges of heinous crimes, including violent, hateful, or sexual acts.”

Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “Ethics Dunces: Ten Prominent Doctors, Surgeons and Med School Professors Who Want Columbia To Kick Dr. Oz Off Its Faculty”

The late Prof. George Wald, the best teacher I ever had. In biology, not political science. George did not acknowledge the distinction.

The late Prof. George Wald, the best teacher I ever had. In biology, not political science. George did not acknowledge the distinction.

Commenter Alexander Cheezem, who has quite a bit of expertise (also passion) on such matters, weighed in on the current controversy over the “quackery” of daytime TV star “Dr. Oz.” This time I’ll hold my comments until the end; here is Alex’s excellent Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Dunces: Ten Prominent Doctors, Surgeons and Med School Professors Who Want Columbia To Kick “Dr. Oz” Off Its Faculty:

I’m going to have to both agree and disagree with you here. First off, I applaud Columbia University’s response and agree that the principle of academic freedom is applicable here… to a point.

Secondly, however, I’m going to have to disagree with you regarding the parallels. Linus Pauling was an embarrassment to medicine, not chemistry. Wald was overly passionate about politics, not biology. Nagel’s views on biology are an embarrassment, not his views on what he’s supposed to be actually teaching. Chomsky’s forays into political science may be an embarrassment (personally, I regard them as something of a mixed bag), but that’s not what he was the professor of, is it?

Kass, McKinnon, Harper, and Singer are closer parallels, of course, but there’s still one rather huge difference: Dr. Oz is a doctor… and runs his show as one. It is, as the comedian John Oliver put it, the Dr. Oz Show, not “Check This Shit Out With Some Guy Named Mehmet”. This is quite relevant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that offering medical advice is within the scope of what doctors do. Offering that advice while invoking his medical license as a relevant qualification, simply put, can be considered part of the actual practice of medicine. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Comment of the Day, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Professions

Re The Latest In The Stream Of Clinton Scandals: If Hillary Clinton Really Cared About The U.S., She’d Drop Out Now

"..and in US public officials!"

..and in US public officials!

Has any American politician voluntarily and sincerely given up power or the quest for it in the best interests of the nation? I’m searching through my American history materials, and so far, I can’t find one since George Washington, who knew he could have been President for Life, and also knew it was a terrible idea. President Nixon and Johnson both said that they were giving up the Presidency for the good of the nation, but Nixon was toast and knew it, and Johnson, the consummate politician, knew that he faced an ugly rejection by the public and the destruction of his party as a result.  I can point to one president who definitely refused to give up power in the best interests of the nation, and thus set us on the divisive and dysfunctional path we are on now: Bill Clinton.

What a coincidence!

Hillary is not Bill, but it is already clear that she is willing to reduce American politics to new lows in blood warfare and polarize the nation even more than it is now, corrupting the news media and her supporters beyond recognition if the carnage can take  her to the White House. Surely she realizes that the months between now and November 2016 will consist of a river wild of revelations, accusations, scandals,  and search and destroy operations by her opponents as well as objective supporters of honest and responsible government. She also knows that there is plenty of substance—as in evidence of her duplicity and untrustworthiness—to discover. And she knows that she will respond, as the Clintons always have and always will, with carefully worded denials, ad hominem attacks on her critics, dark theories about conspiracies, accusations of sexism, and, of course, cover-ups and lies.

Next to a terrorist attack or a national police announcement that yes, they are hunting down African Americans, this is the last thing the United States needs….which means, in turn, that the next to last thing is the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

The latest controversy is instructive. Continue reading

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Ethics Heroes: Adam and Tanya Phillips

tattoos

I’ve been searching for Ethics Heroes of late. They seem to be candidates for the endangered species list. Now a qualified couple, Adam and Tanya Phillips, has surfaced in the town of Grimsby, in Great Britain. Their 18-month old daughter, Honey-Rae, has a port wine birthmark running from her right foot to her lower back. After they noticed shoppers staring at their child at a local supermarket, the parents both got  tattoos the color and shape of the mark on their own right legs. Each took two-and a half hours, and was painful.

 When Honey-Rae  saw them for the first time, she said “match.”

Loving, selfless, kind…and clever.

And one of the best uses for tattoos I’ve heard of yet

.___________________

Pointer: Althouse

Facts and Graphic: BBC

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Filed under Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Family, Love