Category Archives: The Internet

Ethics Dunce: Jeb Bush

Donald-Trump-Jeb-Bush

Poor Jeb.

I do sympathize. It must be so humiliating to enter a race for President as a presumed frontrunner, after both your father and brother have won the office, only to fail spectacularly. These people thrive on admiration; rejection is death to them. “Please applaud,” Jeb had to plead with a recent sluggish crowd. To make it worse, there is Donald Trump, someone Jeb has no respect for at all (nor should he), insulting him, mocking him, denigrating him like a schoolyard bully. It has to hurt. It has to make him furious.

Sinking to Trump’s level, however, is not the answer. Trump may get away with it because his supporters are cretins, but name-calling and twitter pissing-matches are not suddenly civil, ethical, responsible or right. It degrades the process and coursens the culture. “He started it” and “He deserves it”  are rationalizations for emotional retaliation that shows weakness, not strength. I assumed that Jeb Bush understood this, and if he was going to lose, and he is, then at least he could hold his head up high at the end knowing that he didn’t violate his principles just because a boor like Donald Trump goaded him into it.

Then today, Jeb tweeted this:

Jeb Tweet

Guess not.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Social Media

Ethics Quiz: The “420” Tattoo And GoFundMe Ethics

Tattoo 420

Tabitha West, of Fulton, New York, created a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a worthy cause: paying for her to get a giant woman  “420” tattoo removed from her forehead. “420” apparently means “I’m a pot head.” Some madman tied her down and defaced her. Wait, no scratch that. She paid to have someone but the big, ugly, stupid tattoo there. Now she finds that having a tattoo on her face that proclaims her love of illegal drug use is an impediment to employment. Huh. Boy, knock me over with a feather: who could have foreseen that?

So, broke and desperate, Tabitha—did I mention that she is an imbecile? Did I need to?—is begging for kind and generous people to undo what she did.

Her message on the GoFundMe page, seeking a goal of  $800, reads:

“I am wanti,g $ to get that tattoo off my for head I want to have a better start out in life and have a second chance at life please help me I was young n dumb when I got that I’m older one looking for a job can’t get out and people call me a druggie every day of my life and being called 420 is not nice and I almost killed my self over it. … can’t stand to look at my face anymore. .save a life save me..invest in me and I will show you I can be better with my life. ..thank you.”

We can all see from that eloquent appeal that Tabitha is a dummy no longer, and thus a superb investment.

Surprisngly, some critics demur. Shawn Morse, for example, wrote in response to the appeal:

“It’s people like you that keep my (sick) girl from getting help. My daughter has three brain tumors, cerebral palsy, neurofibromatosis, an optic glioma, & a feeding tube. My daughter’s GoFundMe keeps getting passed over for things like this. There are too many people begging for money for their bad decisions in their life.”

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the day is…

Is it unethical for Tabitha to seek help on GoFundMe, and for donors to give her money?

Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Marketing and Advertising, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, The Internet

Prof. Jonathan Turley On The Latest Clinton E-Mail Revelations

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“Highly classified Hillary Clinton emails that the intelligence community and State Department recently deemed too damaging to national security to release contain “operational intelligence” – and their presence on the unsecure, personal email system jeopardized “sources, methods and lives,” a U.S. government official who has reviewed the documents told Fox News.”

The mainstream media is dutifully ignoring this while they can, so you may well say, “Oh, well that’s just Fox News.” However, this bit of leaked information should not be surprising, and assuming that it is accurate, it follows the pattern of each bit of new data further discrediting Clinton’s various defenses for her indefensible handling of communications.

I point you to the analysis of George Washington law professor and blogger Jonathan Turley, who is that rarity in academia, a non-partisan, fair and unbiased commentator. Here, in part, are his recent comments on this matter. Please send it to the unshakable Clinton enablers in your life: a mind is a terrible thing to waste. (The emphasis is mine.)

While I agree with the Clinton campaign that these leaks are themselves problematic (both in terms of their timing and their disclosures from an ongoing investigation), I have long maintained that this was a serious scandal and that Clinton’s evolving defense does not track with national security rules or procedures. I consider the decision to use exclusively an unsecure server for “convenience” to be a breathtakingly reckless act for one of the top officials in our government. I am also deeply concerned about the level of “spin” coming from the campaign that is misrepresenting the governing standards and practices in the field. Much of what has been said in defense of Clinton’s use of the email system is knowingly misleading in my view.

In addition, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Kan., who sits on the House intelligence committee, “suggested the military and intelligence communities have had to change operations” due to the presumption that Clinton’s emails were compromised.

… I have previously noted that the decision of Clinton to use a personal server showed incredibly bad judgment that put classified information at risk. The defense that the information was not marked, which the campaign has been using recently, does not address the fundamental issues in the scandal. Clinton has insisted that “I never sent classified material on my email, and I never received any that was marked classified.” The key of this spin is again the word “marked.” I have previously discussed why that explanation is less than compelling, particularly for anyone who has handled sensitive or classified material. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet

Ethics Dunce: Matt Drudge

SAG

Matt Drudge, on his Drudge Report,  posted the above photo of Susan Sarandon with the caption, “SAG.”

Nice.

The link was to this story, a really stupid one, about criticism the 69-year old actress is receiving for dressing this way to deliver an award at the Screen Actors Guild Awards.

The Drudge Report, I must note, is the favorite, go-to source for political news for conservative pundits.

The gag is per se nasty, ageist, misogynist, and creepy. Sarandon is roundly hated by conservatives for being an outspoken feminist and supporter of liberal causes. The “joke” is an ad hominem attack and a despicable cheap shot. Somewhere, someplace there might be someone who has standing to make fun of Susan Sarandon’s looks, but I don’t know of any. By the way, here is Matt Drudge:

Drudge

One can debate the tastefulness of her attire, but Sarandon, as always, looks smashing.

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Humor and Satire, Journalism & Media, The Internet, Unethical Blog Post, Unethical Websites

Jumbo Alert, As An Integrity And Corruption Check For Pundits, Journalists, And All Your Hillary Clinton-Defending Friends Looms

Jumbo film

The real test of when someone will lie to your face is when they will insist that their former, perhaps bias-supported but still sincerely-held position is still valid after all justifications for it have vanished. This is Jumbo territory, the point where Jimmy Durante, giant elephant in tow, shrugged to the accusing sheriff in front of him and said, “Elephant? What elephant?” That, however, was a joke. This is tragic.

Many of us knew we would reach this point long ago, of course. As many, including me, have documented since the New York Times first broke the story of how Hillary Clinton had defied policy, best practices, competent national security management, technology common sense and perhaps the law by receiving and sending her official State Department e-mail on a home-brewed server. First she said there was nothing improper about doing this, then she said she had received no classified information, then she said she had received no material marked classified. She trotted out rationalizations: “everybody did it,” “other Secretaries of State did it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” ultimately adding a rationalization to the list, “It wasn’t the best choice.”

Those of us who have followed the pattern of Clinton scandals over the years knew that her camp was running out of smoke when it defaulted to the old “vast right wing conspiracy” diversion that worked so well—for a while—during the Monica Mess. The facts have been pretty clear for a while now, to anyone with the honesty and fairness to acknowledge them. Hillary Clinton, for her own convenience (as she has said) and to keep her communications out of the view of Congress, the public, political adversaries and law enforcement as she mixed personal business, politics and influence peddling with her official duties, willfully endangered US security and even the lives of intelligence personnel by handling official communications in an insecure manner.

The FBI has been investigating all of this—not her, her campaign keeps reminding us, just the e-mails!—and the State Department, which has been acting as a partisan ally when it’s duty is to the American people, finally was forced by a judge to review and turn over the e-mails involved, other than the ones Clinton had destroyed by her lawyer (nothing suspicious or irregular about that). With each new batch revealed, more e-mails that contained classified information have been found. Former Defense Secretary and CIA director William Gates said this week that Russia, China and Iran, among other foreign nations, probably hacked Clinton’s e-mails, “given the fact that the Pentagon acknowledges that they get attacked about 100,000 times a day.” Meanwhile, State has identified over 1,200 emails that it deems classified were sent over Hillary’s private server, making her first denials ridiculous, and her ultimate denials an admission of gross negligence and stupidity, even if they were true. The Secretary of State didn’t discern that any of 1200 e-mails contained information requiring care and confidentiality? This is the “I’m not corrupt, I’m stupid” defense, which is one no Presidential candidate ought to be allowed to get away with, especially one being extolled by the current President for her alleged competence and experience.

Now the walls, and the facts, are closing in. Yesterday, the Obama administration confirmed for the first time that Hillary Clinton’s home server contained closely guarded government secrets, and announced that 22 emails that containing material requiring one of the highest levels of classification were so sensitive that they could not be released.  Is that clear? These are communications that were on an insecure server, vulnerable to hacking, that Clinton saw, and either didn’t recognize as such—she’s not that stupid—or didn’t care enough to start being responsible. With such e-mails, it doesn’t matter if they are marked: they are self-marking: big, loud, throbbing documents that any Secretary of State, even Secretary Gump, must know are classified because of their content.

The State Department revelation came three days before  the Iowa presidential caucuses, and, incredibly, the Clinton campaign complained about the timing! Yes, it is certainly outrageous to let voters know about the duplicity and incompetence of a candidate for President before they vote for her. This is how Clinton thinks. If that doesn’t bother you, get help.

Federal law makes it a felony for any government employee to mishandle classified information, and here comes the integrity check. With this new information, Clinton has no defense. By definition, allowing top secret information to be received and perhaps forwarded on an insecure, private server is mishandling, and illegal.  Clinton’s campaign, of course, is lying and spinning: the current tactic is to dismiss this as an inter-agency dispute over what is classified. (The Clinton-enabling Vox made bolstering this deflection the centerpiece of its “explainer”) However, when the current State Department is so sure of 22 e-mails’ top secret character that it feels it must withhold them from the public and the media, it is obvious that this was no close call, especially since State has been covering and spinning for Hillary to a disgraceful degree already.

So the facts speak: Yes, she lied. Yes, she endangered U.S. security. Yes, she willfully exposed classified documents to hacking by our enemies. Yes, she did this for her own personal and political benefit.

Yes, she broke the law, and this law ain’t jaywalking. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Jumbo, Law & Law Enforcement, The Internet

Ethics Dunces: Professor Robert Donald Weide, And Any University That Employs Him

crushing dissentThe results of the Curmie Award vote are up at Curmudgeon Central, where blogger Rick Jones tracks episodes of supreme embarrassment for his profession, education. I think next year’s winner may have already arrived. It’s not that I can’t imagine worse conduct by an educator—I have a lively imagination—it’s just that the conduct California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA) professor Robert Donald Weide is an apt symbol of why U.S. higher education is no longer a solution to anything, but a tragic problem in itself. There is no reason, none, why any school shouldn’t immediately sack a faculty member who behaves like this. If the issue is tenure, then tenure needs to be abolished. Tenure should not shield campus fascists.

What did Weide do? CSULA’s branch of Young Americans for Freedom, a conservative political organization, dared to invite Ben Shapiro to give a lecture called “When Diversity Becomes a Problem” about such emerging issues as Black Lives Matter, “microaggressions,” “safe spaces,”  trigger warnings and other assaults on free speech on campuses and elsewhere. Naturally, since the topic is an important and legitimate one, many at CSULA are attacking the event and arguing it should be blocked by the university, citing trigger warnings, safe spaces,  microaggressions, and, of course, the ever-useful censorship concept of “hate speech.”

Perhaps here is as good a place as any to note that I wouldn’t cross the street to listen to Ben Shapiro, and wouldn’t do so even before his website, Breitbart, decided to shill for Donald Trump. That, however, doesn’t alter the fact that he is every bit as worthy of a campus speaking gig as Lena Dunham, Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, or the Pope. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Education, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Etiquette and manners, Facebook, Race

From The “Ethics Isn’t Easy” Files: The FBI, Child Porn, And “Playpen”

key-computerIn order to probe “the dark web” and to apprehend those partaking of the pleasures of child pornography, the FBI emulated the illegal conduct of hackers, using a warrant to surreptitiously place malware on all computers that logged into a site called Playpen. When a user connected, the malware forced his computer to reveal its  Internet protocol address. Next a subpoena to the ISP  yielded his real name and address, and a another warrant allowed a subsequent search of the user’s home. Incriminating evidence, indictments and trials followed.

The problem of tracking computer related crime is far ahead of the law, and in the vacuum, ethical principles are being nicked, mashed, or ignored. Ahmed Ghappour, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, says, “It’s imperative that Congress step in to regulate exactly who and how law enforcement may hack.” If hacking is illegal, and wrong as an uncontested intrusion on privacy, when is it ethical, and thus legal, for law enforcement to do it? Continue reading

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Filed under Childhood and children, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet