Tag Archives: corruption

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Ann Althouse

smoke2

“What’s to “look into”? Why not a straightforward “yes”? She said “I’ll look into it,” and the, opaquely, “I don’t know the status, but I will certainly look into it.” What “status”? Who even has an idea what that means? Does she not own the rights to her speeches?”

—-Law prof. and eccentric blogger Ann Althouse, reacting to Hillary Clinton’s evasive response “I will look into it,” when asked during the recent debate if she would release transcripts of her high-priced speeches to various corporations, like Goldman Sachs.

Two points before I discuss Althouse’s analysis:

1. Somehow I missed this in my review of the debate. I shouldn’t have, but I was so pummeled by the sheer awfulness of it all that my observation skills were obviously impaired. Not as badly as most, however: the number of journalists who have praised that festival of platitudes and lies as “the best debate so far” are every bit as pathetic as Donald Trump’s throng. There is no excuse for being that estranged from reality.

2. To anticipate the complaints: I’ll stop posting on Hillary Clinton’s lies, deceits and unethical machinations when she stops engaging in them. That is not only fair and responsible, it is the only way to foil the Clinton game, which consists of making everyone sick and tired of pointing out how corrupt they are.

Professor Althouse nailed Hillary on this. She continued in part… Continue reading

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It’s Just One Small Episode In The Vast Accountability, Integrity And Competence Void That Is The Federal Government, But It May Answer Many Questions…

Kimberly Graves appealing her VA demotion, not because she denies gaming the system and sucking up taxpayer money, but because she feels she should get away with it.

Kimberly Graves, appealing her VA demotion, not because she denies gaming the system and sucking up taxpayer money, but because she feels she should get away with it.

As essential background, please read this excerpt from the Veterans Administration’s inspector general’s report regarding “Inappropriate Use of Position and Misuse of Relocation Program and Incentives,” from last fall:

As part of our assessment of VA’s relocation expense program (PCS program), we reviewed records related to the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) reassignment of 7 General Schedule (GS) Grade 15 employees who were promoted to Senior Executive Service (SES) positions and 15 SES employees who moved to different SES positions in fiscal years (FYs) 2013, 2014, and 2015. VBA management used moves of senior executives as a method to justify annual salary increases and used VA’s PCS program to pay moving expenses for these employees. Annual salary increases totaled about $321,000, and PCS relocation expenses totaled about $1.3 million. Additionally, VBA paid $140,000 in unjustified relocation incentives. In total, VA spent about $1.8 million on the reassignments. While we do not question the need to reassign some staff to manage a national network of VAROs, we concluded that VBA inappropriately utilized VA’s PCS program for the benefit of its SES workforce.

Ms. Kimberly Graves was reassigned from her position as the Director of VBA’s Eastern Area Office to the position of Director, St. Paul VARO, effective October 19, 2014. VA paid $129,467.56 related to Ms. Graves’ PCS move. We determined that Ms. Graves also inappropriately used her position of authority for personal and financial benefit when she participated personally and substantially in creating the St. Paul VARO vacancy and then volunteering for the vacancy.

Mr. Antione Waller, former St. Paul VARO Director, told us Ms. Graves initiated discussion with him about relocating to the Philadelphia VARO. Once he expressed a willingness to accept the reassignment, she did an apparent “bait and switch.” She told him that the Philadelphia position was no longer available and he would be considered for the Baltimore VARO Director position. When he said he was not willing to move to Baltimore, Ms. Graves told him, “you will probably get another call, this probably won’t be the last conversation about Baltimore.” In an email, Ms. Beth McCoy, who at the time was the Assistant Deputy Under Secretary for Field Operations and Ms. Rubens’ subordinate, told Ms. Graves that she spoke to Mr. Waller and told him his name was already submitted to the VA Secretary for Baltimore, so “saying no now is not a clean or easy option.” Once the St. Paul Director position was vacant, Ms. Graves said she contacted Ms. Rubens and said, “I’d like to throw my name in for consideration for St. Paul … I feel like I’ve done my time and I’d like to put my name in.”

Ms. Rubens’ and Ms. Graves’ reassignments resulted in a significant decrease in job responsibilities, yet both retained their annual salaries—$181,497 and $173,949, respectively. Based on Federal regulations, we determined VA could not reduce their annual salaries upon reassignment despite the decrease in the scope of their responsibilities. However, a senior executive’s annual salary can be reduced if the individual receives a less than fully successful annual summary rating, fails to meet performance requirements for a critical element, or, as a disciplinary or adverse action resulting from conduct related activity.

We made criminal referrals to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Columbia, regarding official actions orchestrated by Ms. Rubens and Ms. Graves. Formal decisions regarding prosecutorial merit are pending. We provided 12 recommendations to VA to increase oversight of VA’s PCS program and to determine the appropriate administrative actions to take, if any, against senior VBA officials.

Got that? Graves gamed the system to reduce her responsibilities while keeping her salary, and received almost $130,000 in taxpayer money as moving expenses, which, as the rest of the IG’s report documents, are routinely inflated by the VA. Continue reading

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Observations On The Democratic Presidential Candidates “Debate”

Jets Cowboys

1. The major significance of the way the Democratic nomination competition has been handled so far is what it appears to say about the complacency and/or corruption of ordinary Democrats. Why is there no outrage—hell, disgust— over this sham of a race? Are Democrats so devoid of character and standards that they are satisfied with a Communist regime-like process where the Party’s hand-picked candidate has a giant box next to her name in the ballot while it is made clear to all that the other candidates are window dressing?

2. Well, they did it: this debate was scheduled so cynically to avoid viewers that even I was foiled: I had other things to do. [ I’ve read the transcript, here.] Scheduled on a  weekend, against NFL football, on the biggest shopping Saturday of the year, right before Christmas…Wow.

I actually laughed out loud to hear CNN analysts expressing puzzlement at the scheduling. “It’s really mind-boggling; I can’t conceive of why the DNC would do this!” one said. “I know, it really is incomprehensible,” said the other, looking befuddled.

Pop Quiz: Lying, or stupid?

This reminded me of the TV reporter—I can’t recall which network—who said, after the second airplane slammed into the second tower, “Now, the tendency will be to assume this is a terrorist attack, but we caution viewers not to leap to conclusions.” That’s right, it might all be a horrible coincidence! The head-scratching over the DNC’s third straight weekend debate is just about that ridiculous. They don’t want Hillary, who is a shaky campaigner and debater, to be seen or heard by any more undecided voters than necessary.

With that, back to #1. What kind of respectable political organization tries to minimize the opportunities for citizens to know its leader? No kind, that’s the answer. Deceptive, manipulative, dishonest, suspicious, untrustworthy organizations behave this way, and only them. Do Democrats care? Does this trouble them? By the evidence, I guess not. Continue reading

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The Lesson Of The Pete Rose Saga: It’s Hard Being Ethical When You’re Stupid

Rose rejected

Pete Rose’s final appeal to have his ban from Major League Baseball lifted was rejected, as Commissioner Rob Manfred delivered a stinging rebuke. (You can read his letter here.) The very first ethics post I ever wrote was about Pete, and I have posted about his character and plight several times since. Rose, the all-time leader in hits and undeniably a great player, was banned from the game in 1989. An investigation concluded that he had bet on baseball games while a manager of the Cincinnati Reds, a violation of MLB’s famous “third rail” no-gambling rule, which makes it an automatic expulsion from the profession to place bets on baseball games as a manager, coach or player. This is regarded as an existential rule for baseball, which was nearly ruined when gamblers fixed the 1919 World Series.

Rose maintained his innocence of the allegations for decades, then admitted(to sell a book) that he had been lying, and did gamble. Just a few months ago, evidence surfaced that he had also bet on baseball while a player, which Rose has always denied.

In his letter rejecting Rose’s appeal, Commissioner Manfred noted that one of the conditions that had long been set for Rose to have any chance of reinstatement—though Rule 21 has no exceptions, MLB was willing to do almost anything not to have the holder of the record for lifetime hits on its blacklist—Rose would have to earn a pardon by showing he had turned his life around, meaning that Pete was no longer a sleazeball.

Manfred wrote that Rose, who had, among other black marks, served time in prison for tax evasion, asserted in his latest appeal that he indeed was a new and better man. Nevertheless, Rose…

1. Refused to admit that he had bet on baseball as a player, when the evidence was incontrovertible, and

2. Revealed that he still gambles on horse racing and professional sports, including baseball.

Manfred came to the obvious conclusion that “Charlie Hustle,” who pretty clearly has a gambling addiction, has taken no positive steps toward addressing it, is still a risk to gamble on baseball games or get himself in debt to gamblers if he returned to the sport, and  can’t be trusted.

All of the above could be more concisely summarized by six words: Pete Rose is a stupid man. As comedian Ron White says, “You can’t fix stupid.” Manfred, in his letter telling Pete that he can forget about any future employment in baseball, noted more than once that Rose does not appear to understand the import and purpose of the rule he violated, which exists  to protect the integrity of the game. Indeed,  Pete Rose wouldn’t know what integrity was if it sat on his face. Continue reading

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Have A Happy Thanksgiving Everyone, And Don’t Forget To Review The Ethics Alarms Complete “It’s A Wonderful Life” Ethics Guide Before The Annual TV Screening!

It’s right here!

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Ethics Hero: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Meet the Press sisters.

Meet the Press sisters!

About a week ago, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)  issued an unexpectedly tough report calling for Russia to be banned from international athletics at all levels for flagrant doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics. WADA also urged the International Association of Athletics Federations to ban five Russian athletes and five coaches for life. Why the Draconian measures?

The verdict was doubtless bolstered by considering the repeated examples of Russian cheating going back to the bad old Soviet Union days, when the gargantuan Press sisters were winning gold medals over female athletes half their size and East German female swimmers had shoulders as wide as Volkswagon buses, often because they had been dosed with testosterone without their knowledge. More recently, WADA found that Russia “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed 1,400 urine and blood samples of its athletes and, WADA says, the Russian government was directly involved.

WADA President Dick Pound’s report conceded that “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics” were rampant, but that Russia was in a league of its own. “For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian Federation is suspended. One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that so they can undertake the remedial work needed.”

Then he told another funny joke about a horse, a rabbi and an octopus walking into a bar. Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test”

"Cheer up!" said the voice. "Things could be worse!" So I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse!

“Cheer up!” said the Voice. “Things could be worse!” So I cheered up, and, sure enough, things got worse…

This will be the second Presidential election for Ethics Alarms. As I learned in the first one (2012), keeping politics out of the posts and discussion are futile. Nonetheless, I will work to stay away from policy debates unless there is clear ethical content,  as  with illegal immigration, abortion, income distribution or gun control. Leadership is the second topic that Ethics Alarms encompasses, in part because character and the ethical handling of power are so important to ethical leadership. Competence is also an important component. An indirect message of the recent post about Joe Biden was that the United States, though it always needs competent leadership in the White House, needs it even more than usual, and potential candidates for the job do not appear to have it.

Veteran Ethics Alarms commenter Michael R has delivered a useful and troubling addendum to what I wrote. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post Joe Biden, The Republicans, And The Lawn Chair Test: Continue reading

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