Tag Archives: honesty

“Trying To Bring Ethics To Project Veritas? How Dare You? GET OUT!”

James O’Keefe is the famous or infamous (depending on your point of view and whether you believe that the ends justify the means) guerrilla hidden-camera master who sets out to deceive Democrats, liberals and progressives into exposing their evil ways. He is not a journalist. He is an unethical conservative operative who has, though dishonest means, occasionally managed to expose wrongdoing or hypocrisy. He is to an ethics blog what Rice Krispie Squares are to Fine Dining Magazine.

Richard Valdes, a former top staffer with O’Keefe’s oxymoronicly named Project Veritas, reports that O’Keefe assigned an undercover employee to attend a meeting of anti-police violence protesters and to bait them by saying: “Sometimes, I wish I could just kill some of these cops. Don’t you just wish we could have one of the cops right here in the middle of our group?” Presumably he was to secretly record the responses, thus discrediting them.

The undercover agent refused, sending an e-mail to his supervisor Valdes that was copied to O’Keefe. It read,

“I will not say words that will jeopardize my entity, especially when they involve an illegal act of ‘murdering police.’ 

Valdes claims O’Keefe fired him “because he was unhappy with me for being unwilling to strong-arm the guy.” He is considering a lawsuit for wrongful termination.  Valdes is threatening to sue for wrongful termination.

A Veritas spokesman denies the allegations, saying, “Project Veritas would never do anything that we believe would incite violence against police officers. Anyone suggesting otherwise is clearly unfamiliar with our body of work.”

Observations:

1. Anyone “familiar”with the organization’s body of work..

  • …would not be surprised at anything it did, no matter how outrageous.
  • ….would not believe a spokesperson, since Project Veritas is all about lying.

2. If it didn’t happen, why did the undercover employee think this was his assignment?

3. No ethical individual would work for O’Keefe anyway. What are the damages for being wrongfully terminated from a job you are lucky not to be in any more?

4. I believe Valdes.

4 Comments

Filed under Character, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Some Hillary E-Mail Ethics Test Results: Dowd, Carville, Maher, Whitehouse, Boxer, Huffington

F minusLast week I pointed out that the controversy over Hillary’s secret e-mail server and the various deceits and lies she has employed to justify is invaluable, not merely as further evidence of the character of the woman Democrats seem determine to stuff down America’s throat as the next President, but also as an integrity and values test for the politicians, elected officials, pundits and journalists who choose to publicly defend her…or not.

So it has been, and continues to be. Unfortunately, Republicans and reliably conservative pundits are disqualified from the test, as they would be condemning Hillary whether there was an ethical defense of her e-mails or not. They will end up on the right side of this issue by simply following their ideological proclivities, and thus deserve no credit for being incidentally correct.

Here is what you have to remember, however: the fact the Republicans and conservatives who reached their position on this issue without giving it any thought detest and distrust Hillary Clinton and are being, in some cases, unattractively gleeful about the scandal does not make Hillary’s defense any stronger. As I explained in the earlier posts, she has no legitimate defense, just spin, rationalizations and deceit. That’s why the e-mail incident challenges the non-Hillary haters to exhibit integrity.

I was tempted to exempt Democratic strategists and Clinton consultants from the test as well, since they are, in essence, paid liars. For anyone inclined to believe them, however, the fact that these people—Karen Finney, Donna Brazile, Lanny Davis, David Brock, James Carville— will go on national TV, look an interviewer and the American public in the eye and say what they know is false should prove that their level of trustworthiness is below sea level.

Carville, for example, gave a tour de force of rationalizations on ABC’s “This Week” yesterday, making the recently popular argument that the Clinton’s just can’t get away with fudges and sneaks that other politicians do, and that this is so, so unfair.  Let’s go to the Rationalizations List! This is the Golden Rationalization (“Everybody does it”) squared by the #39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?” (That argument is disingenuous, because the Clintons are not like everyone else. They have a long, ugly record of deception and rule-breaking. At this point, they cannot credibly claim, “We just made a mistake” —# 19 and #20. There is a pattern. Once a pattern is established, you have to be especially careful not to repeat it, or there is a rebuttable presumption that you can’t help yourself. Is it unfair to an alcoholic to make a bigger deal out of him coming home drunk than when an occasional drinker does the same thing?) Continue reading

17 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Quotes, Science & Technology, The Internet, Workplace

Should Google Be Trusted To Censor Websites According To What It Determines To Be “True”?

Here's irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who's not telling the truth, it's lying.

Here’s irony for you: when Google says it can develop software to decide who’s not telling the truth, it’s lying.

Google’s motto is “Don’t be evil.” It’s well-debased by now: agreeing to help China censor the internet modeled  a non-existent distinction between “don’t be evil” and “don’t assist evil.” I’m not ready to call Google’s looming truth algorithm “evil,” but it is certainly sinister and dangerous.

Google’s search engine rose to dominate the field by using the number of incoming links to a web page to determine where it appears in search results. Pages that many other sites link to are ranked higher. “The downside is that websites full of misinformation can rise up the rankings, if enough people link to them,” says Newscientist.

Now a Google research team is altering the system to measure the trustworthiness of a page, rather than its web popularity. Instead of counting incoming links, the proposed new system would count the number of “incorrect” facts within a page. “A source that has few false facts is considered to be trustworthy,” says the team. Each page will get its computer-determined Knowledge-Based Trust score, which the software will derive by tapping into Google’s  Knowledge Vault, a repository of what Google’s claims is Absolute Truth based on web consensus.  Web pages that contain contradictory information will be bumped down the rankings, so fewer minds will be warped by non-conforming information.

Naturally, the Left, assuming that its view of the universe is the unassailably correct and virtuous one, loves this idea. That should put that”climate change denialists” in their places–at the bottom of web searches. Says Salon, which never met a conservative argument that wasn’t a lie (NEVER met? Oh, oh. There goes Ethics Alarms down the search results!), “Even though the former program is just in the research stage, some anti-science advocates are upset about the potential development, likely because their websites will become buried under content that is, well, true.” Continue reading

37 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Research and Scholarship, Science & Technology, The Internet, U.S. Society

Transgender Ethics: Epic Trailblazer Malpractice In New Hampshire

Ex-N.H. state legislator, Stacy Laughton, a.k.a Barry Laughton.

Ex-N.H. state legislator Stacie Laughton, a.k.a  felon Barry Laughton.

Trailblazers have an ethical obligation when they presume to break a social or occupational barrier to a marginalized group’s participation and equal treatment. Simply put, their duty is to make the bias that has created the barrier and necessitated the “trail” look ignorant, cruel, foolish and unfair. A trailblazer does not have to be a shining star, though it helps, but must be capable of at least doing a solid, average, generally acceptable job., even in the grudging judgment of bigots.

This is because a trailblazer who does a poor job or displays character traits that are objectively inadequate for a role model, which a trailblazer inevitably becomes, risks adding to the barrier he or she just breached for those who follow behind them. The ethical requirement for trailblazers is the same as the traditional edict for doctors “First do no harm.” Being a trailblazer, however, is not easy, and since failure is catastrophic for the group a trailblazer represents, there is a duty not to attempt such a high-risk, high-profile cultural role unless the trailblazer is first, reasonably convinced that he or she the resources of talent, ability, fortitude, character and courage to succeed, and second, willing to accept and overcome the added stress of relentless attention and criticism.

There have been excellent trailblazers, cultural heroes all. Jackie Robinson, the first black Major League baseball player to break the color barrier is the template, but there are many other successes: Justice Thurgood Marshall, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the U.S., Amelia Earhart, Diane Crump, the first female jockey, the late Ed Brooke, the first black U.S. Senator since reconstruction, and too many more to mention. There have also been some miserable failures. The worst trailblazer was probably Shannon Faulkner, who fought in the courts for two years to force The Citadel to accept female cadets, then, after she was victorious, showed up fat and unprepared, and washed out in just one week as millions of dubious vets said, “See? What did we tell you?” Then there was Carol Moseley Braun, the charismatic, promising African-American Democrat whon Illinois voters elected as the nation’s first black female Senator, only to turn out to be thoroughly corrupt.

More recently, we have seen other trailblazers fall short, like Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by the NFL.  Is there a celebrity gay marriage that has not ended in a quick divorce? Most have been failures, reinforcing the belief that gays are promiscuous and unsuited for a real marriage. Most vividly of all in the realm of trailblazer malpractice, we are reminded of the disheartening and tragic examples of Barack Obama, and Eric Holder every day.

Still, in the annals of epic trailblazer fiascoes, it would be hard to top the story of Stacie Laughton, New Hampshire’s first openly transgender state legislator, who was elected in 2012 as one of three House members for Ward 4 in Nashua. Continue reading

14 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, U.S. Society

Unethical…But Funny!

Signed Copy

How this is unethical, however, is a matter of dispute:

  • It might be a hoax. The guy who put it on Facebook swears he saw it in a book store. If not, he’s lying.
  • If this was done by a book store staff member as a gag, it’s disrespectful to the book’s market. Such irony is misplaced in a book store, when a religious book is the prop. I’d call it a firing offense.
  • If this is false advertising, that is also unethical.

And if someone slapped the sticker on the wrong book and isn’t educated enough to realize that this is one book that can’t have a signed copy, that’s unethical incompetence and ignorance for a book store employee.

33 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Humor and Satire, Literature, Religion and Philosophy

Hillary’s Defense: An Ethics Mess

  • I’m going to go rely heavily on links here. I have written a lot about this story already, and there are many other issues to cover. I’ll summarize the content in the pieces linked to, but the thrust is this: Hillary’s explanation in her 20 minute press conference was deceitful, dishonest, and unbelievable. Of course it was.
  • I would declare Hillary’s e-mail fiasco an Ethics Train Wreck, and still might, except that so many are refusing to buy a ticket. Even Bill is afraid to go near the tracks.
  • There are a few who are disgracing themselves—I don’t count paid Clinton cleaners like Lanny Davis, or Media Matters—but one head-exploding performance I saw today was that of Van Jones, the former White House Czar turned CNN pundit, in a “New Day” discussion this morning paired with CNN’s resident conservative pundit—because heaven forbid we examine Clinton’s conduct based on truth, honesty, and principles rather than as political gamesmanship. The two (Ann Navarro for some reason is the only Republican CNN can usually find in the morning) were asked about the phony “Colin Powell did it!” defense dreamed up in the Clinton bunker. Navarro, like anyone else who has examined that argument, found it to be bunkum, simply because the use of e-mail, its regulation in government and what we know about e-mail security has changed so much since Powell referred to it as “new-fangled.” Here’s what Jones said, after first saying that he couldn’t argue with Navarro on her reasoning, emphasis mine:

“Again, she’s playing to the heartland. If you say, listen, I did what Colin Powell did. I’m trying to do a good job. I want convenience. You know, the average person in the heartland, if you hate the Clintons, no answer is good enough. But if you’re — if you’re an honest person, well, geez, maybe this makes sense. I actually do agree, though, that we are in a different world from the Colin Powell days. I think the Colin Powell excuse sounds really good from a press point of view. I hope she keeps saying it. But I do think that, at the end of the day, we are in a different world.”

That’s Jones; that’s the Democratic spin machine, that’s the “the ends justify the means” crowd, and that’s who the networks are asking for analysis: ‘Yes, it’s just designed to confuse the yokels, and it’s not true, but it works,and I hope she keeps saying it.’

Kaboom.

Exploding head

There goes the old skull, exploding again.

Have I ever heard such an open, shameless admission that politicians not only do deceive the public, but that these horrible people like Jones think it’s fine if they do? Fire him. Continue reading

44 Comments

Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Kaboom!, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, The Internet

Hillary’s Secret E-Mails: An Invaluable Ethics Litmus Test

finney_newday

All civic minded citizens should encourage as many individuals—public, private, elected, celebrities, media figures, reporters and pundits—to discuss the issues and significance of the Clinton e-mail scandal. It is a marvelous litmus test to unerringly reveal whether the individual understands basic ethical principles like integrity, honesty, responsibility and trust, as well as his or her reliance on intellectually and ethically bankrupt rationalizations like “Everybody does it,” “It’s not the worst thing,” “Don’t sweat the small stuff,” and others, or, just as disturbing, whether the individual is willing to reject basic ethical principles in a misguided effort to defend a public figure unworthy of the sacrifice, like Hillary Clinton. Keep this public debate going. Before it has run its course, we may have outed thousands, hundreds of thousands, who we will know cannot themselves be trusted.

It takes all my will and civility reserves not to say that this is an IQ test as well. I keep reading comments on blogs and Facebook by people who really seem to be unable to fathom why it should matter when the individual who leads our official dealings with foreign governments mysteriously chooses to take dominion over all her official communications, allowing her to destroy them at will, when such conduct violates the policies and directives of the administration of which she is a member, her own department, and common sense, despite incurring security risks, despite questions over her foundation soliciting contributions from foreign governments while she was in a position to have such contributions warp national policy, when the individual involved, was well as her husband, has a history of skirting laws, obfuscation and mendacity. “This is just more manufactured Hillary-bashing!” Seriously? I know the Clintons pay people to say this, but really believing it requires total corruption or life-threatening brain lesions.

As an example of how this issue exposes a lack of honesty and integrity the way those blue light things show traces of blood on “CSI,” let’s examine the CNN transcript of yesterday’s segment on “New Day,” which featured a “point-counterpoint” style debate on the Clinton e-mails featuring former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer and former Hillary press secretary (and current Media Matters partisan warrior) Karen Finney.

This pairing is manipulation by CNN, by the way. Nobody but hacks, liars and fools honestly defends Clinton’s conduct here, and many non-partisan commentators can articulate clearly exactly what’s wrong with it. Placing a presumed partisan like Fleischer opposite Finney cleverly and unethically suggests that this is one more political dust-up without substance, where there’s no real dispute, just a red/blue divide. That may be what CNN wishes were true, but this issue is not partisan, and shouldn’t be presented as such. The Washington Post, which has, like most of the print media, been pretty straight on this issue, played to the partisan spin by saying,

“Instead of a fresh chapter in which Clinton came into her own, her time as the country’s top diplomat now threatens to remind voters of what some people dislike about her — a tendency toward secrecy and defensiveness, along with the whiff of scandal that clouded the presidency of her husband, Bill Clinton.”

Wait, there are people who like secrecy and scandal? Are they called Democrats, perhaps? Clinton supporters? What an idiotic way to frame Hillary’s problem.

It’s not complicated: the issues involve trust and the character of a potential President.

Now here is the CNN transcript, with my comments in bold: Continue reading

27 Comments

Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, The Internet, U.S. Society