Tag Archives: misrepresentation

The Final Ethics Verdict On Ted Cruz

Check enclosed

See that official-looking envelope above? That’s from Ted Cruz’s campaign: it’s been arriving in mailboxes all over the country. See what it says in the lower right corner? “CHECK ENCLOSED.” This is to entice you to open it. But here is the “check” enclosed:

Cruz check

It’s not a check. It looks like a check, but it isn’t one, because checks can be cashed. It’s a fake check not made out to the recipient of the envelope, but to the Cruz campaign. This is a fundraising appeal, you see, but it has employed two lies: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising

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

David Brooks’ Dirty Hit On Ted Cruz: How Pundits Lose Credibility

That's some role model you've chosen there, David

That’s some role model you’ve chosen there, David

…or at least deserve to.

Here is how New York Times columnist David Brooks begins his character evisceration of Ted Cruz:

“In 1997, Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years.

Eventually, the mistake came to light and Haley tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years.

Some justices were skeptical. “Is there some rule that you can’t confess error in your state?” Justice Anthony Kennedy asked. The court system did finally let Haley out of prison, after six years.”

From this, Brooks goes on to conclude…

…Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy….Cruz’s speeches are marked by what you might call pagan brutalism. There is not a hint of compassion, gentleness and mercy. Instead, his speeches are marked by a long list of enemies, and vows to crush, shred, destroy, bomb them.

Cruz’s behavior in the Haley case [Dretke v. Haley] does nothing of the sort. The columnist intentionally—I’m assuming that he read the case, now—misrepresented what the case was about, how the court reacted, and what Cruz’s ethical duties were regarding it. As it happens, I share much of Brooks’ dislike of Cruz’s rhetoric. This case, however, tells us nothing about Cruz’s character. It tells us that that as Solicitor General of Texas, Cruz did his job, which was to represent his client’s position.

James Taranto, the pretty damn brilliant Wall Street Journal blogger, wit and conservative pundit, nails Brooks to the wall. He writes in part… Continue reading

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A Donald Trump Ethics Lesson

nice-guys“Trump Once Cut Off Medical Care For Sick Infant To Spite the Parents,” shouts the Mediaite headline, thus showing that even somewhat ideologically balanced websites will slant their coverage to make Donald Trump look bad—-strange, because honest reporting  will usually do the trick. What a monster he must be! The problem with the headline is that it intentionally mischaracterizes the episode in question, and “poisons the well,”  framing the story so that a casual reader is likely to interpret it as negatively as possible. This is classic unethical journalism. It also shows how some journalists are incapable of reporting on politicians and leaders, whose world view is so different from theirs.

Fortunately, I should add.

The real story, related over the weekend by the  New York Times, is more complex. The Times told the sad tale of Trump’s older brother Freddy, who died of the effects of alcohol abuse before he was fifty after leaving the family construction business. Trump’s reflections on his brother are uncharacteristically sympathetic and gentle, and it is interesting that The Donald’s reaction to his brother’s fall includes never using tobacco or alcohol, a tribute to his self-discipline.

The incident that prompted the Mediaite hit job occurred after Freddie’s death. Here is how the Times describes it: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Ethics Quiz: The Uncast Star

WSS dancer

Northern Virginia’s most acclaimed and honored musical theater, Signature Theater (not to be confused with also well-honored NYC regional theater of the same name) is currently presenting “West Side Story.” A feature article about the sold-out production noted the fact that the show’s marketing prominently features  dancer Gustavo Ribeiro, a former member of the Washington Ballet’s Studio Company, whose career has been soaring of late, just like the photo of him mid-air that has appeared in Signature’s season announcement, show posters, program covers and in “West Side Story” reviews and features.

In addition to inducing potential audience members to believe this superb dancer is featured in the show, the fact that he is apparently Latino creates the assumption, suggests the article’s author, that members of the Puerto Rican gang, the Sharks, are played by Hispanic actors.

They are not. Neither is Ribeiro in the show his image advertises. Nor, I strongly suspect, are any dancers of his caliber.

For your first Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of 2016, I ask you:

Is this ethical advertising?

Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Marketing and Advertising, Quizzes

A Rubio Scandal, And Now The Test: How Does He Handle It?

lit fuse

It looks like the Washington Post has Republican Presidential candidate Marco Rubio dead to rights on a substantial conflict of interest scandal, or worse. It dates back to 2002, when the Florida Senator was a rising politician serving as majority whip of the Florida House of Representatives.

The Post convincingly documents that Rubio used his official position to urge state regulators to grant a real estate license to his brother-in-law Orlando Cicilia, a convicted cocaine trafficker released from prison 20 months earlier. Rubio sent a letter on his official statehouse stationery to the Florida Division of Real Estate, recommending  Cicilia “for licensure without reservation.” The letter did not disclose that Cicilia was married to Rubio’s sister,  or that the convicted cocaine dealer was then living with Rubio’s parents. Rubio merely wrote that he had “known” Cicilia “for over 25 years.”

This is deception by omission, as well as an abuse of power and position. There is also the unanswered question of whether Rubio or his family received financial assistance from Cicilia when he had access to drug money from $15 million worth of cocaine he was convicted of distributing in 1989. The federal government seized Cicilia’s home, but the money has never been found. Moreover, the Post reports, Rubio-affiliated PACs and campaigns, including his current one, have paid Cicilia’s two sons more than $130,000 in the past decade. Continue reading

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“The Affair” Smears An American War Hero

The General and friend.

                             The General and friend.

“The Affair,” Showtime’s much lauded soap opera, wrapped up its season yesterday, without me. There are some things I won’t forgive, and sliming the legacy and reputation of long dead individuals of character and accomplishment is one of them.”The Affair” was guilty of that the previous week. It is dead to me.

The background: General Omar Bradley is increasingly accorded credit for planning D-Day, and thus is owed a large share of the world’s gratitude for winning World War II. He was not flamboyant like Patton or MacArthur, and had no political aspirations, so despite his remarkable life in service of the United States, Omar Bradley is an undeservedly obscure historical figure. He is, also, beyond any controversy, an American hero.

He also was an especially ethical one, as indicated by three of his better known quotes:

“It is time that we steered by the stars, not by the lights of each passing ship.”

“We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount. The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants. We know more about war than we know about peace, more about killing than we know about living.”

“Dependability, integrity, the characteristic of never knowingly doing anything wrong, that you would never cheat anyone, that you would give everybody a fair deal. Character is a sort of an all-inclusive thing. If a man has character, everyone has confidence in him. Soldiers must have confidence in their leader.”

Why the writers of “The Affair” decided smear Bradley, I cannot fathom. Nonetheless, any viewers of the show that watched the penultimate episode and who didn’t know who Bradley was, and many who did, left it with the belief that Bradley, a who by all accounts was faithfully and lovingly married to the his first wife throughout the war and until her death, had an affair with actress Marlene Dietrich, who traveled with the U.S. Army for nearly two years at the end of the war. “The Affair’s” self-obsessed and perpetually horny protagonist, a successful novelist, told his therapist—and boy, does he need one–that his new book would be a historical novel about Omar Bradley. Then he said that he was tempted to skip the affair with Marlene Dietrich, but then that was the most interesting thing about Bradley to him. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, History, Leadership, Popular Culture, Romance and Relationships, U.S. Society, War and the Military