Tag Archives: trust

How Trust Dies, Part II: A Trivial White House Cover-Up With Signature Significance

Yeah, but this is little Big Brother stuff, so why worry?"

Yeah, but this is little Big Brother stuff, so why worry?”

President Obama was speaking at a Democratic fundraiser in Chicago on Monday,  and you know how he is when he goes off his teleprompter.

He was talking about returning home to Chicago,  and said

“One of the nice things about being home is actually that it’s a little bit like a time capsule. Because Michelle and I and the kids, we left so quickly that there’s still junk on my desk, including some unpaid bills (laughter) — I think eventually they got paid — but they’re sort of stacked up. And messages, newspapers and all kinds of stuff.”  

The White House, however, removed the “unpaid bills” part from the official transcript which was sent out after the event, so it now reads “there’s still junk on my desk, including some — newspapers and all kinds of stuff.​” Associated Press reporter Josh Lederman noticed the deception and alerted another reporter who was at the event, who sent out an email alerting her colleagues and everyone else who receives reports from the White House press corps. Continue reading

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How Trust Dies, Part I: The D.C.’s Election Commission’s Brazen Jumbo

DC Voters Guide

That’s the real D.C. flag on the right. I think it looks better upside down too…

[Jumbo: a Jumbo is a special Ethics Alarms award for conduct that emulates the gag from the Broadway musical and film “Jumbo,” in which Jimmy Durante, as a circus clown trying to steal an elephant, is caught red-handed by a sheriff, and asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” “Elephant? What elephant?,” Jimmy replied.]

As readers who travel here often know, I really hate, hate, hate obvious lies. They are cowardly, they are insulting, and when they are authored by public officials, they recklessly foster public cynicism and distrust. You can’t do your job right, and you don’t even know when it’s pointless to lie? Why should we trust you to be able to do anything right?

Of course, we shouldn’t.

You will seldom see a more blatant and embarrassing example of the desperate, immediately apparent lie than this one from the District of Columbia Board of Elections after it mailed out 305,164  copies of the official D.C. voter guide with the D.C. flag on the front cover printed upside-down. This immediately provoked much local media, pundit and social media hilarity and mockery, but no, announced the Board. This was no lazy clerical error from the government famous for them. This was intentional! A devilishly clever strategy!

The election board’s  spokeswoman, Denise Tolliver explained that the upside-down flag was a deliberate move—an upside-down flag is a distress signal, after all—to grab the attention of voters and “see how many clicks we can get.” “People are responding, aren’t they?” Tolliver said. “They’re paying attention. It’s working!”

Nobody believed it, of course, because the only idiot in the conversation was her, and, by proxy, her superiors. Eventually  the board’s executive director, Clifford Tatum, confessed. “No, this is an error,” he e-mailed a D.C. Council member. Continue reading

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Alleged Fraud And Corruption In Holder’s Justice Department: Why Isn’t This Considered News?

A drunken pumpkin riot! Now THAT'S News!

A drunken pumpkin riot! Now THAT’S News!

Possible answers to the question posed above:

1. Because everyone already knows that the Justice Department is corrupt and Eric Holder is an incompetent political hack.

2. There was a huge pumpkin festival riot in Keane, New Hampshire!

3. The news media is so biased that it will even treat an astounding judicial ruling as a made-up “conservative media” story.

4. It’s just more evidence of how abysmally the Obama administration is being run, and an election is coming up.

5. The world has gone mad.

I think any of them are plausible explanations.

Whichever it is, I guess I am honored to be able to help break some news, as it is not usually an Ethics Alarms function. This story has made it to exactly one news source as I write this, the New York Observor, though a few conservative blogs are noting it. Read the story itself and the links here.

Meanwhile, I’ll summarize:

Two former Assistant United States Attorneys say Holder ‘s Justice Department engaged in deceit and corruption  in pursuing  its litigation against Sierra Pacific Industries, a California lumber company. Responding to the allegations—and remember that false allegations of this magnitude would mean the end of these lawyers legal careers– Federal District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. has ordered the recusal of every federal judge in the Eastern District of California, on the theory that since the court may have been defrauded by the government,  an outside judge is needed to handle the matter to avoid a conflict of interest. Continue reading

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Ebola, Trust, Competence, and “The Only Thing We HaveTo Fear Is Fear Itself” Ethics

On the 4th of March, 1933, newly elected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, taking over the Presidency in the teeth of the Great Depression, intoned his famous words, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself!”  It was bravado, of course, and in essence a lie: there was a lot to fear. Roosevelt knew it, and the public certainly knew it. The whole economic system seemed to be falling apart. Anti-capitalist evolutionaries were looking for an opportunity to revolt. Nobody was sure what to do.

The statement was effective, however, in focusing the nation on the challenges at hand and riveting the pubic attention on solving problems rather than cringing in terror in fear of them. Roosevelt was a magnificent speaker, warm and charismatic, and that contributed to the force of his rhetoric, but what was most important is that he was trusted. Every new President  can draw on a full, newly-replenished  account of trust, or at least could, in FDR’s time. A new President’s promises haven’t proven to be air; his political skills and talents, honesty and character have not shown themselves to be inadequate or a fraudulent pose.  In rare cases, and FDR was certainly one, they never do. The President, for good or ill, is the human face of the U.S. Government. If he is trusted, it is trusted. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, History, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership, U.S. Society

CNN’s Smoking Gun Ebola Gag

Ebola joke

The photo above was deemed so cute and hilarious that CNN’s “New Day” senior producer John Griffin tweeted it to the world. CNN brass, at least those among them who are not demented nor insane, immediately ordered it taken down, but of course it was too late.

We now we know. We’ve known for a long time, those of us who were paying attention at least, but now we know for certain. The photo is smoking gun evidence of a tragic fact with frightening implications for all of us. Broadcast journalism, the occupation that Edward R. Murrow believed would transform and enrich America by creating a better educated, more knowledgeable, more civically literate and involved public, can no longer claim to be a profession, a pursuit dedicated to the public good. It is nothing more than entertainment, and not very professional or sophisticated entertainment at that. Continue reading

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Ebola in Dallas: No Excuses For the CDC

doctor_stooges_2

The statement by the nurses union in Dallas describing the Three Stooges level breaches in safety protocols surrounding the treatment of Thomas Duncan, the nation’s first Ebola fatality is shocking, but it should be no surprise, ironically. By now, Americans should be used to being told that our benevolent overseers in the government have matters well in hand, our best interests at heart, and the expertise and resources to do the job governments are supposed to do.  They are also used to discovering, especially lately, that the expensive systems and professionals we have been instructed to trust are in truth lazily administered, incompetently run, staffed with too many sluggards just waiting for a paid retirement, and most of all, well aware that failure carries little or no accountability.  In the recent past it has been the Secret Service, the Veterans Administration, the State Department, Homeland Security, the IRS, HHS and our military that have shown deficits in management, oversight, planning, professionalism and common sense undermining our trust. Now it is the Center for Disease Control. Continue reading

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A Media Health Fick! Now Nancy Snyderman Has An Unethical Apology To Go With Her Irresponsible Conduct

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Dear NBC: Why does this woman still have a job?

First Dr. Nancy Snyderman endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure, apparently because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup. Now she eliminates all doubt about her trustworthiness and character—none to the first, not much of the latter— with a terrible, blame-shifting, non-apology apology:

“While under voluntary quarantine guidelines, which called for our team to avoid public contact for 21 days, members of our group violated those guidelines and understand that our quarantine is now mandatory until 21 days have passed. We remain healthy and our temperatures are normal. As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public, but I am deeply sorry for the concerns this episode caused. We are thrilled that Ashoka is getting better and our thoughts continue to be with the thousands affected by Ebola whose stories we all went to cover.”

1. “Members” violated those guidelines? SHE did! The statement is deceitful and misleading.

2. “As a health professional I know that we have no symptoms and pose no risk to the public”—she can’t possibly know—yet—whether she and the rest of the exposed group pose a threat. And her conduct in this matter has been anything but professional.

3. Oh, she’s sorry for the “concerns.” She doesn’t apologize for sending someone who shared a car with her into a restaurant, risking the infection of large numbers of people, or violating the quarantine, or causing her group to have to be formally quarantined because she was too full of herself to eschew her favorite soup, or embarrassing the news media, NBC, and two professions: journalists and doctors. She’s just sorry all the uneducated hysterics out there got worried when she, the great Doctor Snyderman, just knows in her infinite expertise that silly precautions like quarantines don’t apply to her.

This episode certifies Snyderman as a fick, the Ethics Alarms designation for someone who is a mega-jerk and wants everyone to know it.  As for the yecch-worthy apology, it ranks at the very bottom of the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. It is a Category 10: “An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.”

 

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