Tag Archives: trust

Abusing Fairness And Decency To “Get” Ted Cruz

Cruz college

I am in full sympathy with anyone who gets the creeps from Ted Cruz. The news media’s problem with Cruz, however, is also soaked with pure ideological bias. It doesn’t like his religiosity, nor his conservative fervor. If they turned one-fifth of the intensity of their anti-Cruz zeal on Hillary Clinton, maybe a few more of her more zombified followers  might finally feel some neurons firing.   (I don’t know if Trump shooting someone would dissuade his herd, but I have talked to Hillary supporters who would either refuse to believe it or claim it was set up by Republicans.)

Apparently Cruz’s kamikaze legislative tactics, mendacity and dirty tricks in his current campaign isn’t enough ammunition for those who want to derail his ambitions: now the news media is just looking for dirt, or manufacturing. Supposedly legitimate news organizations have scraped the bottom of the academic barrel to find lawyers who would argue that Cruz isn’t a natural born citizen, even though the same editors would have leapt out of their windows before seeking scholarly endorsement of Obama birther theories. Even non-political publications are doing it: Psychology Today just disgraced itself by publishing the ultimate pseudo-science junk piece from  a professor of neurology at George Washington University, Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, who explains in clinical terms why he, at least, finds Ted Cruz creepy. It is nothing but an ad hominem attack based on his opinion that Cruz is funny-looking, exactly as wrong as criticizing Obama’s ears, Hillary’s calves or Bernie’s wrinkles.

Ah, but Ted Cruz deserves this, you see, because he is conservative, Republican, genuinely rather than tactically religious—can’t have that—and one of the “Cuban guys.”

Piling on after the cheap shots taken at Cruz via Twitter by his jealous Hollywood jerk Princeton roommate, journalist Ellie Shechet decided to track down as many of Cruz’s college acquaintances as possible. allegedly to investigate a “rumor” of young Ted doing something disgusting, but really to see who would trash him. Here’s an example of her “investigative journalism”: Continue reading

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Signature Significance From The Ted Cruz Campaign: No Trustworthy Candidate Would Allow This Mailer

ted-cruz-shaming-campaign-3

I really hate fake mailers, because they are lies. Whether it is a fake census letter to hit me up for a Republican Party contribution, a fake IRS warning to make me read a tax service, a false notification of a prize I didn’t win to sell me soap, or a phony hand-addressed envelope from a “friend” to get me to check out a website, these are inherently dishonest devices dreamed up with the assistance of soulless direct marketing hacks, who from my personal experience are ethics-free sociopaths who luckily—for the rest of us— ended up in a relatively non-violent field. I don’t buy soap from companies that try to hook me with lies; I don’t give money to causes that trick me into opening their solicitations, and I definitely don’t support presidential candidates who use lies and intimidation techniques to get me to vote for them. Presidential candidates like…Ted Cruz. 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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Thank You, Matt Yglesias, For Showing Exactly Why Journalists Like You Cannot Be Trusted

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Matt Yglesias is now called a blogger, but he has been an editor and a writer at places like The Atlantic and Vox. He’s a journalist; an opinion journalist, for the most part, but a journalist. He also seldom meets a progressive idea he doesn’t like, which is fine, I suppose; after all, that just makes him like about 90 percent of all journalists.

He also endorses lying. The tweet above from Matt is a couple years old, but was recently raised again in an interview with the conservative Daily Caller and some of Matt’s Twitter exchanges with other writers.

“Fighting dishonesty with dishonesty is sometimes the right thing for advocates to do, yes,” wrote Yglesias last week. He seemed shocked that anyone would be troubled by this, asking a conservative writer,  “Do you really think deception is immoral in all circumstances?”  He told the Daily Caller that he approves of lying by policy advocates, but of course he would never lie, because his job as a blogger is to inform.

Does that mean that he would flag, expose and criticize a lie from a politician or advocate he favors, used in the service of  a progressive policy Yglesias wants to see succeed? Say, a health insurance program where the primary public policy-making advocate swears will allow everyone to keep their current health care plans, “Period!”? Will Matt vigorously expose hype by climate change advocates like Al Gore, or false budget claims by politicians like Bernie Sanders? If Yglesias thinks that the public wrongly believing that Mike Brown was surrendering when he was shot will lead to important social reforms, will he expose the lie, or bolster it? What are the implications of a journalist’s belief that lying to the public may be ethical for officials and advocates?

Continue reading

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Comment of the Day: “Ethics Update: The Frontrunners”

Zoltar

Rising Ethics Alarms comment star Zoltar Speaks! has weighed in with a passionate and perceptive comment inspired my recent overview of the ethical bankruptcy among the public’s current top choices to be our next President. Most commentators, even partisan ones, have become sensitive to what ZS describes, though they describe it in differing ways. Here’s a fascinating post on City Journal, giving Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Kennedy’s hagiographer and once influential liberal/Democratic historian credit for predicting the phenomenon:

“Both lament and warning, “The Disuniting of America” reflected a Schlesinger disconcerted by the rise, within overwhelmingly liberal academia, of multiculturalism and political correctness, the linked solvents of American identity. …Trump is both a reaction to and expression of liberal delusions. Schlesinger’s fears have largely come to pass; we’ve become what he called a “quarrelsome spatter of enclaves.” Schlesinger was too much a part of the elite to imagine that the class he always thought of as representing the best of the future would come to be despised by a broad swath of Americans for its incompetence and ineffectuality. But what Schlesinger saw on the horizon seems to have arrived, with no sign of abating: we are in the midst of a soft civil war.”

Government, especially democratic government, relies on trust. Nixon and Watergate exacerbated the decline in trust created by the Vietnam War, then Clinton betrayed the dignity and image of his office to make almost any conduct by the President not just imaginable, but defensible. Sam Donaldson famously said that Clinton would have to resign if the allegation about Monica were true, and he had lied. Sam was right under previous rules, and a President who cared more about the country’s trust than himself would have done as Donaldson predicted.

Next came the completely random catastrophe of the tied 2000 election. Democrats, to their undying shame, employed it as a wedge, and to insist that the election had been stolen, a practice I described at the time as picking at the connective threads of the tapestry of our society. 9-11 was used to suggest that our government would murder its own people; Katrina was used to suggest that our government would allow black people to die because they were black. Bush’s administration blundered into a war, and then into a near-depression—in past generations, these would both be attributed to miscalculations.  But the tapestry, as I warned, was unraveling. Now those mistakes were being seen as deliberate, sinister.Then came Obama, once promising hope and harmony, who has deliberately exacerbated divisions and distrust  to build a political firewall around  his own incompetence. Public trust in government, before the Vietnam protests, was at 73%; it is below 25% today. Of course it is. The question is: Now what?

Here is Zoltar Speaks! in his Comment of the Day on the post, Ethics Update: The Frontrunners:

Do you ever get the feeling from the political front-runners in this campaign that this election is primarily being steered towards the elimination of our current political system in favor of something else?

Do you ever get the feeling that illogical social chaos and division among the people is becoming more and more prevalent across the United States and our leaders don’t seem to be spending any of their political capital to slow the trend, instead what we see is rhetoric from our leaders and potential leaders that seems to support illogical social chaos and division among the people?

Continue reading

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Craig Mazin, FICK

Craig Mazin, terrible human being and proud of it...

Craig Mazin, terrible human being and proud of it…

The short description of a fick would be “public asshole, and proud of it.” That’s a fair description of the indecent Craig Mazin, a Hollywood writer and producer who has decided to ostentatiously violate the Kantian, Golden Rule, common sense-based ethics of being a college roommate to embarrass Senator Ted Cruz as he runs for President.

I write about a lot of awful people, and often have to explain what’s awful about them. If you don’t immediately see what’s awful about what Mazin is doing, I’m not sure there is much hope for you. There is no hope for him.

Mazin roomed with Cruz during their freshman years at Princeton University, from 1988-1989. Cruz was 18 at the time. This week, apparently spurred by Twitter followers, Mazin began spewing contempt and insults about Cruz, using his “inside” experiences as material and justification.  This, of course, attracted media attention, magnifying the harm to Cruz, although anyone who thinks that conduct by an 18-year-old is a fair or meaningful  way to attack the 46-year-old U.S. Senator he grows into is a per se dim wit. Continue reading

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Nicholas Kristof’s Dishonest, Confused, Cynical, And Astoundingly Naive Gun Control Op-Ed

Safe gun

[UPDATED: 1/18/2016]

Few anti-gun advocates have been as shrill and self-righteous as the New York Times’ columnist Nicholas Kristof, so pardon me if I find his sudden change of tone insincere. It smacks of “let’s see if this works,” but never mind: it’s a brave effort, or rather, is supposed to appear as one. Titled “Some Inconvenient Gun Facts for Liberals,” his article cites the statistics that contradict the hysterical anti-gun rhetoric coming from, for one, Barack Obama, and for another, Kristof,  before this essay. We indeed have more guns and fewer homicides, Kristof admits. Banning assault weapons has little if any effect on reducing violence, and many proposed gun control measures were based on ignorance.

So much for the faux reasonableness.  Kristof then pulls out some deceitful statistics of the sort we often hear, like this:

“Just since 1970, more Americans have died from guns than all the Americans who died in wars going back to the American Revolution (about 1.45 million vs. 1.4 million). That gun toll includes suicides, murders and accidents, and these days it amounts to 92 bodies a day.”

What an intellectually dishonest thing to write. Among those who have died were mobsters, gang members, criminals, murderers, terrorists and burglars. It includes people who would have killed themselves with pills or jumping out of windows had guns not been available. It includes accidents, and people die regularly in accidents involving ladders, bicycles slippery kitchen floors. This the epitome of a junk statistic, devised to appeal to emotion and bypass rational thought. Shame on him. He is just getting started, however.

Then Kristof goes off the reality rails, in familiar directions. Universal background checks will keep guns out of the hands of criminals, he says. No, they won’t. Who doesn’t know that?  We should keep guns out of the hands of those who “abuse alcohol,” he says, citing a study. Meaning what, exactly? It’s not illegal to drink, or to get drunk, or to be an alcoholic. Alcoholics Anonymous is, you know, anonymous, and a doctor treating someone for alcohol abuse, whatever that means,  can’t reveal that information. Does Kristof have any idea just how many Americans “abuse alcohol,” including elected officials, police officers, military personnel, artists, writers, doctors, lawyers, judges, professors, philanthropists, journalists, like about a fourth of his colleagues at the Times,  and law abiding citizens?

“That means universal background checks before somebody acquires a gun,” Kristof concludes, “that” being making guns “safer” and “universal background checks” meaning “intrusive checks that go far, far beyond anything that has ever yet been proposed yet that STILL won’t stop any criminal who wants to get a gun from getting one.” “Why empower criminals to arm themselves?” Kristof asks, plaintively. You see, Nick, criminals don’t have to be empowered, because as criminals, they empower themselves regardless of what the law tells them to do. Why this ridiculously simple concept is so elusive to people like Kristof is one of life’s enduring mysteries….unless, of course, he understands completely, and is being intentionally and dishonestly dense. To what end, you ask?

Hmmmm. Well, here’s another example:

“More than 10 percent of murders in the United States, for example, are by intimate partners. The riskiest moment is often after a violent breakup when a woman has won a restraining order against her ex. Prohibiting the subjects of those restraining orders from possessing a gun reduces these murders by 10 percent, one study found.”

And what about those restraining order subjects who already had availed themselves of their Second Amendment right to own a fire arm? What do we do about those guns?

Guess. Continue reading

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