Who Would Have Suspected That A Group Of Judges With An Average Age of 62 Would Not Be Competent At Cyber-Security?

I jest, of course.

Who couldn’t see this coming—years ago? A decade ago?

Long before the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion reversing Roe v. Wade,  Supreme Court justices often used personal email accounts instead of secure servers designed to protect sensitive information. Security lapses by the justices apparently were routine, making the embarrassing and public-trust-wounding leak all but inevitable while also rendering an effective investigation difficult as well.

Supreme Court employees used printers that didn’t produce logs. They were able to print sensitive documents off-site without tracking. So-called “burn bags” containing materials that needed to be shredded were left open and unattended in hallways. Employees could remove documents, including draft opinions, from the SCOTUS building Continue reading

Lies, Delusions And Hypocrisy

Rep. George Santos (R-Atlantis) is fortunate that he is surrounded by so many liars, hypocrites and fabulists that it is difficult to give him the attention and contempt that he deserves. The Clintons have been mercifully quiet lately, but George has still been fortunate in the culture that surrounds him.

For example, today President Biden (well, whoever he has authorized to tweet for him) once again invoked the oath “my word as a Biden,” declaring on Twitter, “My word as a Biden: I’ve never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today.” Maybe Joe is really optimistic: he is, after all, a dolt. However, as that meme above by Newsmax’s Greg Kelly illustrates, the word of the Biden swearing that mighty oath has the credibility of Jon Lovitz’s Tommy Flanagan. (I have many more recent Biden lies archived at Ethics Alarms, notably his claim that he has never discussed Hunter’s business dealings with his son.) The biggest lie in that tweet is that there is any reason to trust this President.

Then there is the hypocrisy of retired tycoon Bill Gates, who now flies around the world telling ordinary people to lower their carbon footprints. Here’s a clip from a recent “60 Minutes””:” highlighted on “The Rubin Report,” whatever that is:

I don’t see Gates as particularly angry, just ridiculous. Not is he the worst climate change hypocrite: as one wag noted, if the elite who just met in Switzerland to discuss saving the world were serious, they would have held their conclave via Zoom and, I’d add, not have hired a biased, disgraced fool like Brian Stelter as a panel moderator. Gates is still a fine representative of this arrogant, obnoxious and unethical club.

Back to Lyingland from a short side trip to Hypocrisy Heights: Rep. Ilhan Omar visited CNN Sunday morning to claim that the anti-Semitic comments she has made, cited by House Speaker McCarthy as the main reason she has been booted from the House Foreign Affairs committee, were innocent and accidental. Continue reading

Why Our Culture Needs Old Movies

Typical of the free-association manner in which my brain works, a fatuous essay by a New York Times pundit about a subject he doesn’t understand (but I do)–performing—excavated an ethics memory from my childhood that hadn’t sparked a neuron in decades.

Frank Bruni, for some reason, felt it was necessary to re-hash the ancient debate over whether a movie star is really a skilled “actor,” and can be deserving of an Oscar over “real” actors. Naturally, his target was Tom Cruise and his performance in “Top Gun: Maverick,” the most popular and successful movie of the year. I don’t feel like arguing with Bruni over this; I’ve had the debate too many times. (No, Cruise isn’t going to get an Oscar for this sequel, but he has given Oscar-worthy performances before, because nobody can play Tom Cruise as well as he can). I’ll just give the short version: if an actor plays a part better than any other actor could, it is irrelevant that he can’t play any other part. As a director, I’ll cast a charismatic one-trick pony who is perfect for a particular role over a brilliant, versatile artist who could play Hamlet to cheers every time.

But that is neither here nor there. Here is there: Bruni’s discourse made me think of Spencer Tracy, a movie star and superb actor who had a wonderfully dismissive view of his own field, and then “Edison the Man,” the 1940 biopic, starring Tracy, about Thomas Edison. It was a black and white film that my father made a point of having me see. That film sparked my early interest in Edison, American inventors, technology and extraordinary people through history.

One scene in the movie, however, made a special impression. Edison and his research lab have been laboring on the creation of a practical incandescent light bulb day and night for months. Finally they think they have the right design, and the tungsten filament bulb to be tested is carefully assembled. The new bulb is handed to Jimmy, a teen who does odd jobs at the laboratory, and he dashes across the facility to give it to Edison. In his excitement, Jimmy trips and falls, smashing the precious bulb. Edison’s crew is furious; Edison reproaches the lad. Jimmy is devastated and inconsolable. When Edison’s men finally craft a replacement bulb, Edison calls for Jimmy and give him custody of the bulb, and asks him again to carry it to its destination on the other side of the building. Jimmy, striding carefully and slowly this time, completes his historic task.

Continue reading

How Jolly! The White House Has Figured Out That Virtue-Signaling Policies With No Tangible Benefits But Substantial Negative Consequences Are Not In The Nation’s Best Interests…

What an infuriating news item!

RealClear Energy informs us…

…the Department of Energy quietly released a report highlighting the positive economic benefits of developing the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, an energy project canceled by President Biden in the hours following his inauguration….Released without a formal announcement, the DOE’s report points out that the pipeline would have created between 16,149 and 59,000 jobs and would have had an economic benefit of between $3.4 and 9.6 billion….Yet with one stroke of his pen, Biden slashed the project and instead focused his efforts on costly “green energy” goals. As a result of his executive action, 11,000 pipeline workers were promptly laid off…

Now, everyone except hard-core climate change fanatics—and maybe poor Joe— knew that closing down the pipeline would have no salutary effects on global warming or conservation. The Obama administration had essentially admitted that shutting it down would be largely symbolic but otherwise pointless (like all climate change grandstanding). Never mind: the pipeline was killed anyway just as Biden had promised to do on “Day One” during the 2020 campaign.  If they could have voted, the 16-year-olds would have gone for Biden. Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend President Biden!

In his Christmas speech on December 23, President Biden said, referring to Christmas’s religious significance,

“How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is given. There is a certain stillness at the center of the Christmas story. A silent night when all the world goes quiet and all the glamour, all the noise, everything that divides us, everything that pits us against one another, everything — everything that seems so important but really isn’t, this all fades away in stillness of the winter’s evening. And we look to the sky, to a lone star, shining brighter than all the rest, guiding us to the birth of a child—a child Christians believe to be the son of God; miraculously now, here among us on Earth, bringing hope, love and peace and joy to the world.”

Many conservative blogs, pundits and celebrities “pounced,” attacking the President for not mentioning Jesus by name.

The headline at The Daily Wire was “Biden Delivers Christmas Address Without Mentioning Jesus By Name: ‘A Child Christians Believe To Be The Son Of God’” Father Gerald Murray of the Archdiocese of New York told Newsmax that it made “no sense” for Biden to omit the name of Jesus from his annual Christmas address to the country. “President Biden is always talking about his Catholicism and how it inspired him,” Murray said. “If you’re going to honor the birth of Jesus, you should mention his name. I was very sad to see that. That’s not anything that should be imitated in the future.” Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican and former member of the House,said, “Not saying the name of Jesus—look, there are other holidays to celebrate, but Christmas is the birth of Christ. When we celebrate the birth of Christ who came and gave us the gift of life. That’s what we celebrate and to take that out is just sad.” The Heritage Foundation’s Kara Frederick, complained, “America’s lost its sense of God, it’s Judeo-Christian values, and I think this is just a manifestation. This speech not mentioning Christ, talking about how divided this nation’s been for so long, it’s all part and parcel of the secularization of America and we need to return to our faith.”

The United States is not supposed to have a stated “sense of God,” and for the President of the United States to officially espouse the beliefs of any particular religion is, according the the line of judicial interpretations of the Establishment Clause and the First Amendment, a violation of the Constitution.

Continue reading

The Elon Musk-Twitter Ethics Roller-Coaster Ride Continues

(I hate roller-coasters.)

The last week has demonstrated clearly, I think we can all agree, that 1) there is an urgent need for Twitter to be de-politicized, stripped of partisan censorship, and become a trustworthy platform for the unfettered distribution of news, information and opinion to the public, and 2) Elon Musk is too much of a loose cannon to be the manager of Twitter’s reform.

Yesterday almost qualified as a meltdown, or a tantrum, or something. Maybe a joke. Who knows with him? He teased his withdrawal from the daily management of the reeling social media giant. He hinted that the company was teetering on bankruptcy. He put his continued tenure as CEO up for a vote, pledging to abide by the results.

Chaos. Musk is quite a bit like Donald Trump, which shouldn’t be surprising: the successful entrepreneur/ CEO/ autocrat/narcissist is a well-understood personality type, and management by chaos is a management style that can be very effective for the short term in a private company (but not the U.S. government). I worked for a chaos manager for seven years, and he was brilliant at it, but I decided then and there that I could never operate that way. It is hard on subordinates, employees and stake-holders; only the chaotic manager enjoys the pressure. It is a non-Golden Rule management style that relies entirely on utilitarianism as its ethical justification. Yes, the methods causes breakdowns, anxiety and constant crisis, but if it “works,” it’s worth the pain. That’s what Musk has been doing.

Continue reading

He’s Right Of Course, Turning Back The Clock On This Predictably Disastrous Progressive Policy Requires More Competent Leadership Than This…

Brevard County (Florida) Sheriff Wayne Ivey chose the county jail to make a passionate public statement about the deteriorating discipline in public schools and its catastrophic consequences last month. Flanked by law enforcement partners, school board chair Matt Susin, and 18th District State Attorney Phil Archer, Ivey needed urgent reform.

As it was his job,to keep schools safe from all forms of harm,  “the clowns who continually disrupt our classrooms, our assemblies, with their bad behavior” had to change, Ivey said, and he pledges to be active in executing that change:

“Our teachers are distracted, they can’t do their jobs anymore, they’re spending more time dealing with children disrupting their class than they are in teaching those that came there to learn….As a result, we are losing teachers in mass order. Teachers that can no longer take having their class disrupted by these clowns. We are losing those that came here to passionately teach our students, that are passionate about teaching others.”

 Ivey pointed to “the failure of school discipline policy” in Brevard County allowing a minority of students to repeatedly engage in class violence, disrupting lessons while attacking teachers physically and verbally. The sheriff said that teachers and principals were “handcuffed” regarding  discipline, with excessive bureaucratic obstacles rendering the process to request disciplinary action slow, burdensome and ineffective. Continue reading

Riddle Me This: How Is The Republican National Committee Like Black Lives Matters?

Like all good riddles, this one has more than one answer, though none of them are funny. Ironic, perhaps. Infuriating, surely. Nauseating, absolutely.

The first answer is that both misappropriate money donated to them by passionate supporters who foolishly trusted their leadership and staffs to use the funds to accomplish the organizations’ promised mission. Another answer is that the unethical betrayers of trust in both organizations will fall back on Rationalization #13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause” to try to justify and minimize their betrayal.

The GOP’s resounding flop in the recent mid-term election despite conditions that historically have guaranteed a large number of Senate and House victories to the advantage of the party not holding the White House has donors asking questions and pointing fingers. The conservative website RedState acquired a report dated October 7, 2022 that examined the RNC’s 2021-22 spending up to that time. What it shows is an unethical, incompetent, unprofessional untrustworthy non-profit organization that took millions in donations it solicited with promises of turning them into national policy and regime change and wasted millions on the whims and comfort of its managers instead.

The report calculated expenditures of more than $500,000 in private jet expenses, $64,000 at clothing retailers, and $321,000 in floral arrangements, among other details. Here is the full list—remember, this is only for the 2021-2022 cycle:

Continue reading

Worst of Ethics Award 2022: Most Unethical Quote Of The Year

There were more unethical quotes this year than I recall reading and hearing in a long time, and that’s just the ones Ethics Alarms chose to highlight. Winners in the category included The New York Times (twice) and the Washington Post, CNN’s finally dismissed hack Chris Cuomo, Joy Behar (I just picked one; there were about a hundred or so), Georgetown Law Center’s Dean, William Trainor, Donald Trump (twice!), Chris’s corrupt and disgraced brother, former NY governor Andrew Cuomo, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Dr. Fauci, Nusrat Jahan Choudhury, a federal court nominee who “explained” in her confirmation hearing that she lied in an address to Princeton students to “make a rhetorical point”; Joe Biden (again, for one of about a hundred 2022 quotes that would qualify); Kamala Harris of course, Nancy Pelosi, Rep Eric Swalwell, Barack Obama, Golden State Warriors owner Chamath Palihapitiya, CNN intelligence analyst Robert Baer, and Van Jones (today!), Ann Hathaway, Media Matters chief Angelo Carusone, Herschel Walker (again, take your pick), AOC (ditto), NY Governor Kathy Hochul, Liz Cheney, GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz, GOP Rep. Mary Miller, Democratic Senator Chris Coons, Kim Sill, founder of the Shelter Hope Pet Shop, and Stacey Abrams.

Many of these could have easily been winners in a more temperate year, but President Biden lapped them all with his September, televised “Soul of the Nation” speech that was “wildly unethical…irresponsible, disrespectful, unfair, and un-American, as well as hypocritical, indeed a betrayal, from a leader who promised on his Inauguration Day, “We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”

Biden gave a fascist speech to accuse his political opponents of being fascists

No American President has ever delivered such a despicable addess. It debased his office, and damaged the Republic. But, to be fair, it may have influenced enough fools to keep Democrats from the mid-term wipe-out they deserved. So there’s that.

Most Unethical Quote of the Year: President Joe Biden

No contest.

Let’s Play “Unethical, Obnoxious, Or Just Plain Stupid!”

MC: Ready, contestants? For your first challenge, consider this latest controversial Truth Social post by former President (and soon to announce candidate for President in 2024) Donald Trump!

What do you say, contestants? Is this Unethical, Obnoxious, or Just Plain Stupid?

Our ethicist from Alexandia, Virginia is first to buzz in! Yes, Jack, what’s your answer?

JACK:  Wink, I say it’s all three. I’s unethical, because Trump is attacking rising conservatives in his own party for his own gain, or at least he perceives it that way. It’s disloyal, it’s irresponsible, and it can’t possibly benefit anyone but him. That kind of gratuitous attack is a Golden Rule violation, and it’s a Categorical Imperative breach as well: Trump is just using Virginia Governor Youngkin as a convenient prop to remind everyone how valuable (Trump thinks) he is as he senses hostility from Republicans after his attacks on Ron DeSantis.

The message is also obnoxious, though in a way Trump’s fans are used to: he’s boasting like a 10-year-old, taking credit for someone else’s achievements, and asserting, as usual, that everything is about him. The bit about Youngkin’s name sounding Chinese is off the charts; it’s arguably beneath a 10-year-old. I saw a pathetic defense of Trump’s message that claimed there was nothing in what Trump wrote that constituted an attack. Bias makes you stupid (not necessarily you, Wink, but this is something ethicists say, at least this ethicist): everyone knows what Trump thinks of China. If he had written “Sound Jewish, doesn’t it?” would there be any doubt about his intent? Continue reading