Tag Archives: 2016 Presidential election

Ethical Quote Of The Month: Jake Tapper

“Hillary Clinton today accepting full responsibility for the election loss, except for the part when she blamed Comey, Putin, Wikileaks, misogyny, and the media.”

—-CNN’s Jake Tapper in his show intro yesterday, referring to Hillary Clinton’s comments at the Women For Women lunch in New York while being interviewed by Christiane Amanpour.

Bravo, Jake.

What prompted Tapper’s stinging irony was Clinton ‘s first one-on-one interview with a journalist, CNN anchor ( and fan) Christiane Amanpour, since she lost the 2016 election. The setting was a Women for Women International event in New York. Clinton discussed the 2016 election, and framed her answers regarding the stunning loss with this…

“Of course. I take absolute personal responsibility. I was the candidate, I was the person who was on the ballot, and I am very aware of the challenges, the problems, the shortfalls that we had.”

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it does. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

Incompetence Saturday Begins: That Annoying “Ten Concerts, One’s A Lie” Facebook Game

It’s a relief to know that I occasionally pay attention to what I teach.

When so many of my Facebook friends started rushing like lemmings to play the viral “Name ten concerts you attended, with one phony one” game yesterday, I hesitated, and not just because listing Al Jolson, Enrico Caruso and  Jenny Lind would reveal my true age. I had just been explaining to a group of Pennsylvania lawyers that they probably weren’t as competent in using technology and social media as they thought they were, and that if there was one thing of value to extract from the last Presidential campaign, it was a searing lesson in the consequences of being naive, lazy and gullible while using the internet. (Yes, I’m looking at you, John Podesta!)

By purest coincidence, yesterday also marked my four hour efforts, involving four phone calls, three phones, two websites, three passwords and a consultant (my son), to switch my e-mail address from Verizon to AOL, since AOL has purchased Verizon’s e-mail business. As I neared the finish line of this ordeal, I encountered AOL’s list of “Secret Security Questions.” One of them was “What was the first concert you attended?

Hmmmm… Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Facebook, Marketing and Advertising, Science & Technology, Social Media, The Internet

Addendum: The Dishonest Tax Day Anti-Trump Protests (And The Misleading Defenses Of Them)

How quickly we forget…

I wasn’t going to post any more on this topic, but in 2012 CBS helpfully provided some historical perspective on the supposed “tradition” of candidates releasing tax returns. Some revelations:

1. Donald Trump was not the “first candidate since Nixon” to refuse to release his returns.

Who else didn’t? Why H. Ross Perot, the third party candidate who cost George H.W. Bush re-election in 1992! And what a coincidence: Perot was also a billionaire with complex finances and conflicts! Had he been elected, and that was not beyond the realm of possibility, he, not Trump, would have been the first President since George Washington without elected office experience or experience in military command.  Perot got almost 20 million votes  from Americans who presumable cared about other issues more than Perot’s tax returns, or his refusal to release them.

So Trump was following tradition and practice: the tradition and practice of all billionaires running for President to refuse to release their taxes. The tradition even extends to some half-billionaires: Steve Forbes, another businessman who made a strong run at the GOP nomination in 1996, also refused to release his returns.

(By the way, Perot’s returns were not a major issue in the election, nor did the mainstream media harp on it. But there was some semblance of fair journalism then.)

2. When tax returns are released by candidates, the opposition will still find reasons to object, raise suspicions, and claim that they are not enough. Mitt Romney released two years of returns, and Democrats said he was hiding something nefarious.

In 2008, Barack Obama released seven years of tax returns, then accused Hillary, his opposition for the nomination, of hiding something. “Senator [Hillary] Clinton can’t claim to be vetted until she allows the public the opportunity to see her finances — particularly with respect to any investment in tax shelters,” Obama’s spokesperson Robert Gibbs said. Continue reading

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Filed under Finance, Government & Politics, History

The Dishonest Tax Day Anti-Trump Protests

All such Anti-Trump protests should be called “We Are Furious That Our Terrible Candidate And Her Corrupt Party Lost The Election And Are Throwing An Infantile Tantrum While Rejecting  Democracy and American Institutions Until We Get Our Power Back.”  That’s all they are, every one of them. At least then the demonstrations by un-American hypocrites who want to overthrow an election that didn’t go their way would deserve props for being honest.

The Tax Day protests were the electoral college protests, the illegal immigrant protests, the women rights protests (coming up: the science protests) and all the others with just a different hook. I’m sure by now there is a well-paid public relations team charged with coming up with the next one. The amount of ill-used time, public expense , inconvenience, wasted news coverage space and accumulated idiotic rhetoric such protests will generate over the next four years should be measured somehow, because it will be staggering. Is this going to be the longest, most costly, most devisive and unethical national tantrum in U.S. history? It already is.

Just to get the alleged justification for the latest sham out of the way: President Trump has no obligation, legal or ethical, to release his taxes at this point. It would be irresponsible for him to do it, in fact.

Of course, as Ethics Alarms noted during the campaign, candidate Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns was unethical: unfair to voters, a breach of transparency; and disrespectful to the process. His oft repeated reason why he “couldn’t” release them was also an obvious lie. This episode, like so many others during the campaign, demanded consequences, and there probably were some.

Who knows how many votes it cost Trump? The conduct alone did not disqualify him for election: If he were the most qualified, competent, brilliant, trustworthy, inspiring candidate the nation had seen for decades, would the mere failure to release his tax returns have caused me, or any reasonable voter, to refuse to vote for him, and instead vote for, yechhh, Hillary Clinton? Of course not.

Whatever reason there was for Trump to take this risk and refuse to abide by long practice and tradition, the gamble worked. Now, however, there is no ethical reason to reverse that decision.The original reason the decision was unethical doesn’t exist: voters had a right to see the details of that aspect of his life before choosing him to be President. He’s not running for office now, however. Now his duty is to try to do the job he was elected to do. Yes, I know the “resistance” refuses to accept or acknowledge this, but facts are stubborn things. Now, releasing the tax returns is only demanded by one set of citizens: those who already hate his guts, reject his Presidency, want to see it fail, are willing to see the nation fail if that’s what it takes, want to cobble together reasons to impeach him, and are only interested in using the returns, whatever is in them—it literally doesn’t matter—to further disrupt his attempts to do his job.

Literally nobody who either voted for the President or who wants him to succeed in dealing with the wave of problems left festering by the inept and feckless administration before his would say that allowing Democrats and other Trump foes to have a new weapon to level against his Presidency is in the best interest of the nation. The only people who want to see his tax returns  right now want them solely as a stick to beat him with.

“Show us your fucking taxes, you emotional child!” alleged comedian Sarah Silverman screamed from the podium to appreciative  Tax Day protesters. That was representative of the attitude of every individual at every one of the Tax Day protests. I wouldn’t put any ammunition, no matter how ineffective, in the hands of someone like that. It would incompetent. It would be self-destructive. It would be stupid.

Naturally, reporters are incapable of comprehending this, because they also want to bring this President down so intensely they can taste it. The pundits are already deranged: here’s Salon’s Heather Digby Parton, explaining why Maxine Waters, a career embarrassment to Congress, is a leader because she insists that she wants to impeach Trump now:

“It may seem that Waters just has a pugilistic personality and is out front because it’s her political style to mix it up. But there is a strategy at work in this. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that a president was impeached for only the second time in history and this was over a “crime” that seems laughably insubstantial compared to the possibilities that Donald Trump could face. Just for starters, Trump’s presidential campaign is being investigated in a counterintelligence probe, and the list of his conflicts of interest are so wide-ranging and so deep that almost anything could implicate him in a corruption scandal. Impeachment is really not a far-fetched proposition.”

Again, facts are stubborn things. First of all, impeachment is always a far-fetched proposition, and was intended to be.  Conviction requires two-thirds of the Senate, and unless that is feasible, the exercise of impeachment by the House is a waste of time that paralyzes the government. Bill Clinton lied under oath in a court of law and used the government to engineer a cover-up. That’s not insubstantial, except to Democrats whose position then as now was that their Presidents can do no wrong and are never accountable. Bill’s crime is insubstantial, Salon says, “compared to the possibilities that Donald Trump could face.” “Could face!” Savor that one for a bit. That’s the mindset of the entire “resistance.” These unhinged and totalitarian-listing Americans are just certain that “something is out there,” like “The X-Files,”  because it might be out there, at least in their hyper-partisan dreams. The investigation is part of the partisan anti-Trump Presidency play-book, and is about as meaningful as Republican investigations aimed at proving that the Obama Administration intentionally allowed our Libyan ambassador to die.

You see, investigations are not proof of wrongdoing. They have become weapons to insinuate wrongdoing: Joe McCarthy paved the way, As for Trump’s conflicts, “almost anything” would not constitute an actual scandal.  “Almost anything” will allow Trump-haters to claim there is a scandal, and the news media to support such claims as long as they can do undermine the President as much as they can…which brings us back to the tax returns.

If the President could plausibly believe that the news media would be fair and objective, maybe he would release his returns. All we hear is that the only explanation is that he has something nefarious to hide. That is not the only explanation. The other explanation that the news media has provide every reason for him to believe  that almost all the major news organizations are allied with his enemies, and will not fairly report on what is in the returns. Do you doubt that?  How? MSNBC reporter Morgan Radford  interviewing actress Debra Messing at a Tax Day protest, heard the former “Will & Grace” star state as fact that American democracy was “attacked and infiltrated by Russia,” ( a hysterical characterization, and pure Hillary campaign talking point—I wonder, would Messing be saying this if Russia hacked Trump’s tax returns before the election?) and responded by asking Messing the  “best way to make our voices heard” in order to “neutralize” the threat posed by the “current administration to democracy.”

Reporters aren’t even trying to be objective, don’t want to be, and are convinced their market doesn’t want them to be journalists, but activists. Thus their news organizations are refusing to enforce even minimal journalism standards. Why would any leader determined to do the daunting job facing him give these unethical, hateful hacks any assistance in warping public opinion?

CNN’s Chris Cillizza graphically illustrates how bias makes journalists stupid and untrustworthy in his feature called “The big thing Trump gets wrong about his taxes and the 2016 election.”

Taking off from the President’s typical and unhelpful “Nyah nyah, I won” tweet about the protest, Cillizza writes,

The Trump logic appears to go like this:

Democrats hit me for not releasing my tax returns during the campaign.

I won.

Ergo, no one cares about my taxes.

This isn’t the first time this sort of thinking has been deployed by Trump and his senior staff. Back in January, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway insisted that “we litigated this all through the election. People didn’t care.”

Conway’s point didn’t make sense then. And Trump’s doesn’t now.

No, Chris, your point is the umpteenth example of  journalists misreading sloppy Trump team rhetoric to make an invalid point.  What Conway meant was not that “people didn’t care.”  It was that the people who voted for Donald Trump cared about other things more. They still do. The election, after all, wasn’t about tax returns. (Similarly, those who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton may care very much about women’s rights, but cared more about keeping the corrupt Clinton machine from getting its grubby hands on the levers of power.) The people who cared about other things more than Trump refusing to reveal his taxes still care more about those things, which now includes his having to deal with very real and very pressing problems which the tax returns cannot do a thing to solve. Because the election is over and Trump is President for the next four years, they care about his taxes even less than before in comparison to wanting him to be successful. Trump, and Conway, I and I hope you KNOW the taxes matter to the people who want to wreck his Presidency; we all know Chris cares, because it can only cause harm to the administration.

The President’s point makes perfect sense, and not releasing his returns now also makes sense.

Anything else would be deliberately crippling his ability to lead, and no responsible leader does that intentionally.

President Trump does too much of that unintentionally already.

[And may I add, boy, I’m sick or having to write about this. But then, Samuel Pepys got tired of writing about the plague.]

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

Ethics Hero: CNN’s John King

Things are pretty bad in the profession of journalism when a reporter can be an Ethics Hero by simply staying objective and stating the obvious, but such is the wretched state of journalism ethics in 2017.

As mentioned in the earlier post, CNN immediately avoided journalism and defaulted to partisan Obama Administration defense mode when it was revealed that Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice “unmasked” Trump campaign personnel whose conversations were inadvertently picked up in security surveillance. Rather than examining the story, objectively, factually, CNN anchors Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo declared the story, respectively, a Trump-manufactured  diversion and “fake news.” (The New York Times did its part by burying the Rice story on page A-11.)

CNN’s John King, however, bravely eschewed the company line, that line being “partisan spin.” Showing a video from last month, King began…

“This is Susan Rice a short time ago on the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff. When asked at first, her name was not involved at first in the conversation at this point. When asked at first the House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes says there was unmasking done by Obama administration officials.”

Now he runs the tape…Woodruff’s question was, ” I began by asking about the allegations leveled today by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that Trump transition officials, including the president, may have been swept up in surveillance of foreigners at the end of the Obama administration.”

SUSAN RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today. I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring. But he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal lawful surveillance and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.

The clip ends.

KING: Uh, remember the beginning of that. “I know nothing about this.” This is the same Susan Rice moments ago on MSNBC.

He runs the second clip.

RICE: There occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided. Just U.S. person. And sometimes in that context in order to understand the importance of the report and assess its significance it was necessary to find out or request the information as to who that U.S. official was.

The clip ends.

KING: Not to be a jerk here but will the real Susan Rice please stand up?

Added guest Yahoo! News chief Washington correspondent Olivier Knox:

KNOX: The second part of that on MSNBC there a perfectly logical explanation on how unmasking works but the problem is the previous comment in which she denies any knowledge of it so she can’t in the same breath…

KING: Welcome to the witness list.

KNOX: Yeah, I mean, come on!

Translation: If what Rice did was innocent and unremarkable, why did she initially deny she did it? Continue reading

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Case Study Of A Story News That Media And Web Bias Makes Impossible To Check: Susan Rice’s “Unmasking”

I am not going to write about the ethics issues in the latest Susan Rice controversy, but I am going to write about why I can’t get an objective enough assessment of what the story is to write about it competently.

Susan Rice, President Obama’s National Security Advisor,  sought to “unmask” the identities of members of President Trump’s campaign and transition team who were incidentally mentioned in foreign surveillance intelligence reports. This was first reported over the weekend by conservative conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich, which meant that no commentators on the Left believed it, but then it was confirmed yesterday by Bloomberg’s Eli Lake.

Many conservatives treated this as confirmation of President Trump’s much-derided claim that the Obama administration “wiretapped” him. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board issued an op-ed this morning, saying,

All this is highly unusual — and troubling. Unmasking does occur, but it is typically done by intelligence or law-enforcement officials engaged in anti-terror or espionage investigations. Ms. Rice would have had no obvious need to unmask Trump campaign officials other than political curiosity.

On Medium, Mike Doran wrote,

“In late December, the administration launched an information campaign designed to depict President-elect Trump as Moscow’s Manchurian candidate. Vladimir Putin had installed Trump in office by “hacking the election,” so the argument went; Hillary Clinton, therefore, was the rightful president.

The claim that Susan Rice was unmasking merely to arrive at the ground truth of Russian behavior would be easier to swallow if the information she gleaned from unmasking had not been used to perpetrate a fraud on the American public. The leak to Washington Post columnist David Ignatius about General Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russian ambassador Sergei Kislyak (which I discuss in this article) is the most egregious example of a senior administration official using material gathered from illicit unmasking in order to tell a very big and very pernicious lie.”

The New York Times, sadly predictable in its knee-jerk defense of Democrats rather than resolving to get at the truth,  immediately argued that there was nothing to the story at all: 

Former national security officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, described the requests as normal and said they were justified by the need for the president’s top security adviser to understand the context of reports sent to her by the nation’s intelligence agencies.

Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum mocked the story as pure conservative fantasy regarding a favorite villain:

But! Susan Rice is also a Republican bête noir, the villainess of Benghazi who LIED ON TV repeatedly and tried to get everyone to believe that the attacks were due to an INTERNET VIDEO when we knew all along they were really the work of RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISTS, a phrase that OBAMA WAS UNWILLING TO UTTER.Here’s what we can say about the Rice situation at this point.

Sarcasm is used by Drum here to hide the fact that Rice did lie about Benghazi, and was part of an Obama administration effort (that included Hillary Clinton) to blur the fact that it was a planned terrorist attack, not a spontaneous reaction to a video, which would have undermined Obama’s campaign assertions that he had “decimated” Al Qaeda. ( Mother Jones readers will not believe anything negative about Obama, Democrats, or progressives.)

The Federalist, meanwhile, called foul on CNN, which immediately moved to discredite the latest Rice story: Continue reading

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How To Rehabilitate An Ethics Corrupter

I guess most people no longer even notice this kind of thing, but it drives me crazy, and will continue to until I am, in fact, crazy.

There is no doubt: Donna Brazile is an ethics corrupter. With the complicity of mainstream media elite and her cocktail party pals, she has for years been falsely represented to audiences on various public affairs shows and “round tables” as an honest and trustworthy political analyst, when in fact she is a paid operative of the Democratic Party. This has been true since she was the campaign manager for Al Gore’s failed Presidential bid. It is deception every time she is introduced on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” as anything else but a paid agent of the Democratic party. Since her opinion isn’t merely biased but paid for, presenting her as an authority or a pundit is misrepresentation, and intentionally so.

During the last campaign, Brazile revealed her character by using a position with CNN (that never should have been offered, given her known loyalties) to help Hillary Clinton cheat in a town hall and a debate against Bernie Sanders. She cheated. Her cheating was revealed in the e-mails hacked on John Podesta’s e-mail account, but Brazile lied about it when confronted with the evidence, implying that the e-mails were fabricated. Later, after that deception flopped spectacularly, she said that she was “proud” of cheating for Clinton, and regretted nothing.

To sum up, we know, and the media knows, that Donna Brazile is a corrupt partisan, who is eager to misrepresent herself and reality, and cheat when necessary to win for her clients. She should never be presented as an independent, objective, honest or trustworthy commentator or authority. Never. Her presence stands for the unethical propositions that the ends justify the means, and that the Left must prevail even if doing so requires cheating and lies.

Ah, but Donna is one of the gang in Washington, good people, don’t you know, so her journalist pals and the news media are working hard to make Donna acceptable again. Thus I see this headline at “The Hill”:

Brazile: Sending Clinton town hall topics ‘mistake I will forever regret’

Drudge takes the hand-off, and links to the story like this..

DONNA SEEKS REDEMPTION: REGRETS LEAKED QUESTION…

ABC, next to CNN the network that has most shamelessly passed off Brazile as trustworthy commentator, headlined the story,

Donna Brazile: Passing debate questions to Clinton camp ‘a mistake I will forever regret’

FACT: Donna Brazile has never said, implied or stated that she regrets cheating on Clinton’s behalf. Never. Yet these are the headlines of stories that desperately attempted to convince the public that the opposite is the case.

Continue reading

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