“Congratulations! Here’s a Bonus for Doing Such An Outstanding Job Investigating That Fiasco That Happened Because You Screwed-Up In The First Place!”

"Iolanthe's" Lord Chancellor has nothing on me: his nightmare* was only "love unrequited." Mine is the SEC.

[  I read about the following outrage before going to bed last night, and vowed to write a post on it in the morning. It literally gave me nightmares and an upset stomach, so disrupting my repose that I gave up and headed to the keyboard. I am writing this at 4:30 AM. I have never written anything at 4:30 AM before, but I have learned something useful for future reference: I’m not in a good mood then.]

And here we have a prime example of why 1) many people don’t trust the Federal government and 2) why they are 100% right to feel this way.

I’ll take “Incompetence, Failure of Accountability and the Appearance of Impropriety” for a thousand, Alex!

SEC  Inspector General H. David Kotz has issued a thorough report on the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, revealing that an employee who investigated Bernie Madoff in 2005 and 2006 and failed to notice that he was running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme was later rewarded by the agency with a cash bonusfor his fine work on the Madoff scandal after it was discovered, the lives ruined, the damage done. Continue reading

Are Citizens of Warring Nations “Innocent”?

No.

“Innocent” and “civilians” apparently go together like a horse and carriage, if one is to believe the cliché used with increasing regularity by journalists, bloggers and even elected officials. The instance that finally provoked me to write about the irresponsible acceptance of this falsehood was the gratuitous appropriation of it by a sportswriter, who, if I understand him correctly, feels the United States has no standing to object to baseball star Barry Bonds’ lying and cheating because it dropped atom bombs on “innocent civilians” in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. (The sportswriter neglects to mention that these act occurred during wartime; perhaps he doesn’t know.) The exoneration of civilian citizens for the acts of their governments is a relatively new phenomenon, one happily endorsed by the habitually politically correct. It is untrue, and it is time to blow the whistle. Ethics foul. Continue reading

Exceptionalism and the United States of America’s Grand Ethical Dilemma

Today’s morning headlines were full of violence in Syria, Bahrain, Libya, and the threat of new conflict in Egypt, as popular uprisings against entrenched dictatorships continue to grow. As the U.S. tries to somehow avoid a lead role in the international intervention in Libya, the question looms regarding its responsibility to other nations whose people yearn to be free—or at least freer. As important as what America ultimately decides to do will be for the futures of these nations, the U.S. economy, and foreign relations, something far more important is at stake. These difficult choices once again challenge the United States to affirm or reject its ideals, the very essence of what has made America what it is.

We have come to these crossroads four times before. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz Time! Which Euphemism Is More Unethical?

Ethics Alarms hates euphemisms, which are usually not intended as delicate ways of describing something controversial, but rather an unethical effort to hide its true nature. Affirmative action…pro-life… pro-choice….all cowardly, all designed to deceive and avoid accountability for one’s actions and views.

Today’s quiz involves a brand new euphemism, cooked up by the Obama administration to describe warfare in Libya that the administration doesn’t want to admit is warfare: kinetic military action!

The Quiz:

Which euphemism is more unethical?

A

“Enhanced interrogation” for torture (The Bush Administration)

or

B

Kinetic military action” for warfare (The Obama Administration)

Here is how to reach your decision: rank A and B in each of three categories…misrepresentation, cowardice, and degree of disrespect and contempt for the intelligence of the American public. First place is worth one point; second gets none. If you rate the category a tie, each gets one-half a point.

Good luck. By the way: there is no wrong answer, since both euphemisms are disgraceful. But let’s see if there is any consensus. I’ll reveal my answer later.

The Ghailani Verdict Spin

Terrorist and mass murderer Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani was acquitted this week of 284 counts of murder , deaths that he unquestionably engineered, planned, a brought about in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in East Africa. He was convicted of just one count: conspiracy to destroy U.S. property and buildings. Since one logically cannot conspire to destroy buildings with people in them and not be guilty of murder, the verdicts make no sense. There was indeed plenty of evidence presented to prove Ghailani  guilty of all the murder counts beyond a reasonable doubt, but this was just a bad jury, or to be more precise, a jury with a bad juror. We now know that one women held out against the rest, insisting on acquittal for the murder charges for reasons known only to her. Maybe she thought he was Ghailani. Maybe she wanted to make the Obama Administration, and specifically the Department of Justice, look inept, though it hardly needs any assistance. Maybe she’s a fan of terrorism. Maybe she’s just a dolt….who knows? The bottom line is that a terrorist got away with murder. Continue reading

Bush’s Torture Admission, Absolutism, and America’s Survival

George W. Bush, currently hawking his memoirs, has admitted in the new book and in interviews about it that yes indeed, he approved waterboarding of terrorist suspects, believed it was legal, and moreover offers evidence that the information thus acquired saved American lives. W’s opinion on these matter are hardly a surprise, but they have re-energized the defenders of the Administration’s policies of “enhanced interrogation” and rendition of apprehended terror suspects to foreign locales where the interrogation techniques were “enhanced” even more.

“NOW do you agree with the policy?” they ask, as if the answer was obvious. “The information prevented a horrific terrorist attack on Heathrow Airport (in England). See? See?

Let us assume, just to simplify things, that everything is as President Bush represents. Waterboarding was, by some legitimate analysis, legal. The information saved American lives and prevented terrorist attacks. Do these facts mean that the use of torture—and waterboarding is torture, whether one defines it as such or not—by the United States of America was justified, defensible, and ethical?

No. I don’t think so. I believe that for the United States of America to approve and engage in the use of torture is by definition betrayal of the nation’s core values, and thus threatens its existence as the nation our Founders envisioned as completely as a foreign occupation.  I wrote on this topic in 2009… Continue reading

9-11 Conspiracy Claims: The Hate Crime We Cannot Stop, But Must Not Tolerate

The stated belief that the United States government murdered its own citizens and military personnel on September 11, 2001 is, if sincere, proof that an individual possesses intractable misconceptions, hatred and disrespect for America’s history, culture, and ideals. If the belief is not sincere, then the claim that the Bush administration orchestrated (or allowed) the Twin Towers and Pentagon attacks is an effort to harm our nation by destroying its reputation and honor, dragging it into the swamp of other nations to which murder and dictatorship are traditional. The First Amendment requires that we allow these individuals, be they deranged, sinister, irresponsible or merely stupid, to deny what makes the United States unique and slander its elected leaders, but it does not require that we accord them respect or tolerance. Continue reading

“The Ethicist” and His Definition of “Unethical”

Eureka! Bingo! At last!

While explaining in this week’s column why he hesitates to label a manifestly unethical practice unethical, The New York Times Magazine’s ethicist, Randy Cohen, clarified a couple of questions that have been bothering me for quite a while. Why do so many people react so violently to my conclusion that they have done something unethical? And why does Randy Cohen, a.k.a. “The Ethicist” so frequently endorse unethical conduct, especially dishonesty, when he believes it is motivated by virtuous motives? Continue reading

The Justice Department’s Voter Intimidation Cover-Up: The Blue Line Breaks

The Holder-Obama Justice Department’s efforts to impose racial bias on its enforcement of the voting rights laws are no longer in the shadows, protected by the “blue line” of liberal leaning news media. Finally, after a week of ignoring a story that should have been reported immediately, the media’s efforts to confine the accusations of former Justice Department Civil Rights attorney J. Christian Adams to conservative blogs and Fox began to crack. Today the New York Times and CNN reported the story, and will have a little easier time explaining away their tardiness as something other than naked political bias than the Washington Post, the major networks, and others.

But not much easier. Continue reading

Ethics Outrage and Cover-Up: Racial Bias At the Justice Department

The story told by former Department of Justice attorney J. Christian Adams is shocking in many ways. It shows an abject refusal of Attorney General Holder’s D.O.J. to enforce the law equally with black and white. It shows sympathy within the Obama Administration for, of all, groups, the Black Panthers, a racist organization. It details perjury by high-ranking officials, and a hard breach of President Obama’s pledges to uphold the rule of law, embrace transparency, and to embody a post-racial philosophy. Finally, it shows the same kind of manipulation of law enforcement by ideological zealots that stained the Bush Department of Justice. Continue reading