Tag Archives: corruption

Debate Ethics: Trump’s “Breathtaking Repudiation Of American Democracy”


Substance, of course, is officially irrelevant to the 2016 Presidential election. This is a bitter “be careful what you wish for” realization for Ethics Alarms and its author, as I have long argued that leaders’ values and character are more important and should be given more weight in any choice of candidates than their political affiliations or official policy positions. I did not foresee  a race in which both candidates have definitively proven that they are unfit for office and corrupt beyond repair or redemption, and one of those candidates is so unfit that even the epic dishonesty and democracy-corroding conduct of his opponent cannot begin to justify a vote for him by anyone with the sense of a bivalve mollusk.

Thus, once again as in the first two debates, the leading story coming out of last night’s snark-fest relates to character, not substance. In this case, it doesn’t even relate to practical reality. Donald Trump was asked by debate moderator Chris Wallace,

Your running mate Governor Pence pledged on Sunday that he and you, his words, will absolutely accept the result of this election. Today your daughter Ivanka said the same thing. I want to ask you here on the stage tonight, do you make the same commitment that you’ll absolutely accept the result of the election?

..and after talking around the question interminable, as usual, Trump finally answered,

What I’m saying is that I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense, okay?

Hillary Clinton immediately pronounced the answer “horrifying,” and her assessment is currently being echoed on editorial pages and by pundits and analysts as if Trump announced that he was raising an army of NRA members to take the White House by force. Gasped the Washington Post this morning, in an editorial titled, “Trump’s Breathtaking Repudiation of American Democracy,” “Respecting the will of the voters has since the end of the Civil War allowed for a peaceful transition of power that has made this country the envy of the world….[Clinton’s flaws] fade to the status of trivia in the face of an opponent who will not accept the basic rules of American democracy.”The New York Times, in its editorial titled “Donald Trump’s Contempt for Democracy,” pontificated,

Mr. Trump’s meltdown in the closing weeks could be dismissed as a sore loser’s bizarre attempt at rationalizing his likely defeat. But his trashing of the democratic process, in service of his own ego, risks lasting damage to the country, and politicians of both parties should recoil from him and his cynical example.

It in no way excuses Donald Trump to take notice of the “breathtaking” dishonesty here.

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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

Ten Ethics Obsevations On The New Bill Clinton Sexual Assault Accusation

The late Leslie Millwee...VERY late.

The late Leslie Millwee…VERY late.

From Politico:

Leslie Millwee, a former reporter for local Arkansas TV station KLMN-TV, has accused former president Bill Clinton of sexually assaulting her three times in 1980, while Clinton was governor of Arkansas…Millwee told Breitbart she interviewed Clinton about 20 times publicly and also met with him in KLMN-TV’s newsroom. She said he groped her and rubbed his genitals on her while they were alone in KLMN-TV’s small editing room.

“He came in [to the editing room] behind me, started hunching me to the point that he had an orgasm,” she told Breitbart’s Aaron Klein. “He’s touching, trying to touch my breasts and I’m just sitting there very stiffly, just waiting for him to leave me alone. And I’m asking him the whole time, ‘Please do not do this. Do not touch me. Do not hunch me. I do not want this.’ And he finished doing what he was doing and walked out….Breitbart also interviewed three of Millwee’s friends, who said Millwee told them in the late 1990s about the alleged assaults.

…Millwee’s accusations are new, and Breitbart, which published a 19-minute video interview with Millwee, has been supportive of Trump and dismissive of the numerous women who have accused him of sexual assault. The site is led by Steven Bannon, who took a leave from Breitbart to serve as CEO of Trump’s campaign.Millwee said she considered coming forward in the late 1990s, during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but she was intimidated after seeing how the media treated other women who accused Clinton of sexual assault.

“I almost came out during the Monica Lewinsky and Kathleen Willey situation,” she said. “I watched that unfold a little bit. I was very prepared to go forward then and talk about it, and I watched the ways the Clintons and Hillary slandered those women, harassed them, did unthinkable things to them, and I just did not want to be part of that. I had very small children at the time, I had a job at pharmaceuticals, it was a very conservative situation. I didn’t want to do anything to bring harm to my career and my family.”

Millwee said she decided to finally go public now because she believes that the media still has not held Clinton accountable for his alleged sexual assaults. A Breitbart spokeswoman said Millwee reached out to Breitbart on her own “months ago after Hillary’s ad that sex assault victims have a right to be heard.”


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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership

Exploring Double Standards In The 2016 Election, A Hypothetical Thought Experiment For Ethics Alarms Readers


While the news media has been almost totally focused on Donald Trump’s misogyny, alreday well-established long  but somehow decisively important once it was in full display from the video of a private exchange from 11 years ago, revelations about his opponent’s character and modes of operation have also been trickling out into view, and receiving far less attention from either journalists or voters.

They have also exposed many of Clinton’s lies. For example, after posturing about Trump’s birtherism and claiming that his defense that Clinton led the way in 2008 with planting conspiracy theories to otherize Obama, this  ugly email, surfaced from the 2008 Clinton campaign, including John Podesta and Paul Begala on the distribution list. It strongly suggest that an attack on Obama’s religion and citizenship was part of the strategy to defeat him, as well as using his alleged use of illegal drugs and support for gay adoption as ammunition.

The 2013 Goldman-Sachs speeches that Clinton received $675,000 to give to the investment companies have turned up, thanks to Wikileaks. More revealed files from the FBI have cast suspicion on the process whereby Clinton was cleared of criminal misconduct in her irregular handling of official e-mails.

Other documents have indicated that the federal government, “supported by tax dollars,” as the Wall Street Journal puts it, was working as an extension of the Clinton campaign. The State Department seems to have coordinated with her staff to blunt the email scandal, and the Justice Department kept her team informed about developments in the court case.

Clinton’s State Department, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show, also facilitated Clinton’s use of her official influence to provide special favors to Clinton Foundation donors. For example, in one  series of 2010 emails, a senior aide to Hillary  Clinton asked a foundation official to let her know which groups offering assistance with the Haitian earthquake relief were “FOB” (Friends of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs).

The leaks show “that the press is in Mrs. Clinton’s pocket,” writes Kimberly Strassle at the WSJ.  Donna Brazile, now DNC chair, sent the exact wording of a CNN town hall question to Hillary ahead of a scheduled debate.  Other journalists gave the Clinton campaign the power to veto which quotes were used from interviews, helped facilitate press events, and offered advice to her campaign.

Less surprising but arguably more damaging if the average voter knew, the various leaks, e-mails and speeches reveal a candidate with little integrity and few core principles, an opportunistic policy Janus who constantly changes her position to maximize political gain. She told an audience that she believes in giving the voters one position while holding different ones, and has taken such dual positions on banks; international policies, trade, illegal immigration, energy, and more. Though many of the leaked e-mails reveal views of her staff that are only attributed to Hillary, it is likely that the voluminous discussions among Clinton’s advisors about  what false rhetoric she should use to recruit “the Red Army,” also called “the base of the Democratic Party.” are not inconsistent with her own attitudes.

All of this, and more is on the way, does not show an individual with Donald Trump’s repulsive narcissism and contempt for a full half of the world’s population, but does show Clinton to be, like Trump, untrustworthy, dishonest, corrupt, ruthless, and shameless. Unlike Trump, it reveals an individual addicted to showing the public a completely different political being than she really is.

Strassle concludes her summary by saying that “Voters might not know any of this, because while both presidential candidates have plenty to answer for, the press has focused solely on taking out Mr. Trump. And the press is doing a diligent job of it.”

So I wonder…what if, rather than requiring explanation, analysis, extrapolation, and connecting the dots, and without being marred by over-reaching and biased exaggerations of already damaging evidence by right-wing, Hillary-hating zealots, visual and audible smoking gun proof of Clinton’s lies, false poses and corruption was exposed to the nation?

I now present this hypothetical as a thought experiment: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Journalism & Media, Leadership

Collusion…But Then, As The Times Reminded Us, “These Are Not Ordinary Times,” So It’s OK


Over the weekend as the  2016 campaign’s first Presidential debate loomed, four news organizations published major stories pronouncing Donald Trump a liar, and essentially conferring on the Rationalization #22-ish Hillary “She’s not the Worst Liar” endorsement.

This was a new maneuver in the mainstream news medias full and open opposition of Trump that has left objectivity, neutrality and American journalism ethics in the dust. First came the The New York Times attack—the Times, as the flagship of U.S. journalism, had already given its blessing to biased coverage—with its “A Week of Whoppers“on Saturday. Politico, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all followed the leader in short order. (Or followed orders in short…never mind, that doesn’t quite work.)

Contacted by a curious but gullible Brian Stelter, CNN’s biased but maybe a little less biased than he might be “media watchdog,” publication editors who were involved swore the timing was, as John Travolta says in “Face-Off,” “a  coinkydink!” Marty Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, told Stelter indignantly, “We don’t coordinate coverage with anyone else!”

“The four stories were welcomed by the Clinton campaign,” Stelter wrote.  “Aides cited the statistics in television interviews on Sunday.  However, there is no indication that the Clinton campaign was involved.” (That’s my emphasis, if you couldn’t tell.) Continue reading


Filed under U.S. Society

This Might Force ME To Vote For Donald Trump: Clinton Campaign Manager Robbie Mook’s Unethical Quote Of The Month


“All that we’re asking is that if Donald Trump lies, that it’s pointed out. It’s unfair to ask that Hillary Clinton both play traffic cop with Trump, make sure that his lies are corrected, and also to present her vision for what she wants to do for the American people…I think Donald Trump’s special. We haven’t seen anything like this. We normally go into a debate with two candidates who have a depth of experience, who have rolled out clear, concrete plans, and who don’t lie, frankly, as frequently as Donald Trump does.So we’re saying this is a special circumstance, a special debate, and Hillary should be given some time to actually talk about what she wants to do to make a difference in people’s lives. She shouldn’t have to spend the whole debate correcting the record.”

—-Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, explaining to George Stephanopoulis on ABC’s “This Week”why the Clinton campaign insists that debate moderators should run interference for her and intervene to contradict and rebut Trump’s assertions, unlike every other Presidential debate and every legitimate and fair debate of any kind, where that responsibility rests with the debaters.

Well, that’s almost it for me. I am officially a hair’s breadth from deciding that as repulsive as the thought of Donald Trump achieving the Presidency is, the prospect of the United States abandoning democracy, process and fair elections to defeat him is infinitely more repulsive.

What Mook is proposing is no less than the rigging of the election process, with one candidate given “special” privileges, while another is subjected to “special” handicaps and the “special” opposition of the news media. I had previously resolved, and on Ethics Alarms so stated, that in a binary choice between the most unqualified, unstable, vile, ignorant and boorish candidate ever nominated by a major party to be President and the corrupt, inept and dishonest Hillary Clinton, responsible Americans are duty-bound to cross their fingers, hold their noses, toss a horseshoe over their shoulders and vote for the certifiably awful Mrs. Clinton, in her own right the most corrupt and untrustworthy figure ever to come this close to the Presidency. (We can debate about Aaron Burr some other time.)

I no longer can say with certainty that I believe that now. Continue reading


Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

The Word For The Notes On Hillary Clinton’s FBI Interview—And Everything Related To It—Is “Pathetic”


Pathetic, adj.: arousing pity, especially through vulnerability or sadness.
Synonyms: pitiful, pitiable, piteous, moving, touching, poignant, plaintive, distressing, upsetting, heartbreaking, heart-rending, harrowing, wretched, forlorn

This is the word that constantly came to mind and heart as I explored the FBI’s notes (you can too, here) regarding Hillary Clinton’s decisive—at least in terms of saving her from prosecution—interview with the FBI. Everything about them arouses pity–for her, for us, for the nation. Let us count the ways.

1. Over at MSNBC, “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd, a fully committed operative of the Democratic Party, like most of his colleagues, and like them committed through his partisan bias to saving America from Donald Trump, was overcome with an attack of objectivity.  “It bothers me as an American citizen,” he said,  that the FBI didn’t record Hillary’s interview, and left Americans to ponder merely notes taken by one agent as the public tries to assess who it may be electing President in November. “Are you kidding me?!” Todd cried. “We’re releasing notes?!”

We’re releasing notes. It’s pitiable to see one of many prominent journalists who have tried so, so hard for eight years to paper over, minimize and otherwise shrug off the constant, near complete incompetence of the Obama Administration and every agency under it to be suddenly stung by the realization that this has consequences—for trust, for truth, for belief that the government isn’t actively engaged in suppressing it. Pathetic.

2. Some of you will recall that I was collecting the various partisan reactions to  FBI director James Comey’s statement announcing that the FBI would not be recommending Clinton’s indictment to ultimately gauge which party’s reaction was more ridiculous, irresponsible, dishonest and foolish. Democrats were claiming that Comey’s report, despite showing that Clinton had lied outright about her use of the private e-mails server, and that her recklessness had endangered U.S. intelligence, exonerated Hillary. Republicans were claiming that Comey’s statement and the decision not to prosecute was indefensible. I was waiting to learn what Hillary had said in her interview, as I assumed that it would have to be released before the election. To reveal a closely guarded Ethics Alarms secret, I was prepared to declare Republicans the “winner” of the competition, as obviously idiotic as it is to say that a report declaring Clinton incompetent and dishonest could possibly “exonerate” her. Reading the notes, however, and considering the fact that the F.B.I. only has these notes to show us, I am back to, as Bobby Fisher would say, square one. Which is pathetic.

3.  Why? Well, we have just learned that  Clinton had her server “wiped”  after the New York Times, on March 3, 2015, broke the story of the server system’s existence. At the same time, she and her surrogates were telling the news media and us, “I want the public to see my email,” even as she directed her henchmen to destroy it. The FBI knew this, yet still found Clinton’s actions just negligent, and not criminal. Five months later–back in those halcyon days when she actually held press conferences— she feigned ignorance when Fox News’s Ed Henry asked, “Did you wipe the server?” saying, “Like with a cloth or something?” Now we know, vie the FBI notes , that she had the server emptied using a sophisticated software program, BleachBit, that is designed to make purged e-mails virtually unrecoverable, and indeed several thousand of hers were successfully destroyed. Clinton got away with this, her supporters don’t think it matters, and the FBI apparently minimized these efforts to obstruct justice. Pathetic.
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Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Science & Technology

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Novelist Ann Rice

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

“The sex scandal at Fox matters; it’s at the heart of the GOP contempt for women as citizens and human beings.”

—-“Interview With The Vampire” author Ann Rice, on Twitter.

This is signature significance in so many ways. To write this in a public forum, one has to be completely corrupted by partyism, tunnel-vision, bias and the certainty that you are operating in an environment populated with millions of similarly disabled individuals. It also helps to be either dishonest or ignorant, or both.

Let’s try to count all the ways Rice’s tweet is unethical:

1. Sexual harassment scandals occur in all kinds of organizations, including otherwise virtuous non-profits and models of progressive thinking. The University of California at Berkley–the infamously right wing institution— has one going on right now. Yale has been covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving a world-famous ethicist.  These are just  examples of sexual harassment that make it to the headlines. I work in the field: believe me, there is no monopoly by Republicans or conservatives in this area. For Rice to insinuate otherwise is nothing more than disinformation born of her own biases.

In the alternative, she knows this is absurd, and is lying.

2. The statement embodies guilt by association at its worst. How about this: “The Brian Williams scandal at NBC matters; it’s at the heart of the Democratic Party’s contempt for the public as citizens and human beings” ? There’s no ethical difference: both statements are unfair and dishonest. I’ll wager that the percentage of Democrats who work for NBC is significantly greater than the proportion of Republicans who work at Fox. The political parties have nothing whatsoever to do with either situation.

3. Ailes’ engagement in harassing conduct is difficult to deny, especially after so many past employees have surfaced to bolster the accusations made in the recent lawsuit. Whether there is a wider problem beyond Ailes is completely unproven. Personally, I don’t doubt it: when leaders of organizations model such conduct, it typically corrupts the entire culture. However, it is far too soon to make the kind of leap Rice is making, which not only assumes company-wide harassment but somehow attributes it to another organization, the Republican Party.

4. Most of all, and to save the  best and funniest for last, has Rice never heard of Bill Clinton? Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Social Media, Unethical Tweet