Tag Archives: cyber-security

The Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Project: Seeking Ethics Distinctions Among Web Hoaxes, False Narratives,”Fake News” And Negligent, Incompetent or Biased Reporting (PART I: The New York Times School Voucher Headline)

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

I LOVE this story! I wish it WERE true!!!

Yesterday’s New York Times included a story headlined  Free Market For Education: Economists Generally Don’t Buy It, and it stated,

The odds are good that privatizing education will be part of the agenda for President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration. […] You might think that most economists agree with this overall approach, because economists generally like free markets. For example, over 90 percent of the members of the University of Chicago’s panel of leading economists thought that ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft made consumers better off by providing competition for the highly regulated taxi industry.But economists are far less optimistic about what an unfettered market can achieve in education. Only a third of economists on the Chicago panel agreed that students would be better off if they all had access to vouchers to use at any private (or public) school of their choice.

While economists are trained about the value of free markets, they are also trained to spot when markets can’t work alone and government intervention is required.

That summation, however, was misleading to the point of falsehood. As the Scott Alexander points out at his blog Slate Star Codex,  the source for the story indicated something quite different—materially different:

economists_views

Got that? Scott Alexander writes:

Continue reading

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A Special Ethics Alarms “Fake News” Friday Bulletin: Obama Calls The Hacked DNC E-Mails “Gossip” [UPDATED]

gossip

As I write this, President Obama is using his press conference to spin the Russia-Wikileaks hacked e-mails story. In addition to snidely implying that Americans are idiots for allowing such relative trivia to sway their votes when so much of substance was at stake (note that there is no evidence that any votes were thus swayed), the President referred to the content of the DNC e-mails as “gossip.” Gossip is generally defined as “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details which are not confirmed as true.” Calling the contents of Podesta’s e-mails and others “gossip” is deliberate disinformation by Obama—a lie. The most important revelations were definitely not “gossip.” Like these:

  • A 12-page memo written by Doug Band,  longtime aide to Bill Clinton, describes using his consulting firm to raise money for the Clinton Global Initiative as well as direct personal income for the former president. It describes how Band rallied clients of his firm, Teneo, to contribute directly to Mr Clinton for “in-kind services for the President and his family – for personal travel, hospitality, vacation and the like” referring to that fund as “Bill Clinton Inc”.

The memo confirmed that several companies directly paid the former president for his speeches or advice, while making contributions to the Clinton Global Initiative.  One client, Coca Cola, received a face-to-face meeting with the former president at his home in 2009, after contributing millions to the non-profit foundation.

Verdict: Not gossip, but smoking-gun evidence of Clinton influence peddling.

  • On the fateful day that news of a private email server broke, John Podesta emailed Neera Tanden, who worked for the Clinton campaign in 2008 and has remained a close adviser, to complain, saying, “We’ve taken on a lot of water that won’t be easy to pump out of the boat”, he wrote in September 2015 as Clinton staff feared that Vice President Joe Biden would join the Democratic primary race. “Most of that has to do with terrible decisions made pre-campaign, but a lot has to do with her instincts. Almost no one knows better [than] me that her instincts can be terrible.” In the email exchange, Mr Podesta also complained that Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, and former State Department staffers Cheryl Mills and Philippe Reines “sure weren’t forthcoming here on the facts here”. Mrs Tanden responds “Why didn’t’ they get this stuff out like 18 months ago? So crazy.”

Tanden later answered her own question saying, “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”

Verdict: Not gossip. These were assessments of those who know Clinton best, and their questioning her judgment was significant, as is the last comment, which completely undermines the year-long Clinton camp denial that there was anything amiss with Hillary’s handling of e-mail at State. It would be admissible in court to show state of mind and that the Clinton camp had lied. Continue reading

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“Fake News” Friday Continues! Episode II: The CIA Says Russia Was Helping Trump [UPDATED]

trump-tweet

Yes, those emails.

(No, it wasn’t illegal, just incredibly unethical.)

It all began with this story in the Washington Post:

“The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.”

When the New York Times later came out with a story headlined  “C.I.A. Judgment on Russia Built on Swell of Evidence,” non-partisan law prof/blogger/ skeptic Ann Althouse inquired, as the mainstream news media did not, whether the content of the article supported that headline “because there’s so much fake news these days.” (Ann is funny.)

She wrote in part,

“There’s a lot of material in the article that is not about [ Russia helping Donald Trump win]  at all. I’m excluding that, which is padding if the headline is the correct headline. Go to the link if you want to see what it is. The first relevant material comes in the 16th paragraph: The DNC’s servers and John Podesta’s email account were hacked and a lot of damaging and embarrassing material was released onto the internet.

“Next:

American intelligence officials believe that Russia also penetrated databases housing Republican National Committee data, but chose to release documents only on the Democrats. The committee has denied that it was hacked.

“So here’s the crucial disputed question of fact: Were the GOP servers also hacked? We’re not told what evidence supports the belief that the GOP servers were also hacked, but the GOP says they were not. Yet some “intelligence officials believe” it was. Why? Where’s the “swell of evidence” you were going to tell me about?

“Even if that fact were nailed down, there would still be more leaps needed to get to the conclusion. First: Was there any embarrassing material? What? If I knew what, I could begin to think about the next question: Why would embarrassing material be withheld? All I can see from the supposed “swell of evidence” here is an assumption that if the DNC was hacked, the GOP committee was also hacked, and that if bad material was found in the DNC server, bad material would also be found in the GOP server, and since we only saw the DNC material, there must have been a conscious decision — by whom?! — to leak only the DNC things and that decision must have been made to help Trump win. That’s not evidence itself, only inference based on evidence.

“Finally, there are a few paragraphs about why “Putin and the Russian government” might be thought to prefer a Trump presidency to a Clinton presidency. Trump and Putin have given each other some compliments.

“That’s no swell of evidence! That’s a lot of leaping guesswork. And this is nothing more than I already read in the article the NYT put out on December 9th, which I put effort into combing through and rejected for the same reasons I’m putting in this new post.

“This might be the biggest fake news story I’ve ever seen!” Continue reading

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Revisiting The “Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters”

Hillary Rally

Less than a year ago, I responded to a series of what I regarded then (and now) as irresponsible expressions of support, bias and denial by Hillary Clinton supporters with ten questions designed to rescue them from corruption. At the time, the possibility that an even worse candidate would (or could) be nominated by the Republican Party never crossed my mind.

Although it was largely buried over the last week in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, Clinton’s e-mail fiasco was further exposed as the deep evidence of  long-term Clinton corruption that it is.  One of the most damaging e-mails handled on her private server, for example, was not turned over to the State Department (Hillary has sworn repeatedly a that ALL State Department business-related e-mails were turned over, raising the rebuttable presumption that she had other State communications among the 30,000 or so that her personal lawyers had destroyed.) We also learned that State Department staffers struggled in December 2010 over a serious technical problem that affected emails from the improper server, causing State staffers  to temporarily disable security features on the government’s own systems, thus making them more vulnerable to attack.

In a deposition under oath, Clinton’s IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, a central figure in the set-up and management of Clinton’s personal server, invoked the Fifth more than 125 times.  Meanwhile, the shadowy Clinton Foundation machinations came to the fore once again. An Associated Press review of the official calendar Hillary Clinton kept as Secretary of State identified at least 75 meetings with longtime political donors, Clinton Foundation contributors, corporate and other outside interests that were not recorded.  The calendar omissions naturally reinforce suspicions that she sought to hide possibly improper or even illegal uses of her influence and position to raise funds for the foundation. While the news media tried to spin Donald Trump’s statement in his attack on Hillary last week that “Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20% of America’s uranium holdings to Russia while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation,” his statement was accurate. For a change.

What was striking about the ten questions, looking at them again, is how little I would alter them today. The major change is that the arguments of those who claimed that evidence of Hillary’s unethical conduct was partisan or inconclusive look even more desperate and dishonest than they did last August. For the same reasons, the passage of time makes Clinton’s shameless and insulting lies seem even more shameless and insulting. The Democratic Party also looks worse and more corrupt: it rigged the nomination for this woman of demonstrably untrustworthy and venal character, as well as of dubious skills. Nothing can surpass the complete abdication of its duty to the United States by the Republican Party and its voters, but this was a betrayal by the Democrats.

Here is the list. I’ll have a few observations along the way, in bold.

“Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters” Continue reading

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Unethical Quote Of The Day, Or “Now THIS Is Spinning!”: Hillary Clinton Spokesperson Brian Fallon

Clinton spin

“While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email. The report shows that problems with the State Department’s electronic record keeping systems were longstanding and that there was no precedent of someone in her position having a State Department email account until after the arrival of her successor. Contrary to the false theories advanced for some time now, the report notes that her use of personal email was known to officials within the Department during her tenure, and that there is no evidence of any successful breach of the Secretary’s server. We agree that steps ought to be taken to ensure the government can better maintain official records, and if she were still at the State Department, Secretary Clinton would embrace and implement any recommendations, including those in this report, to help do that. But as this report makes clear, Hillary Clinton’s use of personal email was not unique, and she took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records.”

—-Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon, spinning the IG report with revelations which prompted that right-wing rag the Washington Post this morning to call his boss’s conduct, in an editorial, “inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules.”

Wow.

Whatever Hillary Clinton’s campaign is paying Brian Fallon to lie for her, it’s not nearly enough.

Imagine: the State Department IG issues a devastating condemnation of Clinton’s conduct, one that proves (as stated here since March, 2015, because it was obvious that early) Clinton has been lying about her conduct, her motives and the consequences of her actions regarding her personal e-mail server installed precisely to avoid the legal reach of the Freedom of Information Act at the risk of compromising national security, and the Clinton camp response is  to say, “See? She was telling the truth all along!”

This response is..

Cynical.

Audacious.

Insulting.

Also designed for use by the completely corrupt, like Nancy Pelosi,  typical of Clinton responses to all scandals, and ridiculously easy to expose.

And before I start exposing, let me address the comments of the liberal end of Woodward and Bernstein (that would be Carl), who while agreeing on CNN this morning that the IG’s report is “devastating” in its near complete demonstration of how much Clinton has misrepresented the facts and her conduct to the news media and the American people, summed it all up be saying that Hillary has had “an uncomfortable relationship with the truth.”

To evoke the late Fred Rogers: Can you say “habitual liar”? Sure you can! A woman who has had “an uncomfortable relationship with the truth,” Carl, is a liar. Don’t sugar-coat it and obfuscate. That’s what the Clintons do. You sound like a Clinton! She’s lying. She lied about the server. She lies all the time. You’re a journalist. Just say it, loud and clear. That’s your damn job.

But I digress.

Let’s just go over how poor Brian Fallon’s statement of desperate mega-spin is dishonest, misleading, and, to be blunt, a pack of lies: Continue reading

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What A Surprise: The Inspector General Reports That What We Knew Clinton had Done With Her E-Mails A Year Ago In Fact Was What She Had Done, That She Has Been Lying And Spinning Ever Since, And That Her Supporters Have Either Been Dupes Or Accomplices! OK, I Guess That’s Not Much Of A Surprise…

Yawning2I’m not sure what to write about this, except that it has to be reported because the Clinton e-mail scandal has been so extensively discussed here since early in 2015. If it’s surprising to anyone, I pity them. If they try to keep denying it, I have contempt for them. If they don’t understand why this issue matters (Bernie…!), I pity them and have contempt for them.

Today the State Department’s inspector general’s report on the Clinton’s e-mail practices was released to the media.  The report makes it clear that Clinton intentionally set up the private server to avoid scrutiny of her personal e-mails, and the various Stygian activities revealed there. In order to do that, she willfully and knowingly violated State Department policies, and placed national security at potential risk.

The report concluded that Clinton failed to seek legal approval for her use of a private email server and that department staff would not have allowed it had she requested approval, because of the “security risks in doing so.”  Clinton’s use of private email for public business was “not an appropriate method” of preserving documents, the inspector general concluded, and her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed. Clinton should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013. She did not, choosing instead to provide those records in December 2014, nearly two years after leaving office.

So she was not following policy. What she did was not approved.  She did knowingly take risks with sensitive national security information. It wasn’t because she didn’t make “the best choice” that all of this occurred. Clinton was making the best choice for her…her career, her ambitions, her schemes.  The nation’s interests were secondary. If that. Continue reading

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Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s Authentic Frontier Gibberish In Defense Of Hillary

Gabby Johnson for head of the DNC!

Gabby Johnson for head of the DNC!

I am going to add “authentic frontier gibberish” (or AFG ) to the Ethics Alarms glossary of special terms. It comes, of course, from a memorable moment in “Blazing Saddles,” but on Ethics Alarms it is usually used to describe either intentional or incompetent blather from politicians or others attempting to confuse the public, duck a question, or mislead everyone. It is deliberate communication malpractice, with the motive of not communicating but pretending to.

Seldom will you encounter a more ringing example of AFG than the foregoing. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a master at AFG,  was asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace why she called the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s possible national security violations in her handling of official e-mails “ludicrous.”

Here was her response… Continue reading

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