Friday Ethics Catch-Up, 10/18/2009: Hillary Snaps, And More Evidence That Everything Is Spinning Madly Out Of Control

I am totally fried, and wondering if it is responsible to post in this condition. But ethics waits for no man…

1. Last chance to see my presentation at the Smithsonian, “Courtroom Drama:The Art of Cross-Examination.” Details here. There will be a lot of ethics discussed, as you would expect, plus some Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, F.Lee Bailey, Perry Mason, Cousin Vinny, and “You can’t handle the truth!,” among other highlights. I’m doing the two-hour program with my younger sister Edith, who, unlike me, has actually done cross examinations.

2. Whoa! Tell me again what an honorable, trustworthy woman Hillary Clinton is. Here’s Hillary, actually calling Jill Stein and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the lone moderate in the Democratic Presidential nomination race—well, the lone moderate who doesn’t habitually grope women—“Russian assets” in a podcast:

And brava to Gabbard, who didn’t mince words on Twitter in her response to the smear: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/31/19: Confirmation, Computers, Clinton, Cruz, And Comments

Good morning.

Trying to get used to my new computer, Microsoft 10, files I can’t find and many other things. Everything is going sloooooowly. Be merciful.

1. More on the Martin Luther King revelations. Yesterday I wrote about King biographer David Garrow’s article revealing the some disturbing and previously unrevealed results of the  FBI’s (illegal) surveillance of Martin Luther King. Predictably, Garrow is under fire for daring to sully an icon’s reputation, and because the source of the material is Hoover’s attempt to undermine King, that is the mode of attack. Garrow won a Pulitzer Prize for “Bearing the Cross,” his 1986 biography of King, and has said in the past  that FBI files should be treated with skepticism. However, he is obviously so disturbed at the new revelations that were inadvertently released that he is performing what he sees as his duty as a historian. He told the Washington Post that the summaries made by FBI agents who were spying on King are accurate, noting that different types of records warrant different levels of trust in their accuracy. The files claiming King was communist, he said,  “are coming literally third- or fourth-hand from a human informant,”so their accuracy is “highly dubious…But with the electronic surveillance records, those are very highly reliable, other than when the FBI can’t understand who’s talking.”

Confirmation bias is the key here. Garrow has none that I can see: his reputation is at risk if he is wrong, and he was an admirer of King, though not blind to his previously known flaws, like his epic infidelity. So far, the reflex deniers of Garrow’s conclusion all appear to be “keepers of the flame,” or at least invested in keeping King’s reputation intact.

It is encouraging to see the Post, which apparently refused to publish Garrow’s article,  covering the story. Most media sources are not, and that is signature significance. Many of the same sources have assumed that Donald Trump engaged in wilful sexual assault based solely on his recorded hyperbolic boasts to Billy Bush. The integrity of journalism in the U.S. could not be at lower tide.

In my case, I know enough about history and the important figures who stroll, dash and charge through it not to be surprised when any of them are revealed to have engaged in objectively horrible conduct at various points in their lives. Given King’s documented sexual appetites and epic infidelities, the likelihood that he was a sexual predator is strong. Again, my position is that King’s personal, even criminal conduct shouldn’t affect the assessment of or national gratitude for his public achievements at all. This isn’t the “personal conduct” dodge that Bill Clinton’s enablers used: his conduct with Lewinski and others was related to his job, his position, and in fact occurred in his office. That’s professional, workplace conduct, not personal.

I assume this will be another story inconvenient to the news media’s favorite causes,  that journalists and editors will attempt to bury, muddy, and minimize. Yes, and anyone who attempts to raise it, analyze it and verify it will be tarred as a racist. Perhaps I am naive and optimistic, but I don’t think that will work here. Just as eventually we had to face the truth about Thomas Jefferson and Bill Cosby, even those who want to deify King will have to deal with his private character, and decide whether they really want his statues and memorials, street signs and holiday, to come down.

Of course, there will be some good people on both sides of the argument. Continue reading

Journalism Ethics: The Washington Post Enables Disinformation Regarding Hillary’s Email Machinations

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In an article for the Washington Post column “The Plum line,” Paul Waldman wrote, after noting that reports on the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified materials suggest that the F.B.I. has found no intent on her  part to violate classification rules,

“That point about her intending to break classification rules is important, because in order to have broken the law, it isn’t enough for Clinton to have had classified information in a place where it was possible for it to be hacked. She would have had to intentionally given classified information to someone without authorization to have it, like David Petraeus did when he showed classified documents to his mistress (and then lied to the FBI about it, by the way). Despite the enormous manpower and time the Justice Department has devoted to this case, there has never been even a suggestion, let alone any evidence, that Clinton did any such thing.”

This continued a process, begun and fed by Clinton herself, to mislead the public about the investigation, the law, and Clinton’s conduct. It is the insidious “narrative” tactic again, and it apparently almost impossible to fight. For example, an old friend, a smart and informed former journalist, recently posted on Facebook to the effect that he wondered if the F.B.I. would investigate Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, since they also used personal e-mail for official business while Secretary of State. He wrote this in good faith, because this has been a central defense from Clinton for more than a year. It is harder to kill than the Hydra, despite the fact that it is pure deceit, for two reasons.

The first is that what was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine years ago is not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. What was considered responsible and acceptable use of technology nine weeks ago is often not responsible and acceptable use of technology now. The acceleration of technology development was well underway when Clinton was appointed, and new security measures and best practices at all the major agencies reflected that. If she intentionally ignored this, she was irresponsible and reckless; if she negligently failed to follow them, she was incompetent. No matter how Rice and Powell handled their e-mail, it was a different time, and the comparison is invalid and misleading. No one who understands technology and the speed with which it evolves, with accepted practices becoming dangerous and incompetent virtually over-nigh, could hear Clinton’s “They did it too!” excuse without rolling their eyes. But of course, this spin isn’t intended for those who understand the issues involved. They are designed for people like my friend, who are relatively uninformed regarding technology, and can be converted into an effective disinformation agent without his consent or knowledge. Continue reading

Hillary’s Smoking Gun Arrogance And Entitlement

Coronation-of-Queen-Hillary

Democrats asked for this when they decided to hand Hillary Clinton the Democratic nomination rather than make her earn it. The DNC began by rigging the debates to expose Clinton, a gaffe-artist in the rarefied league of Joe Biden but less amusing, as little as possible. It got itself a bizarre, non-competitive opponent to provide nominal opposition, Bernie Sanders—too old, not a Democrat, abrasive, deluded—who cooperated by refusing to attack Clinton where she was vulnerable. He didn’t want to win, you see. Bernie Sanders just wanted to spout Socialist propaganda in the hopes of rotting the brains of the same impressionable young who still think Barack Obama is a leader who brought hope and change.

Oddly, the Democratic leadership had forgotten how our current unqualified, weak and hapless POTUS got elected: he’s President only because Hillary Clinton can’t beat anyone fair and square. She’s dislikable and untrustworthy, and the “vote for my sex organs” bit only goes so far.  Now her campaign is in trouble, and Sanders is threatening to make some super-delegates ( the way Democrats rig their nominating process, allowing them to ridicule Republicans for looking for ways to block Donald Trump) change their plans. He and his supporters see blood in the water, and are finally sharpening their attacks on Hillary.

What??? Actually attacking one’s opponent? This cannot be borne! Thus the Hillary campaign has told Sanders that he must “change his tone” or the Pre-Anointed Nominee won’t deign to debate with him, so there. “Let’s see if he goes back to the kind of tone he said he was going to set early on. If he does that, then we’ll talk about debates,” Hillary’s spokesperson told CNN. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Ron Fournier

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“Legally though, there is a big bar that you have to get over to prosecute anybody for these crimes, much less somebody who is running for president…I do understand that when somebody is running for president, there is a higher bar that you have to get over because we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for president of crimes.”

— National Journal journalist (and Ethics Alarms “Most Ethical Journalist” award winner) Ron Fournier, discussing recent revelations regarding Hillary Clinton’s e-mail machinations with “Morning Joe” on MSNBC

Ron Fournier has proved himself to be an unbiased and fair journalist, particularly where Hillary Clinton is concerned. He is not one of her apologists or defenders, so this statement must be sincere, and must also represent a genuine and inexplicable ethics blind spot.

There needs to be a higher bar to charge Presidential candidates with a crime? Wrong, absolutely wrong, unbelievably wrong, dangerously wrong, and embarrassingly wrong! That bar for a Presidential candidate or a President has to be exactly the same as for an ordinary citizen, indeed for the most lowly citizen, or our democracy is a fraud.

Fournier’s rationale for this double standard is, to be technical, bananas. To say “we can’t have a system in which we are constantly charging people who are running for President of crimes” is senseless on multiple levels:
Continue reading

Observations On The Democratic Candidates Debate In Flint, MI.

Dems debate

Here’s the transcript.

1. The smug comments from Democratic pundits and operatives about how “substantive” the Democratic debates have been and how “ugly” and “childish” the GOP debates have been is really nauseating, and the news media should flag it as such. When one candidate is ugly and childish, as well as shameless about being so, the other candidates have little choice but to get down in the mud. That’s the situation in the Republican debates, and that is entirely due to Donald Trump. When, meanwhile, one candidate is notable for lack of trustworthiness and dishonesty, and her only opposition refuses to reference the major reason the public (accurately) believes her to be so,  the resulting debate will be muted. Sanders, in short, isn’t doing his job. That’s nothing for Democrats to be smug about.

2. Last week it was learned that at least 2,079 emails Clinton sent or received on her unsecured, private server contained classified material, though she initially said that she handled no classified material whatsoever. That’s at least 2,079 lies. We learned that she received those emails on two devices , a BlackBerry and an iPad that she received in June 2010, despite the fact that she said, after news broke about her personal email account,  she’d done this as a matter of convenience so she would not have to carry two devices, saying, “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” This was also a lie.

We learned that many, many  people, including lobbyists, lawmakers, White House officials, State Department employees, John Kerry and President Obama communicated directly with Clinton using her personal email address. This is just another part of the Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, Outrageous Arrogance and Incompetence Division. That so many should have reported it and didn’t, as well as stopped it, is no excuse for the corrupted Clinton enablers to latch onto, and it doesn’t make what she did any less outrageous and reckless. It doesn’t excuse her irresponsible conduct at all. It just shows how lazy and amateurish others were as well.

We earlier learned that hackers with ties to Russia tried at least five times to access Clinton’s account over a four hour period  on the morning of Aug. 3, 2011, by sending her emails. The Clinton campaign says there is no evidence to suggest she opened them, giving the hackers access to her computer. That is just moral luck.

Finally, we learned this week that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State WROTE 104 emails, using her private server, that the State Department has since designated as classified.

Was Clinton asked about anything related to her e-mail lies and incompetence regarding national security last night, or about her incompetent oversight of her own agency, which is supposedly one of the credits that makes her so qualified to be President?

No. That’s a breach of competence by CNN and Anderson Cooper, with pure complicity by Bernie Sanders. Continue reading

Translation: “OK, Lying And Denying Responsibility Haven’t Worked; Let’s Try Lying And Accepting SOME Responsibility.”

Said Candidate Hillary Clinton at a campaign stop in Iowa:

“I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why. I get it. (1) So here’s what I want the American people to know: My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. (2) It clearly wasn’t the best choice. (3) I should’ve used two emails: one personal, one for work. I take responsibility for that decision, and I want to be as transparent as possible, which is why I turned over 55,000 pages (4), why I’ve turned over my server (5), why I’ve agreed to — in fact, been asking to — and have finally gotten a date to testify before a congressional committee in October. (6) I’m confident that this process will prove that I never sent, nor received, any email that was marked classified. (7).

Notes: Continue reading