Jumbo, Ethics Dunce, Kaboom And Unethical Quote Of The Month: Hillary’s Jaw-Dropping Lie To Chris Wallace

hillary and Wallace

“Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails.”

—-Hillary Clinton to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, asserting that what was demonstrably false was true, regarding a public statement by Comey that can be Googled and watched on YouTube instantly.

My reaction when I saw that: KABOOM! The top of my head blew right off, bounced off the ceiling and knocked over the lamp. Wallace asked Clinton directly about what she had been saying to the public about her e-mails since May of 2015: that she did nothing wrong, that her private, secret e-mail server was approved by the State Department, that she never received or sent a classified e-mail…okay, that didn’t work, that she never knowingly sent a classified e-mail…wait, wait, that she never sent or received an  e-mail that was marked classified. Comey, in his televised, live statement announcing his decision not to recommend prosecution for Clinton, directly contradicted her.

In his careful statement Comey said,

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.,,,seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. …There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation…even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”

There is no way that an individual of normal facility with the English language can listen to or read that statement and conclude that Comey was saying that Hillary’s answers to questions about the e-mails to the American public and the news media–for over a year!–were truthful, as in “full of truth.” A technical argument can be made, if one wishes, that  Comey didn’t say that Clinton lied, because maybe she is an idiot and incompetent, and didn’t know or understand what “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position” should have known and understood, leading to her factually false (and constantly evolving as more facts where uncovered) explanations over months and months. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Journalist Ron Fournier

laws_for_little_people

“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

The Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Best of Ethics 2015, Part I

Sweet Briar montage

Welcome to the Seventh Annual Ethics Alarms Awards, our blog’s retrospective of the best and worst in ethics over the past year, 2015.

It was a rotten year in ethics again, it’s fair to say, and Ethics Alarms, which by its nature and mission must concentrate on episodes that have lessons to convey and cautionary tales to consider probably made it seem even more rotten that it was. Even with that admission, I didn’t come close to covering the field. My scouts, who I will honor anon, sent me many more wonderfully disturbing news stories than I could post on, and there were many more beyond them. I did not write about the drug company CEO, for example, who suddenly raised the price of an anti-AIDS drug to obscene levels, in part, it seems, to keep an investment fraud scheme afloat. (He’ll get his prize anyway.)

What was really best about 2o15 on Ethics Alarms was the commentary. I always envisioned the site as a cyber-symposium where interested, articulate and analytical readers could discuss current events and issues in an ethics context. Every year since the blog was launched has brought us closer to that goal. Commenters come and go, unfortunately (I take it personally when they go, which is silly), but the quality of commentary continues to be outstanding. It is also gratifying to check posts from 2010 and see such stalwarts who check in still, like Tim Levier, Neil Dorr, Julian Hung, Michael R, and King Kool.  There are a few blogs that have as consistently substantive, passionate and informative commenters as Ethics Alarms, but not many. Very frequently the comments materially enhance and expand on the original post. That was my hope and objective. Thank you.

The Best of Ethics 2015 is going to be a bit more self-congratulatory this year, beginning with the very first category. Among other virtues, this approach has the advantage of closing the gap in volume between the Best and the Worst, which last year was depressing. I’m also going to post the awards in more installments, to help me get them out faster. With that said….

Here are the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards

For the Best in Ethics:

Most Encouraging Sign That Enough People Pay Attention For Ethics Alarms To Occasionally Have Some Impact…

The Sweet Briar College Rescue. In March, I read the shocking story of how Sweet Briar College, a remarkable and storied all-women’s college in Virginia, had been closed by a craven and duplicitous board that never informed alums or students that such action was imminent. I responded with a tough post titled “The Sweet Briar Betrayal,” and some passionate alumnae determined to fight for the school’s survival used it to inform others about the issues involved and to build support. Through the ensuing months before the school’s ultimate reversal of the closing and the triumph of its supporters, I was honored to exchange many e-mails with Sweet Briar grads, and gratified by their insistence that Ethics Alarms played a significant role in turning the tide. You can follow the saga in my posts, here.

Ethics Heroes Of The Year

Dog Train

Eugene and Corky Bostick, Dog Train Proprietors. OK, maybe this is just my favorite Ethics Hero story of the year, about two retired seniors who decided to adopt old  dogs abandoned on their property to die, and came up with the wacky idea of giving them regular rides on a ‘dog train” of their own design.

Ethical Mayor Of The Year

Thomas F. Williams. When the Ferguson-driven attacks on police as racist killers was at its peak (though it’s not far from that peak now) the mayor of Norwood, Ohio, Thomas F. Williams, did exactly the opposite of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio in response to activist attacks on the integrity of his police department. He released a letter supporting his police department without qualification. At the time, I criticized him for his simultaneously attacking activists as “race-baiters.” In the perspective of the year past, I hereby withdraw that criticism.

Most Ethical Celebrity

Actor Tom Selleck. In a terrible year for this category, Selleck wins for bravely pushing his TV show “Blue Bloods” into politically incorrect territory, examining issues like racial profiling and police shootings with surprising even-handedness. The show also has maintained its openly Catholic, pro-religion perspective. Yes, this is a redundant award, as “Blue Bloods” is also a winner, but the alternative in this horrific year when an unethical celebrity is threatening to be a major party’s nominee for the presidency is not to give the award at all.

Most Ethical Talk Show Host

Stephen Colbert, who, while maintaining most of his progressive bias from his previous Comedy Central show as the successor to David Letterman, set a high standard of fairness and civility, notably when he admonished his knee-jerk liberal audience for booing  Senator Ted Cruz

Sportsman of the Year

CC Sabathia

New York Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia, who courageously checked himself into rehab for alcohol abuse just as baseball’s play-offs were beginning, saying in part,

“Being an adult means being accountable. Being a baseball player means that others look up to you. I want my kids — and others who may have become fans of mine over the years — to know that I am not too big of a man to ask for help. I want to hold my head up high, have a full heart and be the type of person again that I can be proud of. And that’s exactly what I am going to do.”

Runner-up: MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, who dismissed the ethically-addled arguments of Pete Rose fans to reject his appeal to be have his lifetime ban for gambling lifted.  For those who wonder why football never seems to figure in this category: You’ve got to be kidding.

Ethics Movie of the Year

SpotlightTIFF2015

“Spotlight”

Runner-up: “Concussion”

Most Ethical Corporation

Tesla Motors, the anti-GM, which recalled all of its models with a particular seatbelt because one belt had failed and they couldn’t determine why. Continue reading

Note To The News Media: You Can’t Claim Hillary Apologized Until She Acknowledges The Lying

"Clinton Lies? Sure, you're cleared! Go on in..."

“Clinton Lies? Sure, you’re cleared! Go on in…”

Almost a month ago, in a post titled “Ten Ethics Questions For Unshakable Hillary Voters,” I wrote,

Hillary could have said, when this first arose, “I am sorry. I was foolish and irresponsible, and I never should have used a private system for official business. It was a serious breach, and I will cooperate completely by turning over all of my e-mails to the State Department.” That she didn’t can only mean 1) that she has something really bad to hide, 2) she isn’t sorry, 3) is stupid, 4) just reflexively lies whenever she is in trouble, and arguably all of them. Do you think someone like that should be President under any circumstances?

Grasping that this was a problem,  the Democratic Party agents posing as objective reporters—that is, most of them—set out over the last month to nudge, hint, push, cajole and beg Mrs. Clinton to apologize for her e-mail fiasco whenever she allowed herself to be interviewed, which wasn’t often. Her responses still ranged from disdain (“With a cloth?”) to outright refusal (“I did nothing wrong”) to carefully calibrated deceit (“It wasn’t the best choice”) while her campaign and surrogates blamed the entire controversy on the GOP and officially termed it “nonsense.” Undaunted, and apparently convinced that even now, an apology from Clinton would magically make the problem go away, or perhaps more accurately, they would allow the apology to  make the problem go away,  the media kept pushing,either not comprehending or choosing to ignore the fact that the apology I hypothesized  would have only been effective if it had been Hillary’s immediate response when her use of a private server was revealed, and not a mere Plan F after all the denials, lies and spin had failed.

Plan E was an insulting non-apology, as Hillary told Andrea Mitchell that she was sorry…that the matter had “been confusing to people,” and that “there are answers” without actually providing any. (Mitchell didn’t feel that it was seemly to ask for these answers as a real journalist might, because, as she explained later, she was afraid it might upset Hillary’s campaign, and heaven forbid that she would do that.) Frustrated, the Hillary-enabling news media asked her to apologize again—We’re your friends, Hillary, don’t you see that? Just say the magic words “I’m sorry” somewhere in the vicinity to “private server” and we’ll do the rest, we swear, just as we have buried the implications of your greedy influence peddling through your foundation!–and finally, to ABC’s David Muir, she sort of  allllllmost did so, in one of the ugliest, most insincere apologies I’ve ever seen, heard or read.

As I had guessed, the news media decided Plan F was the best they were going to get, and began implementing their plan to treat this awful half apology as if it settled the issue. Here’s Chris Cilizza, the supposedly non-partisan Post political reporter, writing about Hillary’s falling poll numbers:

It’s uniquely possible that we are looking at the nadir of Clinton’s numbers. Her straight-up apology this week for having used a private e-mail server when she was secretary of state suggests that she may finally be listening to advisers (and donors) who see the issue causing major erosion in her numbers.

“Straight up apology?” That’s what Cilizza calls “straight up”? A scripted, grudging statement that essentially apologizes for the fact that deflection plans A-E didn’t work ( “I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier”) while insisting that what she did was “allowed” and, ludicrously for a secret server, “above board,” followed by a robotic “I made a mistake” (what was the mistake?) and a rote “I’m sorry”? Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Slate Writer Jamelle Bouie

hillary-clinton-winking“Barring an indictment for criminal behavior, Hillary Clinton, if she’s the Democratic nominee, will not lose the 2016 presidential election because of her emails. To think so, or to think they’ll change the race, is to say that scandal will override partisanship; that an otherwise liberal voter will walk into the ballot booth and mark the box for Jeb Bush or Gov. Scott Walker or Sen. Marco Rubio because of digital mismanagement. I liked what Clinton said about early childcare, thinks our hypothetical voter, but sending government email on a private server makes her unfit for the White House.”

—–Slate’s resident racial-distrust monger, Jamelle Bouie, writing about how Hillary Clinton’s still unfolding e-mail scandal will affect her candidacy.

What a cynical and frightening attitude to  express  about one’s own ideological kith!

Could he be right? The typical progressive/liberal/Democrat sees the blatant lies of Hillary Clinton exposed, that she deliberately risked national security, deliberately breached her own department’s and the Obama administration’s policy, falsely denied that any laws or regulations were involved, disingenuously said her conduct was no different from other officials, destroyed e-mails knowing they were about to be subpoenaed in a Congressional investigation, placed national secrets at risk, described the process of unraveling her deceptions and incompetence as “fun,” sent out one surrogate after another to obfuscate and deny the facts and the truth, and repeatedly lied about the matter herself, following a well-established pattern that already causes most of the nation to regard her as untrustworthy, and still that typical progressive/liberal/Democrat will say, “Hey, I like what she said about early child care, so what difference does it make that she’s devious, dishonest, incompetent,  possibly criminal, reckless and thinks the public is made up of dupes?”

Really? Really? REALLY???

Who are these creatures, and how did they get this way? Are all Democrats this completely unconcerned about character and ethics, or is Bouie, who obviously is, just projecting his own crippling ethics rot on others?

That does it.

I’m heading for the bridge…

 Update: A rather more rational and less depressing analysis from Ron Fournier, who, unlike Jamelle, doesn’t try to spin Clinton’s conduct as “digital mismanagement.”

 

The Progressive Corruption Of And Betrayal By The Democratic Party, PART II: Hillary Denial

dead donkey

It is not even June of 2015; the 2016 election is almost a year and a half away. Yet already there is so much smoke—but no smoking guns! Well, no new ones, anyway—around Hillary Clinton’s conduct, finances and character that it would have any major city’s fire department speeding to the source in panic. Her conduct as First Lady placed political expediency above common decency; her financial machinations were never fully unraveled but had the smell of a scam. She became Senator via nepotism rather than merit; she was made Secretary of State in a political deal. In that role, she engineered the fiasco in Libya, a “re-set” with Russia that backfired, and generally left fingerprints all over Obama’s epically failed foreign policy, including the disastrous withdrawal from Iraq.

The nation learned that she violated both her own agency’s policies and national security protocols to control her e-mails, then dumped 30,000 of them before they could be independently examined and subpoenaed by Congress. Her explanations for this ranged from ridiculous to untrue. She violated her deal with both Congress and the Obama Administration regarding accepting contributions to the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments, and attempted to use a Canadian affiliate to cover up some of them. Objective observers regard the Foundation as a huge Clinton Family advancement slush fund and a likely influence-peddling, quid pro quo device, though an uncommonly clever one. The Foundation itself has failed to meet non-profit best practices, and is regarded with suspicion in the non-profit sector by those who monitor charities. Meanwhile, the outrageous speaking fees raked in by both Clintons appear to be naked greed at best—taking scarce money, for example, for speaking to colleges in financial distress—and thinly veiled, plausibly deniable bribery at worst.

Every week–day?— brings more. Yesterday, we learned that shady Clinton advisor Sidney Blumenthal, whom the Obama Administration refused to allow Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to hire because, well, he is shady, was paid $10,000 a month by the Clinton Foundation to advise her informally on Libya. Foul. The Clinton Foundation is a non-profit charity and operating foundation that supposedly…

“convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for women and girls, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change”

…not one that “collects tax-deductible contributions under false pretenses so cronies of the Clintons can be paid stipends for work that has nothing to do with the Foundation’s mission.” Continue reading

The Clinton Foundation’s Latest Donor Policy Prompts This New Ethics Alarms Policy: Hillary and Bill Clinton Are Henceforth Ineligible For Future “Ethics Dunce” Awards, Since They Both Understand Ethics Very Well— They’re Unethical Because They ChooseTo Be

clinton_foundation

“Making life easy for the Clinton family, and ethics be damned”

I apologize for taking such a long time to figure this out. Upon reflection, it’s been obvious for a long time. I wonder if the Clintons’ fans and supporters understand that their heroes have no respect for ethics? Perhaps they don’t care.

The lightbulb went off for me when it was revealed that the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has changed its policy on soliciting and accepting contributions from foreign governments and has now received millions from foreign governments including Qatar, a prominent backer of Hamas.

Playing stupid (and protecting the Clinton’s flanks the best they can, as is their nature), the Washington Post and other media outlets have written that this raises “ethical questions as Hillary Clinton ramps up her expected bid for the presidency.” No, it doesn’t raise any ethical questions at all. This is unethical. It’s blatantly unethical. The Clintons know it’s unethical, but because they are themselves unethical, they are doing it anyway. What’s the question?

At the National Journal, that Passenger Pigeon of journalists, Ron Fournier, correctly calls the decision “sleazy and stupid.” I’m not so sure about stupid, if the only objective is to elect Hillary Clinton, and it is reasonable that Bill and Hillary have concluded that anyone who still supports them care as little about ethics as they doe. Besides, ethics schmethics, LOOK AT ALL THIS MONEY, BILL!

From the Washington Post: Continue reading