Ethics Dunce And Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Ted Lieu

Lieu, one of California’s more out-there Democratic Congress members, tweeted,

“How quaint that some folks are more concerned about kids speaking respectfully than the fact that 17 kids were slaughtered with an assault rifle.”

The incorrect use of “assault rifle” is a tell: it means that the speaker doesn’t know enough about guns to be talking about them, or, in the alternative, just thinks that all guns are bad, and that this is sufficient.

Several people corrected the Congressman, and explained that his terminology referred to banned, military automatic weapons, not the semi-automatic AR-15. Wrote co-founder of “the Federalist,” Sean Davis,

“You said “assault rifle”…Words mean things. If you don’t know which words mean which things, don’t use those words”

Lieu’s signature significance reply:

“NO. I will keep saying assault rifle if I feel like it. I will not let you define what I can or cannot say. In any statute, the term assault weapon or assault rifle would be defined. But in ordinary conversation, I will use assault rifle interchangeably with assault weapon.”



‘ I’m going to keep saying what sounds the most menacing even though it isn’t true, because that’s what will get people upset.’

‘You have your truth and I have mine.’

‘Automatic, semi-automatic, guns, schmuns, they kill people, OK? Get off my back.’

‘My constituents and the anti-gun zealots don’t know the difference, so what should I care?’

‘The ends justify the means.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with ‘alternate facts” if they are MY facts.

‘I have no shame or integrity. Let me do my job.”

‘I am the moron! Goo goo G’joob.’


Facts: Twitchy

U.S. Journalism’s Integrity Meltdown, An American Tragedy, Starring CNN’s Ashleigh Banfield

It has come to this.*

Poor Ashleigh and Brianna are just SO confused about it all!

Poor Ashleigh and Brianna are just SO confused about it all!

What should have been, indeed what was obligated to be a professional, objective and clarifying report on the President’s revealed Obamacare lie of three year’s duration became an ugly exhibition of news media government collaboration and shameless incompetence, perhaps the most unprofessional I have ever seen.

From the transcript of  CNN Newsroom on November 5 at 9:33 a.m. EDT: Brianna Keilar, CNN White House correspondent, is reporting on the controversy over the reality that what President Obama assured Americans would be the case regarding their health care plans was not how his health care law actually worked.

KEILAR : Good morning. Basically in the face that that promise could not be kept ultimately [ COMMENT Ethics Breaches #1 and #2. This is  horrible, biased, misleading journalism. Obama didn’t make a promise, he made a guarantee: he said what would happen, based om what the law he period. A broken promise implies a present intent to keep a promise that is later broken. That is not what the President’s statements about the ACA were. They were authoritative assertions, intended to be taken as truth.  “Could not be kept” suggests that the failure of the ACA to meet the conditions the President attached to it was beyond his control. This is a lie, or incompetent reporting. It certainly could be kept: the Democratic Senate defeated proposed measures that would have ensured that it was kept. The law’s effect of forcing insurance companies to cancel insurance plans that the policy holders liked was intentional, and well within the President’s control. CNN is a news organization, and is not supposed to be dealing in spin and euphemisms. Yet that is what Keilar privided here.] , and that it just wasn’t as simple from that, we’ve heard from President Obama last night at an OFA event – that’s his former campaign apparatus which is now a non-profit advocacy group which is working on ObamaCare and promoting it – President Obama spoke at an OFA event and here was the change that he made: Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month AND The Jumbo: President Barack Obama

“Now, if you had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

—–President Barack Obama this week, telling supporters of Organizing for Action what he should have said for three and a half years,  but representing the statement as if he had been saying it all along. A video is here.

Jumbo film“Elephant? What elephant?”

There’s not much more to write about this, except to debate whether we should weep, laugh, or take to the streets with torches and pitchforks. The President’s solution to the discovery that his repeated assurances that nobody would lose their doctor or their health plan under the Affordable Care Act were an intentional deception of the American public was not, as his various lackeys and underlings and media lapdogs have claimed in various devious ways, to deny that his statement was a lie (for it obviously was). Neither was it to justify lying, as others among his shameless enablers have done. He didn’t try to minimize the lie and say it was trivial, since only a relative few million Americans will be affected, like the New York Times did, to its eternal shame. No, President Obama is above such demeaning obfuscations and alibis. He simply re-wrote history, and claimed that he said (well, “we” said) words that he never said at all. Continue reading

Bob Filner Is A Fick

Leroy Fick (L); unidentified woman, (C) Mayor Filner (R)

Leroy Fick (left); unidentified gropee, (right); Mayor Fick (far right)

“Fick” is a term of art on Ethics Alarms, describing the rare unethical miscreant who is not only  engaged in misconduct but perfectly happy to profit from it in full view of the public eye, apparently without shame. The appellation  is named after the despicable Leroy Fick, a Michigan lottery winning millionaire who exploited a loophole to keep getting public assistance. Ficks are the worst of the worst.

San Diego Mayor Bob Filner is a fick.

As the number of women who have accused him of groping, head-locking, kissing or otherwise sexually harassing them climbed beyond 18, Filner adamantly refused to do the right thing and resign (call me crazy, but I think even Bill Clinton would have had the decency to resign if a new Monica surfaced every other day for a month), even as other allegations of his misdeeds in the financial realm were being investigated. Knowing the recall effort rapidly gathering steam would cost the city many thousands of dollars, and understanding that San Diego was being humiliated as well as being barely governed while Mayor Fick, er, Filner, held it hostage, the city council has negotiated an exit by Filner, one that requires the city to pick up his legal tab, as well as the damages or settlements he would otherwise pay in any law suits against him arising out of his various incidents of harassment. Continue reading

More Reasons Not To Vote For Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford evokes that stirring Civil War battle, the Alamo.

Mark Sanford evokes that stirring Civil War battle, the Alamo.

The unethical and increasingly ridiculous Mark Sanford, now in the process of losing what should have been a sage House seat for Republicans in South Carolina, has added the public crime of “making Americans dumber” to his list of disqualifications for public office.

Sanford was the rising star South Carolina governor—married, with children— who went AWOL on the job to have a  clandestine liaison with his South American mistress, using public funds in the process, and lying through his staff to cover his tracks. He didn’t have the courage or the decency to resign, nor did he have the common sense and decency to quietly disappear so he would stop embarrassing his wife, his state, Republicans, men, and Homo sapiens everywhere. Instead he returned to run in a primary for a House seat, and since Republican primary voters will apparently vote for anyone or anything, won. Now he’s running behind in the polls to a Democratic candidate whose key qualification is that her brother is a popular TV comic.

Sanford has run a full page ad in some newspapers, painting himself in heroic terms and comparing himself to the martyrs of the Alamo: Continue reading

Introducing “The Hollinger Awards”…and the First Recipient, Susan Cole

The Original Hollinger

Every year, the Darwin Awards amuse us, in a blackly humorous way, with tales of people who improve the gene pool by getting themselves killed through acts of stunning stupidity, often seasoned by exquisite irony. To take a random example from 2011, Phil Contos was participating in a helmet-less high-speed motorcycle ride when he crashed and suffered fatal brain injuries. His brother was quoted as saying that Phil would do it again, too—and I’m sure he would.

A story out of Denver made me realize that faulty or entirely absent ethics alarms work in a similar way to ensure that the most shamelessly unethical among us get their just desserts. Such individuals are so lacking in comprehension of what is wrong with their conduct that they can’t resist publicizing it, thereby revealing themselves as blights on their communities and workplaces, and attracting appropriate treatment in response. Searching for an appropriate name for the ethics version of the Darwin Awards, I was irresistably drawn to Jeremy Hollinger, the Mobile, Alabama special ed teacher who last year mocked his challenged fourth graders on Facebook, and, for good measure, posted a photo of himself wearing one of his student’s protective helmets and making a moronic face. (Or, come to think of it, maybe that’s Jeremy’s normal face.) Thus I am dubbing the new distinction The Hollinger, and give the very first one to Susan Cole. Continue reading

Fick* of the Month: Tea Party Congressman Joe Walsh


Rep. Walsh says that President Obama has no shame. He should know: having no shame is something of a specialty of Walsh's.

Freshman U.S. Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill) is a vocal Tea Party champion dedicated to fiscal responsibility, meeting obligations, protecting the future for our children, and living within our means. How does he reconcile these values with the fact that he owes $117,437 in child support to his ex-wife and three children?

He can’t. It’s impossible. Walsh is the epitome of a political hypocrite, and because he is shameless about his despicable failure to meet his family obligations, he is also a fick. In fact, he is the Ethics Alarms Fick of the Month.

To be fair, Walsh disputes the amount that his wife claims he owes her in the suit she recently filed. You know what? It doesn’t matter how much he owes. Ethically, he is just as much of a fraud and a fick whether he owes $100,000, $25,000, or $500. For this is the self-righteous freshman Congressman who says,  in a video speech lecturing President Obama on fiscal responsibility, “I won’t place one more dollar of debt upon the backs of my kids and grandkids unless we structurally reform the way this town spends money!” ”Have you no shame, sir?” he asks. Continue reading

Fick Sighting in Prince George’s County

Leslie Johnson, fick.

Ethics Alarms recently coined the useful term fick to describe the especially shameless individual who violates society’s ethical norms openly, publicly and flagrantly, without remorse or apology. It takes a certain kind of anti-social arrogance to be a true fick, with the gold standard established by Michigan lottery winner Leroy Fick, a millionaire who happily continues to collect food stamps because of a statutory loophole despite howls of indignation from his neighbors in one of the most fiscally-challenged states in the nation.  Other ficks who have come to light include Hugh Heffner despicable ex-fiance Crystal Harris, who plotted to humiliate him at the altar to launch a reality show. Of course, there is  longstanding Octo-fick Nadya Suleman, and celebrity fick Charlie Sheen.

Now lucky Prince George’s County in Maryland has a bona fide fick of its own.  Continue reading

Outrageous Corporate Conduct 2011: Transocean’s Unconscionable Bonuses

"Sure, but other than THAT: great night at the theater, right?"

I believe that much of the time the corporate sector is unfairly treated by the media, politicians, and the public. Part of this conviction arises from my experience working at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, directly under its current president when he was a rising young Turk. I dealt with corporate executives every day, and got to see the challenges of big business from their side. Most of the time, they struck me as genuinely concerned about workers, communities, fairness, while believing, of course, that an unfettered private sector was in the economic interest of everyone.

Increasingly, however, I see corporate behavior that is so arrogant, so transparently greedy, so contemptuous of the public’s intelligence, so blatantly, obnoxiously wrong that I wonder if it was all a dream. There was AIG, accepting billions from American taxpayers to save it from the consequences of its own fiduciary crimes, immediately spending some of it on lush retreats and parties for its executives. There were the leaders of Goldman Sachs, telling gape-jawed U.S. Senators that, no, they didn’t see anything unethical about selling their trusted clients investment products so awful that the company made money betting on their failure. There are the U.S. banks, hoarding their money and refusing to refinance mortgages that were unconscionable to begin with,  preferring to make the nation’s economic problems worse by foreclosing on families’ homes rather than making a good faith effort to undo a human and social catastrophe that was substantially of their own making.

Now comes the news that Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, has announced that it is giving millions of dollars in bonuses to its executives after “the best year in safety performance in our company’s history.”  Which seems perfectly reasonable, unless you want to make a big deal over that one little Gulf oil spill incident last April…you know, the one that began when a Transocean oil rig exploded, killing eleven people including nine Transocean employees. Continue reading

Unethical Gall in Norfolk: The Case of the Shameless Freeloader

"Freddy the Freeloader": Role Model

Jill McGlone was working for the Norfolk (Virginia) Community Services Board (known as CSB—an independent agency created by the state and funded with state and federal tax dollars) as an office assistant when she was involved in an internal personnel investigation.
McGlone was put on paid leave, but her case remained in limbo, without resolution. She stayed home, and continued to collect her full $29,000/year salary and benefits—for twelve years. Continue reading