Comment Of The Day: “Public Confidence And Trust (2): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll”

British commenter  Andrew Wakeling has a harsh take on professional ethics, but one worth pondering.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Public Confidence And Trust (1): Observations On Gallup’s Trust In Occupations Poll:

I worked very hard to qualify as an ‘xyzist’ (initially in the UK finance industry in the 1970s) and the profession has served me very well, across much of the world. Part of the reason why I could earn big bucks was that I was trusted. My employer needed my sign off. The head regulator was generally a qualified ‘xyzist’ too. No Board would dare go far without support from a qualified ‘xyzist’.

The professional body (The Institute of ….) was strong, controlling entry (with hard exams), and policing behaviour with professional standards, codes of conduct and a disciplinary system. The profession largely wrote the rules and regulations for the industry. We always maintained we were acting in the ‘public interest’. At least superficially, we took our version of ‘noblesse oblige’ very seriously.

We, of course, weren’t the only elite and cosy profession, and in times of stress we could join together with others (lawyers, accountants, elite civil servants etc.) to present a united front against ‘unsound’ proposals.

That cosy world has now largely disintegrated, and perhaps it deserved to. Margaret Thatcher viewed the professions with particular suspicion as being self serving and in restraint of trade. The tide in academia has been towards open competition and ‘freedom with disclosure’, and quite unsupportive of unaccountable elites (largely male and similarly educated) setting the rules. Continue reading

You Asked For It: There are Indeed Ethics Issues Raised By Inexplicable Choking In The NBA Play-Offs

Prolific commenter slickwilly wrote in one of the Comey threads,

Jack, we need a post on how the Spurs were aided in their win by either a) James Harden point shaving, or b) someone slipped him date rape drugs How ethical are the accusations?

I had been vaguely aware of the surprise rout the short-handed San Antonio Spurs inflicted on the Houston Rockets to win their NBA play-off series, but as the NBA is far-off my ethics radar due to the fact that I consider it a fake sport played by too many ethically-challenged athletes who achieved fame and wealth thanks to the corrupt college basketball system,  a direct query like this was required to get my attention. Here is what happened, courtesy of the Sporting News, as the Houston Rockets superstar delivered an epic choke when his team needed it most:

With Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker out for Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals, James Harden was expected to dominate the Spurs.

Instead, Jonathon Simmons and LaMarcus Aldridge led a perfectly executed game plan by Gregg Popovich to hold Harden and the Rockets to just 75 points in a 39-point win. Harden made just two field goals, had six turnovers and registered a minus-28 as Houston shot just over 30 percent in the loss.

The Washington Post later elaborated on the shocking details:

In the wake of the Spurs’ playoff series-clinching, 114-75 rout of the Rockets on Thursday, it was hard to know which was more shocking: that San Antonio could play so well without Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker, or that James Harden could play so poorly. The Houston star scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting in more than 36 minutes of play, looking nothing like a leading contender for NBA MVP honors…Harden not only failed to take advantage of the absence of the league’s best perimeter defender, he was stunningly ineffective in the final four minutes of regulation and through the five-minute overtime period. In that span, Harden scored four points on 1-of-6 shooting, turned the ball over four times, and committed two costly fouls, including an offensive foul on what could have been a game-winning possession with seconds left in regulation.

This is not just an example of a star player having a bad game, like “Casey at the Bat.” Harden is regarded as a strong contender for the 2017 NBA MVP award. Nobody could remember a similar example of a healthy NBA super-star playing so poorly for so long in a crucial play-off game, and there is no sport where a single great player’s performance can make the difference between victory and defeat more surely than basketball. Harden has not explained his flop, so people are making excuses for him. The popular  theory seems to be that he was suffering from a concussion following an elbow to the head suffered in the previous game two days earlier. This is pure speculation, however, and as the Post notes, Continue reading

More Ethics Observations On The Firing of FBI Director James Comey

It’s all this guy’s fault…

I have read the initial comments on the original post-–which I interrupted my viewing of a Red Sox game to write, just so you know how dedicated I am—had some additional thoughts and processed some new data. Here are some more observations:

1. The New York Times biased reporting is even worse than I thought. Today’s print edition has a “Saturday Night Massacre” size headline screaming:

TRUMP FIRES COMEY AMID RUSSIA INQUIRY

This is deceit, and, as I noted before, yellow journalism. It is technically accurate, but misleading and false anyway. Trump also fired Comey in May,  “amid” the North Korea crisis, and while the Orioles were playing the Nationals. There is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Comey’s firing had anything to do with the Russia investigation except this: Comey thoroughly botched the last major investigation the FBI was engaged in.

The Times goes further, adding another above the fold story headlined, “The President Lands a Punch, and Many Hear Echoes of Watergate.” Ah, the old “many say/many hear/many think” ploy—an unethical journalism classic. Let’s seed the unfair suspicion without taking responsibility for it! Hey, we didn’t say we thought that, just that others do!

2. Many have noted that President Hillary would have fired Comey within seconds of taking office, or as close to that as possible. This is doubtlessly true. It is also true that Republicans would probably be attacking her with as much fury and blatant hypocrisy as Democrats are attacking the firing now.

But doing something unethical in an alternate universe is still not as damning is doing it in this one.

3. I have been working on a “100 Days” overview of the ethics score since President Trump took office. In general, it is both remarkable and disturbing how closely the President’s actual performance tracks with my expectations, as explained over the last two years. One aspect of this mostly negative assessment that is undeniably positive, however is that President Trump, unlike his predecessor, does not fear making decisions, and makes them despite the amount of criticism he knows will be coming, especially from the news media. (The previous President knew that he had nothing to fear from the news media, since it was invested in making him seem successful and wise even when he wasn’t.)

The firing of Comey is a perfect example, as was the decision to enforce, belatedly, Obama’s “red line” in Syria.

4. Nowhere near enough focus has landed on Rod Rosenstein (left) , the  deputy attorney general who was only confirmed a couple of weeks ago ( April 25, 2017). Rosenstein is an impressive lawyer with a long, distinguished  record in both Democratic and Republican administrations, and authored  the  “Memorandum to the Attorney General” on the subject of “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.” This articulates the best reasons for firing Comey, and any critic who argues that it made sense to keep him on is tasked with rebutting Rosenstein’s brief. Good luck with that.
Continue reading

Ethics Observation On The Trump 2005 Tax Return

Yesterday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow endlessly hyped the fact that  veteran investigative reporter David Cay Johnston had obtained President Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. When it was revealed, the scoop didn’t justify the hype. Trump  paid 38 million in taxes that year,  24% of his income—not the top rate, but not “nothing,” which was the rumor Democrats were selling during the campaign.

Ethics points:

1. Whoever leaked the return broke the law, and doing so was unethical.  No, it’s not illegal for the news media to take material stolen by others and sanctify it via their First Amendment protections.  It should be though. When they do this, they aide and abet a crime, and Freedom of the Press wasn’t supposed to allow THAT. At very least, journalists should be required to reveal the names of the criminals who steal and release our proprietary documents. The publication of these makes such thefts worse, not better.

2. I don’t see why the President’s tax returns from 12 years ago has any genuine relevance to anything now. The returns were relevant to the decision of whether or not people wanted to vote for him. Now, the tax documents have no purpose, except for the insatiable Trump-bashers to have something new to bash him with. Anything will do.

3. David Cay Johnston was dishing about his “scoop” with GMA’s George Stephanopoulos, and decided to start a new rumor. He speculated that Trump leaked the return himself.  No evidence, not a drop, and yet that’s what this veteran reporter felt was justifiable to say on national TV. Gee, can we call THAT fake news?

4. Then, as he did with Maddow, the reporter went on about all the conflicts of interest that Trump’s financial dealings have created. Again, this is re-litigating the election. At this point, there is no practical way to eliminate Trump’s conflicts and the appearance of impropriety that they create, and he’s not going to bother trying. Johnston, and others, including me, never made a clear case to the public why the President’s unprecedented financial entanglements should have been disqualifying; nor did Hillary, in part because her own financial entanglements were disqualifying. Well, the train left the station, y’all. You had your chance, and botched it. Johnston, like so many of the other bitter-enders who want to turn back time, ultimately get back to, “But…but…but…we never should have elected this guy! Surely there is something we can do to undo it!”

No, there isn’t. Cut it out. Continue reading

Donald Trump Is Bouncing Back In The Polls….Why?

trumpstar

Ann Althouse writes in horror that the Bloomberg poll, a poll that polling guru Nate Silver marks as one of the best, has Donald Trump making up most of what was a 9 point lead just a week ago. “How is it possible?” she asks?

Here is how it’s possible. Americans deeply, deeply resent the tactics and unethical methods of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee, as well as, and even especially, the biased news media that has, it was just reported, been 91% negative regarding Donald Trump. Althouse anticipated this backlash back in September, when she quoted journalist/author Robert Wright, who said he was concerned that the media would be so “ham-handed” in its pro-Clinton/anti-Trump bias that “it wouldn’t work.”

In the competition of who is more unfit to lead, Trump wins in a landslide. However, Clinton’s supporters, staff, minions and party have earned the “Most Unethical, Undemocratic, Totalitarian” prize, by at least as large a margin:

1. On CNN’s “State of the Union” last week,  Jake Tapper grilled Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, about Robert Creamer and Scott Foval, the  Democratic operatives who were caught in a Project Veritas video sting talking about instigating violence at a Trump rally.

TAPPER: Have you looked into whether or not Democratic operatives paid by the Democratic National Committee were actually instigating these horrific actions, these violent actions we saw at Trump rallies? That’s — I’m sure you would agree, if that’s true, that’s really offensive.

MOOK: Well, violence is unacceptable. These individuals no longer have a relationship with the DNC. They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign. And my understanding is that the events that are referenced happened, I think, in February of last year. They didn’t have a contract with the DNC until June.  But, putting that all aside, this was, again, a video that was leaked out for the purpose of damaging the campaign. It’s edited, so we don’t know what the full context is. And there is — there’s no evidence whatsoever that we have been able to find that anyone ever did anything like this when they were working for the DNC.

Wait, what? Mook just admitted that the DNC hired these Nixonian thugs after they disrupted the Trump events. Before that, they were doing this stuff for free? They were only fired after the video was released.  How does the fact that they aren’t under contract any more serve as a defense of their activities? White House logs show Creamer visiting the White House hundreds of times.  Why?

Mook’s “They have never had a relationship with the Clinton campaign” is such a weaselly line. How about an unequivocal denial that the campaign knew about or coordinated with these cheats? Where is that? Then he defaults to attacking the methods by which these operatives were exposed, just as Clinton’s mouthpeices, like Donna Brazile, have tried to blame Wikileaks for what the Wikileaks leaks show.

Do Democrats just shrug off this kind of anti-Democratic activity as standard “by any means necessary” tactics? What kind of leader obtains power this way? I guarantee that independents, conservatives and uncommitted voters are frightened and disgusted by it. If voting for Trump is the only way to register that disgust, then he’ll be the beneficiary of the backlash.

2. Yesterday “Dilbert” cartoonist Scott Adams, who is a Trump supporters, posted this:

I’ve been trying to figure out what common trait binds Clinton supporters together. As far as I can tell, the most unifying characteristic is a willingness to bully in all its forms.

If you have a Trump sign in your lawn, they will steal it.

If you have a Trump bumper sticker, they will deface your car.

if you speak of Trump at work you could get fired.

On social media, almost every message I get from a Clinton supporter is a bullying type of message. They insult. They try to shame. They label. And obviously they threaten my livelihood.

We know from Project Veritas that Clinton supporters tried to incite violence at Trump rallies. The media downplays it.

We also know Clinton’s side hired paid trolls to bully online. You don’t hear much about that.

Yesterday, by no coincidence, Huffington Post, Salon, and Daily Kos all published similar-sounding hit pieces on me, presumably to lower my influence. (That reason, plus jealousy, are the only reasons writers write about other writers.)

Joe Biden said he wanted to take Trump behind the bleachers and beat him up. No one on Clinton’s side disavowed that call to violence because, I assume, they consider it justified hyperbole. 

Team Clinton has succeeded in perpetuating one of the greatest evils I have seen in my lifetime. Her side has branded Trump supporters (40%+ of voters) as Nazis, sexists, homophobes, racists, and a few other fighting words. Their argument is built on confirmation bias and persuasion. But facts don’t matter because facts never matter in politics. What matters is that Clinton’s framing of Trump provides moral cover for any bullying behavior online or in person. No one can be a bad person for opposing Hitler, right?

I admit to having no respect for Trump supporters (as opposed to Never Hillary Trump voters), just as I have no respect for the tactics Adams describes. He exaggerates in the last section, but otherwise, he is accurate. Never before has a political party and its followers, aided by the news media, tried to “otherize” a major party candidate, and to make it dangerous in schools and workplaces to express support of a candidate. That’s not democracy. Continue reading

Gee, I Wonder Why Republican Voters Might Worry About The Election Being “Rigged”? It’s A Mystery!

megyn-kelly-donna-brazile

It began with this story: A Wikileaks leaked email, from Donna Brazile to the Clinton campaign, started with the subject line “From time to time I get the questions in advance.” Brazile, then vice chair of the DNC and a CNN and ABC contributor, included a question that was later asked of Hillary Clinton at a subsequent CNN “town hall,” word for word.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to a fair and ethical journalist that exists in the current broadcast media, told an interviewer regarding the episode in part,

It’s a very, very troubling… look, I have tremendous regard for Donna Brazile. She’s a good person and a nice person and I like her a lot but whatever took place here… and I know I had nothing to do with it… and I know CNN, we were so closely guarding our documents… they weren’t emailed around….It’s horrifying.  Journalistically it’s horrifying and I’m sure it will have an impact on partnering with this organization in the future and I’m sure it will have an effect on… Donna Brazile is no longer with CNN because she’s with the DNC right now, but I’m sure it will have some impact on Donna Brazille.,,People at CNN take this very, very seriously and to have somebody who does not take it seriously and to have us partner with that person and then they do something completely unethical and share it with Donna Brazile who then shares it with the Clinton campaign… it’s horrifying and very, very upsetting and I can’t condemn it any more than… I condemn it in no uncertain terms, it’s awful.

Democratic operatives using their chummy, insider relationships with alleged legitimate news organizations to assist their candidates with undisclosed, under the table, tips? Who wouldn’t call that awful? Well, interestingly, most of the rest of the mainstream, Hillary-recruited media, which has mostly left this story to  Fox, the Daily Caller, and “conservative media” while suggesting that the e-mail from Wikileaks was somehow fake.

Enter Megyn Kelly on Fox, who was persistent in trying get Brazile to give an explanation in an interview. What she got instead was incredibly guilty-sounding evasion and Authentic Frontier Gibberish: Continue reading

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