Does The Pentagon Hiding Its Waste Of 125 Billion Dollars Qualify As An Obama Administration Scandal? Nah! Don’t You Know That The Obama Administration Is Scandal Free?


Scandals? In the Obama Administration? Of course not! David Brooks said so, remember?

“President Obama has run an amazingly scandal-free administration, not only he himself, but the people around him. He’s chosen people who have been pretty scandal-free. And so there are people in Washington who do set a standard of integrity, who do seem to attract people of quality.”

The IRS targeting conservative groups to blunt their influence on an election? Not a scandal! HHS rolling out a non-functional website for Obamacare that cost 2 billion dollars? The Veterans Administration being mismanaged at epic proportions while veterans died waiting for care? Jonathan Gruber’s declaration that Obamacare depended upon the “stupidity of American voter”? The Secret Service showing utter incompetence repeatedly? The head of the CIA giving classified information to his mistress? The NSA allowing a low-level contractor to steal and publish crucial secrets? The Office of Personnel Management allowing hundreds of thousands of government employees to have their sensitive information hacked? Unprecedented sexual harassment and assault in the Armed Services? Fast and Furious? Wait, wasn’t there a Secretary of State who violated her own department’s security policies, covered it up, lied about it, and did so with the knowledge of the President? The Attorney General meeting with the husband of a target of an FBI investigation, when that husband was the former President who once promoted that AG? No scandals?

Nah, President Barack Obama administration is scandal free!

I was watching CNN and Headline News this morning specifically to see if the Washington Post’s scoop last night was deemed worthy of mention. Of course, it wasn’t, and so far, almost all of the mainstream news media apparently believes that it’s less important for Americans to know about than, well, just about everything. Here what Google’s software ways are the top stories based on what the web is reporting:

Donald Trump
Manchester United F.C.
College football
Seattle Seahawks
Manuel Valls
New York Jets
Pat McCrory

Clearly, what the  Post’s Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward  reported last night is trivia—fake news, really, since we know there are no scandals in the Obama Administration: Continue reading

KABOOM! The University of Houston Is Paying Matthew McConaughey $135,000 To Give A Commencement Speech

head blowsThis isn’t just your usual, run-of-the-head Kaboom! where my brains go everywhere after a story makes my head explode. This is an angry Kaboom! where I kick my brain chunks around in disgust before the clean-up.

There is no possible excuse for this. The University is taxpayer funded, and if I lived in Houston, I’d be picketing graduation. The University announced in January that the 2013 Academy award-winner was speaking but avoided revealing his fee, until the persistent  the Houston Chronicle got the word on March 31. The paper said that the Celebrity Talent agency tried to block  the Chronicle’s Freedom of Information requests, arguing “that if UH tells the public how much it plans to pay McConaughey, a ‘reporter or someone’ might create ‘unfair negatives online.’ Yes, I think that was a reasonable assumption.

Scattered thoughts as I clean up the mess: Continue reading

Wasting A Heart

Heart transplant patient

I don’t have a solution to an ethics fiasco like this or know how it could be avoided, but there have to be some lessons buried here somewhere.

In 2013, 15-year-old Anthony Stokes was denied a place on the waiting list for a life-saving heart transplant  at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston because, the hospital explained, he had “a history of noncompliance, which is one of our center’s contraindications to listing for heart transplant.”

This means that doctors doubted that Anthony would take his medicine or go to follow-up appointments. In other words, he was too unreliable and irresponsible to be entrusted with a heart that could save the life of someone else more likely to make good use of it. When a doctor told the family that Anthony’s low grades and time spent in juvenile detention factored into the assessment, however, that gave the family an opening to save the boy’s life. They played the race card. Anthony was being sentenced to death because he was poor and black, and a white patient would naturally be a better risk. The media ran with the narrative, and there was national outrage. Fearing a public relations disaster, the hospital reversed its decision, and Stokes got his heart.

From the Washington Post today:

Tuesday afternoon, [Anthony] Stokes died after a vehicle he was driving jumped a curb, hit a pedestrian and collided with a pole in a car chase with police, according to WSBTV. The pedestrian was hospitalized for her injuries, but Stokes’s car was nearly split in half by the sign, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Police said he had to be cut out of the Honda by first responders and rushed to a hospital where he later died…Stokes was driving a car that matched the description of one used by a person suspected of breaking into an elderly woman’s home. The chase began after officers responding to her 911 call attempted to pull Stokes over, according to WXIA.

Pensive and Rueful Observations: Continue reading

Now THIS Is An Unethical Principal…Ridiculous Too

The principal and her gym

The principal

Principal Jazmine Santiago heads PS 269 in Flatbush, New York, a troubled elementary school where last year only 16 percent of the students passed state English exams and only 12 percent passed math. Yet she used scarce school funds to install her own private gym on the third floor, complete with a bench press, pull-up bar, treadmill, elliptical machine and thigh exerciser.

Questioned about the gym by her staff, Santiago claimed she allowed older students to use the equipment. That would be the K through 5 school’s eleven-year-olds, most of whom are under five feet tall. The adult-sized exercise gear in the principal’s work-out palace would be almost impossible, not to mention dangerous, for children to use.

Santiago has had her job for four years and now makes $124,319 annually. Jonathan Turley notes that since the gym is technically a school improvement and not personal enrichment, she has avoided criminal liability. Well, that’s nice. She is still spectacularly unethical: selfish, irresponsible, incompetent, unfair, wasteful, untrustworthy.

State Department of Education spokesman Harry Hartfield said the matter of the principal and her private gym will be investigated. It shouldn’t take long: the photo above should tell them everything they need to know.


Pointer: Res Ipsa Loquitur

Facts: New York Post

Ice Bucket Challenge Ethics

Ice Bucket Challenge

The “Ice Bucket Challenge” is a silly, brilliant fund-raising device that has simultaneously increased public awareness of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, brought over 14 million more dollars of donated funds into the ALS Association than last year for research, and provided some priceless YouTube fare, ranging from celebrity drenchings to this…

Entertainment! Celebrities! Medical research! Charity! Public Education! How could there be anything unethical about such a phenomenon? Well, ethics often throw cold water on all manner of activities human beings crave, so it should not be too great a surprise that the “Ice Bucket Challenge” has generated quite a few ethics-based objections. Let’s examine the potential, alleged and actual ethical flaws of the current fad, and rate them on an Ethics Foul Scale from zero (No ethical concerns at all) to ten ( Very Unethical).

1. It’s dangerous.

Anything can be dangerous if you are not sufficiently careful, and the Ice Bucket Challenge had its consequentialist moment when four firefighters were injured, one very seriously, trying to help the marching band at Campbellsville University get dumped with ice water this week. Two firefighters were in the bucket of their truck’s ladder preparing to douse the students using a firehose when a surge of electricity jumped from nearby power lines and electrucuted them and two colleagues. This was just a freak accident, however. Unlike the so-called Facebook Fire Challenge, the ALS fundraisng stunt shouldn’t be perilous to anyone, as long as practitioners don’t get too grandiose or creative.

Ethics Foul Score:


2. It wastes water.

Continue reading

Incompetence in Portland: Bureaucrats Show Those Who Are Paying Attention Exactly What They Need To Know


Honestly, I first though it was a joke. The more I think about this story now, the less funny it gets, and the more tragic and frightening.

A security camera captured the image of a 19-year-old jerk urinating into Portland, Oregon’s Mt. Tabor Reservoir system, so “to be safe,” the city is dumping all 38 million gallons of drinking water. From Ars Technica:

“David Shaff, Portland’s water bureau administrator, reserves a special disgust specifically for human urine. In 2011, when Shaff drained the reservoir following a urination, he reasoned to the Portland Mercury, ‘Do you want to be drinking someone’s pee?… There’s probably no regulation that says I have to be doing it but, again, who wants to be drinking pee?’ This time around, Shaff wrote in a statement, ‘Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated.'”

That’s right: this is the second time Portland has done this. Slate does the “Wow, what an idiot!” math:

“…a typical urination of about 1/8 gallon in a reservoir of 38 million gallons amounts to a concentration of 3 parts per billion. That’s billion with a b. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for arsenic in drinking water—arsenic!—is 10 ppb. The EPA doesn’t appear to have a limit for urine in drinking water, but it does limit nitrates in drinking water to 10,000 ppb, and urine does contain a lot of nitrogen, so let’s use that as a proxy. How many times would that teenager have to pee in a Portland reservoir to produce a urine concentration approaching the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water? About 3,333 times.”

Continue reading

Those Unethical, Exorbitant, Non-Profit Speaking Fees…But Don’t Blame Bill Clinton!

No wonder Bill looks so happy...

No wonder Bill looks so happy…

In the middle of instituting two rounds of major layoffs in 2012,  the non profit Washington Hospital Center gave Bill Clinton a whopping $225,000 speaking fee  to appear at its annual Cardiovascular Research Technologies conference, where Clinton expounded on health care reform and his own battle against heart disease. The hospital didn’t disclose the $225,000 payment on its annual Internal Revenue Service forms, but it surfaced on the list of income sources the ex-President provided on his wife’s required ethics filing as Secretary of State. This waste of precious funds is unconscionable, and it is also all too common.

The story was originally broken by the Washington Times, with its angle being that Clinton was the villain. I will always enjoy a little Clinton-bashing, but that is unfair and ridiculous. No one forced the hospital to pay such an exorbitant fee. No one forces any organization to pay such speaking fees; if organizations wouldn’t pay them, Clinton and other blue chip speakers would charge what the market would bear. Both Clintons charge in this range to speak, and remember, the time they devote to spreading their pearls of wisdom is typically an hour or less. Non profits as well as deep pocket corporations like Goldman Sachs, American Express and Fidelity Investments also pay the fees or similar ones, and it is an abuse of discretion whether the payer is a non profit or not. * Continue reading

Football Fashion, Ethics, and Our Wasteful Consumption

The many fashion choices of the Oregon Ducks...and children are starving in Appalachia.

The many fashion choices of the Oregon Ducks…and children are starving in Appalachia.

On his excellent ethics blog, the Ethics Sage, a.k.a. Dr. Steven Mintz, recently expressed dismay at the increasing trend in college and high school football teams that has them changing uniform designs for no discernible reason, but at significant expense. Focusing on the multiple uniforms used over a season by the Oregon Ducks, he wrote:

“The poverty line threshold in the U.S. ($23,050 for a family of four) is, on a daily basis, about $16 per person per day. If my estimates are close, the cost to outfit the Duck football players for a year is about $48,000, double the poverty level for a family of four and enough to sustain 3,000 people for one day or about 8 people for one year. When you think about the extravagant spending on uniforms by the Ducks, you begin to understand that it reflects a society where glitz and glamor are valued over feeding the hungry — not a pretty picture”

I am not sure what to make of this argument. Is Mintz arguing that the Ducks are ethically obligated to send the money they spend on extravagant uniform diversity to the poor? Isn’t this really just the old “How dare you waste those perfectly good peas when children are starving in Ethiopia?” argument? Realistically , there is no way the university’s football uniform budget is going to be able to help feed the poor. Why pick on the Ducks? He goes on to write, Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Dana Balicki, Proud OWS Protester

“There’s tens of millions of dollars spent protecting the perimeter so we’re shaking something up.”

—-Dana Balicki, Occupy Wall Street protester, on today’s “birthday” protest of about 1000 nostalgic OWS types that resulted in almost 150 arrests and a disruption of traffic and commuter travel, but, as ever, nothing coherent, useful or productive.

Well said.

Yes, this is Occupy in a nutshell: happily wasting the publics money despite rising deficits at all levels of government, inconveniencing honest people trying to make a living, and annoying as many  as possible without having anything constructive to contribute to the nation’s policy debates or to offer as practical solutions to its intensifying problems.

A year ago, I summed up the efforts of this irresponsible, arrogant, lazy, destructive group, and was too kind.

But 100% correct.


Source: Wall Street Journal

Ethics Dunce: Francesca Eastwood

“Go ahead, make me ashamed I spawned you.”

Stipulated: you have every right in the world to dispose of of your personal belongings as you see fit.

Also stipulated: if you intentionally buy a steak dinner, eat half of it in front of a homeless woman and her infant, and feed what you didn’t finish to a stray dog as she looks on, salivating, you are a cruel, unsympathetic, sadistic creep.

With so many Americans  jobless or in financial distress, with charities short of funds and government social services facing budget cut-backs, to buy a $100,000 alligator handbag and then destroy it for “art”—-as Francesca Eastwood, Clint’s daughter, recently did—is hardly better than the steak dinner stunt. It’s even an insult to the alligator. Essentially this was an eloquent statement that Francesca would prefer to throw her money away than help people with it, people for whom a hundred grand is three years of family income.

That tells us all we need or want to know about Clint’s spoiled little girl.


Facts: Telegraph

Graphic: Wn

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at