Thursday, July 7, 2011

The slippery slope of compromise according to Aaron Beam

Just found this. The USNA Ethics team and I saw this same presentation at a business ethics competiton in Arizona last October.  A cautionary tale indeed.

Who is he?

In 2005, Aaron Beam, co-founder and former CFO of HealthSouth, pled guilty to bank fraud and was sentenced to prison for his role at HealthSouth, in the largest corporate fraud to come to light prior to the Enron debacle. While Beam left in 1997, financial mis-statements at HealthSouth kept growing, totaling more than $1.4 billion in fraudulent earnings when the whistle was blown in 2003. Chastened by his role in this tragedy, he candidly discusses his mistakes and regrets about giving in to pressure and greed, and shares lessons learned about how to be vigilant in guarding yourself and your organization from this slippery slope.

Phil Harris Alice Faye Show: Phil tries to weasel out of jury duty.

One of the best episodes in the series. From OTR Classics. Click to LISTEN right click to own.

Frankie the fishmonger  is out of a job, and selling fish door to door. He'll help Phil get out of jury duty.

Brave Sir Julian Asschapeau to World: Look at me! Look at me!

Found this amusing story from one of Assange's exes, the NYT, via WOI facebook. Be sure to read the comments. The Gore comparisons are spot on. It seems that Asschapeau has created an on-line ad for Wikilieaks starring himself and touting his awesomeness in the guise of a 'parody' of the MasterCard commercials of late.
The ad, structured as a parody of a MasterCard commercial, first lays out some of the costs incurred by Mr. Assange to run WikiLeaks and pay his legal bills: “Twenty secure phones to assist in staying anonymous: $5,000. Fighting legal cases across five countries: $1 million. Upkeep of servers in over 40 countries: $200,000. Donations lost due to banking blockade: $15 million. Added cost due to house arrest: $500,000.”

 The commercial then cuts to images of Mr. Assange watching video of Egyptian protesters facing down riot police officers during the battle for the Kasr al-Nil Bridge in Cairo on Jan. 28. A narrator intones: “Watching the world change as a result of your work? Priceless. There are some people that don’t like change. For everyone else, there’s WikiLeaks.”

The ad is particularly puckish since, two days after this MasterCard parody was posted online, WikiLeaks also announced plans to sue the credit card company for refusing to process donations to the organization.
Yeah. "Puckish" I'm sure that's the first word that comes to mind over at MasterCard HQ.

Mr. Assange has said before that he is convinced that the release of the cables played some role in sparking the wave of popular protests in the Arab world that began in Tunisia.

For Mr. Murphy, a former Egypt correspondent for The Monitor, the logic behind the new WikiLeaks ad is not at all convincing. The problem with the ad’s premise, Mr. Murphy wrote, “is that it isn’t true.”
False premise in advertisement? Naaw.

Alaa Abd El Fattah, an Egyptian who writes as @alaa on Twitter, told The Lede on Tuesday: “For Tunisia, I don’t know. Information flow there was much more controlled and the leaks did include major gems. But for Egypt, not at all. What was common knowledge already exceeded WikiLeaks, had absolutely no impact.”

But surely Brave Sir Julian has some sort of basis for his claim? Well, in London, being interviewed by the dessicated millionaire harridan of the Left, Amy Goodman (not that there's anything wrong with any of  that. Her close buddy Chomsky is also dessicated, a leftist and a millionaire) owner of the tax exempt Pacifica Network's "Democracy Now" program, he had this hypothesis. Behold the powers of Asschapeau:

At one stage in that talk on Saturday, Mr. Assange suggested that the release of the cables was important not because they provided Tunisians or Egyptians with new information about how corrupt their rulers were, but because they revealed that the United States and European governments were aware of that corruption. The release of the leaked cables also created a political crisis, Mr. Assange said, for rulers in the region and abroad, which made it impossible for the French or American governments to come to the aid of the presidents of Tunisia or Egypt as they might otherwise have done.

And how do the Tunisians take this? From the Times:

As The Lede reported in the immediate aftermath of the revolution in Tunisia, several Arab bloggers and journalists initially heaped scorn on the idea that WikiLeaks had played an important role in driving Tunisians into the streets.

Abeer Allam, a Saudi-based Financial Times correspondent, wrote on her Twitter feed: “Wikileaks didn’t teach Tunisians secrets about their country. Tunis activists like Zohair Yahyaoui knew and exposed it years ago.” A fellow Arab blogger, a Moroccan lawyer who writes as Ibn Kafka, replied to Ms. Allam: “You’re so right, it seems some Western people cannot fathom that a 3rd world people can get by without their help.”
Uh oh.  Brave Sir Julian falling into some sort of condescending 'white man's burden' train of thinking? Say it ain't so. No worries though. Credible men have BSJ's back. Credible men in hiding with Amazonian personal guards.

Mr. Assange’s detractors might also point to the fact that one of the first observers to suggest a central role for WikiLeaks in the Arab uprisings was Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader. In January, as Libyans prepared to launch a protest movement of their own, Colonel Qaddafi appeared on state television and blamed the unrest in neighboring Tunisia squarely on WikiLeaks, which he denounced as part of a foreign plot to destabilize Arab regimes through disinformation. “WikiLeaks,” the Libyan leader said, “publishes information written by lying ambassadors in order to create chaos.”

But, wait a minute, Wakie Kadaffi says Brave Sir Julian is actually in on the conspiracy. However, Brave Sir Julian is exposing the conspiracy isn't he? This is enough to make the Amy Goodmans of the world get the vapors... But, never fear, the NYT managed to find two Tunisians who said Wikileaks was perhaps connected in some way to the uprisings:

But Mr. Assange does have at least one strong supporter in Tunis. Slim Amamou, a Tunisian Internet activist, told The Lede on Wednesday that it was “true” that WikiLeaks had played a role in sparking the protests there. Mr. Amamou, who had been jailed in the last days of the Ben Ali regime — and was appointed to the country’s new transitional government just days after his release in January — declined to elaborate on how important the cables were in Tunisia, but he did post a link to the ad on Twitter, with the message “Support WikiLeaks.”

Well before the release of the diplomatic cables or Tunisia’s revolution, Mr. Amamou was a strong supporter of WikiLeaks. In July 2010, he wrote a post on his blog about the organization that ended with a call for readers to support WikiLeaks. On Dec. 17, the same day that Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian fruit seller, began the protest movement by setting himself on fire, Mr. Amamou was quoted in an article speaking in support of Internet attacks by the online group Anonymous on the Web sites of companies that had stopped doing business with WikiLeaks.
So, Slim Whitman is in. He has Assange's back. Anyone else? What say you NYT?

(After this post was originally published, a reader made us aware of a new interview, also published on Wednesday, in which another Tunisian blogger, Sofiane Ben Haj M’Hamed, told the Institute for War and Peace Reporting that he also considered WikiLeaks important. Mr. M’Hamed said that after the uprising began, he used Google Translate to make rough, French-language translations of the cables and posted them on Facebook for Tunisians to read. According to the blogger, the cables were important because, “through WikiLeaks, international diplomats confirmed what ordinary Tunisians had suspected for a long time.”)

So, all those Tunisians were sitting in wireless capable cafés checking their facebook walls and saw this massive bombshell of a post. They took right to the streets. Correct? How about the fruitseller that started the whole thing via self immolation? That's what happened. Right?  Well, if we can take the word of the sacred scrolls of the NYT literally, er..well, nah, their isn't evidence of that sort of influence from Brave Sir Julian Asschapeau.

While it is true that Tunisia’s government blocked a Lebanese Web site that published leaked cables last December, and activists like Mr. Amamou were aware of WikiLeaks, it is not at all clear that people like Mr. Bouazizi knew about the documents or the organization.
No doubt, there is some post-modernist explanation of how that lack, that différance constitutes proof of the positive, but I'll be darned if I can cook it up. We'll leave that to the literati at the Times.