Category Archives: Ethics Heroes

Ethics Hero: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)

Meet the Press sisters.

Meet the Press sisters!

About a week ago, The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)  issued an unexpectedly tough report calling for Russia to be banned from international athletics at all levels for flagrant doping violations and a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” within Russian athletics. WADA also urged the International Association of Athletics Federations to ban five Russian athletes and five coaches for life. Why the Draconian measures?

The verdict was doubtless bolstered by considering the repeated examples of Russian cheating going back to the bad old Soviet Union days, when the gargantuan Press sisters were winning gold medals over female athletes half their size and East German female swimmers had shoulders as wide as Volkswagon buses, often because they had been dosed with testosterone without their knowledge. More recently, WADA found that Russia “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed 1,400 urine and blood samples of its athletes and, WADA says, the Russian government was directly involved.

WADA President Dick Pound’s report conceded that “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics” were rampant, but that Russia was in a league of its own. “For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian Federation is suspended. One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that so they can undertake the remedial work needed.”

Then he told another funny joke about a horse, a rabbi and an octopus walking into a bar. Continue reading


Filed under Around the World, Character, Daily Life, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Sports

Ethics Hero: CNN’s Jake Tapper

tapper-rhodesIt is tragic that it takes bloody murder to raise the press out of its journalism ethics torpor, and force it to ask tough questions of the administration it helped put in power and  has pampered,  pimpeda nd covered for ever since.  Still, progress is progress. CNN’s Jake Tapper, probably the closest thing to an objective journalist in captivity, has obviously had enough of the seven-year pattern of pretending that all Obama policies are working just marvelously thank-you, even as the stench of fakery, dishonesty and incompetence fills the air.

Over the weekend, Tapper was having none of the spin offered by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), both sent out by the White House for damage control, after the President’s statement that “ISIS has been contained” was rendered ludicrous by the deaths in Paris.“If this is what ISIS looks like contained, I shudder to think what ISIS looks like uncontained,” Tapper told Rhodes.


President Obama ended the war on terror, put tepid measures in place in Syria, dismissed ISIS as “the junior varsity, ” and in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack, coordinated a campaign of media disinformation to blame it on a YouTube video rather than admit that Al Qaeda was not “decimated” as he had puffed, all while taking unseemly personal credit for the killing of bin Laden and feeding the public what has been called a “narrative of success.”

Maybe the news media will finally insist that he accept accountability for his inept and feckless terrorism strategies. I doubt it, but at least Tapper gave us a reminder of what unbiased journalism looks like, lest we forget.


Filed under Around the World, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, War and the Military

Ethics Hero: 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals


It’s a small victory to be sure, but those of us who want to protect free speech must take our hope from whatever sources we can.

In the case of Dana’s Railroad Supply v. Florida, the shrap-eyed Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  struck down a Florida law barring merchants from imposing a surcharge on customers for credit card use.

The law allowed merchants to give discounts for cash, but would not permit surcharges for using credit cards. “Ah HA!” realized the court, This violates the First Amendment, because it penalizes businesses that want to call price differences based on credit card use a surcharge rather than a cash discount, and they are the exact same thing. “You can penalize credit card users,” the dumb law said, “but you have to call it what we tell you to call it.”

“Tautologically speaking,” the opinion said, “surcharges and discounts are nothing more than two sides of the same coin; a surcharge is simply a ‘negative’ discount, and a discount is a ‘negative’ surcharge. As a result, a merchant who offers the same product at two prices—a lower price for customers paying cash and a higher price for those using credit cards—is allowed to offer a discount for cash while a simple slip of the tongue calling the same price difference a surcharge runs the risk of being fined and imprisoned.”

“The First Amendment prevents staking citizens’ liberty on such distinctions in search of a difference.”

Love it.


Pointer and Facts: ABA Journal.


Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Dunce: President George H.W. Bush

Bush watchThe big news on the Bush-bashing front is that Papa Bush, #41, has a biography coming out next week, and section released by the publisher shows that he didn’t care much for his son’s (#43) staff, as well as containing other critiques.

To begin with, Bush I is a selfish jerk for allowing his biography to be released during the 2016 campaign, when it can only be used as a weapon against his sons and his party. His publishers want that, of course, because it means sales, and other than the campaign controversy angle I cannot imagine a one-term President whose biography anyone but family members would be less interested in reading. Benjamin Harrison, maybe. (But I’ve actually read not one biography of Ben, but three: Harry J. Sievers’s three-volume biography of Harrison, published between 1952 and 1968. It wasn’t my idea.) Bush, however, doesn’t need the money. His ego has obviously swallowed his common sense and loyalty, or he is being manipulated in his dotage.

That’s one obnoxious feature of the book. The worst, however, is this passage from the Times story describing a section in which Bush confesses that nearly didn’t run for re-election: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Leadership

Ethics Hero: Washington Nationals Star Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper

The knock on Bryce Harper, the Nationals’ 22 year-old burgeoning superstar who will soon be named the 2015 NL MVP, is that he’s immature, cocky, and self-destructive. But he seems to have proven himself to be far less so than the same sportswriters who have so often leveled such doubts about his character. This is good news for the Nationals and their fans, and also for suckers like me, who believe that baseball stars have an obligation to be good role models.

I wrote here about the late September, mid-game dugout fight between Harper and Jonathan Papelbon, a late season acquisition by the Nats whose arrival as a new bullpen ace coincided with team’s collapse in the National League East race. Post hoc ergo propter hoc being as seductive a logical fallacy as it is, Nats fans and, less excusably, the D.C. sports press blamed much of the Nats failure on the ex-Phillies, ex-Red Sox closer, along with manager Matt Williams, who was fired immediately after the regular season. Papelbon was also blamed for the fight, which is fair: he started it.

I noted in a follow-up post: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Ethics Heroes, Leadership, Sports

Guest Post: “Can We At Least Agree On This?”


Paul Petersen, guest blogger


[This is Paul Petersen’s second guest blogger appearance on Ethics Alarms. Based on his own experiences as a child actor on “The Donna Reed Show” and what he observed in the treatment of his less fortunate colleagues in the field, Paul  created the profession of child performer advocate and activist, educating the public and assisting individual  performers. (His Facebook friend list is a Who’s Who of former child actors.) Although Paul is officially retired, he continues to speak out about conditions, legal and otherwise, that place child performers in financial, physical, and social peril. The number of child stars, current or grown, who are indebted to him and his organization A Minor Consideration are beyond counting. A true Ethics Hero, his work and statements have been referenced here many times.–Jack]

Can we at least agree on this? Children are a special class of humankind. They are uniquely unformed, utterly dependent, and slaves to the adults who brought them into this world and the society into which they were born.

We all know how children are created, right? They did not ask for this. They are, in a word, innocent. Biologically mature adults are responsible. Of that there is no doubt. Children are a special charge. The rules, for kids, are different…or at least they used to be.

When did they become sexual objects? Since when are they merely background players, mere props? Who decreed that a child immersed in a working environment in which all the contributory adults are compensated for their labor, could somehow NOT be themselves working? Continue reading


Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Marketing and Advertising, Popular Culture, Rights, U.S. Society

How Much Religious Bigotry Will Donald Trump’s Supporters Tolerate?

7th Day

Speaking at a campaign rally in Iowa, Donald Trump decided to attack Ben Carson based on his religion:

“I love Iowa. And, look, I don’t have to say it, I’m Presbyterian. Can you believe it? Nobody believes I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

Trump didn’t mention Carson’s name, but he’s the only Seventh-day Adventist in the race, and Trumps closest rival in the polls, which is too depressing to bear as it is. What Trump is saying is that believers in one religious faith are inherently more trustworthy than believers of other faiths. This is no more, nor less than a direct appeal to religious bias and bigotry. Substitute “Catholic” or “Jewish” for “Seventh-day Adventist,” and the full un-American ugliness of the statement should become apparent, if, due to some kind of closed head injury, it isn’t already. Trump has already shown himself willing to portray illegal Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals (too many of them are, but that’s another story); reveal himself as an archetypal male chauvinist pig, and now he’s rating character and trustworthiness according to faith. Earlier I suggested that one of Trump’s debate opponents could take him down with a deft Joseph Welch “Have you no decency?” (unfortunately, the attempt was made by Rand Paul, and hardly deftly), and now I have to ask his supporters, “Have you no decency?” What more evidence do you need that this blustering bully and fool degrades his party, nation, gender, species and the office he’s seeking  by his presence in the 2016 Presidential race? Or more bluntly, What the hell’s the matter with you people?

Is this an experiment in whether the meanest, most vulgar and least educated  of the nation’s conservatives can force the nomination of someone so unqualified by experience and temperament to lead? Is it a practical joke by nihilists and anarchists to bring down the Unites States after it has already be weakened by eight years of a misguided, hyper-political, incompetent presidency?

It is true that there is an element of karma in Carson being the target of exactly the kind of religious bigotry he used, with a bit more cause, against Muslims. This isn’t about Carson, however, who is just as unfit for office as Trump, meaning completely. It is about competent democracy, values, and trustworthy leadership.

I have reached the point where the race between Trump and Hillary Clinton for me is only this: Whose supporters do I have less respect for, those who actively support a completely corrupt individual, or those who support a crude demagogue.

At this point, it’s neck and neck.


Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes, Government & Politics, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy, Rights