The Ethics of Giving Up on Ethics

Paul Daugherty, a sportswriter for the Cincinnati Enquirer,recently wrote a column expressing a theme I hear all too often regarding politics, government, education, and society generally. Motivated by the steroid allegations against yet another hero, Lance Armstrong, Daugherty penned his surrender to a culture that doesn’t seem to care about ethics. Daugherty wrote:

“Everyone wants sports to be equitable. We all desire the level field. No one wants sports to be as drugged up as Woodstock in 1969. But it is. We’ve fought the ethical fight. We’ve lost. It could be time to let it go.
Even the athletes who lose still win. Mark McGwire got his, Barry Bonds got his, Brian Cushing got his. If you wait enough, deny enough, then rationalize believably, you get yours. Disgrace fades. Only Olympic athletes wear the stink of doping longer than the average 5-year-old’s attention span. In one respect, it’s not unlike the fight against legalizing marijuana. It has lasted so long, and now seems so pointless, I can’t even remember what we’ve been arguing about. We’ve become numb to it….It’s only a little outrageous now to suggest that a professional athlete be allowed to use performance-enhancing substances to his (enlarged) heart’s content, as long as he’s doing it legally….So what’s the point?”

“What’s the point?” Continue reading

Rep. Kirk’s False Award

Thanks to Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk’s revelation that he has been knowingly misrepresenting (or “lying about”) the nature of a military honor on his official biography for years, following close on the heels of the Richard Blumenthal scandal, we must answer the question: how much dishonesty should the public tolerate in candidates for the U.S. Senate?

How about “none”? Continue reading

AshleyMadison Finds Its Perfect Symbol

Well, if you run an unethical website, I suppose the most ethical thing you can do, other than shutting it down, is to be transparent about what you are selling, and how wrong it is.

Thus I have to reluctantly tip my ethics cap to the pro-adultery website, AshleyMadison, for finding the perfect symbol. [You can read my earlier commentary on this particularly atrocious site here and here.] Yes, TMZ is reporting that Bombshell McGee, the Nazi-celebrating tattoo model who helped Jesse James wreck his marriage with actress Sandra Bullock just as the couple was adopting a child and while she was proclaiming her trust and love for him to the world, will be promoting AshleyMadison’s adultery services. If seeing Bombshell McGee promoting a service endears makes it attractive to you, AshleyMadison can’t lead you astray: you are too far gone already. Bombshell’s (can I call her “Shelley?”) enthusiasm for adulterous relationships has destroyed a family and devastated another woman who never did her any harm. This is truth in advertising at its best: an irredeemable unethical business, hiring an openly despicable spokeswoman.

Basketball Ethics: A Writer Advocates Violence on the Court

To the credit of the Boston Celtics and their coaching staff, the team won its N.B.A. semi-final series against the Orlando Magic without resorting to thuggery. That is because they ignored the advice of Boston Herald sportswriter Ron Borges, who wrote a column in Friday’s edition urging the team to physically assault, and conceivably injure, the Magic’s on-court enforcer, Dwight Howard.

No doubt about it: Howard is a very dirty player, and in the relaxed enforcement atmosphere that the N.B.A. allows its refs to adopt during the play-offs, he had gone beyond dirty to abusive. Borges’ recommendation? Mug him. Hurt him. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: ABC’s “This Week” Sunday Roundtable

Take note, young medical students: this is the horror of Beltway Blindness.

For the second consecutive Sunday, the politically-diverse group of pundits who make up the “roundtable” on ABC’s “This Week” pooh-poohed the Sestak scandal, noting that this is politics, everybody does it, everybody has always done it, and Republicans are foolish to try to make an issue out of old-fashioned horse trading. This is the cynicism and ethics rot that working in and around politicians will breed.

Consider: Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews is widely disliked on the Right because he is part of what they regard as the reflexive, Angry Left cabal than hangs out on MSNBC. He is, ironically enough, also distrusted by many on the Left, for his lack of sympathy for President Bill Clinton while he was lying to the grand jury, journalists and America during the Monica Lewinsky crisis. The “problem” with Matthews is that unlike most of his neighbors in Punditville, he has integrity. Matthews is an old-style, blue-collar, Tip O’Neil liberal who doesn’t let his political leanings alter his feelings about what he cares about most: the United States, the ideals of democracy, and bold and committed political leadership.

Matthews demonstrated his integrity and his priorities again yesterday with this impassioned outburst in which he accurately and deftly explained what a President’s leadership imperatives are in a crisis on the scale of the Gulf oil spill, and condemned President Obama’s failure to meet them. Continue reading

The Ethically Obtuse Bauer Memo

According to both the Washington Post and the New York Times, the memo from White House Counsel Robert F. Bauer shows that the Sestak/Clinton/White House scandal is nothing to waste time over. Or, as the Times puts it today’s Ethics Dunce-worthy editorial,* “nothing terribly unethical” happened.

I see. Our standards for the ethical conduct of our President and his staff isn’t that they should behave ethically, but that they shouldn’t be terribly unethical.  Certainly that is the attitude conveyed by the Bauer memo, which is unconvincing legally and appears to be written by someone who never heard of the concept “ethical.” Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: Charles Blow

“Such has been the narrative of his presidency: being treated like the janitor in chief — mopping up messes made by others and being chastised for leaving streaks.”

—New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, discussing the public’s impatience with President Obama’s response to the Gulf oil spill.

Blow’s revolting comment, buried toward the end of an article calling for President Obama to display more emotion [Translation: “Act!”] over the Gulf catastrophe, is nothing short of despicable, but perhaps we should be grateful for it nonetheless.  Now we know the drill: no matter what the issue, no matter what the provocation, biased, race-baiting commentators like Blow will judge any criticism of President Obama to be motivated by bigotry, and refuse to accord his critics the respect they expect to be given themselves. Continue reading

Ethics Test for the Anti-Palin Crowd

If you have a friend or colleague who can’t stand Sarah Palin—and who doesn’t?—the Joe McGinniss story gives you an infallible was to gauge their ability to be fair and objective, as well as their ability to apply the Golden Rule. Palin and her family are victims of a bad neighbor and an unscrupulous, venal and predatory author. The fact that one doesn’t like certain  victims of wrongdoing because of their political beliefs, their accents, or their talent for uttering simplistic sound-bites calculated to drive Democrats crazy shouldn’t obliterate one’s ability to determine right from wrong. Continue reading

What’s Wrong About the Sestak Caper

The Sestak-White House “Please Force Pennsylvanians to Keep Arlen Specter as Senator” story has officially cracked wide open, and reports are coming out fast and furious while the White House is spinning faster than Kristi Yamaguchi on speed. It began with Rep. Sestak making himself look determined and incorruptible by telling a radio talk show host on the air that the White House had promised him a plum job if he didn’t challenge Specter in the primary. Once Sesatk won, Rep. Issa of the Republican Truth Squad began demanding that Sestak reveal who made the offer, since it would be a Federal crime (as Sestak had described it) and another Federal law requires Sestak to report Federal crimes committed by government employees. The details will be clarified, corrected and spun some more over the next few days, but the following is clear: Continue reading