Is There A “Naked Beauty Pageant Queen” Principle?

Beauty queen above, secret twin below?

Beauty queen above, secret twin below?

We know that teachers who have performed in porn movies are toast, once their performances surface online, and that teachers whose images, showing them in their birthday suits, are easily accessible by post-pubescent students are not going to stay secondary school faculty members for long. But do similar rules apply for beauty pageant winners, whose physical assets are not only barely hidden anyway, but the primary, if not sole reasons for their “titles”? Should they?

Let’s look at the dilemma facing Melissa King, the newly crowned Miss Delaware Teen USA. A porn site featured a video with a, er, key performer that both looked and sounded exactly like her, apparently showing Miss Delaware Teen USA doing all sorts of fascinating things on, over, and around an unclothed male actor. King denied that she was the performer (who references her participation in beauty pageants on the video), but gave up her crown anyway. Looking at the photos, either she has also triggered the Lying Beauty Queen Principle, or has a twin sister in the porn trade.

One website covering the story polled its readers regarding whether it should matter if a beauty queen has done porn. Stated in that way, it is a reasonable question. If  beauty pageants were like dog shows, and all that was being awarded was a prize for the most perfect physical specimen, it shouldn’t matter if the winner is a Nazi, a terrorist, a serial killer or a werewolf. The problem arises because these pageants include titles. Continue reading

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Our Sports Superstars and Their Non-Profit Scams

Hey, don't be cynical! Yes, this is the A-Rod family, and that's the Font of Human Kindness behind them!

Hey, don’t be cynical! Yes, this is the A-Rod family, and that’s the Font of Human Kindness behind them!

Pro athletes who receive insanely high salaries for their unique talents and awe-inspiring achievements often deflect the public jealousy, envy, resentment and criticism their riches inspire by launching charitable foundations aimed at providing assistance and comfort to poor children, disaster victims, orphans, kids with dread diseases, puppies, and anything else that will produce a collective, “Awww! He’s really a good guy!” Some of these athletes really are good guys, like former tennis star Andre Agassi, a true philanthropist, whose Foundation raised and handed out millions while he was playing and continues to do so. Agassi also frequently led all pro athletes in money donated to charity, and he had no scandals that he was trying to make people forget. He’s third on the list now. The first two: Tiger Woods and Lance Armstrong.

Other stars, however, are a different story. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: The Washington Post Editorial Board

“…Why is Mr. Obama not leading the way to a solution? From the start, and increasingly in his second term, Mr. Obama has presented entitlement reform as something he would do grudgingly, as a favor to the opposition, when he should be explaining to the American people — and to his party — why it is an urgent national need.”

—–The Washington Post’s editors, in a spot-on editorial splitting the blame for what it correctly calls the “stupid” sequester fight equally between Congressional Republicans and the President, but pointing out the President Obama, because he is President, will be accountable for his failure to lead on the issue.

No way to run a country.

No way to run a country.

Good for the Post. I began a draft of a very similar article, and abandoned it because I have expressed my harsh assessment of President Obama’s leadership style and skills too many times here to be regarded as objective on the topic. There is nothing in the editorial I disagree with. This President’s concept of leadership has been to order the opposition to do what he wants, orchestrate deceitful  PR battles about the horrible consequences that will occur if his edict was not followed, and then to seek partisan advantage by casting all blame on his opponents when his preferred approach was rejected. His acolytes and enablers in the media have allowed him to continue this pattern: to its credit, the Washington Post has been a notable exception, particularly regarding Libya, Syria, and Iran, but also previous budget battles.

President Obama’s handling of the sequester might be his worst leadership botch yet. First he proposed the sequester. He made no effort to make resolving the issue a priority prior to the election, but falsely claimed in the third debate with Mitt Romney that it was not his idea, and that he did not propose it. Continue reading

And One More…UPDATE: “Cheated Out Of Their Final Bows: Hollywood Snubs Its Own At The Oscars…”

Yesterday I attempted in a small way to make up for the injustice perpetrated on their own by the Academy of Motion Picture sciences, by noting the passing of ten talented and worthy film actors who were unfairly and inexplicably left off the Oscar’s “In Memoriam” feature. I was afraid that I missed someone important, and sure enough, I did. And it was…

Susan Tyrell (1945-2012)


Leaving out Tyrell was especially callous by the Academy (not that dissing the others was not), because, first of all, she was a previous nominee for Best Supporting Actress (for John Huston’s “Fat City,” made in 1972), and second, because Tyrell had battled courageously against multiple health issues while doggedly trying to pursue her craft.  In 2000, she lost both legs as a result of a rare blood disease, but stayed active, performing in seated roles and voice parts to the end. Susan Tyrell was an electric performer, a veteran of Broadway and Off-Broadway, fearless, quirky, and unforgettable.

Except, apparently, by her colleagues in Hollywood.

I’m sorry I missed you first time around, Susan.

Influence Peddling At The White House

For Sale2

The New York Times—

You know, that Obama-hating, right-wing news rag—

has the story.

I’ll wait here while you read it.

( The key paragraph: “Giving or raising $500,000 or more puts donors on a national advisory board for Mr. Obama’s group and the privilege of attending quarterly meetings with the president, along with other meetings at the White House. Moreover, the new cash demands on Mr. Obama’s top donors and bundlers come as many of them are angling for appointments to administration jobs or ambassadorships.” )


We can make this short and sweet.

This is unethical.

It reeks of impropriety, influence peddling, and cronyism.

This is similar to the scandal the Clinton White House was embroiled in before Monica distracted everyone.

The bottom line is that the President is allowing his operatives to sell access to him and his office for a half-million dollars a shot. Using the White House, the Lincoln bedroom, positions of influence and substantive access to the President to raise money for anything is unethical, regardless of whether or not there are legal loopholes that allow it to avoid direct illegality. It sets a terrible example for other office holders. It is the epitome of the rotting fish head.

What a cynical and hypocritical disappointment this President has become. Or, perhaps, how shockingly ineffectual he has been in controlling the worst impulses of his staff.

In the end, the results are the same which ever it is.


Facts: New York Times

Cheated Out Of Their Final Bows: Hollywood Snubs Its Own At The Oscars, And Worse Than Ever


Once, the excuse that routinely issued from the Academy of Motion Picture Sciences when a significant film actor was omitted from the annual “In Memoriam” segment at the Oscars—“There just wasn’t enough time!”-–seemed almost plausible. It was still a lousy and dishonest excuse, don’t get me wrong: in a broadcast that routinely approaches four hours and wastes time like it is money in Washington, we are supposed to believe that there aren’t three seconds to give a proper send-off to the likes of Harry Morgan (last year) or Farrah Fawcett (the previous one)? That excuse won’t fly at all now, however, as some diabolical deal with the behind the camera members, the warped priorities of the Oscar show’s Broadway musical nerd producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, and the final decisions regarding who would be featured in the movie industry’s public goodbye being made by, apparently, throwing darts at a dartboard combined to produce the most extensive and egregious snubs within memory.

This is a television broadcast and tailored for the public audience, after all. The Academy gives its technical awards in a separate private ceremony: wouldn’t that be the  place to bid a respectful farewell to the seemingly endless list of deceased publicity agents, make-up artists,movie executives and key grips whose completely unrecognizable faces and names were paraded before us last night, often with out of context quotes that made no sense at all? Then, guaranteeing that the “we ran out of time!” alibi would be risible, the segment’s editors chose a non-actor for the prestigious final place on the death list, composer Marvin Hamlisch, as an excuse to drag Barbra Streisand into the proceedings. I appreciate Hamlisch’s achievements, but his movie credits were not so extensive as to justify the honor (we are basically talking about one Academy Award-winning song, “The Way We Were,” and his arrangements of Scott Joplin’s music in “The Sting”), and the award show’s misbegotten “theme” of movie music was not sufficient justification to place a non-actor in the position of highest honor.

Meanwhile, the following actors, all who made significant contributions to American film in their careers, were cheated out of their final bow, and we, the film-going audience, were cheated of our chance to remember them, and say goodbye. It was a disgrace.

Ethics Alarms isn’t the Academy, but here, like last year, is its salute to the faces and careers Oscar forgot: Continue reading

“Argo” and the Horrible Thought

Thanks a bunch, Ben.

Thanks a bunch, Ben.

“Argo” prompted a disturbing thought that has been haunting me since I saw the picture. I am sorry that I had the thought, and hoped that it had been successfully banished by time and hope. Unfortunately, the juxtaposition of “Argo” winning the Best Picture Oscar combined with the inappropriate and intrusive appearance of Michelle Obama to announce it, complete with a politics-tinged speech that was as gratuitous as it was manipulative, caused that thought to begin burning in my brain again. Alas, here it is.

At the conclusion of “Argo,” former President Carter is heard emphasizing the obvious, that in 1980 he would have loved to have taken credit for the audacious  rescue of the six American Embassy workers from Iran that was engineered by his CIA. But, Carter says, do so would have endangered the remaining hostages, and though it would have helped his politically besieged Presidency (which was lost to Ronald Reagan that same year, in part because of Carter’s perceived weakness in handling the hostage crisis), giving all of the credit to Canada was the right and responsible thing to do.

I am no admirer of Jimmy Carter’s policies, personality, Presidency or leadership. He is, however, an ethical man. He was President before the hyper-partisanship that has rotted our politics, before the “perpetual campaign” style of leadership launched by Clinton, and before every act by every main stage player in Washington appeared to be dictated by the need to hold power, rather than by the needs of the people. My horrible thought is that I believe the current President and his  Machiavellian political advisors would not have done as Carter did, if the “Argo” scenario played out in 2012, as that Presidential election approached. This White House, facing the prospect of defeat, would find a way to leak its participation in the successful rescue, judging its retention of power a higher goal than protecting the hostages that may well have died anyway.

I wish I didn’t have this thought, but I cannot banish it. The unseemly chest-thumping and credit-grabbing over the killing of Bin Laden, the leaking of details about the deliberations leading to it, the deceptive handling of the Benghazi disaster, and yes, the inability of the President’s political strategists to resist attaching the President or his wife to anything remotely positive—even the Academy Awards— while refusing to accept responsibility for any mistake, miscalculation or failure (See Bob Woodward on the disinformation campaign regarding the looming sequester, beginning with Obama’s outright lie in the third Presidential debate, “The sequester is not something that I’ve proposed.”), all have me convinced that the days when we can trust a President to risk his own grip on power for the good of the country are gone, perhaps forever.

As I said, it is a horrible thought, and I fervently wish I didn’t have it. I want to trust and admire our nation’s leaders, the President most of all. But the leaders of both parties have earned this level of distrust, and I see no signs that they are capable of making that horrible thought, and other too, go away.

The Oscar Nominee Truth Squad Goes After “Argo”


The ethics of using artistic license in films based on fact isn’t only being debated in the case of “Lincoln” as we approach the Oscar ceremonies: “Argo” is also under fire.

For some reason conservative radio hostess Laura Ingraham is fond of James Lipton, the unctuous host of PBS’s “Actor’s Studio” interview program. He sounds off frequently on her show, usually about films, and in his most recent gig was pontificating about the Academy Awards. Lipton seems to believe that bias is a condition one is helpless to adjust for: he kept announcing his preferences for various nominees based solely on their association with him or the Actor’s Studio, and explaining his choices by saying, “I’m biased, you see.”

Recognizing bias is just half the job, James. The other half is getting over it. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Michael Arrington


Michael Arrington is a tech publisher and blogger who made a good amount of money selling his previous blog, Techcrunch. He bought a boat with some of it, a nice one, with state of the art electronics. On the day his new toy was to be delivered, he had to work through customs and Homeland Security paperwork, since the boat was built in Canada.  Something went wrong, something stupid.  He writes,

“My job was to show up and sign forms and then leave with Buddy (WA sales tax and registration fees come a week later). DHS takes documents supplied by the builder and creates a government form that includes basic information about the boat, including the price. The primary form, prepared by the government, had an error. The price was copied from the invoice, but DHS changed the currency from Canadian to U.S. dollars. It has language at the bottom with serious sounding statements that the information is true and correct, and a signature block.”

It’s serious all right. It is a government form, and signing it is a legal attest that the information is correct. Arrington continues, Continue reading

Contrived Ignorance In The Utah Highway Patrol

"Good evening sir! Do you know why I pulled you over? It's because I need another DUI arrest to pad my figures."

“Good evening sir! I an Trooper Lisa Steed. Do you know why I pulled you over? It’s because I need another DUI arrest to pad my figures. Get out of the car.”

This shocking story from Utah demonstrates an ethical culture truism: when superiors ask subordinates to deliver results without proper guidelines, warnings, and insistence on using only ethical means to achieve these results, misconduct is inevitable, the leadership is incompetent, and the organization’s culture is rotting.

Utah honored state trooper Lisa Steed as the first woman to be selected as Trooper of the Year for shattering all records  with an astounding number of DUI arrests. Her supervisors spoke about her “sixth sense” in being able to detect impaired drivers when most officers would not. There was a reason for this, it turned out. Steed arrested drivers for DUI whether they were in fact drunk or not. Now her record-setting arrests are being challenged as invalid, and she is out of a job.

She had many victims, innocent drivers who lost jobs, promotions, reputations and thousands of dollars, because she was determined to make her bosses think she was a star. For example, she arrested Michael Choate, a now-retired aircraft logistics specialist at Hill Air Force Base, because her “sixth sense” told her that his driving while in a Halloween costume suggested he was inebriated. She arrested and charged him even though three breathalyzer tests showed no alcohol in his system. Choate says he spent $3,800 and had to take four days off of work to get his DUI charged dismissed. Continue reading