Monthly Archives: September 2015

The Pope’s Smoking Gun

Papal MitreI have been touched by the passionate defenses of the Pope during his visit here, by sincere believers who desperately wanted not to see what was going on. If only Pope Francis respected his supporters enough to live up to the ideals they projected on him, which included insisting, against all evidence, that he was merely talking in broad, moral generalities to Congress rather than lobbying for progressive policies, like making illegal immigration legal.

He was, we were told, only showing us where “true North” was according to the Church. I guess he just forgot to bring up abortion, which the Church regards as murder (and Joe Biden too, when he’s not playing politics) as he was lecturing our legislators about “human rights.”

The second he returned home, the Pope threw gay couples under the Popemobile, stating that Kim Davis’s position as a government official refusing to obey the law was a “right.” Again, his defenders insisted that this was just an abstraction. Now we hear from Davis’s lawyers that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis. Davis says that he hugged her, gave her a rosary, and told her to “stay strong.”

“That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, it kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature,” Davis said.

Naturally, those who can’t handle the truth will say she is lying. There is no evidence that Kim Davis is untruthful, and her lawyer would be facing discipline if they falsely reported what did not occur. This really happened. Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

Ethics Dunce: The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals

The unethical prosecutor in US v, Flores. Watch out for her!

The unethical prosecutor in State v. Flores. Watch out for her!

It’s always heartening to see a court cite the 1935 Supreme Court case of  Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, (1935), famous in legal ethics circles for its ringing statement that government lawyers must understand that their obligation “in a criminal prosecution is not that it shall win . . . , but that justice shall be done.”  The principle has been extended by some judges to civil cases as well, making the point that the government in any legal dispute should be interested only in the best interests of citizens and getting the case right. It is less heartening when the cite is in a dissent, as in this case.

The Ninth Circuit, reviewing a conviction for illegal drug importation, conceded that the prosecutor crossed into unethical territory by misstating the law,misstating the defendant’s testimony, and improperly vouching for a witness. Nonetheless, the court in State v. Flores concluded that this misconduct didn’t rise to the level of “plain error,” meaning that the defendant would have been found guilty anyway:

“In sum, while the government misrepresented Flores’s testimony and misstated the law on multiple occasions, in the context of the trial as a whole, it is unlikely that the jury was misled about the law or the facts.”

That’s right: the government misrepresented facts and law, but the jury was probably not misled. Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions

Ethics Heroes: Eugene and Corky Bostick, Dog Train Proprietors

Dog Train

Eugene Bostick and his brother Corky are retired octogenarian who live on a farm by a dead-end street within the Fort Wort, Texas, city limits. Their property became  a popular dumping ground for unwanted dogs over time, as their owners dropped them off behind the Bostick brothers’ horse barn to starve to death. The brothers made a home for them on their land, feeding them, letting them in and out of their farm house, getting them spayed and neutered if necessary and cared for by a veterinarian, and generally making the abandoned dogs part of an expanded, and still expanding, primarily canine family.

The rescued dogs  run around and play together on the farm, but Eugene had the inspiration to take them on local trips around Fort Worth, like to local golf course. Taking his design from a tractor he saw hooked up to individual wagons carrying rocks, he decided to build “the dog train.’” “I’m a pretty good welder, so I took these plastic barrels with holes cut in them, and put wheels under them and tied them together,” says the train’s main engineer.

Now, a couple of times a week, Bostick loads up his dogs, all but the two smallest in their own compartments, and drives his charges through various Fort Worth locales. The dog train is a favorite photo subject for Fort Worth natives, and the dogs’ happy barking can be heard from quite a distance away.

“Whenever they hear me hooking the tractor up to it, man, they get so excited,” Bostick said. “They all come running and jump in on their own. They’re ready to go.”

If only Amtrack was this much fun.

Here’s a video…

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Facts and Graphic: Yahoo!

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Filed under Animals, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Heroes

Comment of the Day: “The Beatles And Plagiarism”

Then there are Golden Rule considerations...

Then there are Golden Rule considerations…

There were many outstanding comments today, but I have a soft spot in my heart for any comment that completes a post that I decided to shorten by raising the issue I omitted for length. Thus johnburger2013 gets another Comment of the Day nod for his musings on the elusive lines between homage, inspirations, quotes and plagiarism in music.

The three examples discussed in my post are not close calls, I’d insist: my friend, actor/lawyer/ classic rock maven David Elias informs me that John Lennon actually confessed that he had plagiarized the Chuck Berry song, and his was the least egregious steal of the three. Other instances, however, are not so clear cut: If he hadn’t sung all of them, a case could be made that every Gary Puckett song was plagiarized from every other one. (The same, in fact, has been said of Chuck Berry.)

In researching the Beatles story, I found an entertaining site called Sounds Just Like which explores johnb’s “line.” Most are a stretch: No, I don’t think John Williams ripped off Darth Vader’s theme from Mary Poppins’ “A Spoonful of Sugar.” But I do know that Arthur Sullivan was imitating Mendelssohn big time in “Iolanthe,” and that recognizable musical quotes are important tools of the trade that should not be strangled by overzealous copyright prosecutions.

Here is johnburger2013’s Comment of the Day on the post, The Beatles And Plagiarism: Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture

The Aftermath: Final Observations On The Papelbon-Harper Incident

Jonathan Papelbon in another career highlight...

Jonathan Papelbon in another career highlight…

More on the aftermath of the incident that has the baseball world talking and the sports ethics world cogitating…

1) The Nationals punished the right player, suspending reliever Papelbon for four games, which combined with the three games the league suspended him for intentionally throwing at a player in an earlier game, ends his season in embarrassing fashion. The four lost games will cost the closer about $280,000 in salary, and his total loss, with the additional three games, will be close to a half-million dollars.

2) The word out of the Nationals clubhouse is that many players agree that Harper was dogging it to first base (the impetus for the criticism that started the fight) and that Papelbon was within his rights to call Harper on his lack of hustle. This indicates that Papelbon was reacting to a perceived lack of leadership on the team. In fact, the team does lack leadership, as manager Matt Williams is neither respected nor listened to, and this was one of the reasons the heavily favored Nats collapsed down the pennant stretch. Thus it seems that Papelbon, a recent acquisition who was new to the Nats culture, may have been trying to fill a leadership vacuum and botched it. Still, he engaged in his unethical conduct for an ethical reason; that only places him in “the ends justify the means” territory, however.

Moreover, any team whose leader is Jonathan Papelbon is in big, big trouble.

3) Incredibly, manager Matt Williams, who left Papelbon in the game after the fight to pitch the ninth and get clobbered, claimed that he wouldn’t have done so if he was aware of what happened. Williams said that he was at the other end of the dugout, and didn’t understand the import of the commotion that had players shouting and separating two combatants, including his best player and his current pitcher. Wow.  The Nats dugout isn’t that long. He wasn’t curious? Didn’t he feel, as the man in charge, a need to investigate? Worse still, none of his coaches felt that he needed to be informed, even considering that this was happening in full view of the fans and TV cameras.  Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Leadership, Sports

Ethics Dunce: The State of Illinois

illinois-lottery

State lotteries are unethical, of course, being regressive crypto-taxes on the poor, dumb and gullible installed by gutless legislators to avoid more responsible revenue sources that might cost them votes. Illinois isn’t alone among the states engaging in these shameless scams; indeed it is in the vast, vast majority. This particular slippery slope also slipped exactly as the worst doomsayers predicted, with lotteries leading inexorably to widespread casino gambling and an explosion of gambling addiction and its attendant ruination. But never mind.

Illinois is not an ethics dunce for having a state lottery, although it is. Illinois is an ethics dunce for being the only state that has a state lottery and doesn’t pay up when one of those poor, dumb, gullible citizens gets lucky and wins a bundle. The state is in the throes of a huge fiscal deficit, and because the legislature and governor have failed to agree on a 2015-16 budget for the fiscal year that started July 1, the Illinois comptroller’s office doesn’t have  authority to write checks over $25,000. Lottery winners who have won that much or more when the ping-pong balls popped their way have been waiting for their giant checks. Meanwhile, the state continues to pay the salaries of those working inside the Illinois Lottery and the private company that manages it, and the lottery continues to advertise the games and sell tickets. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

Ethics Quiz: The Memories Pizza Stunt

Memories Pizza, you will recall, rushed to let everyone know that it supported Indiana’s short-lived “Let’s discriminate against gays” law, which Pope Francis would have approved of, apparently.  The poor, naive little establishment, which was about as likely to cater a gay wedding as a White House state dinner, became the immediate target of social justice warrior bullies, who nearly succeeded in running them out of business.

On September 25, 2015, comic Robin Trevino, a member of the gay theatrical ensemble GayCo, drove to Walkerton, Indiana, bought pizzas at  Memories Pizza, , and served Memories Pizza to all the guests at his September 26, 2015 same-sex wedding reception, then released a video to alert the world that Memories Pizza had unknowingly catered a gay wedding  after all.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Was it ethical to do this?

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Love, Quizzes, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society