Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Paid Expert Witness Problem [UPDATED And CORRECTED]

“Check enclosed…”

When a lawyer’s expert witness testifies in a trial, the opposing counsel will always ask, “You’re being paid for your appearance today, isn’t the true?” The one time I was asked that question, I answered, “I’m being paid for my time, not my opinion.” Of course, many experts—yes, even ethics experts—are accepting payment for their opinion. The case of a Houston lawyer’s recent conduct, however, is the worst example of this reality crossing the ethics lines, hard.

Lawyer Mark Lanier had presented father-and-son orthopedic surgeons to the court and the jury as unpaid experts, emphasizing that they were testifying pro bono while the defendants’ experts had been bought. Naturally, this made them seem more credible to the jury. After the trial, however, and after the jury had awarded Lanier’s client  a handsome verdict and damages of $151 million, it was discovered that Lanier made a $10,000 charitable donation to the father’s favorite charity before trial, and sent “thank-you” checks totaling $65,000 to the surgeons after the trial, accompanied by notes of gratitude.

But they weren’t being paid for their testimony—at least, not when they were asked about it. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/30/18: Going Out Like A Lamb

Good Morning!

It’s especially good because this is the last day of one of the worst Ethics Alarms months ever, with the lowest daily average of views for an April since 2013. I have no idea why, and I wouldn’t change anything anyway. I have my dark suspicions, though….

1 Pig brain ethics. Researchers at Yale University restored circulation to the brains of decapitated pigs, and kept the organs alive for several hours.  Now ethicists are wondering if this was ethical.

Hmmmm:

  • I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that if you asked the pig, he’d say that cutting his head off was more unethical than keeping his brain alive afterwards.
  • Like a lot of bioethics controversies, this is more “ick” than ethics.
  • Go on, make a “Futurama” joke.

2. Human brain ethics. Is we getting dumber? This Facebook quiz claims that “nobody” can get even 5 of these 10 questions right, and that if you get all ten right, you’re a genius. I hope that isn’t true. I would say that anyone who can’t get at least 8 of the 10 right is either under 15 or cognitively damaged. I really want to know what the average score is. If most Americans really can’t answer these, then we need to dismantle the public school system and start from scratch. And any teacher who can’t answer at least nine of the ten questions should be fired. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/28/18: “Ingratitude, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Speech Suppression And Character Assassination…Is This A Great Country, Or What?” [Item #1]

Just so you know that I’m not the only one who believes that the Boston Red Sox stripping the late Tom Yawkey of the honor of having one of the streets bordering Fenway Park named after him is disgusting virtue-signaling and ingratitude at their worst, here is commenter and Boston area native Rick M. to prove otherwise. Shaming the name and memory of Yawkey this way is the exact Red Sox equivalent of tearing down the Jefferson Monument in Washington, D.C.,  for the Boston Red Sox in their current form would not exist without the vision, dedication and sacrifice of its owner from the 30s to the 70s.

Incidentally, as I watched a ball bounce off the hand-operated scoreboard on the Green Monster yesterday, I noticed that the Morse code dots and dashes spelling out Tom and Jean Yawkey’s initials on the white stripes separating the columns of American League scores are still there.  The team says there are no plans to remove this acknowledgement of the Yawkey debt to the city and the sport.

Isn’t that nice? The Red Sox will continue to honor him, but in code.  (In related news, the D.C. government has petitioned Congress to have the statue of Jefferson be required to wear Groucho glasses.)

The team  also says that it supports the work of the Yawkey Foundation, established at the same time that Jersey Street was renamed Yawkey Way. The Foundation which has given over $450 million to nonprofit organizations serving the needy of New England and Georgetown County, South Carolina, and is, understandably, ticked off.  The Foundation has published a fascinating rebuttal of the narrative that Tom Yawkee was a committed racist. I will include it after the COTD.

Here is Rick M.’s Comment of the Day on the post, Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/28/18: Ingratitude, Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Speech Suppression And Character Assassination…Is This A Great Country, Or What?:

 

Don’t get me started….don’t get me started….OK – you got me started.

Where to start with such an SJW target-rich environment? How about Mr. Ugly Straw Hat himself – John Henry. Patient zero in this current social fad. Henry’s first big gig as a financial wizard was with Reynolds Securities. This company was founded by Richard Reynolds and his great-uncle and much family fortune originated with Reynolds Tobacco and Abraham Reynolds and Rock Spring Plantation. Yes, boys and girls, a slave foundation. Maybe Henry can also remove the number four at Fenway Park? The retired number of Joe Cronin who was part of the infamous tryout in 1945. And, JH, go after Ty Cobb, Cap Anson and a name change for Nig Cuppy. Continue reading

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Stelter, Wolf, And The Mainstream News Media Unmasked

NBC says that many journalists at the White House Correspondents Dinner were embarrassed and angry about her ugly attacks on the President, his family, and his staff, as you can plainly see from the reaction of the guests to the comic after her performance….

Observations on an ethics fiasco:

1.  I can’t decide if I regret not writing about Brian Stelter’s self-rebutting, smoking gun screed  excoriating the President for not attending the annual White House Correspondents Dinner before the dinner took place, as was my original intention. It looks even more ridiculous after the dinner, which, as even a fool could have predicted, was a festival of Trump-hate. One reason I didn’t write it earlier was that I had written essentially the same post earlier this month,  after two Washington Post writers criticized the President for not throwing out the ceremonial first pitch when the Washington Nationals opened their season. I wrote in part,

Boy, you can’t get much more intellectually dishonest than this. Gee, why wouldn’t the President subject himself to loud, open-air jeering from the majority of a crowd of 40,000, a demonstration of contempt that would be played over and over on CNN, MSNBC,  NBC, CBS and ABC, with mocking commentary? What a puzzlement! I have no theories, do you?… Boy, I cannot imagine why President Trump wouldn’t be eager to walk into this trap. The dishonest authors of the Post article,

They want to see the President embarrassed, and are disappointed that he isn’t so foolish as to allow himself to be…

Well, I was wrong. You can get more intellectually dishonest, and CNN’s hack media critic, Brian Stelter, was just the man for the job.  In an essay that managed to pretend that the journalists at the event, including him, hadn’t spent three years denigrating and ridiculing Trump personally and 18 months trying spin the news to drive him out of office, he wrote in part,

Presidents don’t always want to show up and tell jokes and socialize with the press corps, but until now it’s been a part of the job in the modern media age.

“Historically presidents have felt that it’s important to send the signals, both to Americans and to the rest of the world, that they support this sort of quintessential part of American democracy, the First Amendment,” correspondents association president Margaret Talev said on CNN Saturday morning.

Trump evidently believes it’s politically advantageous to snub the affair and hold a rally instead. “Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.,” he tweeted on Saturday morning.

Well, he certainly doesn’t believe it’s politically advantageous to walk into an event where he has a target on his back, and have to sit quietly with a forced smile while everyone laughs as he is humiliated and insulted. Until now, it has been part of the job of journalists covering a presidency in any age to display a base level of respect for the man in the office, because he is in the office. Before Trump, journalists could be expected to treat Presidents with respect at least for a single night. Not now. Who would not assume that last night’s dinner would be a Trump-bashing orgy whether he attended or not? Is Brian Stelter unethical beyond belief, or is he just stupid? I have frequently wondered, and his article made me wonder more. The President isn’t doing his job by not allowing vicious and unethical journalists to undermine him in a public display of contempt? I am grateful to the President for avoid such an embarrassment for the office and the nation.

As for Taley, whom we will hear more of later, what self-serving crap.  The news media has disgraced itself and its mission, and neither President Trump nor any American citizen should support the way today’s journalists abuse their special status. Trump would be a hypocrite to help corrupt and biased journalists celebrate their poisoned craft, and to applaud while they pat themselves on the backs for misinforming, inflaming and dividing the American public.

2. Then came the actual dinner, and it was worse than even Trump could have imagined. Gee, Brian,  now what do you say? Were you shocked? Really? You couldn’t see this coming? Can you see now that the President was wise—not that it took any great feat of analysis, though it was obviously beyond your meager intellect— not to force Americans like me—you know, those who respect the office and still are stirred when they hear “Hail to the Chief” no matter who the Chief is—to see the office denigrated and insulted while arrogant, entitled, ink-stained wretches guffawed? He had a duty not to attend. Do you understand now?

3. As I noted in yesterday’s warm-up, the hired entertainment, deliberately recruited from the cabal of anti-Trump cable and network comedy shows, delivered as she was expected to, and was uniformly vile, even to the members of the White House staff who were the journalist’s guests. The representative Ethics Dunce for the fiasco was Bloomberg correspondent and president of the association Margaret Talev, who dropped one astoundingly disingenuous statement after another to rationalize it.

“My goal in putting together last night’s dinner was to unify the room and the country around journalism and the First Amendment, and I shared what I believe about those subjects in my own remarks,” she said at one point. Yeah, having the President of the United States called a pussy, a Nazi, a racist, a misogynist,  xenophobic,  unstable, incompetent and impotent is obviously the way to do that. After Michelle Wolf’s ugly act was widely panned, Talev said,

“The association, by tradition, does not preview or censor the entertainer’s remarks. Some of them made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night. And that is protected by the First Amendment. I appreciated Sarah Sanders for joining us at the head table and her grace through the program.”

Ugh: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/29/18: White House Correspondents Dinner Edition (And Other Things…)

 

Good Morning!

1 The RedState purge.  Salem Media, the conservative website RedState’s owner, froze the site and fired many of its most read and respected writers, all of whom were distinguished by one other common feature: they are all NeverTrumpers, conservatives who revile the current POTUS almost as vehemently as the Left’s mainstream media.

I view this decision as a declaration of war of sorts, or perhaps an assertion that a war is already going on. The Democrats, progressives, the news media and “the resistance” have been trying to unseat the President of the United States by “any means necessary,” a strategy that not only every conservative but every responsible citizen ought to oppose as the dangerous and undemocratic strategy it is. The dilemma is that NeverTrumpers’ anti-Trump bias not only makes them less than effective in opposing this unethical plot, it arguably makes them accessories to it.

Salem’s action is depressing but significant. It is one more indication that the news media, new and old, is dividing down rigid ideological lines while embracing political agendas rather than ethical journalism’s traditional mission. There is a place for fighting “the resistance,” but objective journalism shouldn’t have to censor dissent to play its part. Its part is to report the truth. Actions, however, have equal and opposite reactions, and as the media on the Left, which is to say most of the media, openly and  unapologetically indulges its Trump Hate, confident that its market will approve (thus making the abandonment of fairness and responsibility profitable), the polarization of whatever news media remains becomes inevitable.

This is not good for journalism, punditry, the nation or democracy, but I don’t know what can halt it now.

2. Terrible…but kind of funny, you have to admit. More than half the paintings owned by a small art museum in Elne, France, 82 of its 140 works, are fakes.  “It’s a catastrophe,”  said Yves Barniol, the mayor of Elne, near the Spanish border. Ya think? Over $170,000 was paid out by the museum for the phony artworks—not a lot by art museum standards, but when most of your collection are forgeries, there’s an open question why anyone would trust such a museum again.

Dishonesty and incompetence are a destructive combination. Continue reading

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Wow! MSNBC’s Joy Reid May Have Given Us The Biggest Jumbo Ever!

The fact that MSNBC continues to employ Joy Reid, so unethical in so many ways,  would be sufficient all by itself to justify never trusting the network. Just in case her racebaiting, bias and hate-mongering weren’t enough, however, now she has issued a mind-blowing Jumbo of such magnitude and audacity that it is impossible to deny that either she is willing to lie about anything, or in the alternative, is nuts. There do not seem to be any other explanations.

On Ethics Alarms, a Jumbo is the term for a desperate, ridiculous lie that insults the intelligence of all who hear it. The term comes from name of the elephant Jimmy Durante was trying to sneak out of the circus in Billy Rose’s eponymous Broadway extravaganza “Jumbo,” when he was stopped by a sheriff, in the show’s most famous moment. “Where are you going with that elephant?” demanded The Law. “Elephant? What elephant?” answered the Schnozzola, innocently. But Reid’s Jumbo out-Jumbos Jimmy.

It all began last December, when some homophobic posts on Reid’s old blog surfaced. Then she issued a self-contradictory apology, flagged in this Ethics Alarms entry. but it turned out that there were more such posts to be found. Six days ago, the media site Mediaite uncovered more posts by Reid that were critical of homosexuality and gays, from The Reid Report, a now defunct blog that Reid authored long before she became a warrior of “the resistance.”  They were originally tracked down and shared on Twitter by sleuth Jamie Maz, who found them using the internet archiving service, the Wayback Machine, which takes screenshots of frequently trafficked web pages to preserve them. Reid’s response was to deny that she wrote the posts:

“In December I learned that an unknown, external party accessed and manipulated material from my now-defunct blog, The Reid Report, to include offensive and hateful references that are fabricated and run counter to my personal beliefs and ideology.

I began working with a cyber-security expert who first identified the unauthorized activity, and we notified federal law enforcement officials of the breach. The manipulated material seems to be part of an effort to taint my character with false information by distorting a blog that ended a decade ago.

Now that the site has been compromised I can state unequivocally that it does not represent the original entries. I hope that whoever corrupted the site recognizes the pain they have caused, not just to me, but to my family and communities that I care deeply about: LGBTQ, immigrants, people of color and other marginalized groups.”

To be blunt but accurate, she was lying. Continue reading

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Comment Of The Day: “’Gotcha!’ Ethics (Or The Absence There-Of): The Solicitor General Misspeaks”

Speaking of the context in which the Solicitor General made a verbal gaffe that would have been ignored had his brief not supported Trump policy, slickwilly reflects on one of the most peculiar of the new standards Democrats and progressives are attempting to apply to this President when they would have considered parallel efforts with Democratic White House occupants laughable.  This the argument that President Trump’s often hyperbolic campaign verbiage must be regarded as permanent and unrepealable statements of deeply held motives, intentions and beliefs.

Here is slickwilly’s Comment of the Day on the post,“Gotcha!” Ethics (Or The Absence There-Of): The Solicitor General Misspeaks:

The assertion was the later words could not negate things said while campaigning, in other words, campaign rhetoric and promises. This is a peculiar stance to take: politicians say things all the time that are rhetoric, hyperbole, misstatements, partial truths, and outright lies.

(Not to mention that if EVERY POLITICIAN were held to this standard, we would not have any left.)

If you like your plan… if you like your doctor… hope and change… require employers to provide seven sick days year… Close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center… Allow five days of public comment before signing bills…Tougher rules against revolving door for lobbyists and former officials …” Continue reading

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