More Reasons Not To Vote For Mark Sanford

Mark Sanford evokes that stirring Civil War battle, the Alamo.

Mark Sanford evokes that stirring Civil War battle, the Alamo.

The unethical and increasingly ridiculous Mark Sanford, now in the process of losing what should have been a sage House seat for Republicans in South Carolina, has added the public crime of “making Americans dumber” to his list of disqualifications for public office.

Sanford was the rising star South Carolina governor—married, with children— who went AWOL on the job to have a  clandestine liaison with his South American mistress, using public funds in the process, and lying through his staff to cover his tracks. He didn’t have the courage or the decency to resign, nor did he have the common sense and decency to quietly disappear so he would stop embarrassing his wife, his state, Republicans, men, and Homo sapiens everywhere. Instead he returned to run in a primary for a House seat, and since Republican primary voters will apparently vote for anyone or anything, won. Now he’s running behind in the polls to a Democratic candidate whose key qualification is that her brother is a popular TV comic.

Sanford has run a full page ad in some newspapers, painting himself in heroic terms and comparing himself to the martyrs of the Alamo: Continue reading

Remember, This Is The Best Newspaper in America

All the News That’s Fit..oh, the hell with it.

From an editor’s note to the New York Times article, “Last Call for College Bars,” which originally ran on September 26:

“An article on Thursday described the effect of social media use on the bar scene in several college towns, including the area around Cornell. After the article was published, questions were raised by the blog IvyGate about the identities of six Cornell students quoted in the article or shown in an accompanying photo. None of the names provided by those students to a reporter and photographer for The Times — Michelle Guida, Vanessa Gilen, Tracy O’Hara, John Montana, David Lieberman and Ben Johnson — match listings in the Cornell student directory, and The Times has not subsequently been able to contact anyone by those names. The Times should have worked to verify the students’ identities independently before quoting or picturing them for the article.”

Think about this the next time you read a Times story from an anonymous source. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Redstate Blogger Moe Lane

The other Moe, the one who probably COULD use a search engine…

Redstate blogger Moe Lane is offended that I think emulating Harry Reid to get even with Harry Reid is as despicable as Harry Reid, and since Lane hasn’t the wit or diligence to make a coherent argument against the position articulated in my recent post, which has flushed out a covey of mouth-foaming right-wingers, he plays the hypocrisy card, and like most players, doesn’t really know what hypocrisy is. Unlike many players, however, he doesn’t even bother to get his facts right, apparently because the Ethics Alarms search engine is too tricky for him. As I opined that the Right was attempting to “santorum” Reid by associating his name with something unsavory (in his case, pederasty), Lane fulminates that I didn’t express similar objections when Santorum himself was santorumed. He writes:

“…Hence the aforementioned shocked, shocked response from this Ethics Alarms site, which is very disapproving of the whole thing, and goes so far as to call it ‘santoruming.’ For those unfamiliar with the concept, Ethics Alarms provides a footnote: “Thanks to blogger Dan Savage, the former GOP Senator’s name is now a synonym for a disgusting bodily discharge.” And that, of course, is just as bad when it happens to Harry Reid as it was when it happened to Rick Santorum.”…which, given that (as near as I can tell) this seems to be the first time that Ethics Alarms has bothered to mention to the world that, hey, attacking Rick Santorum like that was bad, just indicates to me that the “Reid is a Pederast” meme is having the desired effect. It’s getting self-absorbed, pretentious websites that hate hardcore social conservatives** to stand up for those self-same social conservatives! Without prompting, even! Lo, indeed, truly we live in an Age of Wonders.”

Well, no, Moe, in fact this was not the first time that I expressed disapproval of Dan Savage’s successful effort to slime Rick Santorum, and if you could search the web or my site with the deftness of the typical Special Ed teen, you would have seen that over a year ago I wrote a post entitled, Dan Savage’s Curse on Rick Santorum: Funny! But Wrong. Note that the title was specifically evoked by the heading for the recent Reid post, which would have been a big fat clue for anyone who cared about being fair and accurate rather than being snide and obnoxious, like Moe Lane. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: North Carolina State Rep. Becky Carney

North Carolina’s General Assembly accidentally legalized fracking,  the controversial technology that allows the extraction of natural gas and hydrocarbons that once were inaccessible for commercial use, when the Governor’s veto of the fracking bill was unintentionally over-ridden.  Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, says she did not intend to cast the key vote that overrode the governor’s veto of the bill, but pushed the green button, signifying “Aye” instead of the red button, signifying “Nay.” 


The vote was 72-47, exactly the count required for to override a veto. Without Carney’s botch, the governor’s veto would have stood. This meant that Carney, by North Carolina’s House rules, could not change her vote, which is only allowed when a flip-flop won’t alter the result.

“It is late. Here we are rushing to make these kind of decisions this time of night,” she told reporters, pathetically. Indeed, Carney is an opponent of fracking, she has voted against it in the past, and she spent the day lobbying other Democrats to uphold the veto of Senate Bill 820.

Color me unsympathetic. Legislators don’t have much to do but read bills, make up their minds, and vote by pushing a big button, and there are only three (including “ABSTAIN.” It is presumably  yellow.) If Carney can’t gather her wits sufficiently to push the correct button on a crucial and closely contested vote, she is too careless and irresponsible to hold office. She is also unqualified to drive (that red-green color-blindness is a problem), use automated voting machines, and please, for the love of God, have responsibility for launching nuclear weapons. Right after the vote, Carney’s was heard on her microphone, saying “Oh my gosh. I pushed green!”

At least she didn’t say, “Oopsie! I just destroyed Beijing!


Pointer: James Taranto

Facts: WRAL

Graphic: tbbr

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

Credit Ethics: New Ethics Alarms Policy

The sound of my palm belatedly smacking my expansive forehead

What will heretofore be referred to as “The Mary Frances Prevost Affair” has its silver lining. Watching another blogger incorporate the main body of my blog post into her own by-lined essay without credit or attribution has caused me to do a lot of thinking about the inadequacy of credit and attribution in the blogosphere  generally, with a relatively  few exceptions. Most of these are blogs written by academics who hold to the standards of their profession rather than the much looser practices of the internet. It also caused me to wake up to the inadequacy of my own attribution practices on Ethics Alarms. I have never taken an entire post from another source and represented it as my own, but I have frequently taken a factual account of a story from another website that itself was essentially  republishing, for example, an AP story, put the facts in my own words, sometimes with a stray phrase remaining, and not credited either source. I have often derived information in a post from multiple news sources but only linked to the one that I felt related the event the most thoroughly and clearly. Another writer’s work has sometimes sparked an idea for a post that was substantially different, and I have not credited the source of that spark.

All of this is common practice in blogging, but it is still wrong, and sloppiness is always a slippery slope. In the wake of “The Mary Frances Prevost Affair,” a colleague alerted me that I had included one complete sentence and part of another in an Ethics Alarms post that were identical to the post of another writer on the same subject. I didn’t even recall using the source, but upon going over my notes, I found that the earlier post had supplied me with the bulk of the facts I relied upon, though not the analysis of them. . I immediately contacted the author to apologize, and he was gracious and understanding. Nonetheless, this should never happen, especially on an ethics blog.

Therefore, as of today, Ethics Alarms will maintain a strict policy of crediting all sources that go into the inspiration, research and writing of the posts here. Links in the body of the text will be either be for informational purposes only, such as when I make a gratuitous cultural reference that nobody under the age of 50 is likely to recognize, or to back up direct quotes. At the end of each post, there will be credits and/or links listed, when appropriate, in some or all of the following categories: Continue reading

Mirlande Wilson Is My Favorite Ethics Dunce of All Time!

When we last left Mirlande Wilson, she was claiming, improbably, that although she had bought Mega Millions lottery tickets for her workplace pool at McDonald’s, the ticket she bought giving her over $250 million in jackpot winnings was hers alone.

This made her an Ethics Alarms Ethics Dunce. Now she says she has lost the ticket. This opens so many possibilities, all with their own ethical implications:

  • She is lying, and never had the ticket, meaning that she is willing to make her co-workers think she cheated them to try to pull off an audacious scam. Dishonest and shameless.
  • She did lose the ticket, but it was the pool ticket, and she is lying about that part of it. In this case, she was spectacularly irresponsible to lose a ticket worth millions to the persons who collectively bought it. And a liar. Dishonest, careless, greedy, irresponsible and untrustworthy.
  • She did buy the ticket with her own money, and did lose it, and is just telling the truth, hoping to get a little sympathy. In that case, she deserves some. But buying a ticket for a mega-jackpot and losing it is still prima facie evidence that you shouldn’t live alone, or be left in the presence of pointy objects. Honest, careless and pathetic.
  • She bought the ticket with the pool’s money, and knows that she won’t find it and can’t get the cash. She’s saying that the lost ticket was hers alone, hoping that her fellow workers won’t feel as terrible as she does, since it would be pretty terrible to gor back to a fast food job when you know you should be joining country clubs. She’s trying to spare them. Yes, that must be it. Noble, kind, and self-sacrificing.
  • She bought the ticket with the pool’s money, and knows that she won’t find it and can’t get the cash. She’s saying that the lost ticket was hers alone, hoping that her fellow workers won’t try to kill her. Irresponsible, careless, dishonest, but understandable.

I can’t wait to see what happens next.

A Tip For Victoria Liss—In Fact, Two: Read the Golden Rule, and Don’t Use The Internet For Revenge

The right Victoria Liss...I hope!

Victoria Liss was tending bar at Bimbo’s Cantina in Seattle last week, when a customer named Andrew Meyer not only refused to tip her on his $28 bill, he added insult to injury by scrawling on his credit card receipt that she “could stand to lose a few pounds.” Liss, outraged, decided to employ the full power of the internet against the unmannerly cad. She posted a picture of the receipt and the customer’s name, Andrew Meyer, on her Facebook page. 

Soon angry web-Furies were gathering to exact their revenge on Meyer, whom Liss called “yuppie scum.” Andrew Meyer’s photo and Facebook page were located and posted around the web like it was a Post Office wall. News sites, including the Seattle Weekly, the Stranger, Gawker and Jezabel, used the photograph. Soon Andrew Meyer was being flamed by thousands, and receiving vicious e-mails from strangers intent on carrying on Victoria Liss’s vendetta.

One problem: Liss had the wrong Andrew Meyer! The photo she posted was of a different Andrew Meyer who lived in Texas, not Washington, and it is his face and reputation she sent to web perdition. Continue reading

Major League Baseball, Forgivability, and List Ethics


Bleacher Reports is an enjoyable sports website, and it gives opportunities to aspiring writers and bloggers, some of whom are quite talented.  In addition to typical opinion pieces and reporting, the site has a fondness for lists, often trivial to the extreme, like “The 50 Ugliest Athletes of All Time.” The titles are all misnomers, because there is almost never any criteria given for the choices or their relative ranking. An accurate title would be, “The Fifty Athletes I Think Are The Ugliest.”  And of course, who cares? (Don Mossi, by the way, was the ugliest athlete ever, no matter what anybody says.)

A recent list, however did bother me. It is called “The Fifty Most Unforgivable Acts in Baseball History,“ and much of the problem with it lies in the title itself. If you are going to write about history, there is a duty perform diligent research, even for a silly online list. Misrepresentations online have a large probability of misleading people.  The title is a misrepresentation, like “The 50 Ugliest Athletes,” but unlike that list, there is some harm done. The list isn’t close to complete; it isn’t consistent; it isn’t well-researched. I’d bet that the author, Robert Knapel, wrote it off the top of his head.  Anyone who looked at the list and assumed, as the author represents, that these are truly the low points—“the dark side,” as the author puts it—of major league baseball would be seriously misinformed.

There are unequivocally, probably universally recognized incidents and events that are infinitely worse that most of the items on the list.  Just a  few samples: Continue reading

Deadly Incompetence in Seattle….Luckily, It Was Just a Game

I know about the ADA, but still...hiring blind umpires who can't count just isn't working out...

It is rare that an ethics outrage repeats itself so closely that I could recycle a previous essay and just change the names. This occurred, however, in Seattle this past Saturday, in the baseball game between the Mariners and the San Diego Padres. San Diego’s Cameron Maybin walked on a 3-2 count (four balls are required by the rules) and eventually scored the only run of the game on Antonio Gonzalez’s fifth-inning single, allowing the Padres to defeat the Mariners 1-0 on Saturday night.

With one out in the fifth, Maybin walked when a pitch was called high by home plate umpire Phil Cuzzi. A video review of the at-bat by official scorer Dan Peterson confirmed the count should have been 3-2 when Maybin trotted to first base, meaning that his turn at the plate wasn’t completed. But Cuzzi, who like all umpires carries a pitch counter, saw that the stadium scoreboard showed a three-ball count before the pitch, and since 1) technology is always right 2) he wasn’t paying attention 3) he can’t count to “4” and 4) (or is it 3?) it isn’t like calling balls and strikes is his job or anything, he decided that the player had earned a base on balls. Continue reading