No, President Trump Did Not Promise To Pay A Million Dollars To A Charity If Elizabeth Warren Took A DNA Test!

…and Warren, a lawyer, either knows he didn’t and is saying so anyway, or is saying so without checking what he actually said, which, for a lawyer allegedly trying to enforce a contract, is both incompetent and dishonest.

And once again, the complicit mainstream media is deceiving the public to assist a Democrat’s misrepresentation. Nice.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias.

In a series of tweets on Monday, Warren called on Trump to pay the $1 million to charity. Trump replied to a reporter, “I didn’t say that; you better read that again.”

Says the Hill, in an article by Jordan Fabian, “Trump denies offering $1 million for Warren DNA test, even though he did.” In fact, he didn’t. This Time, Trump is telling the truth. The Hill, using the news media’s favorite trick of late, pulls only part of the relevant quote: “I will give you a million dollars, to your favorite charity, paid for by Trump, if you take the test and it shows you’re an Indian,I have a feeling she will say ‘no.’ ”

That wasn’t the whole statement. Bless law professor Ann Althouse: I was going to go through the analysis, and I really don’t have time. She’s retired now, has the time, and is a better contact lawyer than I’ll ever be. Here was her absolutely correct explanation: Continue reading

Happy Non-Birthday, Frederick! And Welcome Rationalization 25A, Frederick’s Compulsion or “It’s My Duty!” To the Ethics Alarms Rationalization List

As any Gilbert and Sullivan fan knows, February 29 is the troublesome birthday of Frederick, the dim and conflicted hero of “The Pirates of Penzance.” (He doesn’t get a birthday this year.)  Apprenticed to a pirate as a child by mistake (his nurse heard “pirate” rather than “pilot”),  the lad was bound to serve as a cutthroat until his 21st birthday, and thinking that the terms specified his obligation to reach until his 21st year, quits the pirate band that raised him and joins the police, who are  seeking to put his old comrades behind bars, or worse. But poor Frederick  learns that because he would only be free of his obligations until his 21st birthday, and since he was born–Oh, horror!—on Leap Year,  he is technically only five (“and a little bit over”), and won’t be 21 by the terms of his apprenticeship until he is 84 years old. His beloved, the equally dim Mabel, vows to wait for him. Meanwhile Frederick, declaring himself a “slave of duty,” joins the pirates again, as they prepare to murder Mabel’s father.

W.S. Gilbert, who wrote this famously nutty plot, was satirizing the substitution of duty (and legal contracts) for reason, morality, ethics, and sanity. The latest addition to the Rationalizations List,  Frederick’s Compulsion is a sub-rationalization of #25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!” Frederick believes that the existence of a contract creates a duty that he must obey without question, regardless of the consequences. He would have made a fine Nazi soldier. He would have shined in the Nixon White House. Continue reading

Pre-Unethical Conditions: Surrogate Mother Contracts And Making Babies With Jerks

womb-for-rent2Most surrogate mother arrangements work out exactly as intended by the participants. A couple or a single parent gets the biologically linked baby they bargained for, and the mother gets what she wanted, cash. To many the contracts seem unethical because the idea, only recently beyond the realm of science fiction, of a woman bearing another couple’s child, or allowing a stranger’s seed to impregnate her,  appears strange, unnatural and  icky, which it is. No, it is not unethical, but it is what we call a pre-unethical condition, a situation that lays a foundation for unethical conduct and results if care isn’t taken and one or more participants lack functioning ethics alarms. Three recent episodes demonstrate how icky can turn to unethical, especially when the wrong kind of people are involved.

I. The Unwanted Triplet, continued.

Earlier this year, Ethics Alarms hosted a spirited debate regarding Melissa Cook, a surrogate who fought against the man who owned her three unborn triplets, having rented out her womb to gestate them. He wanted to have one of them aborted, because two babies were all he felt he could support. She refused, and challenged the surrogacy contract in court. I asked… Continue reading

Comment of the Day (1), on Surrogate Ethics: “The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet”

surrogate-motherIt’s very thoughtful of Ethics Alarms readers to provide such high level content so I have a chance of completing the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards before March. I am awash in potential Comments of the Day all of a sudden, and this is the first of nesting COTDs, both inspired by the recent post on the surrogate with gestating triplets who is blocking the attempt of the biological father to abort Eenie, Meenie, or Miney, he doesn’t care which.

New commenter J. Jonah Jameson—presumably not really Peter Parker’s employer—submitted a helpful personal story that puts much of that drama in perspective. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet:

I am the biological father of a child born of a surrogate mother. I’m sure ResurrectedToday is correct that the father fully knew that there was a chance of triplets. But the surrogate knew the same thing, and I’m almost 100% certain that she agreed in advance that she would have an abortion if the father requested it. (If not, then there are a lot of lawyers, doctors and other professionals who did not do their job.) Either she changed her mind, or she never really intended to abide by that agreement.

I can say a few things about my own experience:

1. There were a lot of people involved in the process: me, the surrogate, the donor, the three lawyers representing us, the doctors, and the psychologists and social workers at the lawyers’ and doctors’ offices. In almost every conversation that I had with any of these people, the subject of multiple births was discussed. Everybody involved understood clearly that there was a very high possibility of twins, triplets or even more.

Continue reading

The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet

I want to hear the ethical analysis of this messy situation from abortion advocates/apologists/activists/feminists. In fact, I can hardly wait.

Melissa Cook is a surrogate mother whom a man paid $33,000 to have  his child by in vitro fertilization, using his sperm and the eggs of a 20-year-old donor. The 47-year-old California woman was implanted with three embryos, a not infrequent approach, but when all three developed normally and apparently healthily,  the birth father began to freak out. He didn’t want three kids, only two at most, and directed Cook to have one aborted. When she refused, he began threatening her  with threats of financial penalties if she did not comply with his demands that she undergo a one-third abortion. Continue reading

KABOOM! Delta Sacrifices 50 Passengers To College Basketball



Once again, it’s head exploding time at Ethics Alarms. If you had asked me if an airline could do this, I would have answered “I hope not.” If you had asked me if an airline would do this, I would have answered, “Never!” But an airline did do this, and apparently isn’t even sorry about it.


When maintenance issues grounded the Sunday afternoon Delta aircraft flight scheduled to carry the University of Florida men’s basketball team from Gainesville to Storrs, Connecticut for a 7 pm (E.S.T.) Monday game against the University of Connecticut, Delta canceled Delta Connection flight 5059 to  Atlanta, kicked its 50 passengers off the flight without telling them why, and converted their flight into a charter to Connecticut so the Gators wouldn’t be inconvenienced. It was reported that the bumped passengers were deceitfully told that there were mechanical problems, but never let on to the fact that the problems related to a different flight. Then, once they had been told their flight was cancelled, some passengers saw what had been their plane being boarded by some very tall young men. Continue reading

The Ethics Conundrum of Jim Thorpe’s Body

Jim Thorpe: Native American, Olympic Champion, baseball star, football

Jim Thorpe: Native American, Olympic Champion, baseball star, football star…football.

One thing is for certain: Jim Thorpe doesn’t care. The great Native American athlete whose sports legacy was as sterling as his life was tragic died in 1953, recognized by the country he honored with his record-breaking performance in the 1912 Olympics, but like so many of his race, mistreated and exploited by it as well. Since his death, however, a bizarre battle over his body has raged, and it is a perfect example of the Roshomon-like nature of  ethics in some situations. What is the right thing, the fair thing, the ethical thing? The answer sometimes depends on whose viewpoint is applied, and objectivity, the ideal viewpoint we strive for, doesn’t even exist. In an ethical conflict, moreover, there are good ethical principles on both sides of a dispute.

In Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, the ethical verdict of what occurred in a Pennsylvania  court last month is clear: the town has been double-crossed. A federal judge ruled that Thorpe’s remains, which lie in a mausoleum built by the town, can be moved to Oklahoma by his family, to be buried on lands belonging to his tribe. In 1953, however, two Pennsylvania towns signed a contract with Thorpe’s widow, committing them to consolidate and rename themselves after the Olympic, football and baseball legend, in return for being able to house Thorpe’s body and reap the tourism benefits of doing so. The contract was valid, if venal in inspiration: Mrs. Thorpe wanted and received cash in return. But a bargain is a bargain, and Thorpe’s presence and name has defined the town for over half a century. Losing Thorpe means losing the town’s identity and signature feature, which is a calamity. Continue reading

Georgetown Law Center and The Case Of The Double-Crossed Donor

Sometimes those naming deals backfire, you know?

Sometimes those naming deals backfire, you know?

Scott K.  Ginsburg, a media mogul who got a J.D. from Georgetown Law Center in 1978, had been wooed by the school’s development team for a major gift when he was riding high, amassing billions in the 1990s. He agreed to contribute some pocket change–five million bucks—to build a new fitness center that would bear his name. The deal was put into writing, and the University issued a cheerful press release. Then, in 1999, shortly after the agreement was reached,  the Securities and Exchange Commission filed suit against Ginsburg, accusing him of passing along inside information to his father and brother. A jury agreed with the SEC, and he was orderedto pay $1 million in fines. After a flurry of appeals, the verdict stuck. (NOTE: In the first version of this post, I implied that this was a criminal case. It wasn’t: this was a regulatory lawsuit, and a civil verdict. A dumb error on my part, and I apologize to readers and Mt. Ginsburg for the misinformation.)

While all of this was going on, the Law Center, understandably, got nervous. Although Ginsburg was not a practicing attorney at the time, law schools don’t like having facilities named after grads who have been found to have violated laws or regulations in high-profile cases. In 2002, then-Georgetown Law Center Dean Judith Areen sent Ginsburg a letter thanking him for his support but also asking to revise the agreement, eliminating the promise of naming rights.  Areen said the school would find some way to “honor your gift without generating negative media coverage.”  Ginsburg, however, refused to sign on. As the years went by and the school continued to promote his gift as enticement to other donors as well as hitting him up for more money, he assumed the Scott K. Ginsburg Health and Fitness Center was under construction. There’s a fitness center, all right, on the GULC campus, but Ginsburg’s name isn’t on it. Now he is suing the Law Center, alleging that it reneged on the deal. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Petter’s Sex For Facebook Likes Deal

Sex for Likes

First Stan Musial dies, and now this.

 Petter Kverneng is an awkward  Norwegian teen. He wants to have sex with Cathrine, the love of his young life, and she 1) doesn’t or 2) wants to make him earn the privilege by showing how much he wants her or 3) wants to humiliate him first and then if she has to have sex, well, whatever. The story goes that she told him she would have sex with him if he could score 1,000,000  “likes” on Facebook. A large internet message board decided to either help out Petter or stick it to Cathrine, and now the pimply-faced youth has  1.2 million “likes” on his Facebook page.

Get ready, Cat.

Let us take an ethics inventory, shall we? What is interesting about this stupid story, if indeed it is true, is that many of its turns could be seen as both ethical and unethical. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Dear AIG: I’m Not Going To Be Able To Keep Criticizing Occupy Wall Street For Destructive Class Warfare If You Act Like This”

Michael, who now leads the field in Comments of the Day, picks up another with his commentary on my post about AIG’s continuing habit of living large on taxpayer funds. Here are his reflections on the post  Dear AIG: I’m Not Going To Be Able To Keep Criticizing “Occupy Wall Street” For Destructive Class Warfare If You Act Like This:

“A company can allow any expenses they want. That being said, since they are now majority owned by the US government, we need to ask who is giving the go ahead to things like this? Why haven’t they been fired? The Wall Street culture is so entitled and so out of touch with the reality of the common Americans that it is almost beyond belief.

“The Occupy Wall Street group could have a lot of legitimate gripes, but they don’t seem to have anyone with half a brain in the group. Instead of hearing “I want them to take the money from rich people and give it to me” form a college aged girl wearing $500 worth of clothes or “I have gone to every protest I can find for the last 40 years” from the aging hippies, why not try one of the following angles: Continue reading