Tag Archives: fraud

Closing The Book On An Ethics Villain

Lance Armstrong is the worst sports ethics villain of all time, I believe—cycling’s Barry Bonds, but in a sport far more vulnerable to betrayal than baseball. Like Bonds, he cheated, many times and over a long period, taking victories away from more deserving athletes while enriching himself. While Bonds never had his public “I did not have sex with that woman” moment of brazen denial, Armstrong had many, all the while insulting and condemning his accusers. Bonds also never was a revered hero of children—Barry appeared to care about no one but Barry—while Armstrong deliberately made them part of his scam. When Armstrong’s elaborate schemes, lies and cover-ups were revealed, he made lifetime cynics of hundreds of thousands of young fans, and maybe more.

Armstrong, like Bonds, left his sport in disgrace but took with him great wealth, and, like Bonds, has never shown a smidgen of sincere regret or contrition—sociopaths are like that. Yesterday it was announced that Armstrong will pay $5 million to the federal government in settlement of a fraud lawsuit. The U.S. said that he owed $100 million to taxpayers for accepting sponsorship funds for his cycling team from the U.S. Postal Service while he was doping. Armstrong also agreed to pay $1.65 million to cover the legal costs of Floyd Landis, a former Armstrong teammate and the whistleblower in the case.

Eh, whatever. Lance can afford it. Despite various fines and settlements, he managed to escape his exposure with most of his ill-gotten gains safely salted away, spent or invested. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/6/18: Yes, It’s Another “Trying To Get The Warm-Up Written While Rushing Around To Get Ready For An Early Morning Ethics Presentation” Edition…

good morning…

1 Responsible parties nominate responsible candidates 1. In Chicago, a permanently Democratic district has  no serious Republican candidates, so Holocaust-denier Arthur Jones, a whack-job who has run in this district seven times, is poised to get the nomination. “To me the Holocaust is what I said it is: It’s an international extortion racket,” Jones told the Chicago Sun-Times. Nice. Anticipating the attacks on the Republican Party if he is its representative in the election this fall, Ann Althouse writes, “Should this be used against the Republican Party? Sure, if you’re into taking whatever comes your way and incorporating it into ruthless propaganda for your party. Ironically, that would be Naziish.”

Wrong. I don’t know where the idea came from that a political party organization is obligated to act like a potted plant, but it isn’t. A party’s obligation is to the public, democracy, and the ideals the party and the nation represents. It does not and should not allow a candidate who doesn’t meet minimal standards of competence and responsibility to use the party to achieve political power. Let such people run on their own, or start a Holocaust Denial Party, or National Nut Ball Party, or the Green Party (Kidding!), or something. . A responsible party vets its candidates, and tells those who don’t stand for basic American values or who are unqualified that they don’t get to use the party for their ends by default.

If you check back, this was the Ethics Alarms position on Donald Trump. The Republicans shouldn’t have allowed him to run for the nomination, and even after he did, his conduct in the debates and elsewhere justified its refusing to nominate him at the convention. They don’t deserve to be called Nazis for nominating him, but they don’t deserve an ethics pass, either. The fact that he won is irrelevant. Continue reading

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I LOVE IT When This Happens!

Two recent Ethics Alarms posts collided on Ann Althouse’s blog today. She wrote that she was listening to the audiobook “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion,”by none other than Jonathan Haidt, who uttered the Ethics Quote Of The Month recently discussed here.

In his audiobook, Haidt said that this statement “captured the spirit and self-image of the modern American left”:

“I am a liberal, and liberalism is the politics of kindness. Liberals stand for tolerance, magnanimity, community spirit, the defense of the weak against the powerful, love of learning, freedom of belief, art and poetry, city life, the very things that make America worth dying for.”

Who authored this ringing declaration of liberal principles?

Garrison Keillor, that’s who. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/17: Keeping the Public Ignorant About Unethical Lawyers, Sugar Lies, And A Terrible Trump Tweet…

Good Morning, John!

Sing us into the first item, would you?

1 “Is anybody there? Does anybody care?” Everywhere I go, lawyers are talking about the David Boies scandal, which I wrote about here. I haven’t seen much media discussion about it at all. We have now seen one prominent hack lawyer, Lisa Bloom, and one prominent, skilled and respected lawyer, Boies, demonstrate high profile professional conduct that should receive serious sanctions from their profession, and it appears that most of the public and the media neither knows this nor cares.

Bloom is just a venal, incompetent, bad lawyer. The real crisis is when top lawyers blithely engage in wildly unethical conduct in a high profile case, but I doubt the public sees the difference. Very little commentary on Boies’s betrayal of the New York Times  focused on the throbbing black-letter ethics violation involved.  Today, a front page story in the New York Times about Black Cube, the sinister investigative crew hired by Boies to gather dirt on the Times before it blew the whistle on Harvey Weinstein completely missed this crucial element of the story. It also makes it near-certain that no one will read the report who need to know how poorly legal ethics are enforced.

Here’s the headline in the print edition: “Sleuths for Weinstein Push Tradecraft Limits.”  Tradecraft? Online: “Deception and Ruses Fill the Toolkit of Investigators Used by Weinstein.” Nowhere in the article are readers informed that lawyers are forbidden, without exception, from using any contractor that regularly uses deception.

Here is the kind of thing Black Cube specializes in, from the Times piece:

“Earlier this month, a former hedge fund employee was flown from Hong Kong to London for a job interview. Around the same time, a current employee of the same Toronto hedge fund was also flown to London for interviews. The company courting them was fake. Its website was fake. There were no jobs to be had, and the woman who set up the interviews was not a recruiter but an agent working for an Israeli private investigative firm.

This was not an episode of “Homeland” or the latest “Mission: Impossible” installment. Interviews and court papers show that these deceptions were part of a sophisticated and expensive investigative operation. The objective, according to one filing, was to gather proprietary information held by the hedge fund. The agent worked for Black Cube.”

Every single jurisdiction in the United States declares in its legal ethics rules, usually in the rule about misconduct, 8.4 (bolding mine):

It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

(a) Violate or attempt to violate the Rules of Professional Conduct, knowingly assist or induce another to do so, or do so through the acts of another;

(c) Engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation…

How much clearer can it be? It is unethical for a lawyer to employ someone or an organization that he or she knows routinely and reliably engages in “dishonesty, fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation.” Yet that’s the only reason anyone hires Black Cube. Conclusion: Boies breached a major ethics requirement, perhaps the most serious one there is. And why?  Because a client paid him to. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/24/17 [UPDATED]

GOOD MORNING!

1. I’m moving this to the top from its original placement at the end. I warned that the mania for retroactive statue-toppling and historical air-brushing was a deadly slippery slope to cultural chaos from the moment Dylan Roof’s rampage primed the Confederate flag banning push. I said that there was no clear stop on that slope, and that this was a massive ethical error that would quickly spin out of control.

I am accepting apologies and “You were right, I was wrong” messages at jamproethics@verizon.net. I will reply gracefully.

2. It’s a good thing, in some ways, that President Trump has no ethics alarms, or has them but doesn’t understand what all the ringing means, because if he did, he might realize that he has put himself in ethics zugswang in the matter of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration zealot who is facing up to six months in jail for defying a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos based solely on the suspicion of their legal status. Trump has been urged to pardon Arpaio. Let’s see:

  • Arpaio did defy a judicial order. Should a law enforcement official be treated especially harshly when he does this?

Yes.

  • The judicial order related to Arpaio’s practice of assuming that individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to be violating the immigration laws in his jurisdiction than other citizens. Since his jurisdiction was rife with Hispanic illegals, was this an unreasonable assumption on his part? No. Was it still discriminatory? Sure. Is the balance between profiling, which in such situations is a valuable law-enforcement tool, and the importance of equal treatment under the law a difficult one legally and ethically? Yes. Does a sheriff have the right and authority to ignore the way this balance is decided one legal authorities define it?

No.

  • Is the determination of this balance often polluted by ideological biases, in this case, against enforcement of immigration laws?

Yes.

  • Do Donald Trump, and his supporters, and those Americans who may not be his supporters but who agree that allowing foreign citizens to breach our borders at will without legal penalties is certifiably insane, believe that Arpaio’s position on illegal immigration is essentially correct and just?

Yes.

  • Nonetheless, did his ham-handed methods give ammunition to open-borders, pro-illegal immigration, race-baiting activists like the one who told the New York Times,

“Trump is delivering a slap in the face to dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio. Arpaio belongs in jail, getting a taste of his own medicine. Trump wants to put Arpaio above the law, showing they are both about white supremacy.”

  • Is sending Arpaio to jail a political imprisonment?

Yes, although he made it easy to justify on non-political grounds.

  • Are political prisoners the ideal objects of Presidential pardons?

Yes.

  • Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)

Yes.

  • Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?

God, yes.

  • Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?

YES!

  • Will he?

Of course not. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/23/17

Good Morning!

(BOY, there are a lot of especially stupid ethics stories today…)

1. This:

That’s right: an Asian-American broadcaster who never fought for the South during the Civil War has been robbed of a job assignment because his virtue-signaling, grandstanding mega-corporation wants to side with the statute-toppling Left. ESPN regrets that the NAME of one of its broadcasters has become an issue? Who made it an issue? ESPN, that’s who.

Nah, there’s no slippery slope! Nah, this is just about Civil War generals! Nah, the people behind the historical purge or reasonable…they won’t just keep looking for more ways to claim they are being offended!

Can you tell I am losing patience with the defenders, enablers and rationalizes of this toxic nonsense?

2. Or is this dumber? From issue scout Neil, who writes, “Watch the video. [Trump] gestures for the crowd to look up at the sky, then makes a show of looking himself (though CLEARLY not actually trying to see the eclipse). I must have seen at least a dozen other  people yesterday scan the sky in a similar fashion before accidentally getting blinded by an eye-full of rays. The man is inept beyond belief, but he’s not wearing a bib. God this  irritates me.”

These are the ways that that the newsmedia signals to anyone with an open mind and not drooling, gnashing and recoiling at the sight of water from end-stages Anti-Trump Brain-Eating Virus infection that it cannot be trusted, and has traded of its integrity, honesty, fairness and objectivity to lead the “Destroy the Elected President of the United States” effort. No, the President did not actually look directly into the sun and blind himself. In fact, I did exactly the same thing he did when I glanced up at the sun sideways for a nanosecond wondering why so many idiots were lying on the ground wearing 3-D glasses. This is the epitome of fake news—fake, because the intent of the item is to mislead, and because it is no more news than “President uses wrong fork at State Dinner.” No other President, ever, under any scenario, would be covered this way, and no news publication would ever print anything so dumb unless it was certain that its readers were gullible, deranged, and even dumber.

Prof. Glenn Reynolds:If the press and the political opposition — but I repeat myself — were just sober, straightforward, and honest they could beat Trump easily. But then, if they were capable of that, we wouldn’t have gotten Trump to begin with.”

3. My wife reminded me that I have been flagging deception in obnoxious ways since long before ProEthics and Ethics Alarms.  When we were dating, she had a bowl of soup at a Georgetown campus hangout called The Tombs, and I had a cup of the same soup, for $1.50 less. I asked the waitress for a clean bowl and cup,  and poured water into the cup until it was at soup-level, and then poured that water into the empty bowl, which it filled. Then I asked her to get the manager, whom I asked to explain why a bowl cost more than a cup when the amount of soup was the same. he had no explanation of course.

You’ll be amazed how many restaurants do this. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/1/17

Good morning, and welcome July!

Once famous American radio news commentator Gabriel Heatter (September 17, 1890 – March 30, 1972) sued to begin his World War II-era  broadcasts by  saying, “There’s good news tonight!” I’ve been trying to find an equivalent up-beat introduction for the Warm-Up from an ethics perspective. The problem is that this requires there to be some genuinely good ethics news. Not today. Maybe tomorrow…

1. The furor over President Trump’s pathetic attack tweets on two pretty awful MSNBC cable TV hosts continues, with “the resistance”—you know, like the New York Times—citing it as proof of madness, and right-wing media and bloggers increasingly rationalizing that it’s high time someone slapped down “media bullies” like silly Joe and biased Mika. The Left’s reaction is disingenuous, and the Right’s is incompetent.

Yesterday on the progressive echo chamber end of my Facebook spectrum, they were going nuts over the tweets, and one woman posted that she had voted for Trump but she regretted it now. She never would have voted for him, she said, if she thought he would act like this. I don’t know this idiot, but I had to reply:

“What? Trump tweeted and talked exactly like that for the whole campaign, and had been similarly gross and boorish publicly for thirty years! Remember Trump talking about blood coming out of Megyn Kelly’s “wherever” after the very first debate in 2015? “Little Marco”? Mocking Carly Fiorina’s face?” 

One could reasonably hope that being President might cause Trump to curb this habit, but one could not reasonable vote for him and not realize that similar conduct was a distinct possibility. On the news media and political side, the tweets prompted a re-run of the exact same (undemocratic, unethical) arguments they have made from the beginning for trying to overturn the election, as if something was new. This isn’t new. That’s part of what’s wrong with it. It also is the predictable conduct of the man elected by voters who were well aware he acted this way. I know you think they are cretins, Good People in Progressive Land, but that’s not a justification for invalidating their votes, and you are not going to get away with it if you try.

As for defenses of Trump like the opinion piece at Mediaite (“President Trump Deserves Credit For Taking On Bullies Like Mika Brzezinski“), how silly can you be? He’s the President of the United States: you can’t “bully” him. Even powerful media figures can’t bully him. He has all the power. They are punching up (more like slapping and griping and sneering up), and he is punching down, provoked by mites, lowering himself and his office by doing so.

2. Remember the Frye Festival fiasco? Billy McFarland, the inept con man/idiot who set it up has been arrested and charged with fraud.

Good. Continue reading

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