What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!

One of these guys is Donald Trump's lawyer. Maybe both...

One of these guys is Donald Trump’s lawyer. Maybe both…

I realize I run the risk, by publishing this opinion, of Donald Trump’s thuggish, boorish, dolt of lawyer trying to “mess [my] life up … for as long as [I’m] on this frickin’ planet,” to put it in his well-measured, restrained and professional parlance. Well, so be it. Seldom do we see any lawyer befoul the image and dignity of his profession like Michael Cohen, Esquire, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers, did yesterday responding to a Daily Beast story about the dirty linen aired during Trump’s divorce from Ivana Trump over 20 years ago.

Ivana then compared a sexual encounter with her husband to sexual assault and rape,  and The Daily Beast wrote about it, as if Trump wasn’t doing enough already to make any decent American head to the loo at the sight of him. So Trump appointed Cohen as his media spokesman on the matter—just think: he was the best and most professional of the candidates for the job!—and he said this to The Daily Beast… Continue reading

The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 4 of 4)


Outrageous Hoax Of The Year

Mamoru Samuragochi, the composer sometimes known as “The Japanese Beethoven” because he composed critically acclaimed works despite being deaf, was exposed as double fraud: he didn’t compose the works that made him Japan’s most popular classical composer, and he isn’t even really deaf!  Samuragochi hired a musical ghostwriter named Takashi Niigaki to compose more than twenty compositions for Samuragochi since 1996.

Funniest Outrageous Hoax

Fake Panda


Unethical Artist Of The Year

Performance artist Maximo Caminero, who  walked into the Pérez Art Museum in Miami, entered a special exhibit of sixteen ancient Chinese vases painted over in bright colors by celebrated Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, picked up one of them, and immediately after a security guard instructed him not to touch the exhibit, allowed the vase to fall from his hands, shattering into bits. Caminero admitted that smashing the pottery, which was valued at a million dollars,  was intentional, and was his protest against in support of local artists like himself whose work is not exhibited at the museum while the art of international artists like Weiwei is.

Unethical Veterinarian Of The Year

Fort Worth, Texas veterinarian Lou Tierce lost his license for five years as a result of, among other transgressions, his telling the owners of a Leonburger (it’s a very big dog) that their pet was terminally ill and had to be euthanized, then secretly keeping the dog alive in a small cage so he could use Sid’s blood for transfusions to Dr. Tierce’s other canine patients. Eventually an assistant at the clinic blew the whistle and alerted Sid’s owners, who rescued their dog and sicced the law on the worst veterinarian since Dean Jones menaced Beethoven.

Unethical Doctor Of The Year

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s medical expert, endangered the public by defying a voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola exposure,  because she just couldn’t bear to be without her favorite soup.

Scam of the Year


The Affordable Care Act.

 Unethical Federal Agency Of The Year

The Secret Service. Lots of competition in this category: the Veterans Administration, the I.R.S., the CDC, the Justice Department, NSA…but when you essentially have one job to do and do it badly, sloppily carelessly and dangerously, there’s really not much more to say Continue reading

The Fifth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2013 (Part Three)


Unethical Artist Of The Year

Photographer Jill Greenberg, whose art requires parents to make their children cry. Runner-up: Peeping Tom photographer/artist Arne Svenson

Kaitlyn Hunt

False Allegation Of Anti-Gay Bigotry Of The Year

Kaitlyn Hunt’s parents, who spun a false tale of anti-gay prejudice to portray their sexual predator daughter as a victim after she was accused of statutory rape by the parents of her under-age target. Hunt’s parents even managed to suck the ACLU into their web and the liberal-leaning press portrayed her as a martyr to anti-gay bias. But Hunt’s lies ultimately caused her cover-story to unravel.

 Unethical Hoax Of The Year

Oberlin students Dylan Bleier and Matt Alden, aided and abetted by  Oberlin College and its president, Marvin Krislov. The two students, self-proclaimed progressives, posted a series of racist and anti-Semitic posters, graffiti and anonymous emails as “an experiment.” Krislov and Oberlin, after cancelling classes and engaging in campus-wide navel-gazing, continued to allow the media and the public believe that this was the work of racists on campus well after it had learned who the real miscreants wereRunner-up: The horrible Meg Lanker-Simons, former University of Wyoming student (now admitted to law school—I don’t want to talk about it) who threatened herself with rape and used the bogus threat to show that her campus was violent and sexist.

Most Unethical Use of Social Media Continue reading

Reese Witherspoon Uses The Pazuzu Defense

What's that, Reese? You say your head spun around? Ok, then I take it back--that really wasn't you talking...

What’s that, Reese? You say your head spun around? Ok, then I take it back–that really wasn’t you talking…

Actress Reese Witherspoon interfered with police in the process of their arresting her husband  for DUI, and got arrested herself as a result…but not before displaying the tell-tale mark of an arrogant celebrity, the old “Do you know who I am?” threat. As the officers tried to handle her allegedly drunken hubby, Witherspoon interjected, “Do you know my name?” When the officer said, in effect, that he couldn’t care less,  the star of “Legally Blonde”  retorted with “You’re about to find out who I am … You are going to be on national news!”

Now, in the light of day, sobriety, and the realization that her Q points may be in danger, Witherspoon has responded with a Full Pazuzu (Pazuzu is the demon that caused poor Linda Blair to say all those awful things in “The Exorcist”), saying:

“…I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. The words I used that night definitely do not reflect who I am. I have nothing but respect for the police and I am very sorry for my behavior.” Continue reading

The Fourth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2012 (Part 2)


The 2012 Ethics Alarms Awards for the Worst in Ethics continues (you can catch up with Part I here , and the Best is here), and yes, it gets worse…

Worst Friend and Relative

Lori Stilley, who faked cancer to get sympathy, favors, parties and money from those who cared about her.

Most Unethical Advice

Emily Yoffe, Slate’s “Dear Prudence,” wins for a year of bad advice in kinky situations, the bottom of the barrel being when she advised a daughter who observed her mother illegally filling out her invalid grandparents’ 2012 absentee ballots to reflect the mother’s electoral preferences to do nothing about this combination of elder abuse and voter fraud.

Shameless Bad Character Division Continue reading

The Akin Affair: A Brief Note on Being Fair To Idiots

A Baby Fairy (from the Todd Akin collection)

Todd Akin, as I discussed in the recent post, is too dumb to serve in high elected office, and his refusal (at least so far) to give up his nomination for the U.S. Senate after proving it marks him as unethical as well.

Nonetheless, an astounding number of pundits, Democrats and social media users are making fools of themselves and missing the fish in the barrel by concentrating their fire on Akin’s use of the phrase “legitimate rape.” Many of them apparently never read his quote, and really think the poor, silly man said that rape could be “legitimate”, as in “legal, just, valid or proper,” which is what the word really means. He didn’t say that, and he didn’t mean that. He obviously didn’t mean that, and it is unfair and misleading to condemn him on the basis of what he didn’t say.

Here is his quote again, speaking of women getting pregnant after being raped: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)…Plus Some Clarifications

Apparently Prissy told Todd Akin’s family all about the Baby Faries…

To clarify, Rep. Todd Akin, the GOP’s candidate for the U.S. Senate in opposition to Sen. Claire McCaskill, is not an Ethics Dunce because he said, in a recent TV interview, this, in response to whether it should be illegal for a woman impregnated by a rapist to get an abortion:

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

No, that statement just proves that he’s an idiot. Continue reading

Clarifications, Retractions, Excuses and Lies: The Low Art of Pretending You Didn’t Mean What You Said

A figure in the public eye says something that appears sincere but that leads to negative conclusions about the speaker? Well. there are many options:

1. The speaker can stand by his or her words, and take the consequences.

2. The speaker can regret the words, express remorse, apologize, and ask forgiveness.

3. The speaker can accept the criticism and agree that he or she meant what he said, but state that, upon listening to the criticism, state that he or she no longer feels that way, and would not say the same thing today.

4. The speaker can try to say that the original statement wasn’t intended to mean what anyone hearing the words would naturally think they meant, making a plausible claim that the original statement was mis-worded.

5. The speaker can deny that he or she said the words, even, in some cases, though it was on tape.

6. The speaker can say that the words were taken “out of context,” as they sometimes are, as in Shirley Sherrod’s case, when subsequent comments at the same event changed the meaning of the quote, but were edited out.

7. The speaker can say he was joking, as Senator John Kerry tried to do after he suggested that if you don’t study hard and end up ignorant, you’ll be in the military fighting with all the other dummies, or as Professor Charles Ogletree has claimed regarding his statement that a video of President Obama hugging a radical law school professor when he was a student was hidden during the 2008 campaign.

8.The speaker can say that the statement is “no longer operative”, as Newt Gingrich did after a televised interview earlier this year. Continue reading

Ethics Dunces: Belvedere Vodka and Arnell

“Ethics Dunces” doesn’t really do these two organizations justice. Try “too dumb to live” and “too unethical to be trusted with sharp objects.”

Or vice-versa.

Marketing whizzes Arnell devised this hysterically funny vodka ad for Belvedere Vodka, showing a happily horny man sexually assaulting a terrified female victim. What fun! And such a witty tag line: “Unlike Some People, Belvedere Always Goes Down Smoothly.”

Goes down, get it?

It took about an hour after this juvenile, rape-friendly offal was posted on Twitter and Facebook for there to be such a negative reaction that even the bombed cretins at the vodka company were able to figure out something was wrong. So they pulled the ad, and apologized, kind of, tweeting,

“We apologize to any of our fans who were offended by our recent tweet. We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.”

Uhhhhhhno. “We apologize to those who were offended”–a non-apology apology. Ethics strike two. “We continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking”—what? These idiots still didn’t understand what they were supposed to be apologizing for!!!   Ethics Strike THREE! Continue reading

Lindsay Lohan Dethroned As “All-Time Most Outrageous Excuse” Champion!

Linday Lohan, the former title-holder, and the new champion, Michael West

Back in 2007, I awarded Lindsay Lohan the championship for most brazen and manifestly ridiculous excuse ever. She had just been arrested for driving intoxicated and possession of cocaine, which had been found in the pocket of her jeans; Lindsay’s profession of innocence was that 1) she wasn’t driving her own car and 2) the pants belonged to somebody else. I noted at the time that she hadn’t yet claimed that the body she was in at the time wasn’t hers, but absent that, the “these aren’t my pants (TAMP)” excuse might well stand for all time.

In retrospect, that was rash. For one thing, many celebrities then as now already employed the Pazuzu Excuse, just a hair less ridiculous than TAMP, in which an offensive and career jeopardizing utterance is explained by the utterer as being inexplicable, that for some presumably supernatural reason—like being possessed by the demon who used Linda Blair as his ventriloquist dummy in “The Exorcist”—the individual has said something he or she not only didn’t believe, but never had even thought. The most recent purveyor of the Pazuzu Excuse noted here was Kobe Bryant; other infamous possessed have included Mel Gibson, Helen Thomas, and Michael Richards. That’s uncomfortably close to “it wasn’t my body.”  A few months ago, Newt Gingrich attributed his serial adultery and his habit of dumping his beloved wives when they got sick to his extreme patriotism; still short of TAMP, but getting close. Then, just this week, a strong contender nearly grabbed the title from Lindsay when  the chicken-hearted drunk who piloted the Costa Concordia cruise ship onto the rocks claimed left the capsizing vessel before his passengers because the he “fell into a life boat.” Uh-oh. Clearly, Lindsay’s title was teetering.

And quickly it fell. The Smoking Gun reports that in Wisconsin on Sunday, police responded to a domestic abuse call to find Mrs. Michael West bleeding from her face and saying that her husband Michael beat and tried to strangle her. Confronted by the officers, Mr. West explained that he was innocent.

A ghost did it.

Well, Lindsay’s one remaining accomplishment since “Mean Girls” is history. The new champion for “All-Time Most Outrageous Excuse” is Michael West.

This time, I’m not making any predictions. It’s crazy out there.


Epilogue: As I re-read my Ethics Scoreboard post from 2007 about Lindsay Lohan’s ridiculous episode, I found myself becoming depressed. In 2007 she was just 21 years old and looked it; she had a career, she was obviously talented, and despite the arrest, had plenty of time to turn things around and get what had once looked like a charmed life back on track. She never did. In the intervening years leading up to 2012, she has had multiple stays in rehab and two stints in jail. She had to stand trial for grand theft, and is still on probation. This month she is featured posing nude in Playboy, usually the last ditch recovery vehicle for fading actresses who are too unstable or unpopular to get on “Dancing With the Stars,”  have too much pride to sign on to “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew, and are not fat enough for “Celebrity Boot Camp.”  As she sheds her dignity in Hugh Hefner’s anachronistic soft-porn glossy, looking far older than her years, Lohan’s over-shadowed cast-mates from “Mean Girls,” Amanda Seyfried, Rachel McAdam and Tina Fey, have all become respected, bankable and still rising stars.  Her supposed teen rival from years ago, Hillary Duff, has a singing and acting career, a husband and a baby on the way. Lohan is still only 26; many people have sunk far lower than she has with fewer assets to draw on and pulled their lives out of  tailspins to be happy, successful, and productive. I hope she can too. Right now, however, her life is a cautionary tale about how a badly-parented young woman who was never taught responsibility, accountability, respect for authority or self-control can find life unmanageable despite possessing all the gifts that American society foolishly admires more—youth, beauty, riches, talent and fame.

And it makes me sad.