Tag Archives: privacy

Ethics Observation On The Trump 2005 Tax Return

Yesterday, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow endlessly hyped the fact that  veteran investigative reporter David Cay Johnston had obtained President Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. When it was revealed, the scoop didn’t justify the hype. Trump  paid 38 million in taxes that year,  24% of his income—not the top rate, but not “nothing,” which was the rumor Democrats were selling during the campaign.

Ethics points:

1. Whoever leaked the return broke the law, and doing so was unethical.  No, it’s not illegal for the news media to take material stolen by others and sanctify it via their First Amendment protections.  It should be though. When they do this, they aide and abet a crime, and Freedom of the Press wasn’t supposed to allow THAT. At very least, journalists should be required to reveal the names of the criminals who steal and release our proprietary documents. The publication of these makes such thefts worse, not better.

2. I don’t see why the President’s tax returns from 12 years ago has any genuine relevance to anything now. The returns were relevant to the decision of whether or not people wanted to vote for him. Now, the tax documents have no purpose, except for the insatiable Trump-bashers to have something new to bash him with. Anything will do.

3. David Cay Johnston was dishing about his “scoop” with GMA’s George Stephanopoulos, and decided to start a new rumor. He speculated that Trump leaked the return himself.  No evidence, not a drop, and yet that’s what this veteran reporter felt was justifiable to say on national TV. Gee, can we call THAT fake news?

4. Then, as he did with Maddow, the reporter went on about all the conflicts of interest that Trump’s financial dealings have created. Again, this is re-litigating the election. At this point, there is no practical way to eliminate Trump’s conflicts and the appearance of impropriety that they create, and he’s not going to bother trying. Johnston, and others, including me, never made a clear case to the public why the President’s unprecedented financial entanglements should have been disqualifying; nor did Hillary, in part because her own financial entanglements were disqualifying. Well, the train left the station, y’all. You had your chance, and botched it. Johnston, like so many of the other bitter-enders who want to turn back time, ultimately get back to, “But…but…but…we never should have elected this guy! Surely there is something we can do to undo it!”

No, there isn’t. Cut it out. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Finance, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

Supreme Court Ethics Quiz Of The Day: Jury Secrecy vs. Jury Bias

The Supreme Court ruled today that courts must reject the usual rule that jury deliberations are secret when evidence emerges they were marred by racial or ethnic bias. The 5-to-3 decision was triggered by statements made during jury deliberations in a 2010 sexual assault trial, when a juror said of the defendant, “I think he did it because he’s Mexican, and Mexican men take whatever they want.” The juror was a former law enforcement officer, and after the trial was over, two other jurors submitted sworn statements describing what he had said during deliberations.

 “He said that where he used to patrol, nine times out of 10 Mexican men were guilty of being aggressive toward women and young girls,” one juror recalled.

Those statements, the Court’s majority said,  warranted an investigation by the trial judge into deliberations that are ordinarily secret. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Justice Kennedy in the majority opinion.

Continue reading

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Filed under Law & Law Enforcement, Quizzes, Race

Ethics Observations On That “This Is The Future That Liberals Want” Meme

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Boubah Barry, a Guinean immigrant and real estate student, saw a striking pair  riding on his subway into Manhattan on February 19. He snapped a photo, and posted it to his Instagram page. The post was shared by the Instagram account “subwaycreatures,” and eventually  /pol/ News Network attached it to a tweet this week with the message “This is the future that liberals want” as a warning about the  danger posed by progressive policies. Naturally, progressives saw nothing alarming about the scene, flooded the site with defiant endorsements of diversity, and shot the meme around the Internet with the same message: This is the future that liberals want, and so there! Then the satirists, adsurdists, and apolitical got into the act—thank god—and we had this kind of thing…

 

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and this…

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…this… Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, Social Media, U.S. Society

Now THIS Is An Unethical IRS Employee…Howard Stern Too, But We Knew HE Was Unethical

[There is supposed to be a photo of Howard Stern here, but WordPress keeps refusing to embed it, thus showing the software’s admirable good taste.]

In May of 2015, Judith Barrigas of Sandwich, Massachusetts called the IRS service center  with a question about her tax refund. She reached IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe, who was goofing off on the job, on hold after a call to Howard Stern’s radio show on satellite radio. Forsythe, still on hold (or so he thought) took the taxpayer’s call, and when the Stern show took reconnected, Stern’s listeners somehow heard Forsythe’s conversation with Barrigas.  Stern and paid sycophant Robin Quivers then joked about the call, which concerned Barrigas’s payment plan: the IRS had applied Barrigas’s tax refund to pay her outstanding debts from 2011 and 2012, even though she complained she already had a repayment plan set up with the  IRS. Her call, which she assumed was private, should have assumed was private and was guranteed by federal law to BE private, was on the airwaves for nearly an hour.

“I’m learning so much,” said Stern at the time, before he finally cut off the surreptitious eavesdropping. “I feel like I’m in math class and I’m flunking because I don’t know one thing he’s saying. I think I’m going to bail on this guy. By the way, this is the most boring job ever. I’d rather live in my parent’s basement if I had to do that. I’d give out all the wrong information. All right, dude, later!”

Barrigas  has just sued  the IRS, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act,  unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, and just the for the Stern side,  negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Workplace

The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016: The Last Of The Worst

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Ethics Alarms wraps up the Worst in 2016 Ethics with the usual education and journalism breaches, Ethics Dunce of the Year, and more delights for the sadistic…

Unethical Government Fiasco Of The Year

The Flint, Michigan water crisisA failure of competence, diligence, responsibility and honesty, compounded by bureaucrats, elected officials, the city of Detroit, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and the EPA made people sick and cost billions.

Good job, everybody!

Scam of the Year

Sen.Ted Cruz’s fake “official” mailer before the Iowa Caucus. Cruz’s campaign  sent out mailers labeled in all capital letters, “ELECTION ALERT,” “VOTER VIOLATION,” “PUBLIC RECORD,” and “FURTHER ACTION NEEDED.” On the other side, the mailer said, in red letters at the top, “VOTING VIOLATION.” The text read:

You are receiving this election notice because of low expected voter turnout in your area. Your individual voting history as well as your neighbors’ are public record. Their scores are published below, and many of them will see your score as well. CAUCUS ON MONDAY TO IMPROVE YOUR SCORE and please encourage your neighbors to caucus as well. A follow-up notice may be issued following Monday’s caucuses.

This is why Trump’s nickname for Cruz, “Lyin’ Ted,” was crude but accurate.

Ethics Dunces Of The Year

All the social media users and others who ended Facebook friendships, genuine friendships and relationship over the 2016 election. Haven’t they ever seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”? Morons. Shame on all of them.

Weenies of the Year

The college students who demanded that exams be cancelled, therapists be available, safe spaces be found, puppies be summoned and cry-ins be organized because the awful candidate they supported in the Presidential election lost, as candidates often do.

How embarrassing.

Unethical University Of The Year 

Liberty University.  This is the most competitive of categories, with all the schools that railroaded male students based on questionable sexual assault claims while quailing in fear of the Dept. of Education’s “Dear Colleague Letter,” and all the schools that signaled that the results of a simple election justified PTSD treatment for their shattered charges, as well as making it clear to any students who dared to tilt Republican that they were persona non grata. Nonetheless, Liberty University takes the prize with its unique combination of greed, hypocrisy, and warped values. From the Ethics Alarms post:

Last week, with great fanfare, Liberty hired Ian McCaw as its new athletic director. “My vision for Liberty is to position it as a pre-eminent Christian athletic program in America,” McCaw said during a news conference.

This is his first paying assignment since May, when he left his job as the athletic director at Baylor, also a Christian university. His departure was made essential after a thorough investigation that found that those overseeing Baylor’s  football team as well as the management of  the athletic department—that is, McCaw— had been informed of multiple gang rapes and sexual assault by team members and had ignored it, as any good football-loving Christian would….especially when a star was involved.

Continue reading

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Observations On The Obscene Trump Audio Scandal

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A leaked audio  obtained and released by the Washington Post has Donald Trump commenting to media personality Billy Bush about his attempts to bed a married woman, a few months months after he married Melania Trump, his third wife. When he sees a beautiful woman, the GOP standard-bearer said, he  kisses her without consent.  “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” he explains. He describes a married woman who wouldn’t sleep with him by making fun of her as having“phony tits.” Then he advises Bush, “Grab them by the pussy.”

Nice.

But not surprising. Not even a little bit.

Observations:

1. CNN’s senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta believes this may finish Trump’s presidential campaign. Utter incompetence and confirmation bias: why does anyone listen to “experts” this dense? Acosta, and I’m sure he has lots of company, apparently has learned nothing over the past year. What kind of person who currently supports Trump despite his constant vulgarity, misogyny, meanness, dishonesty, irresponsible statements and foolishness would regard this unremarkable male jerkishness as a last straw? Of course he talks like that. I never had any doubt that he talked like that, just as I never doubted that Hillary Clinton regarded Bernie’s supporters as gullible children, as a recent leak of her candid comments revealed. Did you think Trump talked about women differently than this when he was with other guys? Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Etiquette and manners, Gender and Sex, Journalism & Media

Comment of the Day: “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

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Having just returned from an eight-day (and partially laptop-less) speaking tour  that has me about ten posts behind, it was nice to have Steve-O-in-NJ deliver a textbook Comment of the Day, expanding on the original post with relevant and useful observations about photography -obsessed parents and photography ethics.

I do object from an ethical standpoint to his tit-for-tat endorsing last line.

Here is his good and thoughtful work in response to the post, “A Daughter Sues Her Parents For Being Assholes. Good.”

What are the ethics of taking 500 pictures of your child? I wish that I could say that the ethics of taking large numbers of pictures are always the same but they are not. I am in the middle of a two-week vacation and I have been taking a large number of pictures. I see absolutely nothing wrong with shooting a large number of pictures during an air show, particularly where the opportunity to get a particular shot is very limited. I see absolutely nothing wrong with taking a large number of pictures at a place like Colonial Williamsburg, where the actors are deliberately dressed up in costumes designed to attract attention. The same ethics generally applies to any event where there are costumed individuals who are seeking attention. The same ethics probably apply to sporting events. Of course the shooting of inanimate objects like in a museum is perfectly all right, subject to whatever policies the institution puts in place and makes known. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Etiquette and manners, Family, Social Media