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

As Close To An Ethics Hero As He’s Ever Likely To Get: Senator Ted Cruz

I never thought I would have occasion to place the term “Ethics Hero” anywhere near Ted Cruz’s name. Ted understands ethics (unlike Donald Trump), he just discards them at will, when an end he lusts for requires an unethical means. Last night, however, Cruz brushed up against ethics heroism. He took the podium at the Republican National Convention in prime time, and directed principled conservatives and Republicans not to vote for Donald Trump, though not in so many words. It took character, it took courage, and his message was the right one.

The Texas Senator and last Trump challenger standing congratulated Trump for winning the Republican nomination,  but never endorsed him. Then he closed by telling convention-goers and TV viewers to “vote your conscience” in November. The convention throng of Trump supporters erupted in jeers, as Cruz had to know they would, and Trump felt he had to appear on the floor to pull focus from his intransigent foe. Today on Fox News, the Fox Blondes and their harassers were slamming Cruz as a traitor and a fool.

Yeah, that was how the collaborators talked about De Gaulle in France during the occupation, too. Continue reading

The First Thing We Do, Let’s Slime All The Lawyers…

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In election years I tell all my legal ethics seminar classes to start teaching their non-lawyer neighbors and relatives ABA Model Rule 1.2 b, which reads,

(b) A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.

This, combined with the principle of zealous representation of one’s client, as expressed, for example, in D.C. Rule of Professional Conduct Rule 1.3…

(a) A lawyer shall represent a client zealously and diligently within the bounds of the law.
(b) A lawyer shall not intentionally:

(1) Fail to seek the lawful objectives of a client through reasonably available means permitted by law and the disciplinary rules; or
(2) Prejudice or damage a client during the course of the professional relationship….

…means that lawyers represent clients, and are bound to seek those clients’ objectives when those objectives are legal whether the lawyer likes or agrees with those objectives or not.

It means that it is ignorant, wrong and dangerous to the rule of law as well as the right of citizens to be the beneficiaries of laws in a democracy and not the servants of them, for unscrupulous political opponents to attack lawyers for the positions, objectives and needs of the clients they represented. It means that it is disgusting for maleducated journalists to misinform the already disturbingly confused public by using a matter that a lawyer-turned-candidate’s client needed legal advocacy for as an excuse to impugn the candidate’s character.

Lawyers do not have to agree with or like their clients’ positions, objectives or character, is that clear? Everybody? Lawyers are not to be held accountable for their client’s motives, conduct or legal objectives. Bill Cosby’s lawyers do not approve of rapists. Johnnie Cochran did not support the hobby of ex-wife knifing.

Yet this happens every election cycle, without fail: cheap shots directed at candidates who are lawyers based on one or more of their unsavory clients.  There are two lawyers left in the current primary competition, and guess what?

You guessed it.

Hillary’s ancient defense of a rapist was used to slime her all the way back in 2014. The unfair attack raised its misshapen and empty head last week on CNN, when a Trump supporter brought it up. What we know about Clinton is that she defended a child rapist she was appointed to represent pro bono in 1975, and did an excellent job. She used all the tactics that she was allowed to use. She attacked the credibility of the twelve-year-old victim, and threw sufficient doubt on the the chain of evidence that Clinton got an advantageous  plea bargain for her client, who served just ten months in prison. Sure, he was guilty, and Hillary knew it.  It was her job to make the prosecution prove its case with sufficient evidence, and they failed. The victim, we are told, has had a hard life because of the experience. That is not in any way Clinton’s fault or responsibility.

Now it’s on to Ted Cruz. Here is Slate’s click-bait, misleading, deceitful headline to further the “Ted Cruz is a some kind of sexually repressed weirdo” trope the left-biased media is peddling: Continue reading

The Unethical Donald Trump Quote Of The Day, Unethical Tweet Of The Month, And Unethical Americans of All-Time

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I must confess that I got a bit bored with my promised unethical Trump quote of the day feature, since on most days there are so many of them. After a while they are predictable and redundant. It’s best to just assume that Trump is being unethical, and wait until he crosses a new line before highlighting an example of his despicable nature. I think threatening another candidate’s wife is a new line: has any Presidential candidate ever directly and publicly threatened an adversary’s wife? Would any previous candidate survive public outrage if he did?

This attack was particularly outrageous. Trump, whose calling card is Rationalization #2 A, Sicilian Ethics or “They had it coming,” was reacting to an offensive ad by a pro-Cruz group in Utah, which released a nasty ad featuring a nude photo Trump’s  trophy wife Melania once posed for with the caption “Meet Melania Trump, Your Next First Lady. Or, You Could Support Ted Cruz on Tuesday.” It wasn’t Cruz’s ad, and he could not, under the law, have anything to do with it (not that I would put it past his campaign anyway.) Cruz responded by tweeting that Trump had shown that “you’re more of a coward than I thought.” Continue reading

John Kasich Flunks An Honesty Test…Or Is It Sanity That’s His Problem?

"I have a question for Gov. Kasich. WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU???"

“I have a question for Gov. Kasich. WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH YOU???”

When Donald Trump again decided to boycott a Fox New debate because of his apparent terror of Megyn Kelly, it presented the remaining contenders for the Republican nomination to make their respective cases for 150 minutes without risking ad hominem attacks and having their best soundbites superseded the next day by whatever inflammatory gibberish Trump happened to launch that night for the fascination of talking heads.

What an opportunity—especially for long-time underdog John Kasich, who always seemed like he was on the margins of combat. Yet incredibly, Kasich pulled out of the debate too, forcing Fox to choose between a Ted Cruz monologue or no debate at all. The network chose the latter.

Thank you, Fox.

What sense did this make for Kasich? What politician running for office turns down free national exposure? Theories emerged, one complimentary to Kasich. Had he made a deal with Trump, a la Chris Christie? Was he afraid to go head to head with master debater Ted Cruz? Continue reading

Observations On The Fox GOP Candidates Debate in Detroit

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The transcript is here.

1. I’m in Atlanta, teaching ethics to lawyers, and watching some shows I seldom get to see. I believe I have discovered why so many citizens are ill-informed, have warped priorities, are entranced by a vulgar reality TV star, and appear not to comprehend that electing a President isn’t something that should be used as the means to express free-floating frustration. This morning I made the excuse of tuning into “Good Morning America!,” the top rated morning show,and watched in disbelief as the happy, giggly crew “covered” the debate by briefly highlighting Donald’s defense of his penis and the silly exchange about yoga Romney’s thorough dismantling of Trump didn’t make the cut, but the big news, according to ABC, was that a GMA cast member was announced as new “Dancing With The Stars” contestant. We were treated to a 10 minute segment including her mother, her DWTS partner, and a montage of the career of a typical TV weather girl.  The news that Hillary Clinton’s tech guy who set up her server and who had used the 5th Amendment to avoid answering the FBI’s questions was granted immunity yesterday by the Justice Department wasn’t anywhere to be found. Hey, the gang on GMA don’t seem to think who gets to run for President matters, why should anyone else? Needless to say (but I’ll say it anyway), what isn’t reported has as much effect on distorting Americans’ views, beliefs and civic conduct as much as what is.

But isn’t it exciting that Ginger is going to get to wear those skimpy dance outfits, and so soon after having her baby?

2. Back to Donald’s penis: I was tempted to re-post this in it’s entirety. I correctly forecasted that a President Trump would transform the culture and leave us with a “nation of assholes,” but I did nor foresee that he would be able to substantially accomplish his mission by just running.  In a Presidential debate, a candidate discusses his penis size and the audience hoots delightedly like Bill Maher’s crowd when he says “fuck you.” A civilized U.S. worthy of international respect would regard a candidate who stooped to such crudeness and idiocy as having eliminated himself from consideration.

3. Marco Rubio showed that Trump’s reliance on rationalizations is communicable. Asked why he spent last week name calling and suggesting that Trump wet his pants, after once vowing that he wouldn’t stoop to personal attacks,  Rubio answered that the media gives “an incredible amount of coverage” to Trump’s attacks—Oh. so it’s OK because it works. How big is your penis, Marco?– and Trump “deserves” to be attacked the same way. Great: the ends justify the means, and “he had it coming.” Later, Rubio objects to Trump calling him a “little Marco” instead of giving a substantive answer to a plocy question. Yes, ad hominen attacks are the hallmark of weak thinkers, bullies and fools. Explain to us again why you started using them, Senator?

4. Nonetheless, Trump’s constant use of “little Marco” should be the last strawfor any parent who doesn’t want to raise a bully or have a child tormented by one. Trump is validating bullying behavior, at a high level. Here, I’ll link to “A Nation of Assholes” again. Insufferable conservative bloggers and pundits who know how bad Trump is but who are actively rooting for him to destroy the Republican party as retribution—Why don’t they just root for a dirty bomb to take out the Capitol?— write about how the “elites” just don’t understand:

“To the establishment, this breakdown looks like chaos. It looks like savagery. It looks like a man with a flamethrowing guitar playing death metal going a hundred miles an hour down Fury Road. But to the American people, it looks like democracy.”

Well, that’s because the “elites'” contempt for people who applaud bullies, torture and penis-boasting is absolutely justified, and if the American people think electing someone like Trump is democracy, then it proves that they understand neither democracy nor their obligations as citizens. There is nothing noble, or admirable, or justifiable about someone supporting Donald Trump. Writes another right-wing apologist for Trump supporters (the pompous conservative gang are all saying the same thing—they are interchangeable):

“The messenger doubtless is deeply flawed. Trump is no Washington, that’s for sure. Donald Trump would not have been my first choice as a GOP nominee. He wouldn’t have been my 100th choice. But if the counter-revolutionaries decide they want Trump as the nominee, I will not oppose them. And I will hope that the counter-revolution has now become too big for one deeply and profoundly flawed man to derail.”

What an irresponsible statement. And by the way, if Trump would be your 10,000th choice, your respect for ethical values and responsible leadership is woefully insufficient. The Left ridicules Trump, and the Right roots for him to wreck the country. The Left is correct, and the Right is disgracing itself while showing the deep, deep cynicism and ugliness within.

4. Trump was, of course, asked if the tape of his off-the-record discussion with the New York Times, in which he supposedly expressed a willingness to be flexible on his immigration stance, should be released, and he says he won’t authorize it. This is identical to Hillary Clinton refusing to release her  Goldman Sachs  speeches. If the tape wouldn’t contradict what he has said in public, there is no reason not to release it.  Trump’s angry zombie supporters will excuse this just as Hillary’s corrupt zombie supporters will ignore the fact that she says what any given audience wants to hear.

When I hear the complaint that politicians have contempt for ordinary Americans, I am tempted to say, “And they have earned every bit of it.” Continue reading

Observations On The CNN-Telemundo GOP Candidates Debate

1.  I heard that National Anthem rendition on my car radio, and thought, “That can’t possibly be as off-key as it sounds, can it?” Then my various singer friends started howling on Facebook. I don’t know why debates are now treated like ball games, but there are thousands upon thousands of singers, male, female, and juvenile, who can sing the anthem well, and a lot better than Dina Carter did last night. There’s no excuse for getting someone who can’t stay on pitch.

2. Ben Carson prompted me to throw a magazine at the TV with his fatuous “we won’t solve America’s problems by trying to destroy each other.” It’s a competition, you fool. Someone should have shown you how ridiculous your wasteful candidacy was months ago, and you wouldn’t be clogging up the process now. If Donald Trump, a viper in the nursery, wasn’t ahead, Reagan’s admonition not to attack fellow Republicans might be a wise and ethical practice. Now, it is the equivalent of pacifism during World War II.

3. That was weak, incompetent moderating by Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash, allowing Trump to speak over Rubio and Cruz who were doing a good job pointing up his hypocrisy and corruption. As usual, Trump’s rebuttals weren’t rebuttals at all but distracting attacks, pitched to the gullible.

  • Rubio said, correctly, that Trump criticized Mitt Romney for talking about “self-deportation” in 2012, while Trump is talking about self-deportation now.  Trump said: “I criticized Mitt Romney for losing the election. . . . He ran one terrible campaign!”  No, actually Trump criticized Romney’s self-deportation policy specifically.
  • Rubio said Trump is the only person on the stage who’s hired people from other countries for “jobs that Americans could have filled.” Trump replied, “I’m the only one on the stage who’s hired people! . . . You haven’t hired one person in your life!” It’s completely irrelevant to the issue, just another deflection.
  • Cruz pointed out that Trump contributed to the three Democratic Senators and two of the  Republican Senators he now accuses of pushing “amnesty.” Trump retorted that “I get along with everybody; you get along with nobody,” an ad hominem attack that ducks a legitimate criticism.

4.  Trump had one brilliant, perfect, Presidential and appropriately tough response to ex-Mexican President Vicente Fox who swore Mexico would never pay for Trump’s “fucking wall.” (We have heard increasing vulgarity from media figures like Chris Matthews, President Obama and others, and now the breakdown in official civility has crossed our borders. Yes, I blame Donald Trump, and as he grandstanded about the “disgusting” word used, someone should have had the wit to note that he has personally lowered the standards of leadership discourse more than any figure since the Nixon tapes were released.) Trump’s response: “The wall just got 10 feet taller!”

Excellent. Continue reading