Recent Commentaries

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Our American Character
Visiting the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston I was struck by the wisdom and relevance to today’s issues some of our 35th president’s words carry. After announcing his candidacy for the presidency on January 2, 1960, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Kennedy laid out the role of the president in his time. “…the...
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September 29, 2008
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When is an Ethics Policy Not An Ethics Policy?
Drugstore giant CVS Caremark has an ethics policy that prevents gifts, travel or entertainment to executives.  The obvious purpose is to stop influence peddling. But CVS has found away around the rule:  “The CVS Caremark Charity Classic”… a golf tournament. The Wall Street Journal reported (Sept. 24) “Access to company decision-makers is a hallmark of the [tournament] which, this year...
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September 26, 2008
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Where Everybody Knows How to Behave
While in Boston this week, I went to see the Red Sox clinch a spot in the playoffs last night against the Cleveland Indians.  Protecting a one run lead in the eighth and ninth inning, Jonathan Papelbon, the Sox go-to closer, closed the door on the Indians with consecutive 96-mile-an-hour fastballs. I’ve been to Fenway on previous visits and have...
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September 24, 2008
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Spit Not Into the Fire
“These are the times that try men’s souls.” At a time when the country’s spirit had been all but crushed by fear and despair; when “our affairs were at their lowest ebb and things in the most gloomy state,” British writer and American patriot, Thomas Paine rehabilitated America’s spirit through an essay entitled, “The American Crisis.” Strapped with a war...
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September 22, 2008
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Enduring Leadership
In 1914, so the tale goes, the following ad was placed in a London newspaper: “Men Wanted for Hazardous Journey. Small Wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” It’s still not known whether those words were truly those of Irish explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton or just another...
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September 19, 2008
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The Devil and MSNBC
“MSNBC is behaving like a heroin addict.  They’re living from fix to fix and swearing they’ll go into rehab the next week.” There’s too much commentary disguised as news, these days. According to a New York Times article (Sept. 8), “In January, [Keith] Olbermann [host of MSNBC’s ‘Countdown’] and [Chris] Matthews, the host of ‘Hardball,’ began co-anchoring primary night coverage. ...
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September 17, 2008
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Is Good Ethics Good Business?
Amid the anxiety and chaos on Wall Street today, I thought it would be interesting to revisit an old question. The following comes from a radio commentary delivered in October, 1997 by my own ethics teacher, Michael Josephson.   I believe it’s a message we need to remember in these difficult times. “‘Good ethics is good business.’  ‘Honesty is the best...
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September 15, 2008
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September 2008 Ethical Hero – Judith Meisel
Judith Meisel is a Holocaust survivor of the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania and the Stutthof Concentration Camp in Poland. Her experiences during and after World War II inspired a life-long crusade against bigotry and racism.  After witnessing the race riots of 1963, Judy has pursued and persevered in a campaign to speak out against racism and the need for greater...
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September 13, 2008
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Mr. Smith Goes on the Take
No, not that Mr. Smith, the other one, Gregory W. Smith, the former program director of the “royalty-in-kind program” at the Interior Department.   Gregory Smith is one of 19 officials (about one-third of the program’s staff) who accepted gratuities from oil companies including Chevron and Shell, while conducting official business. As the New York Times reported (Sept. 11), the Interior “…department’s...
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September 12, 2008
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Will Rogers was America’s first, genuine, political humorist.  Bill Maher is Will Rogers on Red Bull. Maher’s HBO show “Real Time,” skewers all kinds of political, religious and pop culture absurdity.  One segment, entitled “New Rules,” demonstrates the need for all of us to stop taking ourselves so seriously and change some of our latest, ridiculous conventions.  Example – “New...
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September 10, 2008