Recent Commentaries

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The Noble Life
You’re facing a crisis. “Know what you can control and what you can’t.” People challenge and criticize you. “Refrain from defending your reputation and intentions.” Some people use harsh language and bombast. “Conduct yourself with dignity.” If you’re looking for the calm while working your way through a great storm, the ancient Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus just might be the...
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March 30, 2009
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“Taxpayers to DeSantis: Drop Dead”
Re-interpreting a New York Daily News headline from 1975, the following is in response to a resignation letter written by Jake DeSantis, former executive vice-president, A.I.G. financial products unit to Edward M. Liddy, chief executive of A.I.G., appearing in the New York Times on Wednesday, March 25th.   Dear Mr. DeSantis, It’s difficult to read that you feel “betrayed by A.I.G.  » Read more...
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March 27, 2009
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Mr. Ethics
You’re trapped in an elevator with a guy who looks like a cross between Al Franken and a computer nerd. You’re a little uneasy. Wait, he just put his hand in his pocket, reaching for… a BlackBerry.  You discreetly look over his shoulder to read: “Need your help!  Can you come… fast?” Oh, it’s just Norm. Norm Eisen is Mr. Ethics...
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March 26, 2009
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What’s the Answer?
Coming off an incredible week of outrage over the $165+ million A.I.G. bonuses, the question that many in the media and Washington continue to focus on is this:  How do we get what we need from these people without giving them too much, but giving them enough to do what we need to get done? But there’s a more important, longer...
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March 23, 2009
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Late Night with Obama
Jay Leno: “Please welcome President Barack Obama.” (Applause) President Obama: “Thank you.” (Applause) Obama: “…Let me just say, I think Kevin (the band leader) looks good in a suit.” (Laughter)  “He looks a little like Secret Service.” (More laughter) Nice opening line.  Did he write that one himself? Leno: “Now it’s only, what, 59 days now…  Is it fair to judge...
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March 21, 2009
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What’s the Deal with George Clooney?
Doesn’t he know that movie stars belong in the tabloids… police arrested… D.U.I. photo on TMZ? What’s this, Ann Curry interviewing him in Darfur? Must be a movie shoot or something.  I turn up the volume. Watching the NBC Dateline story, I learn that Clooney has travelled to Darfur a number of times not only in his role as United Nations messenger of...
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March 20, 2009
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Early in my career, I would read the morning papers and make a list of those organizations that were facing ethical crisis.  I’d then write a letter addressed to both the president of the organization as well as the head of Human Resources offering my services. I must have contacted at least a hundred corporations, associations or other organizations in...
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March 18, 2009
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Entertainment vs. News
Who do you believe – entertainment or news? That’s not a trick question. Last Thursday, CNBC’s lead financial reporter and host of Mad Money Jim Cramer paid a visit to Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central.  It was a showdown of sorts. Stewart had been running video clips of CNBC gaffs like Rick Santelli’s rant against an Obama policy announcement and Jim Cramer’s videos showing him...
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March 17, 2009
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Resurrecting the Chimp
About a third of the way into the memoir is one of those ‘40s, Hollywood pictures taken at some swanky restaurant like the Brown Derby by an eager, gossip columnist back in the days when people taking photos of stars had the “reasonably” good sense to snap them in reasonably good surroundings. The caption reads:  “On the left, Dolores del Rio,...
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March 14, 2009
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“Everybody does it.”  “I hardly ever lie.” I collect ‘em, like baseball cards. “You don’t understand, Jim,” the owner of a large company once told me, “it’s just industry practice. We don’t want to do these things, but if we want to operate from a level playing field, sometimes we have to [be unethical].” Last October, Lehman Brothers Chief Dick Fuld told...
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March 13, 2009