Recent Commentaries

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Mr. Rove
“Former White House adviser Karl Rove defied a congressional subpoena and refused to testify Thursday about allegations of political pressure at the Justice Department, including whether he influenced the prosecution of a former Democratic governor of Alabama.”  — The Washington Post, July 10, 2008 When did we reach a point where the former deputy chief of staff to the president...
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July 11, 2008
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Justice vs. Compassion – My Choice
Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once said, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” In the decision regarding Susan Atkins plea for “compassionate release” based on a terminal illness, I choose compassion.  But not in the way you might think. When I first read “Manson, Murder and Mercy”...
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July 8, 2008
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Justice vs. Compassion – The Comments
“I formed my opinion before finishing the second paragraph.” So began one of several observations regarding my July 1st commentary about a choice before the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation concerning convicted murderer Susan Atkins:  she would either continue to serve a life sentence or be given a “compassionate release” due to a terminal illness. A June 13, Los...
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July 7, 2008
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Do You Bling?
Well you probably realized that sooner or later I had to revisit sex, but it usually comes attached to some scandal. Not this time. There has been a lot of talk lately about what’s been called a “carbon footprint.”  It measures the impact that humans have on the environment – how much waste, greenhouse gases, resources used, and the subsequent...
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July 4, 2008
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Justice vs. Compassion
Here’s your dilemma: You are an ethicist who has been asked by a prison board to offer an opinion concerning the possible release of an inmate. A notorious prisoner – convicted of multiple murders – has served almost 40 years of a life sentence.  Recently, the prisoner has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and has petitioned the board to...
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July 1, 2008
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Compliance vs. Ethics
Does a corporation have a responsibility to be ethical beyond its employees and shareholders? Whenever this question has been asked in surveys, an overwhelming majority of people answer, “Yes!” Here’s what one corporate chairman said about ethics in a memo: “Employees of the Company are charged with conducting their business affairs in accordance with the highest ethical standards. An employee shall...
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June 30, 2008
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F.O.A.
The fallout surrounding Countrywide Financial and Chief Executive Angelo R. Mozilo just keeps getting worse.  The last 42-days have seen an extraordinary amount of activity. On May 15, Federal District Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer said that “…she found confidential witness accounts in the shareholder complaint to be credible… they suggested, ‘a widespread company culture that encouraged employees to push mortgages...
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June 27, 2008
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Do Justly
Recently, a friend made this comment about a (June 21) commentary I posted about fairness:  “Fairness,” she said, borrowing from a previous statement about torture, “is basically subject to perception.” Is fairness perceptual?  What is a practical definition of fairness? “All virtue,” Aristotle wrote, “is summed up in dealing justly.” But what is justice?  What is a just or fair...
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June 26, 2008
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If Big Brown Can Do It…
“I know Big Brown or any of our horses do not need this stuff to win.  I’m not worried about an uneven playing field, either.” In a brief but significant statement, Michael Iavarone, co-president of International Equine Acquisitions Holdings just raised the bar for the rest of horse racing. Not only would more than 50 horses owned by his stable...
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June 23, 2008
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The Fairness Factor
“I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor?” This insightful piece of absurdity comes courtesy of Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” cartoon strip. I thought about this while reading the results of a recent study by a pair of psychologists entitled, “Early Predictors of Job Burnout and Engagement.” Christina Maslach, a social psychologist...
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June 21, 2008

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