Captain Smith, of the “Titanic.” Of course, there’s no proof that he did anything wrong.
What does it tell us about the White House (and its primary occupant) that its “insider” and designated spokesperson, Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer, could utter a statement like this, in public, no less? On Fox News Sunday, one of four Sunday Morning Talk shows he appeared on yesterday to deliver the current White House position on multiple scandals, referring to Sarah Hall Ingram, who led the agency’s tax-exempt division when it targeted conservative groups and has been promoted to chief of the health care reform office, Pfeiffer said,
“No one has suggested that she did anything wrong yet. Before everyone in this town convicts this person in the court of public opinion with no evidence, let’s actually get the facts and make decisions after that. There’s nothing that suggests she did anything wrong.”
Such manifest nonsense would be depressing coming from a recent college grad, and grounds for demotion from a corporate manager or CEO, but it is nothing short of frightening coming from the heart of a nation’s leadership.
“If you practice as a lawyer, you owe it to your clients only to do the things you are competent to do. Embarking on the defense of a man accused of murder as your first trial is a moral and ethical outrage. Regrettably, the profession is barraged with eager voices telling us that attracting clients with puffery and keywords and Twitter accounts is the way to build a practice. Nobody’s reminding us that you have an obligation to know what you’re doing before you accept the client. Somebody should.”
—-Ken, the lead blogger/attorney/libertarian/ wit/ First Amendment champion at Popehat, summarizing the lessons of the Joseph Rakofsky saga. Rakofsky was a green D.C. lawyer ( he is still a lawyer, less green but sadder and wiser) who indeed did take a murder defense as his first trial, made an epic botch of it, and then launched a desperate defamation lawsuit at legal bloggers, like Ken, who had told his cautionary tale to the world with appropriate ire. The law suit was dismissed last week.
What’s next for Joseph Radofsky? Maybe he’ll run for President….
Competence is an ethical value, especially in the professions, but also in most pursuits. Taking on the responsibility of accomplishing a task creates a duty, and doing so without being justifiably certain that you will have the skills to do it is reckless and irresponsible.
Ken, an experienced and accomplished attorney whom I have consulted for his professional advice in the past, also knows that inexperience does have to be eradicated with experience, and a strict application of his statement in all cases would lead to a frustrating Catch 22. Every pilot has to take that first solo flight; every head surgeon has his first major operation; and Clarence Darrow had to take on that first murder trial before he could say with complete confidence that he knew exactly what to do. On a more basic level, any lawyer taking on a representation in a type of matter she has never handled before, such as drafting a will, will be, in a sense, accepting a client before she knows what she is doing, because she hasn’t done it before. That’s okay, however: the ethics rules, as expressed in the American Bar Association’s Rules of Professional Conduct (in Rule 1.1) say its okay, as long as, by the time the task is underway, the lawyer is sufficiently competent: Continue reading
In an earlier post I referenced A.J. Clemente, a newscaster for KFYR-TV in Bismarck who debuted in his new role by saying “…fucking shit!” on the air, because he didn’t know his mic was on. Not surprisingly, he was fired. Now, apparently, many viewers have come to his defense and are admonishing the station for being too harsh.
The station is not being too harsh. The station is upholding correct professional standards, and removing an unprofessional employee whom they do not trust and have no reason to trust. The episode showed him to be careless, reckless and, obviously, subject to obscene outbursts, which only are appropriate if you are David Ortiz. Ah, but some of the good citizens of Bismarck, displaying the same entrenched ethics cluelessness that led to the nomination of the ridiculous Mark Sanford, ex-Romeo governor, to lose a GOP House seat in South Carolina, don’t comprehend accountability, trustworthiness or responsibility, because to them, the only values that matter are forgiveness and compassion. The technical terms for such people are “patsies” and “marks.” They would cripple society, business and government with their mindless, deadly niceness. Examples: Continue reading
“This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better. Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.”
—-Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), in a jointly released statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation.
This is where Harry Reid wants laws to be made.
The Senators are exactly, inarguably correct. Under Harry Reid, pushing legislation through the Senate without permitting either proponents or opponents to perform their jobs and read the bill so that understand what they are voting for or against his become standard procedure, exemplified by the massive, unreadable and mostly unread affordable care act. This is sham democracy at work, a perversion of process, incompetent, dishonest and corrupt to the core, and supporting such a despicable (and dangerous) tactic because you think you like the particular bill involved (but, of course, you haven’t read it either) is as stupid as it is irresponsible. Continue reading
No pardon for you, Tony…
Tony Kornheiser is a sportswriter and humorist as well as a television and radio personality. I’ve been reading, watching and occasionally laughing at him since I moved to D.C. eons ago, when he was a Washington Post columnist. This post has nothing to do with sports, however, though the issue arose in a sports context. It has to do with the depressing fact that Tony’s mode of ethical analysis is still based on consequentialism and an ignorance of moral luck, and that he is, despite being an educated, erudite and clever man, typical of the public in this respect.
It is depressing, and thus I say, “Ugh.”
For the second time in two days, the ten minutes I had time to watch TV randomly brought me to a discussion of umpire Marty Foster’s botched third strike call to end a close game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Texas Rangers. Tony was arguing with Michael Wilbon on their hit ESPN show, “Pardon the Interruption.” [ Aside: And why did my channel surfing pause there? Because the project that has eaten my life the last couple weeks requires me to mention, in a speech, the HBO Larry David show "Curb Your Enthusiasm, " and I keep wanting to say "Pardon the Interruption." I blew it again last night, so naturally, the first thing I see this morning is the show I'm trying to purge from my brain.] They were debating whether Foster should be disciplined for his bad call, an idiotic issue, since the answer is “Of course not; are you nuts?” Umpires make hundreds of judgment calls every game, and mistakes are inevitable. As I wrote yesterday, Foster’s handling of this botched call was exemplary, because he admitted that he had erred. Punishing him or any umpire who misses a visual call would be unfair and destructive; such punishment could only be valid in the case of actual misconduct or negligence, as in the case of an umpire ignoring or not knowing the rules. Continue reading
The extent and sheer audacity of the 2009 Atlanta schools testing scandal, now resulting in teachers and administrators facing prison time, shows (or perhaps I should say “should show”) the complete folly of calling for more funding as the solution to the rotting U.S. education system. Indeed, I would argue that budgets should not be increased one penny anywhere until the educational establishment demonstrates that it is capable of policing itself, holding members of its profession to higher standards, which is to say, standards, of ethical conduct and professionalism, and can prove that it is more interested in the goal of teaching students than it is in pensions, job security, and cash. Continue reading
Now if she gave a statistic like this, it would be news.
Rep. Charlie Rangel, I should mention at the outset, should have been sent home by his constituents after demonstrating beyond question that he had reached the point of entitlement and arrogance where he believes principles of ethics no longer apply to him. But the Democratic Party chose to nominate the venerable Harlem icon, and his loyal, if irresponsible, New York district re-elected him, as it has been doing approximately since the dawn of time. Don’t think for a moment that this doesn’t have relevance to Rangel’s recklessness in the case I’m going to discuss. Why should we expect Rangel to be responsible, accurate or prudent in his public statements if nobody will hold him accountable? It’s not as if ethics is going to be a priority for him for its own sake.
Discussing the demise of Diane Feinstein’s assault weapon ban in the U.S. Senate, Rangel blamed the National Rifle Association in a videotaped, semi-incoherent rant that included this:
“I’m ashamed to admit it but its politics and its money. The NRA has taken this position, there is no reason, there is no foundation. There is no hunter that needs automatic military weapons to enjoy the culture of going hunting. But you know it’s really basically the absence of the voices of good people. I cannot believe that politicians are afraid of the NRA. We’re talking about millions of kids dying — being shot down by assault weapons, were talking about handguns easier in the inner cities, to get these guns in the inner cities, than to get computers. This is not just a political issue, it’s a moral issue and so when we condemn the NRA we should not ignore the fact that a lot of people that have taken moral positions have been solid on this big one.”
That’s right: Rep. Rangel said that millions of kids are being shot down by assault weapons. That’s what he said, on camera. Now, the facts in this case are not only easily checked, they are also at variance with reality in the approximate proportion that 2013′s America is not like Oz. Continue reading
Stipulated: If you work for Hooters, and accept a job as an on-field ball girl for a Major League Baseball team, in this case, the Philadelphia Phillies, you may not object to the unflattering sobriquet “bimbo,” especially when you act like this:
Admittedly, the team is at fault, endangering its players and undermining the integrity of the game, by putting someone on the field who clearly 1) doesn’t know a foul ball from a nectarine 2) doesn’t have the sense God gave a muskrat and 3) hasn’t been told that her minimal duty is to pay sufficient attention to the game to avoid becoming part of it.
Still, this lovely blonde woman is allegedly an adult, and should be able to figure these things out for herself. She has a job that a seven year-old T-ball player could do with a minimum of thought, and still can’t do it right. It’s unethical to accept jobs you’re not qualified to do or not willing to learn to do, which in this case, apparently means any job that requires being more than vicarious visual sexual stimulation for middle-aged baseball fans.
Pointer: Craig Calcaterra
Proofreading Kudos: David Elias, who was the first to flag “Sping Training”
Not bankrupt, at least, not financially…
The crippling lack of respect and contempt our warring ideological factions have for those on the other side is never better illustrated that when one partisan believes a satirical negative story about an adversary stalwart that any unbiased observer whose brain wasn’t partially melted by hatred would have flagged as false in a heartbeat. Thus do our biases make us stupid. The phenomenon was the basis of some well-derived mockery last month, when Washington Post blogger Suzy Parker fell for the silly published on the parody website The Daily Currant that Sarah Palin had joined Al-Jazeera, and used the obviously phony tale to hammer Palin for hypocrisy. I suggested that a journalist this gullible and biased wasn’t qualified to practice her craft, as she was obviously incapable of overcoming her prejudices and personal dislikes so that she could distinguish truth from comforting fiction.
The Right mocked Parker and the Post hardest of all—suuure there’s no liberal bias in the media!—- especially the Bad Boy of rightward blogs, Breitbart. Then along comes another gag story from the same source, The Daily Currant, announcing that New York Times tax-and-spend advocate, progressive cheerleader and Pulitzer prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has declared for bankruptcy, and Brietbart, for exactly the same reasons Parker believed that Palin would go to work for the Arabs, couldn’t figure out that it wasn’t true. Breitbart published this: Continue reading