Tag Archives: fairness

Unethical Quote Of The Week (Or “Just Because He’s A Civil Rights Icon Doesn’t Mean He Won’t Lie His Head Off”): Rep. John Lewis (D-GA)

"When John Didn't Meet Bernie"

“When John Didn’t Meet Bernie”

“I never saw him. I never met him. I was involved in the Freedom Rides, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery and directed the Voter Education Project for six years. But I met Hillary Clinton. I met President Clinton.”

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), 76, civil rights icon, Martin Luther King ally, and Hillary Clinton supporter, challenging Bernie Sanders’ civil rights bona fides during the press conference by the Congressional Black Caucus  endorsing Clinton.

Really? He saw Hillary and Bill at those events? Now, Lewis could have seen Sanders, since Bernie was an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee at the University of Chicago when Martin Luther King  and Lewis spoke there in 1963.  Hillary’s mother had young Hillary with her when she met  King  in Chicago in 1962. Hillary was 15. Maybe Lewis remembers meeting her then, but that was hardly substantive evidence of civil rights commitment. As for Bill,  we have this testimony from Lewis in Janis F. Kearney’s  Conversations: William Jefferson Clinton : from Hope to Harlem:

The first time I heard of Bill Clinton was in the early ’70s. I was living in Georgia, working for the Southern Poverty Law organization, when someone told me about this young, emerging leader in Arkansas who served as attorney general, then later became governor….I think I paid more attention to him at the 1988 Democratic Convention, when he was asked to introduce the presidential candidate and took up far more time than was allotted to him. After he became involved with the Democratic Leadership Council, I would run into him from time to time. But it was one of his aides, Rodney Slater, who actually introduced us in 1991 and asked me if I would support his presidency.

Hillary isn’t mentioned at all. I haven’t seen any evidence that she was at Selma or the March on Washington: was she? Would Lewis remember that he “saw” the then Republican teen and “Goldwater Girl” if he “saw” her?

He’s denigrating Sanders’ record and lying to do it.

We should expect better conduct from “icons.”

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Ethics Observations On Beyonce’s Super Bowl 50 Halftime Performance

beyonce-superbowl-x-cbs

On the eve of her Super Bowl 50 half time show performance, Beyoncé released  “Formation,” a video full of references to Black Lives Matter tropes and propaganda, including “Hand Up! Don’t Shoot!”  (You can view it here. The earlier version of this post had an unofficial version: I apologize for the error.) Then in her portion of the Super Bowl 50 halftime show, the pop star gave the sold-out stadium and world-wide audience a live version of the video, including  backup dancers wearing Black Panther berets who formed  an X, apparently alluding to black Muslim activist Malcolm X, and raised their fists in the “black power” salute. African-Americans activists wrote that they saw the performance as a tribute to the 50th Anniversary, not of the Super Bowl, but to the Black Panthers.

The halftime show was part of a marketing plan messaging across multiple platforms, from social media to mainstream media. Once the show was seen in the context of the more explicit video, a controversy emerged, just as Beyoncé ‘s marketing geniuses hoped it would. Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani was among the vocal critics, calling the show “outrageous” said telling Fox News,”This is football, it’s not Hollywood, and I thought it was really outrageous that she used it as a platform to attack police officers who are the people who protect her and protect us, and keep us alive.”  Protests are planned at NFL headquarters.

What’s going on here?

1. Stipulated: Beyoncé’s sole intentions are to sell, make money, and get buzz. If she has a genuine political motive, and I doubt it, it is secondary to the good ol’ profit-making motive that has made her a mega-millionaire. She and her husband Jay-Z have been linking their brand to Black Lives Matter because they see profit in it, that’s all. Is it crass and ethically inert? Sure it is…just like the music business and the rest of show business. Is it particular disgusting, at a time of dangerous racial division in this country heightened by liars, crooks, complicit activists and cynical politicians, to try to make money by glamorizing it? Yes indeed, but the Julie Principle needs to be applied here. Fish gotta swim and birds gotta fly, and if you are paying any attention to people like Beyoncé, you can’t be shocked or overly angry at them when they show that their motives are purely non-ethical at all times. Yes, Beyoncé’s conduct was culturally irresponsible and unethical. “This is my shocked face:”

shocked face

2. That said, hijacking the Super Bowl halftime show to make a race-baiting, divisive, anti-police demonstration out of what is supposed to be a unifying, fun, family-friendly cultural event, by extolling the racist Black Lives Matter, the criminal and racist Black Panthers, and destructive lies like “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” is indeed outrageous. The stunt deserves every bit of criticism it has recieved and more. Continue reading

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The Final Ethics Verdict On Ted Cruz

Check enclosed

See that official-looking envelope above? That’s from Ted Cruz’s campaign: it’s been arriving in mailboxes all over the country. See what it says in the lower right corner? “CHECK ENCLOSED.” This is to entice you to open it. But here is the “check” enclosed:

Cruz check

It’s not a check. It looks like a check, but it isn’t one, because checks can be cashed. It’s a fake check not made out to the recipient of the envelope, but to the Cruz campaign. This is a fundraising appeal, you see, but it has employed two lies: Continue reading

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Abusing Fairness And Decency To “Get” Ted Cruz

Cruz college

I am in full sympathy with anyone who gets the creeps from Ted Cruz. The news media’s problem with Cruz, however, is also soaked with pure ideological bias. It doesn’t like his religiosity, nor his conservative fervor. If they turned one-fifth of the intensity of their anti-Cruz zeal on Hillary Clinton, maybe a few more of her more zombified followers  might finally feel some neurons firing.   (I don’t know if Trump shooting someone would dissuade his herd, but I have talked to Hillary supporters who would either refuse to believe it or claim it was set up by Republicans.)

Apparently Cruz’s kamikaze legislative tactics, mendacity and dirty tricks in his current campaign isn’t enough ammunition for those who want to derail his ambitions: now the news media is just looking for dirt, or manufacturing. Supposedly legitimate news organizations have scraped the bottom of the academic barrel to find lawyers who would argue that Cruz isn’t a natural born citizen, even though the same editors would have leapt out of their windows before seeking scholarly endorsement of Obama birther theories. Even non-political publications are doing it: Psychology Today just disgraced itself by publishing the ultimate pseudo-science junk piece from  a professor of neurology at George Washington University, Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, who explains in clinical terms why he, at least, finds Ted Cruz creepy. It is nothing but an ad hominem attack based on his opinion that Cruz is funny-looking, exactly as wrong as criticizing Obama’s ears, Hillary’s calves or Bernie’s wrinkles.

Ah, but Ted Cruz deserves this, you see, because he is conservative, Republican, genuinely rather than tactically religious—can’t have that—and one of the “Cuban guys.”

Piling on after the cheap shots taken at Cruz via Twitter by his jealous Hollywood jerk Princeton roommate, journalist Ellie Shechet decided to track down as many of Cruz’s college acquaintances as possible. allegedly to investigate a “rumor” of young Ted doing something disgusting, but really to see who would trash him. Here’s an example of her “investigative journalism”: Continue reading

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The Case Of The Snoozing Prosecutor

cigar ash

There is a true story about Clarence Darrow putting a wire in his cigar and puffing it during an opponents closing argument to the jury. The idea was to create an absurdly long ash, so the jury would become distracted and watched to see when it would fall on his suit, when they were supposed to be paying attention to the summation. I’ve used that story in ethics seminars, asking attendees if this was unethical, and if so, was there a rule that could be used to punish a lawyer who did it.

Now comes word that the Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled  on Tuesday that there was no prejudicial error in the trial of Buddy Robinson, who was convicted in the death of his downstairs neighbor, despite the fact that the prosecutor, then Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, pretended to fall asleep during his Robinson’s lawyer’s closing. Robinson had appealed the verdict because of this and other questionable conduct by the prosecutor. Benson admitted that he sometimes pretended to be asleep in trials to annoy defense attorneys. In its opinion denying the appeal, the court concluded that the trial judge did not err in denying Robinson’s motion for a new trial, given the strength of the prosecution case.

It also said that the fake sleep bit “was sophomoric, unprofessional and a poor reflection on the prosecutor’s office.”

It’s also an ethics violation, a couple of ways. Maine’s Rules… Continue reading

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Tales Of The Unethical: A Client Hacks, His Lawyer Cheats, And HIS Lawyer Spins

hackedWhat a mess.

Missouri lawyer Joel Eisenstein saw two documents illicitly obtained by his client: a payroll document for the client’s wife and a list of direct examination questions prepared by his client’s wife’s attorney for an upcoming divorce trial.

This kind of stuff, proprietary material that is handed over to a lawyer by someone, including a client, who received it under dubious circumstances is ethically radioactive. As the DC bar wrote in Ethics Opinion 318…

When counsel in an adversary proceeding receives a privileged document from a client or other person that may have been stolen or taken without authorization from an opposing party, Rule 1.15(b) requires the receiving counsel to refrain from reviewing and using the document if: 1) its privileged status is readily apparent on its face; 2) receiving counsel knows that the document came from someone who was not authorized to disclose it; and 3) receiving counsel does not have a reasonable basis to conclude that the opposing party waived the attorney-client privilege with respect to such document. Receiving counsel may violate the provisions of Rule 8.4(c) by reviewing and using the document in an adversary proceeding under such circumstances and should either return the document to opposing counsel or make inquiry of opposing counsel about its status prior to determining what course of action to take. Continue reading

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Considering The Fox Trump-less GOP Candidates Debate

Fox moderators

1. The run-up to the debate yesterday was embarrassing to the news media, especially CNN—even Fox did not obsess as much about the man who wouldn’t be on stage in Iowa as that shameless network. Not that Fox isn’t shameless: it’s greatest shame, Bill O’Reilly, once again showed himself to be both unethical and insufferable when he had Trump on his show and begged, pleaded, and cajoled the real estate mogul to reverse his decision. “Be the bigger man,” Bill said at one point. What the hell does that mean? Bigger than who? His employers—I don’t watch Fox live any more because they are still his employers—who properly refused to let him bully Megyn Kelly out of a moderator’s chair? Megyn Kelly? No, that can’t be it. Trump is a intellectual, moral and ethical midget with delusions of grandeur: O’Reilly was just feeding his ego. Then we learned, from Trump, that O’Reilly had enticed him on the air by promising not to talk about the debate boycott. O’Reilly admitted that was true, and then blathered facetiously about milkshakes, as if lying to a guest’s face was a big joke. O’Reilly is one of the deplorable people—most of his supporters, famous and not, are also in this category—who are so devoid of principles themselves that they make Donald Trump look admirable by comparison.

2. I wish I could say that Megyn Kelly was impeccable last night, but she wasn’t. She had a big chip on her shoulder, and mentioned Trump in the very first question, with a pre-composed, gaggy phrasing about “the  elephant not in the room”—lame witticisms were the theme of the night. That made the first question about her, and journalists are ethically obligated not to inject themselves into the story. No moderator should have mentioned Trump, but Kelly particularly. For the rest of the night she was aggressively adversarial, acting as if she was an undercover moderator from CNBC.

3. If there were any lingering doubts about what an arrogant jerk Ted Cruz is, his performance last night ought to have obliterated them. He reminds me of nothing so much as than the cocky high school nerd who thinks that because he’s elected class President, people really like him, but in truth he is socially hopeless. As a stage director and occasional humor writer, I cannot imagine a more pathetic attempt at a joke than his “I’m a maniac. Everyone on this stage is stupid, fat, and ugly. And Ben Carson, you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump part out of the way (rim shot!) . . .” bit. His timing was terrible, and because the thing went on long after everyone knew what the punchline would be, nobody but a shill or an idiot would laugh at it. Cruz got even worse, talking past his limit, whining about the moderators siccing everyone else on him (though they were), trying to change the rules, and sounding like Bill Clinton as he tried to explain away what were his obvious flip-flops on immigration.

I noticed that as the camera panned the debaters dispersing after the debate, nobody spoke to Cruz or even looked at him, while the others were smiling and being collegial to one another. No wonder. Continue reading

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