Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/14/17

Good morning!

1. It is a matter of constant fascination to me how all of President Trump’s personal lawyers appear to be flaming jerks, whatever their legal skills may be. Here’s an example from this week: Marc Kasowitz, President Trump’s personal attorney on the Russia conspiracy theory investigation, was contacted by a stranger, a retired public relations professional, who had read ProPublica’s unflattering story on Kasowitz. He sent the lawyer an email with the subject line: “Resign Now.’’

Kasowitz used the 30 minutes between 9:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. to bombard the man with threats and epithets, writing such dignified  messages as,

“I’m on you now.  You are fucking with me now Let’s see who you are Watch your back , bitch/”

“Call me.  Don’t be afraid, you piece of shit.  Stand up.  If you don’t call, you’re just afraid.” 

“I already know where you live, I’m on you.  You might as well call me. You will see me. I promise.  Bro.”


This isn’t a legal ethics violation, though it almost certainly would be if Kasowitz were addressing an opposing counsel in such a manner. It’s just generally unethical as outrageous, inexcusable, gratuitous incivility, reflecting poorly on him, his profession and his client. A client who was minimally concerned about ethics would fire him.

2. Speaking of a minimal concern for ethics, Trump’s defense of his son’s dumb but legal meeting with the Russian lawyer promising dirt on Hillary included the statement that “most people would have taken that meeting.” Once again, we have evidence that Donald Trump literally doesn’t know what ethics is. Oh, his rationalizations are the same ones the average ethically-retarded citizen uses—this is why he is President. They are still rationalizations. Yes, Mr. President, and most people would accept extra money from an ATM and not tell the bank about it. And most people lie to get out of trouble. And most people do all sorts of unethical things, which doesn’t make them ethical, responsible or appropriate.

He is the President, though, and this is how we will inevitably become a nation of assholes. 

3.  And speaking of assholes, there is Nancy Pelosi. Because a female journalist was blocked from access to the House of Representative by a Sergeant of Arms who properly pointed out that she was wearing a sleeveless dress, always forbidden according to Congress’s dress code, we were suddenly subjected to the false narrative that those mean, sexist Republicans were abusing women again, as well as being typically antediluvian in their ideas about propriety. (Men can’t go sleeveless either, but never mind.) Paul Ryan was the target here, as the Speaker is officially charged with enforcing such rules. The narrative was not really about the dress code, but just part of the over-all “Get Republicans” news media strategy to make the party as unpopular as possible. Yesterday Paul Ryan plausibly said that he wasn’t aware of the rule in question, and was happy to amend it. Then Nancy Pelosi piled on, tweeting, “Glad to see [Speaker Ryan] is updating the dress code for the House Floor. These unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates.”

Pelosi was Speaker for four years, her tenure ending just six years ago. The same rule Ryan is being attacked for was in place during her entire tenure. Why didn’t she fix it herself, dedicated feminist that she is? Her tweet is such obvious hypocrisy that it calls attention to the double standards employed by Democrats, the news media and women. Pelosi could have cheered the change without appearing to duck her own responsibility for their continuation. Instead, she acted as if she was an innocent bystander.

Nancy Pelosi is a major reason the Democratic Party has become a party of assholes. Who but an asshole would tolerate a national leader like this as the face of his or her party in Congress? Are Democrats proud of this woman? Do they endorse her tactics and rhetoric? We have to assume so, don’t we?

4.  And speaking of accountability for behaving like an asshole: Columbia has agreed to a settlement with Paul Nungesser, CC ’15, whom the University allowed to be publicly humiliated and tarred as a racist by classmate Emma Sulkowicz, who accused him of sexual assault in 2012 A University investigation found her accusation without merit,  so she targeted Nungesser in her senior art thesis, “Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight),” in which she carried a mattress with her at all times to proclaim his guilt and her victimization. The thesis made national headlines. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) invited Sulkowicz as her guest to the State of the Union Address, along with the mattress.   Marvel Comics then declared the Senator a  “Senators of Steel” in honor of her fight against campus sexual assault. Obama’s United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, praised Sulkowicz for helping show that “true change is possible.”

Nungesser’s suit charged that the University failed to protect him from the protest by Sulkowicz and even encouraged it. Columbia had argued that it was not obligated to censor Sulkowicz’s speech or the subject matter of her art thesis, and that allowing her performance did not constitute gender discrimination. That’s right: “This student is a rapist” is art.  After Nungesser amended his complaint to allege that Columbia had participated in gender-based harassment, sexual harassment, and gender-based misconduct against him, the University decided to surrender. Its statement reaffirmed that Columbia’s investigation had found Nungesser not guilty of the accusations against him, and expressed regret that his subsequent treatment was “very difficult for him and not what Columbia would want any of its students to experience.”

Columbia also promised to  reform its gender-based misconduct so that all students, “accuser and accused, including those like Paul who are found not responsible,” are treated with “respect.”

This reform doesn’t do Paul any good, however.

Where is the accountability of the other conspirators to destroy an innocent student: Sulkowicz, Gillibrand, and Powers? Where are the apologies from them for this ugly and cruel episode?

I’m waiting for Senator Gillibrand to tweet that it’s high time that Nungesser received justice.

5. Moving on from assholes to incredible incompetence, we have this jaw-dropping headline, from Fred the Ethics Scout:

Black teenage woman, mistaken for machete-wielding black man, alleges police brutality

The first paragraph:

A black 19-year-old woman was punched in the mouth by an officer, bitten by a police K9 and arrested last month after an officer said he mistook her for a 180-pound bald man suspected of threatening people with a machete at a nearby grocery store.

Fred observes: “Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” True, but still, Hanlon’s Razor applies: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”

However, there is no adequate explanation for this level of stupidity, is there?


55 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/14/17

  1. Regarding Number 1,the oath I took begins, “You do swear that you … will conduct yourself as an attorney and counselor at law in an upright and courteous manner.” If not an ethics violation, that behavior would violate the oath.

  2. The Democratic Party has been a party of assholes since Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill stopped being “friends after 6 PM,” in the esteemed speaker’s words, because they were no longer serving together. Who but a troop of assholes would nominate a slick slug like Clinton and then defend his getting adulterous oral sex in the oval office by saying character didn’t matter? Who but a bigger troop of assholes would stab GWB in the back during a war the minute it looked like there was political hay to be made? Who but the heirs to the throne of the kingdom of assholes would nominate Hillary, with all the baggage that went with her, cry sexist when she lost, and then march in lockstep to try to ruin the man who beat her, no matter what it did for the nation?

  3. Wow!

    Is this level of stupidity and unethical behavior new to our world or do we just have more of an ability now to hear of it due to the internet?

    Just wow.

    Seems like our whole world is experiencing stupid and unethical.

    Neither side can boast these days.

    I suppose the upside is we all as individuals have such fantastic opportunities to be agents for change, truth and love in our worlds.

    Nothing beats one on one encounters where our actions can impact a life and change its course forever.

    Thank you Jack. I still use your blog almost weekly, sharing articles in posts friends do on FB.

    Have noticed the best people will check you out, the whiners come here and tell me you are fake news. Lol. And a typical Trump supporter. Lol.

    Love challenging them gently to go read your words, and some who have apologized.

    I’ve also challenged them to leave a comment and really get into a real discussion, rather than the fake Facebook echo chamber whiny pseudo “discussions.”

    So thankful you exist as well as the readers.

  4. I saw 5 hit the news last night, and I was livid. If you want to argue that as opposed to malice, mistaking a teen aged, dredlocked girl a foot shorter than the bald, goatee sporting suspect, wearing different clothing than the suspect had was mere incompetence… Ok. Fine. I can’t disprove that.

    But then when you go read the police report the officers filed… They make her sound like a bloody ninja. Apparently from a position straddling her bike, she lunged at one officer, knocked him to the ground, and then did some Brazilian jujitsu moves (their report actually listed the holds and manouvres) so that she was on top of the officer and had him in a hold, prompting the other officer to release the dog. I want body cams not only to prove the relative veracity of accounts like that, which I find about as believable as someone bragging about using his penis as a pogo stick to jump to Uranus, but also because that’d make for some great reality TV.

    Were the officers stupid as opposed to malicious? Maybe up until the point they started to lie.

    • “…someone bragging about using his penis as a pogo stick to jump to Uranus…”

      You did it! Hit my funny bone! I can’t…I just can’t…stop.

    • Honestly, that sort of thing is not uncommon. My closest friend, a middle-aged black college graduate wearing a business suit, was handcuffed and laid face down on the floor in the lobby of his own building for half an hour on suspicion of being a 20-year old wearing a baggy t-shirt who had robbed a convenience store 4 blocks away. He didn’t bother to file any complaints, on the grounds that doing so would be useless.

      There are a lot of dumb cops out there, and a lot of mean ones, too.

  5. On a slightly different note, does anyone remember Jody Allard? Feminist writer who threw her children under the bus as not being appropriately woke?

    Well… Apparently she didn’t learn anything the first time, because she’s at it again.

    Apparently her sons no longer trust her (Who’d have thought?!?) and she’s lumping them in with all men, who she views, as a class, are dangerous.

    The one subtle nugget in here, nested among the feminist tripe, bumper stickers, projection, lies and misandry, was this:

    “I do not want to prove my pain, or provide enough evidence to convince anyone that my trauma is merited.”

    I’m left pondering if whatever trauma she’s referring to is psychosomatic, or if she was actually, physically victimized, and undressed trauma from that episode had damaged her worldview, if when she says: “This is not a reflection of something broken or damaged in me; it is a reflection of the systems we build and our boys absorb.” It’s nothing but a desperate lie told to herself, deflection meant to cope.

    Regardless of her suffering… This reads to me as child abuse, and I’m left wondering in the back of my mind what the appropriate response to it is. If as opposed to a deranged (for whatever reason) feminist, we were talking about a white supremacist who had happened to somehow get a black woman pregnant and spent the day posting on Stormtrooper about how his black babies were dumb, how fast would the state rescue those kids? Or would they? Is this situation different?

    • I don’t think it could legally constitute child abuse, but if there was some kind of custody dispute between her and the father, I think this should count against her. Parading around one’s child’s depression in the way she does is abysmal.

    • The biggest thing it is is selfish. I know there are horribly selfish parents who do terrible damage to their children. It’s an age old problem. But, the completeness of this mother’s selfishness is stunning. If there is a single tiny thought in her mind for what she is doing to her own children it’s undetectable.

  6. Regarding number 3, I disagree with Paul Ryan’s decision to change the dress code. I believe he should have put his foot down and said, “No, the rules are there to create a professional and respectful environment. She can put on a jacket or cardigan and walk in like all the other professionals. Why does she want to go sleeveless so much, anyway? Is it because she feels compelled to show off skin to appease the patriarchy? It doesn’t seem very feminist to fight for women to be more sexualized in professional environments.” Plus he can still criticize Pelosi for not changing the rules when she was Speaker.

    Well, at least now we know the Democrats are actually passionately supportive of the Second Amendment. They just misread it.

    • Is this satire, EC, or do you actually think sleeveless dresses are “sexualized?”

      It seems to me this rule has been on the books for a while, but I’m curious if there are any other examples of the rule being enforced. It strikes me as inherently silly and archaic; as Spartan pointed out, sleeveless dresses can be perfectly professional. The Sargeant of Arms who turned the journalist away based on a rule that was apparently so little-known Paul Ryan didn’t know about it strikes me as over the top.

  7. Aw, Jeez, I gotta unwind…so much in today’s warm-up about obnoxious people, I had to just let my mind wander…and ponder…until realizing how oblivious I have been, and for so long, to so much pop music. I started the video of Shaun Cassidy, and locked without blinking for a few seconds, in a mixture of horror, disbelief, and grudging admiration. My mind kept pushing the names of Justin Bieber and Karen Carpenter into my thoughts, like two channels overlapping each other on the screen of an old TV set. For a couple of moments, the thoughts were somewhat clear: “Cassidy was the Bieber of his time. How does one pursing of the lips, one flexing of an eyebrow, melt crowds of girls into immobilized (but quivering) heaps of steaming estrogen? Cassidy. Bieber. Clones.” And then: “That’s Karen, there. I see Karen. She and Cassidy could’ve been siblings. Gad, I loved her voice! Her drumming was cool, too. WHY didn’t she JUST EAT?!” Now, I gotta go look for a YouTube of Karen’s “Close to You” and “Top of the World.” Count me a steaming heap of…something other than estrogen.

  8. I’m wearing a sleeveless dress today, with heels, make-up, and accessories in this inferno we call DC in the summer. If anyone calls me out for this, I will punch him/her in the face.

    • In anticipation of all the “men don’t get to bare their arms” crap, let me say in response, “shut up.” Male lawyers get to wear polo shirts and dockers in the summer here. They tend not to have long hair, and I haven’t met one yet who has to wear pancake make-up at all, which we have to do (covered with tons of powder in the summer so it doesn’t look like our faces are melting).

      I’m not arguing for dressing inappropriately at work, but women can wear sheath dresses (which tend to go to their necks anyway, so no cleavage) and look totally professional. We also have sweaters in our offices because the men like the A/C cranked. We only need the sleeveless part for getting from Point A to Point B in this blasted heat. If women have to look great while our colleagues are wearing polo shirts (I kid you not, I just came from a meeting and all the men were dressed that way), then shut up about my arms. At least I am in a dress and do not look like I just got done with a round of golf or cleaning out my garage.

      • But they aren’t wearing tank tops or sleeveless T shirts. To be fair the men are able to stay cool wearing sleeves.
        I get that heels and a sheath dress and heavy make-up are the devil’s inventions, and honestly, If I had to dress like high powered women do I’d be cranky 24/7 and cranky in a way that would call for restraining orders.

        • There is nothing sexual about a professional sleeveless dress. For those people think that think there is, they should seek professional help or move to Saudi Arabia.

          • I’m not sure sexy is the issue. It certainly isn’t for me. For me the issue is that upper arms on both men and women are ugly unless they are toned. Most are not toned. It also can get really ugly if the armscye is cut very wide.

    • Also, as you might be able to tell, this heat has me cranky right now. My husband is rolling with my mood, so should you. 🙂

  9. Average July temperature here 67, average low 55. Winds from the west. Look! There goes Mary Poppins. Sleeves, long skirt, several petticoats … but …. no … underpants. Musta Left ’em.

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