Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/25/17

Good Morning!

1. The National Review began its story on this topic thusly:

“California and New York will become the first states to allow illegal immigrants to practice law and be sworn in as lawyers. In so doing, they will grant the privilege of upholding the law and defending the U.S. Constitution to people who have intentionally violated the rules, and who have no right whatsoever to be here.”

This is a fair and objective description. I detest conservative radio talk show host Micheal Savage, who wrote a right wing attack tome called “Liberalism is a Mental Disorder” just as I detest that title, and the approach to civil discourse and political disagreements that goes with it. (Ann Coulter preaches the same message, but is funnier when she does it.) However, when I read about things like this, I feel a magnetic pull to the position. In 2013, Governor Brown  signed into law a provision allowing illegal immigrants to be awarded licenses to practice law in the state California. At the same time as he vetoed nother bill passed by his reliably wacko legislature that would have allowed those who would not obey the nation’s immigration laws to be eligible to serve on juries, and thus pass judgment on the alleged crimes of U.S. citizens. Ponder that contrast for a minute, and see if your head explodes. Brown had a convoluted explanation for the seeming contradiction, but what he was doing was obvious: he was pandering to illegals and their supporters. Serving on juries is an obligation of citizenship that citizens find onerous: telling illegals that they didn’t have to meet this obligation while still harvesting citizenship benefits was a welcome decision.

At the time I wrote,

“I am not surprised by this turn of events, just made nauseous by it. I almost closed comments for this post. If I really have to explain to someone why those who have never taken affirmative steps to become citizens in this country should not be allowed to practice its laws after years of being in defiance of its laws, I’m not sure its worth the effort.”

I thought this was just another example of California gradually abandoning basic American values and moving leftward away from the United States and into the ocean. Apparently it was worth the effort to explain what’s wrong with letting lawbreakers play a key role in our legal system, because this particular strain of insanity has proven itself contagious. NR writes that this development represents a profound illustration of the lack of respect we have come to exhibit for our system and the principles it ostensibly undergirds.” I would not go so far as to say “we” yet: this is, or should be, so self-evident an example of Bizarro World progressivism that it might be used as a vaccine against the virus.

The “profound illustration of the lack of respect” progressives “have come to exhibit for our system and the principles it ostensibly undergirds” remains the idea that it is ethical or sane to allow foreigners to cross our borders and begin exploiting the benefits of American citizenship whenever they feel like it.

2. From Fred:  Houston police department overtime rules for its DWI task force pay time-and-a-half overtime for all hours spent in court. This gives cops—let me re-phrase that: unethical cops— financial motives to go to court whether or not an arrest was legitimate, so some of them have made bogus arrests and cashed in.  One officer made 476 DWI arrests, many of which were later dismissed. Never mind: he got the time and a half regardless.  The officer, William Lindsey, was shown in court documents  to have made more money from combined overtime pay than he did from his regular salary from 1992-2004. In the first eleven months of 2004, Lindsey earned a total of $145,957, of which only $63,924 was regular salary while $82,032 was paid overtime for his DWI arrests. As a result, Lindsey was the highest paid officer in the city. He retired after reporters began to question the situation in 2006.

This is called a “perverse incentive.” If any organization has one, it is a good bet that it will also have an unethical employee or ten who are ready to pounce and cash in. The solutions are, in reverse order, regular and effective ethics training (by me, preferably), better hiring practices that make unethical employees less likely, and policies devised using an Ethical Decision-Making process, most of which require considering the worst case scenario.

3. Speaking of ethical decision-making systems, the man who introduced me to them, my mentor, legal ethicist and friend and who got me into this field, Michael Daigneault, has a new blog himself that can be relied upon to discuss ethics regularly and perceptively. It can be found on the website of the the company he launched with his wife, Quantum Government L3C. The D.C. area based firm consults with organizations to assist them in developing more effective leadership and governance.  A slice of his first post, called “Beyond Ethics”:

“A fish rots from the head down.” It’s a cliché, yes, but it’s a cliché because it’s repeated so often; and it’s repeated so often because it’s so often true. What I have continually observed over the years is a failure of genuine leadership at the Board or senior management level. These failings frequently resulted in organizational cultures that ignored (or even encouraged) unethical or unprincipled decisions. Likely causes were as varied as the organizations I came into contact with…a lack of clarity around tradition-bound leadership roles and responsibilities…too much authority in just a few individual’s hands…lip service by leaders to an ideal – and then actions to the contrary…the absence of proper boundaries…a lack of transparency and – yes – sometimes a systemic failure by leadership to set forth the ethical standards (and then clearly communicate, model and reinforce them) that are a vital part of a sustainable organization’s DNA.”

4.  As long as Joy Reid hosts a show at MSNBC (and Al Sharpton, of course. Wait, there’s also Lawrence O’Donnell…and “Morning Joe,” and…), there is res ipsa loquitur proof that the network has no respect for truth, journalism ethics, or its viewers. Reid is one more anti-white racist, but in her desperate effort to slime President Trump and give credibility to the Russian collusion conspiracy theories, she revealed just how reckless and stupid she is.

Her theory last week, expressed on Twitter, was that one more bit of evidence that President Trump is in the tank for Putin is that he has had “two Russian wives.” She tweeted,

“Donald Trump married one American (his second wife) and two women from what used to be Soviet Yugoslavia: Ivana-Slovakia, Melania-Slovenia.”

Yugoslavia was never part of the Soviet Union. It was a Communist country, and considered an Iron Curtain nation, but its long-time dictator, Josip Broz Tito, was by far the most defiant, independent and successful of the Communist bloc leaders.Tito was popular in Yugoslavia in part because he had the courage to break with Stalin in 1948. You can learn about that here, as Reid could have, if she bothered to do any research before shooting off her metaphorical mouth. Yugoslavians were no more “Russian” than I am. They detested the Soviet Union almost as much as Joy Reid detests the President of the United States and those who voted for him.

Ivana Trump, the mother of Trump’s first three children, wasn’t even born in Yugoslavia, but in what is now the Czech Republic, formerly known as Czechoslovakia.Well, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, they’re all Russia, right, Joy?

What an idiot.

Beyond her laziness and ignorance, Reid’s argument is pure bigotry, xenophobia and guilt by association. Hey, my son was really born in Russia: if marrying a Slav and a Czech mean that the President must be a Russian tool, what does that make me?

32 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/25/17

  1. I bet you even met with Russian lawyers or even government officials, Jack. And when a person meets with any Russian lawyer or government official, they’re really meeting with Putin. Robert Mueller will be knocking on your door any day now. You better lawyer up.

  2. Funny how the Dems cater to illegals but insist they don’t vote.

    Thanks for acknowledging Ann Coulter can be funny.

  3. Aren’t the NY and CA supreme courts ultimately responsible for policing the bar and determining its admission standards? Shouldn’t someone (the bar associations?) sue the legislatures to get this sort of interference off the books as unconstitutional?

  4. Yeesh. I follow Joy Ann Reid, and have even retweeted her on occasion, but I will be unfollowing today over her xenophobic remarks.

  5. 2). It seems like the right thing to do here would be to remove the overtime pay. If showing up in court is part of their job, then there should be no reason for them to receive overtime (unless, of course, they actually are working overtime). Is the system currently set up where the court is considered an extra activity?

    I might consider harsher punishments for frivolous arrest, but I bet there would be no way to police that.

    4. the definition of insanity is voluntarily watching MSNBC. Seriously look it up:

    • Regarding 2, my limited experience with police officers is they work their 40 hours; court time is not factored in (unless a huge trial is pending). Cops don’t like working an overnight shift, only to be called to court at 9:30, where the prosecutor tells them there has been a continuance and they can go home.

      One criminal pre-trial I had, The cop did not show up at 8:30 after doing an overnight; they sent a squad out to get him, but he did not answer. Instead of continuing it, we stipulated to facts that ultimately helped lead to my client’s acquittal (at the Court of Appeals).

      Of course, there is an incentive for abuse, but most people can’t get overtime. With cops in court, sometimes, you can’t get by without them.


  6. “Well, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, they’re all Russia, right, Joy?”

    A dear friend of mine is from a country in the Balkans, and since I met him I’ve found it fascinating and amazing how poorly informed I was about that part of the world. These days I tease him about how misinformed most Americans are, but it’s started grating on me, especially the misconceptions about politics (including Russian politics.) I don’t have the time to go into it all, but it’s worth keeping in mind that most of what we know about Russia, Eastern Europe, and South Eastern Europe is filtered through the same news organizations that do such an outstanding job of neutral, nuanced, and factual reporting in our own country, except we lack all of the hints and observations that let us know when something is off.

    (The same probably goes for the rest of the world, too, with the possible exception of English speaking countries where we can check sources and read local reactions for ourselves.)

    • Thanks for the run-down, Emily. Having lived in two Asian countries for over a decade myself and spent a few months in others, I am familiar with the kind of mis- or lack of information that clouds American minds concerning others (including Canadian and Mexican histories), while the are generally schooled in ours, at least in basic outline. Part of it is due to a “We’re Number One” arrogance that is all but unconscious — learned from the French, perhaps? — another is the fault of an education system that has systematically eliminated all the “unimportant stuff,” like geography and civics.

      A friend of mine, great-grandfather of 7, three in primary school, just recently tried to answering the second-grader’s questions about George Washington (she had told him — as she often did, the child said — to “Google it when you get home”). The questions were a natural chicken-and-egg progression for the child whose entire lifetime had been spent listening to 21st century political wrangling: first, was Washington a Republican or a Democrat; and second, if there were no (national) political parties then, who elected him president (the boy had figured out an answer for himself but wasn’t entirely sure of it — that the General had been automatically promoted to President!). He had tried the great google god before but hadn’t known how to frame the question. Great-grand-dad knew how the Electoral College began and why — and how to explain it –, but teacher and parents and their contemporaries did not (though half the adults liked it and the other half wanted it abolished anyway).

      Great gramps also reported that he had made a comment about a another of his family’s kids coming home with an A+ on a beautifully drawn map of the United States of America. Only he noticed that Alaska was placed to the left of Hawaii, and both were side-by-side just off San Diego. When he talked to the young artist, he found out that the boy believed that’s where they belonged. When showed other maps, he said it didn’t matter anyway because the pilots knew where to go. His parents agreed. The troublesome thing about it was that the parents didn’t say, (pointing) “no, of course Alaska’s up off Canada and Hawaii’s out in the Pacific Ocean about here.” or even, “oh that’s just a space-saver so you don’t have drawings going off the page” it got worse. When Great-papa asked what was going on to the north and south, the blank areas at the top and bottom, of the map, he was told, with puzzled looks, that they supposed it was “more ocean”. Canada and Mexico were both off the map entirely. Scary.

      • Bad self-proofing, once again. Second paragraph, first sentence: (she had told him . . . “she” refers to the second-grade — very 2nd Grade! — teacher. The boy, so far as I know, had no gender dysphoria.

      • Regarding the ignorant parents: classic low information voters, no doubt.

        Our educational system is such a failure (and I am related to more teachers than you can shake a stick at!)

        • I wish it were ignorance, slick. I’m afraid it was just educated stupidity. I had met this branch of the family and witnessed another such situation for myself. Someone else called them on it and was told that they “preferred that he work out his own system of logic existentially.” There was an exchange of shrugged shoulders around the room. Later the brother-in-law mentioned that he and his wife had considered kidnapping the kid at one point but they were afraid their own children would be contaminated by their cousin’s madness.

  7. 1. Does the policy of allowing illegal immigrants to practice law only apply to immigrants who were children when they were illegally brought into this country and have known no other life, like Sergio Garcia in your 2013 article and Lizbeth Matteo in the National Review story, or does it apply to any illegal immigrant?

    I would oppose the policy if it’s the latter. But I don’t believe in holding children accountable for the crimes of their parents. It seems both Garcia and Matteo have taken steps to become authorized immigrants since becoming adults. I could see the argument that they should not be allowed to practice law until their legal citizenship is fully established, but I also think that should be a much, much faster process, especially for people who are clearly making something of themselves and giving back to their communities. Nothing is stopping the government from giving these people citizenship at the exact same time they give them their law degrees except the will to do so. If we put the amount of resources into streamlining the legal immigration process that we do into deportations, we would have much fewer illegal immigrants.

      • If they are DREAMers, aren’t they by definition doing something to get legal status? This isn’t a gotcha; I admit I’m not up on how the current program works.

  8. Ironically, both the Czech Republic and Slovenia are now NATO allies, they couldn’t wait to leave the Soviet/Russian sphere behind. Most of the Central/Eastern European Slavs loathe the Russians and want nothing to do with them. Unfortunately they had no choice in the wake of WWII. Greece and Turkey were the only two nations east of the line from Stettin to Trieste to escape Soviet domination. Greece only escaped because the UK supported one side in the Greek Civil War that followed and the Soviets decided it was better to concentrate on establishing complete control over Bulgaria than to throw resources into supporting the other side, which might lose them both. Turkey only escaped because the always ruthless and pragmatic Turks threw in with the Allies in the eleventh hour of WWII, lest the Soviet armies just keep right on rolling after the border with Azerbaijan, and the Allies were only too glad to have them for the same reason.

    The sad part of it all is that anyone who wants to learn the facts about the history of the Russians in Europe or of the Slavic peoples, at least as they are published in English by reliable scholars, can do it if they are willing to put the time against it. With the internet there’s really no excuse. I guarantee you that if there were a Democrat in the White House who had married a foreigner, be that hypothetical First Lady from China, from the Levant, from Eastern Europe, or from Latin America, the mainstream media WOULD do all the research necessary to make a compelling case that, wherever she came from, that place was no danger to the United States. No, you idiot, Yei-shen is from Hong Kong and went to the London School of Economics, she is no fan of communism. No, dummy, Fatima is from Lebanon, not Syria, her hometown was like Paris before the US messed it up. No, you uneducated bozo, Elizabeta is from Lithuania, she has nothing to do with Russia. No, you xenophobe, Maria was born and raised in Buenos Aires, she has never even set foot in Central America or Mexico.

    But, because it’s Trump, and too many of their readers are lazy, THEY take the lazy approach, it’s so much easier to just feed bias.

      • Damn straight you would, complete with details of the jade sculpture Yei-shen brought to the White House, or Fatima’s beautiful headscarves and how she’s taught the president all about Islam and how it’s really a religion of peace. You’d hear all about how he married Elizabeta in the cathedral in Vilnius (complete with pictures upon pictures) or how Maria’s family has sent them the best coffee ever served in the White House.

        Because it’s Trump, though, his wife is discounted as, essentially, a Russian pornstar/whore.

        • The one regret I have that there aren’t actually parallel universes we can peer into is that we wouldn’t get to see the one where Trump is the President, but only via the DNC (where his ideological heart still generally lies), and to watch the Left bending over backwards to demonstrate how absolutely superior Trump is despite his classless buffoonery.

          • Oh, it gets better than that if you want to talk parallels. Just flip the President’s party and suddenly the press will ATTACK an international spouse. His wife is Atsuko and she’s from Yokosuka, Japan? Search her family background for any connection to the Japanese military during World War II. He’s married to Lisa from Austria? DRILL into her family background for any connection to the Nazis. You say his wife is Moira and she’s from Ireland? Go back five generations if you need to, and see if there is any connection to the IRA.

            (later, after all leads have been exhausted) Hmmm, so Atsuko’s grandfather was a government official who didn’t actually fight, but because he was connected to one of the minor noble families he had a “courtesy” rank of captain. Good enough, describe him as a Japanese officer in World War II, it will make the point we want. Lisa’s great-grandfather was a little too old and her grandfather was a little too young to be sent to the front, but in the waning days of the war they both got pulled into regiments for the too old and too young who guarded train stations, banks, and things like that. Close enough, just say they were members of the Wehrmacht, which is the overarching term for all German forces, the readers will connect the dots and most won’t look for more details. You say Moira’s great grandfather was in the Easter Rising? Great, we can play him up as a founder of… oh, he was a soldier in an Irish regiment in the British army home on leave, and he joined the British units who suppressed it. OK, we’ll switch tacks, then, and play him up as a willing participant in suppressing a fight for freedom.

            God forbid a Republican president’s wife was from (gasp) Israel.

  9. “Tito was popular in Yugoslavia in part because he had the courage to break with Stalin in 1948.”

    And might have even been responsible for Stalin’s death…

    • And might have even been responsible for Stalin’s death…

      That might be one of two possible redeeming virtues for Tito, then. the other as that the different factions were more afraid of him than each other, so waited until he died to start their civil war.

  10. So far as Tito’s anti-soviet feelings were concerned, you will find it quite informative to read the memoirs of Ion Pacepa, the former head of the Romanian secret services. The anti communist act was that – just an act.

  11. 3. A fish rots from the head down.”…What I have continually observed over the years is a failure of genuine leadership at the Board or senior management level. These failings frequently resulted in organizational cultures that ignored (or even encouraged) unethical or unprincipled decisions

    This seems to describe the situation in Boston, where upper management neglected to suspended David Price (because he’s valuable to team success?) for his abusive treatment towards broadcaster and former pitcher Dennis Eckersley who had the nerve to provide unbiased/non-homerism commentary during a recent game. Instead of using this incident to reinforce team values and culture, the Red Sox once again, as they did so often with Manny Ramirez, made a clear statement to the other players that if you’re good enough, and produce enough W’s, jerkiness and unprofessional behavior will be tolerated. Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s everything. Sad to see a proud franchise choose that path.

    • suspending a player for being an asshole? The Red Sox have never done that, and I doubt many other clubs have either. The description of the team plane altercation sounds ugly, but its words only. We don’t know what was said to Price by the Sox brass, and Eckersley isn’t talking. I’m not sure why a month old incident is still news in Boston.

      I think the team is, as a group, feeling maligned, and I agree with them to an extent: it is in first place in the toughest division there is, and the Sox scribes have been bashing the team all year. Ridiculous to take out the frustrations on Eck, of course. I still think the Sox will win the division comfortably.

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