1 Phooey. This was one of those annoying weeks where the blog covered a lot of diverse topics (28 posts in the last 7 days), featured excellent comments, and was rewarded by a kick in the teeth. There was a big drop in followers, especially after the post about the Larry Nassar sentencing fiasco (I got slammed on Facebook, too.) That one is not open to legitimate controversy: the judge was unethical, the manner of sentencing did breach the Judicial Canons in Michigan and elsewhere, the length of the sentence was disproportionate, and the parade of victims was a disgrace to the system. Never mind, though: he’s a monster and didn’t deserved to be treated any better by the judge, so good for her. No wonder trying to get people to reason using ethics tools and systems is so difficult. Most people default to emotion; some lawyers on Facebook even expressed that sentiment—“You go girl!”
It is such basic ethics, and so core to the justice system, that even the worst human beings deserve to be treated with the same respect and fairness as anyone else in the justice system. It is the bedrock of professional ethics that those with the job of protecting the public’s health, safety and welfare must be role models and eschew the passions and indulgences of the public they are pledged to serve. Yet people are frustratingly resistant to both concepts, giving lip service, pretending to understand, then regularly bouncing back to rationalizations and mob reasoning like their values were on a bungee cord.
Silver Lining: It is satisfying to be 100% sure you are right in principle, even when, indeed especially when, you are getting beaten up for it.
2. And speaking of bitches…Contemporaneously with Hillary Clinton’s transparently cynical and damning response to the revelation that she responded to a campaign staffer’s complaint about sexual abuse by Hillary’s “spiritual survivor” in 2008 by transferring the accuser while keeping her advisor around (to harass others, it seems), she released a video…
…that began with the words, “And let me just say, this is directed to the activist bitches supporting bitches.” And thus we see how the Nation of Assholes is progressing. Somehow, I didn’t see the coarsening of the culture as Americans, as they always so, emulate the conduct of the President, extending to Hillary Clinton, but why not? She has no integrity or ethics alarms. If she thinks going potty mouth will bring her money and power, why wouldn’t she ditch civility? The woman is first and always an ethics corrupter.
Silver Lining: It is remarkable, and reassuring, how few defenders Clinton has now. On Althouse’s blog—the video is exactly the kind of this Ann loves to post about—her 136 comments, hardly from right-wingers, were unanimous in expressing disgust at Hillary. Brutal—but funny! Like:
- “I take it calling women “bitches” is more acceptable than calling shitholes “shitholes”?”
- “This might be more effective if one couldn’t see the raw calculation in her eyes.”
- “Laying the groundwork for an insanity plea.”
- “Poor Hillary. She has none of Richard Nixon’s virtues and intelligence and has all of his vices. Will she run again in 2020? Why not?” [Me: It’s funny because it’s true.]
- “Now why wasn’t she 50 points ahead?”
- “As a dog that returneth to his vomit, so is the fool that repeateth his folly. ‘Sicut canis qui revertitur ad vomitum suum, sic imprudens qui iterat stultitiam suam.'”
- “And they say that Trump has a gender gap problem…”
- “Learning more about the essential Hillary is like peeling back the layers of an onion: When you are all done there is nothing in the middle, you’ve made a mess and your hands stink.”
3. What a surprise...Real estate and casino magnate Steve Wynn resigned as finance chairman for the Republican National Committee on Saturday after The Wall Street Journal reported an alleged pattern of sexual misconduct and sexual assault involving employees of Wynn Resorts. Wynn denies them all, but the story seems thoroughly researched. The story portrays Wynn as a serial abuser of his employees who allegedly pressured some to perform sex acts on him. Wynn allegedly pressured a manicurist to have sex with him on his massage table, then paid her $7.5 million in a settlement after she filed a detailed report to human resources. Naturally, the left-wing media is working hard to argue that this cancels out the Democrats’ Harvey Weinstein embarrassment. It doesn’t. Neither cancels the other, and Weinstein is to Wynn like Matt Lauer is to David Letterman. There is also an obvious distinction between party leaders whose shtick is women’s rights and condemning the misogynist ways of the GOP extolling Weinstein as they accepted his money, knowing what he was and was continuing to do, and that other party having a major donor and finance head who demonstrated pretty much what you’d expect from a Las Vegas casino mogul. In the hypocrisy competition, there’s no contest.
Salon does make a valid point that after the Weinstein scandal broke, the GOP tweeted, “Still no word from DNC on returning all of Harvey Weinstein’s donations,” and should be held to their won declared standard. It’s a stupid standard, though, the absurd “dirty money” concept. Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans are obligated to return donations because their donors or fundraisers are revealed as scum. If a donation is legal, the money not the result of criminal activity, and it isn’t a bribe, it doesn’t matter ethically whether it came from Jack the Ripper or Joan of Arc.
Silver Lining: That’s easy. Any time one of these sexual harassers is exposed and shamed, it’s a good thing—if he is a sexual harasser. In Wynn’s case, as with Weinstein, there seems little doubt.
4. Nothing to fear. Once again, a “resistance” mouthpiece, in this case the New York Times editors (for the second time), stooped to using the Orwellian ‘If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ poison to attack the President of the United States. This is signature significance for a totalitarian mindset, and shows vividly the alienation of the Times from its own alleged values. The editorial is stunned that the President would distrust the fairness and motives of the Justice Department and the FBI as it pursues an investigation concocted by Democrats to undo the 2016 election. Why would he distrust DOJ, where an acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, left over from the Obama administration breached ethics rules to defy her client, the President, and publicly grandstanded her “resistance” to an Executive Order? Or the Justice lawyers who have been unethically and illegally leaking to the press at a record pace? Why would he distrust a Special Counsel who appointed FBI agents to his team revealed later to have pronounced a Trump presidency to be a disaster to be avoided at all costs? Why would Trump be wary of an FBI team assembled by James Comey, who leaked classified materials to undermine him, or the same agency that now appears to have rigged the Clinton investigation to ensure his defeat in 2016? It’s a mystery!
But never mind: the Times editorials jumped the rationality shark on all things Trump more than a year ago. That still doesn’t excuse ending a screed called “Why Does the President Fear The Truth?” with this Orwellian line:
This leads to the third and most pressing question of all: If Mr. Trump and his associates are truly innocent of any wrongdoing, what are they so afraid of?
Oh, gee, I don’t know—because they have every reason to believe the objective of the investigation isn’t the truth, but political warfare, electoral gains, propaganda, interference with governance and a achieving a soft coup? Because every American would have reason to fear if a prosecutor determined to find a reason to prosecute was digging into his or her affairs? Be Mueller’s investigation is at least as much about partisan politics as it is about “justice”? Because a prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, as the saying goes?
The Times itself would have once loudly condemned the premise of their editorial as a deadly slippery slope–before Donald Trump.
Silver Lining: The sooner the mainstream news media’s abandonment of objectivity, ethics, fairness and principle becomes so obvious that even its current enablers shout “Enough!”, the sooner reform and healing can begin. This outrageous embrace of a “1984” mentality by the New York Times has to represent progress toward the moment when journalists, like Michael Douglas in “Falling Down,” realize, “Wait…I’m the bad guy?”
5. Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr. (1929-2018). Hazard, who died on January 11, was not only one of the nation’s most respected authorities on legal ethics, he was one of a small group of law professors who made it the crucial and dynamic field it is today, and in so doing, vastly improved the integrity of the legal profession. He also authored and updated the classic legal ethics textbook, one that I used when I taught a legal ethics course at American University. His obituary is here.
Silver Lining: A life well-lived, with an enduring impact and legacy. You can’t hope for more than that.