Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/29/2020: Dogs, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, D.C., Jimmy Kimmel, Threatening Deplorables And Restricting Rights

Well, dogs are good, anyway…

1. Stop making  dogs defend Mike Bloomberg!…Is there anything too trivial that people won’t use to attack politicians? A CBS News video began circulating online yesterday afternoon showing Michael Bloomberg shaking hands with a man in Burlington, Vermont, then taking his dog’s upper jaw  in his hand and “shaking” the dog’s  snout  He then scratched the dog’s ears. The social media mob called him a dog abuser.

Morons. That’s a move that most dogs enjoy, as well as someone grasping their whole muzzle. It shows Bloomberg is comfortable with and knowledgeable about dogs. I used to do both moves with our 165 pound English Mastiff, and our Jack Russells.

2.  I know this is of interest to almost nobody who isn’t a lawyer, but trust me, it’s a big deal. The District of Columbia has long been the only U.S. jurisdiction that allows law firms to have non-lawyer partners, a structure prevented everywhere else by the general prohibition on lawyers sharing their fees with non-lawyers. When D.C. adopted its revolutionary approach, it assumed that the states would soon follow, with the American Bar Association’s assent. Because that hasn’t happened, a state-licensed lawyer with a D.C. license participating in a legal firm in D.C. could technically be found to  be violating that state’s ethics rules , though the District has negotiated a truce in that potential controversy.

Meanwhile, those special law firms with non-lawyer members are proliferating like legal rabbits. Now  a Jan. 23 press release tells the world that the District of Columbia Bar is taking comments regarding proposed changes to its ethics rules that could allow external ownership of law firms, as well as blended businesses in which lawyers and non-lawyers provide both legal and nonlegal services, like accounting. Or massages–who knows? Right now, law firms by definition can only practice law.

Perhaps even more significantly, California, Utah and Arizona are also studying changes that would relax ethics rules barring non-lawyers from holding a financial interest in law firms.

Stay tuned. Or rather I’ll stay tuned, since many of my legal ethics clients are those special D.C. firms, and I’ll keep you posted whether you like it or not.

3. Clearly,  the coarsening of U.S. popular culture has proceeded much further than Ann Althouse has realized. I see that quirky law and culture blogger Ann Althouse is chiding ABC late night host Jimmy Kimmel for a cheap joke line he used 8 years ago at the White House correspondent’s dinner, “Mitt or get off the pot” that has now spawned a social media hashtag.  She writes,

A joke that was notably bad 8 years ago — when the upcoming election was just about whether to keep that nice man Obama or not — has been revived in the context of impeaching that horrible man Trump because we — some of us — are just too distraught to wait a few months for the election. Maybe Kimmel revived his bad joke last night and got Twitter going down this excrement-laden path.

In a culture where commercials like this one are common…

…and Kimmel rival Stephen Colbert called the President of the U.S. a “cock-holster” on national TV two years ago with nary a blink from NBC, Ann has a lot of catching up to do.

4. And on the subject of being behind the times...U.S. District Court Chief Judge Patti Saris ruled in 2018 that Massachusetts “may not constitutionally prohibit the secret audio recording of government officials, including law enforcement officials, performing their duties in public spaces, subject to reasonable time, manner, and place restrictions.” This overturned a 1968 Massachusetts  wiretap law as it applied to citizens before the cellphone era, where virtually anyone has the capability of recording a conversation or event on the spot.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins,  Boston’s top prosecutor, is calling for a reversal, claiming the state’s 1968 prohibition should be restored, and law enforcement and government officials should know  when they’re being recorded.

At a hearing before the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month, free speech groups said  that such recordings are protected by the First Amendment, and that the lower court’s ruling should be upheld.  State Attorney General Maura Healey is representing Rollins (Pop Quiz: can you guess which party Healy and Rollins belong too? Clue #1: “It’s Massachusetts. Clue #2: they are trying to reduce the Constitutional rights of Americans), and her office’s appellate brief cites hypothetical scenarios where secret recordings of public officials might harm average citizens.

Yup, there’s that dangerous First Amendment again..

5.  I don’t recall any party ever using this kind of rallying cry against a President, do you? Candidate  for Georgia’s 2020 Senate nomination Jon Ossoff has a new video in which he  says,  “We need to send a message this year, that if you indulge in this kind of politics [that is, supporting President Trump] you’re not just going to get beaten. You’re going to get beaten so bad you’ll never be able to run or show your face again in public….Because we have had ENOUGH! ABSOLUTELY ENOUGH of what we are getting from Donald Trump and his fellow-travelers right now.”

Even though many believe Hillary’s denigration of all Trump supporters as deplorables lost her the election, many Democrats seem to think that intimidating, insulting and threatening Americans who question their intrinsic wisdom is the path to victory.

Conservative writer Megan Fox calls Ossoff’s shrill message a call to physically attack Trump supporters. This is confirmation bias ,though you can hardly blame her since Democrats ARE physically attacking Trump supporters, and I agree that his statement is sufficiently ambiguous that the Trump Deranged could take it that way. I’m pretty sure, though, that Ossof was referring to Republican politicians…which is bad enough.

Someone should tell him, though, that “fellow travelers” usually means Communist sympathizers—you know, like Bernie Sanders.

6. And a final note regarding competence. Joe Biden said , “So, the idea we’re gonna cut the defense budget significantly, we can cut it some, but we don’t need standing armies, we need to be smarter than we’re dealing now into how we handle this.”

Does any serious person really believe that the United States doesn’t need a standing army?

25 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/29/2020: Dogs, Mike Bloomberg, Joe Biden, D.C., Jimmy Kimmel, Threatening Deplorables And Restricting Rights

  1. 1. I have never owned dogs (I was badly bitten when I was about 4 by a dog my neighbors just let wander around the neighborhood), but I always thought grabbing a dog’s nose was a no-no and would get you mauled. Scratching ears, though, is something I thought everyone did, with dogs and cats both.

    2. Interesting – I’ll be watching to see how this develops too.

    3. Of course Jimmy Kimmel, the Pope of America, revived that joke. There’s just nowhere that’s too low for him. I wonder if I should put him on the same list with Dan Savage, Bill Maher, and Ted Rall as another guy who’s made a career out of being a rude, nasty, assaultive jerk. Michael Moore is all those things, but he’s in a separate category for bending the truth.

    4. Mixed feelings. As a photographer there’s a certain code of ethics to shooting people, even in public, without their consent, and we’ve discussed that here. I think there should be a certain code of ethics to recording people, even in public, without their consent also. I’ve seen police officers go so far as to snatch people’s phones away or threaten to arrest them too if they don’t stop recording. Also, if people know anyone, anytime, could be recording them without their knowledge, they’re likely to clam up completely at all times.

    5. Mmhmm, I’ve heard that kind of thing. I heard it in the cinematic adaptation of Patriot Games, when Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford) tells IRA bagman Paddy O’Neil (Richard Harris) that “I don’t give a shit whether you did it (tried to kill his wife and daughter), and neither will anyone else, but I will put such a stranglehold on your gun money that you’ll be out in the street throwing rocks! I will fucking destroy you! I will make it my mission in life!” I also said it myself, when, 26 and angry at the world, I exploded at an Indian guy in a parking dispute and told him “I’m going to have you towed! You hear me? TOWED! Back to the land of SHIT! Back to the land of CURRY! Back to the land of DEAD BODIES! WHERE DOTHEADS LIKE YOU FUCKING BELONG!” Both of them sounded idiotic and like the person couldn’t control themselves. That’s what this guy sounds like. You want to elect rageaholics, feel free.

    6. I’ve also heard that kind of thing. I heard it when I was in college from the usual crowd of neo-hippies, and I’ve heard it from guys like Philip Berrigan, who’s now dead almost 20 years. I’ve also heard it from the occasional paleoconservative, a la Ron Paul. The question of a standing army was resolved with the War of 1812, when Winfield Scott showed decisively that militia alone wouldn’t cut it and we needed full-time soldiers. The question of a navy was resolved even earlier when Thomas Jefferson sent the early USN to fight the Barbary Pirates. There are 15 nations in the world who have no official military and 6 who have limited de jure or de facto forces. None of them are consequential. This is the most consequential nation of all. If you are a principled pacifist who dislikes the idea of a standing military, then may I kindly suggest a move to Monaco, or Liechtenstein, or some remote Caribbean island, or to Costa Rica, where a peaceful life is considered a Constitutional right.

    Some things just aren’t even worth discussing, because they already have been.

  2. #4 I’m surprised these Democrat Massachusetts politicians are being so protective of the police. They usual talking point is about the racism of our criminal justice system, and blah, blah, blah. Are they trying to strengthen the racism? Huh. Also, Healy is one of those annoying activist resistance AGs, that would sue an oil company for existing, because climate crisis.
    #6 I love how candidates running for office answer foreign policy with with “we need to do better, we need to be smarter, I would handle it totally differently”. When I hear something like that, I think “translation: I’d probably be doing the same thing.”

  3. 5. I have to admit, when I read the first paragraph, I thought he was talking about a physical beating.

    That just illustrates the level to which public debate has sunk. Yes, I blame myself for an emotional reaction, but with the news of random folks assailing political figures in restaurants and attacking citizens wearing MAGA hats, I forgive myself this time. God help me.

    • Progressives hate you. Act accordingly. (shrug)

      I believe them when they say their opponents should be disenfranchised, shipped to gulags, and liquidated. After all, history shows socialists have done so before. And this crowd keep saying the others failed, but WE would do it right. What does THAT mean? Public executions upon accusation with rolling guillotines patrolling the streets?

      That this is remotely entertainable as an idea shows how crazy the left has become.

      • I have a hard time keeping Osoff and Beto O’Rourke separate. I’m afraid in twenty years guys like them will be running congress and the executive branch.

      • Well, need I remind you that in the wake of Charlottesville, a popular leftist blogger wrote:

        “Fuck Nazis. I don’t want to hear any social justice warrior bullshit about not confronting these racist shitbags with violence if necessary. They get punched in the head, they take a lead pipe over the skull, well it just plain sucks to be a Nazi. I’m not going to sugar coat that for you. Nazis are Nazis, they deserve nothing but a boot in their yellow teeth and punch in the throat. They’re getting off easy. Our grandfathers hunted Nazis down and EXTERMINATED them and it’s to our everlasting shame that we let this cancer regrow in our midst. Fuck Nazis.”

        If this is the kind of thinking on the left, this should come as no surprise. Now, let’s change it around a little bit. Suppose I wrote:

        “Fuck Communists. I don’t want to hear any bullshit about not confronting these tyrannical shitbags with violence if necessary. They get punched in the head, they take a metal baton across the skull, well it just plain sucks to be a Communist. I’m not going to sugar coat that for you. Commies are Commies, they deserve nothing but a boot in their yellow teeth and punch in the throat. They’re getting off easy. Our grandfathers stood up against them for fifty fucking years and it’s to our everlasting shame that we let this cancer regrow in our midst. Fuck Commies.”


        “Fuck antifa. I don’t want to hear any civility bullshit about not confronting these anarchist shitbags with violence if necessary. They get punched in the nutsack, they get grabbed by the belt and the collar and rammed into a dumpster headfirst, well it just plain sucks to be an anarchist. I’m not going to sugar coat that for you. Anarchists are Anarchists, they deserve nothing but a boot in their yellow teeth and punch in the throat. They’re getting off easy. Our great-grandfathers hunted anarchists down and EXTERMINATED them and it’s to our everlasting shame that we let this cancer regrow in our midst. Fuck antifa.”

        I could do an equivalent for Muslims, but I think you get the point. My second point is that if you go all righteous hatred and violence, there’s nothing to stop the other side from doing the same. Michael Collins’ approach to breaking the UK’s hold over Ireland was to assassinate police officers and intelligence agents. I don’t see why we on the right should let this be a one-way terror and bullying street. They shouldn’t complain if someone shoots a leftist firebrand dead with a sniper rifle or if the Proud Boys don’t just wait to defend against Antifa, but instead start searching out known Antifa members and bringing the fight to them. You keep looking for trouble, eventually trouble is going to come looking for you. Oh, and most lefties have loved ones too. I have no qualms about making a lefty professor’s daughter disappear with her return the price for his silence, or beating up and curb stomping some big mouth’s girlfriend, with the warning you’ll kill her next time if he doesn’t cease this activism.

        • Sadly, this may be what it takes to get the point across that such behavior will not be tolerated. The high road has led to political extinction.

          Amazing how a level playing field make on wish to return to Queensbury rules.

    • To be honest, so did I. It could be easily interpreted as being an endorsement of physically beating not only Republican politicians, but also Republicans in general. But, of course, Democrats have no problem using violence against people they deem to be Nazis and even deny that they are trying to incite any violence at all. Let a Republican use “cross-hairs”, though…

      • I’m loath to use “Democrats” as a broad brush, but there sure seems to be a lot of Leftists, some Democrats among them, who are all too willing to beat a conservative for Gaia, or whatever…

  4. Does any serious person really believe that the United States doesn’t need a standing army?

    Wut? You’re saying Ol’ Joe isn’t serious? Shame on you! A MAGA hat should be thrust upon you and you should be beaten for the very notion!

    What this does do is make me worry very much about Biden’s mental wellness. This is a position I would expect from a sophomore in a DC suburban high school, not an former US senator and vice president.

  5. 1. Dogs like this. I bet those who think it abuse hate dogs, have not owned dogs, and think pet ownership is slavery. You know: morons.

    2. Ignorant question, but why is allowing investors to hold shares in law firms a bad thing? Why should lawyers not have to put up with uninformed dictates from owners who make very stupid decisions out of disinterest or personal gain? The rest of us have put up with this for decades.

    Willing to be educated.

    3. Resorting to these tactics is a sign of a weak stand point… and a weak mind.

    4. Public recording is a defacto part of our world. Allowing police and public servants to evade this feature of modern life (while everyone else has no recourse) invites corruption, fascist tactics, and totalitarian control of the public. The threat of one’s actions being recorded is a strong inhibitor to wrong doers.

    Which explains why Massachusetts wants to reinstate this law.

    5. Dumbass. Osshof is dog whistling for beatings of his political opponents. Reverse the parties involved and this would be decried from the rooftops by the mainstream media. Does anyone really think that if a Republican said this, it would not be described as a dog whistle for violence? Puull-leezz!

    Americans resent intimidation. This shows how little the modern progressive party understands common Americans. This elects Trump again.

    6. Biden has developed dementia. No other explanation for how he talks… wait. He has always been this way. No, he is just an idiot and always has been.

    7. There is no number 7

  6. #6 Don’t need standing armies? What the hell?

    Biden’s loose cannon mouth shows me regularly that he’s a blithering idiot. What the hell does he think is going to deter those from around the Earth that want to destroy us? Maybe we could get into another huge nuclear arms race instead, what fun that would be growing a huge arsenal of nukes that no one would ever use on the terrorist that are using truck bombs, IED’s, bullets and knives. Open the door for Russia or China to walk right in with their conventional armies; great idea Biden – you blithering idiot.

  7. 1) The first time I saw that clip, I hadn’t seen the freakout yet, and I thought it was a cute moment. Pictures with dogs are like… PR101: It’s hard to screw up a photoshoot with a dog, everyone likes dogs. I still have no idea what the heck some people are getting worked up over.

    4) I don’t think this is a particularly left or right issue, I think it’s a liberty/control issue. There will be Republicans who in their support of police get to the same place, it just so happens that this time it was in Mass. That said…. I’m marginally amazed (and perhaps I shouldn’t be) that this kind of sentiment was attached to someone who was able to get elected in the last couple of years on a D ticket. After all that #Activism with BLM, they still think that it’s a great idea to make it illegal to record cops? I’d say that those people would never win an election again if I thought that their voter base actually had any genuinely held principles.

    6) His voters are Democrats, Jack. He’s got to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

  8. I find it a bit hypocritical for any government actor to question the legality of recording law enforcement (or any government employee) in public spaces. I say this because of the various court rulings upholding blanket government surveillance on the basis that there is no ” expectation of privacy” while moving about in public. The same logic allows license plate readers on public roads and helps keep the gigantic constitutional wound known as the third party doctrine fresh. It seems to me that by this logic people provide consent to be recorded just by being in public and government employees should be expected to adbide by the same rules they have created.

    Just my 2 cents.

  9. On 4 I agree but we need to come up with some way to deal with the escalation or aggravation that comes with obtaining some of these virial recordings. The problems from the standpoint of the police isn’t always the recording of the officers actions but of the actions of the individuals doing the recording. In tense situations having someone with thier arm streached out while moving around you while your in close reach of someone else does nothing but escalates the situation. I think there has to be some kind of clear line established that is universally understood where your actions in exercising your rights becomes interference with law enforcement. As a civilian I have stepped in and asked people to step back while an arrest was being made, it’s insane, and it isn’t just young people. There were no less than 7 people videoing this guy getting arrested for shoplifting and they were getting right up on the officers from all angles. The officers asked people to step back but were totally ignored. It was like the paparazzi on a pop star but with less restraint.

  10. On #5, I think that “You’re going to get beaten so bad you’ll never be able to run or SHOW YOUR FACE IN PUBLIC” is actually a physical threat, even if he didn’t mean it that way. The part I capitalized takes it out of the realm of mere elections, because not being able to win an election does NOT preclude appearing in public, but actual physical violence to the point of disfigurement would.

    Oddly, I didn’t take it that way at first until I started reading it to see why it could be taken as a physical threat. If I tell someone I want to beat their head in, but the context makes it clear it’s an empty threat, does that make it not a threat? If hyperbole is your only defense of a threat, you’re probably saying something you shouldn’t be.

    • How about if you make it clear it isn’t hyperbole, like “I will kill you if you say that again, and I’m not just spouting hyperbole. If you disrespect me like that again they will be sending flowers to your mom, because I will put you in your grave.”

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