77 thoughts on “Open Forum!

  1. Is it time to ask whether or no we have lost the right to a fair and impartial jury due to the threat of mob action?

    I worried that the verdict in the Chauvin trial had been influenced by the likes of Maxine Waters threatening riots if there was no murder conviction. Now, with the Rittenhouse jury taking a long time to determine what is clearly an open-and-shut self-defense case (especially given NBC’s antics), it’s a real question.

    What is the ethical course of action in such a case, especially when the local, state, and/or federal authorities are unable or unwilling to oppose the mobs, or worse, side with the mobs?

    • I have wondered this as well. I would think that having trials not in the town it happens, perhaps even going for a type of secrecy until after the fact would be necessary, at least for a Chauvin or Rittenhouse type of trial.

      For example Smith is accused of something nation gripping in Boston. A judge in Boston declares this is a new class of case that needs National help. Thus due to the nature of the case, a judge is then selected from Texas and buses to LA for jury selection. Once selected, it is said that the trial will take place in Miami and the jury is driven to Lincoln and sequestered for the trial. The trial is filmed, but no journalists are allowed in until the trial is complete, at which point, the video is released with the jury’s faces blacked out.

      Doesn’t that ensure a fairer trial than what we have here. I know the cost would go up, but if there is a time and place to spend government dollars, isn’t this (a chance at a fair trial) it.

        • Fair enough. My example may be way too extreme. However, I have been on a criminal trial for someone from Mexico, living in California who committed a crime by running drugs from California to Pennsylvania and got caught speeding on our highway with a car full of better than a million in methamphetamine. We weren’t exactly a jury of his peers, heck, not a one of us could have held a conversation with him. Indeed, the majority of us couldn’t even order a meal in Puerto Vallarta. And if skin color counts, we were all way too lacking in melanin. He was from a big city, we were all from small towns. This is why I thought cross-country juries would be fine, but I acknowledge that there are many differences between the different regions of the country that may be too high of bar to overcome.

          To make a less extreme example though, what about not a Bostonian, but someone from (pulling names off the map at random) Springfield MA, Manchester NH, or Providence RI? People who are not directly in the path of the riots, who have little to fear, and whose hometowns are not made public. Some folks who are unlikely to feel threatened by riots in Boston is really all I mean.

      • I get your point, but I don’t think this is possible under our federal system.

        As I understand it, the policing power is vested in the states, who can delegate it to local law enforcement. So in general it’s the People of the State of Wisconsin versus Kyle Rittenhouse, not the People of the United States.

        The national government has limited policing powers, but for federal cases I think one could potentially do something along the lines of what you’re suggesting. And perhaps for offenses against the whole of the United States, such as treason or espionage, perhaps that would really be appropriate. Even so, I believe most federal cases are tried in the geographical district where they happen — such as the Eastern District of North Carolina, for example.

        An individual state could do what you suggest, I believe, although it would be limited by its boundaries. In some states you could get a quite diverse jury pool.

        I don’t know as a matter of law if you could have several states develop an interstate compact to do something like this.


        Some might think I am putting too much emphasis on the states here, but I definitely believe that the individual states were intended to be important within our system of government. It is one of the things that make us stand out from other countries and the states are intended to serve as a buffer and shield against the federal government. The federal government is not supposed to be all powerful.

    • My opinion is that if a mob demands “justice” (ie. a guilty verdict) and is acting in an intimidating manner we should treat such behavior as if it is a State sponsored act and thus the trial should be declared a mistrial with prejudice. If the mob demands a verdict of innocence and violence erupts after a guilty verdict the leaders who can be identified as those inciting the unrest should be prosecuted for inciting violence and subject to the same penalties as domestic terrorists irrespective of whether or not the person with the bullhorn or microphone physically committed an act of violence.

      When the mob’s/activist’s acts are identified as the reason for why the defendant was set free which is the exact opposite of that which they were demanding maybe the activists will doing more harm to their ability to rabble rouse than the criminal justice system.

    • If I were on that jury I would want to make damn sure that every relevant detail of the trial has been fairly reviewed and openly discussed and all opinions have been heard, that takes time. If this ends up not-guilty on all counts that’s it, if it ends up guilty on any of the counts I think the Judge will call a mistrial with prejudice.

      I think there should be a serious investigatioin into the actions and modivation of the prosecution, this was a obvious farce from day one and if it was intentional on the part of the prosecutors they should be punished – whatever that entails.

    • “What is the ethical course of action in such a case, especially when the local, state, and/or federal authorities are unable or unwilling to oppose the mobs, or worse, side with the mobs?”

      One pretty important text says “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends [that is, securing our “unalienable rights”], it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” I’d say that many of our governments have become quite destructive in that regard, no? Sounds like it’s time for some folks to start altering and abolishing!

  2. http://www.defenseone.com/threats/2021/11/exclusive-army-force-out-soldiers-who-refuse-covid-vaccine/186954/

    Soldiers who refuse to get the COVID-19 vaccine and have not requested an exemption will no longer be allowed to re-enlist or be promoted, effectively ending their military careers. The new directive applies to active-duty troops as well as reservists and National Guardsmen, including those serving in states whose governors do not require the vaccine.

    The Nov. 16 memo, signed by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, says troops* service records will be flagged the day they make their final vaccine refusal, which follows a meeting with a medical professional and a secord order to get vaccinated. This flag will bar them from being promoted, reenlisting, continuing to receive enlistment bonuses, attending service-related schools, or receiving tuition assistance.

    *I authorize commanders to impose bars to continued service*for all soldiers who refuse the mandatory vaccine order without an approved exemption or pending exemption request,* Wormuth wrote in the memo. *The Soldier will remain flagged until they are fully vaccinated, receive an approved medical or administrative exemption, or are separated from the Army.*

    The issue of vaccinating the force, including the hundreds of thousands of soldiers in the Army National Guard, has come to a head in recent days. Oklahoma governor Kevin Stitt has rebuffed President Joe Biden*s directive that all federal employees, including troops in uniform, be vaccinated, and his state*s adjutant general has told Oklahoma National Guardsmen that they need not comply with the directive.

    Stipulated: the military has a much greater interest in infection control than civilian society.

    Stipulated: the liberty interest of servicemen in their bodily autonomy is greatly diminished due to the oath that they took to obey lawful orders.

    However, if there is overwhelming evidence that the mandate would require the military to relieve 10% of servicemen from active duty, then not even these stipulations can justify the mandate.

    • Yup. CNN is celebrating the “First Woman with Presidential Powers”. Check this out:

      Now that we have the First Person of Color and Non-Testosterone Based President, can we dispense with the “historical” nonsense and move on to more important things?


    • I had to laugh at this headline on Fox — Biden resumes duties as president after naming Harris acting president while under anesthesia

      I wouldn’t presume to tell a president how to do this, but if it were me — I’d have named my acting president before going under the anesthetic. Just saying.

  3. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/11/biden-approval-rating/620751/

    David Graham, at the famously liberal Atlantic, sees right through Biden’s collapsing ratings, or at least as far as a liberal can: Part of it is probably simple gravity, every president loses some approval once he has to stop campaigning and actually govern. But the rest is the disaster that was Afghanistan, COVID, inflation, the disarray in his own party, and the lack of a villain to keep his base riled up.

    I can only say that Biden chose to take the job knowing that the first four of those latter factors were already there, and that he’d have to deal with them. So far he’s fouled every one of them up royally, putting it bluntly. Maybe he was banking that Afghanistan would burn hot, quick, and out, COVID would fade, inflation would be temporary, and the Democrats would get it together. If so, he banked wrong four out of four times, which isn’t saying much for him. Frankly, I think that is three times too many NOT to be deliberate. I know it sounds conspiratorial, but I think the Democratic Party WANTS things to suck for the middle class and WANTS the US to be less powerful on the world stage.

    I don’t like the last part at all. Trump might always have found reasons and ways to stir up his base, but I do not recall him trying to focus all attention on one villain or group of villains, despite the Democrats casting him as a villain (actually the greatest villain of all) for four years. Now Biden is rudderless without a villain to point to? That just means he came into office with no plans beyond not being Trump and no plans to deal with problems except to point to Trump as the boogeyman. A presidency shouldn’t be entirely dependent on fear and it-could-be-worseism.

    At some point, as inflation keeps going up and up, as gas prices get worse, as stores start running out of things due to the supply chain issues, as crime stays elevated, as COVID stubbornly refuses to exit the scene and the possibility of both more jabs and being masked anyway for the foreseeable future becomes very real, eventually the independents in this country, the ones who don’t give a damn about racial grievances or reparations or whether they are sufficiently anti-racist are going to get fed up, say no, it can’t be worse, and toss Biden out on his ass like Carter, to go down in history as #46of46

  4. Was it unethical and maybe even violated Ritternhouse’s constitutional rights for the Prosecution in the Rittenhouse Trial to have intentionally withheld the name of the jump kicker that attacked Rittenhouse?

    “What is notable however is that the prosecution suggested that it was unaware of the identity and was speculating on his motivation in kicking Rittenhouse. It turns out that the prosecution spoke to Freeland since it is reported that prosecutors refused his offer to testify in exchange for an immunity deal.”

    “Jump Kick Man” Identified In Rittenhouse Case . . . After Closing Arguments

    • Possibly, because “Jump Kick Man” was the subject of one of the charges, or so I’ve read, since Rittenhouse allegedly took a shot at him after he kicked him.

      I think it would’ve been useful for the prosecution to have heard from him on the subject. I don’t know if it rises to a constitutional violation, because quite possibly there was nothing germane to explore. But one does wonder why the prosecution did not call him. Perhaps for fear that he would not be a good witness.

      Yes, I know he has a long rap sheet like every other person who attacked Rittenhouse, but that is presumably inadmissible. So I guess if the prosecution, who had the most reason to hear from him, did not call him as a witness, the defense will have little in the way of a justification to know anything in particular about him. Perhaps they would’ve wanted to call him, but since the prosecution did not, I’m not sure his identity would be covered by Brady.

      In sum, I doubt it would be a rights violation.

      • The prevailing thought is that the state charged Skater Boy so that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, thereby preventing the defense from questioning him on the stand before the jury. That does make one wonder if the state’s ability to grant immunity from prosecution stacks the deck in favor of the state because the defense does not have the right to such immunity grants.


        • johnburger2013 wrote, “The prevailing thought is that the state charged Skater Boy so that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, thereby preventing the defense from questioning him on the stand before the jury.”

          UIh what? “Skateboard Guy” not “Skater Boy” died after he was shot so how could he testify?

          • Skater Boy, Jump Kick Boy . . . my mistake. I haven’t followed the case closely enough to figure who did what, when, or why. The bigger point is the state’s stacked power to grant immunity. Perhaps a solution is that the state shouldn’t be able to use testimony in one proceeding as evidence against the testifier. I have no idea how that would work because we have to deal with precedent and stare decisis and that silly thing call the Constitution, but that power seems to deny the criminal defendant the ability to confront his accusers.


        • If you meant to write “The prevailing thought is that the state charged “Jump Kick Man” so that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights, thereby preventing the defense from questioning him on the stand before the jury” that would have made more sense to me.

          However, wouldn’t “Jump Kick Man” still be required by law to testify in the Rittenhouse trial if called as a witness and then have to plead the 5th on the stand?

          • I am not an expert in criminal law/procedure, but the compulsion to appear on the stand and assert his 5th Amendment rights would be problematic. There is a difference between civil matters and criminal matters. Under prevailing law, someone seeking redress in a civil case (e.g., personal injury, probate, bankruptcy, administrative stuff) doesn’t get the ability to file something and then assert the 5th Amendment rights without impunity. In bankruptcy, you assert your 5th Amendment rights as the debtor and you lose your discharge.


            • johnburger2013,
              My head honestly swirlled around what you wrote but I really didn’t get it.

              Here is my point; Rittenhouse has a Constitutional right to confront his accusers in a court of law so they can be cross examined under oath. In my opinion that means that the “accuser” (“Jump Kick Man” in this case) doesn’t have the right to violate the accused’s constitutional rights just because he might incriminate himself, so he pleads the 5th on the stand in front of the jury and the chips fall where they may. Isn’t that how the system is supposed to work?

        • Yeah, well, good luck with that one. The guy needed to be charged, and was. I can’t imagine how one would argue the Byzantine theory that they charged what our lyin’ eyes tell us is a person guilty of at least an assault just to insulate him from testifying against the guy who quite rationally defended himself by shooting at him.

          If I’m a judge, I laugh that out of my court.

    • Does this all become irrelevant now that a not guilt verdict on all counts has been issued?

      Does Rittenhouse have any recourse against the prosecutors for violating his civil rights duringt the trial?

      How many defamatioin lawsuits will Rittenhouse file against vigilante slandering news sources?

      Will the families of the ones shot sue Rittenhouse in civil court?

  5. Good old Max Boot is afraid:

    With a year to go before the midterms, it’s not too late for Democrats to change course. But now is the time to hit the panic button. Biden needs to make some dramatic changes if Democrats are to have any hope of holding onto even one house of Congress and the White House. I am terrified that Democrats will lose in 2022 and 2024 — and that as a result we could lose our democracy.

    I have grown so tired of this sort of column — hyperbolic screeds claiming a Republican victory will “end our democracy.”

    First of all, isn’t it via democracy that both Republicans and Democrats get elected to begin with? Second, how will putting the opposition in the majority in Congress somehow end that process? Can Congress unilaterally change our Constitution to eliminate the veto and supermajority requirements for an override? Will Joe Biden magically become a right-wing authoritarian if Congress changes hands? Inquiring minds want to know the details of this magical thinking.

    Further, what Republican has said anything about altering or abolishing “our democracy?” Even more to the point, does Boot not know that we don’t have a democracy to begin with, but a democratic republic? Evidently not, or perhaps it’s just more interesting to make apocalyptic comments about the end of something we hold dear than putting forth meaningful analysis, or even just interesting takes.

    Memo to Max: This dystopian vision of the future has been done before, a lot, by both sides, to the limits of my memory. Don’t be such a copycat.

    It’s clear that the NY Times and WaPo really want columns that play to the fears or hopes of their mostly leftist readers. They really don’t need, or particularly want, anything like honest analysis or even mostly-sane opinion. In the digital age, crazy sells. I’d like to say it’s better on the right, but we all know it isn’t.

    For all those thinking about writing “… the end of our democracy…” pieces, please just stop. It didn’t end when we elected Trump. It didn’t end with an election that was judicially, legislatively and bureaucratically tampered with. It didn’t end with the election of a Congress that is arguably the closest to a communist disposition in history.

    Save your dire warnings. You may really need them one day.

    • Are you saying that cries of “… the end of our democracy…” are becoming the equivalent to the cry of “WOLF” in the boy who cried wolf? Kind of like criying “racist” or “racism” or “white supremacist” are stripped of their social value by being bastardized by social justice warriors?

      Bastardization of social terms is part of the political left’s Orwellian strategy.

      • I guess. I just get so sick of “end of the world as we know it” screeds that lack any foundation at all.

        Even some pro-forma justification for such a claim would be something.

        • Glenn, Jack did a post last week or so on this “end of democracy” talking point. By “the end of democracy” the people using it mean “the thwarting, even for just a moment, of the progressive project and Democratic Party’s control of the levers of power.” Read this way, the silly phrase makes perfect sense. These people will not be satisfied with anything short of single party rule along the lines of China, the Soviet Union and Cuba. THEN, democracy will be safe. The continued existence of the Republican Party is an existential threat to the nation (i.e. themselves) as far as these people are concerned.

          • I don’t know, maybe. I just think it’s a cheap rhetorical device to draw clicks. I have yet to see one that is supported by anything other than the thinnest veneer of justification.

            It’s just stupid.

          • Other bill wrote, “By “the end of democracy” the people using it mean “the thwarting, even for just a moment, of the progressive project and Democratic Party’s control of the levers of power.” Read this way, the silly phrase makes perfect sense.”

            So is it a little like the enemy of the ________ rhetoric that I talked about in my blog post?

    • To be honest, I was thinking along those same lines last November. However, I moderated (sic) my views somewhat back then and have tried not to take counsel of my fears. The recent elections nationwide and some of the other outcry have bolstered my innate faith in the American experiment.

      In point of fact, I view ‘Let’s Go Brandon’ as a testament to the essential resilience and strength of the American people. It’s somewhat amusing but it’s also a cautionary sign to those who will listen.

      In all seriousness, though, I do think our republic and our experiment in self government is under attack by the media and many other groups to an extent we have seldom seen. We need to be standing up for ourselves more than ever.

  6. Help me out here, because I really don’t know.

    A New York State judge has ordered the NY Times to cease publishing leaked documents from the questionable raid on James O’Keefe and Project Veritas last week, and issued a show-cause order regarding future publishing of PV and O’Keefe leaked documents and other potential remedies. This is in response to the Times publishing a document subject to attorney-client privilege that was somehow leaked to them from somewhere (FBI, anyone? Maybe, but not necessarily).

    Would this not amount to an unconstitutional prior restraint? I am aware that attorney-client and work-product privilege both likely exist in the case, but the Pentagon Papers case makes it pretty clear that they can’t be prevented from publishing even illegally-obtained privileged information.

    I suspect this won’t hold up, unless there is some other judicial rationale. And there may be — if this publication is seen to be an attempt by the Times to affect their ongoing defamation litigation with O’Keefe and Project Veritas (they article they wrote is certainly pejorative to PV and O’Keefe), that may be a horse of a different color, but again, I’m not sure what judicial remedy exists for that if the Times decides to use the power of the press to unethically taint the jury pool.


          • I thought there were going to be one or two wokesters holding out for guilty and it would result in a hung jury.

            All the same, might the Federal government not now try to bring Federal civil rights charges?

            • I think the jury foreperson, juror 54, the one that asked to take the jury instructions home, was the activist that wanted guilty verdicts… You could kind of see it in the tone of the notes and questions they were sending to the judge. On the other side, I think you had a clear majority of people who were saying things to the tone of “I will under no circumstances negotiate with terrorists, acquit or hang”.

              Those jurors have lucrative stories to tell, I have no doubt we’ll eventually know whether I’m right or not. But I don’t really care, this was the right result, and progressive twitter’s lack of cope right now is delicious.

            • They’ve done it before.

              I am not a lawyer and people who are lawyers seem to swear on a stack of bibles that it’s permissible, but I have never been able to wrap my mind around the idea that this is not double jeopardy and, shall we say, frowned upon by the Constitution. We don’t need to restart that argument here, just saying it walks, talks, and quacks like double jeopardy to me.

              • Unfortunately, that argument’s been made before, and the response that it’s double sovereignty, so both levels get their turn, is pretty well established. That’s why if Timothy McVeigh had been found not guilty in Federal Court, the Tulsa County Prosecutor stood ready to whack him with state murder charges. He was frying either way.

  7. It’s been about a month since your last post on the CVS war, and I was wondering if there’s any new developments: https://ethicsalarms.com/2021/10/17/the-saturday-evening-ethics-post-10-16-2021-the-complaints-edition/

    Like A.M. Golden in that particular post, I also have customer service experience, and I’ve run into the same thing, where we on the bottom are made to be shields for managers that don’t want to deal with complaints. So I feel a keen interest in seeing how this all plays out.

    Also, since this started with you learning that you were not getting discounts that you were entitled to, I wonder if that would be grounds for a lawsuit?

  8. Can and should the ethically challenged FBI be saved?

    The FBI has become a political asset of the Democratic Party while caught in open corruption, unethical behavior, and politically driven lies. Since 2015, the FBI has been constantly in the news, mostly for its negative and constitutionally challenged behavior.

    As noted by Victor Davis Hanson, the fired former Director James Comey injected himself into the 2016 political race by constantly editorializing on his ongoing investigation of candidate Hillary Clinton’s email leaks. In a bizarre twist, the public learned later that Comey had allowed Hillary Clinton’s own private computer contractor, CrowdStrike, to run the investigation of the hack. The private firm was allowed to keep possession of pertinent hard drives central to the investigation which were destroyed. How odd that CrowdStrike’s point man was Shawn Henry, a former high-ranking FBI employee.

    During the Robert Mueller special investigation, the FBI implausibly claimed it had no idea how requested information on FBI cell phones had mysteriously disappeared.

    It was also under Comey’s leadership that the FBI submitted inaccurate requests for warrants to a FISA court. An affidavit to surveil Trump supporter Carter Page was forged by FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith, who later pleaded guilty to a felony.

    The FBI hired the known dishonest ex-British spy Christopher Steele as a contractor, while he was peddling his fantasy—the Clinton-bought dossier—to Obama government officials and the media.

    Former FBI general counsel James Baker was reportedly the subject of a federal investigation. He allegedly conducted prominent meetings both with media outlets that later leaked lurid tales from the Steele dossier. He also met repeatedly with the now-indicted Perkins Coie attorney Michael Sussman.

    Comey himself, through third-party intermediaries, leaked to the media his own confidential memos detailing private meetings with President Trump. His assurances both to Congress and to Trump that the president was not the current subject of FBI investigations were either misleading or outright lies.

    In sworn testimony to the House Intelligence Committee, Comey on some 245 occasions claimed he could not remember or had no knowledge of key elements of his own “Russian collusion” investigation.

    Comey’s replacement, acting FBI director Andrew McCabe, was fired for leaking sensitive information to the media. He then lied on at least three occasions about his role to federal attorneys and his own FBI investigators.

    The Democratic Party-driven Russian collusion scandal, assisted by the FBI, was not some harmless political ploy. Lives were destroyed. Carter Page, who was never charged with a single crime, was labeled a Russian agent and pilloried across networks and print media. A fortune was spent on investigations by Congress, two special counsels, and inspectors general investigations. Hundreds of people faced questioning, and many spent their savings on legal representation. A presidency was derailed, agencies like the Justice Department and the FBI were whiplashed by scandal, and Congress dropped a myriad of other issues to focus on various investigations.

    In the wake of those costs, Democrat Adam Schiff who personally drove this narrative, offers little more than a shrug.

    Again, the FBI was front and center in all these corrupt and unethical actions. Is it time to defund and disband the FBI?

  9. I just cannot believe how many nasty articles are already written about this outcome. I’ve never seen so many references to white supremacy in my life.

  10. Why am I not surprised — Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, is calling on the Department of Justice to review the Rittenhouse case.

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