Ethics Respite, 1/27/2022: The “Boy Do I Hate Emergency Rooms!” Edition

On the other hand, I love having a fire department half-a-block away…

I did finally work out that the spelling of February isn’t unethical, as I had long concluded. I thought the month’s name had been intentionally spelled in such a way to either guarantee that it would be mispronounced, or, as in my case, never spelled correctly on the first try. The Romans called it Februarius, from Februare, “to purify,” and februum , a means of purification or an instrument used to purify. Apparently there was a mid-month freak-out festival, Lupercalia, that was supposed to purify the rest of the year. For a while, around 1200 A.D., maybe because it was so hard to pronounce those two r’s so close together, the month was called Feverer or Feverell from the Old French Feverier. But the Latin made a comeback, damn it.

Having the month contain an extra day every four years, however, is unethical.

1. Legal, not unethical under the legal ethics rules, but still unethical, and also stupid….Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton wants his office to prosecute election law violations, but unfortunately,The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has held that only local DAs can prosecute such offenses also under the Texas Constitution. It’s a pretty basic separation of powers issue. Paxton filed a motion to reconsider what was an adverse 8-1 ruling, and the motion is still pending. Paxton has also urged the public via conservative media outlets to contact the 8 members to pressure them to reverse their opinion. Many have done so by phone and email, with some threats included, of course. The Texas Justices are elected.

There is a rule that prohibits public comments having substantial potential to prejudice court proceedings, and the standard rule prohibiting ex parte communications directly or by third parties. Naturally, some Democratic-tilting law professors are telling the media that Paxton siccing the public on the court is a professional ethics violation. But it is not.

The tactic doesn’t speak well for Paxton, and is one more reason not to have elected judges. I also object to public figures miseducating the already ignorant public into thinking of judges as just another kind of legislator. (See the Comment of the Day.) However, the First Amendment is a complete defense, except for the threats, of course, if they are “true” threats.

There’s no law requiring free speech to be used responsibly.

2. How obsessed are climate change fanatics? This obsessed: Thomas L. Friedman, one of the elder statesmen among the New York Times stable of leftist pundits, wrote that the most important statement in Biden’s press conference was

…when Biden told President Vladimir Putin that Russia has something much more important to worry about than whether Ukraine looks East or West — namely, “a burning tundra that will not freeze again naturally.”

My translation: Yo, Vladimir, while you’ve been busy putting your “little green men” into Ukraine — all those masked Russian soldiers in green uniforms without insignia — little green shoots have been popping up in your warming tundra. Siberia had a totally freakish, hyper-extreme weather event — a forest fire that firefighters had to stomp out with their boots because the local water sources were all frozen.

I’m pretty sure this was the first time a U.S. president ever tried to persuade a Russian leader to get out of his neighbor’s front yard and focus instead on saving his own backyard — because as Siberia is affected by climate change, it will threaten Russia’s stability a lot more than anything that happens in Ukraine.

If you say so, Tom. If you say so.

3. Wait, what??? Earlier this week a judge in Wisconsin lifted a court order that had blocked seven employees of ThedaCare, a major regional hospital system, from leaving for new jobs with another health care network until it could find people to replace them. Last week, ThedaCare had sued Ascension  to temporarily keep the workers from leaving, citing a shortage of workers, many of whom are demanding higher wages, and the pandemic. A judge laid down an injunction, which is outrageous, and clearly unconstitutional. ThedaCare,  operates seven hospitals and provides care to more than 600,000 people annually.  Its lawsuit argued that it was seeking to “protect the community” by temporarily retaining the employees, who accepted new jobs with Ascension in December and were supposed to this week. It pointed out that the seven employees, part of an 11-person team, provide “vital care for critically ill patients” and that Ascension “should have known that this action would decimate ThedaCare’s ability to provide critical care” to trauma and stroke victims.

Here’s an idea! Pay them more! Court ordered work in the absence of a contract is involuntary servitude. The judge who went along with this tactic should be impeached.

4. More judge ethics news: It is reported that Justice Breyer is annoyed that his retirement plans, which he wanted to announce at the end of the term, were leaked yesterday. Most suspicion is centering on the White House, which knew of Breyer’s desire to wait, but that desperately needed something, anything, to excite the Democratic base. I think that’s a likely theory, given this gang’s ruthless tendencies.


Of course, Breyer could have just announced today that he was only thinking about retiring if he was angry enough at getting the bum’s rush. Instead, he confirmed that he would leave.

That was the ethical reaction to the double-cross, but no fun at all.

13 thoughts on “Ethics Respite, 1/27/2022: The “Boy Do I Hate Emergency Rooms!” Edition

  1. The media is already hailing this as a “reset” for the administration, to take the attention off all these other problems. If the White House specifically leaked this in order to achieve that reset, that is really slimy.

  2. The speculation was that Nancy Pelosi would retire, in the face of projected crushing midterms, advanced age, and open hostility from the “squad. Instead, she announced for re-election, because of “The children, the children, the children”

    Do not underestimate her, she is a survivor. She has survived all major extinction events, Permian (80% of life), Asteroid Impact (76% of life, and, notably, most of the other dinosaurs), and ALL the others, ALL of them.

    The idea that “the squad” could be a problem for her is laughable. In 1692-93, during the so-called “Salem Witch Trials” , she effectively eliminated all of her competition at the time. And how did she do it?

    Answer: “The Children, The Children, The Children”.

    • To be fair, the last time Joe decided to base a selection on the configuration and hue of the candidates’ genitalia, we got Kamala Harris as VP. Why not try to catch that lightning in a bottle a second time and see if we can get a Supreme Court Justice that is as qualified and competent for the job as Harris is for hers?

  3. 2) Multiple things can be true at once – climate change will destabilize Russia’s hinterland. As the climate warms, agriculture will move north. Ease of living will move north. Equatorial regions will become more difficult. Populations will naturally drift (or be pushed) northwards. This is an effect of climate change that nations *must* be anticipating.

    Canada will become more important as year round shipping lanes *will* open that go through Canadian territorial waters – lanes that shorten transit between Europe and East Asia more than the Panama Canal did. The Russian northern coast will be navigable year-round.

    Canada, with vast swathes of arable land already – will become even more arable. And while modernized and westernized societies no longer rely entirely on agricultural self-sufficiency as the key strength as in ancient days – there are NO strong societies that are NOT agriculturally self-sufficient.

    On the other side of the globe, the vast unpopulated Russian hinterland will also warm up and arable land will be available in untold numbers.

    Poor populations exploding at the gills ready to make lives for themselves individually will want to work that land. Russia will see an opportunity to open up land to wealth generating pursuits populations moving north. Only, like every nation that thinks it can handle the growth, it won’t be able to. Imagine a Russian hinterland populated by Iranians and Indians and Chinese?

    Russia’s backyard *will be* destabilized by climate change.

    But that will be a problem for 100-150 years from now. One Russia will not be able to handle if it doesn’t start having babies and even then will be hard pressed to handle if it doesn’t start having lots of babies.

  4. “a burning tundra that will not freeze again naturally.”

    Once again, they use an anecdote.

    I wonder why these people do not address record snowfall in the lake Tahoe basin, nor the snowstorm in Virginia earlier this month.

  5. There are 3 ways to pronounce the month.

    I’ve observed people who pronounce it “Feb-yoo-ary”. Wrong. I’ve heard it pronounced “Feb-oo-arry”. Wrong but getting there. I’ve encountered people who pronounce it “Feb-rerry”. Wrong but closer. The correct pronunciation is “February”. It’s not hard people.

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