Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There’s the Muellermania paradox — a highly emotional reaction to the way Trump seems to have been highly emotional. (Have you heard he said “I’m fucked” when he found out they’d appointed the special counsel?!!! That seems like a perfectly normal reaction to me but a lot of people are hyperventilating about how cahraaazzzeeee it is. Are they hyperventilaters mentally sound enough to be trusted?)”

—Bloggress and law prof Ann Althouse, commenting on the Mueller Report freakout.

I’m sitting here trying to get the Red Sox out of their slump, and Friday traffic here, as usual, has slowed to a trickle in the afternoon, and I tried to post a link on Facebook, encouraged by a commenter here who said  he had been successful, only to be, once again, told by Our Social Media Masters that I am unworthy, so I’m going to put up uncharacteristically brief posts as they occur to me.  The all-time record for posts here is seven. I should be able to beat that. I’ll read them.

The Red Sox are already losing 2-0.

Ann is essentially apolitical, but frequently annoyed, as I am, at the irresponsible, unfair and biased attacks on the President. Democrats are embarrassing themselves, pundits are embarrassing themselves,  “resistance” celebrities (like Rob Reiner–what made you this way, Rob?) and my Facebook friend bitter-enders are embarrassing themselves. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month (And Signature Significance): CNN Contributor Van Jones [Updated]

“There’s an honest level of sadness and disappointment and disorientation among progressives and Democrats and I think it goes deeper than just what’s in the report.”

—CNN contributor and former Obama aide Van Jones, explaining how Democrats needed “a chance to be sad”  and to “grieve” about the Mueller investigation’s findings.

And there it is. Progressives and Democrats are inconsolable that the 2106 election was clean, that an American President didn’t betray his country by conspiring with a hostile power to steal his office, and that our elected leader, and that we do not have a looming constitutional crisis.

I hope readers will excuse my posting a perhaps disproportionate amount on the post-Mueller Report reactions, but understand: early in 2017 I marked the Democratic/progressive effort to undermine this President, his ability to govern, and the legitimacy of his election at a terrible cost to the nation as perhaps the most serious national ethics breach in recent history, certainly since I have been writing Ethics Alarms. It cannot be over-emphasized how crucial it is that as much of the public as possible that is still capable of rational thought understands what was attempted here, and indeed to some extent achieved, to the nation’s—one hopes not permanent–detriment. We need to be grateful for corrupted and ethics alarms-lacking progressive messengers like Jones, who don’t understand how repulsive this confession sounds to normal people. They are showing us the truth. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Glenn Greenwald

“The Mueller investigation is complete and this is a simple fact that will never go away: not one single American was charged, indicted or convicted for conspiring with Russia to influence the 2016 election – not even a low-level volunteer. The number is zero.Compare what cable hosts (let’s leave them unnamed) & Democratic operatives spent two years claiming this would lead to – the imprisonment of Don, Jr., Jared, even Trump on conspiracy-with-Russia charges – to what it actually produced. A huge media reckoning is owed. Don’t even try to pretend the point of the Mueller investigation from the start wasn’t to obtain prosecutions of Americans guilty of conspiring with Russia to influence the outcome of the election or that Putin controlled Trump through blackmail. Nobody will believe your denials”

Muckraking journalist Glenn Greenwald, in a series of tweets reacting to the end of the Mueller investigation and the announcement that there would be no further indictments.

Greenwald is hardly a Trump supporter and his reporting has a strong progressive tilt. He does strive to be a truth-teller however, and adjust for his biases, and unlike all the obnoxious gloating I’m seeing on the conservative media, his analysis should be respected.  That there were no indictable crimes related to “Russian collusion” should not have been a surprise except to the Hillary bitter-enders and Trump-deranged who were certain that the President had to have won the Presidency illicitly,  because…because….well, just because. Of course, it was just moral luck that an investigation like Mueller’s didn’t find more, because that kind of investigation would be likely to uncover bad deeds in the campaigns of any Presidential candidate. Continue reading

An Unethical Quote About An Unethical Quote!

This was Trump’s fault? OK, that makes sense, Senator….thanks for clarifying

I’m sorely tempted to write an unethical post, thus creating the first unethical quote about an unethical quote about an unethical quote…but that would be wrong, as Richard Nixon said.

The topic was the recent New Zealand terror attack, the venue was CNN,  the speaker was Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard  Blumenthal ,and the quote was

“Words have consequences like saying we have an invasion on our border and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way…I think that the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions…Words do have consequences, and we know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.”

That’s right, the Senator was trying to blame a terrorist attack in New Zealand on Donald Trump. I wopuldn’t have to know a thing about Blumenthal to hear such a statement and conclude, with high confidence, that the speaker was a despicable, principle-free asshole. This is the unethical cognitive dissonance game that has the vile objective of ginning up hate by associating something universally understood as terrible to the person or group you want to demonize, despite the fact that there is no connection at all. President Trump plays this game on occasion, as when he links all illegal immigrants to gang members and murderers, the worst of their number, but at least there is some nexus there. Blumenthal’s smear is completely dishonest; it is in the same category as Hitler blaming Jews for the bad economy. (Don’t throw Godwin’s Law at me: an apt Hitler comparison is the clearest way to show how despicable the tactic is.) “If you hate massacres like this, then you should hate Trump too, because he helps make them happen!” No, he doesn’t, and didn’t, you irredeemable hack:

  • Calling illegal immigrants “invaders” is harsh language but not inaccurate. or unfair. An invader is “A person or group that invades a country, region, or other place.” Invade means “to enter (a place, situation, or sphere of activity) in large numbers, especially with intrusive effect.” There is no requirement, ethically or otherwise to describe those who seek to break our laws in nice terms. Failing to do so, moreover, does not cause maniacs to kill people in New Zealand. Did I mention that Blumenthal is an asshole?
  • “Talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way”…nice turn of phrase there, Senator Boob. The President makes distinctions between law breakers and law abiding citizens, and, in fact, there are many material differences between people, which your party increasingly wants to have embodied in law, so some groups have advantages over others in employment and other areas. But how does the vague conduct alluded to in this inarticulate blob of a phrase kill New Zealanders? I’m not seeing it.
  • “Words do have consequences”...True, and what a shame you don’t know how to use them…
  • “We know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.” Yes, Senator, we know that the position of your party and supporters is that the only good people are those who believe what you want them to believe.  Everyone else is deplorable.

Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Cal.)

“It is a fact that we can change human behaviors without much change to our lifestyle and we can save the future generations of our country and this world.”

—-Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, talking about the feasibility of the “Green New Deal.”

Right now the most interesting contest is between Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris for Most Outrageous Demagogue. Harris already has the “How far can I jam my foot down my throat” title, at least until the infinitely entertaining Joe Biden officially enters the race.

Re-engineering human beings is the domain of totalitarians, and her party is now so thoroughly entranced by totalitarian methods–control of the media, censorship of speech, defiance of elections, Big Lie propaganda—that Senator Harris may be getting careless and letting the mask drop.

This statement is also a lie and an alarmingly brazen one, which gives us a good idea of how the Green New Deal will be sold to the largely ignorant and gullible public. Read that FAQ document again and try to imagine how the objectives appearing there—not that they are much more realistic than Oz—wouldn’t involve “much change to our lifestyle.”

Now, to be fair, it is possible that Harris’s meaning wasn’t as ominous as it seems. People can change their behavior and habits: that’s what this blog is about. People got the message about littering in the late Fifties and early Sixties, for example. The culture us always evolving, and the culture causes people to adapt their behavior. The problem is that Harris didn’t say people can change, she said that “we” can change human behavior. That’s what Marx and Lenin thought. I don’t trust people who think like that, or who even lets statements like that out of their mouths without stopping and thinking, “Wait, what did I just say?” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: California Attorney Benjamin Pavone

“The ruling’s succubustic adoption of the defense position, and resulting validation of the defendant’s pseudohermaphroditic misconduct, prompt one to entertain reverse peristalsis unto its four corners.”

—-Attorney Benjamin Pavone’s most spectacular of several ethically (and rhetorically) dubious statements in his appellate brief for the plaintiff in the case of Martinez v. Stratton.

This was one of those cases where the winner actually loses. The plaintiff was awarded about $8,000 in damages while most of his claims were rejected. The trial court also denied plaintiff’s petition for approximately $150,000 in attorney fees. The plaintiff then appealed the denial of his fee petition. In both the notice of appeal and the briefing, plaintiff’s counsel engaged in the kinds of rhetoric regarding the trial judge that are frowned upon, to say the least.  Plaintiff’s Counsel called the female judge’s order “disgraceful,” accused her of “intentional” error motivated by political bias, and condemned her “mindless antipathy” toward his client.

The new California rules have a version of ABA Model Rule 8.2 that states

“A lawyer shall not make a statement of fact that the lawyer knows to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity concerning the qualifications or
integrity of a judge or judicial officer, or of a candidate for election or appointment to judicial office.”
Attorney Pavone would have been skating dangerously close to it, if not for the fact that his conduct occurred before the new Rules went into effect. Never mind: he appeared to nick a number of the old rules as well; at least the appeals court thought so, since it referred Pavone to the bar for possible discipline. (It also rejected the appeal.) The old version of California ethics rules in California’s Business and Professions Code section 6068 stated that it is the duty of an attorney to “maintain the respect due to the courts of justice and judicial officers.” Thus disrespectful statements made in court filings are grounds for attorney discipline or contempt.

The appeals court’s opinion not only affirmed the judgment and awarded defendants their costs on appeal, but also reported plaintiff’s counsel  to the state bar for misconduct.

In addition to impugning the judge’s independence and integrity, the main complaint of the appellate judges seems to be that Pavone engaged in gender bias against the trial judge by using “succubustic.”  I see a lot wrong with that quote, including the fact that it is incoherent, but boy, finding gender bias is a stretch.  “The notice of appeal signed by Mr. Pavone on behalf of plaintiff referred to the ruling of the female judicial officer as “succubustic.” A succubus is defined as a demon assuming female form which has sexual intercourse with men in their sleep. We publish this portion of the opinion to make the point that gender bias by an attorney appearing before us will not be tolerated, period,” the ruling says.

The lawyer’s statement does not call the judge a succubus, however, and I’m not at all sure Pavone wouldn’t have used the same description if the judge was a male. He says that the ruling is “succubistic,” not that the judge is a succubus. Since it makes no sense to say the ruling was having sex with a sleeping man, I assume that what the lawyer meant was that the ruling simply adopted the defense position. The succubus, in many traditions, doesn’t just have sex with the sleeping victim, it also “sucks” the essence of life out of him, sometimes causing death. That is also the way succubi are frequently portrayed in horror movies—trust me, that a genre I know extremely well. So “the ruling’s succubustic adoption of the defense position” just means that the judge adopted the defense’s position as her own. That’s not gender bias.

But then, this is California, after all.

I have no idea what “pseudohermaphroditic misconduct” is, however, or  what “prompt one to entertain reverse peristalsis unto its four corners” is supposed to mean.