Category Archives: Ethics Train Wrecks

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/11/2019: Triplets, Tongues, Feet, And Screeches

 

Good Morning!

1.It’s time to play… Champerty! I’m beginning my morning by explaining to an outside litigation funding entity that they really don’t have to worry about champerty laws as long as their loans are handled property. Champerty is an ancient common law crime that made it illegal for a third party to buy into litigation and to profit from the transaction if the litigation succeeded. Some states still have anti-champerty laws, but they are 1) pretty much dead letters and 2) don’t apply to legitimate litigation financing, where a loan is repaid whether the litigation succeeds or not, and the amounts repaid do not change if it does. In legal ethics, champerty becomes an issue when a lawyer or law firm “sells” a share of the legal fee to a third party. That’s fee-splitting with a non-lawyer, and strictly forbidden.

Champerty is often mentioned as a set with two other common law crimes, Maintenance and Barratry. Maintenance, Champerty and Barratry are among my favorite potential triplets names, along with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar; Clotho, Lachesis, and Atroposand (The Fates);  Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria, and, of course, Moe, Larry, and Curly.

2. The Good Illegal Immigrant, again. In the wake of the wall dispute and the shutdown, the New York Times is ramping up its frequency of heartstrings-tugging tales of  illegal immigrants so lovable, industrious and virtuous that only a monster would oppose their permanent enjoyment of the fruits of illegally obtained citizenship. One such article this week began,

“Tomas Guevara fell in love with Ruth Ayala years before they met. Her brothers — like Mr. Guevara, Salvadoran immigrants living outside Washington — talked about her at church. She was hardworking and kind, they said, devoted to her family and her faith. Then Mr. Guevara saw Ms. Ayala’s photo; her big brown eyes, her warm smile. He decided to give her a call.”

Awww!

Later in the article, we have this sentence: “In 2001, he swam across the Rio Grande.”

The article raises many questions for me. Why was someone like Tomas eligible for “temporary protected status”? If the claim was that El Salvador was so dangerous that he could not be sent back there, why did he keep visiting that country, meet his wife there, and have his child there? Naturally, there was a program, the Central American Minors program begun in 2014, that allows the children of parents with temporary protected status to apply for permanent residency as refugees. Tomas’s wife was somehow eligible too.

This is what “chain migration” means, in case you wondered. Continue reading

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The New York Times Puts Another Fake “Collusion” Scoop On Its Front Page

This was going to be my headline, but I decided it was too long:

You Know, When This Is All Over, Probably In 2024, American Journalism Will Look Like Post-Bomb Hiroshima, Except The Profession Will Have Done It To Themselves”

And I’m getting bored with “Nah, there’s no mainstream news media bias,” since I have occasion to use it so often, but then, that’s the point, isn’t it?

Yesterday, the left hand column above the fold of my daily Times, delivered to my door, screamed out,

It continued:

As a top official in President Trump’s campaign, Paul Manafort shared political polling data with a business associate tied to Russian intelligence, according to a court filing unsealed on Tuesday. The document provided the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race.

I know, and you know, that this sent the “resistance,” and Democrats, and all my hateful, coup-seeking Facebook friends and yours into a frenzy.  The news media too, that an old friend and Ethics Alarms self-exile whose name I won’t use (though I sure am tempted) repeatedly insisted wasn’t biased or “enemies of the people” —how could I suggest such a thing?–and that didn’t traffic in fake news because they were careful, honest, trustworthy professionals of integrity. Here’s an example of how they reacted to the Times story:

Exclusive: Mueller Is Holding Top Secret Intelligence That Will Sink the Trump Presidency

That’s from the Observor, which breathlessly continues,

Another day, another bombshell emanating from the Special Counsel investigation into President Donald Trump and his links to the Kremlin. We now have more proof that Robert Mueller really does know everything about 2016—and I can exclusively tell you how he knows it.

This latest reveal comes from a legal screw-up of gargantuan proportions. Yesterday, attorneys for Paul Manafort, the president’s disgraced campaign manager for the decisive phase of the 2016 election, filed papers with the Justice Department trying to prevent their client from spending the rest of his life in a federal penitentiary. They asserted that Manafort did not lie to Team Mueller, as the Special Counsel believes, but in the process, they made an epic redaction fail that blows the case wide open.

Manafort’s lawyers accidentally revealed that Team Mueller believes—and Manafort confirmed—that their client shared campaign polling data with Konstantin Kilimnik, one of Manafort’s closest friends and a longtime business partner. Moreover, Manafort conceded, he had discussed a “Ukraine peace plan” with Kilimnik “on more than one occasion.” Worst of all, Manafort met with Kilimnik in Madrid to discuss these matters, he admitted, without saying when (Manafort’s spokesman later stated the Madrid meeting was in January or February 2017).

Once you know who Konstantin Kilimnik is, the gravity of these revelations comes into clear focus. The elusive Russian fixer was indicted by Team Mueller last June on obstruction of justice charges for assisting Manafort with witness tampering; previously, the Special Counsel described Kilimnik as having “ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016.”

The story is still up online, as are many similar ones from other “reliable sources.” Then, quietly, well into yesterday afternoon, the Times put out a tiny correction:

A previous version of this article misidentified the people to whom Paul Manafort wanted a Russian associate to send polling data. Mr. Manafort wanted the data sent to two Ukrainian oligarchs, Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov, not Oleg V. Deripaska, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin.

In other words, “Never mind!”

Yes, we all know that Manafort had business contacts with the Ukranians, but Mueller isn’t investigating what the Ukraine did or didn’t do to influence the 2016 election.  Well, come on now, Ukraine, Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Whateverstan—who can keep those old Soviet Union countries straight? They’re all basically the same, right?

Yup, “the clearest evidence to date that the Trump campaign may have tried to coordinate with Russians during the 2016 presidential race” is a completely false story, in place of the actual story that didn’t belong on any front page, except maybe the All About Paul Manafort Hooterville Gazette. Except this was the New York Times, the Mother Ship, the ne plus ultra of trustworthy American journalism, and yet they rushed a fake story onto the front page because confirmation bias has eaten the professionalism of their reporters and editors,  and they hate Donald Trump more than they respect their profession or their readers.

Am I being too harsh?

No.

Indeed, I should be harsher, but this astoundingly long-running outrage had drained my capacity.

Oh, how they want President Trump to be guilty of impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors!  I’m sure they’ll wag their tails and jump into the laps of Tlaib and Waters and the other totalitarian-minded Democrats when they try to impeach the elected President of the U.S., aka “the motherfucker,” for simply existing and not being them, but they so want the impeachment to be based on something real so the coup has some cover. Thus they close their eyes and leap, knowing their progressive, biassed readers will be happy, without expending the basic professionalism and due diligence required to get me a B in Mr. Stewart’s journalism class at Arlington High School.

Of course American journalism itself is accountable for its self-defilement, though its members and co-conspirators will doubtless say that Trump makes them behave like a two-bit Pravda. The real culprits, however, are the democracy-rending fake Americans who have set out to undermine our system, elections, politics and government, and are begging for ammunition from the weak and lazy reporters who have betrayed the nation by joining their ranks.

 

 

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Professions, This Will Help Elect Donald Trump

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/8/2019: A “Bias Makes You Stupid” Spectacular! [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

The first appearance of Donald, Debbie and Gene in the New Year!

1. “A Nation of Assholes” update: Conservatives being ugly. The comments and even the posts around the conservative blogosphere regarding Ruth Bader Ginsberg are repulsive, and  reveal a deep mean streak, a lack of compassion and basic respect. Ginsberg, it was announced yesterday, will miss oral arguments–that means she won’t be able to vote on the cases she doesn’t hear—for the first time in her long career. It also may well mean that she isn’t long for this world, or the Court. The gleeful tone of the jokes, sarcasm and mockery being aimed her way by those salivating at the prospect that she will soon be replaced by a right-leaning justice is palpable. (Yes, some of the mean jokes are funny. The blog referring to her illness as a “belated Christmas present” isn’t.)

2. A classic bad argument for illegal immigration in response to an emotional one against it. The advocate? Geraldo Rivera. On a Hannity segment with conservative Dan Bongino [Correction notice: I mistakenly identified Bongino as African American in the original post. He is apparently Italian-American.]  Rivera tried to defend illegal immigration while condemning the use of individual episodes of violent crimes by illegals to justify stronger border enforcement. As Bongino and Hannity shouted around and over him, Rivera objected to Hannity’s featuring the grieving parents of 22-year-old Pierce Kennedy Corcoran who was killed in a head-on car crash with illegal immigrant Franco Cambrany Francisco-Eduardo. Francisco-Eduardo was charged with criminally negligent homicide and driving without a license or insurance,  was turned over to ICE. (Good!). Hannity lit the fuse when he began his panel by saying,

“Their son is dead. Or the people that also aid and abet these people with their sanctuary cities and sanctuary states, criminal aliens in our custody that are not handed over to ICE. You always say it’s about both parties, it’s not,” Hannity stated. “It’s about one party now that refuses to protect the American people…”

Said Geraldo at his most Geraldo-ish: Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/6/2019: Snowflakes, Catnip, Coups And Fake Bills

Good Morning!

[Here’s a Warm-Up warm-up that has nothing to do with ethics. In “Ben-Hur,” which I watched again last week, Charlton Heston’s character is know by three completely different names. One, of course, is Judah Ben-Hur. What are the other two?]

1. Virtue signaling and pandering are both inadequate to describe this. If only it were a joke—but it appears to be proof of institutional  brain rot.  The British army is reaching out to “selfie addicts,” “snowflakes,” “me me me millennials”—remember, I’m not making this up!—“class clowns”, “binge gamers”,and  “phone zombies”  celebrating the alleged virtues these juvenile behaviors demonstrate, such as self-belief, spirit, drive, focus, compassion and confidence. Here are two examples of the new posters:

Continue reading

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Saturday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/5/19: Bait And Switch, Inconvenient Honesty, Fake News

Oh, good morning, I guess…

1. Once again: this should be illegal, because it is unconscionable. Recently re-elected Rep. Don Marean, a multiple term Maine state legislator from York County, announced that he was leaving the Republican Party to become an Independent.  In a Friday text message last week, he said that “out of respect” for House Republicans  he would not  comment on the resaon for his decision and would let it “speak for itself.”

It does speak for itself; it tells us that Marean is an unscrupulous, liar who gained election to office fraudulently. Elected officials who betray voters this way have an ethical obligation to resign from office and run again under the party affiliation they will stick to.

2. Keep it up! Please! The freshman Democratic House members, in a single day, managed to strip away the mask of the Democratic Party and expose more of the ugliness beneath than the party veterans deemed wise. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) refused to be sworn in with her hand on the traditional Bible,  and insisted that a law book be used for the purpose instead. She is a member of the party that has been questioning whether Catholics are fit to be federal judges, and the message that one party is openly hostile to religion is becoming clearer and clearer. The Bible is a moral/ethical document, and accepting it for the purpose of a binding oath should not be a problem for anyone unless they are trying to make a point. Using a law book is no more appropriate or meaningful than using a Harry Potter novel: oaths are declarations of duty, honesty and integrity, not law. Continue reading

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The Trump Presidency And “The Caine Mutiny”—A Reminder

Turner Movie Classics ran “The Caine Mutiny” again last night. It reminded me of what I wrote two years ago, when I really didn’t think that the “resistance” and the Democrats would continue on the destructive path they have for this long. I even wrote, foolishly, “This is the last time I’m going to try to explain why the fair, patriotic, ethical and rational approach to the impending Presidency of Donald Trump is to be supportive of the office and the individual until his actual performance in the job earns just criticism. Attempting to undermine a Presidency at its outset is a self-destructive act, for nobody benefits if a Presidency fails.” Of course, it was far from the last time I returned to the topic. In my defense, how could I know, at a point where the term “the resistance” hadn’t even surfaced yet, that the unparalleled assault on a President would not only continue, but escalate to the point where a newly minted Congresswoman would announce to a cheering mob, “We’re going to impeach the motherfucker!”?

Watching the movie, however, was striking. I know it well; I can recite many of the dialogues from memory. Yet the parallel with the Trump Presidency struck me stronger than ever before, and sent me back to that previous post, in which I wrote,

In The Caine Mutiny, a film version of the stage drama and novel “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial,” Captain Queeg (Humphrey Bogart), a man whose war-shattered nerves and self-esteem problems have rendered him an erratic and an unpopular officer, falters in his command during a storm. His officers, frightened and already convinced that their captain is unfit for command, mutiny. At their military trial, their defense attorney causes Queeg to have a breakdown on the witness stand, winning the case for the accused mutineers. Later, however, at the post trial victory party, the lawyer, Barney Greenwald (Jose Ferrer),  shames his clients. He represented them zealously, but he tells them that they were, in fact, at fault for what occurred on the Caine:

Ensign  Keith: Queeg endangered the lives of the men.

Greenwald: He didn’t endanger any lives.You did. A fine bunch of officers.

Lt. Paynter: You said yourself he cracked.

Greenwald: I’m glad you brought that up, Mr. Paynter, because that’s a very pretty point. I left out one detail in court. It wouldn’t have helped our case. Tell me, Steve, after the yellow-stain business, Queeg came to you for help, and you turned him down, didn’t you.

Lt. Maryk: Yes, we did.

Greenwald: You didn’t approve of his conduct as an officer. He wasn’t worthy of your loyalty. So you turned on him. You ragged on him, you made up songs about him. If you’d given Queeg the loyalty he needed, do you think all this would have come up in the typhoon? You’re an honest man, Steve, I’m asking you. You think it would have been necessary to take over?

 Maryk: It probably wouldn’t have been necessary.

Keith:  If that’s true, we were guilty.

Greenwald: Ahhh, You’re learning, Willie!  You don’t work with the captain because of how he parts his hair…you work with him because  he’s got the job, or you’re no good.

Exactly.

      Or you’re no good.

Donald Trump is in over his head. He knows it, I think. Maybe, just maybe, with a lot of help, a lot of support and more than a lot of luck, he might be able to do a decent job for his country and the public. It’s a long-shot, but what’s the alternative? Making sure that he fails? Making him feel paranoid, and angry, and feeding his worst inclinations so he’s guaranteed to behave irrationally and irresponsibly? How is that in anyone’s best interest? That’s not how to get someone through a challenge, especially someone who you have to depend on.

Continue reading

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Welcome The 2019’s First New Rationalizations: 1C. It Happens To Everybody, And 19 B. Murkowski’s Lament

These have been on the drawing board waiting for induction into the Ethics Alarms list of Unethical Rationalizations and Misconceptions far too long.  It’s also a good time to re-read the list, which was recently brought up to date. I wrote the damn thing, and it it still reminded me of some things.

Rationalization 1C. It Happens To Everybody, or “You’re not alone!’

This is yet another variation on the Golden Rationalization, “Everybody Does It,” but the transitive version. The theory is the same, that somehow the ethical nature of an act is changed by its frequency, or, in the case of #1C, how many victims the unethical conduct has claimed. This one is so frequently employed that it doesn’t register as a rationalization, perhaps because the one who wield’s it is often a third party. “Don’t feel too bad,” the nice person patting your head says, “You’re not the only one.” The swift answer to this should be, “So what?” Should I feel less raped because others have been raped? Should I feel less lied to because others have been deceived? Should I feel richer because others have been robbed?” Even if it is offered in kindness, this is a rationalization that aides the wrongdoer. Arguing that as long as the misery inflicted has company, what was done isn’t as bad as it was.

Rationalization 9 B. Murkowski’s Lament, or “It was a difficult decision”

Continue reading

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