Post Road Trip Ethics De-Brief, 11/20/2019, AND Morning Warm-Up, 11/21/2019

Bvuh.

Thinking is a chore right now, never mind typing.

We returned from a triumphant two-Darrow ethics program New Jersey tour, highlighted by the intense Darrow oratory performed by actor/legal instructor Paul Morella. This does a cynical ethics CLE presenter’s heart good: finding myself short of time, I asked the assembled NJ Bar members to vote on whether Paul should omit Darrow’s famous Leopold and Loeb closing argument, or Darrow’s own desperate plea for an acquittal when he faced a jury considering his own guilt of jury tampering in the 1911 MacNamara case. The group almost unanimously voted that we complete both closings, with my ethics commentary as well, bringing the program to an end almost a half hour later than scheduled. Nobody left, and believe me, in most CLE seminars, the lawyers seldom stay one second longer than they have to.

Brought a tear to my eye…

No rest in sight, though: tomorrow, I take an early flight to team up with rock guitar whiz and singer Mike Messer in Las Vegas for Ethics Rock Extreme. And I’m punchy now...

1. Well, maybe the NFL is learning…News item: The Miami Dolphins released already suspended running back Mark Walton on Tuesday, hours after he was arrested on charges of punching his pregnant girlfriend multiple times in the head. Walton had been serving a four-game suspension because of  three arrests before the season started. He was sentenced in August to six months’ probation after pleading no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge.

Now let’s see if the Patriots sign him…

2. Just a quick impeachment hearings note: It is astounding to me that witnesses are being called by the Democrats to testify regarding their opinions on a President’s phone call to a foreign leader. Big black headlines shout that witnesses called a phone call “inappropriate.” Who cares? The President has the authority to decide what is “appropriate,” and there are no impeachment articles in the Constitution designating “acting inappropriately” according to someone else’s opinion as a “high crime and misdemeanor.”  Leaders become leaders because they do thinks that others think are “inappropriate.”

Don’t get get me  started on presidential actions through the centuries that experts, government veterans and other critics at the time thought were “inappropriate,” or worse.

I started compiling a list of what I would consider genuinely impeachable actions by past Presidents The list makes the current impeachment push look even more contrived than it already is.

3. I see that the group that surreptitiously filmed Planned Parenthood staff discussing abortions was hit with over 2 million dollars in damages. Good. Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 11/19/29: Rushing Around Hotel Rooms Edition

Started this post in a DoubleTree this morning, finishing it (I hope) this afternoon in a Hyatt.

1. Nauseating. The ACLU awarded Christine Blasey Ford the Roger Baldwin Courage Award.

There is no excuse for this, and it shows how deeply the once pointedly non-partisan Bill of Rights defense organization has allied itself with the political Left. The attack she fostered on Brett Kavanaugh violated the principle of due process and her unsubstantiated accusation of a dimly recalled sexual assault when the Justice was a teenager is the kind of abuse of justice that the ACLU once opposed. Writes an outraged Nina Bookout on Victory Girls,

What exactly did she do that could be defined as courageous?

  • Was it her allegations of rape that were never verified?
  • Was it her throwing high school friends under the bus?
  • Was it changing her stories in mid-stream, and then changing them again while testifying?
  • How about the fact that she needed Mark Judge to verify the date she was attacked because she can’t remember?
  • How about her beach conversations, the polygraph, and the weirdness about the second door?

If that’s today’s definition of courage by the ACLU, then we have yet another word with its meaning distorted in order to fit a desired narrative.

What Christine Blasey Ford did, with the tacit approval of the Left and encouragement from the likes of Diane Feinstein, is the very opposite of courage. It is spiteful cowardice.

Obviously, I think, Blasey-Fordis being lionized by the ACLU for applying the ends justifies the means approach by being willing to expose herself to deserved ridicule in order to smear a Trump SCOTUS nominee deemed to place the right to abortion at risk.

In this she is reaping the same benefits that came Anita Hill’s way when she ambushed Clarence Thomas with distant accounts of alleged sexual harassment.

2. Speaking of undeserving “heroes,” pundits are saying that it does not seem as if the NFL “trusts” Colin Kaepernick. Well, of course they don’t. The way he has packaged himself as a martyr for “social justice,” there is literally no chance that if signed as a back-up quarterback, he would devote his full attention and energy to playing football.

What I find amazing is the news media’s constant description of his kneeling stunt as “raising public awareness to police violence against African Americans.” How does a football player kneeling during the National Anthem call attention to anything other than a football player kneeling during the National Anthem? It doesn’t. My attention is drawn to police violence against African Americans when I learn about a genuine example of it, like the shooting of Walter Scott in the back as he fled an arrest. When inarticulate publicity-seeking  race-baiters like Kaepernick say their actions are meant to raise public awareness of police violence against African Americans and they cite Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, and other complex episodes, then they only call attention to their ignorance and unethical desire to demonize whites and police. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/19: Complainers…” (Item#4)

The first Ethics Alarms post on my new “Ideapad,” in a DoubleTree in Fairfield, New Jersey, at about 1 am,  after a miserable 4 and a half-hour drive. Fortunately for you and me, it is a Comment of the Day, in which johnburger213 has done all the thought. It’s a tale of multiple jerks and assholes, with a child involved and the news media turning into a across-the-internet controversy a matter that in bygone days wouldn’t have traveled a city block.

Here is johnburger’s Comment of the Day that is only incidentally on the post, “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/18/19: Complainers, Climate Hysterics, Tiny Tims And Fake News”:

Not exactly on point, but there is this story out of Texas: It seems a mom likes to put notes in her 5 year old son’s lunch kit* to remind him she loves him when he eats lunch at daycare. Well, as luck would have it, she put a note in his lunch, asking the daycare worker to tell her son she loves him very much. The daycare worker would have none of that nonsense, so he/she wrote the mother telling her to put her son on a diet instead. Here is a link to the story:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/day-care-worker-fat-shames-year-boy-leaving/story?id=67100183

Now, the daycare worker is a jerk and should be strung up by his/her thumbs for doing something so idiotic. I wonder what goes through the mind of someone who deals with youngsters at a daycare who would tell the mother that said daycare worker would, in fact, NOT tell the child that mommy loves him/her, and would do so by writing a note back to the mother, effectively telling the mother she is a bad parent. Seems cruel to me. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/2019: Plan T?

Great. I’m sick again.

It’s psychological, I’m sure of it. I dread the Whitewaters of Life period from November 17 through New Years, encompassing the anxiety of Thanksgiving, the anniversary of my father’s perverse decision to kick-off on my birthday, the annual 10-hour prickle-fest of decorating an eight-foot live tree to meet family traditions, maneuvering around the Christmas season while trying to make it special and feeling deep inside that those days are long gone, struggling with the rotten timing of wanting to spend without penny-pinching on thrilling loved ones while one’s own small ethics business is at its cash-flow nadir, and fighting off the ghosts of more carefree times with the missing, including my dad and especially my mother, who was a Christmas fanatic, and now Rugby, whose trick of sniffing out his presents and unwrapping them, and only them, with typical elan was always a Christmas morning highlight. This year, I have the extra burden of not one but two multi-day ethics road trips, one to carry musical ethics down the metaphorical chimney in Las Vegas, and to by car to New Jersey, where Paul Morella, alias Clarence Darrow, and I have two dates. Both trips are guaranteed to leave me feeling like I have been run over by a reindeer.

Ho-ho-ho.

Shut up, Perry.

1. Plan T watch. Note that the ethics Alarms home page finally has a link directly to the growing list of 19 attempted removal plans that have been launched to various degrees by the Democratic Party/ “resistance”/mainstream media soft coup alliance against President Trump. This version is slightly revised, including a reference to a consist statement of what is going on that echoes what I have written, but is nicely turned: “Donald Trump daring to serve as President is itself impeachable.”

Bingo.

Meanwhile, Plan T might be imminent. The tortured logic of Plan S, the basis of the current inquiry, is convincing no one, in part because the average American doesn’t know impeachment from a pear tree, and mostly because Plan S is dishonest and bats. To their shame if they had any, the impeachment mob has been  polling and using focus groups to determine which accusation will stick.

The Washington Post reports  that Democrats are easing out the term ‘quid pro quo,’ instead using “bribery” as the favored term to describe Trump’s alleged impeachable conduct: Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019”

What new fresh Hell is this?

Perhaps not quite what it appears to be. The mainstream media, hostile as ever to religion, and of course to Republicans, making this a happy twofer, widely described the bill recently passed in the Ohio House as “Under the law, students can’t be penalized if their work is scientifically wrong as long as the reasoning is because of their religious beliefs. Instead, students are graded on substance and relevance.”

Well, that would be crazy. Such a bone-headed law would allow a religious student to state a non-fact as fact (no, the Earth just isn’t 6,000 years old no matter what Williams Jennings Bryan said) but a non-religious student repeating the same error would be graded down. But is this really what the “Ohio Student Religious Liberties Act of 2019” requires?

Here’s what it says:

Sec. 3320.03. No school district board of education, governing authority of a community school established under Chapter 3314. of the Revised Code, governing body of a Sec. STEM school established under Chapter 3326. of the Revised Code, or board of trustees of a college-preparatory boarding school established under Chapter 3328. of the Revised Code shall prohibit a student from engaging in religious expression in the completion of homework, artwork, or other written or oral assignments. Assignment grades and scores shall be calculated using ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, including any legitimate pedagogical concerns, and shall not penalize or reward a student based on the religious content of a student’s work.

Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 11/15/2019: Idiots, “Friends,” Rationalizations And Doing Things The Hard Way

The Korean War memorial on the Washington Mall….moving and ghostly.

Greetings!

1. The media, doing its best to make the public stupid. Yesterday the collected dolts  of “The View” managed to mangle the concept of hearsay, following a Democrat rep’s absurd contention that hearsay evidence cold be “better” than  direct testimony.  The panel show also misrepresented how the Clinton impeachment proceeded.

Sunny Hostin, the alleged conservative on the panel,  said that  President Clinton’s impeachment  was the result of Linda Tripp’s  testimony, saying , “Clinton was impeached because of Linda Tripp’s testimony, which was complete hearsay!”

How wrong can a statement be? Clinton was impeached because he lied under oath in a hearing involving the civil law suit against him by Paula Jones (as well as for lying to a grand jury and obstruction of justice.) Tripp had made an illegal tape recording of Lewinsky, which was not hearsay. Tripp’s tape was used to get Lewinsky to admit the affair, which was clearly not hearsay. Then there was that stained dress. Had not direct testimony and physical evidence backed up Tripp’s account, Clinton almost certainly   not have been impeached

2. This is why we can’t have nice things. It was inevitable, with all the recent resurgence in interest in the 90s sitcom “Friends,” that the long-running and still-popular show would finally be subjected to one of those depressing reunion specials. This was especially likely because the aging cast isn’t much in demand these days, and mots of them could use a boost.

But Beware, “Friends,” the woke posse is watching. The show about six white hetero singles living in New York was not diverse, and has been criticized in the 15 years since it ended for being implicitly racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ. Thus the Righteous have decreed, “Friends’ reunion is all we have wanted for years, but HBO Max version better have more racial diversity and LGBTQ representation.”

Thus we get this,

[T]he iconic NBC show is not without its problems, and yet it entertained us in real-time for ten years and for years after that, making us laugh on the days we are feeling low and making us believe that they will be there for us. It is only natural that we want to relive those feelings again, but even those of us who grew up on ‘Friends’ have outgrown those insensitive jabs about Chandler’s (Mathew Perry) drag queen father, unwarranted fat-shaming of Monica (Courtney Cox), repeated complicity of Joey’s (Matt LeBlanc) sexism and so on.

When the show does return in – hopefully – 2020 for an HBO Max audience, we should hope that it is rich in diversity without it being about tokenism. It is unfathomable that this group of friends who live in New York, the melting pot of America, hasn’t made friends with more diverse backgrounds. Even more so, it is difficult to believe that they haven’t even interacted with people of different sexualities, sexual identities, and races for them to know better than to make jokes about them. It may have flown in the 90s and 2000s, but it definitely isn’t going to in the current day and age.

No, we should hope that it is funny, but if awkward virtue signalling and making sure that all the EEOC boxes are checked while making up for ten years of insensitively showing a group of friends who hung out primarily with people like themselves (like most of us), are going to be the priorities, and you know they will be, it would be kinder and more responsible to leave Ross, Chandler, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Monica where they belong—in the past, on re-runs.

Incidentally, one of the two funniest jokes I ever heard on “Friends” involved “fat-shaming.” The groups was watching an old home movie taken when Monica was a grossly over-weight teen. The now svelte woman, embarrassed, said, “They say that the camera makes you look 15 pounds heavier,” to which Chandler replied, “Just how many cameras were on you?”

3. Upon reflection, I don’t think I need to add this new rationalization. The Rationalization List is stuck at 99, and I have been wondering what #100 would be. When I was writing about the now-fired Canadian hockey pundit Don Cherry bringing himself down with his big mouth, I was annoyed by how many of his defenders argued that Don was just being Don, and since he was always Don, and “didn’t mean anything” by being Don, and was popular because he was Don, being Don shouldn’t be held against him. I suspect this bothered me so much because it appears to be the only thing keeping Joe Biden from being ripped to pieces by #MeToo Furies, as he richly deserves to be. So briefly I considered the need for a “It’s just who he is” rationalization.

Upon reflection, I demurred. This is cutting the rationalizations too thin. We already have Rationalization 41 A. Popeye’s Excuse, or “I am what I am”:

Sure, let’s stipulate that the jerk is exactly who and what he presents himself as being. This doesn’t excuse his conduct in any way. He is what he is, and what he is is an irresponsible, narcissistic, rude, boorish, uncivil, nasty, destructive, ignorant, impulsive untrustworthy and despicable creep. Being a real  irresponsible, narcissistic, rude, boorish, uncivil, nasty, destructive, ignorant, impulsive untrustworthy and despicable creep is no more ethical than being a phony one. In this case, transparency is not a virtue.

..and Joe Biden even has his own rationalization springing from Cherry-like excuses, Rationalization 38B, Joe Biden’s Inoculation or “I don’t deny that I do this!”

A sub-rationalization to #38. The Miscreant’s Mulligan or “Give him/her/them/me a break!,” Joe Biden’s Inoculation argues that habitual bad conduct is mitigated by one’s open admission and acknowledgment that one’s engaging in it is an ongoing problem.

I think this base is well covered. The search for #100 goes on…

4. Why didn’t she just take the bar exam one more time?  I don’t understand this story at all.

Roberta Guedes graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2014, but she  failed to pass the Florida Bar exam twice. The traditional remedy for this is boning up and taking the exam again, and again if necessary, but noooooo. 

Instead, federal prosecutors say, she used the name of a classmate  to register two new law firms with the state Division of Corporations. Agnieszka Piasecka attended law school with Roberta, and the friends  talked about starting a law firm together, When Guedes flunked the bar exam, Piasecka who did not flunk,   opened her own firm in Clearwater,  specializing in wills and trusts, immigration, and divorce cases.

The plot began when Guedes offered Piasecka the free use of her  office in downtown Tampa to meet with clients a few times.

In September 2014, Guedes incorporated a firm she called Ferguson and McKenzie LLC, listing Piasecka as its registered agent. In November, she started a second legal services business called Immigration and Litigation Law Office, Inc., listing another woman, Arlete Chouinard, as a vice president and manager.  Neither Piasecka nor Chouinard knew about this. She created websites for both companies, including claims of  national and international offices that didn’t exist, and faked partners and associates using stock photos. She also represented clients, accepting fees while never telling them that she had no license.

Now Guedes, 40, faces prison time after pleading guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and aggravated identity theft. It is fair to say that it is now too late to pass the bar exam.

Fairness to Elizabeth Warren

Yes, even the 2020 Presidential race’s worst panderer and #1 demagogue deserves the same leave as any other lawyer, which is not to be held responsible for her client’s views and deeds. Every lawyer who ever runs for office or who comes within the cross-hairs of unethical pundits faces these attacks, which I have written about here repeatedly and pledged to address any time they come to my attention.Elizabeth Warren’s Days Defending Big Corporations” warns the Times, hinting at hypocrisy by noting,

“Ms. Warren has ascended toward the head of the Democratic presidential pack on the strength of her populist appeal and progressive plans, which include breaking up big technology companies, free public college and a wealth tax on the richest Americans…Against that backdrop, some of Ms. Warren’s critics have seized upon her bankruptcy work for LTV and other big corporations to question the depth of her progressive bona fides. How, they wonder, could someone whose reputation is built on consumer advocacy have represented a company seeking to avoid paying for retired miners’ health care?

Here’s how: a lawyer’s personal convictions, values and beliefs are completely irrelevant to her clients or choice of clients. Those who think otherwise don’t understand legal ethics, or lawyers, or their function in society. For the heaven-knows-how many-teenth time, here is critical Rule 1.2 b of the ABA Rules of Professional Conduct: Continue reading