Category Archives: Professions

No, Bill O’Reilly Shouldn’t Be Fired For Making Fun Of Rep. Maxine Waters’ Hair

Bill O’Reilly should have been fired before he made fun of Maxine Waters’ hair. Now would be the worst time imaginable to fire the blow-hard, untrustworthy Fox News pundit, because it would allow partisans to silence an opinion-maker whose opinions they hate by employing shameless and unjustified race-baiting. That tactic, employed repeatedly and futilely against Rush Limbaugh and other high profile conservatives, is unethical, and must not be validated by success.

In case you don’t follow O’Reilly, 1) I salute your taste and time management, and 2) here’s what caused the controversy:

O’Reilly was stopping by the set of “Fox and Friends,” and along with the gang on the couch watched some of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ speech attacking President Trump. After the clip, O’Reilly said, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig.”

Being in the Land of the Dimwits, O’Reilly sparked an idiotic defense from co-host Ainsley Earhardt, who said, fatuously, “You can’t go after a woman. Plus, I think she’s very attractive.”

Why in the world can’t you “go after a woman” when the woman is an elected official who says ridiculous things as routinely as clockwork? Earhardt’s statement was sexist on its face, and as O’Reilly quickly found out, it wasn’t sexism that he was going to be accused of with his mean James Brown wig comment. By the way…

…he had a point.

It’s a nasty, ad hominem, unprofessional point, however, that lowers political discourse into the gutter. O’Reilly has been doing this in various ways from the beginning of his career, when he wasn’t misrepresenting his credentials, his conduct, or other matters. This, however, was a relatively minor example.

Never mind though: Waters is black, so by the infinitely adjustable weaponizing definition of racism used by progressives, black activists and Democrats for the previous eight years, to criticize her at all is to be a racist. This was a sub-version; criticizing a black woman’s hair is racist. OK, comparing a black woman’s wig to an iconic black soul singer’s wig is racist. Or something: just cry racism, and the hope is that it will tar O’Reilly so badly that he will become unemployable, and no progressive will ever have their blood pressure raised by him again.

All over social media, progressives of note and non-note called for Bill’s head because his comment was “racist.” This really takes chutzpah, since mocking Donald Trump’s hair and skin-color virtually became a national pastime in Leftist Land during the 2016 campaign, and is still. What’s the standard being advocated here? Calling a white President”s comeover anything from a dead animal to decomposing vegetables is perfectly acceptable political discourse, but comparing a black House member’s wig to the hair of a dead rock icon is too horrible to tolerate? The Washington Post published a feature called “The 100 Greatest Descriptions of Donald Trump;s Hair” last June. It included such entries as

  • A mullet that died in some horrific accident
  • Combed like he’s televangelist Benny Hinn.
  • Like Biff, from “Back to the Future”
  • Like Lucille Ball
  • Like a troll doll

And most worthy of discussion,  this: Continue reading

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month, As Trump Derangement Eats Chuck Schumer’s Brain [UPDATED]

Luckily, the Senator was hammerless…

NY Senator Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader (who sure seemed like a nice, reasonable guy in my two brief encounters with him), apparently needs an intervention.

According to witnesses, Schumer became enraged this weekend when he encountered Joseph A. Califano Jr. (former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare under President Carter)  and his wife, Hilary, having a quiet dinner at the stylish Upper East Side restaurant Sette Mezzo. Schumer, dining with friends, began shouting at the couple and Califano’s wife in particular, saying, “She voted for Trump!” The Califanos left the restaurant, and the distinguished Senator followed them outside, continuing to harass Hilary Califano, saying,  “ ‘How could you vote for Trump? He’s a liar!’

Mrs. Califano confirmed the account. “Sen. Schumer was really rude . . . I should have told him that Hillary Clinton was a liar, but I was so surprised I didn’t say anything.”

A spokesman for Schumer denies this occurred, saying, “[He] and his wife ate at the café on Sunday, engaging in unremarkable conversation with patrons who approached their table. There were no heated exchanges with ‎anyone.”

Once again, almost all “conservative” media reports that Schumer was ranting at Califano. No left-leaning media has covered the story at all (so far), except The Hill. How do we know what happened, with journalism rejecting objectivity? The mainstream media actively works to bury stories that don’t serve their agendas, while the other side habitually over-hypes. If we take the MSN’s silence for the truth, then the episode becomes “old news,” and is effectively muted.

I have to maneuver this disgusting swamp every day. In this case, I’m going with the New York Post Page Six account, first because it’s the local paper; second, because I find it hard to believe that any paper would try to manufacture an incident in a crowded restaurant; third, because Mrs. Califano confirmed it, and finally, because Democrats have been increasingly unhinged for months.

Update: when that post was written, no leftward mainstream media sources reported the incident, though it was unquestionable newsworthy. If Senator McCain or Mitch McConnell, and certainly Sarah Palin, had behaved this way, it would be on every front page and CNN would be leading with it every hour.  I noted that this was a perfect example of how the polarization of news sources works today; I also wondered if the story would ultimately be debunks or credibly denied. The story  hasn’t been debunked, and the Left’s media pals have ignored it. From now on, I think I’ll ask any desperate denier of news media bias try to explain this.

So… Continue reading

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Oh, Great: 21% Of Lawyers Are Stealing From Their Clients.

This should be a shock, but it isn’t. When the screenwriters for the film adaptation of “The Firm” changed the ending to focus on the fact that the mob’s law firm was over-billing clients, lots of lawyers and legal ethics specialists squirmed. Widespread over-billing in the legal profession has been a scandal waiting to break for decades.

The ABA journal reveals that a recent study by  CEB Inc. and Wolters Kluwer NV’s ELM Solutions, companies that work with corporate legal departments to manage their budgets, examined legal invoices from about 100 companies, and found that 21% of lawyers “upbilled” for their time in 2015. Upbilling is the practice of rounding up legal hours hours worked to the next hour or half hour. This could raise the annual legal bill for a partner billing 2,000 hours a year by about $29,000. Spread over all the clients and all the lawyers charging by the hour, the 21% figure translates into millions of dollars taken by fraud, and maybe billions, every year. You can read summaries of the reports  here and here. Continue reading

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Idiot Ethics: A Brief Note

I used the term “idiot” three times in the recent post about Alex Jones. Periodically I get reprimands from commenters who chide Ethics Alarms for engaging in “ad hominem” attacks when it refers to a public figure as “an idiot.” IMy response is always the same: diagnosing someone as an idiot who behaves idiotically is not an “ad hominem attack.” Ad hominem means that one attacks a legitimate argument by attacking the arguer instead: “That must be wrong, because he’s an idiot!”  In the case of Jones, my point was very different: believing that John Podesta, in the middle of a Presidential campaign, would be running a sex ring out of a pizza place is per se idiotic, and it requires an idiot, like Alex Jones, to take such a story seriously. I’ll stand by that assessment.

Still you don’t read many pundits, and certainly no ethicists, who use that term, or related ones like dolt, dummy, moron and cretin. Is it unprofessional? It certainly isn’t common practice for professionals, though there are exceptions: the late Justice Scalia was not above calling out idiocy by name. I will even use the term occasionally in my ethics seminars, for example, to describe the lawyer who produced a hand grenade during his closing argument, and pulled the pin. Is this unfair? I don’t think so. Nor is it unfair to call the lawyer an idiot who recently had his pants burst into flame mid-argument to bolster his defense that his client didn’t deliberately set his car won fire, but that it spontaneously combusted.

Non-idiots don’t do things like that. If he doesn’t know he’s an idiot, someone needs to tell him.

Calling someone an idiot is an insult, obviously, and is a breach of civility. Civility, however, does not and should not interfere with the truth. Choosing to properly designate a prominent idiot as one is a public service, and to the more self-aware idiots, a kindness as well. Great damage can be prevented by making it absolutely unambiguously clear that someone is an idiot, as in “not smart, responsible, wise or educated enough to be trusted in his opinions or competence.”

Once upon a time, it was very rare for true idiots to rise to prominence and influence in the United States.  It was just too hard, and nobody was that lucky. This provided a great advantage over cultures where power and influence were conferred by birth.  Idiot kings and emperors were never in short supply. John Adams made the point that in America, the aristocracy, whose role in other nations was to stand as role models and typify the best of society, was uniquely created by ability, achievement, talent and intelligence. (John, a lawyer, naturally thought that lawyers fit the bill.) The bold concept behind American democracy was 1) that public education and civic duty would compel the citizenry to accept the responsibility of being capable of self-government, and that the “wisdom of crowds” would do the rest. Idiots literally could not rise to high office. They so obviously contrasted with the typical public servants that their careers fizzled out before the White House was within view. Stupid journalists, scholars, professionals and authors were also rare; indeed, it was once hard to find an idiot with a high school diploma, much less with an advanced degree. Continue reading

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Silence U Part 2: Indoctrination At Yale, and Beyond

A new, intensely short documentary about the cultural rot underway at Yale (but not only at Yale) is worth viewing, if you have a firm grip on your skull. Yale, is, of course, the source of many U.S. leaders and opinion-makers, including Supreme Court justices and recent Presidents. As one can see from the video, it is either indoctrinating the young minds in its charge in oppressive, anti-speech and liberty ideology, or, to give a large benefit of the doubt, failing to disabuse students of toxic and anti-democratic ideas that the educational system has also seeded.

Needless to say, but I’ll say it anyway, Yale is an elite institution, a role model for others, and supposed to represent the best of higher education. Its students will take their place among the intellectual and economic elite. Nobody who has been paying attention to the logical and legal contortions being used by the supporters of “the resistance” should be surprised that our most promising students are being trained to reason like this. The question is: does it make sense for a nation to actively support an educational system that appears to have become dedicated to undermining the basic values its founding was based upon?

The former-Provost of Stanford University, John Etchemendy, recently gave a speech he called “The Threat From Within” in which he said in part.

Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. . . . We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.

The problem bites when a particular ideological sect gains power, and meticulously and systematically sets out to make diversity of thought inaccessible. Professors and scholars inhospitable to progressive cant are becoming extinct on college campuses, by design, just as they are an endangered species in newsrooms and Hollywood. Over at the increasingly had-left legal website “Above the Law”—you know, the one that kept erasing my e-mail alert requests every time Ethics Alarms criticized the site; the one that employs Ellie Mystal, a black lawyer who has advocated that black jurors refuse to convict black defendants—writer Joe Patrice  mocked the concept of advocacy for “viewpoint diversity” as argued in this letter from a group of law professors: Continue reading

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Ethics Hero: Notre Dame Political Science Professor Vincent Phillip Muñoz

Vincent Phillip Muñoz is the Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law at The University of Notre Dame. Following the violent protest that prevented his announced lecture at Middlebury College earlier this month, Prof. Muñoz invited Murray to speak at the University of Notre Dame next week. This occasioned some protests and objections from students and faculty at his own college, and he responded with an essay at RealClearPolitics, writing in part…

Charles Murray is speaking at Notre Dame because I and another Political Science professor assigned his book “Coming Apart” in our classes. His visit is one of several outside lectures that are part of this semester’s Constitutional Studies offerings. My class, “Constitutional Government & Public Policy,” addresses some of the most important and divisive issues in American politics: abortion, gay marriage, religious freedom, inequality, freedom of speech, death penalty, race and the meaning of constitutional equality, immigration, euthanasia, and pornography.

 The class is designed to prompt students to think more deeply and thoughtfully about contemporary moral and political issues. I don’t assign a textbook or “neutral” readings that summarize the issues; I require students to read principled thinkers who advocate vigorously for their respective position. I want my conservative students to read smart, persuasive liberal thinkers, and I want my liberal students to read thoughtful conservatives. Educated citizens can give reasons for their beliefs and can defend intellectually the positions they hold. That requires that we understand and articulate the positions with which we disagree.

…“But Murray is controversial and will make students feel uncomfortable,” my faculty colleagues say. Don’t I know that he has been accused of being racist, anti-gay, and a white nationalist? I’m told that bringing him to campus is not fair to Notre Dame’s marginalized students.

I have no desire to inflict unwanted stress or anxiety on any member of the Notre Dame community, especially our minority students. I appreciate the concern for student well being that motivates some of the opposition to Murray’s visit. But I believe what is most harmful to students—and, to speak candidly, most patronizing—is to “protect” our students from hearing arguments and ideas they supposedly cannot handle.To study politics today requires handling controversial, difficult, and divisive topics…

The price of a real education is hearing powerful arguments that make us realize our opinions are based on untested assumptions. Only then, when we realize that we do not know as much as we think we know, can genuine learning occur.

I invited Dr. Murray to Notre Dame months ago…Given what happened at Middlebury, it would be cowardly to disinvite Murray now. Rescinding his invitation would communicate that violence works; that if you want to influence academia, sharpen your elbows, not your mind. It would tell those who engaged in violence—and those who might engage in or threaten violence—that universities will cower if you just appear intimidating. Rescinding Murray’s invitation would teach exactly the wrong lesson…

Notre Dame faculty critical of Murray have implored me to think about the larger context of what his visit means. I am. That is why I will not rescind his invitation. As a professor and program director, my job is to do what we are supposed to do at universities: pursue the truth through reasoned dialogue and discussion. Whether you find Charles Murray’s scholarship persuasive or objectionable, his visit offers an opportunity to learn. That is why I invited him to speak at Notre Dame. After Middlebury, it’s all the more important that he do so.

It is almost an insult to academia to call Prof. Muñoz ‘s statement heroic. It should be obvious. Dissenters from the position he articulates should be instantly recognizable as regrettable outliers, the opponents of academic freedom and freedom of thought, the advocates of censorship and ideological indoctrination. Yet increasingly it is this traditional view of higher education that Muñoz advocates that is under attack. Continue reading

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Ethics Dunce: The Maryland State Bar Association

Do you know what legal ethics opinions are? Many lawyers don’t know, or barely pay attention to them, but the opinions are important. They are written when bar associations have to decide how to handle the gray areas of professional ethics, and believe me, there are more gray areas in legal ethics than the profession likes to admit. Some jurisdictions churn out lots of important and useful legal ethics opinions all year long; others barely bother with them. (Idaho simply stopped issuing such opinions decades ago.) Still, the LEOs, as they are called, are essential when one of the many legal ethics issues crop up that a jurisdiction’s rules themselves don’t cover.

Although bar associations do a terrible job making their legal ethics opinions’ availability known to the general public, LEOs have invaluable information to convey about how lawyers are ethically obligated to serve their clients. They are also essential if people like me are going to be able to remind Maryland’s lawyers about their ethical duties as part of continuing legal education seminars and expert opinions.

So why is it that Maryland, alone among the 51 U.S. jurisdictions, refuses to allow the public access to their legal ethics opinions? All right, neither does Arkansas, but nobody can read in ArkansasKIDDING!!! I’M KIDDING!

In order to find out what the Bar Association has decided regarding specific legal ethics conundrums, or whether the state has any position at all, one has to be a dues-paying member of the Maryland Bar. Never mind that Maryland lawyers, who, like most lawyers, often are subject to the ethics rules of other jurisdictions, can access neighboring bar association LEO’s with a couple of clicks on their computers. Never mind fairness or reciprocity.

Here’s how the question “Why do we hide our ethics opinions?” was answered by one Maryland lawyer online:

“Ethics opinions are MSBA work product: a benefit to members who pay their dues…An ethics opinion is a legal opinion about what it or is not permissible under the rules. If you want legal advice, pay for it. The “rules”, by the way, are published and are available to the public. As are the elements of negligence. Do you tell your clients for free how to prove their negligence cases?”

How’s that for a venal, snotty answer? In fact, there are no “hidden” laws or principles related to negligence, nor are the standards for what constitutes negligence and how it is proven in court only available for a fee. The legal ethics opinions, on the other hand, may be crucial to allowing non-lawyers  know when they are being victimized by unethical members of the Maryland bar. How convenient that the Bar hides these from the view of the group of citizens that have the most urgent need to know about them.

Continue reading

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