Assorted Ethics Items, 4/23/2021: I Can’t Talk Or Eat, But I Can Still Write. And Think, Sort Of…

Well, THAT was certainly unpleasant…made a root canal seem like the warm embrace of a succubus by comparison…

1. An alternate juror in the Chauvin trial gave an interview. She seems like a pretty rational sort, but two comments, support the contention that the trial was not a fair one:

  • “I did tell them that I saw the settlement run across the bottom of the screen one day…I was not surprised there was a settlement, but I was surprised they announced it beforehand.” She also said she understood that civil trial and criminal trial standards were different, but the fact that the city essentially announced that its police were liable for Floyd’s death cut the legs out from under his defense.
  • “I did not want to go through rioting and destruction again and I was concerned about people coming to my house if they were not happy with the verdict.” If any jurors feel that way, it’s not a fair trial.

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Friday Open Forum, Safe Edition

I’ll be having some unpleasant and extremely expensive oral surgery this morning, and when I get back, I may only be able to type, “Urrrragghhh!” So I’m counting on the commentariat to come through big time.

For some reason, comments since the last Open Forum have been sparse, with a few notable exceptions. I’m trying to learn to ignore such things. I knew I would have a use for the Serenity Prayer one of these days…

Post-Seminar Ethics Smorgasbord,2/22/21: Based on #4, I Think The End May Be Near…

Just finished a two-hour legal ethics seminar that theoretically was attended by 100 lawyers. Since only two of them asked any questions, the rest might have been asleep for all I know. BOY i hate teaching on Zoom…

1. Good! Bradley Gayton,the Coca-Cola general Counsel responsible for the unethical–but woke!—extortion demand that all of Coke’s law firm’s lawyers had to meet diversity quotas among its lawyers or else has resigned, which means he was fired. Here’s Bradley:

From this I discern that Coke heard from its law firms that this arm-twisting was bad business, bad law and bad ethics, which it was. I have sympathy for the guy: he has been brainwashed into believing that race hucksterism and the diversity racket was ascendant, and wildly over-estimated just how crazy things were. Yet. In this way minority hires are being set-up to fail., but by their alleged allies.

2. I oppose organized boycotts as unethical, but if I didn’t, boy would I be organizing them against Mountain Dew, AT&T, Beats, Nike, Walmart, Rimowa, GMC and Blaze Pizza. All of these pay NBA super-star LeBron James to be their spokesman. James, not to put too fine a point on it, is an irresponsible, hate-mongering racist asshole. With nearly 50 million followers on Twitter, most of them either African-American or morons (because following the inane blatherings of any celebrity is proof of an empty life and a cranial vacuum) James essentially put a hit out on the officer who probably saved the life of one young woman by shooting the other one who was preparing to stab her. If the officer, whose photo James tweeted out with the sinister words, “You’re next!,” is not attacked or killed it will be by way of moral luck, and nothing else.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/20/2021: The Unibomber Really Was Right, You Know….

Crazy, but right. I first wrote about that inconvenient fact here. This year has driven the horror home more than ever. His point was that we were allowing technology to control our lives, constrict our liberties, and poison our values and culture, while giving aspiring dictators tools to dominate us. Here are some of my recent experiences:

  • A friend, a season ticket holder, gave me tickets to a Washington Nationals game, except that D.C., being in the grip of a Wuhan hysteric, won’t allow the Nats to give out printed tickets. Thus, in order to “access” my tickets, I had to log in to the MLB website as a first step, then download an app to my smart phone, which would then allow my phone to accept the virtual tickets. But MLB wouldn’t accept my password, and wouldn’t allow me to change it either. I called the Nats, but nobody was there—everyone was working from their computers. Finally I was called back by a nice guy who tried to walk me through the system. He gave me a password, but my phone wouldn’t connect with the app. Then he started to explain an alternate method which involved registering with eBay. I thanked him, but told him to give the tickets back to my friend. I had spent over an hour just trying to get the things that once could be faxed to me in five minutes, or sent by mail. To hell with it.
  • Then, last night, my sister took me to a game. The Nats make you order food or drink from your smart phone. You have to order food or drink, because you are only allowed to take off your damn mask—outside, with nobody within ten feet of you—if you are eating or drinking, so everyone is holding a water bottle under their chin the whole game. You download an app, and you get a menu on the phone, see? Then you order, and a text comes to tell you where to pick up the stuff. You can’t pay using money, because the Nats want to keep us “safe.” I found out that there were a couple of places around the park where you could buy food the old, bad, low-tech complicated way: “Give me a dog and a beer—thanks—here’s money…bye!” Most Nats staff, however, had no idea where those places were.
  • Speaking of systemic racism, not to mention classism and ageism: What are the likely consequences of making all aspects of life dependent on owning a smart phone?
  • My wife had been waiting for the promised email from the Virginia Health Department with a link to the way to schedule a second Wuhan vaccine. It never came. After spending over a hour in a phone queue, she was told that a computer had garbled her email address. Oh.

1. Thanks Maxine! Thanks , journalists! Thanks, Democrats! Thanks, Black Lives Matter! How can a nation maintain a justice system and preserve due process and the rights of the accused when this happens? From USA Today:

A group of people vandalized the former Northern California home of an expert witness who testified for the defense in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, police said, throwing a pig’s head on the front porch and blood splatter on the house.

The incident occurred in Santa Rosa, California, where retired police officer Barry Brodd once lived and worked. Brodd testified last week in Chauvin’s trial, saying the former Minneapolis police officer was “justified” in his use of force against George Floyd, who died in police custody last May.

The Santa Rosa Police Department said Brodd no longer lives at the residence nor in California, but “it appears the suspects in this vandalism were targeting Mr. Brodd for his testimony.”

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Unethical And Intolerable: Waters, Babbitt, Sicknick, Part 1.

intolerable

The United States is now being consumed by a wave of audacious double standards and hypocrisy, rooted in racial bias and oppressive partisanship. Exposing it, condemning it and opposing it is to invite “cancellation” and being tarred as an ally of white supremacy. In the words of George H.W. Bush to Saddam Hussein, “This will not stand.”

I. Rep. Maxine Waters.

By any fair and reasonable standard, Waters’deliberate attempt to incite violence and law-breaking among already agitated and agitated protesters in Brooklyn Center, the Minneapolis suburb where Daunte Wright was killed, should earn her serious sanctions from Congress, her own party, and by the standards previously asserted by her party, the justice system. She exhorted the potential “mostly peaceful” mob to “get more confrontational” when the city had already seen burning, looting, and attacks on police. She directly threatened the jury in the Chauvin trial just a few miles away. In response, the judge in that trial, Peter Cahill, castigated Waters by name as the trial went to the jury, saying that her words were “disrespectful to the rule of law,” and adding,

“I’m aware that Congresswoman Waters was talking specifically about this trial, and about the unacceptability of anything less than a murder conviction, and talk about being ‘confrontational.’ [I wish] elected officials would stop talking about this case…I think if they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution, to respect a coequal branch of government.Their failure to do so, I think, is abhorrent.”

Then, whistling in the dark, he tried to deny the obvious, saying that her comments wouldn’t affect the jury because he had instructed them not to pay attention to them. Right. Everyone knows that the old “pretend you didn’t hear what you heard’ command is a perfect remedy. (See: “The Verdict.”) Pathetically, Cahill said that one congresswoman’s opinion “really doesn’t matter a whole lot anyway.” Then why did the judge take the extraordinary course of mentioning it during the trial?

Cahill’s refusal to sequester the jury after Wright’s death was a terrible error, and it is coming back to haunt him quicker than anyone could have predicted, thanks to Waters. Later, the truth battled its way out of his mouth and he blurted out that Waters “may have given” the defense grounds “on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”

And yet Nancy Pelosi, who led a contrived impeachment of Donald Trump for urging demonstrators to peacefully protest because she claimed it sparked an “insurrection,” claimed nothing was amiss with Waters’ speech. “Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the Civil Rights movement. I myself think we should take our lead from the George Floyd family. They’ve handled this with great dignity and no ambiguity or lack of misinterpretation by the other side…No, I don’t think she should apologize.”

The rule, then, appears to be that a Democratic Congresswoman can cross state lines to urge an already inflamed crowd to get “more confrontational” while threatening a demonstration showing that it “means business’ if a jury does not provide the verdict she demands, while a Republican President should be impeached and charged with a crime for urging demonstrators to peacefully protest what they and he believe to be an undemocratic election.

Is it material that the Congresswoman inciting a riot is black, and the President who called for a peaceful protest is white? Are we allowed to wonder? Is it permissible to consider reality?

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On Supreme Court Packing

Guest Post by Steve-O-in NJ

Yesterday, the Democratic party, or at least an element of it, unveiled legislation which is history- making, but not in what I think is a good way.

I’m talking about Jerry Nadler and Ed Markey’s proposed legislation to add four justices to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has been composed of nine justices since before the beginning of the 20th century. The last time anyone even considered anything like this was in 1937, when FDR developed a plan to add six more justices to “pack”  Court so that he could continue to push through his ambitious New Deal programs. SCOTUS had been slapping them down as unconstitutional. He cloaked is as an attempt to make the court more efficient, since justices tended to serve well past the average retirement age even then, and the idea was that the institution would benefit from younger judges. Both his own party in Congress and the public saw this for what it was, and the backlash was swift. The President would not get to stuff the Supreme Court with his own judges with rubber stamps in hand.

Still, some said that the message was sent and received, as  Justice Owen Roberts, who had previously sided with the conservative block on the Court, known as “The four horsemen,” suddenly sided with the liberal wing of the Court in the matter of West Coast Hotel v Parrish, upholding the constitutionality on minimum wage legislation We will really never know, since the earlier Justice Roberts took the unusual step of burning his notes and papers before the end of his life. Supposedly, however a memo he provided to Justice Felix Frankfurter indicates that he was planning to rule that way before FDR threatened to pack the court.

In any case, FDR continued past two terms and was able to stuff the federal judiciary with his own people more than any President, since the rest were limited to two terms either by self-restraint, tradition or law. The influence of his justices  and those appointed by his successor Harry Truman cast a very long shadow over the Supreme Court for quite a while, although not as long a while as you might think. In fact, Richard Nixon was the president who appointed Harry Blackmun, author and longtime defender of Roe v Wade,  arguably before the question of liberal versus conservative justices became so pronounced. It wasn’t until Carter couldn’t nominated a single Supreme Court Justice and Reagan and Bush the Elder nominated five between them that the question of liberal versus conservative justices versus qualified justices became as divisive an issue as it is now.

No president has had enough slots open during his administration since then to decisively move the court one way and give it either a solid liberal majority or a solid conservative majority. Part of that, no doubt, was due to so many justices hanging on to their seats long after they should have retired, so as to not allow a President who disagreed with them to appoint their successors. That’s why Harry Blackmun remained until Bill Clinton was safely elected; that’s why Antonin Scalia died in the saddle, and that’s why Ruth Bader Ginsburg gambled and ultimately lost her  battle to last until the 2020 election before her 86-year-old, cancer ravaged body giving out.

Neither party likes the idea of the needle moving farther away from them on the Supreme Court and possibly undoing their significant and important legislative accomplishments. The Democratic party is particularly bitter now, since it had counted on Hillary being elected right after Obama and being able to add more liberal justices on top of the two that Obama had appointed.

They are also bitter because of the dangerous but ultimately successful gambit that Mitch McConnell managed to pull off after the death of Justice Scalia. The Democratic party believes Merrick Garland should be sitting on the Supreme Court right now, and two more liberal justices should have joined him. They should be enjoying a solid liberal majority on the Supreme Court and be watching Hillary lick her chops waiting for the three remaining conservative justices to die or retire, with the dream that either she or her Democrat successor can create a fully liberal and transformational Supreme Court.

That dream has been pushed out of reach now, and the Democrats are facing a 6 to 3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court that is likely to foil many of their plans. So they are ready, willing, and able to use the political capital that they  have from this past election and the Black Lives matter movement to change the rules so they don’t have to wait for the Court to change the old fashioned way.

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What A Beautiful Day! I Hate To Darken It With These Four…

That’s the April 18, 1906 San Francisco Earthquake as portrayed in the 1936 Clark Gable-Spencer Tracy-Jeanette McDonald classic “San Francisco.” Jennette had just finished singing “San Francisco,” the song, and then all hell broke loose. The scene is evidence of some outrageous unethical behavior by the director, W.S. Van Dyke, wanted the crowd to react spontaneously, so without their knowledge or consent, he had the nightclub set built on giant foundation that would start shaking violently at the push of a button. They thought a real earthquake had hit, and many of those terrified expressions are genuine.

Of course, the best ethics story on an April 18 was memorably told—I should know: I memorized it!— by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five:
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry-arch
Of the North-Church-tower, as a signal-light,—
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country-folk to be up and to arm.”

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,—
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo forevermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

And imagine: All for slavery! Paul’s fellow midnight rider, who never gets proper credit, was William Dawes. He rode through my home town, Menotomy, Mass., now Arlington.

1. Bill Maher is shocked—shocked!—that his fellow Democrats believe mainstream media propaganda about the Wuhan virus. On his HBO mostly anti-conservative bitchfest, the comedian, sort of, expressed outrage that according to a Gallup survey, Democrats flunked the question of how likely it was for someone who had the virus needed to be hospitalized. Just 10% gave the correct answer—less than 5%. 41% of Democrats believe more than 50% of those infected would need to be hospitalized.

Really Bill? That’s a surprise? Your pals in the mainstream media hyped the virus mercilessly—they still are doing hit. Ethics Alarms has followed that story. You’re the one who said on your show that it would be worth crashing the economy to get Trump out of office, and that’s what the pandemic hysteria helped accomplish. You should be thrilled: it worked!

Bill also professed to be upset that that the same survey shows that Democrats greatly over-estimate how dangerous the Wuhan virus is for children. Why, Bill thinks this could be why the majority of schools systems that have remain closed are in Democratic Party-controlled cities and states!

Ya think, asshole????

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Final Notes On Jackie Robinson Day

1. On this day in 1947, April 15, one of America’s many lucky breaks occurred: the perfect individual, with exactly the special qualities of character required for a daunting challenge, was on hand to take on that challenge, and the nation was never the same. The individual was Jackie Robinson, and when he too the field as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers, American society began it’s long post-Civil War climb out of the damning twin curses of segregation and Jim Crow racism.

The Ethics Alarms essay, from 2012, is here.

2. I know, I know: polls. But these two sets of results, both from Rasmussen are interesting, and to me at least, not surprising:

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Comment Of The Day: “Maryland Strips Police Officers Of Substantive Due Process Rights: Oh, THIS Will Work Out Well, Yessiree!”

Another Steve-O Comment of the Day is on the way, but this one is particularly relevant considering what is unfolding in Minnesota, and not just there. Here, for example, is the state of affairs in Austin, Texas:

After the Austin police budget cut on top of the repeal of the public camping ban, Austin crime and disorder has gotten measurably worse. Austin police are also leaving in droves:

After the Austin city council voted unanimously to defund its police department by about one-third of its budget, in August 2020, many predicted that once the cuts kicked in a flood of officers would leave the force as soon as they could. The new district attorney’s policy of re-investigating police officers for closed cases is also expected to cause officers to resign or retire.

The city council’s cuts officially kicked in and have been in place for a few months.

PJ Media reports exclusively that APD is now suffering a huge surge of officer departures putting it on pace to shatter 2020’s record.

In January 2021, sources tell PJ Media 20 officers retired from APD and eight resigned, for a total of 28 departures.

In February 2021, five officers resigned and six retired, according to multiple sources, for a total of 11 departures.

In March 2021, 24 more officers left APD, with 20 officers retiring. Additionally, three officers resigned and one was terminated.

To put this into perspective, 2019 was the last non-pandemic year and the year before the city council cut APD’s budget. APD averages about 50 retirements or separations in a calendar year, and replaces them with cadets who have graduated from the police academy or officers who join APD from another force.

APD saw 46 officers retire with another 22 resigning in 2019, according to local TV news station KVUE.

2020’s numbers were exacerbated by the George Floyd riots; 78 officers departed or retired from APD from the beginning of those riots to the end of 2020, for a total of 89 separations, according to KVUE.

Official 2021 numbers provided to PJ Media by the Austin Police Retirement System (APRS) break down as follows:

  • Prior to 2020, retirements averaged 50-52 per year over the last 5-6 years
  • Record number of retirements in FY 2020: 97
  • First-quarter 2021 retirements: 45

Add to those 45 retirements the 18 resignations or terminations, for a total of 63 separations in just the first quarter of 2021. If the current pace continues, APD could lose approximately 252 officers — about five times the average number of separations for a year. This will impact public safety across the board, and according to the APRS, can impact retirees’ benefits as well. APRS raised the alarm about the impact the city council’s cuts could have in September of 2020.

March 2021’s retirements hit all over the department, including tactical intelligence, gang crimes, narcotics enforcement, investigations, and the bomb squad, according to a full list provided to PJ Media. Traffic enforcement — both warnings and citations — has declined by more than 60% in the first two months of 2021, a source tells PJ Media.

At the same time, the city council’s cuts have forced the cancellation of police cadet classes. The department is losing experienced officers in droves and is unable to replace them with new officers.

Fewer officers means fewer officers to cover 911 calls, to the point that some 911 calls now result in “NUA”s: No Officer Available…

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, where it increasingly appears that the prosecution and the judge are willing to discard due process and basic fairness to make certain Derek Chauvin is convicted of murdering George Floyd, Kim Potter, the police officer who shot Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser was arrested yesterday and charged with manslaughter. The Wrights’ family lawyer, Ben Crump, coincidentally the same lawyer who represented the families of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown, declared,

“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate, and unlawful use of force. We will keep fighting for justice for Daunte, for his family, and for all marginalized people of color. And we will not stop until there is meaningful policing and justice reform.”

Nice! Crump is accusing Porter of racism and murder, before any investigation and without any evidence that race played any part in the shooting. The fact that the victim resisted arrest, however, was a significant part of the tragedy. The convention Crump and various elected officials and legislators are trying to create would create strict criminal liability for law enforcement officials when black suspects are involved. Why wouldn’t this eventually lead to police officers being passive when confronted with black law breakers? Why would any officer take any measures to stop a fleeing African-American suspect,or foil efforts to resist arrest?

Here is Steve-O-in NJ’s Comment of the Day on the post, Maryland Strips Police Officers Of Substantive Due Process Rights: Oh, THIS Will Work Out Well, Yessiree!

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