Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/18/2019: Paranoia, Pettiness, Pirro, Provoked Applicants, Piqued Students, Posturing And Progressives

Good Morning, Pacific Time Zone!

I’m heading to San Diego tomorrow to talk about “Five Looming Ethics Issues for Lawyers  and  Their  Corporate Clients”  to a group of over 600 lawyers. THEY don’t think my analyses of ethics issues violate community standards…okay. I admit it, I’m getting paranoid. Despite a lot of, I humbly believe, useful, timely and well-presented content, the weekend traffic was terrible, and comments were sparse, if excellent. This year, so far, is lagging behind last year, which seriously trailed the year before. What’s going on here? Has Google secretly joined Facebook in its efforts to keep the posts here from reaching an audience? Of could it be that I just suck? Maybe Donald Trump really has killed all belief in ethics…that’s the ticket! Blame the President!

1. Pettiness and vindictiveness vanquished. Good. The Judicial Council of the 10th U.S. Court of Appeals  has affirmed its December decision to reject 83 ethics complaints against Justice Brett Kavanaugh, all filed by bitter partisans who are determined to hurt the newest Justice because the Democrats’ slimy and unethical ambush tactics failed, as they should have. In a 6-1 decision, the judicial council affirmed its earlier finding that the federal law governing misconduct complaints against federal judges does not apply to justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Many of the complaints filed against Kavanaugh argued he had made false statements under oath during hearings on his nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in 2004 and 2006 and to the U.S. Supreme Court last year—you know, like having an innocent recollection of what “boof” meant in his completely irrelevant high school year book.  Other complaints accused Kavanaugh of making inappropriate partisan statements in his inappropriately partisan hearings, or claimed he treated members of the Senate Judiciary Committee with disrespect, or as I would put it, the disrespect they deserved for attempting to smear his good name and reputation through demagoguery and calls to reject the presumption of innocence.

Let me remind everyone that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, in her confirmation hearings, stated under oath that she had no pre-formed opinions that would affect her objectivity in abortion cases. Nobody filed any ethics complaints. Continue reading

Fairness Conundrum In Rochester: What Do You Do With The Racist-Sounding Gaffe? [UPDATED]

Keep smiling, Jeremy: you’re probably ruined, and may have done nothing wrong, but it’s all for the greater good…

Go to this link, and listen (the video won’t embed).

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Falan.majors%2Fvideos%2F10212107639637618%2F&show_text=0&width=560

While reporting on the air  Friday about an ice rink at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, WHEC (in Rochester, New York) meteorologist Jeremy Kappell fumbled King’s name and uttered something that sounds like “coon” in the course of trying to get it out. Viewers, convinced that he had uttered a racial slur on the air, demanded that Kappell be fired, and, astoundingly,  the mayor of Rochester issued a demand of her own.

Mayor Lovely Warren, blatantly abusing her power and position,  issued press release  saying…

“It is wrong, hurtful and infuriating that WHEC Channel 10 broadcast a racial slur in reference to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during its Friday News broadcast. It is beyond unacceptable that this occurred. There must be real consequences for the news personality involved and also for the management team that failed to immediately apologize and address the slur.”

Piling on, the Rochester Association of Black Journalists issued a statement condemning the “clearly racist language” and asking for a “complete explanation” from WHEC.

Although Kappell tweeted Monday that he has “never uttered those words,” he was indeed fired.

Is that fair? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/30/18: Scary Ethics Stories!

Good Morning!

(And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brilliant, talented, always challenging, Trump-hating lawyer little sister, Edith Sophia Marshall!)

1 Quiz results: about 90% of responders found the drag Python sketch about a ladies club re-enactment of Pearl Harbor funny. Whew. As for the one voter who said that it was unfunny because it made light of human tragedy and violence, I’m glad you never attended any of the stage comedies I directed.

2. Ending birthright citizenship for illegal immigrant offspring? President Trump told Axios in an interview that he was preparing to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants here illegally. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t…You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”

I have found no authorities who agree with Trump’s lawyers, if indeed they are telling him that. If they are, I don’t blame him for listening to them: if there was ever a President who was legally clueless, it’s this one. Some conservatives are livid about the suggestion (obviously all illegal  immigration-boosting liberals are as well), noting that this proposal is exactly as unconstitutional as Obama’s immigration-related EOs. I tend to agree with them. Ethically, the birthright rule is an incentive to break the law and anachronistic, since it originated when there were no legal restrictions on immigration nor reasons to have any. if the question gets to the Supreme Court, however, it will pose an integrity test for the conservative justices. Their philosophy is that you can’t just re-write or ignore the Constitution when it gets in the way of desirable policy, and this is a perfect example.

It is also very possible—likely?— that the President was using this trial balloon to energize the anti-illegal immigration base as the “caravan” continued its march. Continue reading

When Ethics Alarms Not Only Don’t Ring, But Signal That They Might Not Have Ever Been Operable: PolitiFact Reveals Its Incompetence And Untrustworthiness Beyond All Reasonable Doubt

This is fortuitous timing! Yesterday Ethics Alarms praised a fact-check job by a supposedly non-partisan media bias watchdog site that critiqued Factcheck.Org’s analysis of the State of The Union. Today Bryan W. White informed us that the site in question favors PolitiFact, the vastly inferior factcheck site operated by the Tampa Bay Times. It is demonstrably one of the most left-biased and untrustworthy of all the fact-checking services. Bryan is a reliable authority on PolitiFact, having documented its partisan and dishonest work for years, and as co-creater of the PolitiFact Bias blog, for which he is the main writer.

Just in case there was any doubt about just how devoid of the necessary integrity and competence PolitiFact is for its mission, yesterday it announced that former Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson had been hired to critique PolitiFact and enhance its trust and credibility. Alan Grayson.

KABOOM!*

The same Alan Grayson who sent a complaint to then U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to prosecute a Republican activist  for starting an anti-Grayson parody website www.mycongressmanisnuts,com, mocking  Grayson’s typically hyperbolic site, http://www.congressmanwithguts.com,  suggesting  to Holder that Langley should be imprisoned for five years.  Now there’s respect for the First Amendment for you! What a perfect ally for a non-partisan media fact-checking operation, right?

Alan Grayson, the same politician I wrote this about in 20o9…

“Grayson is the Congressman whose explanation of the GOP position on health care was that “they want you to die.” He said that Dick Cheney speaks with “blood dripping from his teeth.” His mode of debate and persuasion, in other words, is insult and hyperbole. Respect for opposing views: zilch. Civility grade: F… He has endorsed unethical rules and plays by them…Grayson’s actions once again confirm a reliable rule of human nature: individuals who are habitually uncivil do not merely have a bad habit or poor self-control. They lack humility as well as basic respect and fairness toward others. The common, often uncivil but sometimes accurate  term for individuals like  Rep. Grayson is “jerk.”

and this in 2010… Continue reading

Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 3]

This topic started out as a morning warm-up and has stretched into three posts. I’m sorry: the more I look at it, the more infuriating Plan E appears.

Let’s briefly recap, shall we?

…The news media, using the dubious claims of Michael Wolff as its catalysts, and following the dictates of the anti-Trump resistance, is trying panic the public into believing that the President is mentally incompetent, and that the provisions of the 25th Amendment might have to be activated, removing him from office.

…That this claim is legitimate, justified, or based on anything but the same view of the President the news media, progressives and Democrats had and loudly publicized through the 2016 campaign is a lie.

…Because it is an audacious, unconscionable lie devoid of evidence or justification being repeated for the purpose of making its targets deny it and discuss it, thus giving it more publicity and legitimacy (“Did the Holocaust really happen?” “Did Trump make a deal to have Russia take down Hillary?”), it fits the description of Hitler’s Big Lie propaganda technique.

…The foundation of this disgusting plot is Bandy Lee, Yale professor of psychiatry who has been condemned by her profession, who is hawking a book, who relies on rationalizations, and whose statements betray a political rather than a professional agenda.

Now we continue…

7.  Ethics Dunces: Everyone who accepts, supports or furthers Plan E, the “Trump is disabled” lie. Ethics Dunce is too mild a name here. We have the mainstream news media proclaiming to the world that the President of the United States is mentally deficient based on tweets, gossip, leaks, unethical diagnoses by discredited professionals, an author who has admitted making things up and lying to the White House to get access, and Steve Bannon. Those who enable Plan E are deliberately risking Constitutional disaster and permanent weakening of our institutions. Jonathan Turley properly called this out as the nonsense that  it was in October, only then the supposed crippling malady being claimed was narcissism. That wasn’t flying—Turley: “If we started removing public servants because they were narcissists, the nation’s Capital might become a virtual ghost town. In D.C., the question isn’t who fits that definition? but, who doesn’t?”—so Lee et al. switched to “dementia.”

That’s equally weak and dishonest, and obviously so to anyone who is objective. In the Washington Examiner, Eddy Scarry asks,  “Why hasn’t Michael Wolff’s dementia-Trump ever been seen in public?” We have seen public figures and elected officials show signs of mental problems, like Nancy Pelosi, who has frequently mixed up names, forgotten where she was, sounded disoriented and confused, and talked gibberish in public appearances, or John McCain, who had a disturbing episode in a Senate hearing before his brain tumor was discovered. Trump has had nothing like that occur, either before or after being elected. Scarry: Continue reading

Lies, Dunces, Fools, Villains, Hypocrites And Big Liars In The Resistance’s Plan E, “The President Is Disabled!” [Part 2]

As their purely, non-partisan, unbiased,professional opinion. of course–just like Prof. Lee today.

[Part I was the Morning Warm-up for 1/7/18, which can be found here.]

4. The Big Lie’s smoking gun. CNN, Politico, MSNBC, Newsweek, The Hill, and many other news sources had headlines this week that were some variation of this one, from CNN:

“Lawmakers consulted psychiatrist about Trump”

The obvious message being conveyed: lawmakers—not just Democrats, but Republicans too!—are worried enough about the President’s mental health that they called in an expert to “brief” them. (“Lawmakers briefed by Yale psychiatrist on Trump’s mental health: report”—The Hill.) This is misleading, dishonest, and factually false—truly fake news. The Weekly Standard, hardly a reflex pro-Trump publication, revealed how false it all was. The story began…

On Wednesday night, before Washington was completely consumed by Michael Wolff’s West Wing tell-all, Politico published a piece feeding into a different frenzy: the notion that Congress was concerned President Trump might be mentally unfit for office. The article, titled “Washington’s growing obsession: The 25th amendment,” claims that more than a dozen lawmakers—all Democrats, with the exception of one nameless Republican senator—attended private briefings in early December with a Yale psychiatry professor to discuss Trump’s mental health. The most interesting detail of the story, of course, was that one rebellious Republican senator had met with Dr. Bandy Lee to discuss her belief that Trump is unfit to serve as commander-in-chief. Politico reported that Lee refused to name the GOP lawmaker she claimed to have had a meeting with.

The reporter, Haley Bird, investigated and…

  • …”was unable to confirm that any Republican Senator actually met with the Yale professor.”
  •  “In an on-the-record phone call with TWS Saturday afternoon, Lee admitted her “meeting” with a Republican senator was not actually scheduled and that it was, in her own words, “accidental.” “The meeting happened—it wasn’t arranged in advance,” she said. “It was accidental. It was incidental, I will say. It was incidental.”

That means that she was not summoned  to “brief” worried Republican lawmakers. It was not a “meeting” is the way the word is routinely used by the news media in political matters. The word is not generally construed to mean “the bumped into each other and had a chat.” Nor is “consulted”  used to describe spontaneous questions in a chance encounter.

The media reporting here was pure hype, blowing an informal. chance meeting—in the hall?–with the unethical psychiatrist who has been unethically diagnosing Trump from afar all year long–into news. That’s propaganda in service of the Big Lie. This was not a bipartisan inquiry into a matter of state. Lee was invited to a partisan meeting of Democrats to determine if she could assist with Plan E, removing the President because of an inability to perform his duties.

5. Let’s meet the primary Ethics Dunce in the Big Lie plot,Yale psychiatry professor Bandy Lee.  She has been claiming for over a year  that Trump is mentally impaired and unfit to serve. Her primary evidence are his tweets. This is because she has never examined him, met him, or had first hand knowledge about any aspect of his conduct or behavior. Because so many Democratic and progressive professionals were moved to violate their ethics codes out of animus to Trump and fealty to the Democratic Party, the head of the American Psychiatric Association handed down this edict in August of 2016:

“Since 1973, the American Psychiatric Association and its members have abided by a principle commonly known as “the Goldwater Rule,” which prohibits psychiatrists from offering opinions on someone they have not personally evaluated. The rule is so named because of its association with an incident that took place during the 1964 presidential election. During that election, Fact magazine published a survey in which they queried some 12,356 psychiatrists on whether candidate Sen. Barry Goldwater, the GOP nominee, was psychologically fit to be president. A total of 2,417 of those queried responded, with 1,189 saying that Goldwater was unfit to assume the presidency.

While there was no formal policy in place at the time that survey was published, the ethical implications of the Goldwater survey, in which some responding doctors even issued specific diagnoses without ever having examined him personally, became immediately clear. This large, very public ethical misstep by a significant number of psychiatrists violated the spirit of the ethical code that we live by as physicians, and could very well have eroded public confidence in psychiatry… I can understand the desire to get inside the mind of a Presidential candidate. I can also understand how a patient might feel if they saw their doctor offering an uninformed medical opinion on someone they have never examined. A patient who sees that might lose confidence in their doctor, and would likely feel stigmatized by language painting a candidate with a mental disorder (real or perceived) as “unfit” or “unworthy” to assume the Presidency.

Simply put, breaking the Goldwater Rule is irresponsible, potentially stigmatizing, and definitely unethical.”

Got that? Lee just defied her profession’s standards. During the campaign, she continued to diagnose Trump without his consent or an in-person examination. She justified doing so on the grounds that she is “obligated to break them in times of emergency.” Do I really have to recite all of the rationalizations this transparently disingenuous  excuse employs? Oh, all right…

8A. The Dead Horse-Beater’s Dodge, or “This can’t make things any worse”
13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”
24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”)
25. The Coercion Myth: “I have no choice!”
28. The Revolutionary’s Excuse: “These are not ordinary times.”
30. The Prospective Repeal: “It’s a bad law/stupid rule”
31. The Troublesome Luxury: “Ethics is a luxury we can’t afford right now”
40. The Desperation Dodge or “I’ll do anything!”
45. The Abuser’s License: “It’s Complicated”
58. The Golden Rule Mutation, or “I’m all right with it!”
59. The Ironic Rationalization, or “It’s The Right Thing To Do”

She continued to breach professional ethics standards after the election,  earning a book deal that spawned  “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” So much for objective, unconflicted, professional analysis. She saw a niche and an audience, and grabbed it.

Lee herself said in an interview that she was a “pariah” at her department  Lee’s book, which came out October 3, expanded on her rationalizations by arguing that psychiatrists have a “duty to warn” the country about President Trump. In response to the book, the APA issued another statement reaffirming the importance of the Goldwater Rule standard “not to provide professional opinions in the media about the mental health of someone they have not personally examined and without patient consent or other legal authority.” It also debunked Lee’s “duty to warn” argument, saying,

 “The APA would also like to dispel a common misconception about the so-called ‘Duty to Warn.’ The duty to warn is a legal concept which varies from state to state, but which generally requires psychiatrists to breach the confidentiality of the therapeutic session when a risk of danger to others becomes known during treatment of the patient. It does not apply if there is no physician-patient relationship.”

She is an unethical professional by her own profession’s standards.

6. The Ethics Dunce’s Unethical Quotes Of The Month. In a jaw-dropping interview with Vox that is  signature significance for Anti-Trump Derangement, Lee says, among other things:

“It would be hard to find a single psychiatrist, no matter of what political affiliation, who could confidently say Trump is not dangerous.”

Yes, and that would be because they couldn’t confidently or ethically make any assertions without actually examining him. Moreover, “dangerous” is not a term of art, and in a political context, which is how Lee is speaking, it is subjective and ambiguous. The Left thinks Trump is dangerous because he chooses to be tough with North Korea.

“On the other hand, in the book we have as authors Phil Zimbardo, Judith Herman, and Robert Jay Lifton, who are notable not only for their contributions to mental health but for their amazing ethical record. These are living legends who have also stood on the right side of history, even when it was difficult, and they stand as beacons for me. No one matches their moral and professional authority, in my mind.”

She defends her unethical conduct because others have breached the same standards. (#1 Everybody Does it, #32. The Unethical Role Model)!

I’m a fan of Philip Zimbardo’s writings, but to say that the man who engineered the infamous Stanford Prison Experiment has an “amazing ethical record” shows selective attention. Zimbardo himself declared that his experiment was unethical! Then, as a blatant tell,  Lee uses “the right side of history,”  Rationalization 1B:

1B. The Psychic Historian, or “I’m On The Right Side Of History”

This especially arrogant and annoying rationalization is essentially “Everybody’s going to do it.”  It is an intellectually dishonest argument, indeed no argument at all. Every movement, every dictator, Nazis, Communists, ISIS, the Klan, activists for every conceivable policy across the ideological spectrum, think their position will be vindicated eventually. In truth, they have no idea whether it will or not, or if it is, for how long. If history teaches anything, it is that we have no idea what will happen and what ideas and movements will prevail. “I’m on the right side of history is nothing but the secular version of “God is on our side,” and exactly as unprovable.

We have heard this rationalization a lot during the escalating culture wars. It is a device to sanctify one’s own beliefs while mocking opposing views, evoking an imaginary future that can neither be proven or relied upon. Nor is there any support for the assertion that where history goes is intrinsically and unequivocally good or desirable. Are millions of aborted babies a year “right”? Is the constantly increasing percentage of children born to unmarried couples “right”?

Those who resort to “I’m on the right side of history” (or “You’re on the wrong side”) are telling us that they have run out of honest arguments.

With this she he also proves that hers is a political position, not an honest, objective professional one.

Those who most require an evaluation are the least likely to submit to one. That is the reason why in all 50 states we have not only the legal authority, but often the legal obligation, to contain someone even against their will when it’s an emergency. So in an emergency, neither consent nor confidentiality requirements hold. Safety comes first. What we do in the case of danger is we contain the person, we remove them from access to weapons, and we do an urgent evaluation. This is what we have been calling for with the president based on basic medical standards of care.

Surprisingly, many lawyer groups have actually volunteered, on their own, to file for a court paper to ensure that the security staff will cooperate with us. But we have declined, since this will really look like a coup, and while we are trying to prevent violence, we don’t wish to incite it through, say, an insurrection.

Gee, you certainly wouldn’t want it to LOOK like a coup….

KABOOM!

That this astoundingly unethical and unprofessional, hyper-partisan academic radical can be the cornerstone of an effort by Democrats and the news media to overthrow a President just exploded my head, and my office looks like an abattoir. I have to take a break. Look for Part 3.

__________________________

Sources: Daily Caller, Vox

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/17: Al Franken’s Day That Will Live In Infamy [UPDATED]

Battleship USS West Virginia sunk and burning at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. In background is the battleship USS Tennessee.

Good Morning, Bad Memories…

1 The duty to remember…The most amazing thing about Pearl Harbor was perhaps how lucky the United States was that the sneak attack by Japan, as devastating as it was, didn’t permanently cripple our ability to defend ourselves. Two links lead to explanations why. Here is a letter written by Admiral Nimitz, then in his eightieth year. to Admiral David L. McDonald, the present Chief of Naval Operations. The National Review provides the tale of how a forgotten Georgia Congressman, Democrat Carl Vinson saved the country and probably the world.  An excerpt:

For nearly a decade before Pearl Harbor, Vinson had schemed and politicked in brilliant fashion to ensure that America was building a two-ocean navy larger than all the major navies of the world combined. Vinson had assumed in the mid-1930s that fascist Japan and Germany posed existential threats to the United States. For America to survive, he saw that America would need mastery of the seas to transport its armies across the Pacific and Atlantic.

This is Thank You Carl Day. Read it all.

2. ‘I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t smart enough, and doggone it, nobody likes me!’ This appears to be the end for Senator Al Franken. If it’s not, the end is near and inevitable. His seventh new accuser was the tipping point, for some reason, though her story Franken denies—especially the part where the anonymous woman claims that after she ducked his attempt at a spontaneous kiss in 2006, he  protested, “It’s my right as an entertainer! ” The soon-to-be-former Senator told Politico,

“This allegation is categorically not true and the idea that I would claim this as my right as an entertainer is preposterous. I look forward to fully cooperating with the ongoing ethics committee investigation.”

That “It’s my right” comment sounds to me like a desperate attempt to save face by making a joke out of an awkward situation, not a serious claim. If I’m right, then Franken’s statement is deceit: he’s saying that he would never claim such a right, but he isn’t saying that those words never came out of his mouth. Al’s slippery, mealy-mouthed, not-quite apologies are a large part of why he’s in this mess, as I wrote here. 

Still, no one should be presumed guilty or face negative consequences for a public accusation by an accuser who refuses to go on the record. This is basic fairness and due process. Never mind: the Democratic women in the U.S. Senate are less interested in due process and fairness than grandstanding and standing for the proposition that women must be believed in cases of sexual assault, unless they were assaulted by Bill Clinton. I think that’s the rule, right?

They led a coordinated attack on Franken yesterday by 16 U.S. Senators, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York—you know, the one who championed “Mattress Girl”?–who  wrote in a 650-word statement,”While Senator Franken is entitled to have the Ethics Committee conclude its review, I believe it would be better for our country if he sent a clear message that any kind of mistreatment of women in our society isn’t acceptable by stepping aside to let someone else serve.”

That’s right, Senator, it’s better to send the message that due process is just a sham to make doing what you want to do look fair.

For example, how do you like this (from Politico):

Two former colleagues of the woman independently corroborated her version of events, including Franken telling her he had the right to try to kiss her because he was “an entertainer.” The first former colleague interviewed by POLITICO said she was told of the incident in 2006, shortly after it happened. The second former co-worker said she was made aware of the encounter sometime in 2009 or 2010.

What? Those women didn’t corroborate the the accuser’s “version of events”! How can any journalist write such junk? How could an editor let it pass? All they can do is corroborate that the woman said this happened, not that her account is accurate or true.

But again, never mind. This is The Terror. Al’s a man, Democrats have been caught in the web of hypocrisy they started spinning when Clinton was President, and his metaphorical blood must cleanse them. Continue reading