Ethics Reflections And Questions On The Chauvin Verdict, Part 2

Part 1 is here. As I expected, there was a lot of dubious as well as perceptive commentary after the verdict, and some related events with ethics implications.

1. I’d comment on this, but Ann doesn’t allow comments any more...The only note Althouse had on the verdict was a detached, “I’m sure that is an immense relief to many, many people.” Not to me. I’m not relieved when the justice system allows itself to be dictated to by mobs. Nor am I relieved when racial significance is illicitly attached to a non-racial episode so activists can lie about it.

2. The reason why there was no reason to be “relieved” arrived quickly, in the form of the Democrat reaction to the police shooting of 15-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio. Body camera footage showed Ma’Khia charging at another young woman apparently preparing to stab her with a knife. Attorney Ben Crump, looking for the next black family he can represent and the next white police officer he can demonize in the press, referred to Ma’Khia as “unarmed” in a tweet. “Squad” member Ayanna Pressley tweeted, “Black girls deserve girlhood — uninterrupted. Black girls deserve to grow up and become women” —apparently even if they kill other black girls on the way to growing up. Senator Sherrod Brown disgracefully tweeted, “While the verdict was being read in the Derek Chauvin trial, Columbus police shot and killed a sixteen-year-old girl. Her name was Ma’Khia Bryant. She should be alive right now.”

Naturally, BLM protests erupted in Columbus. When Ethics Alarms says “Facts Don’t Matter,” I’m not being cute. The push to brand virtually any law enforcement action against black lawbreakers as racist and an example of police misconduct will gather power with each perceived victory. The effort to bully elected officials and juries into discarding due process and sound policy to accomplish this will not stop or weaken until enough Americans have the courage to brave accusations of racism and say “Enough.”

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“The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment” Becomes An Ethics Fiasco: Ten Observations

johnson-impeachment

In this post, “Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment “—could it really have just been 12 days ago?—I wrote in part,

Nancy Pelosi came right out and said that her objective in impeaching Trump this time was to stop him from running again. That’s not what the Founders designed impeachment for. She’s admitting that this Congress and her party regard impeachment as just one more political stunt, like ripping up the State of the Union message, boycotting the inauguration, or nominating Kamala Harris. Worse, unless the Senate agrees to rush through a trial the way Pelosi rushed through the impeachment, Trump will already be out of office and a private citizen before he can be convicted—which he wouldn’t be anyway. The Constitution speaks of impeachment and the Senate trial as a means of removing a President, not as a device to say “I hate you! Ooooh, I hate you to pieces!” to an ex-President.

Thus it’s a joke. The first impeachment was a dud. Trump hasn’t been embarrassed, but Congress and the news media have been embarrassed and exposed as fools.

Not that they hadn’t been exposed as fools already.

But “Wait!”—as they say on infomercials–“There’s more!” And it only gets worse:

1. Since the impeachment vote in the House, further investigation of the attack on the Capitol and its time-line has shown that many of the participants had planned to storm the building in advance, in fact had begun preparations before the President addressed the protesters, and had begun to take action while the President was speaking on January 6. Thus the House’s impeachment theory that the President had incited a riot by providing a lit match to an obvious powder-keg is unsustainable n the facts: the powder had already been lit. Nor do the facts support the argument that the President intended to spark a riot, since the words of his speech never suggested violence or alluded to it.

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40th Anniversary Ethics, 11/23/2020…

That was the recording the lovely and brilliant Grace Bowen Marshall and I danced to at our wedding reception. An old fashioned tune, you say? Hell, it was old-fashioned then. After an uproarious party featuring the combined talents of my two performing groups, The Showstoppers and The Music Lobby, seasoned by my cherished friend Jay Silva’s saxophone rendition of “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart.” I performed “Let a Woman in Your Life” (from “My Fair Lady”), and it was off to the historic Hay-Adams hotel (across from the White House) and from there to a cozy Civil War era inn near Charlottesville, where the charming host brought us breakfast in bed, and his cat and dog slept with us. As I said: cozy.

And thus began a great adventure that still has some twists and turns, battles, defeats and triumphs to reveal.

What a wonderful day.

1. Stay classy, Jenna!

Micropenis

You know, once upon a time a public utterance like this would be viewed as a breach of legal professionalism, if not an outright ethics violation. By the standards of past Trump lawyers like Michael Cohen, however, it seems positively quaint.

This kind of thing is why I caution lawyers to avoid Twitter.

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Waning Day Ethics, 9/17/2020: An Unscientific Endorsement, A Frivolous Lawsuit, And Misunderstood Bomb-Throwers

1. Scientific American embarrasses itself. …like so, so many others. “Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly,” intone the magazine’s editors. Wrong. They are doing it to grandstand, and you can’t be more unserious than that. There is a reason SA hasn’t done this in 175 years—it’s a dumb thing to do. They don’t have any special expertise or perspective regarding national leadership, and scientific acumen is not a qualification for office. The alleged reason for the magazine’s endorsement of Joe Biden is its claim that the pandemic’s casualties would have been less had the President said and done things differently. This is total supposition, of course. “He was warned many times in January and February about the onrushing disease,” SA says, quoting juvenile anti-Trump source Axios. That’s odd, since those crack scientists in the CDC are on record as downplaying the seriousness of the virus, and even minimizing the need for masks.  More: “These lapses accelerated the spread of disease through the country—particularly in highly vulnerable communities that include people of color, where deaths climbed disproportionately to those in the rest of the population.” These people are scientists? The reasons for higher rates of infection among the poor and minority populations are many, and the interaction among them still undetermined. Lower levels of general health,  increased rates of illnesses like diabetes and conditions like obesity, more  crowded housing, a lack of the ability to stay at home—even a persistent rumor that blacks were immune have played a part, and nobody knows what measured would have changed anything.

“If almost everyone in the U.S. wore masks in public, it could save about 66,000 lives by the beginning of December, according to projections from the University of Washington School of Medicine.” Yeah, scientists have been doing really well with their projections in the pandemic, like the projections that 5% of the population would be infected. Since the research and pronouncements of scientists have been a) inconsistent and b) politicized from the start, it is disgraceful for Scientific American to pretend that any clear signals were being sent, or that there is any reason to believe another “projection, ” except as a useful way to attack the President. There is still  a strong argument that rejecting the scientists in favor of following the advice of economists would have placed the nation in a better situation.

The Scientific American endorsement is an example of the politicization of science, and explains why  scientists cannot be trusted. Continue reading

If I Had Been Able To Swing A Full-Time Impeachment News And Commentary Blog, These Kind Of Things Would Have Been On It…

I. In the House impeachment Report, Chairman Nadler really and truly says this:

“The question is not whether the President’s conduct could have resulted from permissible motives. It is whether the President’s real reasons, the ones in his mind at the time, were legitimate. Where the House discovers persuasive evidence of corrupt wrongdoing, it is entitled to rely upon that evidence to impeach.”

Such an attitude and approach is smoking gun evidence of a rogue process. The President, of course, has not been interviewed, questioned or cross examined. His “real reasons” can only be a matter of speculation, based on the confirmation biases of his prosecutors. In ethics, motives just confuse the issue, because all human actions have complex and interacting motives. In law, malum in re, that is, objectively bad intent, often defines a crime (such as murder), but a legal action does not become illegal because the actor has some wrongful intentions, just as an illegal action doesn’t become legal because the malefactor meant well. For leaders, those who deal in power, distinguishing between rightful and wrongful acts based on motives is particularly difficult, if not impossible.

I suppose Nadler should be praised for candor, but the state of mind of Trump’s inquisitors could not be less trustworthy or more irresponsible. They believe the President to be corrupt, thus they interpret conduct by him which literally any other President could have (and has) engaged in without criticism or condemnation (except on a policy prudence basis) as impeachable. This has been the presumption from the beginning of his Presidency. No leader can function properly in such an environment….which was the idea. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day…Or Is It Just Icky?: Alan Dershowitz

“I have had sex with one woman since the day I met Jeffrey Epstein. I challenge David Boies to say under oath that he’s only had sex with one woman … He has an enormous amount of chutzpah to attack me and challenge my perfect, perfect sex life during the relevant period of time.”

—-Alan Dershowitz on Fox News,  attacking super-lawyer David Boies, who is representing Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a woman who claims Dershowitz had sex with her while she was one of Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves. 

  • Too much information, Professor.
  • Has Dershowitz never heard of the Streisand Effect? His complaining about the accusation is publicizing it.
  • Decorum? Modesty? Restraint? Dignity? Privacy? Dershowitz is 80: he’s supposed to be in the generation hat still appreciates these things.
  • He had sex with one woman for almost two decades? It was nice of him to give her a break while he chatted with Laura Ingaham…
  • Ick.

Ethics Heroes MSNBC Hosts Ari Melber And Chris Matthews, And The Post I Didn’t Have to Write [UPDATE]

Oh, this feels so good.

Just as I am always pleased when someone like Bill Clinton, a bona fide Ethics Corrupter, can he justifiably honored here for an Ethical Quote, or when a reliable ethics alarms punching bag like HBO’s  Bill Maher earns ethics kudos as he did when the snide HBO host condemned Facebook’s banning of Alex Jones recently, saying, in words that apply with equal force to YouTube’s recent ban on “Triumph of the Will”:

“If you’re a liberal, you’re supposed to be for free speech. That’s free speech for the speech you hate. That’s what free speech means. We’re losing the thread of the concepts that are important to this country. If you care about the real American s*** or you don’t. And if you do, it goes for every side. I don’t like Alex Jones, but Alex Jones gets to speak. Everybody gets to speak.”

It gives me hope; it reinforces the ethics tenet that very few people are 100% wrong, destructive, or irredeemable.  In today’s case, it is especially welcome because it saves me from having to fill out an ethics violation ticket that I was disgusted that I should have to  issue.

I was nauseated—yes, I think that’s the right word; certainly not “surprised”— to learn that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had said of the President, in a conference with her Democratic colleagues, “I don’t want to see him impeached, I want to see him in prison.” This crosses a line that should not be crossed in a democracy, and frankly, I did not relish having to explain what I believe is an example of res ipsa loquitur.

If you don’t comprehend why attempts to criminalize politics strike at the core of American values and the viability of democratic government, then you should go back to school, frankly.  We’re adults here; I have a Stupidity Rule for commenters. Whenever possible I try to avoid posts that explain why something any citizen of reasonable education and intelligence should immediately know is unethical is, in fact, unethical. Such posts are boring, and that’s really not what this blog is for.

Yet in chronicling the horrible carnage of the Post 2016 Election Ethics Train Wreck, I could hardly ignore Pelosi’s new low, any more than I could ignore Rep. Tlaib’s disgusting  “We’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!” boast.

So, just as I sat down at the keyboard, weary and ill at ease, and my fingers wandered idly over the sticky keys, I discovered that two veteran, hate-flinging, Trump-smearing, journalism ethics-defying MSNBC social justice warriors  had explained to their viewers exactly what I was preparing to write.

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Lunchtime Ethics Warm-Up, 5/30/2019: Bye! Go For It! And Who Cares?

A yucky ethics meal.

(Sorry)

1. Why is this worthy of being published? Here’s a long Washington Post writer whine that he ““doesn’t recognize”the U.S. any more, and wants to run off and hide someplace better. Why is this any more useful and enlightening  than the rant of some wacko who has decided that human beings have been replaced by pod people, or that we’re really all lying dormant in a Matrix-like sleep? The article is just free-flowing Left-wing bitching and Trump hate that could have been written by any one of thousands of resistance fanatics in the last three years.

Why should anyone care or be enlightened that Ted Gap, whoever he is, regards the U.S. as a viper pit of  “xenophobia” (aka “enforcing the law and protecting the borders”), “its saber-rattling” (aka “foreign affairs”), “its theocratic leanings” (known as “religion”), “its denial of facts and science” (code for “not being willing to spend trillions and send the standard of  living and the economy backwards based on unconfirmed theories and projections”), “its tribalism” (I suspect Ted means the “tribes” he doesn’t personally favor), and “its petty and boorish president” (so if Ted’s candidate loses an election, it means that it’s not the U.S. any more. Got it. Typical “resistance” member.) Continue reading

Alan Dershowitz’s Mueller Report “Introduction,” And Yes, He’s An Ethics Hero [UPDATED]

For anyone who actually cares about what the Mueller report means, I highly recommend the Alan Dershowitz “Introduction” to the report, which can be purchased for Kindle for about 7 dollars. I purchased it this morning, and just completed reading it. (The report without the intro is on-line, free, all over the place.) Dershowitz voted for Hillary, is a registered Democrat, was marinated in the Leftist hive that 99% of Harvard has become, and is hardly a “Trump supporter,” which is the now reflex “Shut up!” response to any attempt to break through the “resistance” coup mindset that has become a plague on the web and elsewhere. Dershowitz is pleading anyone who will listen that he deserves plaudits rather than condemnation (one twitter follower calls him a “monster”) for trying to be objective and non-partisan, and  I feel his pain, but his protests are unseemly, and undermine the real ethical service he has performed.

The famous Harvard professor states clearly what the news media and Democrats have intentionally tried to obscure: there was no collusion, no crimes related to collusion, and the investigation report says so unequivocally. The report presents “no evidence of any criminal behavior by President Trump or his campaign with regard to Russia,” he writes. Correct. He also remind us, as few media reports have, that this is a one-sided case. There was no cross-examination of witness or challenges to the conclusions of prosecutors, and the document should be read in that light.

As I expected, Dershowitz make an irrefutable argument that the whole process was tainted by conflicts of interest, since Asst. AG Rod Rosenstein, charged with overseeing the investigation,  was both a key witness and a potential defendant.

On the more confusing matter of obstruction, he clarifies that as well, particularly by knocking down the theory that a  President can be found to have committed a crime by doing something he has clear Constitutional power to do. Dershowitz (and others) have been making this point since the hypocritical uproar over the Comey firing, and he has case law (which you can see from the excerpt above) and legal tradition to back it up. The professor cites the ancient legal principle of Nulla poena sine lege ( “no penalty without a law”, which olds that one cannot be punished for acts not prohibited by law. This is codified in modern democratic states as a basic requirement of the rule of law, and has been described as “one of the most widely held value-judgement in the entire history of human thought.”

Yeah, but we want to impeach Trump!

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Popehat Nails Dershowitz For Misrepresenting The Law

Ken White of Popehat comes out guns blazing to take celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz down for misrepresenting the law in several of his increasingly frequent media appearances. Ken nails his target, too. Even the former prosecutor’s characterization that Dershowitz is lying is not excessive or unfair.

You need to read the whole post, for it is superb, thorough and airtight. Here is a precis, however, in Ken’s words, not mine.

The subject of Professor Dershowitz’s dishonesty — for the purpose of this essay — is General Michael Flynn’s lies to FBI agents and his subsequent guilty plea for lying under 18 U.S.C. section 1001. Professor Dershowitz has asserted, repeatedly, that Flynn did not violate Section 1001 because his lies were not “material” — that is, meaningful. He claims that the lies were not “material” because the FBI knew at the time Flynn was lying, and was not fooled…

Dershowitz has promoted the same point explicitly in writing:

When questioning any suspect, officials should not ask questions whose answers they already know, for the sole purpose of seeing whether the suspect will lie. If they do ask such questions, untruthful answers should not be deemed “material” to the investigation, because the FBI already knew the truth.

This is a perfectly arguable statement of what the law should be. But someone reading Dershowitz’s column could be forgiven for thinking that’s what the law is — or, at least, that the law is unsettled on the point. The essay utterly fails to divulge that every court to consider the argument has rejected it….

I am not aware of any cases construing Section 1001 that go the other way. Nor is there any credible indication that the United States Supreme Court would go the other way and decide that a false statement to the government does not violate Section 1001 if the government already knows that it is false. To the contrary, the Court has signaled that it would reject that argument…

n short, there is no credible argument that Alan Dershowitz’s repeated assertion is a correct statement of the law. It would be malpractice to advise a client that way. It would be deceitful to tell students. And it’s dishonest to tell the nation without telling them that this is your theory of what the law should be, without revealing what the law is. Advocates push the boundaries of the law. They ought to. But honest advocacy doesn’t involve lying about the current state of the law. Indeed, lawyers have an ethical obligation to reveal contrary authority when arguing in court, and judges will burn you down to the ground if you don’t. I would argue that legal experts — who trade on their reputation for knowing what the law is — have a similar ethical obligation to reveal when existing law flatly contradicts what they are arguing.

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