Unethical Quote Of The Month: Lawyer Jerry Goldfeder

“You know, it’s not a slam-dunk. But I think that survives a motion to dismiss, and then let the jury decide.”

—-Jerry H. Goldfeder, a special counsel at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP and an  expert in New York state election law, to the New York Times regarding Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg’s supposedly imminent indictment and prosecution of former President Donald Trump.

That is an flat-out unethical endorsement of prosecutorial abuse of power, for not only a lawyer, but a lawyer in a major Manhattan law firm, being quoted as authority in the New York Times, uncritically, of course.

An ethical prosecutor does not bring a case unless he or she is certain that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The issue isn’t whether the prosecution will prevail, but whether the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to justify it prevailing with an objective and fair jury. Surviving a motion to dismiss is not an ethical standard; it’s the bottom-of-the-barrel standard. The judge agreeing that the case has no merit at all as a matter of law, is not the equivalent of holding that the case should not be brought by an ethical prosecutor. “Hey, who knows if the guy is guilty or if we have the evidence to convict? Let’s just get it in front of a jury and see what they think!”

Unspoken in this case: “After all, the point is to make Trump look bad, right? If we can get a conviction, it’s frosting on the cake.”

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Ethics Observations On Trump’s Dinner With Kanye (And Nick)

Last week Donald  Trump  had dinner at Mar-a-Largo with Kanye West—I’ll start calling him by his new name, Ye, once I’m convinced that it’s not just another gimmick, or in other words, “never”—as well as Nick Fuentes, a 24-year-old leader of an annual white-supremacist event called the America First Political Action Conference, and Karen Giorno,  a veteran political operative who worked on Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign. Never in my memory has the identity of dinner companions ever been used by the media as a supposed smoking gun against the dinner’s host. West, you may recall, had a much publicized meeting with Trump when he was President; he has recently been “cancelled” for making what seemed like anti-Semitic comments. (Kanye, it is fair to say, is mentally unstable and a publicity addict, and is likely to say anything at any time.) Fuentes dining with Trump, however, has been the focus of most of the criticism from the media, political figures, and others. The Times’ house anti-Trump specialist, Maggie Haberman wrote,

Even taking at face value Mr. Trump’s protestation that he knew nothing of Mr. Fuentes, the apparent ease with which Mr. Fuentes arrived at the home of a former president who is under multiple investigations — including one related to keeping classified documents at Mar-a-Lago long after he left office — underscores the undisciplined, uncontrolled nature of Mr. Trump’s post-presidency just 10 days into his third campaign for the White House.

She (and her co-reporter Alan Feuer) also quoted several figures who condemned Trump’s guest list:

  • “To my friend Donald Trump, you are better than this,” David M. Friedman, who was Mr. Trump’s longtime bankruptcy lawyer and then his appointee as ambassador to Israel, wrote on Twitter. “Even a social visit from an antisemite like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable. I urge you to throw those bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.”
  • “This is just another example of an awful lack of judgment from Donald Trump, which, combined with his past poor judgments, make him an untenable general election candidate for the Republican Party in 2024,” said Chris Christie, a former governor of New Jersey who is considering a candidacy of his own.
  • “Matt Brooks, chief executive of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said, ‘We strongly condemn the virulent antisemitism of Kanye West and Nick Fuentes, and call on all political leaders to reject their messages of hate and refuse to meet with them.’”
  • Jonathan Greenblatt, the C.E.O. of the Anti-Defamation League, condemned Mr. Trump’s meeting with Mr. Fuentes, [saying], “Nick Fuentes is among the most prominent and unapologetic antisemites in the country…He’s a vicious bigot and known Holocaust denier who has been condemned by leading figures from both political parties here, including the R.J.C….[that  Trump ]“or any serious contender for higher office would meet with him and validate him by sharing a meal and spending time is appalling. And really, you can’t say that you oppose hate and break bread with haters. It’s that simple.”


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Is Everyone Being Unfair To Kamala Harris?

Nobody says that public philosopher Jordan Peterson is an inarticulate boob, and Veep Kamala Harris now has an unshakeable reputation as one. Yet Harris has never exceeded the level of Authentic Frontier Gibberish spewed by Peterson in that clip, which cannot be claimed to have been “taken out of context”: there is no context under the stars in which Peterson’s blather is anything but doubletalk delivered with stunning passion. It immediately reminded me of the Monty Python classic about “meanings,” here.

I confess; when any public figure engages in such blatant oral obfuscation or convoluted rhetoric, I am suspicious of their trustworthiness from that point onward. Ann Althouse, however, defends Peterson, and, by extension, Harris (and Joe Biden and many more) by writing today,

We’re living in a time when your worst few seconds will be ripped out of context and held up to discredit you. Better never to speak on camera at all than to risk creating one of these horrible clips to be used against you. We’re created a mediascape where only the cocky and reckless will speak freely. Ironically, Peterson will be one of those people. Everyone else will shrink out of public view.

Is it unfair to expect public figures and those who opine and speak for a living to do better than that, though? I know I’ve had some bad moments on the radio and in public presentations over the years, but surely there is a level of gabled thought and rhetoric that can be fairly taken as signature significance, and proof that a speaker just isn’t worth paying attention to.

Or is that unfair?

Unethical Quote Of The Day: Blogger Ann Althouse

“Who is Miles Teller?”

—Ann Althouse, at the end of her blog post commenting on the premiere of “Saturday Night Live” and the New York Times’ review of it

The SNL premiere was guest-hosted by Miles Teller.

I’ve got some income-producing work to do for a client early this morning and I shouldn’t be working on an Ethics Alarms post, and I know I’ve been picking on Ann a lot lately, but I really can’t let this pass.

It’s really simple: if Althouse is going to engage in popular culture commentary as if her opinion should be taken seriously (as in “is worth reading on her blog”), then she has a base obligation to be at least minimally informed regarding American popular culture. She isn’t. She has never been, and I have read her blog for more than two decades, back when she was a law professor. There are arbitrary pockets of pop culture that she is obsessed with (like Bob Dylan songs), but it has always been obvious that Althouse is not very conversant in classic films or network TV; she’s even blogged about this hole in her experience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, except that if one is going to critique popular culture, especially a show that at least purports to satirize current personalities and themes within pop culture, it is irresponsible, incompetent and arrogant (dare I say, “stupid”?) do do so when you literally don’t know what you are talking about.

Sixty-something Ann Althouse asking “Who is Miles Teller?” is the exact mirror image of those lazy jokes on TV and in movies about clueless Millennials who ask, “Who is John Wayne?” or “Who were The Beatles”‘ after a Boomer makes a reference to them or their equivalents. Saturday Night Live has always featured as guest hosts actors and singers (and sometimes, less successfully, politicians) who are currently popular, in the news and hot commodities, so Ann had to know that if Miles Teller was hosting the first show of the season, he must qualify. If she wasn’t familiar with him, then obviously she should have Googled his name: it would take all of three seconds. Her question, at the end of a post suggesting that “Saturday Night Live” is tired, unfunny and irrelevant (not that it isn’t), conveys stunning elitism as well as the qualities I already attached to it.

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

(I know this is like shooting fish in a barrel, but…)

“I wish the NYT would play it dead straight.’

—Blogging contrarian Ann Althouse, complaining about the Times story and its headline, “Ginni Thomas Denies Discussing Election Subversion Efforts With Her Husband.”

The retired law professor writes,

Election Subversion Efforts” is quite a phrase. You could discuss a lot of things and still deny that any of it was “subversion.”… If you believe the election was already subverted, then in pushing for more procedural paths, you’re trying to un-subvert it. If you think the announced results are invalid, you’re trying to get to the true results, not “invalidate the results.” It’s very hard to wade through these loaded terms. 

We have discussed this sinister media spin ever since the November 2020. Questioning the election results and taking related action when Republicans win is simply politics as usual and seeking integrity in the democratic system. Doing so when Democrats win is “election subversion.” The Times is, as it does most of the time now, using its influence to try to bolster Democratic party campaign themes and talking points.

It’s time like these when I miss self-banned New York Times apologist “A Friend,” who could be counted on to mount a contrived defense when his favorite paper was flagged for ethics fouls like this. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“If we — we individual Americans — can’t handle random snark from varied unknown sources, how can we live with the internet? Who cares if some foreigners are writing crap intended to deceive us into feeling more roiled up and divided than we’re able to do damned well on our own, often with the nudging of the New York Times?”

—Bloggress Ann Althouse, commenting on the strangely prominent front page New York Times story, “Russian Trolls Helped Fracture the Women’s March.”

The day after I complained about how often Althouse has been picking the same topics to write about as I am lately, she did it again. This time, I saw that front page story about 2017 and immediately thought, 1) “Who cares?” and 2) “Boy, I’m sure glad I stopped paying 90 bucks a month for the paper version of this full-time, declining, hyper-partisan propaganda rag.” And as I started to post about how the Times deems it front page worthy to go back five years and try to prove that Russian social media “disinformation” undermined an anti-Trump demonstration that was ridiculous to begin with, something made me check Ann’s blog.

Clearly, she was genuinely ticked off by the story. Althouse doesn’t really write that much in most of her posts, but she did this time, seeing this as entirely contrived and pretty obviously another stretch to swipe at Trump (and the legitimacy of his election): after all, Times readers (and reporters) all think that he was in cahoots with Putin regardless of what the evidence says. Two of Ann’s points,

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On John Fetterman’s Speech Problems…

..and neck problems? What the hell is that thing?

I have tried to find the full video of Pennsylvania Democrat John Fetterman’s “John Fetterwoman” speech that is supposed to show how bad his speaking problems are post-stroke, but so far I’ve failed. I was going to post one of the  edited videos that highlighted his problems, but decided that I couldn’t trust any of them.

Now the mainstream media, and notably NBC News, is (predictably) trying to rescue Fetterman and their clients, the Democratic Party. NBC wrote, “The videos include slight edits, such as cutting out the sound of the audience to make it appear as if he had abruptly stopped speaking (some of the stops occurred when he was pausing during moments of applause and crowd reaction, according to unedited videos seen by NBC News). Other edits cut Fetterman off mid-sentence, to create the perception that what he was saying was nonsensical…. The videos could run afoul of Twitter’s rules against political misinformation, even though they are still available…. Experts have warned that such lightly edited videos, also sometimes called ‘shallow fakes,’ can be particularly effective pieces of misinformation.” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Arizona Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Kari Lake

“Since when can we not ask questions about our elections? As a journalist for many years—I was a journalist after 2016 and I distinctly remember many people just like you, asking a lot of questions about the 2016 election results and nobody tried to shut you up….”

—-GOP candidate for Governor of Arizona Kari Lake, responding to a reporter who baited her with a “whataboutism” question referring to Donald Trump “dividing the nation” by “falsely telling people he won [the 2020] election”?

I don’t know much about Lake or the Arizona governor race, but GOP leaders, candidates and party supporters should study and memorize Lake’s full response to the Democrat-pimping reporter’s question, ““You feel like Joe Biden is dividing the country. Do you feel Donald Trump is doing the same by falsely telling people he won that election when he lost it?”

Lake’s full (perfect) reply:

“How does that divide the country? Questioning an election where there are obviously problems is dividing the country? Since when can we not ask questions about our elections? As a journalist for many years—I was a journalist after 2016 and I distinctly remember many people just like you, asking a lot of questions about the 2016 election results and nobody tried to shut you up. Nobody tried to tell Hillary Clinton to shut up. Nobody tried to tell Kamala Harris when she was questioning the legitimacy of these electronic voting machines to stop. We have freedom of speech in this country and you of all that people should appreciate that. You’re supposedly a journalist. You should appreciate that. So I don’t see how asking questions about an election where there were many problems is ‘dividing’ a country. What I do see divided a country is shutting people down, censoring people, canceling people, trying to destroy people’s lives when they do ask questions. Last I heard we still have the Constitution. It’s hanging by a thread thanks to some of the work some people in this area have done. But we’re going to save that Constitution and we’re going to bring back freedom of speech. And maybe someday you’ll thank us for that.”

As to that last sentence, I very much doubt it.

Assuming the quote is being reported accurately, that is an impressive and fair response even if Lake had expected the question and had her answer polished and ready. Gee, isn’t it nice when candidates can speak in complete sentences and make clear, organized, articulate statements on the fly?

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Sunday Ethics Warm-Up: “Soul Of The Nation” Hangover Edition

Hey…is that a rising sun or a setting sun? Ben Franklin is asking…

On this date in 1886, the legendary Apache leader Geronimo finally surrendered to U.S. government troops. I was thinking about Geronimo last night as I watched “Hot Shots, Part Deux” (the first one is much, much better), by the “Airplane!” guys. In one of the better gags in the film, a special ops team is parachuting into Iraq. Two soldiers shout “Geronimo!” and jump out of the plane, then Geronimo, in full Native American regalia, jumps out shouting “ME!” I found myself wondering if any film maker today would dare to put that into a movie. Isn’t that sad?

In related news, Fox pundit-comic Greg Gutfield is beating all the cookie-cutter all-progressive pandering all-the-time late night comics in the ratings. Imagine: he makes fun of both parties and their supporters! What a ground-breaking concept! He does have a great group of writers, I hear—Mark Twain, Will Rogers, H.L. Mencken, Mort Sahl, Stan Freeberg, Tom Lehrer…

1. Oh, let’s start with the post-Biden Reichstag speech. (My favorite meme inspired by this debacle : that already iconic photo of Biden with his fists raised against the blood-red background with the legend: “It was better in the original German.)

  • Last night, Trump called Biden “the enemy of the people” at his rally. Close one: I actually wrote that description of Biden is a post yesterday, and decided that it was too Trumpy. Not that Trump was wrong…he was also correct to call the mainstream news media “the enemy of the people,” and they are substantially responsible for inflicting Biden on the nation. Their lapdog reaction to the speech is also evidence.
  • Ann Althouse has been in rare form in her blogging about the speech. A liberal Democrat by inclination and belief, she was obviously genuinely offended and angered by it. Apparently progressive historian (well, they are almost all progressives now) Jon Meachum (“American Lion,” which I read and liked very much) had input into the rant, which Politico called the “Democracy speech.” Althouse: “Democracy speech”? Is that what they want it called? The speech where he demonized half of American voters?…Ugh! Warning us about our fellow citizens. Accusing us of “assault.” Claiming to represent “democracy”….it was horrible.” Here, writing about Trump’s rally, she quotes the Times today—“The former president described Mr. Biden’s address as ‘the most vicious, hateful, and divisive speech ever delivered by an American president.’—and comments, “I don’t think the NYT wants us to think Trump is right about that, but I think he is.”

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Ethics Quote Of The Month: Ann Althouse On Biden’s Speech Last Night

“I can sum it up in 7 words: We the People, but not you people.”

—–Allegedly non-partisan blogger Ann Althouse (she’s a Democrat), providing a preview of her soon to be posted review of Biden’s “soul of the nation” speech.

As soon as I read that Biden was going to give a prime-time speech on the peril to the “soul of the nation,” I knew exactly what was coming, what motivated it (panic and desperation, plus terrible advisers), and what it would be: the ultimate IIPTDXTTNMIAFB.

And wildly unethical, of course: irresponsible, disrespectful, unfair, and un-American, as well as hypocritical, indeed a betrayal, from a leader who promised on his Inaugeration Day, “We can join forces, stop the shouting and lower the temperature. For without unity there is no peace, only bitterness and fury. No progress, only exhausting outrage. No nation, only a state of chaos. This is our historic moment of crisis and challenge, and unity is the path forward.”

Was I wrong?

I haven’t read the various pundits about the speech yet, and I haven’t read the text yet; I have a doctor’s appointment and I don’t want to be nauseous. I am curious about whether any of the usual Biden cheer-leaders will have the integrity to state the obvious, and what was obvious the second the speech was announced. This is deliberate divisiveness. It is the essence of totalitarian messaging; it is more fascist in intent and substance than anything Donald Trump ever did or said.

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