New Year’s Day Ethics Warm-Up, 2019: Outrageous Virtue Signaling And Other Misdemeanors

Yes, happy 2019.

Thanks to all the readers, many commenting for the first time, who send reassuring and kind words in response to my musings last night. I wasn’t fishing for them, I swear.

1. Maybe this is why I’m in a bad mood…Here is the beginning of the 70 page (!) appellate brief I’m having to waste today answering, the work of the angry Ethics Alarms commenter whom I banned more than a year ago, and who apparently has nothing better to do than to file frivolous lawsuits:

Jack Marshall, the Defendant, is a craven, venal LIAR. What he did to Plaintiff …in this case was intentional/focused/targeted/defamatory lying, through-and-through. “Toxic mendacity” is a fair/appropriate characterization (“Orwellian psychosis” may possibly overstate the case). There was nothing legitimately/honestly “opinionated” about any of Marshall’s cynical noxious LIES, in any sensible sense (despite what the Judge pretended), as (re-)proven herein. Amongst the 575 defamatory acts pled/ alleged in our Comp (and supported in Opp, and at Oral Argument, and now repeated/proved yet again here in tabular
format in TblDefam), Marshall outright factually LIED ~29 times; while another ~32 times he uttered/wrote “materially false” pseudo-“opinions” based upon (hence implying) his earlier lies. Yet, the lower Judge’s grant of Rule 12(b)(6) Motion-to-Dismiss (“failure to state a claim”) falsely/blindly pretended Marshall’s publications were “pure opinions, innocent as the driven snow, grounded solely upon true facts.”6 That was a blatantly false/wrongful breach of good-faith judging….

2.  The nauseating virtue-signaling championship goes to…Barack Obama. How gullible and starry-eyed does someone have to be not to find this transparent and manipulative? The ex-President published his favorite movies, novels and songs of the year on Instagram. To my surprise, they reveal him to be woke! Intellectual! Devoted to the right social causes! Cool! And Black!

And if, say, one of his actual favorite movies this year was porn, or a slasher flick, do you really think he would include it? How about a Mickey Spillane novel, or a book by Bill Cosby? Call me cynical, but I assume that the list was devised by his PR staff, with his input. The list essentially tells us that Obama thinks most Americans are stupid saps, and the news media’s reaction to it—Isn’t he wonderful???—-shows that he’s probably right. Continue reading

Latest Ethics Notes On The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1…

I swear, I didn't pick this photo to make James Carville look crazy or nasty. This is really what he looked like today...

I swear, I didn’t pick this photo to make James Carville look crazy or nasty. This is really what he looked like today…

5. The uproar over Clinton’s private server use and possible security breaches being investigated further with FBI inquiries into the newly uncovered Huma Abedin e-mails seems oddly out of proportion to its substance, at this point. The violent reaction of Democrats and Clinton’s campaign is more suspicious than the information itself. The immediate default to accusations of political and professional misconduct is itself unfair and unethical, and reminds those who are open to being reminded of the Clinton habit of bullying and threatening adversaries, including honorable ones. Just as Trump cannot seem to help himself from lashing out disproportionately at every affront real or imagined, the current over-reaction is itself disturbing. There are too many bullies and thugs in the Clinton camp.

6. Next to Harry Reid, the most publicized accuser of Comey has been Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota and the chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House from 2005 to 2007. He has filed a Hatch Act complaint against Comey with the federal Office of Special Counsel and Office of Government Ethics. As with Reid’s accusation, his is unjustified. Unlike Reid, Painter is intelligent, informed and honorable, and I can only speculate why he has jumped the rails like this. Painter argued in a New York Times op-ed on Sunday that Comey’s intent can be inferred from the absence of a good reason for sending the letter.

Huh? He had a good reason, and as a lawyer and ethics expert, it should be obvious. He didn’t want to be accused of lying to Congress, or to believe that he was lying to Congress. That’s an excellent reason. There are others. “Absent extraordinary circumstances that might justify it, a public communication about a pending F.B.I. investigation involving a candidate that is made on the eve of an election is . . . very likely to be a violation of the Hatch Act and a misuse of an official position,” Painter claims. Okay, but there were extraordinary circumstances. Public distrust of law enforcement institutions is at a dangerous, all-time high. Every decision is attacked as corrupt or politically motivated by one party or the other. The particularly volatile  situation of a Presidential candidate being investigated by the FBI was greatly exacerbated by the Attorney General allowing herself to be pulled into an inappropriate and improper meeting with the husband of the candidate under investigation shortly before a decision whether to prosecute was due–I’d call that an “extraordinary circumstance.” Comey has been trying to restore the integrity of the Justice Department, which Holder and Lynch, along with President Obama, has allowed to be seriously soiled. He may or may not have made the right choice, but for Painter to file a complaint alleging intentional political bias based on his actions alone is irresponsible. Writes Jonathan Turley, also a law professor of note, and one who does a better job avoid partisan bias than Painter does:

“Comey was between the horns of a dilemma. He could be accused of acts of commission in making the disclosure or omission in withholding the disclosure in an election year. Quite frankly, I found Painter’s justification for his filing remarkably speculative. He admits that he has no evidence to suggest that Comey wants to influence the election or favors either candidate. Intent is key under the Hatch investigations.  You can disagree with the timing of Comey’s disclosure, but that is not a matter for the Hatch Act or even an ethical charge in my view.”

“Or even an ethical charge.” Bingo. And those are harsh words from the usually excessively mild Turley.

I’m not sure what’s going on with Painter, whose opinions I have followed for years. I have followed him, and even argued with him occasionally, on the excellent legal ethics blog, the Legal Ethics Forum, where he is a contributor. If he is a Republican, he’s either a disillusioned one or a strange sub-species. Most of his posts tilt leftward, and they are almost all political in nature, in sharp contrast to everyone else. He obviously has no respect for the Republicans in Congress, and is as vehemently anti-Trump as I am. Unlike me, apparently, he seems to have allowed his rational contempt for Trump lead him to a damaging bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. Ethics complaints should not be used as a political weapon. Continue reading

As We Watch The Hillary Corrupted News Media Today Facilitate Her Campaign’s Furious And Desperate Attack On James Comey, Let Us Not Forget What The Real Threat To The Election’s Integrity Is…[UPDATED]

pointing-up

…and that would be the dangerous alliance between the party controlling in the White House and the organizations and individuals trusted by the public to fairly and objectively inform it sufficiently to make a responsible choice.

I’ll be covering the astounding wave of disinformation, distortions and unethical conduct by those who should know better in the ongoing effort to crucify James Comey in a bit. Meanwhile, another Wikileaks hack provides some more perspective on the perils to democracy posed by the Democratic Party’s and the Clinton organization’s belief that cheating is an acceptable way to obtain and keep power.

As Ethics Alarms pointed out, DNC Chair Donna Brazile melted into sputtering protests, denials and gibberish when confronted with the clear evidence, via a Wikileaks hacked e-mail, that she unethically used her position at CNN to pass along a question to Hillary Clinton in advance of a CNN town meeting, so Clinton could prepare an answer in advance (and pretend that she had no prior knowledge of the question. This kind of lie, and it is a lie, never makes it onto the lists when Hillary enablers claim that Trump lies more than she does.) She would never do that!, Donna postured.

Another e-mail, from the same source, shows that this too was a lie.

In the latest revelation, Brazile, still working for CNN and bound by journalism ethics, told Hillary what question was on the way, and identified the questioner:

donna-b-tweet

“Rigging,” anyone? Continue reading

Hillary, Her Minions, And Scooby-Doo

Former DNC chair Howard Dean just reinforced his prominent position among the ten most loathsome figures in modern politics with this tweet regarding James Comey’s revelation that the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of her official communications via e-mail was being re-opened:

dean-tweet

Dean’s meaning: since Russian hacks of  various e-mail accounts have provided ugly and often sinister evidence of the corrupt attitudes and practices of Hillary Clinton and her campaign, Comey’s required notification of Congress—required, mind you, by basic ethical principles and the rules of the legal profession—makes him a wrongdoer on par with those fueling Wikileaks. After all, without them, Hillary and her minions—including the outrageously complicit news media—would have succeeded in fooling all of the people all of the time. Yes, Comey, damn him, is now “on the same side” as Putin, because he is stripping away Clinton’s facade of trustworthiness.

Even before yesterday’s surprise announcement, the Democratic defense was in place that because Russia was attempting to influence the US election by revealing the filthy underside of Clinton, Inc., including, among other things…

….the inappropriate melding of Sate Department business, pay-to-play incentives, Clinton foundation fundraising and family enrichment

….discussions among aides on how to cover-up Hillary’s e-mail misadventures

….private speeches to Wall Street contradicting her public, anti-Wall street rhetoric, and most disturbing of all,

….collusion by journalists to assist the campaign

….such enlightening evidence should be ignored. This, those well-versed in the Ethics Alarms Rationalizations list will recognize, is   Rationalization #55, The Scooby Doo Deflection, or “I should have gotten away with it!,” in practice. Continue reading

Ethics Quiz: Blaming the Messenger

"Hey, I just deliver the boxcar contents to someplace called "Aushwitz." It's not my business what's in them..."

“Hey, I just deliver the boxcar contents to someplace called “Aushwitz.” It’s not my business what’s in them…”

In 2013, the United Parcel Service Inc  agreed to forfeit $40 million in fees that it had received from illegal internet pharmacies shipping bootleg prescription drugs using UPS services, in exchange for a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice. UPS also agreed to put policies and procedures in place to prevent illegal online pharmacies from distributing drugs through its shipping services in the future. Naturally, the faux pharmacies moved over to FedEx, and when that shipping service refused to cut a similar deal with DOJ under threat of prosecution, the government persuaded a Federal grand jury to indict the company for delivering drugs associated with internet pharmacies, and thus being a willing party to a criminal enterprise.

Now many are cheering FedEx as, in essence, an ethics hero for refusing to knuckle under to the government and accept responsibility where it has none. There are two arguments against the government’s prosecution of FedEx. One is that its natural result would be to require shipping companies to open every parcel and be certain that nothing illegal is inside. The other is that trying to eradicate crime and other misconduct by creating secondary service liability is inherently unjust. By pressuring credit card companies  to refuse payments to companies the government regards as breaking the law, for example, alleged illegal enterprises can be put out of business without the government having to meet its burden of proof to show they really are breaking the law. If the government can intimidate carrying companies into refusing the business of illegal pharmacies, then the illegal pharmacies never have to be prosecuted. There is a third argument, but it is irrelevant: that the government shouldn’t be prosecuting the crime of providing prescription drugs over the internet at all.  This is an entirely different and separate issue: The point is that the shipments are illegal now, and FedEx is facilitating them.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz to begin what I sense will be a busy ethics week is…

Is FedEx an Ethics Hero?

Continue reading