Ethics Dunces: The U.S. Congress. Again

Actor Mark Ruffalo (he plays the Hulk in The Avengers  movies, but it wasn’t because of that role) was invited to testify before Congress last year on public policy involving  public health, chemistry, toxicology, and epidemiology. He has no expertise in these areas at all. The reason was that he starred in “Dark Waters,” which I wrote about here.

Ruffalo is a 9/11 truther, believing  that the U.S. government helped destroy the World Trade Center. That would be enough for me to ding him as an authority on anything, but he has embraced other conspiracy theories as well, like this one.

Never mind: he was presented to the public as an authority on pollution whose opinions on environmental matters have weight. The don’t, and they shouldn’t.

This is a repeat offense. Members of Congress are addicted to the unprofessional and insulting stunt of inviting actors and performers to testify as substantive witnesses on topics that they acted about in movies. As a professional director, I can state with absolute certainty that if an actor is really an expert in something their character was supposed to experience or know something about, 1) that actor is very unusual, and 2) there will still be thousands of real authorities who know a lot more.

Nevertheless, Congress keeps doing this, apparently believing that the public is so naive and gullible that they really believe that because a performer credibly pretends to know what a script-writer prepares to make them sound like the know, they really are experts. Sadly, a lot of the public does believe that. (More sadly, a lot of actors do too) Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From The Ethics Alarms Archives: ‘Age and the Judge’…” And A Current Day Example.

Pretty late last night, an Ethics Alarms post about mandatory ages of retirement for judges moved JutGory to offer this remarkable Comment of the Day, a tribute to a role model in his life. Coincidentally, it now follows yesterday’s last post, about a failed role model, or perhaps someone who should have become a role model but who never did.

I’m hopping Jut’s comment over a couple of waiting COTDs because I think it’s good to start off the day with some inspiration when possible.

Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post, “From The Ethics Alarms Archives: ‘Age and the Judge,’ And A Current Day Example.”

Meet Floyd.

And, if nothing else, this is the perfect post in which to mention Floyd.

Floyd was at the top of his class at West Point.

Scwartzkopf was a plebe when Floyd graduated.

Floyd injured himself parachuting into Germany on a training exercise.

He became a lawyer and the consummate Southern Gentleman.

He told me about the time that he handled one of those big divorces and his firm submitted a one-page bill in the amount of over $500,000.00 “For Services Rendered.”

He told me about the time he was able to obtain a Writ of Ne Exeat (I had never heard of it either).

And, after a career of legal practice in Georgia, this principled conservative southern lawyer relocated to the State that Mondale Won.

He did it for two reasons: his wife and one of his kids needed a change of environment because of pollen counts, etc., and Dick.

Dick was looking for a legal partner and Floyd was looking to move north. Dick was Floyd’s exact opposite in every way. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On This Hilarious Trolling Competition

  • The President  wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.

The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.

  • It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?

Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?

Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.

Ethics values: Honesty, integrity, competence, diligence. Continue reading

The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity, Part Two: Amazingly, It’s Even Worse Than I Thought

On December 14, 2019, I posted “The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity” at a point where I concluded that the Left’s diversity con had reached res ipsa loquitur dimensions, at least for Americans still capable of hearing what this res was loquituring despite years of pummeling by consultants and diversity seminars. That would be that “diversity” is a cover word for “quotas and affirmative action.”

I’ve been in some of those seminars; to my undying shame, I’ve even taught a couple for a fee. They are intellectually dishonest to the core, resting on the Bizarro World  argument that more diverse groups and bodies are necessarily better, wiser, and more effective than  homogeneous groups with more ability and talent. This is manifestly nonsense, except that it is not politically correct to say so. Is President Trump’s Cabinet better in any way because Ben Carson is Secretary of HUD? He’s a dolt, as anyone who watched the GOP Presidential debates knows beyond a shadow of a doubt. Is the Supreme Court better because Justice Sotomayor is on it? Read one of her opinions and then try to say that with a straight face.

The proof that diversity activism is a rationalization-based scam is everywhere, with the fact that it is only applied in one direction the smoking res. Nobody argues that NBA and NFL teams would be better of they had demographics closer to the nation’s. The Oscars were attacked because there aren’t “enough” black performers or female directors nominated this year, but no one complains about the lack of diversity in all-black awards shows. The impetus for December post was all the Democratic and mainstream media flesh-rending over the fact that the erstwhile Presidential candidates “of color” had been so weak and feckless that even Democrats had rejected them. “But…but..diversity!

Pointing to the Washington Post’s assessment of the top 13 people with the best chance of being on the party’s ticket as Vice President—all are women, minorities or both—I wrote, “What subliminal message are Democrats sending to the world when they exclude straight, white men as qualified candidates for Vice-President? That’s easy. They are saying that the party cares more about diversity than it does about leading the nation.”

Diversity without rigging the result can be a valuable measure of how race, ethnicity and gender-blind the culture has become, but the fact that any group or body happens to appear diverse is itself no indication of excellence. Anyone who claims otherwise is lying or deluded.

I thought the bloviating about the Democratic debate line-up was as ridiculous as this sham could get, Boy was I wrong. Continue reading

Will The Democrats Really Let Someone As Obviously Addled As Joe Biden Be Their Nominee?

Doing so is per se irresponsible and incompetent.

Before someone tries to play “whataboutTrump” with me, I would remind him, her or it  that in 2016 I wrote that the Republicans had an obligation to refuse to nominate Donald Trump, having failed their obligation not to let him run in the primaries. I was right then, despite the fact that nominating Trump ended up well for the  party, and so far, on balance, for the country, especially when one considers what the Democrats have become. I’m also right about Biden now. If the Democrats expect to catch lightning in a shot glass like the GOP, they are taking a really reckless gamble.

Let’s look at what old Joe said just over the last few days…

  • During a December 29 campaign even in Peterborough, New Hampshire,  Biden completed an attendees question “If we don’t stop using fossil fuels…” with “We’re all dead!”

Now, what is that? Deliberate hyperbole? Outrageous fear-mongering?  Complete ignorance? Nobody has suggested that “we’re all dead” even under the most extreme projections of climate change doom. My guess is that Joe knows nothing about climate change, and that he’s just pandering to the substantial climate change nut-case component of the increasingly hysterical Democratic base. But he could be so stupid that he really believes this.

In addition to the undeniable fact that this is exactly the kind of statement that the mainstream media  pillories Donald Trump for even when it’s clear  s clear can be that he’s exaggerating, Biden’s over-the-top rhetoric feeds the rising Democratic drift toward totalitarianism. If we’re all going to die, then a dictatorship can be justified as a last resort. Continue reading

The Democratic Party’s Unethical And Irrational Obsession With Diversity

There is mass outrage in the Democratic Party, we are told,  over the fact that Cory Booker and Deval Patrick won’t be on the debate stage in December’s candidate’s debate, and neither will former housing secretary Julián Castro, or Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. True, Andrew Yang has qualified, but Asians don’t count as minorities to progressives, because they are so successful and don’t commit many crimes, heaven knows why.  That’s why Harvard can discriminate against them and get away with it. But I digress…

There’s just one reason Yang will be the only non-white candidate on the stage: the other minority candidates couldn’t justify their candidacy, even among the frightening weak competition of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg, and Amy Klobuchar. Naturally, Democrats being Democrats and primed to blame any result they don’t like on racism, sexism or bias, this obvious example of democracy working the way it’s supposed to is being condemned.  Well, I should clarify that: It’s working the way I think it’s supposed to, the way the Founders thought it was supposed to, and pretty much the way everyone thought it was supposed to until progressives came up with the moonbat idea that results were only fair if they distributed benefits in strict accordance with demographic percentages, and were even better if they gave an edge to “historically disadvantaged minorities.”

Thus, even though the process of deciding the winners in the slow motion musical chairs of the Democratic nomination game seems to rely on who the voters think is best qualified, that process is, according to moonbattism, bad, as in racist and unfair, if the process doesn’t yield sufficient numbers of contenders with the  right skin shades. The party really thinks like this, or at least significant numbers of the party to render the entire party untrustworthy.

I don’t understand how anyone can responsibly put a party in power that has adopted such an obviously destructive and non-democratic position.

“What message is that sending that we heralded the most diverse field in our history and now we’re seeing people like her dropping out of this campaign?” Senator Booker asked a crowd in Iowa. He darkly suggested that Kamala Harris left the race “not because Iowa voters had the voice. Voters did not determine her destiny,” but because bigotry was afoot.

The message being sent , Senator, was that lousy candidates like Kamala Harris (and you), who bungled every debate and who appear to have no leadership qualities at all, don’t appeal to voters seriously looking for a President rather than a symbol, like Bracak Obama. It is deeply self-serving for Booker to attribute Harris’s failure to racism, since he appeals to even fewer voters than she did, and is also, like her, wearing skin in the darker range.

The New York Times gasps, “The Democratic primary is facing a reckoning. In two weeks, Democrats will gather in Los Angeles for a debate that is likely to feature an entirely white roster. That is not, several candidates and prominent party members say, how the party that emphasizes diversity and fairness should want to represent itself.”

How about the fact that none of the candidates on that stage appear to be competent, trustworthy or responsible? Shouldn’t that be more of a concern than the skin-tones of the various socialists and panderers debating each other?

Not in Democrat Quota Land, I guess. Here’s a howler from the Times that only a thoroughly brain-washed progressive zombie could read without laughing:

“Some blame the rules for qualifying for the debates. The polling requirements give an advantage to candidates who can invest in extensive television advertising to get their name out. Others note, however, that the candidates of color in the 2020 field have not drawn significant support from black and Latino voters.”

Continue reading

The Scourge Of Technologically Ignorant Judges

The American Bar Association and most state bars have added an ethical requirement for lawyers to be competent and knowledgeable regarding relevant technology. In 2012, the ABA adopted an amendment to ABA Model Rule of Professional Responsibility 1.1, comment 8, providing that “a lawyer should keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice, including the benefits and risks associated with relevant technology . . . .” Since then, at least twenty-seven states have officially adopted Comment 8 or some version of it as part of their rules of professional conduct. It’s still a long slog; many lawyers, far too many, are limited to email and Google searches, and often aren’t sufficiently adept at either.  There should be such a requirement in every jurisdiction, and the ABA language is far too vague and lenient.

Judges, however, often make lawyers look like  cyber-whizzes. Here’s a ridiculous example from Franklin Country in Washington, where superior court judges disagreed with their clerk about transitioning from paper to electronic files.  The clerk “deemed it unnecessary” to incur the expense of maintaining duplicate paper files after a paperless filing system was implemented . The judges declared an emergency (!) and issued an order directing clerks to keep paper files. One gutsy, probably soon to be unemployed clerk refused. The judges then appointed a special prosecutor to pursue civil claims against the clerk. Continue reading

What I Do For Ethics, Or Misadventures In Travel Hell

Am I imagining this, or was air travel once efficient, comfortable, and enjoyable? I can’t be sure now; it seems impossible. Of course, as bad as it is, things would be a lot better if basic standards of competence and professionalism were observed, or even attempted.

I just arrived at my hotel in Providence approximately 2 and a half hours after I was supposed to. The delay isn’t the issue; I’m used to that, and if there’s weather, there’s weather. (There was weather.) This trip, however was special.

  • My flight took off from infamous Gate 35X, which is portal gate from which passengers board buses that take them to smallish jets scattered around the tarmac. It is always crowded, and you are tasked with listening for the announcement telling you to go down the stairs to the sub-gates and line up for your bus. That is more tricky than it sounds, because the area is pure cacophony: people talking,  announcements from nearby gates, a recorded announcement on a loop telling you not to go down the stairs until you’re told, and as a special bonus, not one but three American gate employees making announcements in various heavily accented forms of pseudo-English, spoken at auctioneer  speed. All three were intermittently incomprehensible; people were constantly turning to companions and asking, “What did she say?”

Continue reading

A Smoking Flip-Flop: Here Is Why Larry Tribe Cannot Be Regarded As An Objective Legal Authority Any More

…well, other than the fact that his recent tweets indicate that the 77-year-old  prof is no longer playing with a full deck…*

I had a back-and-forth with a smart non-lawyer who is suffering from Trump Derangement, and who cited the opinions of Professor Tribe to counter Alan Dershowitz’s critique of the Mueller Report. He didn’t like my assertion that Tribe has proven himself to be a partisan hack of late, willing to espouse whatever public opinion the Left and “the resistance” will find useful.

Ed Whelan, the President of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, found this example of a cynical Tribe flip-flop, worthy of the gymnasts above, that shows what I mean:

 Back in early March 2016, a few weeks after Justice Scalia’s death created a vacancy on the Supreme Court, Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe was perhaps the most prominent of some 350 law professors to sign a letter asserting that the Senate had a “constitutional duty to give President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a prompt and fair hearing and a timely vote.” Declaring that “[t]he Senate’s obligation in this circumstance is clear,” the letter invoked the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

But, as I and others (including liberal law professors Noah Feldman and Vik Amar) pointed out at the time, the position that Tribe took had no support in the text of the Constitution and contradicted perennial Senate practice on nominations. The Appointments Clause states only that the president “shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint” various executive-branch and judicial-branch officers. In other words, it restricts the president’s power of appointment by conditioning any such appointment on prior receipt of the Senate’s “Advice and Consent” on a nomination. But it says nothing about how the Senate should go about exercising its power to advise and consent-or-withhold-consent, and it thus leaves the Senate entirely free to exercise that power however it sees fit.

Tribe’s position in March 2016 further surprised me because it contradicted Tribe’s own earlier (correct) recognition, in his 1985 book God Save This Honorable Court, that the Senate may block a Supreme Court nomination “by simply refusing to act upon it.”

I’m pleased to discover that Tribe now agrees that the Senate does not have a constitutional duty to take any action on a Supreme Court nominee. Continue reading

A Jumbo! One More Time: If You Trust PolitiFact, You Are As Biased As They Are

“Airplanes? I don’t see any airplanes!”

There are no good political factchecking organizations. Some are more ethical than others. Snopes is terrible, biased, and unreliable unless it is really checking urban legends. The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler tries, but he works in the progressive bubble of Democrats who run the place, and he is corrupted. The Annenberg Foundation’s Fact-Check.org claims to be non-partisan and often succeeds, but of late it too has entered political advocacy into a category that is supposed to be only about objective facts.

As a general proposition, it is fair to call the  exercise of “factchecking” inherently misleading and so ripe for abuse that any fact check by a media organization should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

This goes double for PolitiFact; indeed, someone saying that this is their favorite fact checker has triggered signature significance. Nobody who is properly sensitive to partisan bias and committed to objectivity can possibly trust PolitiFact, a feature launched by a Democrat newspaper, the Tampa Bay Times, and recently taken over by the Poynter Institute, which I once respected as a voice for ethical journalism. Like its industry, however, it is corrupt. Either that, or Poynter isn’t providing oversight for PolitiFact.

This is res ipsa loquitur. PolitiFact, like many other media hacks from the Left, meaning almost all of them, is trying to provide cover for the “Green New Deal” that the Democratic Party has foolishly embraced, by throwing up dust, word-salads and lies. The current approach is pure Jumbo, the Ethics Alarms category for a lie in the style and scale of Jimmy Durante’s classic, trying to steal an elephant and upon being stopped by a constable and asked what he was doing with a pachyderm on a rope, exclaiming, “Elephant? WHAT elephant?”

Here’s Politifact, lying: Continue reading