Noon Ethics Munchies, 7/14/2021: On Cuba, Big Lies, Roy Moore, and More [Corrected]

Munchies

1. The President gets a cheap shot...Commenting on Joe Biden’s generally hysterical speech about “voter suppression,” “Bonchie” writes on the conservative blog Red State,

“Of note here is that Biden is channeling Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels by using the phrase “big lie” to disparage Republicans who have concerns about the 2020 election. Yet, despite the phrase’s murderous, anti-Semitic past, the president seems to have no problem saying it repeatedly. In doing so, he echoed CNN’s Jake Tapper and others who have also been fond of the phrase.”

There is nothing wrong with using the phrase or the description. The device was championed by both Goebbels and Hitler, and is an accurate description of a propaganda tactic, an unethical but powerful one, used by both the Right and the Left. Whether the description is used fairly in any particular case is a separate issue. “Big Lies” is a very accurate description of the assault by the “resistance”/Democratic Party/mainstream media against Donald Trump—can you think of a better one?—which is why Ethics Alarms used it here and elsewhere.

What would be fair to note is that Biden has often been an eager employer of Goebbels’ favorite trick himself…as noted in this post.

2. Does anyone understand why Democrats are trying to downplay the current Cuban protests against the Communist government? This makes no sense to me. Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets across the island over the weekend, waving American flags and chanting “Freedom!” and anti-government slogans. Cuba has been a repressive Communist regime since Fidel Castro pulled his bait and switch with the U.S. in 1959, but the most extreme elements in the Democratic Party, the proto-Marxists, have always thrown Cuba metaphorical kisses, like Michael Moore. Barack Obama reversed decades of U.S. policy by opening relations with Cuba without requiring any human rights concessions in return. One would think an outbreak of democracy on the island would be viewed as a good thing, but Biden’s paid liar, Jen Psaki, absurdly explained that the reason for the protests was “concern about rising COVID cases, deaths, and medicine shortages” rather than political oppression.

While Republicans have immediately announced their support for the Cuban people, Reps. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Gwen Moore (D., Wis.) and the more 70 members of Congress, including “The Squad,” of course, signed a letter asking Biden to lift Trump sanctions Cuba in March. They have not had any comment on the demonstrations so far.

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In Texas, A Court Puts Some Teeth In A Much Abused Legal Ethics Rule

Tiger

The American Bar Association’s Rule 3.6, Trial Publicity, states in part, “A lawyer who is participating or has participated in the investigation or litigation of a matter shall not make an extrajudicial statement that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know will be disseminated by means of public communication and will have a substantial likelihood of materially prejudicing an adjudicative proceeding in the matter.” Although the rule is long-standing and included more or less identically in all state legal ethics rules, it is honored more in the breach than with compliance. One has to look no further than the justice-tainting comments by lawyers and prosecutors in such cases as the deaths of George Floyd, Freddie Gray, and Trayvon Martin, but lawyers shooting off their mouths on TV, social media or in the press is common in many other kinds of litigation. Often they are violating not just Rule 3.6, but 8.4 (Misconduct) as well. Among other things, that rule prohibits lying.

Thus the Texas Supreme Court ruling last week was welcome news. The court held that lawyer statements about a client’s allegations in press releases and social media are not protected by the judicial proceedings privilege or attorney immunity. The judicial proceedings privilege protects statements made in open court, depositions, affidavits and other court papers. Attorney immunity protects lawyers from liability to non-clients when lawyers act on behalf of their clients in a “uniquely lawyerly capacity.” That means when they are clearly and appropriately speaking on behalf of their clients, in their roles as advocates.

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Post-Zoom Hangover Ethics, 3-31-21….

People, even lawyers, just do not interact much in remote seminars. It makes a three-hour session far more tiring, even though I’m sitting down, rather than stalking through the space. Thus I am blotto now, after a legal ethics session earlier today.

1. And THIS is the best paper in the U.S…Two headlines on the New York Times front page this morning my high school paper faculty advisor would have rejected…and he would have been right:

  • “Gaetz Said To Face Inquiry Over Sex With Underage Girl” The fact someone says it is not news. Is he “facing an inquiry” or isn’t he? “Three people briefed on the matter” isn’t a source: we’ve seen how accurate the Times anonymous sources are, especially when the subject is a Republican, a conservative, and a Trump supporter. Why the front page for a rumor? Slow news day? Hey, I’ve got an idea: How about an article about how Joe Biden called Georgia “sick” based on a complete misrepresentation?
  • “Taliban Believes The War’s Over And They Won.” This is psychic news again, my favorite fake news form. How does the Times know what the Taliban “thinks”? Who cares what it “thinks”?

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Quasi-Apology Of The Month: Attorney John Morgan

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I’m not sure where this falls on the Ethic Alarms Apology Scale.

I admit that I’m never heard of John Morgan, but I am told he is a well known attorney in Orlando, Florida, and like so many trial attorneys, a character. Morgan keeps his name before the public in part by posting self-made videos on Twitter posted ( #Johnin60secs ) videos where he gives spontaneous running commentaries on life in general in the conversational and engaging style that makes him a successful litigator. It is a clever marketing approach: I’m pretty sure it gets around Florida’s strict lawyer advertising rules. For example, in one video he described his head as being “ the size of a watermelon,” which is obviously hyperbole. In a legal advertising, a lawyer can’t me make any false or misleading statement or one that can’t be verified.

But I digress. There is a danger any time anyone, no matter how glib or accustomed to speaking off-script, does so for public consumption, as the late Rush Limbaugh, acres of crushed”shockjocks,” Michael Richards and I, among others, can attest. And so it was that Morgan, in one of his videos, was riffing on fast food franchises, and said about Arby’s,

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Enforced Ideological Conformity: The Unethical Firing Of Gina Carano

Gina

Gina Carano, the actress who plays Cara Dune on Disney+’s “The Mandalorian,” was fired by Lucasfilm. I saw the note yesterday, and the company’s explanation which was that Carano’s

“…social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

From this I presumed that the actress had posted something that was racist or otherwise bigoted and hateful—constitutional speech, but not a public opinion that an organization dependent on widespread public favor is obligated to tolerate from its employees. Then today, I saw what she wrote, which was,

“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different than hating someone for their political views?”

She did not denigrate anyone based on their cultural and religious identities. LucasFilm’s statement is a lie, and indeed is very close to defamation. Carano should sue. Meanwhile, Pedro Pascal, who plays the Mandalorian in the same series, tweeted out this idiocy in 2018:

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The Ethics Vacuum That Is CNN’s Brian Stelter

Brain Stelter probably finishes no higher than third in CNN’s “Unprofessional and unethical broadcast journalists who any trustworthy news organization would fire but since CNN isn’t trustworthy it won’t” sweepstakes. Nonetheless, he is shockingly and consistently ethics free, which is particularly grotesque for an alleged media ethics critic. You can read the ugly  Ethics Alarms Stelter dossier here.

He’s also, in addition to being a 24-7 ethics dunce, not very bright.

D.C. attorney Mark Zaid (who also has an Ethics Alarms file!) tweeted this regarding the Washington Post’s settlement of the $250 million defamation suit filed against it by Nick Sandmann:

Being a dolt, Stelter probably thought it would be cute to retweet it, so he did. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/2020: The Congressional Playpen And Other Embarrassments

Good Morning!

Bulgaria has a holiday called “July Morning” that celebrates freedom, friendship, and love of life.

Maybe I’ll move to Bulgaria…

1. I cannot believe this doesn’t alienate more people than it pleases. I watched the Red Sox-Orioles game last night to open the Strangest Baseball Season Ever in Boston, and would have enjoyed it completely ( the Sox won 13-2) had I not had to constantly avert my eyes from the Red Sox management’s ostentatious virtue signaling, if you can call it that, since pandering to Black Lives Matter is far from virtuous.

Not only was the special BLM MLB logo at the back of the pitcher’s mound (BLM MLB is a palindrome!), but the full Black Lives Matter name was emblazoned on a banner, about 250 feet long, across the empty bleachers.

I’d love to know how many Red Sox executives, or if any of them, actually know what the “movement” the team is pimping for intends. My guess is that the decision to promote BLM was a cynical go along to get along decision that had nothing to do with substance, but rather was made in fear and expediency.

2. On the Fox News harassment accuser. The sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Tucker Carlson by Cathy Areu now appears to have fatal flaws. Continue reading

From The #BelieveAllWomen Files: Professor Parisi’s Nightmare

University of Minnesota law professor Francesco Parisi has won a defamation judgment of nearly $1.2 million against former girlfriend Morgan Wright over her false accusation of rape that appears to have been in retaliation for a romance gone sour.

His apparently unbalanced accuser was Morgan Wright, a woman who  told people that she a degree from the Juilliard School of Music and a Master of Art degree in educational psychology when she had neither, according to the judge’s decision. She also signed emails “Dr. Wright,” though she was not a doctor. The old rule “Never sleep with anyone crazier than you are” comes to mind.

In addition to  rape, Wright also accused Parisi of sexual crimes against others and of attempting  to run her down with his black Jeep on three occasions, the last after he had sold the car.

“The preponderance of the evidence clearly shows that Wright created a destructive fiction,” Judge Daniel Moreno wrote. “Wright publicized allegations without regard for their truth or effect: that Parisi raped her, that he had sex with underage girls after giving them alcohol, that his daughter accused him of raping her, and that he was HIV positive. She spread these defamatory statements to Parisi’s employer (the University of Minnesota), to the Minnesota Department of Health, and most importantly to the police.”

Oddly, if Parisi had been running for President against Donald Trump instead of being just a law professor, these accusations might not have hampered his career advancement  at all! Continue reading

From The Trump Campaign, Not Quite A Frivolous Lawsuit, But An Unethical One

Is it possible that my ol’ friend Walt is working for the Trump campaign now? Nah, can’t be. But the logic behind the Trump campaign’s defamation lawsuit against CNN has a familiar ring: like the protracted  defamation suit against me by an aggrieved (and banned) Ethics Alarms commenter, the Trump campaign is claiming that opinion in the news media constitutes defamation, and it does not, must not and cannot. Writes Professor Turley in part: Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: A TIE!

No, not THEIR tweets! Tweets ABOUT them…

Yes, the Democratic Presidential hopeful field’s #1 pandering jerk and it’s leading  shameless demagogue both exploited the birthday of  the late Trayvon Martin to engage is race-baiting, false narrative peddling, and near-defamation. Buttigieg and Warren also recently referred to the “murder” of Mike Brown, whom a grand jury and an Obama Justice Department investigation itching to find evidence of a crime both determined had charged the police officer who shot him, and thus was legally killed in self defense. I fault Warren a bit more here, since she is a law professor and knows damn well that both the evidence and the law say that Martin was not the victim of racism and that but for his possession of a legal firearm, it might have been Zimmerman who was killed.  Yet Buttigieg’s “white supremacy” buzz-wording is  unforgivable, as it literally had nothing to do with the deadly confrontation between a black teen and a Hispanic-American. Continue reading