It Shouldn’t Require A “Theocracy” to Decide THIS Lawsuit Correctly

The Capitol Hill Baptist Church in the District of Columbia, is suing Mayor Muriel Bowser and the District government for violating its First Amendment right to worship.

Good.

“CHBC desires to gather for a physical, corporate gathering of believers in the District of Columbia on Sunday, September 27, 2020, and on subsequent Sundays, and would do so but for those actions of the Defendants that are the subject of this Complaint,” the lawsuit charges. It seems pretty clear that Bowser is applying one set of rules against religious institutions and another set of piorities entirely when it comes to activities she cares about. In March, Bowser (Is she the most unethical big city mayor in the U.S.? She’s certainly in the running, but it’s a tough field) issued an executive order prohibiting churches from meeting indoors or out because of public health concerns related to the pandemic. D.C.’s  four-stage plan would bar in-person worship gatherings until there is an “effective cure or vaccine” for the Wuhan virus, a rule that can be counted on to wound, perhaps mortally, church communities that have been built up over many decades. Right now gatherings are supposedly limited to 100 people or up to 50 percent of the building’s capacity, whichever is fewer. The 850-member Capitol Hill Baptist Church  has been meeting in a field in Virginia.

The 142-year-old congregation explains in its suit that “a weekly in-person worship gathering of the entire congregation is a religious conviction for which there is no substitute. The Church does not offer virtual worship services, it does not utilize a multi-site model, and it does not offer multiple Sunday morning worship services.”

The church’s covenant, to which all members must agree, pledges that they “will not forsake the assembling of [them]selves together,” as decreed in the Bible.  The church’s website explains,

“Since its founding in 1878, CHBC has met in-person every Sunday except for three weeks during the Spanish Flu in 1918. That changed following Mayor Bowser’s first orders concerning COVID-19 on March 11, 2020. Since that time, the members of CHBC—most of whom live in the District—have been unable to meet in person, as one congregation inside District limits (even outdoors)….CHBC has applied for multiple waivers to the policy. District officials refuse to provide CHBC with a waiver beyond 100 persons as part of a mass gathering…A church is not a building that can be opened and closed. A church is not an event to be watched. A church is a community that gathers regularly and that community should be treated fairly by the District government.”

Fairly? On June 10, the church asked for a waiver so the congregation could meet at currently abandoned RFK Stadium, which is large enough to permit social distancing. The mayor’s office didn’t respond to the request and subsequent appeals until September 15, and then issued a rejection stating that “[w]aivers for places of worship above that expanded capacity (100 attendees) are not being granted at this time.” Continue reading

Wuhan Virus Ethic Train Wreck Update

1. Dr. Fauci told ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton yesterday, “If you have goggles or an eye shield, you should use it…You have mucosa in the nose, mucosa in the mouth, but you also have mucosa in the eye. Theoretically, you should protect all the mucosal surfaces. So if you have goggles or an eye shield you should use it.”

Now you tell us!

Though Fauci is in a high-risk demographic, he has never been shown wearing goggles. Or are glasses like he wears (and I do), good enough? If that’s true, he should say so, NOW. Then again, he didn’t wear a mask when he wasn’t social distancing at the Nats game last week.

2. Explain to me again why Fauci is so beloved and sucked up to by the same news media that claims President Trump has “blood on his hands” from his handling of the completely unpredictable pandemic. Fauci has been inconsistent; he has been flat out wrong on many occasions, and then we get head scratchers like a recent interview with PBS NewsHour, where he lauded New York’s disastrous response to the Wuhan virus.

“We know that, when you do it properly, you bring down those cases. We have done it. We have done it in New York,” he told PBS’s Judy Woodruff. “New York got hit worse than any place in the world. And they did it correctly.”

Really? Doing nothing to curb the obvious virus-encouraging subway travel at the peak of the outbreak…

was “doing it right”? Governor Cuomo dumping infected seniors into nursing homes was “doing it right?”

Lest we forget.. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser [Corrected And Updated!]

I love it when people like “Mad Dog” Mattis claim that President Trump is divisive, and then Democratic elected officials pull stunts like this, which is explicitly and intentionally divisive. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser today had “Black Lives Matter” painted in huge letters on the street that leads to the White House. Yes, it’s government by graffiti!

Gee, good one, Mayor. Next, I recommend standing out in front of the White House and farting in its general direction.

The mayor’s move is a slur, just as “Black Lives Matter” itself is an organized racist insult to non-black Americans. In 2015 (I have not been able to find a more recent statistic), 500 white citizens were killed by African Americans, yet I would not presume  that blacks needed to be told that “white lives matter.” The group’s subtext has always been that somehow white America doesn’t believe that black lives matter. That’s a lie, easily rebutted, and a racist one. Continue reading

Did Trump’s Impeachment Lawyer Lie To The Senate?

Pat Cipollone, one of President Trump’s lawyer,  stated  that Republicans weren’t allowed to participate in House depositions. This wasn’t true: 47 Republicans who served on the appropriate committees had the right to attend these depositions, and many did attend. Naturally the “Get all Trump allies’ resistance mob regards this an intentional lie, and is demanding that Cipellone be disciplined for professional misconduct.

Wrong.

Writes legal ethics expert Stacie  Rosenzweig, “This is almost certainly a lie rather than a misstatement or misapprehension; I can’t imagine a scenario in which a lawyer with a three-decade career and a reputation for being “well-prepared and even-keeled” would simply not know that.” Her logic is exactly upside down: a lawyer that experienced would not deliberately utter a lie in such a high profile forum where it would certainly be noticed, undermining his credibility to no good end.  Sure enough, the factcheckers were on his misstatement like a shot.

The lawyer probably made a mistake, contrary to Rosenweig’s unjustfied certitude.This may have occurred because the false claim that the GOP was shut out of the depositions was a frequent right-wing talking point, and he didn’t check it. The assertion was at best tangential to his argument; I guarantee that no bar association would discipline any lawyer by using the argument, “You’re too good and experienced to make a stupid mistake.” Good and experienced lawyers made mistakes, sometimes astonishing ones.
Continue reading

Not Protesters, Just A Mob

Giving a mob the dignity and legitimacy of referring to them as “protesters” just encourages them. A prime example occurred two days ago in New Haven, at the traditional Harvard-Yale game, the culmination of the Ivy League college football season. Personally, I wouldn’t have crossed the street to attend the 136th edition of “The Game,” though I witnessed the most famous of the them all, 1968’s 29-29 tie. Nonetheless, what a bunch of climate-addled demonstrators inflicted on a large group of students and alumni just trying to have a good time enjoying football, traditions, nostalgia and camaraderie  should not be romanticized. The “protesters” are arrogant, disrespectful and anti-democratic jerks. Boola-Boola.

A large mob of Yale Bowl spectators rushed the field at halftime, demanding that Harvard and Yale divest themselves of investments in fossil fuel and energy companies, delaying the start of the second half by nearly an hour, and causing the game to finish in near-darkness. Students from both schools, who didn’t care who they hurt or inconvenienced, rushed to midfield as soon the Yale band finished performing. ( At least they could have done it while the Yale band was performing…)The contest resumed after the Yale police issued 42 summonses for disorderly conduct. But the wasted hour threatened game’s finish:  the Yale Bowl lacks stadium lights, and the game went to double overtime. Yale won just before it became too dark to play.

The Ivy League referred to the protest as “regrettable.” and Yale said that while it “stands firmly for the right to free expression,” it added that “the exercise of free expression on campus is subject to general conditions, and we do not allow disruption of university events.”

So will Yale suspend or expel any of the mob? Of course not.

Protesters that set out to get attention by disrupting the lives of law-abiding citizens engaged in innocent activities are low-level terrorists. They aim to bypass democracy by creating implicit threats, hoping that their adversaries will surrender to just shut them up and avoid the annoyance. Continue reading

The Cherokee Nation Believes That It Should Have A Representative In Congress. (It Should)

…as long as it isn’t Elizabeth Warren, of course.

Citing treaties with the U.S. government signed in the 18th and 19th centuries, the new elected chief the Cherokee Nation is insisting that the tribe get a delegate to Congress for the first time in history.

“These treaties are sacred. They mean something. There’s no expiration date on them,” said Chuck Hoskin Jr., chief of the Cherokee Nation. What I’m asking is for the government of the United States to keep its word.”

You mean, unlike with all those other treaties the U.S. signed with Native American tribes? What’s this? Have you no respect for precedent, man?

Charles Gourd, the director of the Cherokee National Historical Society, told the news media that he and others had wondered  why no Cherokee Nation delegate had ever been seated in Congress despite assurances to that effect. He can’t be serious! If a delegate were finally seated, he and others might then wonder why that provision of a treaty was honored while so many others were breached or ignored at will.

The right for the Cherokee to send a “deputy” to represent them in the United States Congress was first assured by the Treaty of Hopewell of 1785, which defined Cherokee borders and promised certain protections in return. The right to send a “delegate”  to the House of Representatives was specified affirmed in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota. The House has several nonvoting delegates,  representing Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States Virgin Islands. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/7/18: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

Good morning.

…And a good morning to remember a very bad morning in Hawaii 77 years ago today.

1. Oscar’s latest fiasco. The Academy Awards, which like all awards shows has descended into nasty political advocacy, undermining its mission and alienating its audience, decided to pick famously non-partisan black comedian Kevin Hart, who is also a successful movie actor, to host. His gig lasted just a few day. People looking to discredit him went digging into  his social media posts, and some tweets from eight years ago–you know, before Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had flipped on gay marriage?—were judged as “homophobic.” In a post on Instagram at about 11 p.m. last night, Hart said he got a call from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and was asked to apologize for his prior tweets, or step down as host. He chose to withdraw, and tweeted this:

“I have made the choice to step down from hosting this year’s Oscar’s….this is because I do not want to be a distraction on a night that should be celebrated by so many amazing talented artists. I sincerely apologize to the LGBTQ community for my insensitive words from my past. ‘m sorry that I hurt people.. I am evolving and want to continue to do so. My goal is to bring people together not tear us apart. Much love & appreciation to the Academy. I hope we can meet again.”

The conservative media is calling Hart another example of political correctness run amuck. That’s ignorant and wrong. To be successful, an MC has to be liked and trusted by his audience, which is, for the Oscars, the people inside the theater above all. A huge percentage, even a half or more, of the Oscar audience is gay. No one can host the Oscars while it is known that he once said, even eight years ago, that he was terrified that his son might grow up to be gay. It doesn’t matter that he may have “evolved.”  Hollywood is a substantially gay community, and the host of its biggest party of the year should neither be nor be suspected of being homophobic,

Why the Academy’s vetters and Hart himself couldn’t figure this out is a different issue: gross incompetence. Continue reading

The D.C. Court Of Appeals Handgun Decision [UPDATED]

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled this week that it is unconstitutional for the District government to restrict handgun licenses only to citizens who can prove a “special need for self-protection distinguishable from the general community as supported by evidence of specific threats or previous attacks that demonstrate a special danger to the applicant’s life.” D.C. now must follow a standard system approved by the Supreme Court as not unduly burdensome to Second Amendment rights: issuing permits to adults who pass a fingerprint-based background check and a safety training class.

You can read the whole opinion here.  Two cases were under scrutiny: Wrenn v. District of Columbia and Matthew Grace and Pink Pistols v. District of Columbia.  Circuit Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote the opinion and was joined by Senior Judge Stephen F. Williams. Judge Karen LeCraft. Judge Karen Henderson, a Republican appointee, dissented.

This is a liberal court, but it properly upheld the Second Amendment while slapping down anti-gun talking points that I have always found obnoxious and totalitarian in spirit. “Why does anyone need a gun? Why do they need a semi-automatic weapon? Why do they need so much ammunition? I don’t need a gun. Guns are dangerous. If I don’t need one, you don’t need one.”

The government doesn’t have the right to tell me what I need. Strangers don’t get to tell me that my needs are unreasonable based on their beliefs and biases. In 2013, playwright and screenwriter David Mamet wrote an op-ed for Newsweek nicely articulating these principles. (If it is still available in its entirety, I lack the cleverness to find it. [UPDATE: Reader Frank Stephens was clever enough, and the link is here]. Newsweek banished the article to its ally The Daily Beast, where all links, including in my post about it, lead. That link is now dead: it just goes to the website. I searched the Daily Beast for the article: it isn’t there. But, oddly, a rebuttal to the article is. I suppose this is how the news media silences the apostates in its midst. Fortunately, this passage survives: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority [ UPDATED]

[UPDATE: The original version of this post designated the dunces as the D.C. government. This was not accurate, as reader deery helpfully pointed out. You can read about the baroque and diffuse organization and leadership of the D.C. area’s transit system…currently in bad repair and financial distress…here.  Good luck. The text has been revised to reflect the correction in the title. Frankly, the exact organization of the DC. area Metro is less central to the post than the fact wherever the leadership is, it is government, it is dominated by the local Democratic leadership, and it is censorship. That’s what matters.]

Quick, now: what controversial political position does the above Washington, D.C. area  public transit ad promote?

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the transit agency of the local  and state governments in and surrounding the nation’s capital,  has pulled ads for controversial right-wing speaker Milo Yiannopoulos’ self-published memoir after determining the ads violated the transit system’s policies banning issue-oriented, political and other advocacy advertising.

An independent contractor sells and installs ads across the system, but ultimately Metro’s leaders have the final say…providing that they follow the Bill of Rights. This appears to be a problem for them.

The relevant Metro policies  restricting advertising content include:

  • “Advertisements intended to influence members of the public regarding an issue on which there are varying opinions are prohibited”
  • “Advertisements that are intended to influence public policy are prohibited”

There is no argument here about what the banning of the book ad is: the Transit Authority is engaging in censorship.  This is especially obnoxious for an agency that represents the locality that hosts of the national government, and where the Constitution is on display.  It is also ignorant. Read the damn thing, you politically corrupt dolts. And it is arrogant. The District’s population, stuffed with Democrats like no other jurisdiction, with a majority African-American and conservative-loathing populace, figures to revile a right-wing troll like Milo, and the reliably Democratic riders served by the Metro in Northern Virginia and Maryland are hardly more tolerant of hard-right trolls. But Milo’s name and book cover by no stretch of the imagination are advocacy or efforts to “influence” anyone regarding public policy or “an issue.” Like all ads, here’s the position that it advocates: “Buy this!”

Milo Yiannopoulos is an ugly and cynical right-wing provocateur, but he does not forfeit the protection of the First Amendment because of who he is. When did liberals and Democrats lose their comprehension of this basic democratic concept? What ever the origin of their confusion, it makes them untrustworthy, sinister, and almost as revolting as Milo.

He’ll probably sue the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority for infringing his rights, which it has. He will win. Keep it up, Democrats! Keep indulging that inner totalitarian just screaming to get out.

See what happens.

Lawyer Snaps, Criticizes Own Client On Twitter, Daily Kos

Mark S. Zaid is a distinguished lawyer currently active in bolstering anti-President Trump efforts. He actively trolls on Twitter for clients looking to bring laws suits against the administration, and his clients include prominent “resistance” conspiracy theorist and blogger Louise Mensch, whose name I was blissfully unaware of until last week, and now she is turning up in my e-mail, in my story feeds, everywhere.

A couple of days ago, Mensch launched a new Trump rumor, using “anonymous sources” (which makes her just like the New York Times and Washington Post!) that the Daily Kos picked up. You can read it here: good luck. It is so muddled in its “facts” and suppositions that it makes other fake news look good. Naturally, the Daily Kos took the “breaking” scoop at face value, although it was so legally absurd it made my teeth hurt. The Palmer Report, the same wacko site that drove Larry Tribe around the bend, also was in the mix.

My favorite item in the “story” was that a court had handed down an indictment against President Trump, not for criminal purposes but to support his impeachment. When I read stuff like this, I stop reading further. Grand juries don’t work like that. Courts don’t work like that. Indictments don’t work like that. Impeachment doesn’t work  like that. Nothing works like that, except to a mind where complete hatred and fear of Donald Trump and the joy of having so many mutually infected embarrassing themselves in high places has caused the brain to morph, hopefully only temporarily, into a gerbil wheel.

Zaid, who obviously has a high tolerance for this blather being a 24-7 Trump basher himself, apparently couldn’t take it any more, and wrote to his client Louise on Twitter and in the comments to The Daily Kos story,

Respectfully to my client, there is no info available to support this. We need more than just these anonymous source(s).

This is like putting client advice on a billboard. This is like leaving client advice on an answering machine (yes, I’ve encountered that!). This is like putting client advice on your Facebook wall, and it is exactly like posting  client advice on a public website, because that’s essentially what Zaid did. Continue reading