Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/10/19: Omar, Warren, Clinton, And Urinals

Good morning!

Yesterday I had completed a 3-hour Ethics CLE program for a distinguish national law firm’s D.C. office, aided by my sister, retired justice Dept. and HHS attorney Edith Marshall. (This time, her role was to lead the attendees in the chorus section of my legal ethics parody of “Trouble in River City” from “The Music Man.”) I knew that I should have gotten some posts done when I returned, but a) I was exhausted and b) there were two Game Five play-off games to watch. Sometimes, baseball comes first. Priorities! Congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals for an upset win over the Braves, whose horrible fate of giving up ten runs in the first inning I wouldn’t even wish on the Yankees. Imagine knowing you have lost before your team even gets up to bat, and that you’re in front of the home team fans who will have to suffer through three hours of slow, inevitable humiliation. Ugh. The Braves lost with as much dignity as possible in such a hopeless situation. And congratulations to the resurgent Washington Nationals, who came back from a late  deficit to tie the game in the eighth, and then won on a grand slam in the tenth. They are now headed to the seven game play-off to determine who represents the NL in the World Series, the first time a Washington, D.C. team has been this close since 1933. D.C. really needed this.

1. Should it matter? Minnesota Fifth District Rep. Ilhan Omar, she of “The Squad” fame (or infamy)  has filed for divorce from husband Ahmed Hirsi, whom she only married last year, though he is the father of her three children. Omar’s petition for dissolution of her marriage has been posted online here. Our sole Somali Muslim House member previously was married to  Ahmed Nur Said Elmi, who appears to be her brother and whom she married to perpetrate a citizenship fraud in 2009. Omar legally dissolved that marriage in 2017. There appears to have been a period where she was married to both men. Omar has never given a straightforward explanation for her tangled domestic affairs.

Should any of this matter? These things really do constitute “personal, private conduct,” unlike the workplace misconduct that the enablers of Bill Clinton tried to defend by using that term. If Omar did perpetrate a fraud, however, or was married to two husbands, those are very relevant to her fitness to serve as a law-maker. Continue reading

Monday Ethics Musings, 10/7/2019: Questions, Questions…

Thinking…

Wait, where are my clothes???

1. When will Mrs. Q make her debut as a regular contributor to Ethics Alarms? I’m working out the details. She’s ready, I’m behind, we’ll get it done. Very excited.

2. If everything is going to be done online, is it reasonable to expect those companies who force us to interact that way to be competent? Case Study: The Boston Globe just offered me a 6 month digital subscription for a buck. But an old password connected to my email address prevented me from entering the new one necessary to accept the deal. All links went to current subscription or subscribing at the regular price. It took 40 minutes of online chats with robots and a human being (who disconnected me one) to fix the problem, which was in how the Globe set up the offer acceptance page. I ended up using a password made up by “Sherry” because I couldn’t reset my password myself. This kind of thing happens all the time. I wouldn’t have a clue how to set up a website response system, but if that was my job, I would be obligated to do better than this.

3. What good are movie critics whose opinions and tastes aren’t shared by their readers? My view: not much. The job of a critic is to let readers know if readers would appreciate the movie or not. A critic who can’t or won’t do that, and most don’t, is useless. I was thinking about this when I encountered this article in The Guardian listing the films for which audience ratings and critical ratings diverged the most.

Much of the disparity today is caused by critics who allow their ideological biases to dominate their judgment: yes, bias makes them stupid. Another problem, harder to over-come, is that the judgment of people who see hundreds of movies a year and who are often steeped in the art of film-making often has no relevance to the movie average audience member at all. Yet another is the unavoidable fact that few critics are equally qualified to review all genres. Horror movies are especially frequent victims of this problem.

Incidentally, yesterday I watched a new horror movie, “A.M.I.” that exploited the inherent creepiness of online personal assistants like Siri and Alexa. It was pretty bad, but the final scene was so ridiculous (and predictable) that it almost justified the film. Almost. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: David Harsanyi, On The CNN “Climate Crisis” Town Hall

“[T]he most benign climate-change plan proposed during CNN’s seven-hour Democratic Party presidential candidate town hall was more authoritarian than anything Donald Trump has ever suggested during his presidency.”

 Federalist Senior Editor David Harsanyi, who continued, “Democrats were not merely proposing massive societal upheaval but mass coercion.”

I did not and could not watch the town hall; someone would have to pay me to do that, and frankly, anyone who would watch such a monstrosity without compensation has some serious intellectual and cognitive issues to deal with. This was a discussion among non-scientists about a complex topic none of them understand or are qualified to opine on, moderated by an equally ignorant and biased journalist, with questions being posed by activists rather than informed and open-minded citizens. It wasn’t journalism, and it wasn’t public education. Questioners were allowed to wear shirts with climate change slogans on them, like this…

One commentator correctly analogized the scene to Fox News holding an abortion town hall with all the questions coming from anti-abortion activists, with many wearing “ABORTION IS MURDER” shirts.

However, now I have had time to peruse the transcripts to the extent that I could without my head exploding, and reviewed the reviews. Not surprisngly, but depressing nonetheless, the mainstream news media whitewashed the event, focusing on the most benign and relatively reasonable-sounding statements, while ignoring the bat-crazy, “Oh-my-god-did-I-really-hear-that?” moments that should haunt the Democratic Party all the way to November 2020. The Times, for example, headlined its “review,” “CNN Climate Town Hall: Here’s What You Need to Know.”  Since the Times strategically decided that you didn’t need to know that old Joe Biden’s left eye filled with blood, readers should understand what THAT means: “Here’s what we want you to know.”

The Times and other mainstream media organs don’t want you to know, for example, what Hirsanyi accurately points out: the party that has been promoting the big lie that President Trump is a dangerous authoritarian and a threat to democracy is led by individuals who advocate gutting the economy, democracy and personal liberties to address an “emergency” hyped in order to justify doing so. For example,

  • Joe Biden was asked by  Anderson Cooper if the Green New Deal, which to the extent that it means anything stands for banning   fossil fuels, 99 percent of cars and planes, retrofitting our buildings and eliminating meat within the next decade, “goes too far,” and was “unrealistic, promising too much.” Joe answered, “No, no it’s not.” It  “deserves an enormous amount of credit,” said Joe. Recall that Saikat Chakrabarti, the former chief of staff of Representative Ocasio-Cortez and widely believed to be the main architect of the GND, told the Washington Post  that ” it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all, because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

In other words, declare an emergency to take over the economy.

To be fair, does anyone think that Biden has read the Green New Deal? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/20/2019: Fake History, Fake Photo, Fake Assassination, Fake Native American

A dramatic good morning to all.

1. Let’s see which news media outlets report this. Because, you know, the President is the one encouraging violence…State senator Martin Sandoval, who represents Illinois’ 11th District, had a  fundraising event last week that included a mock assassination of  President Trump for the enjoyment and edification of Sandoval’s supporters. Photos posted by a woman at the event show someone pointing a fake machine gun at a man wearing a Trump mask. “Trump” is acting as if he has been shot, grabbing his chest and leaning back. In another photo, Sandoval can be seen standing next to the person holding the gun.

Thus busted, and under fire from officials of his own party, Sandoval released a statement over the weekend apologizing for the incident, which he called “unacceptable.” “I don’t condone violence toward the President or anyone else,” Sandoval said. “I apologize that something like this happened at my event.”

Oddly, he didn’t take any action indicating those sentiments at the event.

2. Now THIS is police misconduct! Wow. Portland police suspected Tyrone Lamont Allen of robbing four banks and credit unions. Yet none of the tellers noticed Allen’s  facial tattoos, and he was not wearing a mask. To address that problem, the police photoshopped out the tattoos on Allen’s face before including his picture in a photo line up.

Then the witnesses identified Allen. Continue reading

Insomnia Ethics Dump, 8/19/2019 (at 3:16 am): What Keeps Me Up At Night

Hi.

So depressing to observe the reactions of the Facebook Borg to my post about Elizabeth Warren’s self-outing as a lying demagogue. They couldn’t process it; they put their metaphorical fingers in their ears and hummed; they attacked the messenger (me); they channeled the generally-derided Politifact whitewashing of the “Mike Brown was murdered” lie. One lawyer friend apparent deep-dived Ethics Alarms to try to  find a post that would contradict my position regarding Warren (and Kamala Harris). She couldn’t, but pretended she had by metaphorically waving an essay in which I applauded a man acquitted of murder by reason of insanity who later admitted to others that he had killed someone when he was younger and insane. (I can’t find the damn thing myself.)  She then called me a liar and a hypocrite, because I had described the man as a murderer when he was innocent in the eyes of the law. A lawyer made this argument, mind you. I explained, not too nicely, that her analogy was idiotic, since there was no murder and no crime in the Brown case, so law prof Warren’s calling it either was dishonest and indefensible, while in the case of the recovered madman, there was a murder, a crime, and a murder victim. Though the acknowledged killer he was fortunate enough to have committed his crime in a state that holds the insane unaccountable, that fact didn’t change the act or the  crime.

I don’t know why I bothered. Warren fans, like Bernie Bros, appear to be completely immune to facts and reality.

1.  Why is there such a compulsion to corrupt the innocent, even the fictional innocent? I was hardly an admirer of those late 60s and 70s Sid and Marty Kroft Saturday Morning TV shows with people dressed in huge, garish thing-costumes and being relentlessly cheery. You know the ones: “H.R. Puffnstuff,” “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour,” “Lidsville”—those. In addition to being assaultive and unfunny, they also inspired Barney, for which the Krofts should never be forgiven.

Still, lots of kids loved the shows and characters, and they should be able to cherish those memories. Hollywood, however, seems determined to debase everything it can, especially fond memories, either by sexualizing them or making them dark, or both. (The re-boot of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” and “Riverdale,” the series based on the “Archie” comics, are cases in point.) Now we have the new in which are re-imagined as murderous psychopaths.

Nice. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/15/2019: Starring Two Of My Favorite Unethical Websites!

WAKE UP!

Oh, great: started this post at 7 am, hell broke lose at ProEthics, and now it’s after noon. Well, the hell with it: I’m not going back to change the headline or the intro, and I like Lenny’s version of the Stars and Stripes at any time of day.

So there.

1. Unprofessional and dangerous stuff from  Above the Law….as usual. The legal gossip and snark online tabloid is run and written by lawyers who are not practicing law, so they feel free to engage in conduct that lawyers are forbidden from engaging in, like misrepresentation.  Lately the cyber rag has been cyber-ragging on Jones Day, a long-time, distinguished D.C. mega firm. Why are they doing that? Come on, it should be obvious.

ATL takes the position—and it has company— that Jones Day is eeeevil and must be shunned because it represents the Trump campaign. Hence you get headlines like “IF YOU HAD TO GUESS WHICH FIRM WOULD DO THIS:New allegations claim Jones Day lightened the skin and narrowed the nose on the picture of one of their lawyers.” Continue reading

Addendum: To Be Fair, Elizabeth Warren Wasn’t The Only Democratic Presidential Candidate Who Lied About The Death Of Mike Brown Last Week. She Was Just The Worst…

Last week, on Friday and Saturday, Democratic Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Tim Ryan,  Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Kirsten Gillibrand, Bernie Sanders, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio all tweeted out deliberately false statements about the shooting of Michael Brown in Fergusen, Missouri 5 years ago, all apparently doing so to pander to African Americans, especially those who don’t read newspapers.

Ethics Alarms focused on Warren, being the biggest and most shameless demagogue of the group, in this post, which concluded,

“Warren isn’t intellectually lazy, or flummoxed by a false narrative. She is pandering. She is lying. She is doing what she evidently thinks will gain her power and the Presidency: saying what she thinks will attract needed support, even though she knows, knows, that it is false. Warren is a law professor and a litigator, and from all reports skilled in both roles. She knows that the facts made it obvious that Brown wasn’t murdered. She knows that competent, fair citizens must not call other citizens murderers when not only have they not been charged, tried, or duly convicted, but when authorities have concluded that there is insufficient evidence for an official accusation.The tweet isn’t a mistake or an opinion. It is a deliberate lie, a public and a defamatory one. I see no reason why Darren Wilson could not sue Warren and win.”

That is still accurate and true. Several Ethics Alarms readers pointed out that Kamala Harris also advanced the long de-bunked narrative that Mike Brown was a nice, friendly, “gentle giant” heading for college who was gunned down by a racist cop while holding up his hands and pleading for his life. Continue reading