No, Thomas M. Cooley Law School Did Not Make Michael Cohen A Bad Lawyer, And The Fact That Cohen Got His JD There Does Not Mean It’s A Lousy Law School

Ugh. I don’t want to argue that Cooley isn’t a lousy law school, mind you, although I don’t have anything but anecdotal data of the matters, and I certainly don’t want to defend Cohan, whom I fingered as a lousy lawyer way back in 2015. ( What A Surprise: Donald Trump Has An Unethical Lawyer!). 

No, this post is about how incompetent journalists are, how they are too frequently devoid of basic reasoning and research skills, and how, particularly when they deal with legal matters, their ignorance is frequently embarrassing while it actively misleads the public.

Politico’s Phillip Shenon, who, not surprisingly, is not a lawyer, figures he can smear three parties via guilt by association with one brush in  “Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Worst Law School in America.”  But graduates of every law school succeed and fail, and while the law schools like to take credit for them, there is every reason to believe that those grads would have succeeded or failed had they gone to better law schools, or worse ones. One graduate’s misadventures prove absolutely nothing.

Roy Cohn, who  served as Senator Joe McCarthy’s chief counsel during the infamous Army–McCarthy hearings and was later disbarred, graduated from Columbia Law School. If he had graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Shenon no doubt would have thought Cohn’s alma mater was significant, but, of course, it would be a cheap shot at McCarthy and Cohn. If Cohen had gone to Columbia, Shenon could write a piece titled “Trump’s Lawyer Went to the Same Law School As Roy Cohn.”

Bill Lerach, disbarred in the class action law suit scandal involving his law firm, was considered a champion of abused investors and a social justice crusader, until he was exposed and sent to prison. He went to the University of Pittsburgh’s law school. Did that school make him do what he did? If he had gone to Harvard, or Cooley, would he have practiced law any differently?

Let’s look at Richard Nixon’s lawyers. John Erlichmann, send to prison and disbarred, went to Stanford Law School.  John Mitchell, also locked up, also disbarred, graduated from Fordham Law. John Dean, who was sent to prison and disbarred, got his law degree at Georgetown. Speaking of Georgetown, Stephen Glass, the disgraced journalist deemed possessed of so wretched character that California declared that he can never be a lawyer and have a chance to screw up like Michael Cohen, attended t Georgetown Law Center, which, as I have written about here, has a law professor who was previously a bank robber. Thomas Cooley Law School never sank that low.  Until recently, GULC also had an adjunct ethics prof who turned out to be a meth dealer. That guy, Jack Vitayanon, got his degree at Columbia Law School, just like Roy Cohn. What a coincidence! Or is it….?

As you may know, I also got my law degree at Georgetown, so if I go rogue, you know who to blame. Wait, maybe you don’t. The one to blame will be ME. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “The Obama-Farrakhan Photo”

I don’t think I agree with this comment regarding the post about how a  photograph of Senator Obama smiling next to Louis Farrakhan came to be hidden from public view until now, and how its reappearance has launched speculation on the Right that Obama was elected by a public unaware of his radical, anti-white proclivities. It is a very interesting comment, though, and raises several excellent issues about how actions, motives and truth interact. I may author a detailed rebuttal in the comments, but the core question this raises is this: To what extent does the fact that an action was taken to hide something serve as material evidence that there that something that needed to be hidden?

The results of the Ethics Alarms poll asking what the photo proved, incidentally, was that 86% of those voting believed that it proved nothing regarding Obama’s feelings to toward Farrakhan  at all.

Here is johnburger2013‘s Comment of the Day on the post, The Obama-Farrakhan Photo:

Methinks our faithful ethics blogger is being, according to our friends across the pond, a bit “cheeky”, hoping to inspire a lively debate, knowing fully well that a photo of Trump with David Duke would be conclusive evidence that the present Chief Executive Officer of the US is merely waiting for his hood to come back from the cleaners so that he can don it and go out for a fun night on the town.

For me, the real ethics issue is not the photo, but that Congressional Black Caucus leaned on a journalist to kill its publication and the journalist capitulated. Other Bill, VPJ and Charles Marschner are correct: publication of the photo (probably) would not have changed the 2008 election results.

But, let’s ask the bigger question: Why kill it?

First, who is Askia Muhammad? According to Wikipedia, he is a poet, journalist, radio producer, commentator, and a photojournalist. He has served as the editor of Muhammad Speaks and as the head of the Washington office of The Final Call, the official newspapers of the Nation of Islam, which incidentally, is the organization headed by the right-honorable Louis Farrakhan, from Chicago, IL. (Who else was from Chicago? Might it have been a little-known senator but rising star in the Democrat party? Hmmm.) Continue reading

The Obama-Farrakhan Photo

A  photo has emerged showing former President Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator,  posing with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the black nationalist Nation of Islam. Obama and the anti-white, anti-Semitic demagogue are beaming at a Congressional Black Caucus meeting in 2005. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls his organization a hate-group, but then they call a lot of organizations hate groups. I’d call the Nation of Islam a racist group that peddles hate.

Journalist Askia Muhammed, who took the photo, is publishing it in a new book called “The Autobiography of Charles 67X.” He says that after the event,  the Congressional Black Caucus contacted him and demanded to have the disk. “I gave the original disk to him and in a sense swore myself to secrecy because I had quietly made a copy for myself,” Muhammad told Fox News, adding that the CBC was concerned that a photo with Farrakhan could hurt the Obama’s Presidential prospects.

The conservative news media is writing about this, while the mainstream news media, with a few exceptions like the New Yorker, is ignoring it. Writes Vinson Cunningham, in that publication,

“[Askia] Muhammad, that anonymous C.B.C. functionary, and Farrakhan, with that faux-harmless smile, all knew it: if that picture spreads in 2007 or 2008, a whole different history ensues.”

If that’s true, then the fact that the photo was buried is news, right? But is that true? Why should it be true? Why would such a photograph mean anything at all? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/29/2017: Featuring Vital Questions Such As: Will Women Now Try To Look Unattractive? Should A Hospital Employ A Nurse Who Hates White People? Is That Man Trying To Rape A Manniquin With An Ice Dildo?

Good Morning!

1  Documented insanity. The New York Times has been on an extended binge of highlighting the suffering of deported illegal residents. I could probably post several more episodes of the Ethics Alarms “Good Illegal Immigrant ” series every week. The intellectual dishonesty of almost all of these Times stories, like the pro-illegal immigrant movement itself, is impressive. Essentially, they all can be reduced to, “Isn’t it terrible that these lawbreakers have to endure the consequences of their own actions?”

Complementing these stories are periodic opinion pieces like “ICE’s Courthouse Arrests Undercut Democracy,”‘ by César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, an associate professor of law at the University of Denver. He writes a pro-illegal immigration blog, identifiable in motive by its habitual use of the cover word “migrant” to mean “illegal immigrants” and the deliberately misleading word “Immigration” to mean “illegal immigration.” Hernández’s op-ed’s argument follows as the night follows day:

“In El Paso, ICE arrested a woman moments after she requested a court’s help keeping away an abusive partner. Fear and uncertainty caused by this type of courthouse arrest are already keeping people away from the halls of justice. In Denver, the city prosecutor gave up on four domestic violence cases because the victims said they were too afraid of ICE to appear in court. In a nationwide survey conducted in April by the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, four out of 10 social service providers working with immigrant survivors of abuse said they had clients who had abandoned legal claims because of fear of what will happen if they call the police or go to court.”

Wait: why were these people afraid of ICE? By immigrant survivors, doesn’t Hernandez mean illegal immigrant survivors? If he does, why doesn’t he say so? His favorite terms are “unauthorized” immigrants, and here and there “undocumented” immigrants, poor things. Whatever happened to their documents?

It’s not a threat to democracy if illegal immigrants are afraid to come to court. They should be afraid to come to court. They should be afraid to take advantage of any aspect of  our government or American society. Underlying the professor’s claimed concern for democratic institutions is his contempt for the rule of law. He wants to blur the distinction between illegal and legal immigration to the vanishing point. He quotes the California chief justice as she writes that “the vast majority” of “undocumented immigrants” “pose no risk to public safety.” Is that the desired standard for law enforcement now? As long as a known law-breaker poses no risk to public safety, he or she should be immune from arrest when they turn up in court?

The Times is apparently committed to bombarding its readers with this unconscionable position in perpetuity: our monstrous government has decided to enforce its immigration laws, and the very fabric of our democracy is threatened as a result.

2. CNN Tales.   On a related note, this morning I saw a slick TV ad on CNN supporting “Dreamer” legislation. The terms “illegal,” and even the cover words “undocumented” or “unauthorized” were never used, as various Presidents were shown extolling “immigrants.” “Dreamers” were described as “immigrants” who came here as children.

An ethical broadcast news organization should not accept money to run ads that intentionally misinform its viewers.

But THIS is CNN!…and so is this:  A CNN spokesperson told Politico…
Continue reading

The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part III: The Tweet

trump-tweet-enemies

Part I in this series began with a random choice of a New York Times anti-President hit piece of the day. This is the one of truths that the mainstream media wants to pretend  doesn’t exist: the intentionally, relentlessly negative, innuendo-filled reporting regarding the Trump administration, with the goal of alarming the public, undermining its trust in the government, weakening his Presidency, or bringing it down entirely. Just to be up to date, let’s look at today’s front page…and what do we find? “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates.”  The article includes a prominent graphic titled “Donald Trump’s Connections in the Ukraine.” But the article itself, and any research into the individuals shown in the graphic, show no association between Donald Trump and the Ukraine whatsoever. We see…

Andrii V. Artemenko: Ukrainian politician with a peace plan for Ukraine and a file alleging that its president is corrupt.

Felix H. Sater: Russian-American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump Organization.

Michael D. Cohen: Trump’s personal attorney, under scrutiny from F.B.I. over links with Russia.

Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.

There is no evidence or even allegation that Artemenko has even spoken to Trump. Sater was involved in helping businessman Trump seek deals in Russia, and that is all the article tells us about him. Cohen is Trump’s lawyer, and a lawyer’s clients are not “linked” to other clients, unless you think Patty Hearst was “linked” to O.J. Simpson through their mutual lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.

Then there is Manafort, who is not  in the Trump Administration, and was fired from the campaign before the election. Back when he was the campaign manager, Politifact did a “check” on him, and found that he had done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians. Among the international clients Clinton consultant James Carville lists on his website are politicians in Argentina (lots), Columbia, Bolivia,  and yes, the Ukraine, that’s just “some” of the them, meaning that some of the others either don’t want to be known or wouldn’t make Carville look good if they were known. Was Hillary Clinton “associated” with everyone on Carville’s client list? (Also a Carville client: the late Senator Ted Kennedy, serial pussy-grabber and un-prosecuted negligent homicide suspect). Of course not, but that’s the degree of “association” with the Ukraine that the Times article pins on the President, once you get past the front page headline and graphic. The photo over the online version of the article even shows President Trump, who is barely mentioned in the substance of the piece at all, except in such references as “Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”

Might all of these “associations”—this use of guilt by association would be too attenuated even for Joe McCarthy–eventually add up to something sinister, and a scandal that involves the Trump administration? Sure, anything is possible. THAT would be news. THAT would belong on the front page. THIS story, however, is a dog’s breakfast of innuendo, speculation, “hmmmm..” and nothing. It is fake news…not fraudulent in its facts, fraudulent  in its presentation, placement in the paper and intentional suggestion that what is known justifies suspicion of the President. The defenders of the ongoing journalist attacks on the President continue to argue that fact-based smears and rumor-mongering stories published in major news sources are not “fake news,” and after a story like this, I have to wonder about their honesty too. There is only one way this kind of smoky article makes a front page above the fold.

Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing  a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug  faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it. Their supposed “watchdogs” like CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t do it, because he is too busy bashing the President himself while defending his pals.

It would be much better if someone in academia, or a prominent journalist pointed out how terrible a biased and untrustworthy news media is for the nation, but this is the Left’s attempted coup, after all. Try finding an objective authority in academia or journalism. So the leader of the nation, on national television, has to tell the self-congratulatory journalists that they are failing their duty to the nation, which is to inform the public. They see their duty as bringing down a President their Progressive Masters hate.  In other words, the President is saying, essentially..

The follow-up tweet elaborated by specifying just how much of a betrayal this is, saying,

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

Look at this as the second slap. Better yet, look at it as the journalism version of Ronald Reagan slapping the Soviet Union with the well-deserved label, “The Evil Empire.”  Many commentators, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, traced the beginning of the unraveling of the Iron Curtain to Reagan’s brutal frankness. Continue reading

More Inaugeration Ethics: The Hero, The Dunce, And The Weenie…Whoops, Make That A Dunce And TWO Weenies

 

inaugeration-dunces

The Ethics Hero was going to be Jennifer Holliday, the big-voiced diva who stopped the Broadway hit “Dreamgirls” with her solo, “I’m not going.” She had agreed to sing at the Inauguration, telling the Associated Press that her decision to participate was a way to welcome the American people to an event that should be about unifying the country.

Which is, of course, what it is.

She then faced a vicious response to her patriotic and principled decision, with critics calling for a boycott of her music, labeling her as an “Uncle Tom,” promising that her career was over and telling her to kill herself. Most vociferous of the bullies were those from the LGBT community, which has managed to convince itself that Trump is a foe despite the fact that nothing in his speeches or record suggest that he is. But he is a Republican, and thus presumptively biased. (Assuming anyone is less than admirable based on group membership is bigotry, but in this case, the argument goes, good bigotry.)

Rather than stand up for what she said was right, Holiday whined, and capitulated:

“How could I have this much hate spewing at me, and I haven’t even done anything? I guess it’s not like those old days when political views were your own and you had freedom of speech. … We live in a different time now and a decision to go and do something for America is not so clear-cut anymore.”
The way to stand up for the values you claim to embrace, you sniveling coward, is to refuse to be bullied out of supporting them, and opposing the forces of divisiveness and hate.Ah, but performers who are willing to resist peer pressure and the howls of the mob are rarer than Florida panthers, so Jennifer grovelled instead, in a nauseating open letter:

O MY BELOVED LGBT COMMUNITY:

Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Month: Novelist Ann Rice

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

Can you see your hypocrisy when you look in the mirror, Ann?

“The sex scandal at Fox matters; it’s at the heart of the GOP contempt for women as citizens and human beings.”

—-“Interview With The Vampire” author Ann Rice, on Twitter.

This is signature significance in so many ways. To write this in a public forum, one has to be completely corrupted by partyism, tunnel-vision, bias and the certainty that you are operating in an environment populated with millions of similarly disabled individuals. It also helps to be either dishonest or ignorant, or both.

Let’s try to count all the ways Rice’s tweet is unethical:

1. Sexual harassment scandals occur in all kinds of organizations, including otherwise virtuous non-profits and models of progressive thinking. The University of California at Berkley–the infamously right wing institution— has one going on right now. Yale has been covering up a sexual harassment scandal involving a world-famous ethicist.  These are just  examples of sexual harassment that make it to the headlines. I work in the field: believe me, there is no monopoly by Republicans or conservatives in this area. For Rice to insinuate otherwise is nothing more than disinformation born of her own biases.

In the alternative, she knows this is absurd, and is lying.

2. The statement embodies guilt by association at its worst. How about this: “The Brian Williams scandal at NBC matters; it’s at the heart of the Democratic Party’s contempt for the public as citizens and human beings” ? There’s no ethical difference: both statements are unfair and dishonest. I’ll wager that the percentage of Democrats who work for NBC is significantly greater than the proportion of Republicans who work at Fox. The political parties have nothing whatsoever to do with either situation.

3. Ailes’ engagement in harassing conduct is difficult to deny, especially after so many past employees have surfaced to bolster the accusations made in the recent lawsuit. Whether there is a wider problem beyond Ailes is completely unproven. Personally, I don’t doubt it: when leaders of organizations model such conduct, it typically corrupts the entire culture. However, it is far too soon to make the kind of leap Rice is making, which not only assumes company-wide harassment but somehow attributes it to another organization, the Republican Party.

4. Most of all, and to save the  best and funniest for last, has Rice never heard of Bill Clinton? Continue reading

New Media Ethics Rule For The Presidential Campaign…

RedSmears

This kind of smear (from Salon)…

Washington man stabs kissing interracial couple, cites Donald Trump when arrested

…has got to stop.

It doesn’t matter which candidate some despicable, hateful wacko “cites.” It’s not news, it means nothing, and it proves nothing positively or negatively about the individual so mentioned, praised, or referenced. Any news source that highlights it to suggest otherwise is playing despicable cognitive dissonance games, and is devoid of fairness and honesty.

Of course, this is Salon. But it is not alone. Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Mail Bag: “Does It Matter If A Lawyer Is A Neo-Nazi?”

"Anyone who would hire this lawyer is evil! EVIL!!!"

“Anyone who would hire this lawyer is evil! EVIL!!!”

“…What if he’s hired for a government job?”

This is a great question, and I’m going to bedevil the lawyers in my upcoming ethics seminars with it. It’s not a hard question, though.

The answer is, “No, it doesn’t matter, just as it doesn’t matter if the lawyer is a Republican, a vegan, a libertarian, a creationist, a global warming denier, an Adam Sandler fan, a Donald Trump loyalist, a Muslim, an ISIS sympathizer, a Druid, a Celine Dion worshiper, a New York Yankee fan or anything else. Lawyers have First Amendment rights. Lawyers can think what they want to, believe what they want to, donate where they want to and spout whatever unpopular or offensive opinions they want to, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their representation of their clients.

What prompted the question was this post on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) website, which attempts to use guilt by association and classic McCarthyism tactics to smear the City of Baltimore because of what the lawyer defending it in a law suit believes. The SPLC—which itself often resembles a hate group–writes, Continue reading

Now THIS Is Hate Speech…No, Wait, It’s A Gay Writer Hating A Straight Baseball Player, So It’s All Good

Daniel Murphy

 

In March, in a post about Dr. Ben Carson’s awful apology for his ignorant statement on CNN about prison turning prisoners gay, I compared his ignorance to that of Mets second-baseman Daniel Murphy, who had just listened to Billy Bean, a former major league baseball player who is gay, and had been appointed as the sport’s “ambassador for inclusion.”  Murphy said,

“I disagree with his lifestyle.I do disagree with the fact that Billy is a homosexual. That doesn’t mean I can’t still invest in him and get to know him. I don’t think the fact that someone is a homosexual should completely shut the door on investing in them in a relational aspect. Getting to know him. That, I would say, you can still accept them but I do disagree with the lifestyle, 100 percent.”

His statement loosely translated means, “I don’t know anything about gays except what I have been told by people who also know nothing about gays but think they do.  I believed all of it, since, honestly, I don’t think about the topic much. But the question was about whether the fact that a team mate was gay would cause me to distrust him or not want to play with him, and my answer is no.”

Later Murphy elaborated,

“Maybe, as a Christian, that we haven’t been as articulate enough in describing what our actual stance is on homosexuality. We love the people. We disagree the lifestyle. That’s the way I would describe it for me. It’s the same way that there are aspects of my life that I’m trying to surrender to Christ in my own life. There’s a great deal of many things, like my pride.”

I mentioned Murphy then because he, unlike Carson, is just a baseball player, and his having ignorant ideas about gays (what does “disagreeing” with the fact that someone is gay even mean? He’s gay–you can’t “disagree.” Anyone using “lifestyle” to describe gays has just written his ignorance in sky-writing. If one knows any gays at all, the idiocy of this is manifest. What would ever make an 8 year old wake up one morning and say, “I’ve weighed the options, and made my choice: I want to be gay!” This literally never happens.) and stating the ideas out loud only hurts Murphy, while Carson’s ignorance is relevant to the job he’s seeking and his qualifications for it. Carson is a narrow, biased, irresponsible amateur, and thus unqualified to hold office. Nobody, however, should care what Murphy thinks, as long as he can hit and field his position.

For someone who is clueless, Murphy’s comments are even admirable. He’s not going to judge a man’s character based on “his lifestyle” or wish him ill, which makes him infinitely preferable to Slate’s gay issues blogger, Mark Joseph Stern. Continue reading