Lunchtime Ethics Appetizer, 6/3/2019: Self-Censorship, Trump’s Ridiculous Jumbo, Turley On Mueller, And A College Ranking Scandal [Updated]

Bon Appettit!

1. To self-censor or not to self-censor. Right after expressing here my dilemma about whether to risk political and partisan backlash by raising current, important and legitimate legal ethics issues from the Mueller investigation, there were a flurry of articles and podcasts about the dangers of self-censorship in a climate where Americans are being systematically intimidated from opposing the Woke Collective. This is a classic ethical dilemma, with ethical considerations like integrity, duty, citizenship, honesty and responsibility, are opposed by non-ethical considerations, like keeping one’s job, paying the bills, and not being cast as a pariah in one’s profession.

I was also reminded of my problem by Instapundit referencing today an old  Washington Post article about Mao’s mass murders. My company lost a lucrative sexual harassment training deal after two Chinese nationals (that I did npt know were in the audience) too offense at a tangential comment about Mao’s exterminations dwarfing those of Hitler and Stalin  (but not Darth Vader). Both contacted me and demanded apologies, claiming that it was Western propaganda and that the Great Leader had “only” executed millions out of necessity. I refused (I know I have mentioned this before here) and said I was sincerely sorry they had been subjected to cultural influences that had warped their ethics, and that if I had been aware that this was a sensitve topic to anyone in the audience, I would have omitted the reference. Having spoken the truth, however, I was not going to deny or apologize for it.

“Why didn’t you just apologize?” my client asked. And I was reminded of the moment in “1776” when a royalist in the Continental Congress asks Jefferson why he called King George “a tyrant” in the Declaration. “Because he is a tyrant,” Jefferson answers.

I’m an ethicist, I said. I’m not going to whitewash the massacre of 45-60 million people because someone is offended by the truth.

That was the end of that contract…

2. The President issues a Jumbo. Why does he do things like this? I have no idea. It si the political equivalent of pushing a pie into his own face. In an interview with the British tabloid, The Sun tabloid, Trump responded to a query about his reaction to  Megan Markle’s statement  that he is a “misogynist” and her suggestion that “she’d move to Canada if you got elected; turned out she moved here.” He said, “Well, a lot of people are moving here, so what can I say. No, I didn’t know that she was nasty.”

Of course Trump was attacked for saying that to a British newspaper—it was racist, it was an insult, the usual. Of course the President shouldn’t stoop to personal swipes at anyone; on the other hand, that’s what he does when he is attacked himself.  “Tit for Tat” and “doing unto others as they did to you” are part of Trump’s “ethics.” Can’t we stipulate this by now? Can’t TRUMP stipulate it at this point?

Then he tweeted, “I never called Meghan Markle ‘nasty.’ Made up by the Fake News Media, and they got caught cold! Will @CNN, @nytimes and others apologize? Doubt it!” He did this knowing that the Sun had his statement recorded, and sure enough, the paper  released the audiotape.

See, the idea behind Jimmy Durante saying “Elephant? What elephant?” when caught stealing the biggest pachyderm in the world in a musical comedy is that it’s obviously desperate and ridiculous, and intended to be funny.

This is just self-destructive, disturbing, and really, really stupid.

3. Jonathan Turley on Mueller. The George Washington Law prof has consistently been a voice of reason and objectivity reagarding the Mueller investigation. He has recently written two excellent columns on Mueller’s public statement, here, and here.

Greg should send them to his ex-friend.

4. Why is this more damaging to a school than, say, falsely instructing students about justice, the right to representation, and due process?

From TaxProf Blog: “University Of Oklahoma Inflated Its Alumni Giving Data For 20 Years, U.S. News Strips Its #127 Ranking”

The University of Oklahoma admitted to  U.S. News that it had inflated its alumni giving data since 1999, which affects its placement in the National Universities, Best Value Schools, Top Public Schools, Best Colleges for Veterans and A-Plus Schools for B Students rankings and lists. For the 2019 Best Colleges rankings, the University of Oklahoma originally reported its two-year alumni giving rate at 14 percent. The school informed U.S. News the correct value is 9.7 percent. The average alumni giving rate has a weight of 5 percent in the Best Colleges ranking methodology.

And now,

A former OU student has filed a class action lawsuit against the University of Oklahoma as a result of the university being stripped of its U.S. News & World Report ranking. [Gretzer v. Oklahoma, No. 19-490 (W.D. OK May 28, 2019]

The lawsuit, which was filed May 28 on behalf of former OU student Elani Gretzer and all OU undergraduate students since 1999, alleges the university broke contract by providing false alumni giving data to U.S. News & World Report, inflating its ranking in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Colleges” ranking as a result.

The lawsuit alleges the U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the Price College of Business was a “material factor” in Gretzer’s decision to enroll at OU. … The suit is also filed on behalf of an estimated minimum of 350,000 people — all OU students who have enrolled since 1999, the year in which OU has admitted it began providing false information to U.S. News & World Report.

Morgan Cloud (Emory) & George Shepherd (Emory), Law Deans In Jail, 77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012):

A most unlikely collection of suspects — law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees — may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News’ ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents’ crimes.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools’ expenditures and their students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.

One question: why isn’t Harvard’s ranking being lowered? I suspect that it’s because maleducating students and systematically undermining American values and civil rights isn’t included in the criteria.

It should be.

I Figured It Out: The Congressional Democrats Are Imitating Saddam Hussein [PART II]

[Continued from PART I, here]

As with Saddam’s disastrous bluff, the “we have enough for impeachment but we’re not going to impeach just yet” dance involves some reckless brinkmanship and depends on corrupt and under the table alliances, with the mainstream media replacing the U.N and its complicit members. So far the media has neglected to educate the public regarding how desperate and absurd the current subpoena tactic is, with its close similarity to the Radical Republicans’ attempt to get rid of President Andrew Johnson by demanding that he obey an illegal law, the Tenure of Office Act. (“Andrew Johnson? Who’s that? You must mean Lyndon Johnson, right? No?”)

As Johnson did, President Trump has a Constitutional obligation to protect the Separation of Powers from a House majority intent on abusing its oversight powers. The House Democrats are simultaneously claiming that they have enough WMDs—lets’ call them WTDs, Weapons of Trump’ Destruction—to take down the President, while they continue to search desperately for what they are lying about having. Thus they are demanding that they see the unredacted Mueller report, which would be illegal, getting Trump’s tax documents, which would be a dangerous abuse of privacy and the oversight function, and forcing the former White House Counsel to reveal privileged information, which he cannot legally or ethically do. The idea appears to be to let these orchestrated controversies distract the public and continue into the 2020 campaign, with the Democrats running on a “he should be impeached, but it’s easier just to beat him” theme.

The only question is whether the news media will be any more successful saving the Democrats from their dishonest and dangerous bluff than the U.N.’s crooks were protecting Saddam. I doubt it. The U.N. had and even now has more credibility than  the self-flaying news media, and for good reason.

Last week, for example, two New York Times columnists made foolishly weak arguments that Trump had committed impeachable offenses. For clinically Trump-deranged Charles Blow, for whom every column is a barely restrained primal scream against Trump’s existence, the imagined offense is criticizing the press for being exactly as corrupt, biased and untrustworthy as Blow proves it is every week. His own dishonesty is what distinguishes the column; for example, he writes that a poll (Blow loves cherry-picking polls, a flaw he shares with Trump) found that 49% to 36%, Republicans agree that the news media is “the enemy of the people,” but all other groups say that the media “is an important part of democracy.” Continue reading

Mid-Day Moldy Ethics Snack, 5/8/2019: Bad Charge, Bad School, Bad Father

Yechhh!

1. Do something, blame someone…In Plano, Texas, police have charged Lindsey Glass with violating a law making it a misdemeanor to negligently sell alcohol to a “habitual drunkard or an intoxicated or insane person,.” It seems she served Spencer Hight two gins, two beers and a shot of alcohol during two visits to the bar where she was working in September 2017, before Hight killed Meredith Hight and seven other people. After  police officers shot and killed him, an autopsy found that Hight’s blood alcohol level was about four times the legal limit. The  arrest affidavit said surveillance video shows  that Hight was unsteady, spun a “big knife on the bar,” and could be seen “pulling out a gun” from his waistband.

It’s a terrible charge, and an unethical prosecution.  Glass  texted a co-worker, another bartender, saying that Hight had been spinning the knife and told her had had to go “do some dirty work.” A report by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said  that the other bartender had called an owner of the bar, who instructed that  police should not be called. Glass was so concerned that followed Hight to his ex-wife’s home and then called 911, according to local station  Fox 4.

A lawyer for Glass emphasized  that his client had called 911 and said she had been commended by police. “It is shameful of the Plano Police Department to go after the person who was vital in trying to stop the horrific events of that evening,” he told Fox 4 and NBC in a statement. Exactly right. Police, spurred by public anger and frustration, want to find someone to blame. The fact that the drunk  went off and killed eight people is pure moral luck. It seems that the bartender went above and beyond her civic duty, at some personal risk, to follow Hight. She was originally commended by police for her actions. [Pointer: ABA Journal]
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Quick Ethics Takes Because I Don’t Have Time For Longer Ones Right Now: More Facebook Wars, Buttigieg Gets #MeTooed, And An Ethics Mess…

—Pete Buttigieg has been accused of sexual assault. Of course he has. No white male will be allowed to threaten the presumed right of a woman—some female Democrat to try to accomplish what Hillary could not. When did I first point this out? It was a long time ago. #MeToo is now a political weapon that has less to do with exposing sexual assault and harassment than it does with giving women and progressives a way to destroy anyone they need to.

—More on the Facebook wars….This morning I wrote about my infuriating back and forth with Facebook SJWs who claimed that the President calling Robert E. Lee a “great general” was a white supremacy dog whistle. Others have joined in, citing the fact that 31 states have statutes honoring  Lee as “proof” that the only purpose of the honors were to “intimidate blacks.” “Why not just the Confederate states?” they asked. Why? Because Lee isn’t just important because he was a Confederate general, that’s why. He was an important figure in American history, ethics, education, and military innovation.

Until Lee was targeted by the Left, he was nearly universally regarded as a complex, perhaps tragic, major American force and role model for since 1865.  I’m not a Lee fan, but he deserves to be honored if for no other reason than because he personally vetoed the plan to take the war into the hills, and use guerilla tactics to make  defeating the Confederacy too long a process for the North to sustain. His noble acceptance of full responsibility for the defeat of Pickett’s Charge, exonerating his men (“It was all my fault!”) is a military and American leadership cornerstone, emulated by General Eisenhower in his note, never used, accepting full responsibility for the Allies defeat at D-Day.

—-But here, as they say, is the beauty part. At the same time, elsewhere on Facebook, I was chastising a friend who said that he couldn’t support Biden until he publicly apologized to Anita Hill. Of course, nobody should apologize to Hill, who engineered a despicable  ambush designed to run the career and reputation of her long-time patron, Clarence Thomas, because he dared to be a conservative jurist. To make my friend’s statement even more ridiculous, while there was never any confirmation of Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment, Biden has been blithely going through life, harassing one woman after another, but meaning well. But I digress. Continue reading

Early Ethics Observations On Reactions To The Mueller Report

It was exactly 12:45 pm when I was informed by NPR that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had issued a joint statement claiming the Attorney General Barr’s four page summary of the report released today had misled Congress. The report had been released at 11:00 am, and was over 400 pages long, as well as extremely dense, full of detailed legal arguments that even lawyers…like me…would have to read slowly and maybe more than once. What are the chances that Chuck and Nancy had read the report  by 12:45? I think “none” is a fair answer. It’s highly unlikely that any of their staff had read the report by them either. The accusation against Barr was a lie.

See that graphic above? That’s the dishonest fundraiser Democrats sent out almost immediately to inspire indignation from Democrats who haven’t read the report. If there are any ethical Democrats whose reaction to this isn’t “How dare my party treat me like I’m an idiot and give me false and misleading information and analysis to separate me from my money?” I’d like to hear from them. Maybe there just aren’t any ethical Democrats at all. At this point, I’m willing to entertain that possibility.

By the way, I’m about 40% through the report, though not in sequence. It is thorough, professional and appears to be fair. Continue reading

Yes, It’s Come To This…Bernie Sanders Is Attacked By Progressives For Rejecting Discrimination

Senator Bernie Sanders told  Vermont Public Radio,

“We have got to look at candidates, you know, not by the color of their skin, not by their sexual orientation or their gender and not by their age. I mean, I think we have got to try to move us toward a nondiscriminatory society, which looks at people based on their abilities, based on what they stand for.”

Wouldn’t you agree that this position is unassailable based on basic American values and principles? True, it is a self-serving position for Bernie, who is almost certainly too old, male and white to be a viable candidate in the  female, minority, youth dominated Democratic Party, but surely even progressives concede that favoring candidates based on their color, age and gender is bigotry. Right? They have some shred of integrity left, don’t they? Right?

Well, not these progressives apparently:

Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress on Twitter:

“At a time where folks feel under attack because of who they are, saying race or gender or sexual orientation or identity doesn’t matter is not off, it’s simply wrong.”

(Her statement doesn’t even make internal sense.)

Former Hillary Clinton aide Jess McIntosh: “This is usually an argument made by people who don’t enjoy outsized respect and credibility because of their race, gender, age and sexual orientation.”

(You mean like by blacks discriminated against during Jim Crow, and by women for most of our history, and by gays even now in many communities, Jess?)

 Stephen Colbert: “Yes, like Dr. King, I have a dream—a dream where this diverse nation can come together and be led by an old white guy.”

(I used to think Colbert was witty. It is now clear that he is simply a vicious, hyper-partisan, cheap-shot jackass.)

Writes Prof. Turley, who gets the pointer for this story:

“The Democrats are clearly all-in on identity politics despite the fact that it is viewed by many as inherently discriminatory and divisive. It is a reminder that the best thing going for Trump in the 2020 election remains the Democratic establishment.”

I don’t think anyone paying attention needs any reminders of THAT, professor. That was true in 2016, and has been ever since.

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/17/2019: Best People, Worst Candidates, Noisiest Spectators, Battiest Activists

This where Clarence Darrow and I are headed…

Weekend Greetings from Ethics Alarms!

1. I’m on the way to New Brunswick, New Jersey for a President’s Day legal ethics CLE seminar for the New Jersey Bar. This is my Darrow program, and my long-time Clarence (18 years!), Paul Morella, is unavailable, so taking on the role will be Bruce Rauscher, who received a Helen Hayes nomination (that’s the D.C. Tonys) for playing the prosecutor in my production of “The Andersonville Trial.” Like so many expert prosecutors, Bruce is now moving over to the defense because the money is better.

2. KABOOM! Ann Althouse found this disturbing dead canary in the mine: over 10 thousand people online thought the cartoon below was racist:

Althouse seems to miss the significance of this: she asks if anyone “gets” humor any more. That’s not what’s going on here. A stunning number of people really believe that voting—or hiring, or admitting college applicants—on the basis of merit is racist. This belief itself is racist, as well as destructive, illogical and batty, but that’s what culture will do to you eventually, if you don’t have a strong foundation of ethical values and critical thinking skills.

How can you argue with someone who “thinks” like this? Are they beyond hope?

3.  More Warren The Demagogue. I was going to let this go, because so many Democrats are embarrassing themselves of late and I don’t want to give more ammunition to those who accuse me of right wing bias. But Professor Turley flagged this blatant example of Senator Warren’s demoagoguery and his reaction was identical to mine, so I’ll let him take over:
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