Ethics Quote Of The Week: Prof. Jonathan Turley

“Not only could Chauvin be acquitted or left with a hung jury, but the impact could be the collapse of all four cases. That will be up to the jury. But if there is violence after the verdict, it will be far worse if the public is not aware up front of the serious challenges in proving this case.’

—Prof. Jonathan Turley in a column for The Hill, explaining that a conviction for Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd murder trial in Minneapolis is far from certain despite the news media refusing to inform the public of that fact.

As is too often the case, Turley professorially states a critical fact without appropriate indignation regarding its implications. Not only has the news media, in Turley’s words, “failed to shoulder their own burden to discuss the countervailing evidence in the case, ” it has done so because “there is a palpable fear that even mentioning countervailing defense arguments will trigger claims of racism or insensitivity to police abuse.” What are these, children? Journalists are supposed to be professionals. Yet Turley says—correctly, unfortunately—they they are deliberately misleading the public, and making a violent reaction to the eventual verdict in Chauvin’s trial more likely by feeding a false narrative rather than conveying essential facts.

Continue reading

I Hearby Forgive Prof. Jonathan Turley For My Having To Toss My Completed “What An Idiot!” Post On Rep. Swalwell…

Village idiot

…because Turley did such a superb job showing how ridiculous Swalwell’s lawsuit is. I couldn’t possibly compete.

I saw the note about Swalwell filing a a 64-page complaint against Donald Trump ( and Donald Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and Rep. Mo Brooks) alleging nine counts in tort ranging from negligent emotional distress (suffered by Swalwell) to negligence, in an “incitement to riot.” That news sparked three thoughts: 1) “What an idiot!” 2) “Who was the hack lawyer who agreed to file such a suit?,” and finally, 3) “This will be a fun post to write!” And it was, except that while I was formatting, editing and arranging tags, commenter Steve Witherspoon dropped me an email that said in part, “Did you read Turley’s blog post about Eric Swalwell posted a couple of hours ago? WOW!!!”

I hadn’t, I did, and “Wow!” indeed. It’s a tour de force.

The take-no-prisoners defenestration of Swalwell is unusually merciless for Turley, who begins,

“French philosopher Voltaire said he had only one prayer in life — “O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous” — and that it was uniformly granted by God. The answer to Donald Trump’s prayers may be Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)”

Do read the post. And as you do, remember that the idiot Turley is writing about was hand-picked by Nancy Pelosi to be one of the House Managers in the second Trump impeachment trial. The University of Maryland School of Law must be measuring the heads of its board, administrators, alumni and faculty for paper bags to wear, because that school gave Swalwell a law degree.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/2021: The Sarcasm Edition

First appearance in 2021 of my favorite Ethics Warm-Up intro. Maybe that’s why 2021 ethics has gotten off to such a rotten start…

In addition to its significance in the siege of the Alamo, yesterday’s date of February 24 has other important ethics markers, perhaps some more important than Travis’s iconic letter. Perhaps the most impact on U.S. history was this date in 1803, when Chief Justice John Marshall (no relation that has been shown to my satisfaction) handed down the landmark decision in William Marbury v. James Madison, Secretary of State of the United States, establishing the legal principle of judicial revie. That’s what gives the Supreme Court the authority to limit Congressional power by declaring legislation unconstitutional. I doubt very much that the United States would still exist as a free republic had not that case been decided as it was, yet the result was probably dictated more by partisan politics than philosophy.

Marshall, in his majority opinion, declared that acts of Congress in conflict with the Constitution are not valid law and therefore are non-binding on the courts, and that the judiciary’s first responsibility is always to uphold the Constitution. And if two laws conflict, Marshall wrote, SCOTUS has the responsibility of deciding which law applies in any given case. Periodically members of Congress, pundits and even academics have criticized the decision, but there can be little doubt that had Marshall not led the Court to make this stand, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights would have been quickly shredded.

This is particularly relevant now, when the Democrats in Congress have signaled that they want government authorities to decree what is factual and what is “disinformation,” while they also seek to weaken Second Amendment rights. Incidentally, there is a prominent statue of Marshall at the Supreme Court, and a recast in John Marshall Park, near Judiciary Square, also in D.C. Another recast is in Philadelphia. Marshall owned hundreds of slaves, which is entirely irrelevant to his essential influence on our government and values. Clearly, many, perhaps most, of the college students in the U.S. would prefer that a non-slave owner had headed the Court, even if it resulted in a nation that slipped into allowing the virtual slavery of all citizens to a national government that “knew what was best.”

1. Oh, sure. Why not? We all know that committees are so effective at leadership. A letter signed by three dozen House Democrats urge Joe Biden to relinquish full control over the country’s nuclear weapons in favor of a committee of legislators. “…Vesting one person with this authority entails real risks,” states the letter, inspired by Rep. Jimmy Panetta of California. “Past presidents have threatened to attack other countries with nuclear weapons or exhibited behavior that caused other officials to express concern about the president’s judgment.While any president would presumably consult with advisors before ordering a nuclear attack, there is no requirement to do so,” the letter adds. “The military is obligated to carry out the order if they assess it is legal under the laws of war. Under the current posture of U.S. nuclear forces, that attack would happen in minutes.”

Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month (Yes, It’s More Impeachment Analysis, And I’m Sick Of It Too, But This Is Important): Professor Jonathan Turley

Shredding-the-Constitution

..Even with acquittal all but ensured, there was no room for constitutional niceties like free speech or due process. There was only one issue — the same one that has driven our media and politics for four years: Trump. Through that time, some of us have objected that extreme legal interpretations and biased coverage destroy our legal and journalistic values.

—-George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley, constitutional law expert, on the conduct of the Democrats before and during the just-completed second Trump impeachment trial.

This statement, as well as the rest of his article for The Hill yesterday, was not only astute (though Turley’s observations should have been obvious) but personally welcome, in part because it tracked exactly with what I have been writing here for four years, but  in no small part because I was almost finished with a post making the same points. For Turley to make them is, of course, better, since a lot more people, though not nearly enough, pay attention to what he says. It was especially welcome because not one but two friends (among others) had made fatuous and indefensible assertions about the impeachment in the past two days, inspiring me to start that now redundant post.

My theme was going to be about how their now completely unhinged, Ahab-like mania to destroy the former President had led them to deny the importance of what once were accepted by liberals and conservatives alike—but especially liberals before their rebranding as “progressives”—as crucial, indispensable, core American values relating to personal liberty and government interference with it. The rationalizations employed in this scary process are stunning.

Prime among them as been 2020’s rationalization of the year: “It isn’t what it is,” #64. As I noted in the previous post, a Facebook friend (whom I strongly suspect was one of the self-exiled progressive Ethics Alarms commenters) wrote on the platform to the usual acclaim of  “likes” and “loves” that the 57 Senators who voted for this corrupt impeachment were voting “for democracy.” They were in fact doing the opposite, and in many ways, as Turley’s article explains (though again, it should be obvious.) Then, in a discussion with a more rational friend, another lawyer, about how the House impeachment had deliberately bypassed due process, I was told that there is no right of due process in an impeachment proceeding, nor should the prohibition of ex post facto laws and bills of attainder apply. Here was a lawyer making technical arguments against ethics. “Legally, due process only applies to life, liberty, and property,” she lectured. “A job is none of those.”

I could rebut that, but the point is that both the Declaration and the Constitution mark out basic values of our society, not just laws, but ethical values. “Due process” means fairness, and this lawyer, an alleged progressive, was arguing that the government doesn’t have to be fair while depriving the public of an elected official and that elected official of his job, and that individual of his ability to seek that job or another one. This is what hate and arrogance have done to the Left.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Reinforcements, 2/7/21: The “Don’t Watch The Concussion Bowl” Edition

Brain Damage football

Ethics Alarms has been chronicling the mounting evidence that pro football condemns a large percentage of its players to future dementia and premature death for a long time, often in conjunction with what a Georgetown professor friend calls “The Concussion Bowl.” Many of those posts are here, under the CTE tag. Incredibly, the NFL has done little to stop the carnage, perhaps because seriously addressing the inherent damage to brains caused by a necessarily violent sport would end football as we know it, and that would cost owners, TV networks, colleges and merchandisers billions. Can’t have that.

Equally amazing, the public and the news media have allowed the NFL to get away with distracting from its unethical priorities with the flagrant and cynical virtue-signalling of pandering to Black Lives Matter. I’m pretty sure that when it is all tallied, the NFL will have killed more innocent black men by far than all the brutal police officers over the same period. But most people just don’t care. If they cared one hundredth as much about athletes getting permanent brain damage for their Sunday (Monday, Thursday) TV viewing as they do about a single ugly incident where an overdosing lifetime petty crook died under the knee of a Minneapolis cop, there would be action. Not riots and take-overs of public property, but serious, effective action, including safety regulations.. Football would have to change, evolve, or vanish. The public and the media (and government officials) don’t care, and neither do the NFL executives. If Colin Kaepernick had performed his on-field protests against CTE, he would have been suspended and eliminated from the sport faster than Deion Sanders running for the goal line.

Talk about conspiracies….

1. False Narrative Dept. Now dishonest anti-Trump propaganda is showing up on Turner Classic Movies, which has been generally exemplary in avoiding partisan pandering over the last four years. Today, Eddie Muller, TCM’s film noir maven, pointedly showed the 1950 move “The Killer Who Slaked New York,” about a potential smallpox outbreak that was shut down by New York City health officials in 1947. Ultimately only 12 people were infected, and the threat was a single contagious smallpox victim who had to be found and contained. As you can see, this is a perfect analogy for the Wuhan virus outbreak in 2020. Noting that New York City quickly launched a mass vaccination effort (because there was already a smallpox vaccine, another close parallel), Eddie raised an accusing eyebrow and said,voice dripping with contempt, “That’s how we did things then.”

It’s Eddie’s show. I don’t think he should be fired or suspended. He’s welcome to his ignorant and obnoxious opinion. But he’s part of a disinformation campaign and an effort to distort reality, He’s also annoying TCM’s generally mature audience members who have been paying attention, and who presumably watch old movies to get a break from political BS, not to be subjected to more of it by movie nerds driving out of their lane.

Continue reading

“The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment” Becomes An Ethics Fiasco: Ten Observations

johnson-impeachment

In this post, “Nancy And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Impeachment “—could it really have just been 12 days ago?—I wrote in part,

Nancy Pelosi came right out and said that her objective in impeaching Trump this time was to stop him from running again. That’s not what the Founders designed impeachment for. She’s admitting that this Congress and her party regard impeachment as just one more political stunt, like ripping up the State of the Union message, boycotting the inauguration, or nominating Kamala Harris. Worse, unless the Senate agrees to rush through a trial the way Pelosi rushed through the impeachment, Trump will already be out of office and a private citizen before he can be convicted—which he wouldn’t be anyway. The Constitution speaks of impeachment and the Senate trial as a means of removing a President, not as a device to say “I hate you! Ooooh, I hate you to pieces!” to an ex-President.

Thus it’s a joke. The first impeachment was a dud. Trump hasn’t been embarrassed, but Congress and the news media have been embarrassed and exposed as fools.

Not that they hadn’t been exposed as fools already.

But “Wait!”—as they say on infomercials–“There’s more!” And it only gets worse:

1. Since the impeachment vote in the House, further investigation of the attack on the Capitol and its time-line has shown that many of the participants had planned to storm the building in advance, in fact had begun preparations before the President addressed the protesters, and had begun to take action while the President was speaking on January 6. Thus the House’s impeachment theory that the President had incited a riot by providing a lit match to an obvious powder-keg is unsustainable n the facts: the powder had already been lit. Nor do the facts support the argument that the President intended to spark a riot, since the words of his speech never suggested violence or alluded to it.

Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Irony, 1/24/2021: Now Remember, It’s The Trump Voters Who Are Deplorable

In “Utopia,” the strange and violent Amazon series about a mysterious graphic novel that turns out to be both true and a coded guide to an upcoming pandemic, the diversity propaganda is so heavy-handed that it could knock out Godzilla with a left cross. Let’s see: all the good couples are mixed race. A middle -class black woman takes in troubled white children. A white husband and wife have a family including multiple black and Asian children, which you would think violates the good couples are mixed-race rule, but it’s a trick: that white couple is villainous, and their white children are too, tough the minority kids seem to be OK. A group of assassins appears to include only whites, and the main heroine is black, though her character in the graphic novel that everyone is chasing after is white. Her female mentor is white, but she is so covered in grime that she looks black. (Why isn’t that blackface?)

At what point does this become so forced and absurd that audiences object to it? None of the race obsession adds a thing to the story except weirdness, and trust me, “Utopia” needs no more of THAT.

1. Welcome to my world! Here is a submitted comment to this post: the proud idiot “RidenwithBiden” (Oooh, clever!) writes, “My God, an entire website dedicated the the sanctimonious and bottomless brainwashed hypocrisy of traitorous right wing nut jobs.”

2. Here are some Biden voters I have no sympathy with whatsoever…President Biden signed an executive order that will require institutions receiving Title IX funding to allow biological males who identify as female to compete in women’s athletic events. This should effectively kill women’s sports while making a joke out of “competition.” Women voted overwhelmingly for Joe Biden, a serial sexual harasser who was accused of rape on the record by a staffer, and he was clearly going to do this. Now feminists and women’s sports advocates are whining?

Bailey tweet

What betrayal? Sorry that you weren’t paying attention, but it was always obvious that the most extreme end of the LGBTQ lobby was pulling Joe’s strings. The one who betrayed female athletes were feminist voters. Own it, ladies.

Continue reading

Pelosi’s Unconscionable “Snap Impeachment,” Part II: If This Happens, It Will Be Time To Release A Real “Kraken,” And I Hope I Can Help Feed Pelosi To It…[Corrected]

clash-of-the-titans-2010-kraken

Plan T, the apparent plan to impeach President Trump for a crime he clearly did not commit, is arguably the worse of the various AUC-contrived removal plots, because it will do the most damage by far. Even the actual impeachment, the ridiculous Plan S, had little long-term effect, and the Democrats abandoned it even as a campaign issue. Even they didn’t take it seriously: like so much of the rest, it was just one more way to denigrate, obstruct and weaken the leader of their own nation. It was part of strategy, that’s all. As I wrote in Part I, this is different in kind:

Plan T must be recognized for what it is: an act of pure hate and vengeance, and a deliberate, calculated insult to Trump’s supporters as well as those citizens who believe that that their government should not behave like third-world failed state.

I admit it: I am angry about this, and if it occurs, I will not forget it or forgive it—and I do not consider myself one of the Trump supporters being ostentatiously slapped in the face. I am angry because this is not how the United States of America behaves towards its leaders. I know readers here are sick of me saying this, but I will say it again because it is true: the nation owes respect and debt of gratitude to every President of the United States, without exception, when they leave office, and that respect should continue to the end of their days, and throughout our history. That’s right, every single one of them, the skilled and less-than-skilled, the competent and incompetent, the best and the worst of them, Andrew Johnson as well as Lincoln, Nixon as well as Eisenhower, the Bushes as well as Reagan, Hoover as well as FDR, Carter, Clinton, Obama, and yes, Donald Trump.

The job was always a killing one and a near impossible, one, and it has only become more difficult and unpleasant. Taking the job is an act of patriotism, and enduring it is an act of courage and character. No President has been treated as atrociously by so much of the public, the opposing party, his own party and the news media as Donald Trump, and it is remarkable that he accomplished as mach as he did under continuous attack. Nearly every other President has been accorded a “honeymoon,” the occasional benefit of the doubt, the opportunity to just play the head of state and accept the pomp, ceremony and traditional acclaim that comes with it. Not President Trump. He was not permitted a peaceful inauguration, nor respectful audiences in Congress to his State of the Union messages, nor the pleasure of throwing out the first ball in the baseball season, nor the host role in the Kennedy Center Honors, nor even an invitation to attend state funerals. Yet President Trump buggered on, as Winston Churchill said, doing his best to try to fulfill his promises and do what in his view was in the best interests of America.

He has been kicked virtually every day of his four years in office, and now his repulsive, vindictive, thuggish foes want to kick him as he goes out the door.

The effort to lay lat weeks riot at the Capitol at Trump’s feet is too cynical and false to be tolerated. Professor Turley had a succinct summary of how disingenuous that is in his recent column in the Hill:

We have had four years of violent protests, including the attacks on federal buildings, members of Congress, and symbols of our democracy. Former Attorney General William Barr was heavily criticized for clearing Lafayette Square last year after protesters injured numerous law enforcement officers, were injured themselves, burned a historic building, caused property damage, and threatened to breach the White House grounds. There were violent riots during the inauguration of Donald Trump and a lethal assault on some Republican lawmakers playing softball. Indeed, this year started as last year ended, with attacks on federal buildings in Portland and other cities.

It is beyond hypocritical for the same people and party that largely encouraged, enables and rationalized these and more to now pretend to be shocked, call a single, particularly stupid and pointless riot at the Capitol a “threat to Democracy,” and to attempt to impeach the President for his role in it, which consisted of endorsing a Constitutionally protected protest. The true threat to Democracy has been ongoing for four years, and it was called “the resistance.” I find it hard to believe that the American people will accept such a transparent and Orwellian distortion of reality, but I know that I won’t.

If the Congress wants to censure President Trump or some other symbolic gesture, fine. As I have written here, it was inappropriate for the President to be challenging the validity of his defeat, even more so than it was for Hillary Clinton to challenge the validity of her defeat, by Trump. Doing so was, in sequence, predictable, irresponsible, dangerous, in many ways justified, and completely in character. I would not object to an official precedent being established holding that no matter how close or dubious an election is, challenges to the results must not be pronounced in public, by POTUS.

Impeachment on this basis, however, is pure lawlessness. Here’s Turley again in another column (this is his specialty, after all). The emphasis is mine:

“..Democrats are seeking to remove Trump on the basis of his remarks to supporters before the rioting at the Capitol. Like others, I condemned those remarks as he gave them, calling them reckless and wrong. I also opposed the challenges to electoral votes in Congress. But his address does not meet the definition for incitement under the criminal code. It would be viewed as protected speech by the Supreme Court.

When I testified in the impeachment hearings of Trump and Bill Clinton, I noted that an article of impeachment does not have to be based on any clear crime but that Congress has looked to the criminal code to weigh impeachment offenses. For this controversy now, any such comparison would dispel claims of criminal incitement. Despite broad and justified condemnation of his words, Trump never actually called for violence or riots. But he urged his supporters to march on the Capitol to raise their opposition to the certification of electoral votes and to back the recent challenges made by a few members of Congress. Trump told the crowd “to peacefully and patriotically make your voices be heard.”….

Continue reading

Rainy Monday Ethics, 11/30/2020: Statues, Dogs And Lies

Also getting me down, Karen Carpenter songs. As with great movies with O.J. Simpson or Gig Young in them, these are hard to enjoy now, at least for me. One of the most lovely natural voices in pop music history was silenced by the pernicious disease of anorexia, exacerbated by, among others, her brother, her family, and music industry executives, who made Carpenter so self-conscious about her weight and appearance that she slowly starved herself to death before her 33rd birthday. I wish I could hear her sing—and I will do that a lot in the days approaching Christmas—without thinking about that, but I can’t.

1. Proposition: any nation’s historical figures who had the impact on those nations that Margaret Thatcher did in Great Britain over a significant period of time deserve to be memorialized with statues, absent some cataclysmic disqualifying act, like Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal. Even in Nixon’s case, I would support a public memorial to such a historically influential figure.

In the English town of Grantham, where Thatcher grew up, an 11-foot pedestal awaits the arrival next year of a large statue of “the Iron Lady.” Apparently many in Britain, and a large proportion of Gratham’s working class residents, disapprove of Thatcher’s conservative politics and policies, and thus oppose the statue, which will be in immediate danger of toppling the minute it is erected.

Morons. One doesn’t have to personally agree with a historical figure’s position or even admire her to appreciate the impact that figure had. The criteria for memorializing prominent citizens should center on whether future generations need to know who they were and what they did, not whether their achievements and conduct are approved of according to often fleeting political, social and cultural values. Charles Moore, who wrote an authorized biography of Mrs. Thatcher, says, “It’s obvious there should be statues to Britain’s first woman prime minister. But…but…George Floyd! The New York Times’ article on the controversy says that statue toppling has become a world-wide phenomenon since the death of George Floyd. Now that makes sense: one of Great Britain’s most successful and important leaders should be robbed of her legitimate honors because a rogue cop accidentally contributed to the death of a black criminal in Minnesota.

Continue reading

The Left’s Assault On The Rule Of Law And The Legal Profession’s Cowardice, Or “Nice Little Firm You Have Here—Be A Shame If Something Were To Happen To It!” (Continued)

A-Pistol-Against-My-Head.

As discussed in the first section of this post, the once sacrosanct principle that lawyers and law firms were ethically obligated to represent unpopular clients when they needed legal assistance has been deteriorating for the last decade, most recently under pressure from the self-righteous Left. Victims of the new progressive ethic that the ends justify the means, Lawyers and law firms have been threatened when they dared to align themselves with the opposition to progressive agenda items, because, in the universe to the port side of the ideological spectrum, those who don’t agree with the righteous are evil.

And it seems clear that few lawyers possess the courage and integrity to remains professional in their response to such threats.

After the King & Spalding embarrassment described in the earlier post, a similar episode occurred involving Obamacare.  In House of Representatives v. Burwell, the House challenged the legality of subsidies the Obama administration paid to insurers. After the House authorized the suit, David Rivkin and his firm, Baker Hostetler, signed a contract to litigate the case.

Rivkin was warned by members of the firm that litigating a case in opposition to Obama could drive off potential clients and hurt Baker Hostetler’s credibility…that is, its bottom line. Within a week after the contract was announced, partners at the firm, which represents many hospital management firms and insurance companies, started to receive urgent calls from general counsels of clients in the health-care industry. The messages were identical: their companies could not continue to associate with Baker Hostetler if it litigated the House’s lawsuit. Many suspected that the Obama administration was behind the scenes, urging health-care companies to drop Baker Hostetler. The firm dropped the case.

The House, suddenly without legal representation, frantically sounded out many of the top firms in Washington without success. The House finally selected D.C. lawyer William Burck of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP. Three weeks later, without any explanation, Burck also withdrew from the case under pressure from his firm’s partners.

Continue reading