Mid-Day Ethics Reflections, 6/24/2020: Bombshells Bursting In Air!

Always appropriate, any day, any time…and besides, they tore down the author’s statue. This is his memorial…

1. As for monuments…the Governor of South Dakota,  Kristi Noem, responding to suggestions that Mount Rushmore would soon be on the George Floyd mob’s hit list, said curtly, “Not on my watch.”

It is not so fanciful a notion, since three of the four Presidents on the mountain have had statues toppled, and the fourth, Lincoln, now has his own statue under fire.  The Freedmen’s Memorial Monument to Abraham Lincoln in Boston’s Lincoln Park is targeted by an online petition as is its original, the statue that stands in Washington D.C.’s Lincoln Park. The fact that the statue was commissioned and paid for by freed African-Americans appears to have no importance to the statue-topplers whatsoever.

After all, Facts Don’t Matter.

2. If there is a shark. she will jump it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi asserted in an interview Tuesday that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder, actually — the murder of George Floyd.” We must remember this when it is determined that the police involved in Floyd’s death can’t get a fair trial because the second highest ranking elected official in the country declared Floyd to be a murder victim before a trial.

A Democratic-run city (for over a half-a century) with a Democratic mayor and and overwhelmingly Democratic City Council (without a single Republican), in a state with a Democratic Governor, oversaw a police department that has been criticized for its conduct long before Floyd’s death, did nothing to remedy the problem, and now faces the consequences.

By what possible distortion of facts and logic can it be argued that Republicans are “trying to get away with murder”?

Once again, another question must be raised: how could CBS News Radio correspondent Steve Futterman, hearing Pelosi’s accusation, not point this out and still presume to be called a journalist? Continue reading

So The Judge’s Wife Is On The Jury…Wait, WHAT?

“Hi hon!”

I haven’t seen this before.

Judge Thomas Ensor of Adams County, Colorado, now retired, sat back and allowed his wife to be empaneled on the jury trying Gary Val Richardson for allegedly firing one or two shots in the direction of police officers during a 2013 standoff.

The judge even thought the situation was funny. He joked during jury selection that lawyers should “be nice to Juror 25. My dinner is on the line.” After the jury was selected and sworn in, Ensor told the lawyers that he had never heard of a sitting judge having a spouse or family member on the jury. “There’s nothing wrong with it,” he said. “I think she’ll be a fine juror. I have not spoken to her about this case.”

One of my rules of thumb for avoiding legal ethics problems in trial is that if you’ve never heard of something being done before, there’s probably a good reason not to be the first to do it. Continue reading

Which Part Of “A Judge Shall Perform Judicial Duties Without Bias” Confuses You, Your Honor?

Here are a few provisions of the Texas Code Of Judicial Conduct:

  • From the Preamble: “Intrinsic to all sections of this Code of Judicial Conduct are the precepts that judges, individually and collectively, must respect and honor the judicial office as a public trust and strive to enhance and maintain confidence in our legal system.”
  • “A judge shall comply with the law and should act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
  • “Canon 2: Avoiding Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in All of the Judge’s Activities”
  • “A judge shall not allow any relationship to influence judicial conduct or judgment. A judge shall not lend the prestige of judicial office to advance the private interests of the judge or others; nor shall a judge convey or permit others to convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge.”
  • “A judge shall perform judicial duties without bias or prejudice.”
  • “A judge shall not, in the performance of judicial duties, by words or conduct manifest bias or prejudice, including but not limited to bias or prejudice based upon race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status, and shall not knowingly permit staff, court officials and others subject to the judge’s direction and control to do so.”
  • A judge shall conduct all of the judge’s extra- judicial activities so that they do not cast reasonable doubt on the judge’s capacity to act impartially as a judge..
  • “A judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that do not reflect adversely upon the judge’s impartiality or interfere with the performance of judicial duties.”

OK, now you’ve read  that, as presumably all Texas judges have. Now, if you were Bexar judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez, would your judicial ethics alarms start sounding as you considered displaying a rainbow flag in your courtroom, using a rainbow pen, a rainbow mouse pad and a robe with a rainbow-style strip of Mexican blanket design? Continue reading

I Knew You Were All On Pins And Needles Waiting For The Resolution Of This Story, So..

It was almost exactly two years ago when I noted in a Morning Warm-Up that District Court Judge Robert Cicale of Suffolk County New York was arrested for breaking into the home of his  23-year-old former intern  on multiple occasions and stealing panties from her laundry hamper. His Honor was arrested in March 2018 as he was leaving the woman’s house with with his pockets filled with her awaiting-to-be-laundered delicates.  The 49-year-old married father of three was charged with burglary in the second degree.

Calling the  case “highly disturbing,” the prosecutor said at the time, “This is an individual who swore to uphold the law and violated it in a very serious way.The message here, both from the Suffolk County Police Department and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, is that no one is above the law.”

You mean judges can’t break into the homes of former female interns to steal their panties and do god knows what with them? Who knew? Damn those obscure ethics rules… Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up, 3/17/2020: Wuhan Virus-Free Zone. Well, Almost…

Good morning.

Stir crazy yet?

I have discovered, in my ongoing efforts to get traffic here back to 2016 levels, before Facebook banned the blog and The Great Exodus Of The Trump Deranged, that daily visits are 20% higher if I get a post up before 8 am. This has often caused me to get out of bed at 4 am or earlier to hit the keyboard. Today I couldn’t do it: I was so anxious last night about all the looming cancellations of my ethics programs that I barely got any sleep. Sure enough, I’m down about 400 visits compared to yesterday.

There are remarkably few comments on the Paige Spiranac saga. Well, I thought it was interesting. I also must confess that the post was in part for beloved long-time commenter Lucky, who I hope is still following the blog. Paige is his type.

I have concluded that a large number of my Facebook Friends block my posts from their feeds, because they’d rather read the daily wave of anti-Trump columns from the likes of Paul Krugman, Jennifer Rubin, and Michelle Goldberg without any unsettling clarifications from me. I have never unfriended anyone who didn’t personally insult me, but I’d unfriend someone for that. It reminds me of the “Black Mirror” episode where you can block someone in real life, and then they can’t see you, communicate with you, and vice versa.

I’m procrastinating finishing Part III of the Wuhan Virus ethics series. It covers politics and the news media, and the content makes me so angry I can’t see straight. Increasingly I’ve been wanting to write like Kurt Schlichter, the novelist/conservative gadfly, who writes things like,

“But the battle is really for the shriveled heart of the Democrat Party, and no one better represents the yin and the yang of that dying collection of power-hungry elitists and grasping greedos than the doddering socialist Sanders and that Biden guy who should by all rights be chasing that damn know-it-all squirrel around the park.”

I can write like that, I have written like that in the past, and I enjoy writing like that, but its not ethical. Schlichter recently wrote that a snarling Hillary Clinton would pop out of Joe Biden’s chest at the Democratic National Convention like in “Alien.”   What a great image…

1. Do you feel like you are being conditioned and brain washed against your will? In addition to Hollywood’s efforts to change the race or gender of every white male hero of yore, TV commercials are now giving sex changes and race overhauls to iconic characters in ads. “Mikey” in a new Life cereal commercial is a little girl. “Jake from State Farm” is now a black guy. I really don’t care who plays “Mikey” or “Jake from State Farm.” I do object to intrusive woke propaganda.

I’m waiting for Tony the Tiger to show up as a black panther and for a new Jolly Green Giantess…

…who goes “Hee Hee Hee!” Continue reading

From The Ethics Alarms Archives: “Age and the Judge,” And A Current Day Example.

The discussions regarding Joe Biden’s age-related decline reminded me of a post that had been languishing on the runway since mid February. It was prompted by a tip from Neil Doer (I think it was Neil) who pointed me to this article about  a well-respected federal judge in Brooklyn, Jack B. Weinstein who was retiring after more than a half-century on the bench. He’s 98 years old, and it seems like he’s been an outstanding judge. My position was and is, however, that it is unethical for a judge, and indeed any professional, to continue in a position of responsibility at such an advanced age.

Obviously, I would apply that principle to politicians and leaders as well. This is another area where professional sports, especially baseball, provides useful case studies that can be instructive. Players who were great at 25 are also better when they are 40 than the more average players, whose natural decline as the result of aging will usually cause them not be able to perform  at an acceptable standard by late middle age. The great player often will still be good, but almost no player (almost) will be as excellent in his late 30s and early 40s as he was in his prime. As the financial benefits and other perks of playing major league baseball have increased over time, fewer aging greats are willing to go gentle into the good night of retirement. Their last years are often sub-par, certainly for them, or worse, but they will not voluntarily retire. Check the records of Miguel Cabrera, Pete Rose, Willy Mays, and Mickey Mantle, to name just a few.

Famously brilliant and contrary judge Richard Posner took the unpopular position among his colleagues that federal judges ought to have a mandatory retirement age. He recommended 80, but in his own case, when everyone expected him to stay until the bitter end, he retired at 78, because, he said, it was time. I’m not convinced that 80 isn’t still too old, but at least it’s a limit.

I remember well my one meeting with Antonin Scalia at a bar function not long after he had joined the Supreme Court.  He was relaxed and jovial, and when I asked him how long he thought he’d stay on the Court, he laughed and said that he couldn’t imagine staying until they “carried him out,” like so many other justices. He said it was important to leave the bench “while you still have most of your marbles.,” and to him, this meant before 80. He said he would stay about ten years.

Antonin Scalia died while still on the Court, in his 20th year of service, just short of his 80th birthday.

Here, from 2009, is “Age and the Judge.”

___________________________________________

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/21/2020: Our Cheating Hearts

I can’t sleep.

While I’m thinking about Hank, I recommend Ken Burns’ latest documentary, “Country Music,” and I’m not exactly a country music buff (though my father’s favorite song was “The Wabash Cannonball” . Burns has always had a fondness for ethics stories, and his latest work is full of them.

How did I not know that Williams died before he turned 30? Based on his amazing output of classic songs, I assumed he must have lived to be 90. He’s the Buddy Holly of Country, or perhaps the Mozart.

1. Before we get to the real cheating, stop making me defend Mike Bloomberg! From Yahoo, in a post headlined, Bloomberg Shares Doctored Debate Video To Hide Dismal Performance” by David Moye, who needs a head transplant:

  “On Thursday morning, the billionaire businessman released a deceptively edited video that falsely suggested he rendered the other candidates speechless at one point….The video begins at the moment when the former New York City mayor declared: “I’m the only one here I think that’s ever started a business.” During the actual exchange, his comment was greeted with about four seconds of silence, but the video below falsely implied it was more like 20….whoever edited Bloomberg’s video tweet took moments from other parts of the debate to make it look as if his declaration was so powerful candidates like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Joe Biden had no response.”

Garbage! The critics are doing the exact same thing they did to President Trump’s video that kept showing video of Nancy Pelosi ripping up his State of the Union speech interspersed with the President’s admirable guests, like the 100-year-old Tuskeegee Airman. Anyone who couldn’t tell that the video was edited to make a point rather than to deceive is too dumb to vote. Similarly, anyone who believes that a Democratic candidates debate stage would ever stay silent for 20 seconds doesn’t know what a debate is, and has been watching cartoons all his life. A satirically edited video isn’t deceptive just because some viewers are dumber than boxes of kitty litter. Continue reading

Late Morning Warm-Up, 1/22/2020, Because I Wasted Two Hours Arguing With Trump Deranged Lawyers On Facebook, And Yes, I’m An Idiot

That’s me. The bee is Facebook…

Bah!

A really low blow (among the other low blows, like the jerk who accused me of getting all of my ideas from Drudge) came from a former commenter here, who accused Ethics Alarms of being an “echo chamber.” That truly ticks me off. If the Trump Deranged don’t have the wits or open minds to test their biases where intelligent, informed, articulate adversaries are likely to  respond, that’s not my fault, and it’s exactly what the left side of the blog’s commentariat did. They didn’t rebut the position here, proven correct, that the Justice Department’s handling of The FISA warrants were part of a dangerous effort to undermine the Trump campaign and his election: they just accused me of “drinking the KoolAid” and quit, or were insulting. They never tried to argue away the smoking gun evidence of the soft coup plans A through S that I have meticulously documents since 2016, they just act as if the current impeachment excuse is justified and offered in good faith, when it is so clearly not. It’s all denial, spin, dishonesty and mob mentality. I ended up in today’s piranha tank by pointing out to a lawyer that the the fact that Trump was intemperate at a meeting of generals was not sufficient to trigger the 25th Amendment, and that lawyers, like her, shouldn’t be misleading the public by making such lame arguments. I posted the amendment, and said that “Unable” to perform the duties of the office doesn’t mean, as she and others are arguing, “Unable to perform the duties that way she and other would prefer them to be performed” and stating that approval polls do not reflect the degree to which the impeachment charade is helping to re-elect Trump.

These are the smart Deranged. Imagine what the others are like.

1. Resistance porn. “A Very Stable Genius” is the latest “tales out of school” anti-Trump book. In this it is no different from those that have gone before, from Omarosa’s tell-all on up the ethics evolutionary scale. This one was authored by Pulitzer Prize winning journalists, so naturally the news media is celebrating it as if it is somehow different. What it is a collection of mostly anonymous accounts of people who have axes to grind and scores to settle against Donald Trump, and are violating basic professional ethics to do it. Are all of the stories true? I’m sure some are, maybe most—they don’t sound out of line with what we knew about this President before he was elected. Yet they are by very nature distorted by the theme of the book and the presumed anti-Trump bias of the book’s audience. What is so alarming about Trump’s eagerness to have a meeting with Putin?  So what if he questions why U.S. businesses shouldn’t be allowed to engage in bribery abroad, when it is the accepted norm in many countries? There’s an answer to the question, but it’s not a dumb question; in fact, its one international ethicists still debate. And do you really think Trump saying to Indian prime minister Narendra Modi,  “It’s not like you’ve got China on your border” wasn’t a joke?  Taking it as otherwise is classic conformation bias and disrespect. It sure sounds like a typical Trump joke to me. Continue reading

Ethics Round-Up, 12/18/2019: The Day Before An Invasive Procedure Edition [UPDATED]

Yuck.

Even the satisfaction of knowing that the President reads Ethics Alarms, or at least thinks like I do…wait, that came out wrong. Anyway, today I expect to be uncomfortable, hungry and distracted, so who knows what might appear here today?

You were warned.

1. The Ethics Quote of the Day comes from ex-Marine and TV talk show host Montel Williams (who was very nice to me when I was on his show), on the “scandal” of some cadets flashing the dreaded “OK” sign during the Army-Navy Game:

 

“Both West Point and Annapolis are investigating, and it strikes me as defamatory that some in the media have branded these young people as racists without a shred of evidence. I understand that a handful of racists (perhaps living in their parents’ basements) attempted to co-opt the ‘OK’ sign as a symbol of white power … but that is not evidence that these kids were motivated by racial animus. We owe these young people, who had the courage to sign up to be part of the 1% who defend this democracy, better than this,”

I would say that we owe them better than even investigating such trivia. A ambiguous gestures are ambiguous, and no student, in a military academy or anywhere else  should have to defend or explain them. The students are entitled to the benefit of the doubt.  As with the “It’s OK to be White,” flyers, the rational, responsible approach by administrators is to ignore them, rather than to make a scandal out of nothing.

When will we see the first “It’s OK to make the OK sign” flyers? Heck, I may put some up myself…

2. Nah, there’s no progressive “war on Christmas,’ and there’s no mainstream media bias, either. And CNN’s Brian Stelter isn’t the most incompetent and absurd “media critic” since the term was coined! Imagine: Stelter asked on Twitter,

“Justice Neil Gorsuch is on “Fox & Friends” right now. The Q: How is it appropriate for a Supreme Court justice to try to goose sales of his three-month-old book by chatting on one of the most partisan shows on TV?”

More “Q’s”: Would it be appropriate for Gorsuch to chat on another network, like, say, CNN? Would “wtachdog” Stelter bitch about that? What does the level of partisanship of a show have to do with whether a Supreme Court Justice should appear there? Is there any rule or precedent holding that it is unethical for a sitting Justice to promote a book? (I’ll answer that one: no.)

Stelter’s whining wasn’t close to the most contrived objection to Gorsuch’s visit to the Fox and Friends couch, though. This was: Continue reading

Saturday Morning Ethics, 11/9/2019: ABC’s Epstein Cover-Up, Facebook’s Whistleblower Identity Censorship, And More

I started this one at 3:30 AM. 

If you can’t sleep, might as well be thinking about ethics…

1. “I’m smart! I’m not stupid, like everybody says…” While trying to find  the post I linked to yesterday(about corrupt and abusive systems of municipal funding, justice and law enforcement that “are virtual dictated by poverty and demographics that make an ethical system impossible”),, I stumbled upon a post written in August, 2014, titled “Prediction: The Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck.”Five years and three months later, I had no clue as to what that prediction might have been, and was curious to find out what it was. My prediction was this:

At this point, we have no way of knowing what the truth is. Maybe Wilson executed Brown. Maybe he is a racist. Maybe he is a psychopath. And maybe Brown’s conduct justified the use of deadly force by the officer, and the teen was largely responsible for his own demise. Presumably we will eventually know the truth.I confidently predict this, however, based on what occurred in the Martin-Zimmerman case:

IF the evidence supports the conclusion that Brown charged at Wilson, neither the family of the slain teen, nor the African American community in Ferguson, nor the protesters, the race-hustlers, the black and progressive politicians who benefit by preserving racial tension and distrust,  much of the news media and many, many pundits and political bloggers, will change their rhetoric, accusations or the prevailing Ferguson narrative one bit. They need for the narrative as it stands to be true, and want it to be true. Massive confirmation bias will ensure that the death of Mike Brown will be talked about, protested and regarded as an example of racist police oppression of young black men, and the truth, in the end, will be irrelevant.

I hope my prediction is wrong.

And, as we now know, it was not. Several candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2020 nomination for President have referred to Brown’s “murder,” the news media has largely allowed their intentional misrepresentation to go uncondemned.

2. Democracy Dies in Darkness update: Facebook and YouTube have joined the bizarre media censorship conspiracy that is committed to keeping the name of the Ukraine “whistleblower” from as many lazy and inattentive members of the public as possible. This is happening despite the fact that his name has been thoroughly revealed in many forums: he is almost certainly Eric Ciaramella, a CIA analyst, committed Democrat and consort of Joe Biden, Rep. Schiff, John Brennan and other Impeachment Plan S architects. Ciaramella also was cited in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the now-disproven collusion between Donald Trump and Russia. It included  Ciaramella’s May 2017 email summaries of a meeting between Trump and Russian officials  that were eventually  leaked to a New York Times reporter. Continue reading