STUPIDITY SATURDAY Bonus: The Deflategate Deniers, Excusers, Rationalizers and Corrupters

dumb football fan

[This post took so long to write that I am posting it on Sunday. Pretty stupid.]

Every few months an ethics story erupts that convinces me that I’m wasting my time. I started writing about ethics online in disgust over the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, which revealed to me that no politicians, few journalists and a tiny minority of the public understood the difference between, right, wrong, and a desperate rationalization. I was aghast at the vigorously nodding heads on talk shows when some ethically-challenged dolt would say that “everyone lies about sex” (so it’s okay), or that because other leaders may have had illicit sex, that made it acceptable, or that Clinton deserved special dispensation because he was an effective and popular President, or that he and Lewinsky were consenting adults, or that personal conduct was irrelevant to the job, or that other Presidents had done worse. These were all just lazy, poorly reasoned and culturally corrupting rationalizations, but nobody except a derided few seemed to know it.

So I’ve been writing about these and other ethics issues, including rationalizations, for about 15 years, and nevertheless, when something like the Patriots cheating scandal arises, I hear the same unethical, ignorant crap, as if nothing has changed. And, of course, nothing has. All I can hope to do, in conjunction with others who don’t want to see society devolve into a Hobbesian Hell, is to try to convince enough rational people that we can, by constantly explaining, arguing, and pointing the way, just keep things as barely endurably corrupt as they are now.

I got depressed just writing that last sentence.

The issue regarding the New England Patriots giving their quarterback an edge by cheating—deflating the balls so he could throw more accurately–isn’t controversial or hard to understand. If the team broke a rule that relates to sportsmanship, the fairness of the competition and the integrity of the result, and it is hard to see how it didn’t, then the NFL should punish the team severely. [ The NFL, true to its black heart, has made it clear that its investigation will not allow a resolution of this until after the Super Bowl, meaning that it hopes the controversy will deflate. I’m sure it could resolve all questions and identify the accountable parties faster if it wanted to—it doesn’t want to.] To do otherwise essentially endorses cheating. Moreover, since the team involved has a head coach who has made it clear that he is willing to cheat (having been caught before), that coach must be held accountable for the unethical culture he has nurtured whether he was directly involved in this particular episode or not. This is truly Ethics 101, Management 101, Culture 101, Sports 101—let’s just call it “101.” Yet so many, from the elite among sportswriters to the public that devotes an obscene amount of their passion, time and money to following football just don’t get it. Continue reading

More Bad Law Ethics: Integrity Test Coming For The Judiciary On Obamacare

"Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.       Your Friend, Congress"

“Dear Courts: We intend this mess to be a big, perfect, beautiful palace. Please let us know when its finished.
Your Friend, Congress.”

In a recent post, I explained how the incompetent drafting and reckless manner in which the Affordable Care Act was passed has corrupted every branch of the government as well as damaged our system and the public’s faith in it. Affordable Care Act supporters continue to desperately try to excuse, fix, and rationalize this disgracefully bad law. Next up is an integrity test for the judiciary, as the legal argument against the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit’s decision in Halbig v. Burwell becomes untenable.

If the two judges on the three judge panel were correct, and it appears they were, then a drafting miscalculation in the ACA has rendered the health care overhaul unworkable, meaning that it can’t be fixed, constitutionally at least, by Executive Orders, waivers, delays or lies, like so much else connected to the legislation. It will have to be addressed the old-fashioned—as in “according to the Constitution”—way, or not fixed at all. Continue reading

And The Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman Ethics Train Wreck Rolls On…Apparently Forever

It may be a train wreck, but if you're a liberal race-baiter, it's such a darned comfy one...

It may be a train wreck, but if you’re a liberal race-baiter, it’s such a darned comfy one…

The Michael Dunn trial ended without a verdict on the first degree murder charge, and the news media just couldn’t help themselves. Although the facts of two cases have virtually nothing in common, various prominent media figures could not resist connecting it to the Trayvon Martin killing and George Zimmerman’s trial, thus compounding the damage they have already inflicted on the public’s understanding of law, race, and ethics.

Other events spurred them on as well. There was the George Zimmerman interview in which he described himself as a victim, and this set some people off. Zimmerman is a victim—a victim of being made the race-conflict advocate’s poster boy for profiling villainy and bigotry when there are absolutely no facts that support such a characterization. He’s just not the dead victim in his tragic episode. Nor is the status of irresponsible, gun-toting fool necessarily incompatable with the status of victim in his case, but such nuances are beyond the comprehension of many among us, especially the many with press credentials.

Then the Providence College Black Studies Program announced that it would continue to give out an annual award called the Trayvon Martin Award for Social Justice, intended to honor those who have shown leadership and commitment to ”challenging and eliminating racism” and “empowering others to seek social justice.” The inexcusable implication of the award is that Trayvon Martin was the victim of racism, and that Zimmerman’s acquittal was social injustice, when in fact it was the epitome of the justice system working well. The program established the award in 2012, before Zimmerman had been tried or permitted to mount a defense in court, so this was no surprise. In fairness, the award needs to be renamed the Trayvon Martin “Our Minds Are Made Up So Don’t Confuse Us With Facts” Award. But then, fairness is not what the enshriners of this false but convenient narrative care about.

This morning,  CNN’s  over-opinionated morning news co-anchor Chris Cuomo (I’ll bet you he runs for office as a Democrat within five years or less) was showing part of his taped interview with Dunn prosecutor Angela Corey. I admit that it was fun watching Corey squirm under Cuomo’s biased and misleading questioning regarding the Martin and Dunn trials; she contributed greatly, after all, to the rush to judgment and trial-by-publicity in the Zimmerman case. Still, Corey tried to make a valid point to Cuomo (whose partner, Kate Bolduan, increasingly sits compliantly and submissively in silence while Cuomo takes over the broadcast and crosses lines of journalistic objectivity left and right): by focusing on a few high-profile cases, media coverage distorts the public’s perception of Florida’s stand-your-ground law as well as the justice African-Americans, victims as well as those accused of crimes, receive in the courts.

Cuomo proceeded to prove Corey correct. First he falsely described the Martin case, describing it as an instance of a young black man, minding his own business, getting into a confrontation, who “wins a fight, essentially”–these were Cuomo’s exact words—gets killed for it, and his killer goes free. This would be unforgivable from a guy in a bar; it is outrageous from a news anchor. If Martin had been shot by Zimmerman after the fight had ended, as Cuomo’s false description suggests, then he would have been guilty of murder beyond question. The evidence presented at trial indicated that Zimmerman shot Martin while he was losing a fight, and when he had no way of knowing how victorious the man on top of him intended to be. That created sufficient evidence of self- defense to win Zimmerman an acquittal. Cuomo was spreading false information to fit a politically motivated false narrative. Continue reading

The Right’s Unethical, Ignorant, Un-American And Dangerous Attack On Debo Adegbile

"How can you trust him to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department? He's a Lawyer!"

“How can you trust him to head the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department? He’s a Lawyer!”

I don’t know much about Debo Adegbile, President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights division. I know that he could hardly be more of a disaster than the current Attorney General, Eric Holder, and that the odds are that he would have to be much better. It may be that Adegbile is superbly qualified; it may be that he isn’t qualified at all. But I do know, with 100% certainty, that his representation of a convicted cop killer to seek to overturn his conviction is completely, absolutely irrelevant to his qualifications or character, and that for conservatives, Republicans and GOP Senators in Adegbile’s confirmation hearings to argue otherwise is both irresponsible and contemptible.

I first learned of this controversy from conservative radio host Mark Levin, who can really be an ugly hypocrite at times, and this was one of those times. Levin is a distinguished lawyer and an ethical one*; I refuse to believe that he does not comprehend ABA Model Rule 1.2 (b) or its importance to his profession. It reads:

“A lawyer’s representation of a client, including representation by appointment, does not constitute an endorsement of the client’s political, economic, social or moral views or activities.”

This principle is essential to allow, not merely the justice system but the entire rule of laws in a democracy, to function properly, and any lawyer who cynically, unethically, and dishonestly undermines it is playing with fire. “It is a move,writes  Prof. Jonathan Turley, “that strikes at the heart of the notion of the right to counsel and due process”—-but it is much more than that. If every citizen does not have full access to the laws of the land, the ability to use them to his own benefit and protection whatever his purpose, as long as it is legal, then this is not a government by the people and for the people, but rather a government of law-manipulating specialists and experts who bend ordinary citizens to their will through the use of complex, convoluted, jargon-riddled statutes and regulations that their victims can’t possibly understand. Continue reading