Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/20/2018: Racing The Battery Edition

Good Morning!

Well, I found a Best Buy in Erie (above), so barring a new catastrophe, I should have a full charge this afternoon and can begin catching up. I am sorry about the inconvenience caused by this self-inflicted problem. I’m afraid to even look at the Ethics Alarms traffic: this August has already been historically bad in that respect. Thanks for your patience.

Fell free to write about any ethics issue that concerns and interests you here while my little netbook is charging, assuming it does. Right now I’m on fumes…

1. Does the New York Times have access to a legal ethicist? How about a competent lawyer? In this story, the Times suggests that the White House doesn’t know what the White House Counsel told Robert Mueller in November. That’s ridiculous, and, I submit, impossible.

By all accounts, Don McGahn, is a competent, experienced ethical lawyer, and like all competent, experienced ethical lawyers, he knows that it is his core duty, under Rule 1.4 of every set of legal ethics Rules in the nation, to…

(1) promptly inform the client of any decision or circumstance with respect to which the client’s informed consent, as defined in Rule 1.0(e), is required by these Rules;

(2) reasonably consult with the client about the means by which the client’s objectives are to be accomplished;

(3) keep the client reasonably informed about the status of the matter;

(4) promptly comply with reasonable requests for information; and

(5) consult with the client about any relevant limitation on the lawyer’s conduct when the lawyer knows that the client expects assistance not permitted by the Rules of Professional Conduct or other law.

(b) A lawyer shall explain a matter to the extent reasonably necessary to permit the client to make informed decisions regarding the representation.

A lawyer doesn’t have to be asked to do this; a lawyer can never use the dodge, “Why didn’t I tell you? You never asked?” with his client. It is true, as the various talking heads kept repeating yesterday, that President Trump is not McGahn’s client, the Presidency is. However, in terms of the duty of communications for a lawyer with McGahn’s job, that distinction is meaningless. I’ve been trying to come up with any kind of statement or revelation that a White House Counsel could give to a Special Counsel that he would not be obligated to immediately reveal to the President.

I could write for hours on this topic, and eventually I will. But the starting point is that the Times is misleading the public. Again.

2. Fake news from the religious right: a Fox News headline today was “Little Girl Kissed By The Pope Is Cancer Free.” This is deceitful nonsense, implying that the Pope healed the girl by the touch of his Holy Lips.  She was undergoing cancer treatment. Her family credits the doctors there with the “miracle.” The Pope himself has not claimed that she was healed by his touch. “Little Girl Who Cheers For Boston Red Sox Is Cancer Free” would be a similar headline. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, April 12, 2018: Mistakes, Senators, Survivors, The Pope And Cosby

Good morning!

(I’m in a good mood because this happened last night…)

1. Incompetent elected officials of the month…From Reason:

On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary and Commerce, Science, and Transportation committees grilled Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the company’s insufficient efforts to protect users’ personal data…

Sen. Roy Blunt, (R–Mo.) … didn’t seem to understand that Facebook lacks a means of accessing information from other apps unless users specifically opt in…. Sen. Roger Wicker (R–Miss.) needed a lot of clarification on how Facebook Messenger interacts with cellular service. Zuckerberg had to carefully explain to Sen. Brian Schatz (D–Hawaii) that WhatsApp is encrypted, and Facebook can’t read, let alone monetize, the information people exchange using that service. Zuckerberg had to explain to multiple senators, including Sen. Dean Heller (R–Nev.), that Facebook doesn’t technically sell its data: The ad companies don’t get to see the raw information. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D–Vt.) brought along a poster on which his office had printed out images of various Facebook pages. Leahy asked whether these were Russian propaganda groups. “Senator, are you asking about those specifically?” Zuckerberg asked. He of course had no way of knowing what was going on with those specific pages, just from looking at pictures of them….Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D–Minn.) offered this metaphor: “the way I explain it to my constituents is that if someone breaks into my apartment with a crowbar and takes my stuff, it’s just like if the manager gave them the keys.” But …Facebook didn’t willfully assist in a crime. …Sen. Debbie Fischer (R–Neb.) didn’t understand, at a fundamental level, that if you’re using Facebook, you have agreed to let Facebook know a lot of information about you. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R–S.C.) asked whether Facebook had any major competitors. …

 

This is a theme of regulation, rules and laws in the cyber age: the officials responsible for regulating the uses and abuses of technology don’t use the technology involved, don’t understand it, aren’t willing to take the time to learn, and are apparently not even aware of how irresponsible and incompetent this is, how stupid and lazy it makes them look, and how it undermines the public trust.

2. But don’t worry…In his testimony, Zuckerberg said that Facebook was working on a way to ban “hate speech.” I can’t wait to see what the left-wing crypto-fascists who run the Big Tech giants consider “hate speech.”  Actually, we have some pretty good clues. Facebook silenced pro-Trump video-bloggers “Diamond and Silk,” deeming their political content “unsafe to the community.” Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 7/9/17

GOOD MORNING!

1. The Pope gave an interview saying, in Italian of course, that the United States of America, which he offensively grouped with Russia, China, North Korea and Syria, have “a distorted vision of the world.”

The Pope, who has spent the bulk of his adult life seeing the world through the narrowly focused lense of the Catholic Church, and who hails from a South American leftist state, thinks that the United States has a distorted view of the world. Wow. Besides the stunning hubris of this pronouncement, the Pope is engaging in an abuse of position and influence, and a remarkably short-sighted one. If he wants to exercise any influence at all over citizens of the world who have not been indoctrinate since childhood to regard him as a godly sage by virtue of a secret political vote by a bunch of superannuated Cardinals, he has to earn credibility by the evident quality of the statements he makes. Later on, in the same interview, the Pope made it clear that his  undistorted vision of the world involves endorsing open borders.

I think the Pope has a distorted view of the trustworthiness of celibate men who have access to young boys, so I really couldn’t care less what he thinks about U.S. policies when he can’t objectively and responsibly process the terrible realities in his own organization.

2. I’ve been reading and  listening to sportswriters since I was ten, and I have to say that I have little respect for the critical thinking skills of most of them. I was gobsmacked by an example of why this morning, as Steve Buckley, a long-time baseball reporter for the Hub’s #2 paper The Boston Herald, opined in a virtue-signaling mess of a column that “War heroes, not David Ortiz, deserve streets named after them.” David Ortiz, in case you live in a fallout shelter, is the recently retired iconic slugger of the Boston Red Sox. The team recently retired his number, and in a related honor, the city of Boston re-named a small street near the park after him. It had earlier named one of the many bridges in the city after him.

“We should reserve the streets, the corners, the squares, the playgrounds, to remember the men and women who died serving our country.” Buckley writes. Why? He never really gives a reason, he just tells us that this is the way it should be.  Why are the veterans who die in military service more honor-worthy than those who risked their lives but survived? Since when are society’s only real heroes military heroes? Is he a time-traveler from Ancient Sparta? Do contributions to society during peacetime or on the home front matter less to a community than what happens on a foreign battlefield?

What about fallen police officers and fire fighters? Not worth a street name? Philanthropists, inventors and innovators who made life better for all, launched businesses, created jobs, helped families and neighborhood thrive—these don’t warrant a little bit of  local immortality?  David Ortiz made millions of people happy. In a racially divided city, Ortiz, a black man, became the face of Boston sports, at least for those who were nauseated by Tom Brady’s smug countenance.  That was as important as his clutch home runs. Trivializing Ortiz’s contributions to Boston (the relationship of Bostonians to their infuriating baseball team is too complex to explain quickly to anyone who hasn’t been part of it) is trivializing the importance of entertainment and popular culture, which is nothing short of ignorant, especially in the United States. In the District of Columbia, a school is named after Duke Ellington. Good. In Los Angeles, for decades until California leftists finally removed it, a major airport was named after John Wayne. Excellent. And in Boston, the largest tunnel is named after Ted Williams, but maybe Buckley thinks that’s OK because Williams was a combat flier in two wars. (Pssst! Ted’s tunnel isn’t bearing his name because he crash-landed that jet, Steve!)

As a society and a species, we have a duty to remember those who have contributed to the culture we enjoy. There aren’t enough streets, schools, bridges and parks to honor them all, but they all deserve to be honored. Continue reading

The 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2016, Part 1

bad-2016

Welcome, if that’s the word, to the 8th Annual Ethics Alarms Awards.

Last year, in a burst of self-pity as I began this annual task, I wrote,

“It is depressing and discouraging: 2015 was much worse than 2014, which was considerably worse than 2013. What am I doing here? What is the point of spending all of this uncompensated time—it is more profitable bagging groceries!—trying to nurture a more ethical culture and a more ethically competent public when all evidence points to utter futility as the result? Well, that way madness lies, I guess. I’m just going to grit my teeth and do my duty. Last year I began by saying that 2014 was the year of the Ethics Train Wreck. There were far more of them in 2015, and they were more serious and damaging. That should give you sufficient warning of the horrors to come…”

Then came 20i6.

To paraphrase  Margo Channing, “Fasten your seatbelts: It’s going to a bumpy post…”

Ethics Train Wreck of the Year

train-wreck-air

The Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck

I thought last year was the Year of the Train Wreck. Wrong. In 2016, we had the 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck, the Campus Sexual Assault Witch Hunt Ethics Train Wreck, the Freddie Gray Ethics Train Wreck, the old stand-by Obama Administration Ethics Train Wreck, the still active Ferguson Ethics Train Wreck, and the Ethics Train Wrecks of both Presidential candidates campaigns. Hillary’s e-mails and their related lies in the long trail of cars called the Hillary Clinton E-Mail Scandal Ethics Train Wreck, was a clear winner though.

Passengers included President Obama, Bernie Sanders, Anthony Weiner, the F.B.I., Loretta Lynch, Bill Clinton, James Comey and more. And, of course, it played a significant and perhaps decisive role in bringing us President Trump.

Runner-Up: 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck. It had less than a month to get up steam, but it caused lots of ethics carnage, and is still going strong.

Fraud of the Year

The Trump Foundation, which revealed itself to be a near total sham. RUNNER-UP: Fake lawyer Kimberly Kitchen, who worked as an estate planning lawyer at BMZ Law in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, and served as president of the county bar, though she never went to law school, and never took the bar exam, but forged documents to fool everyone that she had.

Most Unethical Act By A Major Church

The Catholic Church, which, incredibly, restored a convicted rapist to the priesthood. Father Joseph Jeyapaul,  a Catholic priest from India, while serving in the Crookston, Minnesota diocese from 2004 to 2005 raped at least two adolescent girls.  After being charged with the crimes, including rape and forcing at least one of his victims to perform fellatio on him, Father Joseph  escaped to India, where an Interpol warrant got him extradited back to Minnesota.  There he confessed, and as part of a plea bargain, received an outrageously light sentence of a year and a day for pleading guilty to one count of molestation. Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served his time in Minnesota. The U.S. deported him back to India, while the Minnesota diocese had to pay millions in a civil lawsuit, during which we learned that the rapist priest had told one of his victims  in the confessional that she was at fault, and had made Jeyapaul “impure” by letting him abuse her. In February, the Vatican lifted Jeyapaul‘s suspension and restored him to the priesthood. It then assigned him to a new parish in India, where he is now the diocesan head of its commission for education. 

Tell me again why that fake news story that the Pope endorsed Trump was supposed to help The Donald.

Incompetent Elected Official of the Year

kkane

Kathleen G. Kane (D), Pennsylvania’s ex-Attorney General.  In October, a judge sentenced her to 10 to 23 months in prison for her conviction on charges of perjury and abuse of her office. You can’t be more incompetent, I’d say, than an elected attorney general who can’t stay out of jail herself. I regret not writing about the Kane saga last year, but her ethical void was fairly apparent back in 2013, the only time I did write about her, after she leaked grand jury testimony, which is illegal. I wrote at the time (I must have been in a bad mood)…

“Leaking grand jury testimony is both illegal and spectacularly unethical for a lawyer, yet Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, Kathleen Kane, appears to have done it for the slimiest of reasons, and is offering the most cynical of defenses in the most offensive of ways. (Incidentally, I don’t understand how this could happen. After all, Kane is a woman, the first Democrat and the first woman to be elected to the post, and since having a vagina alone is supposed to imbue a candidate with trustworthiness, surpassing competence and virtue, this makes no sense at all.)”

Unethical Elected Official of the Year

Continue reading

The Catholic Church, Its Rapist Priest, And Shattered Trust

The graphic artist didn't place that halo over the rapist priest's head. The Vatican did.

The graphic artist didn’t place that halo over the rapist priest’s head. The Vatican did.

In the year after “Spotlight” focused renewed public attention on the Catholic Church’s horrific betrayal of its mission, its members and humanity by the enabling of child sexual predators within its ranks, how could the Church not realize that reinstating a convicted rapist priest, as it did this week, undermines all of its efforts to regain the trust and faith it had forfeited?

After months in which Pope Francis presumed to tell the governments of the world what its moral obligations were, how could he allow this to occur?

In short, how can a credible religion have broken ethics alarms? How can the Catholic Church preach morality while rejecting ethics?

Father Joseph Jeyapaul,  a Catholic priest from India, served in the Crookston, Minnesota diocese from 2004 to 2005. While he was there, he raped at least two adolescent girls. I say “at least” because he admitted to raping them to cop a plea. Who knows who else he may have assaulted?

After being charged with the crimes, including rape and forcing at least one of his victims to perform fellatio on him, Father Joseph  escaped to India, where an Interpol warrant got him extradited back to Minnesota.  There he confessed, and as part of a plea bargain, received an outrageously light sentence of a year and a day for pleading guilty to one count of molestation.

Don’t ask me to explain why any prosecutor whose law license wasn’t obtained by passing a quiz about “Law and Order” episodes would make such a deal. I assume that some kind of political pressure from the Church was involved, or that the prosecutors were Catholic, or that they had brain lesions or something. Frankly, I’d rather not talk about it.

Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served his time in Minnesota. The U.S. deported him back to India with a DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER label after his release last July.  Meanwhile, the Minnesota diocese had to pay millions in a civil lawsuit, during which we learned that the rapist priest had told one of his victims  in the confessional that she was at fault, and had made Jeyapaul “impure” by letting him abuse her.

Does the term “evil” come to mind, or would you call that too judgmental?

Now comes the amazing part. In February, the Vatican lifted  Jeyapaul‘s suspension and restored him to the priesthood. It then assigned him to a new parish in India, where he is now the diocesan head of its commission for education. 

I’m sure it’s also a great place to meet chicks.

Continue reading

Again, The Pope Is An Ethics Dunce, And Again, Someone Is Ticking Me Off By Making Me Defend Donald Trump

handogod1It is unethical to punch down, you see.

Figures of great prominence, popularity and power end up abusing all of that by denigrating, attacking and criticizing private citizens, including corporate citizens. When such individuals condemn others, they naturally focus the antipathy of their supporters on the targets, and since the targets never have similar hordes to support them, this is a grand variety of bullying….in fact, lets call it Grand Bullying.

Thus Pope Francis is ethically wrong to publicly attack Donald Trump. It’s also unbelievably stupid and petty, but never mind: we’ll just concentrate on unethical.

Trump, in one of his periodic moments of clarity—if you pew out random thoughts about everything all the time, it is like a million monkeys eventually typing “Hamlet;” the odds say that eventually something sensible will come out by accident—said that the Pope was “political” and that Francis “doesn’t understand America’s problems.”  True…true. He also could have said that the Pontiff should stop meddling with U.S. illegal immigration and environmental policies when the principality that he heads doesn’t tolerate any of the former, and he has no practical reasons to be dubious about climate change, the Vatican having no jobs, industry, or trade-offs to consider. So the Pope felt that he had to respond, and when asked by a reporter, “Can a good Catholic vote for this man?” replied, Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “The Pope’s Smoking Gun”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican Ambassador, now residing under a bus...

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican Ambassador, now residing under a bus…

The blatant dishonesty of Pope Francis posing as an apolitical moral authority while engaging in outright political advocacy before the U.S. Congress, as he accepted accolades from manipulative partisans who have no interest in religion but who nonetheless were delighted to exploit his influence for their own purposes, was nauseating. Nearly as nauseating was the furious attempts by Catholics as well as these Pope fans-of-convenience to spin his comments and his conduct in support of Kim Davis, and by extension, her rejection of gay Americans and the ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

After several days of stonewalling, the Vatican decided on a strategy that should be familiar to anyone who follows U.S. politics: make a lesser official the scapegoat. The difference, of course, is that because this is the Pope, we are supposed to accept such standard duck-and-cover strategies as (heh) the gospel truth. I was preparing to write a post about the furious spinning going on to excuse the Pope’s inexcusable conduct when the Vatican spoke up, and Rich in Ct did an excellent job analyzing the ethics carnage.

Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Pope’s Smoking Gun. I’ll be back at the end: Continue reading

The Pope’s Smoking Gun

Papal MitreI have been touched by the passionate defenses of the Pope during his visit here, by sincere believers who desperately wanted not to see what was going on. If only Pope Francis respected his supporters enough to live up to the ideals they projected on him, which included insisting, against all evidence, that he was merely talking in broad, moral generalities to Congress rather than lobbying for progressive policies, like making illegal immigration legal.

He was, we were told, only showing us where “true North” was according to the Church. I guess he just forgot to bring up abortion, which the Church regards as murder (and Joe Biden too, when he’s not playing politics) as he was lecturing our legislators about “human rights.”

The second he returned home, the Pope threw gay couples under the Popemobile, stating that Kim Davis’s position as a government official refusing to obey the law was a “right.” Again, his defenders insisted that this was just an abstraction. Now we hear from Davis’s lawyers that she had a secret meeting with Pope Francis. Davis says that he hugged her, gave her a rosary, and told her to “stay strong.”

“That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the pope is on track with what we’re doing, it kind of validates everything to have someone of that stature,” Davis said.

Naturally, those who can’t handle the truth will say she is lying. There is no evidence that Kim Davis is untruthful, and her lawyer would be facing discipline if they falsely reported what did not occur. This really happened. Continue reading

OK, Progressive Hypocrites: NOW Do You Agree That The Pope Is Meddling Where He Has No Business Meddling?

Pope Francis2

Pope Francis just threw the weight of the Vatican behind Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee, and other proponents of theocracy….which makes sense, I guess, since he leads one:

Reuters:

Pope Francis said on Monday government officials have a “human right” to refuse to discharge a duty, such as issuing marriage licenses to homosexuals, if they feel it violates their conscience...On the flight back to Rome, he was asked if he supported individuals, including government officials, who refuse to abide by some laws, such as issuing marriage licenses to gays.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right,” Francis said.

UPDATE: The full quote:

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection… but, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right…. Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right… Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying ‘this right that has merit, this one does not.’ It is a human right…It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right.”

That sly fox did phrase this ambiguously enough that he has plausible deniability: maybe he’s been coached by the Clintons. “Oh, no,” he can say, “I said ‘conscientious objection,’ as in civil disobedience. I didn’t say they had a right to defy the law and still keep their jobs!” Or maybe he was mistranslated, and really said, “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

Let’s all give thank to the Pope for ensuring that more Constitutional dummies will insist that they can defy the laws and discriminate against gay citizens because the Bible tells them so and the Pope said they have a “right.”

Sorry Frankie, but you don’t know what the hell you are talking about, and you need to butt out of U.S. social and policy issues.

There is no human right to treat a human being differently from any other human being because of his or sexual orientation as a representative of the government, no right to defy the law without consequences, and no right for a government employee to refuse to do her job because she, like the Pope, in her infinite non-comprehension of the Constitution, doesn’t agree with the Supreme Court.

Nevertheless, gratitude is due to the Popester* for proving my point about the absurdity of his amateur observations about law, government and policy being treated like divine revelations by the news media and Democrats trying to pick up some polling points on global warming.

Did you notice that he didn’t have the guts to talk to Congress about abortion. That would have upset his claque on the Democratic side. He also waited until he was safely  back home before lining up with the Kim Davis crowd.

Canny.

Cowardly.

*Disrespectful, you say? Absolutely. Guilty as charged! I don’t respect foreign despots who presume to interfere with my country’s politics, laws and culture. I resent them. Neither should any other American citizen. And John Boehner regarded allowing the head of his religion to lobby the Congress his greatest achievement!

 

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Week: Rep. Bob Brady (D-Pa.)

bob_brady_pope

From the Washington Times:

“As Congress members rushed to touch Pope Francis after Thursday’s historic address on the House floor, Rep. Bob Brady reportedly made a beeline for the podium to swipe the Holy Father’s discarded water glass.

The Pennsylvania congressman immediately took a sip out of the glass and brought it back to his office, ABC News reported

“The congressman is a Catholic and has immense respect for the Holy Father,” Rep. Brady’s Chief of Staff Stan White told ABC.

His office confirmed that Mr. Brady drank from the water and shared it with members of his staff and his wife, Debra Brady…The congressman kept the remainder of the water and plans to sprinkle it on his grandchildren, Mr. White said.”

Actually, I don’t know what to call this conduct.  Creepy? Superstitious? Embarrassing? Unsanitary? Silly? Bizarre? Funny? Deranged?

Incompetent will just have to suffice.

Does every glass the Pope drinks from become like the Holy Grail? I’d be careful, if I were were the Congressman…

Brady’s antics make the entire government look foolish. There’s religious belief, and there is irrational conduct. One doesn’t have to lead to the other, but such a display should cause serious voters to pause and wonder whether a man who acts like this belongs in a high office, or even a not so high office.

What an idiot.

UPDATE: After I posted this about an hour ago and had to run an errand, I began wondering whether Brady’s reverence for the Pope, which seems to extend to a belief that his lips are magic, also extends to accepting Catholic doctrine and what the Pope advocates, at least when these don’t conform to the Democratic Party’s platform. Here are Brady’s votes on abortion. A summary: Brady has voted for the most extreme pro-abortion positions. Reconcile that, if you will, with his water glass stunt.

I cannot comprehend Catholics who embrace this kind of hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance, nor can I respect any voter who would observe Brady and say, “Now there’s a man of integrity, wisdom and judgment!”