Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2A, Part 2

Part 1 is here.

The transcript is here.

4. Asshole comment of the night: Pete Buttigieg saying that we have to ask how Donald Trump even got “within cheating distance of the Presidency.” The Democrats still refuse to admit that the election of the President was legitimate, without any evidence whatsoever. I don’t care who they are running for, the White House or mayor of East Podunk. I am not forgiving or trusting such a party until they recant, or are properly punished.

5. Do these people realize how ridiculous and irresponsible they sound regarding climate change? Beto O’Rourke: “I listen to scientists on this, and they are very clear. We don’t have more than 10 years to get this right.” Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Science tells us we have 12 years before we reach the horizon of catastrophe when it comes to our climate.” How many times does the boy have to cry wolf before people catch on?

And, incredibly, there was support expressed by the two top demagogues on the stage for the absurd and totalitarian “Green New Deal.” Warren  (who proved her intellectual dishonesty and lack of integrity by co-sponsoring the Green New Deal bill, though it wasn’t worthy of a sixth grade science student, much less a Harvard professor): “Climate crisis is the existential crisis for our world. It puts every living thing on this planet at risk.”  Classic fact-free fear-mongering. Absolutely no scientist has suggested that “every living thing” is as risk even with the most dire climate chance models. As I have noted before regarding Warren, she deliberately tries to exploit public ignorance, and asserts things that we know she knows are not true. How can anyone support someone like that?

Then comes Bernie Sanders: “We can create what the Green New Deal is about. It’s a bold idea. We can create millions of good-paying jobs. We can rebuild communities in rural America that have been devastated. So we are not anti-worker. We are going to provide and make sure that those workers have a transition, new jobs, healthcare and education.”

The crypto-communist knows that what the Green New Deal is all about is, as Ocasio-Cortez’s guru, Saikat Chakrabarti, explained to the Washington Post,  the  Green New Deal isn’t “a climate thing at all,” but a stealth “how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.,” and, necessarily, a put government’s iron boot down on personal liberty thing, though neither Bernie, Liz, Saikat or the other aspiring totalitarians in the party will say so out loud.

6. When moderator Jake Tapper asked “whether the middle class should pay higher taxes in exchange for universal coverage and the elimination of insurance premiums,” Sanders rebuked him for using “a Republican talking point.” Thus was born a new progressive dodge. The next night’s debate participants quickly took up the task of distorting yet another term to make honest debate more difficult.  My favorite was Julian Castro’s “Open borders is a right-wing talking point.” Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Actress Busy Philipps

Actress  Busy Philipps, an abortion advocate ( of course).  testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the topic this week.

I must drop in here that I am offended by celebrity witnesses participating Congressional hearings. They seldom are the most expert or prepared authorities, and have no special credentials except that they look nice and usually can speak clearly.  They get the opportunity to attract publicity to the hearings, and accept it to burnish their images.

In this case, the actress’s primary qualification to talk about abortion is that she had one (at 15). Philipps’ more recent argument for abortion is that a lot of women have had one, which is 100% irrelevant to the ethical and legal issues at hand. Beyond that, she essentially mouths standard talking points.  In her opening statement to the House Judiciary Committee, she said,

“I am a human being that deserves autonomy in this country that calls itself free, and choices that a human being makes about their own bodies should not be legislated by strangers who can’t possibly know or understand each individual’s circumstances or beliefs.”

I’ve been unsuccessfully looking for what Busy’s major was at Loyola Marymount, assuming she graduated (all the sources says “she attended” the school), but based on that mess, we can assume it wasn’t English Literature, pre-law or Philosophy. Laws do not typically include variances according to a citizen’s beliefs or circumstances. Robbery is illegal, even if you really need the money or don’t “believe” in property rights.

Then Texas Congressman Louie Gomert asked a pertinent question.  Melissa Ohden, the founder of the Abortion Survivors Network who survived  a failed saline infusion abortion in 1977,  had testified earlier.  “Would you agree that somebody who has survived an abortion, like Melissa Ohden, has a right, once she’s born, to life, to have control over her body where someone else doesn’t take her life?” he  asked.

“Although I played a doctor on television, sir, I am actually not a physician,” she replied. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/31/18: To Be Honest, This Is Yesterday’s Warm-Up That I Was Too Sick To Write…

This isn’t how I look. This guy looks BETTER than I look…

Today I feel like one of those guys I used to see nodding of in a heroin haze when I lived on Capital Hill…

1. Governor Ralph Northam endorses infanticide. Said Virginia’s Democratic Governor this week, explaining a bill that barely failed to pass in the Virginia legislature, “[Third trimester abortions are] done in cases where there may be severe deformities. There may be a fetus that’s nonviable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen,” Northam, who is a pediatric neurosurgeon, told Washington radio station WTOP. “The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired. And then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” How can this possibly be interpreted as  anything but post birth euthanasia? Marco Rubio tweeted, “I never thought I would see the day America had government officials who openly support legal infanticide.”

Really? I did. The pro-abortion movement has been moving relentlessly to this point for decades. (New York just legalized late term abortions.)If progressives and feminists want to see Roe v.Wade substantially weakened by the Supreme Court, this is the  way to guarantee it. Of course, Northam gives all sorts of indications that he might be an idiot. His response to the predictable criticism of his statement was this tweet:

“I have devoted my life to caring for children and any insinuation otherwise is shameful and disgusting.

Yeah! Why would anyone question my devotion to  children just I advocate killing the ugly ones right after they are born? After all, they’ll be made “comfortable” until they die. (I have to admit, the “comfortable” bit really annoys me, as if that mitigates what is being done.) Continue reading

“Immoral And Ineffective”

Hmmm. I have now, in a single day, heard two Congressional Democrats, in the course of discussing the so-called government shut down, describe the Trump border wall as “immoral and ineffective.” Does this mean that the phrase is an official, focus group tested Democratic talking point now, issued to the troops to be relentlessly repeated over and over again to end debates rather than illuminate them? I assume so, and thus it joins “comprehensive immigration reform,” “sensible gun laws,” and others. If I am right, it is a remarkably dishonest catch phrase. It’s also internally hypocritical.

Simply put, if the wall is ineffective, why is it immoral? And if the wall is immoral, why is being ineffective an indictment of it?

Arguing in the alternative like this is a red flag that signals that the advocate just wants to defeat the proposition, and doesn’t care how he or she does it.  The device originated in the legal profession, as a strategy to advance several competing and often mutually exclusive arguments with the goal of showing that regardless of interpretation there is no viable conclusion other than the advocate’s. Most often, the trick is used in criminal law: My client didn’t know the victim, and if he did, he was too far away that night to kill him, and even if he was the last one to see the victim alive, the evidence against him is circumstantial. In criminal law, the approach is justifiable, for the accused must be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and any doubt will do. The criminal defense lawyer isn’t seeking justice, or the best result for the community, just the best result for his client, as his (or her) clients defines it. It’s a better device to use in court briefs to other lawyers and judges than to a jury, who are likely to think, “Wait, does this lawyer care what the truth is?” The answer to that question is, of course, “no,” as long as the end result serves the interests of the lawyer’s client. If the client is Jack the Ripper, and the lawyer  arguing in the alternative allows him to escape conviction to kill again, the lawyer did the job required by his or her profession. The consequences of freeing the client literally is not the lawyer’s concern: if it is, then he or she is in the wrong profession. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/28/2017: Bad Lawyer, Bad Losers, Bad Lottery, Bad Policy

 

GOOD MORNING!

1 Gee, I wonder how this happened? I’m doing a year-end legal ethics seminar for D.C. Bar members this afternoon, and this story showed up in time for me to use. A federal jury has found Evan Greebel, the former lawyer for convicted fraudster Martin “Pharma Bro” Shkreli guilty of helping the fick pharmaceutical executive craft a scam to repay defrauded investors. You remember Shkreli—this guy, who entered the Hall of Infamy for his unapologetic price-gouging of the HIV drug Daraprim after he bought the rights to the drug and  then hiked its price from $13.50 to $750.

Prosecutors  claimed Greebel, Shkreli’s lawyer during  scheme, gave his client detailed advice on how to pay off investors in his  hedge funds, MSMB Capital and MSMB Healthcare, with his company’s  funds, as well as how to circumvent trading restrictions. He was also was accused of participating in fraudulent backdating of documents and helping draft phony settlement and consulting agreements. Greebel’s lawyers countered that Shkreli was an evil manipulator who dragged his own lawyers, unaware, into his crimes. his own lawyers. Greebel, they said, acted in good faith as the outside attorney for Shkreli’s company, and lacked criminal intent.

The news story ends with this:

“Greebel, a partner with Katten Muchin Rosenman, saw his annual salary triple from $355,000 in fiscal year 2013 to $900,000 in 2014, when he was advising Shkreli.”

The moral: Nothing freezes ethics alarms like a lot of money.

2. What do Roy Moore, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton have in common? They are lousy losers. Moore, the horrible GOP candidate for the empty Alabama Senate seat, has filed a lawsuit to try to stop Alabama from certifying Democrat Doug Jones as the winner of the U.S. Senate race. Moore lost by 20,000 votes, but insists that there were irregularities. He wants a fraud investigation and a new election. Once upon a time, even the losers in close elections where some funny things went on conceded gracefully and accepted the results. This was a traditional demonstration of respect for the system and democracy, and girded our elections from cynicism and distrust. Even Samuel J. Tilden, the Democrat who was cheated out of the Presidency despite winning both the popular and the electoral vote, acceded to the back room deal that gave Hayes the victory.

No longer. Al Gore permanently killed that tradition in 2000, and Hillary’s minions set the corpse on fire in 2016. Now losing candidates can be expected to exploit any excuse imaginable to try to reverse election results. This is a dangerous slippery slope the endless Florida recount put us on, and I fear that it will eventually slide into violence. Better that the occasional election be won illicitly than to have every election be a potential court case.

In other news, the determination of a tie-breaker to settle who won a decisive seat in Virginia’s House of Delegates has been delayed after lawyers representing Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds filed a motion asking a trio of circuit court judges to reconsider their decision to allow a controversial ballot to be counted as a vote cast for her Republican opponent.

Of course! Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Popehat’s Ken White

ionesco-rhinoceros

“[L]ying about Trump’s legal affairs doesn’t help. It helps promote lying, not Clinton (or anyone else.) This week social media is full of a narrative that the mainstream media is “ignoring” that Trump is on trial for rape and racketeering in December. That’s dishonest…Trump is historically awful. That’s not a reason to promote narratives that damage us as a nation. Lying about the nature of allegations, and treating allegations as presumptively true, damage us as a nation. “

—-Attorney/blogger Ken White, explaining the “rape trial” and “racketeering charges” against Donald Trump that Clinton supporters have been citing on-line and off as an “It’s not the worst thing!” rationalization (#22) to deflect criticism of Hillary Clinton

On Popehat, where he reigns supreme, former prosecutor and current lawyer Ken White has posted an essay called  “The Facts About A Couple of Pending Lawsuits Against Donald Trump,”  a blessed service to all of us who want to make the social media defenders of Hillary Clinton stop trying to corrupt everyone else with spin, lies and rationalizations.

Three main talking points of distraction and disinformation have been issued to followers by the panicked Clinton campaign to spread hither and yon. (Like Ken, I know that Trump must lose, but I want Clinton’s victory to be as unpleasant and marginal as possible.) The first and most insulting is the tried and true “vast conspiracy” against little ol’ Hillary, mostly because she’s a woman. The second is the lie that she’s no more dishonest than other politicians. (This one infuriates me, as it is demonstrably false, and attempts to set the standard for acceptable, institutionalized trustworthiness for U.S. public servants to Hillary’s miserable level for all time. This is, perhaps, the greatest long-term danger she poses to the nation.)

The third is the “how can anyone care about those stupid e-mails when Trump has a rape trial in December?” smear. I’ve been bouncing around Facebook trying to explain why this argument makes my friends look like idiots, but they, like the townspeople in Ionesco’s allegorical comedy “Rhinoceros” who start sprouting horns, pawing the ground and grunting, seem to have collectively given in to mindless conformity.

Ken explains why the third talking point is irresponsible: at this point, there are only allegations. “The fact that I hate Donald Trump does not mean that the allegation is or is not true,” he says.

The “rape trial” is a particularly misleading situation. Ken: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The GOP New Hampshire Debate

Rubio meltdown

Two ethics controversies occurred before the ABC debate (transcript here) even began.

  • DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz really is a shameless and audacious hack. Does anyone seriously defend her? After being justly criticized in the news media for unabashedly hiding the Democratic candidates debates, staging them on weekends and against football games to smooth the road for Hillary, she actually had the epic gall to accuse the GOP of doing the same thing in a tweet yesterday, which read:

“Hmmm, wondering why @GOP trying to hide their #GOPdebate on the Saturday of #SuperBowl weekend no less?!”

Is she that lacking in self-awareness? Was she mocking herself? Is she an idiot? After she was blasted left and right for the tweet, she either revealed her real objective or concocted a face-saving retort:

“.@TheDemocrats debates set viewer records. Both parties’ broadcast network debates on wknds. Replies to SuperBowl #GOPdebate make my point,”

Whether this was her original intent of a U-Turn, it was also her trademark, a ridiculously transparent lie. “TheDemocrats debates set viewer records” is deceit: all the debates by both parties have exceeded previous viewer levels, but the Republican debates have significantly out-drawn the Democrats. There is no doubt that the Democrats would have drawn more had they avoided weekends like Republicans did, and that the fact that they did not was entirely intentional.

Why do Democrats tolerate a sleaze like Wasserman Schultz? It is natural to judge a party by its leadership, and she is neither bright, nor honest, nor effective,  nor appealing.

The other issue was the unfairness of leaving Carly Fiorina out of the debate. I don’t pretend to understand the formula used to demote the candidates, but since all of the other potential debaters–Gilmore, Graham, Huckabee, Santorum, Paul—had dropped out, either Fiorina should have been given a chance to debate herself for two hours, which would have been fun, or be in the main debate. Her New Hampshire poll numbers are equivalent to several who debated last night.

Debate observations: Continue reading