One can agree or disagree with the terms of the agreement, but Huckabee’s words do nothing but stir up sectarian fear and prejudice in a region already plagued with both. His words are almost as inflammatory as the rhetoric that Iranian leaders – including quite a few ayatollahs -- have spouted for several decades. In part because of that rhetoric the nuclear agreement was very difficult to negotiate.
Are there any lawyers or other advisers telling the candidates (particularly Trump and Huckabee) that stirring up ethnic and religious hatred has no place in a civilized election? Nothing in the election laws prohibits this rhetoric, and the First Amendment protects it. I am not sure that President Obama’s condemnation does anything other than strengthen these candidates’ appeal to voters on the far right fringe. But if Republicans don’t do something about the tone of this primary, our credibility problems will be a lot worse than any of the problems created by Secretary Clinton’s mail, former President Clinton’s speaking fees and the donations to their Foundation.
Since the Clinton Administration the White House staff manual has said that no official government business should be done on personal email accounts. This point should be even more obvious with respect to classified information.
I remember saying that once or twice in White House ethics lectures. I wanted to stress even obvious points after the indictment and resignation of the Vice President’s Chief of Staff (Scooter Libby) in a scandal involving a leak of classified information. But no classified information in personal email? If the White House ethics lawyer has to tell people that, he might as well also warn people against stuffing classified information in their socks simply because President Clinton's former aide Sandy Berger did just that when illegally removing classified files from the National Archives. I realized that I was telling people something they already knew – which trivializes ethics lectures – and I dropped the point.
Then again, the State Department – a place where there is perhaps even more classified information than in the White House – apparently needs to bring this seemingly obvious point back into its ethics training: please don’t put classified information in personal email.
Judaism and Christianity are only two of the many religions that teach kindness to strangers, but with Presidential candidates falling head over heels to appeal to Judeo-Christian voters, some scriptural literacy may be in order.
When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
These words, and passages of scripture from many different faiths, should be enough to make some people worry about the “you’re fired” message that may come to a society that does not do something to fix an inhumane immigration system. We can disagree about solutions to the problem, but mean spirited and insensitive statements about the people victimized by it are not acceptable.
What does this have to do with ethics? Everything. We get our ethics from somewhere, many of us from our religious faith. If we are not true to the beliefs we profess, particularly in the way we treat other human beings, it is difficult to claim that we have much by way of ethics.
I have no objection to Blankfein making this much money even if I question the theological accuracy of his claim before Congress a few years ago that Goldman Sachs is doing "God's work".
But perhaps he, and the top brass at Goldman Sachs and other banks, should have the same personal liability for their firms' debts that Goldman Sachs partners had for decades before these banks became public companies (Goldman made the switch in 1999).
Personal liability -- and personal responsibility -- of the most highly paid bankers is workable without going back to partnership form, as Claire Hill and I explain in this book to be released by University of Chicago Press later this summer:
Today I experienced the horror of a misdirected email. Luckily, the email was unrelated to any client work or confidential matters; but the experience sent a chill down my spine. Fortunately, the recipients of my wayward email were incredibly ethical attorneys. Not only did they assure me that they did not review my email, but they consoled me with a variety of horror stories about misdirected emails that they themselves had either sent or received.
1. Before using email, consider whether it’s the best method for the particular communication. Never respond to any message without thinking of the consequences of that communication becoming public.
2. Remove excessive “strings” of messages from email and include only what’s necessary.
3. Remove attachments unless necessary. Never send an email message without knowing exactly what’s on every page of an attachment. Consider stripping metadata (hidden information embedded within a document or message), or sending a PDF or facsimile version of the document, to minimize the risk of inadvertent disclosure of metadata.
4. Rename messages when appropriate. Delete excessive “FW” and “RE” references in the subject line.
5. Turn off the “Suggest Names” option to avoid automatically filling in the wrong name. Enable “spell check” for all outgoing messages.
6. Consider drafting email messages without the “To,” “Cc,” and “Bcc” fields being completed until after your message is drafted, and you are sure it’s complete. This will avoid the transmission of messages to anyone unless you are absolutely sure that they are the intended recipients.
7. Hitting “Reply to All” is always a disfavored practice and should only be used as a last resort.
8. If you are a recipient of a “Bcc” message, do not hit “Reply to All” because you may be disclosing something that the sender intended to keep confidential.
9. Clean out your Inbox by filing or printing relevant messages and deleting extraneous messages. Mark messages that require your attention as “Unread” in order to differentiate them from messages that have already been read and require no immediate action on your part.
10. Take a deep breath before sending any email message. Watch your language and grammar. Remember:Nothing is funny when it’s used as an exhibit in a lawsuit, or as an example of poor judgment or violation of policy.
I hope that all of you dear readers never experience the horror of the misdirected email. But, if you do, take comfort that you are not alone.
As many readers of this blog know, the New York Legal Ethics Reporter (NYLER) is a free online newsletter, which reports on developments in the area of professional responsibility and legal ethics. Although NYLER focusses primarily on developments in the New York and the tri-state area, the issues it addresses have national relevance.
NYLER is a collaborative effort between Hofstra University and Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz. It continues the tradition of the wonderful New York Professional Responsibility Reporter (NYPRR), which was published by Lazar Emanuel until his death in 2011. In fact, copies of the old NYPRR articles are archived on NYLER and can be accessed for free at any time.
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