Category Archives: Government & Politics

Eric Holder Scores A Jumbo

Charging Elephant

Elephant? What Elephant?

I was going to let this pass—I pass up a Holder or Obama ethics topic approximately twice a day, just for, you know, diversity—but it is such a blatant Jumbo, and such an insulting one, that it has to be noted. When it occurred last week, I called up my two Hill contacts who have worked with Holder, and asked how they could square this with their “Trust me, he’s a good guy and a decent lawyer who is just over his head” assessments. Now that assessment is “He’s a good guy who is just over his head, the nasty politics is getting to him, and he’s not thinking straight any more.”

Speaking to Al Sharpton’s National Action Network,  on April 10, Attorney General Holder went off script to say this, in the context of his remarks about civil rights progress during the Obama administration:

“The last five years have been defined by significant strides and by lasting reforms even in the face, even in the face of unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive adversity. If you don’t believe that, you look at the way — forget about me, forget about me. You look at the way the attorney general of the United States was treated yesterday by a House committee — has nothing to do with me, forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

The comments were widely and correctly interpreted as an accusation of racial bias, which is exactly what they were: Continue reading

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”

Here is Chris Marchener’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”: and the ongoing debate it has sparked here:

I am not a lawyer. do not play one on TV, nor did I spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express last night. BUT, my understanding of the decision was that the SCOTUS would not overrule the will of the electorate, who, after reasoned debate on the issue, voted to amend its state constitution to state unequivocally that no person shall be granted a preference based on some genetic characteristic, belief, religion, etc. Isn’t that what we are striving toward? They did not strike down nor address the merits of affirmative action.

I get Jack’s point that Justice Sotamayor’s dissent was not based on Constitutional law and was reflecting her own biases regarding race and gender.

Outside of this decision, there is no doubt that some people in this country have a cultural aversion to people of other races, nationalities, genders, lifestyles, Such aversions apply equally to all genders, races, nationalities etc. on a global scale. In the US. such personal aversions must not be a criterion for employment decisions, educational, or other economic opportunities.

To Mr. Green’s assertion, “You mean racists are the ones who talk about racism? How is that not like blaming the victim? This is a pernicious, evil lie – that the victims of racism are in fact the cause of racism because they have this nasty habit of pointing out the unpleasant fact of racism’s existence” : The evil lie is that racism and gender discrimination remains an institution perpetrated by white males such that all benefits inure to them within the economy of the US. Therefore, such institutional racism must continue to be addressed through the very means that created unequal opportunities in the first place. I have stated in earlier posts that any group that demands perpetual preferential treatment by virtue of race, ethnicity, gender or some other factor is guilty of the same institutional bias that we seek to overcome.

In Justice Sotamayor’s words  “Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…” What does this mean? Does it mean that every race be identical in population size? Does it mean that income distribution within the racial sub-segment reflect the income distribution in the majority demographic? Or, does it mean that everyone has an equal chance based on persistence, education and intellect?

This is same Justice that said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,”

Blatant racism if we switched the nouns, And why just white men?

Later she said, “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and non white, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” To this I do not disagree. However, the difference does not mean that better decisions will be made just different decisions. If we accept the premise that physiological or cultural differences are acceptable biases in judicial rulings then no culture, race, or national origin is inherently racist. She cannot say that white European physiology or culture is inferior for is she does then the logical conclusion is that all others are cultures and genders are superior to the white European culture which is a racist statement.

She continues, “And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up.”

To that I say, Why can’t they be discussed in any other way? I cannot wish away what others think, I can only think for myself. Why do you feel the need to tell me how I think and feel? Why does the young man sense the tension of others when he walks by? Are the passerby’s truly in a state of tension or has such hypersensitivity been planted within him through the rhetoric of those “leaders” who amass great wealth and power rationalizing every perceived slight as evidence of racism. We need to tell children that they can be anything they want provided they work hard in school and apply themselves. If we continually tell them the majority is against them and they have no chance without government protections then they will simply fail to strive for greatness, reinforcing within them the sense that majority society is against them. This is exactly what the self-described champions of racially equality seem to want. If it is not then I challenge them to try alternative tactics to get my support.

However, because there has been past injustice and we feel that we must compensate those affected by such injustice, we must ask who should pay the price for past injustice and for how long. Is evidence of economic disparity the only means to determine evidence of racism; I think not. It takes individual effort and if that effort is not forthcoming then failure to achieve is not evidence of racism. For those that advocate for affirmative action, should only the sons of whites who had the misfortune of being born into lower and middle-income American families bear the burden of reparations? I don’t think that the sons of well-connected whites suffer from being denied employment in favor of a greater, equally, or lesser qualified women or minority candidate as a result of ensuring affirmative action plan goals. Nor do I think that the daughters of many well to do citizens have ever faced any form of discrimination in their lives.

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Filed under Family, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Musings On The Guy With “MURDER” Tattooed On His Neck….

 

Hey! Cool tattoo, dude! Just don't get caught actually murdering someo...oh. Bummer.

Hey! Cool tattoo, dude! Just don’t get caught actually murdering someo…oh. Bummer.

Jeffrey Chapman, who is soon to stand trial for first degree murder in Great Bend, Kansas, wants to remove the giant tattoo that spells out the word  MURDER around his neck, believing that it will prejudice the jury against him.

Ya think?

The judge will allow Chapman to have the tattoo removed before the trial, it appears. There is precedent for this: in Florida, in 2010, a neo-Nazi charged with hate crimes was permitted to have the hate-related tattoos on his face and neck, including a swastika, covered up by a professional make-up artist. It was paid for by the state, naturally.

Observations:

  • I suppose this is the necessary and fair decision by the judge. Lawyer-pundit Alan Dershowitz made some interesting points regarding the Florida case, however, suggesting that the swastika and other tattoos were an extension of tattooed defendant John Allan Ditullio’s character, and covering them could be construed as misleading the jury. “He is alleged to have attacked people on the basis of sex orientation and race. The court has the chance to make its rulings based on whether the tattoos are relevant to the case,” Dershowitz said. “It depends on what the prosecution is trying to prove. If they are saying his Nazi ideology drove him, then you could argue that seeing the tattoos is relevant.” Dershowitz noted that his tattoos were obviously the way he chooses to present himself publicly. “It’s not like the swastika was on his rear end,” he said.

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Filed under Character, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, U.S. Society

Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor

Sonia_Sotomayor

“Race matters. Race matters in part because of the long history of racial minorities’ being denied access to the political process…Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.” In my colleagues’ view, examining the racial impact of legislation only perpetuates racial discrimination. This refusal to accept the stark reality that race matters is regrettable.”

-—-Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotamayor, dissenting in the case of Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative, Integration and Immigration and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary, in which a 6-2 majority ruled that Michigan voters could ban race-based preferences at universities without violating the Constitution.

This screed was remarkably unprofessional for a Supreme Court Justice, an emotional recitation of unsupported assertions, perceptions and complaints with no constitutional relevance. Sotamayor, you may recall, was nominated by the President in the midst of a public debate regarding the importance of “empathy” on the bench, code for “we need more women.” But the Constitution is supposed to be interpreted by principles of law and legal reasoning, not from “the heart.” Well, we clearly got the empathetic Justice he wanted, for better or worse. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Quotes, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Race, Rights

The Supreme Court Delivers An Ethical Opinion On Democracy, Affirmative Action, and Fairness

Good work, SCOTUS!

Good work, SCOTUS!

In SCHUETTE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF MICHIGAN v COALITION TO DEFEND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, INTEGRATION AND IMMIGRATION RIGHTS AND FIGHT FOR EQUALITY BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY, the U.S. Supreme Court just affirmed, 6-2, Michigan’s right to ban state affirmative action programs. The decision was narrow, not taking up the issue of affirmative action itself, but rather affirming the right of the citizens of the state to ban it at the ballot box.

You should read the decision  here, and not let journalists distort it for you.  My favorite quotes: Continue reading

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Pop Ethics Quiz! What’s Wrong With This Picture?

speeding bullet

No, you don’t have to spot the mistake, now.  That’s too easy. The single, embarrassing mistake in this ad created for Michael Bloomberg’s anti-gun group Everytown For Gun Safety is so obvious I’m pretty sure there are 5th graders who could spot it. A bullet doesn’t come out of the barrel with its casing. There would be no way to propel such a projectile. This ad couldn’t have been created or approved by anyone who ever fired a gun, saw one fired or watched a  Western, war movie or action flick.

The unethical conduct represented by the ad, however, are more numerous, though equally unforgivable:

  • It is incompetent and lazy. No one connected with the ad and its graphics bothered to do the minimum due diligence necessary to find out what a bullet coming out of a muzzle looks like, or how guns work.
  • It is untrue. Actually, anyone is faster than that bullet, which would drop harmlessly to the ground.
  • It negligently misinforms the public, passing along the ignorant misconceptions of the group and its hired artist to people who know as little as they do.

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Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Marketing and Advertising, The Internet

Incompetence in Portland: Bureaucrats Show Those Who Are Paying Attention Exactly What They Need To Know

urinating_outdoor_garden_water_fountain

Honestly, I first though it was a joke. The more I think about this story now, the less funny it gets, and the more tragic and frightening.

A security camera captured the image of a 19-year-old jerk urinating into Portland, Oregon’s Mt. Tabor Reservoir system, so “to be safe,” the city is dumping all 38 million gallons of drinking water. From Ars Technica:

“David Shaff, Portland’s water bureau administrator, reserves a special disgust specifically for human urine. In 2011, when Shaff drained the reservoir following a urination, he reasoned to the Portland Mercury, ‘Do you want to be drinking someone’s pee?… There’s probably no regulation that says I have to be doing it but, again, who wants to be drinking pee?’ This time around, Shaff wrote in a statement, ‘Our customers have an expectation that their water is not deliberately contaminated.’”

That’s right: this is the second time Portland has done this. Slate does the “Wow, what an idiot!” math:

“…a typical urination of about 1/8 gallon in a reservoir of 38 million gallons amounts to a concentration of 3 parts per billion. That’s billion with a b. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit for arsenic in drinking water—arsenic!—is 10 ppb. The EPA doesn’t appear to have a limit for urine in drinking water, but it does limit nitrates in drinking water to 10,000 ppb, and urine does contain a lot of nitrogen, so let’s use that as a proxy. How many times would that teenager have to pee in a Portland reservoir to produce a urine concentration approaching the EPA’s limit for nitrates in drinking water? About 3,333 times.”

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Clinton Worship Ethics

_Smoking_Gun

Every now and then, when they aren’t indignantly denying it, mainstream media journalists let their guard down and hand the public smoking gun evidence of their unprofessional, unethical, partisan Democratic Party bias. There’s not much risk anyway: after all, the only ones likely to call them on it are card-carrying members of the conservative media, and they are biased, don’t you know. The hosannas and halleluiahs all over cable news and the web celebrating Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy, however, is pretty hard to spin. This is Clinton worship from the news media, and nothing less, part of the embarrassing effort by uncritical, star-struck liberal reporters and pundits, particularly feminine ones, to ram Hillary Clinton down America’s throat in 2016. There is no excuse or justification for it. None.as. There’s not much risk anyway: after all, the only ones likely to call them on it are card-carrying members of the conservative media, and they are biased, don’t you know.

Do you recall if Amy Carter had any children? How about the two Johnson girls? Does Caroline Kennedy have offspring? The Nixon girls? When Jenna Bush was pregnant, do you recall it being a headline? That’s because the pregnancies, if there were any, of these women were not newsworthy, beyond a “Lifestyle” section line in a gossip or “People and Places” newspaper column. Chelsea Clinton’s sole significance is the identify of  her parents, and nothing more. She has no independent significance to American life, welfare or history, and whether she is fecund or barren as a sack of flour makes no difference to the state of the union whatsoever. Her pregnancy is less interesting, objectively speaking, than the unfortunate daughter of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian, as at least one  of her parents  is a genuine artist and the mother’s family’s inexplicable notoriety is a harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it. Chelsea? She’s a nice young woman, apparently. I met her once. She’s done nothing to justify an entry in Who’s Who, much less a headline. Yet yesterday, one would have thought that she was going to be mother of the presumptive King of the Colonies. Candy Crowley cheered! MSNBC was in rhapsody! CNN’s Headline News made it THE headline of the day!

How’s that Malaysian airplane doing? Continue reading

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Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Alabama)

Alvin-HolmesRep. Alvin Holmes is a hatemonger and a race-baiter, but is he a wacko?

This question was inspired in the aftermath to my post about the ridiculous Bob Marshall,  a Virginia legislator who blights the Republican Party in my home state. The question I raised in that post was whether it was true that GOP elected nut-cases are further out in orbit than their Democratic counterparts. The related theory offered (not be me) in the ensuing thread was that while liberal-slanted media sources criticize the deranged in their ideological camp, conservative media sources tend to defend the GOP’s mutants. In fairness, I thought that I should raise the case of Mr. Holmes.

He was recently featured in a column by the Washington Post’s mildly conservative—perhaps the better term is “wishy-washy”—columnist Kathleen Parker. She notes, accurately, that he has at various times… Continue reading

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John Paul Stevens’ Gilbertian Nonsense

 

The Lord Chancellor-Stevens

A rather long preface is in order. Bear with me, please…

In the great, underperformed Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Iolanthe,” W.S. Gilbert, a lawyer by training, devised a satirical judicial solution to a dire turn in the plot. Iolanthe, a fairy, violated Fairy Law by marrying a mortal, who happened to be the Lord Chancellor of England (he never noticed her wings, apparently.) The transgression commands the death penalty, but Iolanthe received a pardon on the condition that she allow her husband to think her dead, which she does for a couple of decades, much of which she spends doing penance at the bottom of a froggy stream, on her head.…but I digress.

When she learns, however, that her husband of yore is about to marry the sweetheart of her half-fairy son, who, though the Lord Chancellor doesn’t know it, is also his son, Iolanthe reveals herself and the paternity to the Lord Chancellor, who is duly stunned. This again triggers the death penalty and just minutes away from the finale, it looks like Iolanthe is going to end up like Carlo in “The Godfather,” as the fairy equivalent of Clemenza waddles on to the stage. (That’s how I would stage it, anyway.) Then this happens: Continue reading

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