Category Archives: Government & Politics

Incompetent Elected Official of The Month: Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal

You're supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby...or Governor, for that matters.

You’re supposed to know all this BEFORE you run for President, Bobby…or Governor, for that matter.

The Westboro Baptist Church has threatened to picket the funerals of the victims of the Lafayette theater shooting.

Governor Jindal, an alleged Presidential candidate, thinks that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them, despite a well-publicized Supreme Court decision to the contrary. “If they come here to Louisiana, if they try to disrupt this funeral, we’re gonna lock them up,” Jindal said on “Face the Nation.”. “We won’t abide by that here…Let these families grieve in peace.”

Hmmmm. Appealing to ignorant voters. Grandstanding. Pandering. Abuse of power.  Talking as if the Constitution doesn’t exist. Threatening to break the law. Sounding like an idiot blowhard.

Just the guy to give Donald Trump a run for his money.

 

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Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Incompetent Elected Officials, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights

“I think abortion is evil, but it is a necessary evil.” Discuss.

Foetus-435110

This blog doesn’t discuss evil very often because it is not a term appropriately associated with ethics. Evil is a concept related to morality. In an ethics discussion, I would take evil to mean something extremely, irredeemably unethical by any ethical analysis or system. The statement “I think abortion is evil, but it is a necessary evil” appeared parenthetically in a comment by Beth, a frequent commenter on Ethics Alarms who is a mother and a lawyer, regarding the Planned Parenthood videos. Though the news media appears to have successfully distorted that story by focusing only on whether the videos were evidence of illegal “trafficking in body parts” by Planned Parenthood, that was not the reason I posted the essays, and it is not the reason those videos are significant in the ongoing debate over abortion rights. Two high ranking individuals in the organizations casually discussed the crushing and crunching of the heads and torsos of living and helpless individuals with the sensitivity I would associate with stepping on a roach. If this doesn’t disturb you, it should. If it does disturb you, as it did Beth, what does that mean?

Abortion is one of the most important and difficult ethics issues in the culture, indeed in world culture. It involves millions of lives and millions of deaths, law, bioethics, religion, social policy, science, human rights and feminism, as well as society’s ultimate respect for life itself. I have written about the ethics of the abortion debate frequently (you can find most of the relevant posts here), but to summarize the Ethics Alarms views on the topic:

1. Abortion is an ethics conflict, meaning that there are ethical principles in opposition to each other, requiring society to set priorities.

2. The absolutist position on the anti-abortion side is that abortion involves the taking of innocent human life, which begins from conception, and is thus unethical in all cases. It is a strong position if one accepts the underlying assumption.

3. However, no absolute position is really absolute. Every ethics absolute has an exception, or several: there must be some circumstances when abortion is necessary and right. (This is not true of moral absolutes, since moral absolutes are self defining. If the power dictating a moral precept says it is absolute, it is so.)

4. The absolutist position on the abortion side of the argument holds that a woman’s right to have complete dominion over her body, reproductive activity and health justifies abortion in all cases. This is not a strong position, and in fact is one that cannot be honestly argued or sustained. It supports abortion on demand for any purpose or preference, entirely at the mother’s discretion.

5. To make that argument, extreme pro-abortion advocates have had to deny the humanity and human rights of unborn children, even to the point of arguing that they are not individuals at all, but mere “parasites,” or “tumors.” The removal of a second life from the equation that is at the core of the abortion problem makes the abortion decision easy and guilt-free; it also settles the debate by pretending the central issue doesn’t exist. That issue is that there is another life involved, not just the mother’s.

6. The debate over the ethics of abortion has been handicapped by the tactic of both sides to pretend a legitimate interest championed by the other doesn’t exist. A woman’s ability to control her own life, career and what happens to her body is an important societal issue, yet the term “pro-life” ignores it entirely. It is not the only important interest involved in the abortion decision, however, as the term “pro-choice” suggests.

7. Neither absolute position, whatever its theoretical virtues, is practical from a policy perspective. Desperate women who are pregnant will seek abortions, people will help then (or exploit them, or kill them), and public policy cannot pretend otherwise. Society will not tolerate punishing women for aborting their unborn children, whether they deserve to be punished or not. Yet allowing mothers to have unborn children killed on a whim leads to the callous, ugly, dangerous attitude toward innocent life on display in the Planned Parenthood videos. Callousness toward any human life, history has shown us, is a slippery slope with the potential of doing terrible harm to the culture.

8. Roe v. Wade was a premature Supreme Court decision and a badly reasoned one. Until and unless it is overturned, abortion is a right. That does not mean, and never meant, that abortion necessarily is right.

9. Because absolutism fails here, abortion is a problem that demands utilitarian analysis–balancing of interests and values, in the best interests of society, long and short-term, and everyone in it, according to the facts as we understand them.

10. Balancing requires an honest acknowledgement that there is something to balance. The “pro-choice” and “pro-life” dichotomy doesn’t acknowledge that in their most extreme incarnations, and since abortion is currently a right, the pro-choice lobby detects no reason to yield to logic, science and reality. Continue reading

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Filed under Bioethics, Childhood and children, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Health and Medicine, Law & Law Enforcement, Religion and Philosophy, Rights

More Signature Significance: The New York Times’ Deceit At Hillary’s Command

Hillary is not pleased. Get with the program, NYT!

Hillary is not pleased. Get with the program, NYT!

From Dylan Byers at Politico:

The New York Times made small but significant changes to an exclusive report about a potential criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s State Department email account late Thursday night, but provided no notification of or explanation for of the changes.

The paper initially reported that two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation “into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state.”

That clause, which cast Clinton as the target of the potential criminal probe, was later changed: the inspectors general now were asking for an inquiry “into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state.”

The Times also changed the headline of the story, from “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” to “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton’s possible role. The article’s URL was also changed to reflect the new headline. As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.

One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.“It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,” Schmidt said…

This is, quite simply, the New York Times spinning for Hillary Clinton. The switch to the passive voice deceitfully implies that only the e-mail account, not the individual who created and used it, is being investigated for criminal misconduct. An account is inanimate: it can’t break the law. Only a human can do that. If the account is illegal or is used illegally, then the user, not the account, has broken the law. The original version of the story was fair and accurate, but because it properly called attention to Mrs. Clinton’s habitual dishonesty as well as her deceptive defense that her conduct in this matter was beyond reproach, the Clinton machine demanded that the supposed exemplar of American journalistic integrity further the campaign’s strategy of misdirection. The New York Times meekly complied, in the dead of night, like the lapdog it has become. Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Of Course Sandra Bland Shared Responsibility For What Happened To Her, And Other Observations On The Bland Tragedy

Let us stipulate that trooper Brian Encina behaved unprofessionally and atrociously by any standard in his handling of the vehicle stop of Sandra Bland in Prairie View, Texas, on July 10, setting into motion a series of events that led to Bland’s death by apparent suicide in a jail cell three days later. The police work shown by the dashcam video is unforgivable, and could be used in officer trainings on how not to handle a traffic stop.

That does not make him responsible for Bland’s death, however. He was not responsible for an incompetent bail system that had this woman in jail for three days, apparently because it was a weekend, and if she did take her own life (agreed: since her family has no reason to trust authorities at this point, nothing is likely to convince them of that no matter what the evidence, and also agreed, the suicide verdict looks mighty shaky at this point), that is, by law and logic, an intervening cause that exonerate the officer in Bland’s death. Activists will make the obvious Freddie Gray comparisons, but in this case there is no reason to believe that the officer, no matter how wrongful his conduct, either intended or contributed to her death. At worst, Encina is guilty of bad policing and using excessive force. This is not the Freddie Gray case, unless there was a dark conspiracy of frightening proportions.

Once again, however, a black citizen is dead after a confrontation with a white cop. For many pundits, civil rights advocates and black racists as well as irresponsible elected officials, that’s evidence enough that this was a racial incident. It isn’t evidence enough, however. The racial identities of the participants do not mean race was a factor, and absent some other facts that we have not learned about yet, any effort to suggest otherwise is nothing but the Zimmerman con, assuming racism unjustly to advance a political agenda. Let’s see if the Justice Department launches a civil rights investigation this time….again, assuming nothing more suspicious turns up.  That would be the smoking gun evidence of this DOJ’s bias. I wouldn’t bet against it happening. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Public Service, Race, Rights, U.S. Society

Down That Slippery Slope They Told Me Didn’t Exist: Connecticut Democrats Drop Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson From The Name Of Their Annual Dinner

Jefferson Jackson Dinner

In the recent post, Stop Your Cultural Bulldozing, America: Disney World Taking Down Bill Cosby’s Bust Is Like Removing The Jefferson Memorial, I described the danger of removing well-earned cultural honors and memorials for individuals who later are found to have engaged in less than admirable conduct by current standards. I wrote in part…

“Sure, it’s uncomfortable having a bust of an unapologetic sexual predator in a Disney World attraction, and it might prompt some uncomfortable question from the kiddies. Well, good. It’s never too soon to learn that human beings are flawed, complex creatures, and that even the most brilliant and talented have dark sides, do terrible things,  and can be cruel, selfish, dishonest and even criminal. We honor Thomas Jefferson for his crucial role in giving this nation life, and defining its mission and values for the ages. We’re not honoring his hypocrisy, his cowardice, his own rapes,  or his slaveholding….

“First they came for Cosby, and we did not speak out…”

There is no stop to this slippery slope, and the political correctness mob will never stop.”

Some people I respect a great deal really went after me for that pronouncement, particularly on Facebook. “Hyperbole!” “Scaremongering!” “Just because a theme park doesn’t want to sport the bust of a rapist and stunning hypocrite in a TV Hall Of Fame doesn’t mean that there is any danger of politically correct zealots toppling the statue of Tom from his memorial!” “There is no such slippery slope,” I was scolded.

News Item: Continue reading

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Filed under Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, History

This Prosecutor Was Fired For A Non-Apology Apology, But He Should Have Been Fired Long, Long Before That

Bias bone or no bias bone? Wait---WHAT THE HELL IS A BIAS BONE???

Does Karl Price have a bias bone or no bias bone? Wait—WHAT THE HELL IS A BIAS BONE???

Karl Price, up until recently an assistant Jefferson County (Kentucky) district attorney,  was suspended last month for making derogatory remarks in court about gays, immigrants and the disabled.  First he was reprimanded for disparaging a Korean American family, but The Courier-Journal published a story showing that Price had denigrated defendants  in court many times and had even been admonished for it by judges. This prompted a review by the county attorney’s office that turned up more such incidents. One example: At an arraignment of a black defendant who was caught after running away from police, Price, an African-American, said, “I thought you black guys could run, but you never get away from police!”

Query: What kind of supervisor only finds out about long-term misconduct by an employee in public proceedings after reading about it in the local newspaper?

County Attorney Mike O’Connell offered Price, who had worked as an assistant prosecutor in the office for 25 years (“without complaint,” we are told, which may only mean the newspapers didn’t report the complaints)  a chance to keep his job if he submitted a sufficient apology for his conduct. Price submitted a letter that qualifies as a Level 9 or 10 on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. It was  a “deceitful apology, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (#9) as well as “an insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply.” (#10).

Price guaranteed the #9 rating when he began his apology by including the magic phrase, “if I have offended anyone…” He cemented a #10 rating by loading his letter with rationalizations. He wrote that he had been treated unfairly, arguing that other prosecutors have been given “several second chances” [Rationalization 39. The Pioneer’s Lament, or “Why should I be the first?”] and that his predecessor in arraignment court said “far more outrageous” things than he did [Rationalization Number 1: Everybody Does It].

Then this: Continue reading

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Filed under Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Professions, Workplace

A Brief Note On CNN’S Anti-Republican Glee

I’m in Boston getting ready for a seminar in 45 minutes, so I shouldn’t be writing this now, but I can’t resist.

I have been watching Chris Cuomo and the CNN morning gang whooping it up—I mean, laughter, jokes, unrestrained glee—over Republican leadership’s discomfort with the Donald Trump candidacy. More blatant antagonism towards the Republican Party—and the assumption that it’s viewers share that animus–could not be broadcast if it had been scripted. Apparently CNN thinks naked bias and partisanship is professional and ethical. They aren’t. CNN is embarrassing itself. Disgracing is a better word.

When will they acknowledge the unpleasant fact that a majority of Democrats support the candidacy of corrupt, cynical, dishonest and unqualified Hillary Clinton, and that this is far, far more disturbing, significant, and an indictment of that party than the fact that a 25% of Republicans momentarily favor Trump among a huge field, almost entirely because he was blunt about the genuine problem of illegal immigration?

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Filed under Government & Politics, Journalism & Media