Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/1/18: Obstruction Of Justice In Oakland, Virtue-Signalling At Walmart, And Common Sense At SCOTUS [UPDATED!]


Well, whaddya know! There IS a there there!

Good Morning!

(Why isn’t this another Afternoon Warm-up? Because I started it in the morning, and all hell broke loose here, that’s why.)

1  Injecting even more stupidity into the culture…Walmart’s virtue-signalling release yesterday reminded everyone that the big-box stores stopped selling AR-15 rifles three years ago. It also announced that it would be refusing to sell firearms to anyone under 21, and this

“We are also removing items from our website resembling assault-style rifles, including nonlethal airsoft guns and toys.”

Ugh. This is how we end up with no-tolerance fascists in public schools punishing students for chewing their Pop Tarts and pizza slices into the shapes of guns. I had a Mattel burp gun–a plastic model of a Tommy Gun—as a kid. I shot it off in the school auditorium as a stunt during my speech when I was running for president of the 8th Grade. (I lost) One of my favorite toys ever. Now corporations want to assist in the anti-gun indoctrination.

Writes Stephen Green: “‘If an object resembles something we think is bad, then it is bad,’ is the sloppiest kind of magical thinking.” It’s worse than that, though. The more sloppy thinking  injected into the culture, the less competent the culture becomes.

I hate memes as a rule, but this one is relevant:

2.  The all-time false equivalency champ…The calls to raise the age of legal gun purchasing, one of many gun regulation issues where the NRA’s absolutist opposition makes little sense except that it is an absolutist, no infringement means no infringement organization, is another in a long list of confusing, partisan-divide jumping controversies over “age of responsibility.” laws.  There are age limits on buying cigarettes, alcohol, driving, consent to have sex,  right to sign binding contracts, military service (and formally the draft), and some other activities, and they have always been used to bootstrap each other. This has been going on for decades despite the fact that physical maturity, mental maturity and emotional maturity are not always nicely synchronized, individuals vary greatly, and if we followed recent scientific studies, we would consider restricting what young men especially could legally do until about age 23.

Even as an 18 year-old, I hated the argument, “We’re old enough to fight in Vietnam, but not old enough to vote!” It’s intellectually dishonest (but then, it often issued from 18-year-olds, and they had an excuse.) My dad said that he had a recruit during WWII who had an IQ under 80. “He took orders really well. It doesn’t take a genius to carry a gun in the military,” my father said. “A physically mature 15-year-old could be an adequate soldier.” That doesn’t mean such an individual is trustworthy to vote (Larry Tribe notwithstanding), or should be allowed to buy liquor, or be deemed mature enough to consent to have sex with his 35 year-old teacher.

Still, it makes practical sense to have an agreed upon age when a citizen is considered an adult by the nation and its laws, and that sufficiently aged citizen should have all the rights and privileges of an adult. Sure, we can try to justify different ages for different responsibilities, but since all of the assumptions are based on generalities and may be inapplicable to a particular individual, it’s best to just draw a hard line and stick with it, accepting that some 15 year-olds could drive in the Daytona 500 and some 30 year-olds will vote for Bernie Sanders. Whatever the age is that we decide constitutes an adult, that adult should be able to buy beer or a gun. Those who want to raise the gun right age higher would raise it incrementally to 70 if they could. Those who want no age requirement are being irresponsible themselves.

3. I don’t understand why this case wouldn’t be 8-0. In Jennings v. Rodriguez, SCOTUS ruled 5-3 that people held in immigration detention, sometimes for years, are not entitled to periodic bail hearings. . Of course illegal immigrants shouldn’t be released on bail, so a bail hearing is an illusion. Most are in jail because they were in the country illegally, because they refused to respect travel restrictions. How can such an individual ever be rationally trusted to show up for a court date? The fact that the three liberal members of the Court voted otherwise suggests to me that the Left’s loony embrace of illegal immigration as some kind of a human right has burrowed deep into brains that I thought would hold more integrity.

Justice Breyer wrote in his dissent that for “the first time ever” that the Supreme Court had interpreted a federal law to allow the long-term confinement of people held in the United States and accused of misconduct without an opportunity to obtain bail. “An ‘opportunity,’ I might add, does not necessarily mean release, for there may be a risk of flight or harm that would justify denying bail,” he said from the bench.

They may be? These are defiant non-citizens who are in jail precisely because they showed themselves determined to avoid U.S. law and jurisdiction. If such people never can be justifiably and reasonably granted bail, why is it improper to deny them a hearing for that which will never be justly granted?

[UPDATE: As several commenters pointed out, the appellant in the case itself was not an illegal immigrant, but an alien resident whose right to remain in the country was being challenged by INS. This was one of hose cases where the facts of the case were irrelevant, as the Court was only called upon to interpret the law that was being applied to him. However, that law applies also to illegal immigrants being detained.]

4. Of course, bail would always be granted in Oakland. Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland tweeted out a statement on February 24 that she “had learned from multiple credible sources that the [sic] U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is preparing to conduct an operation in the Bay Area, including Oakland, starting as soon as within the next 24 hours. As Mayor of Oakland, I am sharing this information publicly not to panic our residents but to protect them.” THIS is obstruction of justice, and the INS has opined as much. Moreover, with her “good luck,” the mayor  expressly endorsed law-breaking.

INS proceeded to round up 150 illegals according to the agency, but said that about 800 avoided illegal immigration arrests because of Schaaf’s tip-off. The Justice Department is looking into whether Schaaf obstructed justice. Good.

The escalating California defiance of federal law is becoming intolerable; it has been unethical for a long time. Absent having crop-dusters spray sanity gas on the whole state, I don’t see how a Constitution crisis can be averted. How far gone are Californians? This far: The Los Angeles Times issued an op-ed comparing the enforcement of our immigration laws to the Fugitive Slave Act.

62 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/1/18: Obstruction Of Justice In Oakland, Virtue-Signalling At Walmart, And Common Sense At SCOTUS [UPDATED!]

  1. Is sharing hearsay obstruction? Perhaps there is more and given her position and she should have kept her mouth shut, but from what I read, it seems like obstruction might be hard to prove.

  2. #2:
    Even as an 18 year-old, I hated the argument, “We’re old enough to fight in Vietnam, but not old enough to vote!” It’s intellectually dishonest (but then, it often issued from 18-year-olds, and they had an excuse.)

    I’m going to have to disagree here, not on the basis that the two responsibilities are equivilant, but on the basis of a pretty drastic assignment of responsibility by the government to a unrepresented population. It’s one thing for people you couldn’t have a hand in electing to put a age on drinking alcohol or driving a car or even owning a gun, but saying you have to risk your life in a war with no one in government representing your interests is beyond the pale for me. If they were worried about responsibility in voting, they could have raised the draft age to 21.

    I mean, the founders were pissed at being taxed without representation. Imagine if King George had enlisted them in a military.

    All of that said, in general I always appreciate it when age limit laws leave room for parental consent or supervision at younger ages (even if it only extends to the parent’s property.) While that can be abused, I think far more often patents know the capabilities (and weaknesses) of their own kids and are the best informed people to make those decisions. That’s not always possible, and in some cases parents should also be required to take on liability if they give permission, but where it’s possible I think it’s a happy medium.

    • Once the draft was found to be Constitutional and a legitimate condition of citizenship, I don’t see the necessity to link the vote with it. Nobody voted on whether to have a draft. It was a decision of the legislature and the executive, supported by the Courts.

      Wars are about the nation’s interests, not individual citizens. If the President seemed it vital to conscript 16-years olds, would that require giving them the vote? I still don’t see a valid nexus. Let’s add unqualified voters on all matters so we can draft them?

      • Sure it was a decision of the legislative and executive, supported by the courts… and every one of those people was either elected, or appointed by someone elected, or appointed by someone appointed by someone etc. Someone, somewhere has to answer to the voters in the end. And if they can’t convince those voters to trust them about the need for a war, they can only keep it up so long.

        And as I mentioned, it didn’t require adding unqualified voters. Allow volunteers as young as 18, and draft starts at 21, with a slightly higher liklihood of being drawn. 21 year olds aren’t likely to be in worse shape than 18 year olds… but they probably would have voted out any representitive who suggested that. Because it’s easy to get support a requirement from people unlikely to be affected by it, but much harder for the government to earn the trust of people bearing the burden of their decisions.

        • Wars can’t be waged by poll or vote; it’s a basic principle. If four year olds were deemed necessary to win a war, then the government needs the power to conscript four year olds, Ethics rules are suspended in war: its a survival situation. I registered. I looked at it as a duty of citizenship, and like my peers, I had no basis on which to decide what proper Southeast Asia policy should be. Wars and foreign policy are not matters for the public to decide. I didn’t think my ability to vote was relevant to my duty or my obligation, and I still don’t.

          • You had a duty and obligation to register for the draft, and it’s right that you fulfilled it.

            I also agree that wars can’t be waged by poll or vote; most policy can’t be decided that way, and we don’t decide it that way. However, we do vote on who we place our trust in to wage them, which is the foundation of our representative democracy (even if the votes went through several layers of representatives in the early days.)

            Congress and the President have a duty and obligation to earn and maintain the trust of the people. That includes trust in their leadership in times of war regarding the worth of their aims, the competence of their strategy, and the honor of their methods. If people don’t trust them, the politicians are in dereliction of their duty, and the people can and should remove them at the next available opportunity. (Note that Elections aren’t suspended in times of war.)

            I think it’s only right that if we can reasonably manage it, the people whose duty is to trust them with their lives get a say in the regular referendum on whether they’re trustworthy. That you found our leadership to be trustworthy enough at the time you were called on that you didn’t feel the desire to vote your lack of confidence is moral luck; there were plenty of people of all ages who did feel they needed to do that, as there always are.

            Which is not to say that untrustworthy leadership would nullify the duty. Just that in fulfilling an immense duty like potentially laying down your life in war, it makes sense that you should be able ensure that the leadership is doing their duty to you as per the constitution, and maintaining your trust in them.

          • The draft was a significant factor in opposition to the Vietnam War. These youth did not understand why they were being drafted to fight in a war between whom they perceived as dirty savages.

      • Is bail inherently an unethical practice?

        If not and it is available to citizens under accusation, how would the option of bail not extend to anyone under accusation, given the remote possibility of a falsely accused citizen?

        • It’s an Incompleteness Principle problem. I object to formalism when it has no actual effect. I’d have no problem with saying that captured serial killers and ax murderers don’t get bail hearings either, since they are potential dangers to te community. Arrestees with wings or the ability to become invisible. Illusory rights are unethical.

          • Understood.

            In the interest of the right to a speedy and fair trial, I assume accused persons have limit on how long they can linger in jail before charges have to be dropped or a trial occurs, right?

            • Well, to begin with, with taking away rights, due process has to be up front, not after the right has been taken. Illegals are held while the INS decides what to do with them, not in anticipation of a trial determining guilt of innocence. They are non-citizens. They have no right to be here. They have no right to bail, either.

              Even the mentally ill have their rights, and rights cannot be removed without due process First.

              Meanwhile, Trump didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He doesn’t know what due process is.

              • Meanwhile, Trump didn’t know what the hell he was talking about. He doesn’t know what due process is.

                I’m never sure what you mean when you say things like this about Trump. Is it supposed to immunize him from ethical judgment? Is he a non-rational being, like an animal or small child, or perhaps even a weather event, whose actions can’t be judged by ethical standards?

                Because you’ve written about a dozen posts since the Parkland shooting (rightly) condemning progressives for advocating for infringing on Americans’ second amendment rights, so it’s weird to see you dismiss the President of the United States advocating violating those same rights in two sentences on the basis that he doesn’t know what rights are.

                • I didn’t dismiss it. It was an off-the-cuff comment in a brainstorming meeting. It wasn’t policy or proposed policy, unlike, for example, the Democrats sit-in for removing rights without the benefit of due process, after offering bills to that effect. Trump says stupid stuff. That’s bad, but its no where close to doing stupid stuff. You can’t tell the difference, or choose not to. His comment means he’s reckless and ignorant of the law, like most Americans. Like the various anti-gun ignoramuses CNN has been parading uncritically for two weeks aas if they were authorities.

                  • I do not, and will not, accept the premise that what the President of the United States says doesn’t matter. A lot of the “anti-gun ignoramuses” have been teenagers—you’ve condemned their arguments more forcefully than those of the president.

                    • What the President says in a brainstorming meeting doesn’t matter, except as a gotcha, and an unfortunate display of his limitations. And he already has “walked the comment back.” Formal statements matter. Off the cuff comments in a meeting matter to those looking for excuses to bitch.

                    • Condemning the president for not knowing what rights are is “bitching,” but writing multiple posts condemning grieving teenagers for expressing bad ideas about gun control isn’t.


                    • I’m criticizing the news media for publicizing and hyping both. I have never condemned the kids for being kids; I have criticized Trump for being ignorant and reckless. I’ll pronounce the kids wrong when the are wrong, because their emotional and ignorant positions are being publicized and exploited by others.

                      You really get dumb when you are cornered.

              • Amd yet, thete are degrees of due process. We tolerate pretrial confinement without the opportunity for bail.

                What is the purpose of pretrial deprivation of liberties, and what safeguards so we have to ensure the state does not simply delay the trial to continue the deprivation?

              • “Well, to begin with, with taking away rights, due process has to be up front, not after the right has been taken.”

                How is taking away their freedom by locking them in a cage not taking away their rights? How can you not see that? It’s because they’re suspected illegal immigrants, isn’t it? I swear, if ICE ran over Dreamers in the middle of a street with a steam roller, you’d say they were illegal and had no right to be on that street.

                • ICE doesn’t arrest “suspected illegal immigrants” and lock them up. Probable cause is due process for arrest, and defined as such, as the precedent for arrest. You cannot be arrested for “suspicion.” As you well know.

                  • I didn’t mean “suspicion” in the legal sense. What meant was that they are people who have not been found to be deportable aliens by a judge. Without a bail hearing, they haven’t even have been found to be dangerous or a flight risk.

                    • Got it. The point is that anyone arrested on probable cause of being illegally here is a flight risk by definition. Bond is meant to ensure that an arrested individual will show up. Honestly: what possible reason would there be for a non-citizen who is facing deportation to show up? All they can do is deport him if he’s caught. If he can’t afford the bond, he stays in jail. If he can, he can just go back to hiding. I don’t necessarily agree with the law, I just think the minority on SCOTUS is inclined to bend over backwards for those who don’t belong here.

                    • I concede that some detainees might be able to get bail, which my absolute rhetoric here did not properly allow. However, the less accommodating we can be to illegal immigrants the less welcome they feel.

                      There is no absolute right to bail or bail hearings. This case, which could be back, might lead to one.

                    • This is a question whose applications are very fact specific.

                      There is no doubt that, had Omar Mateen, survived, he would be held in custody pending trial for treason and multiple counts of murder.

                      What are the safeguards to keep this temporary deprivation of liberty from becoming permanent absent a final judgment from a court?

                    • Depends on the state, practically speaking. Get accused of domestic abuse and some states come get them, even without your arrest.

                      This tactic is used during divorces primarily

        • One can prove citizenship through a birth certificate or other documentation. If one has a green card proof should be easy. Not granting bail is not the same as holding someone incommunicado.
          Unless someone can prove to me that a substantial number of births have occured outside a medical facility in the last 60 years proof of birth today should not be the same undue burden that it may have been in 1986.

    • “How can we be absolutely certain that an actual citizen isn’t being held falsely accused of illegal immigration?”

      Would this be initiated by a Writ of Habeus Corpus? The government would have to show a court its basis for holding the person.

  3. Jack,
    “We’re old enough to fight in Vietnam, but not old enough to vote!”

    I think (but don’t know) the main complaint there involved the compulsory nature of the service, yet they lacked any legitimate political say in the matter. The lamb voted to death by a group of lions might similarly bemoan the unfairness of the tally, even though nature doesn’t normally give them even that much.

    It doesn’t make the argument any less dishonest, but it also doesn’t necessarily make it unfounded, either.

      • Yeah, but going to school didn’t offer a potentially lethal round trip to Asia or the Middle East. Both military and voting require more judgement than driving a car or sexual consent. My objection is more along the representation aspect, bleeding for my country should include the right to help choose who would represent me. So if one goes up, so should the other.

        I find it interesting the demographic demanding the voting age go down is arguing the opposite now that they’re long past being affected; one family member springs to mind.

        • “I find it interesting the demographic demanding the voting age go down is arguing the opposite now that they’re long past being affected; one family member springs to mind.”

          So they’ve become wiser with age?

          • Either that or Their generation is the only one that deserves to be special. Stingy privilege. I’ve talked to people with both attitudes so I won’t say either attitude covers everyone. I just get very wary over anyone saying me/my generation is special and deserve more than those before/after.

            Why are 18yr olds considered so much less ready to be adults now in western societies? How much more poorly are parents and schools preparing them? Is it fair to the portion who are ready for adulthood? You don’t know how they will handle responsibility if they aren’t given any, but are helicopter/protected.This overextension of childhood gives a cadre that have not enough prospects for steady job/family and some nimrods react with guns to their frustration.

    • 2. For the US we just need to be consistent in our rules. If you are too immature to purchase a gun until 21, then clearly you are too immature to vote responsibly. Be consistent and eliminate confusion.
      It was really popular for Military kids to decry their inability to purchase a drink until 21; but as a volunteer I spent years 18-20 outside the US and once you pass that 3 mile limit from the US, or cross the Mexican border, no one ever asks for ID or questions your choices. As you can imagine there are a lot of learning experiences to be had with that kind of freedom. Most come back with a lot more maturity which likely moves them beyond the average college student who didn’t get that. It also helps that people shot at you and missed.

  4. The escalating California defiance of federal law is becoming intolerable; it has been unethical for a long time. Absent having crop-dusters spray sanity gas on the whole state, I don’t see how a Constitution crisis can be averted. How far gone are Californians? This far: The Los Angeles Times issued an op-ed comparing the enforcement of our immigration laws to the Fugitive Slave Act.

    What Constitutional crisis? State or local officials committing federal crimes should be prosecuted and imprisoned. I see no crisis in that. I’d like to see Jerry Brown and this lady following in the footsteps of Edwin Edwards.

    You can’t harbor, aid and abet illegal aliens. It is a federal crime. If the statute is to mean anything, we can’t let state and local politicians flaunt it, bragging about flaunting it all the while.

    • Once some of these folks start serving jail time, attitudes will improve.

      Once those that hire illegals spend some time in jail, jobs will dry up and many will self deport, as they did during the economic downturn of 2008

  5. 3. In Jennings v. Rodriguez it says – “Alejandro Rodriguez, a Mexican citizen and a lawful permanent resident of the United States”.
    As he is a lawful permanent resident, what has this got to do with illegal immigration?

    • Thanks for asking. This was a case that involved what the law means, and the facts of the case weren’t pertinent to the SCOTUS issue. In this case, the matter was a “lawful resident”—because he hadn’t been conclusively proven non-legal—who was arrested on probable cause that he was no longer legal. The ruling will apply and have its major impact regarding illegal immigrants.

      I should have explained that.

  6. I find it telling how both Justice Breyer and the NYT focus on the asylum seekers and speak very little about the people fighting deportation.

    I suspect in both cases their detention could be greatly shortened by just agreeing to be deported if that is their end goal. Otherwise, they need to wait their turn in pleading their cases and during that time we need to keep them segregated from the law-abiding citizens.

    Why is this complicated?

  7. Re No. 4:

    It appears that Mayor Schaaf has doubled down on her position:

    I especially like the part where she writes, “[w]e know that law-abiding residents live in fear of arrest and deportation every day.” That is pretty brazened.


  8. Thanks for reminding me about the Ruger Mini 14. Looks like it might be superior to my ‘classic’ M1 carbine. I may be doing a replacement buy with my tax cur revenue.

    • My Uncle Willy, a D-Day veteran, enrolled me and my brother in the NRA when we were 13 years old. I didn’t maintain my membership while I spent 22 years in the Army. (Viet Nam twice; Sinai Peacekeeping mission). I have not privatley owned a weapon since my retirement.. My wife is also a retired veteran. Yesterday. Yesterday my wife signed us up for an NRA membership, Aside from the magazine we will be getting an NRA emblazoned duffle bag. My plan is to use that bag as my carry on for my next Delta flight. destined for Washington DC.

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