Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/18: Bricks In The Wall [UPDATED]

1. Nah, that’s not a misleading title! An op-ed in the Times yesterday had the alarming header, “Trump’s New Target: Citizenship.” In fact, the piece was about the movement to end automatic U.S. citizenship for those born here of illegal immigrant parents, and the Trump administration policy of seeking to “denaturalize” foreign-born citizens who achieved citizenship status by withholding disclosure of previous crimes.

As with many aspects of the bizarre national immigration debate, support for continuing the first principle is hard to justify. It is a remnant of a time when there were no restrictions on U.S. immigration, so the birthright rule made sense. Now, when illegal immigration is a serious concern, the same principle creates a perverse incentive to break the law, and makes immigration law enforcement complicated and difficult. The second issue is more debatable. The New York Times has another “good immigrant” story, this time one that seeks sympathy for Norma Borgoño, a Peruvian immigrant who took the oath of citizenship in 2007. The Justice Department has moved to revoke  Borgoño’s citizenship, claiming that she committed fraud when she applied for it. She apparentlyfailed to disclose that she had taken part in a serious crime several years before her application, then four years later, in 2011, pleaded guilty when she was charged for helping her employer  defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States of $24 million.

Writes the Times, “Since President Trump took office, the number of denaturalization cases has been growing, part of a campaign of aggressive immigration enforcement that now promises to include even the most protected class of legal immigrants: naturalized citizens.” That is a deceitful sentence, full of spin, as is the entire story. For “aggressive immigration enforcement” read “enforcement.” The U.S. has every right, and in fact a duty, to assess what kind of people it wants to allow to become citizens, and criminals need not apply—after all, we have enough of them already. The Times finds it significant that Borgoño hasn’t been charged with her crime when she  applied for citizenship, but she was still a criminal, and the crime wasn’t stealing a loaf of bread, either. It also spins that her aiding a massive theft was “to no benefit of her own.” Oh! Then that’s OK, then! Presumably there was the benefit of keeping her job with her boss the felon, at very least.

The Trump administration isn’t “targeting citizenship,” but rather naturalized citizenship that was improperly granted, based on false representations.

2. The irresponsible neglect of the national infrastructure continues. I could write about this every day, and maybe I should. A microcosm of the national crisis is illustrated in the recent news that the New York City subway system is still falling apart, and even after the city spent about $333 million on emergency repairs its condition has barely improved. Waiting until transit systems, bridges, roads, railroad track, waterways, sewer and water pipes,  airports, the power grid and the rest of the structures that support civilization start crumbling, stifling commerce and killing people is an idiotic and suicidal approach to a basic  function of government, but  that has been our national policy since the 1960s. President Trump has claimed that addressing this was a priority, and maybe it will be, but recent history suggests that nothing will be done of substance until there is a lot of sickness, death, and destruction.

3.  Pink Floyd would approve... Addison Barnes, a student at Liberty High School (How ironic!) in the Hillsboro School District in Oregon was just awarded $25,000 in damages and legal fees from the school, and principal Greg Timmons was ordered by a judge to write an apology to the 18-year old senior for suspending him when the student wore a t-shirt sporting the message, “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.”

School officials initially justified the censorship by arguing that the shirt would contribute to a “hostile learning environment,” since 33% of the school population is Hispanic-American. However, the school had permitted other students to wear political messages, including those promoting illegal immigration. Barnes sued the school in May for violating his First Amendment rights, and won.

Of course he was right. School indoctrination presents a real dilemma. To some extent we want students to be “indoctrinated” into core cultural and ethical values. The problem is determining when such cultural education crosses the blurry line into political indoctrination.

One simple fix that would avoid the Oregon problem: ban all political, religious, philosophical and commercial messages on student clothing. Students are in school to learn, not to advertise.

4. This was stupid and unethical, but Planet Fitness asked for it.  Creepy Eric Stagno says he was just enjoying Planet Fitness’s “Judgment Free Zone” culture when he started exercising naked at the club. How unfair of the company to have him arrested for indecent exposure, lewdness and disorderly conduct!

I wrote about the company’s ethics-free motto here. [Pointer: Jonathan Turley]

5. Hanlon’s Razor? I sure hope so…At the controversial Trump-Putin press conference in Helinski, Reuters reporter Jeff Mason asked “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?” Putin answered, “Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.” The official White House transcript of the press conference, however,  omits that exchange, and the White House videotape does as well.

This just can’t be an effort to airbrush history and the news, can it? If it is, it’s beyond stupid: the transcript and video without the redaction are available everywhere, including YouTube. Whether this was intentional or not, it is so incompetent it makes my teeth hurt.  If this was a goof, it is the kind of  mistake a White House already justly under fire for lack of transparency and credibility cannot afford to make, and if it was deliberate, that suggests stupidity on a cosmic level seldom seen in this galaxy.

UPDATE: There is actually an innocent explanation for this, which I explain HERE...

6. Finally, this happy note: Jason Spencer, that Republican state representative from Georgia who was tricked into pulling down his pants and screaming “Nigger!” on camera, has agreed to resign from the Georgia legislature at the end of the month.

32 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/18: Bricks In The Wall [UPDATED]

  1. Grieg’s Morning Mood. I didn’t even know it had a name or by whom it was composed. Another piece of classical music obliterated by Warner Brothers and Looney Tunes. Funny.

  2. This just can’t be an effort to airbrush history and the news, can it? If it is, it’s beyond stupid:

    You misspelled sinister.

  3. #1: Does any other developed country (or even third world ones?) allow birthright citizenship to children of those illegally in the country? It’s just wrong… the type of moral hazard not countenanced in other dealings.

    #6: It doesn’t really matter; the Georgia legislative session is from January through March, & he wasn’t running again.

      • Perhaps I should have said “from a practical standpoint”. He wouldn’t have been present at any upcoming sessions or have had a hand in any future legislative procedures in either case.

  4. 1- This the same NYT that slobbered apologetically that they “blew” the 2016 election coverage, due to the fact that they simply couldn’t supply an…um…unbiased approach?

    Not according to politifact:
    “The 200-word letter primarily serves to thank readers for their loyalty and to say that New York Times will ‘rededicate’ itself to the high journalistic standards it has employed thus far.

    ”Nowhere in the letter did the authors write anything like an apology. Nor did they say that the organization’s overall coverage of Trump was ‘bad.’ ”

    The NYPost was a tad less charitable:

    New York Times: We blew it on Trump

    (bolds/caps mine throughout)
    But bad or sloppy journalism doesn’t fully capture the Times’ sins. Not after it announced that it was breaking its rules of coverage because Trump didn’t deserve fairness.

    ”As media columnist Jim Rutenberg put it in August, most Times reporters saw Trump “as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate” and thus couldn’t be even-handed.

    THAT WASN’T ONE REPORTER TALKING–IT WAS POLICY. The standards, developed over decades to force reporters and editors to be fair and to build public trust, were effectively eliminated as too restrictive for the Trump phenomenon.

  5. 1) I strongly support birth-right citizenship. Illegal immigration is a problem that must die within a generation, regardless of pain and complication with enforcement. History is littered with examples of non-citizen subjects being oppressed for existing, that the risks are too great to allow potentially multiple generations fail to inherit citizenship.

    5) KABOOM!

    If this line were in the press conference:

    “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

    – Yes, I did. Yes, I did. Because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.”

    Then Trump’s remarks apparently denying Russian interference must be interpreted in light of that admission. If Vladimir-freak’n-Putin admitted to directing efforts to help Trump in that same interview, Trump claim that he misspoke become much more credible.



    • It was a bad double question. I assume that Putin was answering part one, and not part two. Such questions are forbidden in court, as you know, Nobody knows what he was saying “yes” to, but its a fair guess that since he has denied “directing” any interference, that he did not intend to admit to that.

    • I strongly support birth-right citizenship.

      Name one country that has this policy, besides the USA.

      …the risks are too great to allow potentially multiple generations fail to inherit citizenship.

      How do all those other countries handle this situation? Are they ALL wrong? In this ONE situation, is the USA suddenly the only right country in the world?

      Birthright citizenship is for children of citizens. Anything else is unethical.

      • Name one country that has this policy, besides the USA.
        Here in New Zealand we had this law until 2006.

        “Citizenship by birth
        You’re a New Zealand citizen by birth if:
        you were born in NZ before 1 January 2006.
        If you were born in NZ on or after 1 January 2006:
        you’re only a citizen if at least 1 parent is a NZ citizen or permanent resident.
        Your child’s citizenship is registered when you register their birth.”

        • So…. New Zealand has more sense than the USA. They corrected the situation.

          I like your country, from what I know about it. i would consider it a nice place to flee to, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg was not considering going there!


        • The condition of one parent being either a citizen or permanent resident is reasonable. The law as it stands, is an incentive to break the law. Changing US law along those lines would prevent ‘maternity hotel’ schemes like those recently busted in California.
          The women paid $40,000 to $80,000 each to come to the US and give birth. At hospitals (as coached by their tour guides) they claimed to be indigent, and so paid little or nothing for their births. Tens of thousands of babies have been born here since this started 5-6 years ago. The tourism website touted ‘13 years of free education, low-cost college financial aid, less pollution, and a path for the entire family to emigrate when the child becomes an adult’.

          It’s a reasonable change.

      • It is irrelevant if most countries do not do it this way. We did it this way because of how these countries treated non-citizen subjects in the not-so-distant past.

        • Sooo America is right, the rest of the human race is wrong…

          Sounds pretty arrogant to me, Rich.

          And crella gives you the result of an objectively stupid policy that sound good on paper, but is a terrible failure in the real world.

            • You missed the irony… most who take the progressive stance on immigration usually criticize the USA for thinking we are better than everyone else on all other topics, or insist that we are worse than everyone else because… reasons.

              In this specific case, the rest of the world is right about immigration: without borders, controls on who comes in, and rule of law, a nation ceases to exist.

  6. #3 Now roll with me here for a minute. Jack’s proposal about school appropriate clothing can be fairly interpreted as a school uniform code, But there are a couple of problematic things here. First, that would mean female students would probably have to wear some kind of form of a pantsuit or dress suit, which would limit their individual expression and control their sexuality via an oppressive sexist patriarchal system, which would be unacceptable. Another problem, parents would have to buy these said uniforms, while schools are already super underfunded, with teachers being paid less then San Francisco hobos (the hobo’s tax rate just went up because of the “tax break”, thanks Trump), so this would be an affront to our already dysfunctional school system. Also, poor kids won’t be able to get a uniform, since they already have a paper bag as clothing and only eat raw potatoes for lunch. And finally, how are we supposed to use children as propaganda human shields to fight for the arc of history that always bends towards social justice? Hmm? I rest my case.
    P.S. Just thought of this one, also, we would only need a unisex uniform, because all people are equal and differentiation of fashion based on sex is tribal, discriminatory, and otherising. There is no place for hate in our schools!

  7. 1. “Trump copies World on Immigration Policy: Democrats arrogantly insist USA knows better” I can write headlines too.

    2. Hmmmm… New York is run by who? NYC is run by who?

    But we must spend $30 million extra on colored tiles while the white ones were already purchased…

    3. The only way to stop progressive bullshit is to sue the crap out of them. Common Americans have had enough. (Incidentally, this is an example of the right copying the tactics of the left)

    4. Dude must be somewhat underendowed. I would not care for certain bits ‘o anatomy flopping around where steel is being moved.

    5. As stupid as this incident is, such editing is also common practice for the government. Does not make it right, just makes it common.

    6. Good!

  8. I understand that naturalized citizens take an oath prior to being granted the rights and privileges of a natural born citizen. Thus, any violation of that oath would be grounds for recission of those benefits.

    As for birthright citizenship, I do not know where that came from. Birthright citizenship does not appear in any legislation and the Constitution is silent on that matter except for language relating to founders and their rights to hold high office. It is clear that whether we call them anchor babies or children of medical tourism, the policy creates an imbalance in fairness at best with respect to others seeking naturalization through legislated methods.

    Many countries prohibit tourist entry of pregant women who are beyond a certain time frame. I see no reason why we should not to adopt the same practices of other nations who seek to preserve the value of their citizenship rights.

    It also seems to me that a practical solution would be to apply similar principles to trade issues as well. If China imposes a tariff of 25% on X then we impose an equal amount on their export of X. We might eventually get to 0 tariffs on all and end threats of trade wars. Then comparative advantage will return as the driver of trade instead of man made protective barriers.

    • It also seems to me that a practical solution would be to apply similar principles to trade issues as well. If China imposes a tariff of 25% on X then we impose an equal amount on their export of X.

      That only works if we buy what we sell to China. In reality, we sell, say, grain, and buy iPhones. We also buy many more items from China than we sell them.

      But I agree that we should address the trade imbalances by pursuing tariffs that mimic how the trade partner treats our goods. It just is very complicated and fraught with opportunity to screw up.

      I support the tariffs Trump has imposed: the world has taken advantage of the USA long enough. We will suffer some economic pain while the new normal is established, but in the long run all other countries have far more to lose than we do… we buy more than anyone on earth.

      • SW
        I know we trade different comodities. However we can measure dollar values in reciprocal trade. So if we sell 300mil in X and they ship aproximately 300 mil in Y then we can use ordinal rankings on tariffs if we use tariffs and quotas at all.
        I should have been more specific.

        The Chinese are using retaliatory tariffs based on political calculus rather than economic protectionism.. They know Trump support is strongest in states producing ag products.

        What bothers me is that we continue to concern ourselves with the short run costs while China takes a long view in their Sinofication strategy of economic domination.

        I would suggest that in lieu of tariffs we offer discounted product to other emerging markets to capture share. This relieves the farmer from the near monopsony power of the Chinese. This is specific to soubeans which have myriad industrial uses beyond food and fodder. This would ensure that the all American people shoulder some of the strategic costs of primoting free trade instead of one industry benefitting at the expense of others downstream in the production processes.

  9. Creepy Eric Stagno says he was just enjoying Planet Fitness’s “Judgment Free Zone” culture when he started exercising naked at the club. How unfair of the company to have him arrested for indecent exposure, lewdness and disorderly conduct!

    Too bad Danielle Jenee Mathers was not there with her smart phone!

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