Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/18: Big Lies, Bad Precedents, And Good Bias (Apparently: I Guess I Just Don’t Understand)

Good Morning!

(You can tell I’m starting to feel better, because the morning warm-up is actually appearing before noon… I had an unavoidable early morning conference call, and I’m hoping to get the post up before I crash.)

1. Regarding the hypothetical Hillary pardon briefly discussed in the previous post…An esteemed commenter corrected me in the comment thread when I stated incorrectly that the object of a Presidential pardon couldn’t refuse the gift: the 1915 SCOTUS case of Burdick v. US says otherwise. The case is one more example of how a bad decision can become settled law. From the New York Times:

The story behind the 1915 case is little known but very relevant today. It involved the city editor of The New York Tribune, George Burdick, who…flatly refused to testify before a federal grand jury about his sources for an article on fraud in the United States Custom House in New York. He said he might incriminate himself in his testimony. The federal prosecutor saw a quick pardon as the answer to this problem, and President Woodrow Wilson agreed.

Wilson gave Burdick “a full and unconditional pardon for all offenses against the United States” he might have committed in connection with the article and for any other matter the grand jury might ask him about. That would seem to have let Burdick off the hook, but he still didn’t want to testify. He refused to accept the pardon, and was locked up for contempt.

The case went to the Supreme Court, which held that Burdick was within his rights and ordered him discharged. In doing so, the court embraced Chief Justice John Marshall’s 1833 definition of a pardon as “a private, though official” act of grace whose validity depended on its acceptance: “It may then be rejected by the person to whom it is tendered; and if it be rejected, we have discovered no power in a court to force it on him.”

Marshall’s pronouncements, in United States v. Wilson, were pure dicta — nonbinding observations — but the courts treated them as gospel. In the Burdick case, the court likewise held that “a pardon, to be effective, must be accepted” because it “carries an imputation of guilt; acceptance a confession of it.” This made Marshall’s view the law of the land.

The problem is that both Marshall’s definition and the court’s 1915 reinforcement of it were bad history and tortured logic. Acceptance of a pardon should not be a confession of guilt, especially if there is documentation of innocence. The “imputation of guilt” would disappear if acceptance of a pardon were not required. If one has no choice but to take a pardon, it would become like a grant of immunity, and thus would be noncommittal.

There is nothing in the Constitution that gives a person the prerogative to turn down a pardon, and strong support in the Constitutional debates for the president’s having an unfettered power to grant one. “The benign prerogative of pardoning should be as little as possible fettered or embarrassed,” Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federalist No. 74. Even more to the point, the framers turned down an effort to limit the power to pardons “after conviction” because they wanted to make it useful for law enforcement. That is, of course, exactly what President Wilson tried, and was told he couldn’t do, in the Burdick case.

So Hillary could turn down a Presidential pardon for her crimes related to flouting the law regarding classified material.

2. Run, Kamala, run! One of the awful alternatives the Democrats have as they paint themselves into the requirement of nominating a woman as their candidate in 2020, California Senator Kamala Harris, highlighted her awfulness while questioning Ronald D. Vitiello, the acting director at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as he appeared before the Senate Homeland Security Committee as it weighed his nomination to become permanent ICE director. She deliberately compared ICE to the KKK in this exchange:

Vitiello: “The Klan was what we could call today a domestic terrorist group.”

 Harris: “Why? Why would we call them a domestic terrorist group?”

Vitiello: “Because they tried to use fear and force to change the political environment.”

Harris: “And what was the motivation for the use of fear and force?”

Vitiello: “It was based on race and ethnicity.”

Harris: “Right. And are you aware of the perception of many about how the power and discretion at ICE is being used to enforce the law and do you see any parallels?”

There are no parallels between the KKK and ICE, and Harris’s assertion that “many” see such parallels is one more example on the growing list of Big Lies being wielded by the Left to spread fear and misinformation. I heard Geraldo Rivera say this morning that Harris was “too smart” to make such a comparison, which he characterized as slander. Obviously she is not too smart to make the comparison, since she made it. She’s too smart to believe that the comparison is fair, but unethical and irresponsible enough to suggest it anyway.

3. Here’s one reason why I don’t have more Ethics Heroes. I’ve already written twice about the deteriorating saga of the kind homeless veteran  and the woman he helped who raised money to let him turn his life around.. It began as a heartwarming Ethics Hero saga, then rotted into a tale of greed, ingratitude, betrayal and exploitation. By August of last year, this was the suddenly depressing story…

Johnny is back living under a bridge, panhandling for change. GoFundMe is investigating whether McClure and her live-in boyfriend absconded with most of the donations, which eventually amounted to about $400,000. Johnny claims that his once grateful benefactor and friend have been spending the money that was supposed to ensure, in Kate’s memorable words, that “his life can get back to being normal….”

Now the story is worse still:

The New Jersey couple who became famous for raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for a homeless man after he helped with their disabled car — as did the homeless man himself — will all face charges for allegedly providing a false story in order to raise money for themselves, a source familiar with the case told NBC10. Mark D’Amico, Kate McClure and Johnny Bobbitt Jr. will face charges including conspiracy and theft by deception, according to the source. A complaint obtained by NBC10 alleges that the three conspired with one another to make up a false story in order to raise more than $400,000.

Sigh.

4. Now that’s acceptable gender bias discrimination. Somehow. I guess. Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) said Wednesday that a congresswoman besides Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should be the House Speaker.  “There’s plenty of really competent females that we can replace her with,” Ryan told reporters, before listing people such as Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) as potential candidates, The New York Times reported. I dare anyone to try to explain what one’s sex organs and chromosomes has to do with being a capable Speaker of the House. Bias not only makes you stupid, it makes you ridiculous and hypocritical. As for Marcia Fudge: oh, GOOOOOD choice there, Tim!

16 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity

16 responses to “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/16/18: Big Lies, Bad Precedents, And Good Bias (Apparently: I Guess I Just Don’t Understand)

  1. Arthur in Maine

    RE #2: Its classic argumentum ad populum – the logical fallacy also known as an appeal to popularity (i.e., so many people agree with the argument that it must be true).

    What makes it even dumber is that I suspect that not all that many people actually agree.

    On a completely non-related subject: Mookie Betts. MVP. Told ya so.

    • adimagejim

      Acknowledged. Wrong choice, but you were right.

    • Chris Marschner

      If I had been asked I would have replied a better parallel would be ICE and the IRS.
      People are afraid of both.

      • Michael R.

        The KKK’s main targets were Republicans, with between 25 and 33% of lynching victims being white Republicans (and the rest being mostly black Republicans). Given that fact, there seems to be no parallel with ICE. there do seem to be parallels between the KKK and Harris’ Congressional Black Caucus, however.

      • IRS. ICE, KKK, CBC – these are all TLAs (Three Letter Acronyms).

        If I may be permitted to digress, anyone who really believes that the power to pardon is inherently and essentially benign hasn’t done enough homework to know how Tudor despotism used it, and are readers familiar with the recent backfiring of the internet funding efforts for Melbourne’s “trolleyman” (now charged with unrelated burglaries)?

  2. 1. I think pardoning Hillary will go over poorly in the heartland. Americans voted against the Swamp, not for Trump, and the optics (despite any political points scored) are terrible. The only way this country starts to heal is if the rule of law is reestablished, and right now we obviously have two tiers of justice. Establishment Elites openly flout the law, and admit their crimes on TV, and nothing is done about it. Yet the common American knows without a doubt that the full force of government will be pressed upon him should he do the same.

    This awareness, as much as anything else, is why Trump was elected. It is also fine cut dry tinder sitting upon the gunpowder barrel of Civil War.

    2. PLEEEESE let her run! She is Hillary with all the bad points and none of the cover.

    3. The funny part is that the thieves fell out with each other over the division of the spoils. All they had to do was keep quiet to get away with this.

    Moral of the story: Never send money to a sob story you do not personally know about.

    4. Can you imagine the fireworks when Trump tweets about Fudge?!?

    The jokes just write themselves. And she is a nutcase to boot.

  3. Ian McElroy

    Welcome back, Jack. Glad you’re on the mend. Don’t forget chicken soup and a nap this afternoon!

  4. Dwayne N. Zechman

    2) It seems especially hypocritical for a U.S. Senator to complain about laws being enforced, or laws that she thinks are bad.

    THEY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THOSE VERY LAWS!!!

    –Dwayne

    P.S. If I were actually capable of editing a post here after it’s been posted, I would post a reply to this post of mine complaining about how terrible my original post was — just to further illustrate the absurdity.

  5. Cynical John

    If the House Dems really want to vex Trump (which seems to be a brief synopsis of their agenda), they should elect Maxine Waters.

    • Heh!

      Only one way to respond to that, which would be in the words of Euphegenia Doubtfire (Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire [H/T Humble Talent for setting me straight on the first name]):

      Oh, you wicked wicked ​man!

  6. Possible topic:

    Ick factor of wealthy Californians hiring private firefighters to protect their homes.

    • Arthur in Maine

      Oooh.. that’s good, that’s GOOD. After all, we are conditioned to believe that government to provides such services as law enforcement and fire protection. But now, we learn that the uberwealthy can afford their own fire protection. They already – largely – had their own law enforcement, in the form of security guards, fixers and high-priced lawyers.

      When the United States completes its inexorable march towards socialized medicine, the uberwealthy will still have the best medical care money can buy – though it might be offshore.

      At THAT point, will the Hollywood Left finally be exposed in the eyes of the proletariat? Asking for a friend.

  7. An esteemed commenter corrected me in the comment thread when I stated incorrectly that the object of a Presidential pardon couldn’t refuse the gift: the 1915 SCOTUS case of Burdick v. US says otherwise. The case is one more example of how a bad decision can become settled law. From the New York Times:

    So the Supreme court was wrong?

    How does that even make sense?

    Obviously she is not too smart to make the comparison, since she made it. She’s too smart to believe that the comparison is fair, but unethical and irresponsible enough to suggest it anyway.

    Here is another gem from Kamala Harris.

    “Local law enforcement must be able to use their discretion to determine
    who can carry a concealed weapon,” said Kamala Harris, who was then the
    California Attorney General.

    I have always wondered how #BlackLivesMatter would view this. After all,
    according to their narrative, cops are just Klansmen with badges who
    habitually gun down unarmed black men. How could we trust such people with
    discretion to determine who may carry a concealed weapon.

    And yet, just yesterday, she tweeted this:

    Today, we remember #MikeBrown and recommit to ensuring truth,
    transparency, and trust in our criminal justice system. #BlackLivesMatter

    So I wonder if any reporter from the network broadcast and print media would
    ask her any of the following questions:

    – If the reason that “[l]ocal law enforcement must be able to use their
    discretion to determine who can carry a concealed weapon” is because they
    are just Klansmen with badges, why shouldn’t the Stormfront White
    Nationalist Community also get to decide who can carry a concealed weapon?

    – If the reason that “[l]ocal law enforcement must be able to use their
    discretion to determine who can carry a concealed weapon” is because they
    habitually gun down unarmed black men, why shouldn’t the Crips also get to
    decide who can carry a concealed weapon?

    – Is more black men dead or in prison a worthy price to pay to make lawful
    gun ownership more difficult?

    – Is making lawful gun ownership more difficult a worthy price to pay to put
    more black men in prison?

    – Does some magical guardian fairy turn these Klansmen with badges into
    freedom riders whenever they exercise their “discretion to determine who can
    carry a concealed weapon”?

    • Michael R.

      Remember, Martin Luther King, Jr. requested a concealed carry permit and the local law enforcement decided he didn’t need one. The 1968 Gun Control Act’s main purpose was to keep blacks (and the poor) from being able to buy guns. First, they banned the cheap import guns. Second, they banned mail order guns. All commercial gun sales had to go through a LOCAL dealer. If you locality didn’t like blacks owning guns, you were out of luck. You couldn’t mail-order one from Sears or Montgomery Ward anymore. You couldn’t drive to a northern state to get one and bring it back. Your local government and community got to decide if you ‘needed’ a gun. This is supported by almost every Democratic politician in this country currently.

    • So I wonder if any reporter from the network broadcast and print media would ask her any of the following questions:

      You post this quite a lot.

      I am curious: do you have a copy saved elsewhere, to facilitate a cut and paste, or do you type this each time?

      I had a cut and paste reply I used whenever Chris was in the doghouse…

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