Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/18: (It’s My 38th Wedding Anniversary)

Good Morning!

1. A Thanksgiving Story. Yesterday, as we have in recent years since our available family has been inexorably shrinking or moving away, Grace and I, plus my son and his girl friend, went out to a favorite D.C. restaurant for our celebration. A very large party was next to our table, and when I overheard a comment or two, I figured out who it was. The extended Dole family, headed by former Senator Liddy Dole and former Senate Majority Leader, Presidential candidate and Vice-Presidential candidate Bob Dole, now 95, was having a holiday gathering with at least three generations on hand. My Dad deeply admired Dole’s military sacrifices in World War II as well as his wit, and both Doles had spent a lifetime in public service, so I decided to send the table a bottle of champaign with the Marshall family’s regards.

I expected at most a smile and a wave. Liddy Dole, however, came immediately over to our table, and chatted for quite a while, energetically expressing her  and Bob’s gratitude for the gift. Later a Dole niece came over to do the same, and I got a handshake and some nice words from Bob as we left. I would have assumed that lots of tables at the packed eatery would have sent some token of appreciation the Dole’s way, but we seemed to be the only ones. Indeed, we seemed to be the only ones who knew who they were. “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

It was funny: Liddy Dole did a wonderful job covering with opening comments that could have suggested that she had met us before, a skill anyone in public office must master. I managed to make it clear in my remarks that we hadn’t met, but her gratitude appeared genuine rather than formal.

So the Marshall family had a memorable collision with political history and Washington royalty! Best bottle of champagne I ever bought…

2.  If Obama wants to protect his own legacy and project a positive image of the Presidency, he really should shut up. During a summit this week for the Obama Foundation in Chicago, former President Barack Obama said,

“Climate change, we’re going to have to come up with some new technologies to solve the problem as much as we need to. Although even on something like that, right now I could take off the shelf existing technologies, we could reduce carbon emissions by, let’s say 30 percent, without any, you know, it’s not like we would have to go back to caves and, you know, live off, you know, fire. We could have electricity and smartphones and all that stuff, which would buy us probably another 20, 30 years for that technological breakthrough that’s necessary. The reason we don’t do it is because we are still confused, blind, shrouded with hate, anger, racism, mommy issues. “I mean … we are fraught with stuff.”

Stuff like, oh, reality. The U.S. is deeply in debt, in no small part due to Obama’s own mismanagement of the budget, and a trillion dollar infrastructure bill is overdue. Estimates—and on climate change, all we have is estimates, of what it would cost to reduce carbon emissions by 30% range from another 1.7 to 3 trillion dollars, and many estimates tell us that even that wouldn’t do enough, whatever “enough” is. “It’s not like we would have to go back to caves and, you know, live off, you know, fire’ is a masterpiece of “It’s not the worst thing” duplicity. OK, Big Shot, what would it mean? Of course, Obama has no idea. He’s just blathering, and at a level not much superior to the blathering President Trump gets regularly skewered for. Yes, we are indeed confused, because climate change research and hype are now indistinguishable thanks to messengers like Obama, but how the hell do “hate, anger, racism, (and) mommy issues” have anything to do with the issue other than to serve as standard left-wing insults at anyone who doesn’t agree with them?

The use of racism as a default explanation for any and all opposition has reached the point of self-parody. I wonder when the half the country not being victimized by it wakes up and sees how unfair and destructive this is…

3. “Great British Baking Show” ethics: Just to show you how blotto I am after yesterday, today I watched an episode of  “The Great British Baking Show” on Netflix. The contest involved biscuit-baking and baked panoramas, like gingerbread houses. Sadly there had to be a winner and a loser, with the loser sent home. The loser, it turned out, was the only black individual among the contestants. I wonder if PBS viewers flooded the network with complaints that the episode was “racist,” like “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”?

4. Quiz: Obama judge or Trump judge? This story caused me to reflect on Chief Justice Roberts’ recent comments about the federal judiciary.

Judge Bernard Friedman ruled recently that federal law cannot ban female genital mutilation:

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman concluded that “as despicable as this practice may be,” Congress did not have the authority to pass the 22-year-old federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, and that FGM is for the states to regulate. FGM is banned worldwide and has been outlawed in more than 30 countries, though the U.S. statute had never been tested before this case.

“As laudable as the prohibition of a particular type of abuse of girls may be … federalism concerns deprive Congress of the power to enact this statute,” Friedman wrote in his 28-page opinion, noting: “Congress overstepped its bounds by legislating to prohibit FGM … FGM is a ‘local criminal activity’ which, in keeping with long-standing tradition and our federal system of government, is for the states to regulate, not Congress.”

Currently, 27 states have laws that criminalize female genital mutilation, including Michigan, whose FGM law is stiffer than the federal statute, punishable by up to 15 years in prison, compared with five under federal law. Michigan’s FGM law was passed last year in the wake of the historic case and applies to both doctors who conduct the procedure, and parents who transport a child to have it done. The defendants in this case can’t be retroactively charged under the new law.

Gina Balaya, spokesperson for the U.S. Attorneys Office, said the government is reviewing the judge’s opinion and will make a determination whether or not to appeal at some point in the future.

Friedman’s ruling stems from a request by Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and her co-defendants to dismiss the genital mutilation charges, claiming the law they are being prosecuted under is unconstitutional.

The defendants are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, which has a mosque in Farmington Hills. The sect practices female circumcision and believes it is a religious rite of passage that involves only a minor “nick.”

The defendants have argued that “Congress lacked authority to enact” the genital mutilation statute, “thus the female genital mutilation charges must be dismissed.” They also argue that they didn’t actually practice FGM, but rather performed a benign procedure involving no cutting.

Commentators have pointed out that this ruling clashes with Roe v.Wade. If the states must have jurisdiction over this “private” conduct, why should abortion be any different?

(Trick question: Friedman is a Reagan judge.)

19 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/23/18: (It’s My 38th Wedding Anniversary)

  1. #1 What, you didn’t protest their presence in public?

    Good job Jack; that’s the kind of gratitude/attention that people in the public eye don’t mind at all, private acknowledgement and doesn’t draw attention to their presence plus it leaves the ball in their court whether they feel up to responding or not.

  2. Congratuations on 38 years of marriage. Sounds like you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. While family may be distant and unable to with you yesterday we should all be thankful for the memories we have and those yet to come.

  3. Happy Anniversary!

    I’m glad you and your family had a nice Thanksgiving dinner. What a nice surprise to be seated near the Doles.

  4. Happy Anniversay, and thanks for the Thanksgiving story.

    I would like to hear more on people’s thoughts re: if FGM cannot be a federal law, why can abortion?

  5. ” I decided to send the table a bottle of campaign with the Marshall family’s regards”

    That, my friends, is what is known as a Freudian Slip.
    Whether political or military campaign, I know not.

    Whatever, it was an act of grace and kindness that made this sorry world suck a little less. Encore!

    Happy anniversary!

    Onto FGM – has the US signed and ratified an international treaty banning FGM? If it has, did the signing include the usual caveat and limitation found in many US signatures on treaties, that while the Federal Government would make its best efforts to encourage compliance, that implementing the treaty provisions is a matter for the individual states?

    • Thanks for catching that. My penchant for making typos that spell-check can’t detect is the bane of my existence. My mother had the same habit, which really caused me grief when she was typing my honors thesis.

  6. 1–I recall having a ‘small talk” conversation with a woman at a holiday soiree shortly after the 1996 election about HRC and Liddie Dole.

    She: ”they’re both powerful, politically astute, and ambitious women, but people really like Dole and revile Clinton.”

    Me: (at a far more tactful stage of development) “Welp, Dole’s far more diplomatic, takes a genuine interest in others, and meshes well with just about anyone.”

    Today the response would be a tad more succinct:

    “Well NO SHIT!

    That’s because, not to put too fine a point on it, HRC’s a traitorous, felonious, DeadBrokeAHontas/Faux-Feminista/rape enablin’ husband accuser destroyin’ cheatin’ spouse swattin’ War mongerin’ Weapons systems approvin’ valor stealin’ Nixon supportin’ American Jobs offshorin’ Mean YouTube Video denyin’ NASA Space Program joinin’ Human Rights violator endorsin’ Minority Superpredator eliminatin’ Black Children to heel bringin’ Marine enlistin’ horrible health hidin’ declining competence repudiatin’ records release refusin’ Four Pinocchio/Pantsuit-on-Fire thievin’ deceivin’ criminally insane, congenital, reflex, serial, inveterate liar!

  7. Why is Obama so bad at giving speeches all of a sudden? Are TelePrompTers too expensive for private citizens? Did he make some sort of deal with Mephistopheles that was only good until 2016?

    • He was always terrible off script, like many actors. Reagan was very good extemporaneously while he had all his marbles. Trump, Bush, McCain are examples of the other breed: terrible reading prepared text, much better informally.

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