Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

The solo performer is the immortal Doodles Weaver, Sigourney’s uncle.

1.  This is indefensible, and—I hate to keep using this word, but don’t blame me, blame prevailing political winds—totalitarian. Carl Malamud believes that there should be open access to government records, and he has a group that has been  putting them online for years. When his group  posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, however, the state sued for copyright infringement claiming that giving the public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials without the state’s authorization is the “strategy of terrorism.”

No, having laws that the public has no way to see or understand without paying for them is the strategy of dictators. A federal appeals court has ruled against the state, and now Georgia wants the Supreme Court to step in. So does Public.Resource.Org, Malamud’s group, which also wants SCOTUS to resolve the issue,  since the question of who owns the law is  current in  20 other states that have copyrighted their  annotated codes. The issue is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

I think Georgia is going to lose and lose ugly, though I have given up prediction 9-0 Supreme Court rulings. That’s what this one should be, though.

2. More on “the best people” front. One awful aspect of the Trump Administration that cannot be defended is the President’s irresponsible appointments, which are too numerous to list. In the case of Dr. Ben Carson, whom Ethics Alarms assessed as some kind of idiot savant based on his embarrassing performance in the debates, we knew, or should have known, that Trump appointing him Secretary of HUD was a guaranteed fiasco in the making.

Now comes GAO general counsel Thomas Armstrong  to notify Congress that Clueless Carson violated official policy by spending  $31,561.00 for the purchase of a dining set for the HUD Secretary’s dining room and $8,812.84 for the purchase and installation of a new dishwasher and associated water treatment system in the kitchen connected to the dining room without providing advance notice to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Armstrong further wrote in his letter,

“Further, because HUD obligated appropriated funds in a manner specifically prohibited by law with regard to the dining set, as well as the dishwasher and associated water treatment system, we conclude that HUD violated the Antideficiency Act.”

I’d say that appointing a completely unqualified individual like Carson to head any agency violates the Antideficiency Act, whatever it is. You can read Carson’s ridiculous explanation here, if you must.

3. Speaking of that word again...Here is anti-male bigot and fortunately flopping Democratic Presidential hopeful Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) bloviating in Georgia over the passage of the state’s controversial “fetal heartbeat” bill.

“I would ensure that no state can pass laws that chip away at access to reproductive care or criminalize reproductive health care providers. Federal law should supersede harmful state laws that take away women’s reproductive freedom… if you are a person of deep Christian faith, one of the tenets of our faith is free will. One of the tenets of our democracy is that we have a separation of church and state, and under no circumstances are we supposed to be imposing our faith on other people, and I think this is an example of that effort. It’s against our Constitution and it’s against Christian faith.”

Demagogue, liar, idiot.

The President does not have the power to tell states what laws it can and cannot pass, nor can Congress, as the recent SCOTUS on-line gambling decision held. Gillibrand is promising a dictatorial action that would be laughed out of the Supreme Court, so illegal is it. And she knows it’s illegal. Like fellow shameless demagogue Elizabeth Warren, the Senator deliberately seeks to inflame the public with misrepresentations she thinks will be believed by non-lawyers and low-information voters.

That’s not all. The false assertion that opposing abortion is an exercise of religion and that passing laws limiting abortion is “imposing one’s faith” is truly despicable, and, not surprising for an ethics-free hack like her, ignores ethics. I oppose unlimited abortion because my ethical analysis tells me that unborn human beings are still human beings, and that hard as it may be,  defending life must take precedence over unlimited female autonomy. I haven’t been in a church since I was married, and the last time I prayed I still had my baby teeth. Are criminal statutes against murder, theft and other crimes condemned in moral codes also “imposing faith’?

The contest to decide which Democratic candidate is more despicable, dishonest and ethically inert is closer than the nomination race

4.  Not to be outdone, Senator Harris makes her move as the most unethical candidate. During an interview with CNN host Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,”—I have to say, Tapper seemed to regard Harris as about as he would regard a bug, and that’s lousy journalism, even when contempt is justified— Tapper  asked if Harris supports the language of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all bill,  saying,

“The bill… says, quote: ‘Every individual who’s a resident of the United States is entitled to benefits for health care services under the Senate,’ not every individual who’s a citizen, but every individual who’s a resident. So you support giving universal health care and Medicare for all to people who are on this country illegally?”

Why, of course! Harris answered:

“Let me just be very clear about this. I’m opposed to any policy that would deny in our country any human being from access to public safety, public education, or public health, period.”

So not only would anyone breaching our borders and defying immigration laws get to stay here, but they would also be guaranteed government health care and education. This pandering to the open borders crowd, and it’s pandering to illegal immigrants and potential illegal immigrants. “Come on over, everybody! Free stuff awaits!”

5. Today’s “Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias” notes:

  • A new report from venerable think tank the Rand Corporation examined  trends from before 2000 to 2017, and found a major  shift in how news is presented on TV and in online reports.  News in a Digital Age compared the periods for newspapers, broadcast TV, cable, and online, looking at the words used without analyzing  the politics of the stories, reporters, or outlets. It found that newspapers have shifted  away from the traditional  who, what, when, where, why and how approach to “narratives”  and personal perspective. Broadcast has shifted toward opinions and arguments. Cable TV prioritizes  opinion over news. Online “news” is now dominated by opinion and advocacy.

Did we really need a study to show that?

  • Tweets journalist Lauren Duca:  “Yo, I’m in the best mood. Sending good vibes to everyone, except for the Republican Party, which is a terrorist organization.” This is doubtlessly intended to reference recent GOP anti-abortion laws. Whatever one thinks of the laws, it is odd to call the party that is dedicated to saving what it believes are human lives a terrorist organization. But Duca has never let facts or civility get in the way of bias and venom. The 28-year-old  author of How to Start a Revolution tweeted last year when Billy Graham died, “The big news today is that Billy Graham was still alive this whole time. Anyway, have fun in hell, bitch.”

This summer Duca has been hired to teach a class at NYU called “The Feminist Journalist” that will “focus on intersections of feminist ideology and the practice of journalism.” Writes conservative blogger Vodkapundit, aka Stephen Green,

That NYU finds someone so viciously partisan worthy of training tomorrow’s journalists tells you everything you need to know about the actual worth of an NYU journalism degree.

Or pretty much any journalism degree.

17 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

  1. Carl Malamud already has lost a federal case on the same topic, and I agree, this should be a 9-0 decision in his favor, but it still hasn’t gone anywhere in the intervening two years:

    Click to access 117-Opinion.pdf

    There is a problem the states and the code writing organization have. Right now those applying the code, professionals in the industry, are paying for the codes. Each standard costs hundreds of dollars each, unless you’re a mega corporation that mass licenses for far less. The states are using the codes as de facto law, but are not paying the costs of creating those laws. The fact that the system as it is now would fail without charging for the code shouldn’t matter to the courts, but that is what swayed them.

    I hope Malamud wins bigly on this. This will be figured out another way, the activities need to happen and they will continue, it will just take another financial model.

  2. 4. And of course they’ll be entitled to vote as well. But give it a few days. Kamala will back track on her statement and clarify what she said and provide more context so we’ll have no idea what she meant or what she means. But to her supporters, it will sound profound. Boy, she’s an idiot. She must be the poster child for affirmative action in educational institutions and in the practice of law. She doesn’t seem to think before she speaks. And she’s the snarkiest, most incompetent cross examiner I’ve ever seen. The law students I saw in practice court trials were more competent and professional than she has been in her Judicial Committee performances.

  3. Regarding Dr. Carson: what kind of human turd throws his own wife under the bus for something like this? Wasting taxpayer money on stupid shit is bad enough, but to use your own spouse as a human shield to deflect criticism of it? Doesn’t get much lower than that.

    Even if his wife *did* pick out the furnishings, the right thing to do is accept responsibility and make amends, not make excuses for the inexcusable. This guy is supposed to be the head of a major government department, but won’t even take the heat for his own mistake? I think our president had a catch-phrase for this sort of thing during his TV days: “You’re fired.”

  4. Well … he is in charge of housing, which probably includes … furnishings? Gotta keep the industry busy.

    I should be his director of communications! Brilliant!

  5. My I ask a question about the abortion law issue? I am having a hard time finding answers.
    In states like Texas, where there is a death penalty, does capital punishment law regarding ‘murder of those under 10 years old’ automatically apply to abortion as soon as the abortion law is passed, or does the wording of the capital punishment law also have to be changed? The net is flooded with ‘Texas abortion law allows execution of women who get abortions’ articles and I can’t find out if that is actually the case or not, all news sources are running practically the same headline.

    • Crella, not being a lawyer, I had the same question about the Georgia “heartbeat” law, which very quickly characterized in a similar fashion. In the case of the Georgia law, it explicitly placed unborn children under the statutory definition of “person.” But Georgia’s homicide statute already mentions the killing of a “human being,” not a “person,” while “feticide” is handled in a separate section. So it isn’t clear to me that the new law actually changes anything about how homicide is treated in Georgia.

  6. Jack. You say : “I oppose unlimited abortion because my ethical analysis tells me that unborn human beings are still human beings, and that hard as it may be, defending life must take precedence over unlimited female autonomy.” Practically everyone opposes ‘unlimited abortions’, and no-one vaguely sane argues for ‘unlimited female autonomy’. This sounds like a quite irresponsible stir.

    You are of course free to promulgate whatever ‘ethics’ suits you but please don’t suggest there is any uncontentious ethical rule that prioritises a not yet viable foetus over the pregnant carrying female.

    My own personal ethics (in which you may well have no interest) rule you as quite unethical if you seek in this to enforce your views on others. In my scoring system the penalty would be increased because you are male and therefore not affected.

    And as for your easy question on ‘murder and theft’, there is no reasonable comparison. The ‘golden rule’ is quite sufficient to judge murder and theft as unethical. Not yet viable early stage foetuses don’t get ‘golden rule’ consideration in my book. More to the point it would in my view be clearly cruel and unethical to implant a parasitical life form in your body and deny you the right to have it removed should you so wish.

    • How wrong can one be in a single comment? The abortion movement in America is increasingly arguing that abortion right up to conception—and maybe after— should be legal and acceptable. If that isn’t unlimited abortion, I don’t know what is. And the rhetoric of the women’s movement speaks of bodily autonomy in absolute terms as well. It’s idiotic, sure, but don’t blame me. Talk to NARAL.

      • Gloria Steinem once said that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.

        She might have been on to something.

        I suspect that people who believe that men can get pregnant also believe that abortion is a sacrament.

        • That’s the central slur that ignores what is the legitimate and genuine concern of abortion critics. What it means is, “If you were biased like we are, you’d agree with us.” It’s like the old argument that if it was your son being executed, you wouldn’t support capital punishment.

  7. Andrew: As you must surely know, pregnancy is an ordinary and natural element of human reproduction, and a healthy and sexually mature woman’s body is, so to speak, “geared” toward conceiving and providing for the development and nourishment of offspring. A parasite, on the other hand, attacks a host organism, generally of an entirely different species, and benefits by directly harming its host. The unborn human offspring can never properly be a “parasite” of its own mother, so the ethical approach to the unborn cannot be the approach we have toward parasites such as ticks, botflies, etc.

  8. After that Goergia law was passed, I have read so many Rationaliztions from the radical pro-abortion people. Here is one example.

    Apparently, the poster was unaware, or simply ignored, that California had banned assault rifles and has yet to ban abortions.

    I wonder how many public figures who are whining about the Georgia abortion law praised the New Zealand parliament for banning assault weapons.

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