Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2020: Still Crazy After All These Posts

1. Atticus, Aaron and Alexander. Today, July 11, was a crucial date in history for two great Americans, now in danger of being canceled by the ignorant woke. One cancellee was a real man, Founder Alexander Hamilton; the other is fictional, Atticus Finch. Both have been pronounced wanting in character of late because they did not manage to discern in their eras the full extent of the necessary racial equities Americans have largely come to understand today, with the benefit of decades more of debate and experience than Finch, and with a 250 years advantage over Hamilton.

In Finch’s case, this is his “birthday”:  on July 11, 1960,  34-year-old novelist  Harper Lee published her first, and except for a rejected “sequel” to  “Mockingbird” published later under ethically dubious circumstances, her only, novel.  Fortunately for Atticus, the version of the Depression Era small town Alabama lawyer that most Americans know is the film’s, where he is played by Gregory Peck as a pure idealist without any of the alleged flaws—like saying that it is wrong to assume that racists can’t still be good people—that the novel’s Atticus is condemned for today. (The multiple Atticus problem is discussed here.)

While Atticus Finch was “born” on this date, Alexander Hamilton died, perhaps by bravely but naively exhibiting ethical character while at the mercy of a man whose ethics were elusive at best, Aaron Burr, who fatally shot the nation’s first Secretary of the Treasury in a duel this day in 1804.

The adversaries met at 7 a.m. at the dueling grounds near Weehawken, New Jersey on the same spot where Hamilton’s son had died defending his father’s honor in 1801. (The concept of karma was apparently unknown in 1804.)  According to Hamilton’s “second,” Hamilton deliberately fired his weapon into the air rather than at Burr (Burr’s second claimed that Hamilton fired at Burr and missed) , whereupon Burr, who had the second shot,  killed  Hamilton by sending a bullet through his stomach into his spine. Hamilton died the next day.

If you think politics are crazy now, consider: Hamilton’s death was the direct result of his publicly attacking and demeaning Burr for years (“I feel it is a religious duty to oppose his career,” he once wrote). Hamilton also was instrumental in blocking Burr from becoming President in the ridiculous election of 1800, when a quirk in the election rules threatened to allow the sociopathic Vice-Presidential candidate  to defeat his running mate, Thomas Jefferson.

2.  Saying nice things about the President? Is he crazy? Bob Unanue, the president of Goya Foods, a staple in Hispanic-American households (and mine!), went to the White House this week to announce that his  company is donating  a million cans of garbanzo beans and another million pounds of other food to U.S. food banks as part of the Hispanic Prosperity Initiative. That program was created by an executive order from President Trump, aimed at increasing access to educational and economic opportunities. During the event, Unanue said,

“We’re all truly blessed at the same time to have a leader like President Trump, who is a builder. And so we have an incredible builder. And we pray. We pray for our leadership, our president, and we pray for our country, that we will continue to prosper and to grow.”

Now pro-illegal immigration activists have announced a boycott of Goya Foods, with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and  Julián Castro, the former Obama HUD secretary,  leading the way. Apparently demanding viewpoint conformity from fellow Hispanic-Americans, denying them the right to free expression and thought, is worth destroying a successful Hispanic-owned business. So far, Unanue has refused to back down.

Good for him. And I highly recommend Goya products, especially the garbanzo beans, which are so much better than any of the other brands it’s astounding.

3. Agreeing with the President they devote every edition to trashing? Are they crazy?  The New York Times, in my Saturday morning edition, editorializes (on the editorial page, where it belongs),

American children need public schools to reopen in the fall. Reading, writing and arithmetic are not even the half of it. Kids need to learn to compete and to cooperate. They need food and friendships; books and basketball courts; time away from family and a safe place to spend it. Parents need public schools, too. They need help raising their children, and they need to work.

This was obvious, oh, weeks ago, and the President, in his usual meat-axe way, as well as his much-reviled Secretary of Education, has been saying so. Closing the schools was the first step in hamstringing the economy, and keeping kids at home in the fall is irresponsible, much as Democrats think it will help their election prospects.

Good for the Times.

4. Commuting that scumbag Roger Stone’s sentence? Is the President crazy?  No, he’s showing some ethical principles, perhaps accidentally, as well as courage. I’m not even going to read the Democratic Party/”resistance”/mainstream media reaction; I could write it down now. “Protecting his cronies! Abuse of power! Undermining the rule of law! Impeachable!”  Points:

  • Yes, Stone is a lowlife. But he was targeted by the Justice Department as part of the corrupt and partisan attempt to bring down the President in the Mueller investigation. It is fair to say that if he were not a friend and associate of Donald Trump, he would never have been touched. The President feels partially responsible for his plight, and he should.
  • Stone is 67, and was sentenced to  more than three years in prison for obstructing a dishonest and contrived congressional investigation into Trump’s 2016 campaign.
  • After what we have learned about the persecution of Michael Flynn, none of the prosecutions related to the Trump campaign should have any credibility.
  • Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, laid it out nicely in February:

The first thing to grasp about the Roger Stone sentencing fiasco is that Stone, even accepting the worst plausible gloss on his crimes, is a 67-year-old nonviolent first offender. If the criminal justice “reform” fad were authentic, and not a stratagem of social-justice warriors who have taken Washington’s surfeit of useful idiots for a ride, then we could all agree that the original seven-to-nine-year sentence advocated by prosecutors was too draconian — even if it was, as we shall see, a faithful application of the federal sentencing guidelines as written.

But no. Like criminal justice “reform,” the Stone prosecution is more politics than law enforcement. It was the Mueller probe’s last gasp at pretending there might be something to the Russia-collusion narrative – notwithstanding that, when the “gee, it sure feels like there could be some collusion here” indictment was filed, over a year and a half after special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed, it had long been manifest that there was no Trump-Russia conspiracy.

So, the left has a quandary here: Do they hate Trump more than they love sentencing “reform”? We could have predicted the decision to go with hating Trump, thus fomenting outrage over DOJ’s retraction of its original sentencing recommendation of about nine years’ imprisonment, now slashed to a far more reasonable range of four years or less.

Joe Biden, though it may have been his dementia talking, said last year that no one convicted of non-violent crimes should be jailed. That’s idiotic of course, but worth keeping in mind as you read the Axis of Unethical Conduct blathering about how Trump’s action yesterday is a crime against humanity.

  • Stone’s sentence was commuted. He wasn’t pardoned. This gives him the opportunity to appeal without having to do it from prison.
  • If the parties are going to criminalize politics, which is what the Democrats have been doing, then the Presidential clemency power will increasingly be used like this, and appropriately–also ethically– so,

 

14 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/11/2020: Still Crazy After All These Posts

  1. 2. I think the Goya Foods guy should be an ethics hero. Why don’t more corporate people and college and university people push back?

    Here’s a statement I received from a very good college friend yesterday following my commenting to him that the president of our college had killed the college by bowing to BLM inspired pressure and dutifully mouthing the magic words “black lives matter” and spending a quarter of a million dollars on a committee to do who knows what about oppression and systemic racism, or something, at the college that, you know, oppresses black kids by giving them all the money they need to attend the college. My friend said,

    “I expect the college will somehow survive its suicide. I agree with you in at least one respect–it’s a shame that college presidents and educators are now in the position of groveling to students and their parents. But it’s a different world than the one we were educated in, I guess.”

    “It’s a shame?” That’s all? “College presidents and educators are now in the position of groveling to students and their parents?” Who says? Why? WHO put them there? Why can’t they get out of that position? “But it’s a different world than the one we were educated in.” Is it? Why? Is that good? Nothing can be done to rectify this situation? Why so sanguine? Why so passive?

    Another friend, who’s on the board of trustees, said basically the same thing, although he did admit he seriously considered resigning from the board. This is insanity. Both these guys are super intelligent and wildly successful guys. But they are northeasterners (metro NYC) to their toes. Has the Acela Corridor been hypnotized?

  2. RE #2: Goya products are indeed of excellent quality, and are usually in my house. I generally don’t give a damn regarding the politics of the founders of a brand; I think Ben and Jerry are bona-fide nuts, but I still like their ice cream.

    However, I will now purchase Goya products WITH PRIDE. Not only because it’s about the best product of its type out there, but because its CEO has something all too lacking this days: courage and commitment to doing the right thing.

    Good thing it’s a privately-held company. If Goya was publicly traded, he’d already be DTFRCMB, sad to say.

  3. I was wondering by I woke up to friends having changed their Facebook photo to I ❤ Goya Foods. I’ll have to buy an extra item this week as a show of support.
    BTW to one of my fictional characters, book or movie (Gregory Peck = Swoon)….HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

  4. 2. I rarely eat anything from Goya. I grew up thinking it was not for me. To suburban-raised little me it was an exotic brand only bought by Spanish-speaking people who lived in that exotic cul-de-sac with Mr. Hooper’s Store on one side and Number 123 on the other. I don’t think their beans are appreciably better than the store brand and I am not adventurous enough to try their tropical fruit drinks. However, their founder, Prudencio Unanue Ortiz, who came from Spain to the US by way of Puerto Rico, was the right man at the right time to capitalize on the rising demand for this kind of food in the Western Hemisphere (he actually took the name from a Moroccan fish company because it was easy to pronounce). His son Joseph was a Brooklyn-born WW2 platoon leader and Bronze Star winner before he succeeded his dad. Eventually he and his son Andy were ousted from Goya by his two nephews, of whom Bob is one. Andy, who has moved on to chairing his own equities and investment company, was actually involved in NJ Republican politics and considered a run for the Senate, so it would appear the family is more GOP-aligned. Goya’s story is a European and American one and has been an all-American one since the second generation.

    Given these facts, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bob, an American born businessman, apparently born of American-born parents, with at least a family connection to the GOP, would have good things to say about Donald Trump, of somewhat similar background. Goya’s major charity initiatives have focused almost exclusively on, unsurprisingly, getting food to those in need. The company has never taken a position on immigration or aligned itself with the Latino (I refuse to use the invented (and not used in Spanish) term Latinx) population in the US in any way. The Latino population has no claim on any particular support by this CEO or his company. It is no one’s right to expect him to speak the woke platitudes, leave alone force him to do so. It is no one’s right to attack him for opposing those platitudes.
    Julian Castro is a far-left has-been, probably angling for favors from Elizabeth Warren if she becomes VP, and AOC needs no comment. As is often the case, a boycott probably isn’t going to hurt Bob, he’s already rich and comes from a family that’s been rich for three generations. However, Goya has 3,500 employees in several states, plus PR and the Dominican Republic. Goya also has the Goya Gives charity initiative, providing food to food banks, scholarships, etc. The employees and their families are going to be the ones who suffer, together with those who normally would benefit from the company’s charity. I think that needs to be pointed out, and I applaud Bob for actually showing some backbone and leadership. It’s time some of America’s companies stood up and said, “Enough is enough. The primary business of business is business, not serving as enabler, cheerleader, and financier to the woke mob. Places like Penzey’s Spices are and should be the exception, not the rule. Leave us alone.”

    3. That’s a given. American society is simply not built around kids staying home all the time. At the beginning of this mess most of us thought it would be a 2-3 week “pause” and then back to normal. Most folks, men, women, and children, are getting quarantine and social distancing fatigue. I know I am. It shouldn’t be a major thing just to go get a haircut or an oil change. I shouldn’t have to talk to my brother only on the phone or through his window. It shouldn’t be a lot of things. The thing is, not only is there this fatigue, but no one really believes it’s doing any good either. I think NYC Mayor DeBlasio illustrated it pretty starkly when he announced the cancellation of all large events EXCEPT Black Lives Matter protests until September. Does anyone with a functioning brain really think that an illness that could spread like wildfire at a street festival or parade won’t spread just as quickly or easily at a protest? I’ve heard of picking winners and losers during this pandemic, but this is essentially clearing the board of all but the mayor’s pet cause. There just isn’t a reason to continue this.

    4. Nancy Pelosi has already proposed a bill limiting the presidential pardon power in response to this. That seems to be her answer to everything: if she doesn’t like it, or disagrees with it, she just proposes a bill to eliminate it. At the moment a bill like that isn’t going anywhere, but if the White House and Senate flip, she would be essentially be able to govern by close to decree. Then again, she wouldn’t limit Joe’s pardon power. As for this pardon, if the presidential pardon/commutation power can be used by Gerald Ford to close the book on Watergate, by George H.W Bush to render Iran-Contra investigators’ work moot, by Bill Clinton to save Dan Rostenkowski who didn’t deserve to be saved and essentially as a thank you to March Rich’s wife for huge contributions, and by Barack Obama to free a convicted Puerto Rican terrorist and murderer (Oscar Rivera) and a leaker and traitor who betrayed the soldier’s oath of office (Chelsea Manning), then I think it’s perfectly ok for Trump to use it to lighten the unjust burden placed on Roger Stone’s shoulders as a result of a partisan witch hunt. It’s pretty close to GWB’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s sentence, also as the result of a political hit job. Never mind, though, the left has just said, and will continue to say, that both of these men got a break because both said something to the effect of “I’ll take the fall for you in court, but if I go to prison, I go canary, and the whole world hears just what dirty doings you’ve been up to.”

    Just as an afterthought, we’re WAY past the criminalization of politics. We’re moving past the point even where the use of the powers inherent to one’s office is criminalized. At this point, failing to display the correct attitudes or say the right things is being de facto criminalized. We’re almost at the point where being the wrong color is going to be criminalized.

          • Except they don’t – and they don’t because we no longer teach civics. We no longer teach the Constitution. Instead, the nation has the erroneous beliefs that the United States is a democracy, and if someone prevents or spikes a bill – whether that’s the other legislative chamber, the President or the Supreme Court – because it’s unconstitutional?

            That’s because they’re in somebody’s pocket, and that somebody wants to thwart the will of the people

            This will continue until we start teaching kids about the miracle of the Constitution. If we started tomorrow, it would take at least two generations to make a dent. And given who controls education these days, we’d be lucky to start a generation from now.

            • Oh, and what passes for the news media doesn’t understand it, either. Or if they do, they’ll go along because “the narrative.”

              • One of my longtime Usenet allies had contempt fopr the media since 1994.

                Well I have to look that up for myself. I’m just going by what I see/read in the news media.

                – Darryl Hamilton

                That’s an interesting approach, kind of like trying to determine the actual
                intelligence and character of Black people by watching “Birth of a Nation”….

                – Christopher Charles Morton

                http://groups.google.com/d/msg/talk.politics.guns/gZg_XyptjyU/NiPCvQIctwUJ

                I have seen nothing in the past twenty-six years to imply that what Chris wrote back then was no longer true.

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