Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/29/21: Beautiful Morning, Ugly Ethics

This date in 1972 witnessed one of the more egregious examples of liberal judges using political ideology and capriciously-applied ethics to avoid following the law. In Furman v. Georgia,the remnants of the Warren Court, now under conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, who dissented, prevailed in a narrow 5-4 decision that ruled the death penalty to be “cruel and unusual” under the Eighth Amendment. This was about as far away from “originalism” as the Court could get, since the Founders obviously did not regard executions as unusual at all, and cruelty has always been a subjective concept. But the Court left the metaphorical door open for new Congressional legislation that could make death sentences constitutional again if it included standardized guidelines for juries that would ameliorate “arbitrary” applications of capital punishment. Four years later SCOTUS reinstated the death penalty, which was overwhelmingly supported by the public, and in 1977, Gary Gilmore, a career criminal who cruelly and unusually murdered an elderly couple who refused to give him their car, faced a firing squad in Utah, a fate he definitely deserved.

1. I wish I had the time and fortitude to detail just how bad this New York Times Magazine article is, but I don’t, and maybe nobody with a life does. So I’ll just leave it to you to read it: “What if American Democracy Fails the Climate Crisis?” in the New York Times “Climate Issue.” Despicably, the Times handed the article over to openly and egregiously Left-biased journalist Ezra Klein, the founder of Vox and a dedicated practitioner of journalism as progressive propaganda. This means that only one point of view pervades the exercise, differing only in degrees and minor details. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government. I was going to list the most outrageous and dishonest quotes, but that would have taken up the whole post. The “I mentally checked out here” moment was in the introduction, in which Klein writes, being “hopeful,” “A rising generation understands the urgency of the moment, even if their elders do not.” That rising generation understands nothing about climate science, much like their “elders,” but have been indoctrinated into thinking they do. That’s “hopeful” for a nascent totalitarian like Klein. The rest of the issue is substantially deceit and propaganda, like the article about how climate change is already ravaging islands like the Bahamas, focusing on Hurricane Dorian as if there is any way to trace its origins to the topic of the issue.

2. There Is hope, however, even at the Times…Today they allowed Bret Stephens ,one of the endangered species in their op-ed stable, a conservative, to write an anti-antiwhite racism piece under the Times’ main editorial gaslighting those who see Critical Race Theory for what it is. (On the opposite page, one of the Times’ usual far-left shills has another op-ed defending the teaching of Critical Race Theory in the schools, so the Times makes sure that Stephens is shouted down by his own paper, 2-1.) Stephens’ op-ed is called “The New Racism Won’t Solve the Old Racism,” which one would think is self-evident, but in the Year of the Great Stupid, it certainly is not. His “money quote” comes at the very end:

“Thoughtful liberals who think this is much ado about nothing should spend some time pondering how perfectly people like [ Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has announced that she won’t be interviewed by white journalists] are now playing into right-wing stereotypes. They should also spend time wondering whether the ideal for which they have long fought — a society that, if not colorblind, can at least see past color — is being jeopardized by progressives who apparently can see only color. Whichever way, it shouldn’t be hard to see that trying to solve the old racism with the new racism will produce only more racism. Justice is never achieved by turning tables.”

3. Speaking of capital punishment…Oh, all right, that would be a bit much, but what should be done about and to the idiot who caused a massive bicycle crash at the start of the Tour de France by stepping into the path of the racers holding a large sign bearing the words “ALLEZ OPI-OMI!” (French for “Go!’ plus German terms of endearment for grandparents) so she could be caught by TV cameras? Her sign clipped German racer Tony Martin, who fell and set off a chain reaction that sent cyclists sprawling across the pavement. Several spectators and cyclists were injured; she, of course, as an Ethics Dunce would, fled the scene. Accountability? What’s that? Her conduct is part of the celebrity culture malady and the obsession with narcissistic self-promotion, which social media has turned into a health crisis. The race organizers say they plan on suing the woman if and when they find her, hardly sufficient punishment.

4. Again, the Larry Vaughn Effect…As the search for missing residents of the South Florida tower that collapsed last week continues, more evidence surfaces that authorities and regulators kept procrastinating regarding the urgent need for structural repairs, kicking the can down the road, hoping to avoid the expense and the responsibility until they could retire and collect their pensions. The latest: a report from 2018 has surfaced that shows condo owners were facing assessments for millions of dollars of repairs, with payments set to begin a week after the building’s collapse, thanks to the condo association’s foot-dragging. This is the Larry Vaughn Effect, which I am adding to the Ethics Alarms glossary today. Larry, of course, was the deliberately blind mayor of Amity in “Jaws,” to whom Matt Hooper said,” I think that I am familiar with the fact that you are going to ignore this particular problem until it swims up and BITES YOU ON THE ASS!”

Larry Vaughns are also at work in the Tokyo Olympics. Japan’s health system is already stressed by the pandemic, and many experts fear that it can’t cope with the additional demands the Games will bring without putting more lives at risk. The Olympics will see more than 11,000 athletes plus tens of thousands of officials, coaches, media members and support staffers converging on Tokyo, which is still closed to most foreign visitors. What could go wrong? Ah, but as Larry would tell you, this is the Olympics organization’s big show, millions and millions of dollars are involved, and the rational response is for everyone to cross their fingers and hope. That works sometimes.

Bias disclosure: I long ago decided that the Olympics are a nest of bad ethics, and should be abolished.

5. Too bad the Post suspended that Biden lie database...We discussed here last week President Biden’s ridiculous Second Amendment outburst in which he threatened to nuke citizens, denied that the Bill of Rights protection of gun ownership was in part designed to keep abusive governments in line, and that even in the Founders’ day, a citizen couldn’t own a cannon. Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler had to give Biden Four Pinocchios, especially since it had already flagged the exact same misrepresentation about cannons earlier. But this is just one of many assertions the President has made despite his “facts” having been decisively debunked.

6. And while we are on the topic of Joe’s lies: President Biden yesterday declared that Iran would “never get a nuclear weapon on my watch,” as he supposedly affirmed an “iron-clad” relationship between the U.S. and Israel during an Oval Office meeting with Israel’s outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin. This is pure deceit, as it would have been for President Obama to say the same thing. He engineered the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that only slowed down Iran’s nuclear program to ensure that it wouldn’t have nuclear capability until after Joe and Obama were in retirement–and that was assuming that Iran wouldn’t cheat, which it always does. Obama also paid Iran billions in confiscated assets that the nation has used for terrorism. Iran getting nuclear weapons on Joe’s “watch” has never been the issue, and the Biden administration is still trying to revive the deal (wisely backed out of by President Trump) that assured a nuclear-armed Iran when another President would have to deal with it.

7 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/29/21: Beautiful Morning, Ugly Ethics

  1. Even the title is loaded with assumptions that poison fair discourse, and I hope I will not be spoiling the suspense by pointing out that the “solution” Klein and his of-one-mind panelists (including one of the authors of the risible so-called “Green New Deal”) is a Leftist take-over of the U.S. and preferably capitulation to world government.

    Which will not solve the problem at all.

    All we have to do is throw up enough debris and smoke to block heat-giving sunlight, thus causing the whole world to become freezing cold.

  2. Since 1972 public support for the death penalty has ebbed and flowed. The support flowed last in 1994, when George Pataki denied Mario Cuomo a fourth term partly on a promise to bring back the death penalty in New York State and also partially on a promise to ship convicted murder Thomas Grasso back to Oklahoma to fry (Cuomo had been protecting him in NY), and right now is at the lowest ebb it’s probably been since 1972, as even de facto southern states like VA and MD do away with it and the last holdouts in New England end it. I think the ebb will continue as progressivism spreads into the retentionist states of the South and the Midwest and the up and coming generations start liberal and stay liberal. Texas and Missouri will probably be the last holdouts. Right now Biden does not have the votes to do away with the Federal death penalty (and decided not to drop the DOJ appeal to try to restore it against the Boston Bomber), but I think that day is coming. Adherents of a cause determined to have their way usually eventually get it. However, expect the same activists to move on to doing away with life without parole almost immediately, just like the activists pushing gay marriage moved almost immediately onto transgender issues after the Obergefell decision. Like career officers who don’t know what to do when the war is won, they can’t live without a cause.

    1. Climate change is the manufactured oil crisis of the 21st century. When I was in college in 1988, I remember student activists saying that we had only about 30 years of oil left like it was gospel. 30 years has come and gone and the world oil supply shows no signs of tapping out any time soon, or even not so soon. 30 years of this crap is going to come and go too, and nothing will be that much different.

    2. The ideal of a society that can see past color fell out of favor on the left probably in the Clinton administration. We were already moving towards a society that sees nothing but color in the Obama years, and the ideal got turbocharged last year. Good luck changing that.

    3. Idiot.

    4. Idiots plural.

    5, 6. Never you fear, when the next GOP president arrives they will reactivate it new and improved.

  3. Footage of the Tour de France crash:

    Politifact has joined in on hammering Biden’s Second Amendment statement. Not only did they rate it False (not even a “Mostly False”), they even pointed out how some of the earliest gun control laws were racist in intent, specifically banning black people (free and enslaved), from owning guns.

    So my respect for them has gone up a notch, though it could the Left (minus Biden) has collectively realized what’s already been observed here on the blog, that you can’t attack the Second Amendment while pushing to defund the police.

    • Low hanging fruit. Take a mostly inconsequential lie of Biden’s and say it is a lie. It cheaply makes them look non-partisan, because they “fact-checked” one of their own.

    • Early? What about the 1968 Black and Poor Control Act… I mean the 1968 Gun Control Act. It specifically made it much more difficult (if not impossible) for black, and especially poor blacks from being able to purchase firearms. It also targeted the small pocket pistols that politicians were so afraid of.

    • I did my own fact check of Jon Greenberg’s work four years ago with a letter in response to this article claiming that there’s government spending on rabbit massage but not gun violence. (

      I pointed out that during the same 3-year period the NIH funded $387,000 worth of much derided ruminent massage, the very same agency also sponsored $18 million dollars of tax monies on 22 studies of gun violence research.

      They get no gain of respect nor readership from me until they include these facts and change their rating on that article.

  4. (1) I do not believe there is any way to impartially determine the extent of global warming or the effect of CO2 today. The raw data has been so heavily manipulated that it would be difficult for anyone to make any good conclusions. Now, when the people who have destroyed the historical record are all on one side of an issue, you can suspect that their case isn’t that strong or they wouldn’t have to manipulate and hide the evidence.

    A minor example below.

    (2) You are assuming that they want an end to what you view as racism. What if the only problem they have with racism is the identity of the victims?

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