Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/17/2022: Let’s Celebrate Aaron Burr Never Became President Day!

Those who like to maintain that the Founders were infallible and the Constitution flawless would do well to remember this date, when the U.S. narrowly averted a disaster entirely made possible by bone-headed drafting of our road-map to a republic. On February 17, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected the third president of the United States, the first peaceful transfer of power from one political party in our history, as Jefferson’s fledgling Democratic-Republicans upset the Federalists of Washington, Adams and Hamilton. It was a close call, however, because Jefferson was nearly defeated by hos own Vice-President, the sinister Aaron Burr (That’s him on the left above.)Though Jefferson and Burr ran on the same ticket, the Constitution required state elector votes for both men to be counted separately. As a result, Jefferson and Burr emerged from the process tied at 73 electoral votes apiece, while the sitting President, John Adams, came in third at 65 votes. This sent the final vote to the House of Representatives. Of course, if Burr weren’t a sociopathic cur, he could have solved the botch by simply withdrawing from the Presidential race since nobody voted for him to be President. The Federalist-controlled House of Representatives, meanwhile, was happy to see Jefferson enmeshed in the controversy, and were delighted in the dealock  In the end it was Federalist Alexander Hamilton who saved the day and the nation, as he persuaded the House to vote against Burr, whom he called unfit. (This moment of high principle—Jefferson and Hamilton were far from pals–led to the duel with Burr in 1804 that resulted in Hamilton’s death.)  As for the ridiculously incompetent voting system, it was cleared up by the 12th Amendment, ratified in 1804. The fact that the first version didn’t inflict Aaron Burr on the still-vulnerable United States, however, was pure moral luck.

1. “Best Excuse for Unethical Conduct” of the Month: Bruce Lee, a Chicago ticket broker, was convicted of fraudulently selling tickets to White Sox games and  sentenced to prison this week. The  federal judge rejected his defense that he had actually helped the team, because it wasn’t going fill those seats anyway and the fans who bought his fake tickets spent money on food, drink, and souvenirs. The judge called the argument that nobody was harmed “delusional,” and saying that it was important to make the point to others who might try similar schemes that getting caught would have negative consequences.

The judge must be a Republican, since that line of reasoning appears to be taboo on the other side of the aisle regarding “minor” crimes.2. This would be a felony murder in some states. In Houston, Tony Earls, 41, was making a transaction at a drive-thru ATM when he was robbed at gunpoint. Earls first fired his own gun at the robber, who fled on foot. Then, flushed with excitement or the spirit of “Shane,” he fired another round at a pick-up truck that he thought the robber had jumped into. He hadn’t.  The bullet struck the back window of the truck, which was occupied by an innocent  family of five including a 9-year-old girl.  She was struck during the shooting, and later died of the wound.

In the rapidly diminishing number of jurisdictions that have felony murder laws, the robber could be charged for the girl’s death, as his felony set in motion the events that took her life. However, I am not troubled by Earls’ arrest and his being charged with aggravated assault-serious bodily injury. Rights carry responsibilities.

The unknown robbery suspect remains at large.

3. It’s only taken ten years! Congress is finally ready to ban congressional stock trading after many scandals and evidence that a lot of Reps and Senators enriched themselves and their families using the special information they acquired and their advance knowledge of new legislation. Even Nancy Pelosi, one of the prime offenders, has now endorsed the change, though the exact provisions are yet to be worked out.

Ethics Alarms wrote about the issue in 2011 and 2012, as well as in later posts.

4. And this is another reason why religion is declining in the U.S. Tennessee Pastor Greg Locke, who predicted Donald Trump would beat “demon-possessed” Joe Biden, went on a videoed rant during a recent sermon, threatening to expose six “witches” in his congregation:

Three of you are in this room right now. Three of you in the room right now. You better look in my eyeballs, we ain’t afraid of you, you stinkin’ witch, you devil-worshipping Satanist witch. We cast you out in the name of Jesus Christ! We break your spells, we break your curse. We got your first name, we got your last name, we even got an address for one of you! You so much as cough wrong, and I’ll expose you in front of everybody in this tent, you stinkin’ witch!” he added. “You were sent to this church to destroy us. You were sent to this church to lure us in. You were sent to this church to cast a spell — listen, some of you been sick? Cause you befriended that witch!

One of my many fond memories of my dad acting on principle was when a Greek Orthodox priest, in his sermon, denounced “mixed marriages” and declared the the offspring when both parents weren’t of the Greek Orthodox faith were illegitimate in the eyes of the Lord and the Church. Almost immediately, my father, a Methodist who married Mom in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, gathered up my sister and me, and said, “We’re leaving.”

Every member of Locke’s congregation had an ethical obligation to walk out on that jerk.

5. For some strange reason, the law of unintended consequences still confounds nanny-state advocates. The Wuhan virus lockdown was the most notable recent example, but here’s a lesser one.

In 2018, the Seattle established a tax on soda and other sugary drinks “designed to result in the improved health of Seattle residents.” A new peer-reviewed study suggest that a significant portion of the public substituted beer for soda. “Seattle’s policy may have successfully burdened its residents with a regressive tax and pushed them away from their first choice drinks,” writes FEE. “But it’s not at all apparent that it actually “improved the health of Seattle residents.” Beer has more calories than soda, and alcohol consumption carries health problems of its own.

“Every human action has both intended and unintended consequences,” economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan explain. “Human beings react to every rule, regulation, and order governments impose, and their reactions result in outcomes that can be quite different than the outcomes lawmakers intended.” Be sure to read their account of the “Cobra Effect.”

6. Finally, it is time to update the Ethics Alarms clips inventory. The latest are here, making the number 25.

16 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/17/2022: Let’s Celebrate Aaron Burr Never Became President Day!

  1. #2. “…he fired another round at a pick-up truck that he thought the robber had jumped into.”

    Only in very extreme situations, that being if there is someone in the vehicle that is actively shooting at you, do you ever fire a gun at a vehicle. Earls is directly responsible for the death of that 9 year old girl, the robber is indirectly responsible. There will be a civil suit against Earls, they’ll sue him for everything he has and more.

  2. The judge must be a Republican, since that line of reasoning appears to be taboo on the other side of the aisle regarding “minor” crimes.2. This would be a felony murder in some states.

    Thanks to this typo above, I had to briefly contemplate how selling fraudulent tickets to a baseball game might constitute felony murder!

  3. Every member of Locke’s congregation had an ethical obligation to walk out on that jerk.

    Agreed. Furthermore, anyone who treats members of his congregation like this deserves to be removed from the premise and never allowed to be in charge of anything greater than a lemonade stand (and even that is debatable).

    Signed: A minister

    • Locke is a loose cannon and a walking controversy. He and his former wife founded his “Global Vision” church outside Nashville in 1996. It was nominally a Baptist church in the beginning, but at some point, they dropped the Baptist label and became Global View Bible Church. I frankly don’t understand why anyone seeking Christ would follow this man. His actions don’t seem Christ-like to me.
      My small community church encourages the membership (around 200) to exercise their civic duties, and there are a number of politically active people from the community in my church, but the church itself eschews politics. I worship with Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and even a few Democrats (they are rare around here), as well as with many about whose political affiliations I have no clue, and I have learned that it is hard to dislike people you fervently pray with and pray for.

  4. #2: You know we can’t make the right call on that one with the most vital information left out: the races of the robber, Earls, and the girl.
    Shame on you for trying to trick us on that one!

    • I live in Houston, where this tragedy took place.

      I watched the local news last night and saw this story. If not for Ethics Alarms, I would have no idea why this 9 year old daughter died. We were able to watch a tear-laden story about a mother who lost her 9 year old daughter, a grieving father demanding justice, and that idiot Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee and her triple crown weave declaring that not only wast this 9 year old the daughter of heart-broken parents, but “our daughter”, too.

      Not once in the story did we hear:

      1. What happened.
      2. Why it happened
      3. Who was involved (though we knew it was a 9 year old and we were presented with a photo of the accused at the end (no identification of the story).
      4. When it happened (though there was passing reference to this past weekend).
      5. Where it happened (except for a generalized area of Houston near Gulf Gate Mall, kind of southeast Houston, which tends to be a rough area), or
      6. How she died, which was kind of buried in the story that she was killed by senseless gun violence. .

      What a total lack of competency on the media’s part. We did get to see a bunch of people releasing balloons and sending prayers to the heavens (when did that become a thing?), a make-shift shrine of candles, teddy bears and other stuffed animals in her honor (again, when did that become a thing?), and a local “pastor/preacher” guy declaring that she is now in the “loving arms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ”.

      We also got to hear that Houston has become the second or third murder/death by gun violence city in the nation. Oh, and that the County Judge, Lina Hidalgo*, is responsible for the gun violence because she and her cadre of criminal court judges and magistrates are releasing dangerous people on PR bonds or no bonds at all. Remember, the County Judge isn’t really a judge but the county mayor. She, though, thinks she is a real judge and not some civil servant bureaucrat dealing with traffic problems, natural and unnatural disasters, and/or making sure the county facilities are working. Nope. She has taken the “carceral” state and intends to dismantle it. She has become the target of the Republicans (“SHE’S SOFT ON CRIME!”) and the Democrats (“SHE’S NOT SOFT ENOUGH ON CRIME!”) alike. She will not win reelection in November, if she survives a challenge to her incumbency in March of this year.

      jvb

      *Ed. Note: Hidalgo is young (30?) and won on straight-ticket voting in 2018, defeating a very popular and effective county judge, Ed Emmett. He was excellent during a number of really horrible situations in Houston/Harris County (Hurricanes Ike, Harvey, and some really tough county-related problems come to mind, where he worked with both government and business leaders to address them; sometimes, he knew enough to step aside and let others fix the problems). He ran a tight ship, was liked by the citizenry, Republicans and Democrats, and showed competence and intelligence, putting resources in place long before they were needed to deal with crises. His one failing was what to do with the Astrodome now that Reliant Stadium has become the putative home to the Houston Texans and the Rodeo (don’t laugh – it is a big deal in Houston where the city loses its collective mind and normally rational people think they are Roy Rogers or something). He wanted to turn it into a hotel. Yeah, a big-ass hotel in the middle of nowhere!), or a convention center (but the city has three or four convention centers already), and a cockamamie idea of turning into an indoor adventure park for skateboarding and/or BMX biking things and/or go kart racing (I thought that would be cool, but . . .). Sadly, the voters routinely voted to raze it to the ground but for some reason it’s still standing – or maybe it’s better to say it is there deteriorating on a regular basis looking sad and lonely.

  5. “One of my many fond memories of my dad acting on principle was when a Greek Orthodox priest, in his sermon, denounced “mixed marriages” and declared the the offspring when both parents weren’t of the Greek Orthodox faith were illegitimate in the eyes of the Lord and the Church. Almost immediately, my father, a Methodist who married Mom in a Greek Orthodox ceremony, gathered up my sister and me, and said, “We’re leaving.”’

    Good for him. Timothy was the son of a Greek pagan and a devout mother. Nothing in the Bible indicated that he wasn’t legitimate in the sight of God or not good enough to belong to the 1st century church. Salvation is not about who your parents are or are not or what they did or did not do.

    It reminds me of the ridiculous baptism controversy going around because someone used the wrong words at a bunch of baptisms so now they are apparently not legitimate baptisms. There are no prescribed words accompanying baptism provided in the Bible. Salvation is a matter of faith. Regardless of what words are or are not used, if you consent to be baptized as a reflection of your faith, you are legitimate.

    “Every member of Locke’s congregation had an ethical obligation to walk out on that jerk.”

    They should have. I’m reminded of the time an adult Bible Class teacher made a joke about Al Gore and the internet only to be lectured by an elderly class member about how politics had no place in the church. Not the time or the place.

  6. This Is Not Satire—

    #4) This blog is about ethics, and yet, all of you have ignored the total LACK of ethics exhibited in a pastor allowing WITCHES to have access to his unprotected flock. This will require a total purge, and I suggest, as a sign of faith, that the pastor go first.

    The ground rules are simple. ANYONE can make an anonymous accusation against the person of their choice. (In this case, Brother Greg) The accused simply endures, no wait, “participates” in a few tests to either affirm their status as a contrite “acolyte”, or reveal themselves to be a despicable, and heretical witch.

    TEST (1) The Scripture Test– Recite flawlessly, from memory, The Book of Psalms—(backwards, and in Swahili) Any errors or hesitations are proof of the occult.

    TEST (2) The Body Search– The accused is stripped of all clothing and are examined for birthmarks, moles, scars, third nipples, etc., (stuff like that), ALL sure “marks of the Satanist”.

    TEST (3) The Water Test– The accused is bound and dropped into a large body of water. It is a scientific fact that witches float, and we must “follow the science” in our search for the truth. In the event the accused fails to surface, be warned they may be holding their breath, I know I would, (if I were a despicable necromancer, which I’m not). Therefore, a test duration of at least 30 minutes is strongly recommended.

    Anyone who does not surface within the allotted time shall be exonerated, and found to be a “follower” in good stead. — (ok, it was satire, so sue me)

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