Category Archives: Citizenship

Sunday Ethics Reflections, 8/12/2018: Division And Divisiveness

What time is it? I’ve lost track…

1. Keep being intentionally divisive, and eventually you’ll get division…I trace the irresponsible efforts to divide the nation and unravel the bonds of society to the 2000 election, and the false partisan claims that Bush’s was a “stolen Presidency.” Divisive rhetoric became an 8-year strategy of the Obama Administration, with blacks, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, Muslims, LGTB citizens and women being accorded special status as victims and groups in need of special consideration, while whites, men, straight citizens, wealthy citizens, Christians, and, naturally, conservatives and Republicans were consistently demonized and marginalized.  Critics of the first black President were racists, critics of illegal immigration were xenophobes, critics of Hillary Clinton were sexist, and opponents of gay marriage were bigots. The resentment over this long-term and cynical strategy bore misshapen fruit in the election of Donald Trump, and now, says a Zogby Analytics survey, 39 percent of the country support states breaking away from the national government and country, with 42% of Democrats, who have continued to escalate the divisiveness by refusing to accept the election of President Trump as  legitimate, leading the way.

This was where we were headed in 2000, and those who have been reading the Ethics Scoreboard and Ethics Alarms since then know I said so as forcibly as I knew how. Now we are at a point where one party’s leaders are calling for members of the opposing party’s administration to be harassed in public, an attitude that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

In the latest example , Attorney General Jeff Sessions visited Houston last week and dines at two Mexican restaurants. The general manager of one of them posted on Facebook,  “We had the honor to serve Mr. Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.” The post attracted such an angry reaction that it had to be taken down. [Pointer: Neil Dorr]

2.  Of course! Why else would anyone not love Nancy Pelosi? The news media and its various pundits is deeply complicit in the unraveling of the bonds holding American together, as exemplified by the Washington Post’s jaw-dropping column claiming that Republican opposition to Democratic House leader Pelosi is entirely based on misogyny and sexism—you know, the same reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton. Paul Waldman wrote,

“Can we stop treating this lie seriously once and for all? We all know what’s really going on. The Republican attack on Pelosi is about conservative identity politics, full stop. It’s partly the same kind of ugly misogyny that has driven conservatives for years, and that comes out whenever the prospect of a woman wielding genuine power rears its head. Women who display ambition are judged harshly, particularly by conservatives; it’s no accident that Bernie Sanders, whose policy ideas are much more opposed to conservatism than Pelosi’s, inspires nothing like the venomous loathing on the right that Pelosi and Hillary Clinton do.”

Oddly, I have found many reasons despite her gender to regard Nancy Pelosi as an unethical menace, and I haven’t come close to covering all of them. Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, History, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President, U.S. Society

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 8/10/2008: Post-Newark Hangover Edition

Good morning!

Trying to get back to normal here. I hope it isn’t age, but I suspect it is: for quite a while now I have found myself foggy and exhausted up to three days after a period of stressful travel combined with one or more three-hour seminars. One reason is that I never can sleep in hotels;  another is all the walking around airports lugging two heavy bags, since 1) I cannot risk checking luggage 2) My presentation materials alone weigh more than ten pounds and 3) I object to bringing rollerboards on airplanes as inconsiderate and unfair to other passengers. The side effects right now include a sprained wrist and a swollen knee.

Speaking of side-effects, one of the unfortunate ones of the craven abandonment of the field of battle by the blogs’ “resistance” participants is that traffic collapses quickly without new posts. Over at Popehat, Ken sometimes goes weeks without posting anything. Then again, maybe he’s smart enough not to pay any attention to daily, weekly and monthly fluctuation in traffic, unlike me. Once, if travel and schedule snafus stopped me from posting, I could count on Chris, deery or Charles to have a long-exchange of contentious opinions with other commenters as they maintained that there was no media bias, that Trump should be impeached because he violated “norms,” and the FBI was as professional and uncorruptable as Elliot Ness, or at least Elliot Ness as portrayed by Robert Stack. Now they have retreated into the comforting warmth on the left-wing echo chamber.

1.  Tipping ethics. I was going to include this in yesterday’s salvage operation, but literally had to end the post so I could take a nap. The following tipping dilemmas occurred during my trip, not for the first time: Continue reading

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Filed under Citizenship, Environment, Family, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

Afternoon Ethics Jolt, 8/1/2018: When You Cross Fake News, Dishonest Journalism, Anti-Gun Hysteria, Ignorance And “The Resistance,” What Do You Get?

 A new freakout!

…and dumber than most, too. U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik of Seattle issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the Trump administration from refusing to try to block publication of blueprints to produce guns from 3D printers. Eight states and Washington, D.C. had sought the order.  A company called Defense Distributed planned to publish the blueprints after the U.S. State Department agreed to settle a suit filed by the company in an agreement made public on July 10. The suit had claimed the State Department violated the First Amendment by warning in 2013 that publication of the blueprints violated export controls and could lead to a jail sentence for the company CEO,  Cody Wilson.

It sure sounds like prior restraint to me, and I suspect, when this gets to the Supreme Court, which it inevitably will, that will be the conclusion.

This began as one more example of the Obama Administration playing fast and loose with the Bill of Rights. Now, it may well be, as the suit by the states alleges, that the Trump Administration didn’t handle its legal U-turn properly, it being, after all, the Trump Administration.  Nonetheless, the government blocking the online publication of information, which is what a blueprint is, when no copyrights, patents or trademarks are being violated or national secrets revealed, seems like a pretty clear First Amendment violation.

Never mind, though. The story sparked a perfect storm of fake news, fear-mongering and incompetent journalism. The Times, among others, called the blueprints a “downloadable gun.” There is no such thing as a downloadable gun. You have a gun when you download a blueprint for a gun just like you have a house when you download a blueprint for a house. That term isn’t short-hand, it’s wrong: misleading, inaccurate, and really, really stupid.  Other sources blamed President Trump and his administration for the fact that 3-D printer plans for guns were available. They have been available for years. Here are some downloads in case YOU want to have the plans for weapons that you will only be able to make if you happen to have some very expensive equipment. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, Science & Technology, The Internet

This Is How Immigration SHOULD Work…And Look! Sometimes, It Does!

Although its tone is unfair and though it’s subject has fallen right into lock-step with the enemies—yes, “enemies” is fair at this point—of the President and the democracy he represents—the New York Times has a revealing story about the kind of immigrant the nation should welcome and pronounce exemplars for the process.

Nasrin Sheykhi is a 29-year-old  Muslim woman who was able to come to the U.S. despite the travel ban because she earned what is known informally as an “Einstein visa,” the EB-1A visa, the government will issue to foreign citizens have “extraordinary ability” in such fields as science, education and the arts, and who want to come here. Sheykhi is a political cartoonist and satirical artist, and before her green card was dry, began mocking President Trump and insulting Melania. I don’t think that’s a particularly shrewd course from a supply and demand perspective, but never mind: she’s welcome here, and enhances the nation, as does any immigrant who come legally and has something to contribute.

It is interesting that the so-called travel ban didn’t stop Sheykhi , which is as it should be. From the Times story: Continue reading

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Filed under Around the World, Arts & Entertainment, Character, Citizenship, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Humor and Satire

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/26/18: Ominous Portents

Good Morning!

This day in ethics: in 1908: the FBI was founded as the the Office of the Chief Examiner, and re-named a year later. Few American institutions have as mixed an ethical legacy, and the cognitive dissonance continues. In 1984, one of the most evil men in U.S. history died, though his exploits have inspired as many works of fiction and entertainment as many a more virtuous figure. Ed Gein, the serial killer who was the inspiration for “Psycho,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “The Silence of the Lambs” and many others novels and films,  and about half the episodes on the long-running CBS drama “Criminal Minds, finally went to his maker. The identity of this monster’s “maker” is a matter of debate.

1. Baseball ethics and a troubling societal blind spot.  The American League Rangers finally demoted struggling outfielder Delino DeShields to Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday. The real question should be what too them so long. Despite playing solid defense in the outfield, DeShields, 25, has hit just .204  in 322 plate appearances this season with an  On base+Slugging total of .570, which is, for you sad baseball unenlightened, objectively horrible. Any OPS under .700 is unacceptable in the major leagues.

Yet an unnamed Rangers player told reporters that such demotions don’t breed a winning culture and instead breed complacency. Funny, I always thought complacency was when an organization just accepted sub-par performance rather than moving to address it. Yes, even in baseball, the toxic idea that employees have a right to their jobs no matter how well or poorly they perform them is on the rise, and with it support for America’s socialists. Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Citizenship, Environment, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Science & Technology, Sports, U.S. Society, Workplace

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/25/18: Bricks In The Wall [UPDATED]

1. Nah, that’s not a misleading title! An op-ed in the Times yesterday had the alarming header, “Trump’s New Target: Citizenship.” In fact, the piece was about the movement to end automatic U.S. citizenship for those born here of illegal immigrant parents, and the Trump administration policy of seeking to “denaturalize” foreign-born citizens who achieved citizenship status by withholding disclosure of previous crimes.

As with many aspects of the bizarre national immigration debate, support for continuing the first principle is hard to justify. It is a remnant of a time when there were no restrictions on U.S. immigration, so the birthright rule made sense. Now, when illegal immigration is a serious concern, the same principle creates a perverse incentive to break the law, and makes immigration law enforcement complicated and difficult. The second issue is more debatable. The New York Times has another “good immigrant” story, this time one that seeks sympathy for Norma Borgoño, a Peruvian immigrant who took the oath of citizenship in 2007. The Justice Department has moved to revoke  Borgoño’s citizenship, claiming that she committed fraud when she applied for it. She apparentlyfailed to disclose that she had taken part in a serious crime several years before her application, then four years later, in 2011, pleaded guilty when she was charged for helping her employer  defraud the Export-Import Bank of the United States of $24 million.

Writes the Times, “Since President Trump took office, the number of denaturalization cases has been growing, part of a campaign of aggressive immigration enforcement that now promises to include even the most protected class of legal immigrants: naturalized citizens.” That is a deceitful sentence, full of spin, as is the entire story. For “aggressive immigration enforcement” read “enforcement.” The U.S. has every right, and in fact a duty, to assess what kind of people it wants to allow to become citizens, and criminals need not apply—after all, we have enough of them already. The Times finds it significant that Borgoño hasn’t been charged with her crime when she  applied for citizenship, but she was still a criminal, and the crime wasn’t stealing a loaf of bread, either. It also spins that her aiding a massive theft was “to no benefit of her own.” Oh! Then that’s OK, then! Presumably there was the benefit of keeping her job with her boss the felon, at very least.

The Trump administration isn’t “targeting citizenship,” but rather naturalized citizenship that was improperly granted, based on false representations.

2. The irresponsible neglect of the national infrastructure continues. I could write about this every day, and maybe I should. A microcosm of the national crisis is illustrated in the recent news that the New York City subway system is still falling apart, and even after the city spent about $333 million on emergency repairs its condition has barely improved. Waiting until transit systems, bridges, roads, railroad track, waterways, sewer and water pipes,  airports, the power grid and the rest of the structures that support civilization start crumbling, stifling commerce and killing people is an idiotic and suicidal approach to a basic  function of government, but  that has been our national policy since the 1960s. President Trump has claimed that addressing this was a priority, and maybe it will be, but recent history suggests that nothing will be done of substance until there is a lot of sickness, death, and destruction. Continue reading

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Sunday Morning Ethics Hangover, 7/15/2018: “Animal House” And The Death Of Truth [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

(WordPress isn’t working properly this morning. Perfect…)

1. Not being biased helps you be non-stupid…Yesterday, chatting with lawyer attendees at my ethics seminar, a former government attorney told me that he had several ex-FBI colleagues who were horrified at many aspects of the Peter Strzok hearings, as was he. Among their concerns:

  • The news media was failing its duty to explain to the public the duties of professionals, and why Strzok’s conduct was unacceptable, unethical, and undermined the credibility of the investigations he was involved in.
  • Democrats were defending the indefensible, and also breaching their duty to the public. They ought to be exactly as outraged as Republicans at a figure as demonstrably biased as Strzok polluting important law enforcement inquiries, and also should have rebuked him for his defiant attitude.
  • The Strzok scandal was immensely damaging to the public image of the FBI, and should be. It demonstrates an agency that has been seriously mismanages, and that has a damaged culture.
  • The simple fact that Strzok would use FBI equipment to send his texts demonstrated outrageous incompetence and lack of judgement. Even setting aside the bias issue, for a key figure in an investigation to behave so recklessly proves that the current FBI is untrustworthy.

Naturally this is gratifying, since the positions are all consistent with those I have expressed here, and also because they are correct.

2.  When miscreants emulate “Animal House” and Democrats applaud...We also discussed Strzok’s ridiculous “Otter defense”in the hearing, as he emulated the cynical (but in that case, funny) argument offered by the “Animal House” character played by Tim Mathieson (“Take it easy! I’m pre-law!” “I thought you were pre-med!” “What’s the difference?”) in a student council hearing over his fraternity members’ outrageous conduct, especially his own:

” Ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be brief. The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules, or took a few liberties with our female party guests – we did. But you can’t hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few, sick twisted individuals. For if you do, then shouldn’t we blame the whole fraternity system? And if the whole fraternity system is guilty, then isn’t this an indictment of our educational institutions in general? I put it to you, Greg – isn’t this an indictment of our entire American society? Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we’re not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America!”

This, of course, is exactly the disingenuous tactic employed by Strzok when he pronounced himself grievously offended that his accusers would dare to impugn the integrity of the FBI, knowing well that the harm done to his agency was entirely due to his own actions. Continue reading

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