Ethics Dunce: Pete Buttigieg

The competition for the worst Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful just got a bit more interesting when one of the media darlings among the 24 (24!) hopefuls made an Ethics Dunce of himself (in an interview with Hugh Hewitt) in a manner that is disqualifying for the Presidency by Ethics Alarms standards. Here’s the relevant section:

HH: … A very blunt question, because you talk about going to every Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Indiana when you were running statewide. Should Jefferson-Jackson dinners be renamed everywhere because both were holders of slaves?

Buttigieg: Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do. You know, over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor. And I think we know enough, especially Jackson, you know, you just look at what basically amounts to genocide that happened here. Jefferson’s more problematic. You know, there’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy. Then again, as you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew that slavery was wrong…. And yet, he did it. Now we’re all morally conflicted human beings. And it’s not like we’re blotting him out of the history books, or deleting him from being the Found[ing] Fathers. But you know, naming something after somebody confers a certain amount of honor. And at a time, I mean, the real reason I think there’s a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and the present, that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from. It’s alive, it’s well, it’s hurting people. And it’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that. Then, we’d better look for ways to live out and honor that principle, even in a symbolic thing.

Even before this fatuous statement, my Presidential history, common sense and current day political analysis led me to conclude that the South Bend mayor has no chance of being nominated, and if by some miracle of convention deadlock deal he was, no chance of being elected. He is 1) gay, 2) white, 3) male, 4) way too young, and 5) too much immersed  the Democratic Socialist camp. I don’t have to get to some of his other problems, like the fact that he is infuriatingly smug. However, the statement to Hewitt would disqualify him for me even if I were a Democrat, and should make all thinking and ethical Democrats—you know, the ones that aren’t nascent totalitarians, look elsewhere, though good luck with that. Continue reading

Week-Opening Ethics Warm-Up, 5/20/2019: On Life Competence, Gender Math, Lying Stars, And Civil Rights Legislation That Isn’t As Good As It Pretends To Be

Ah, Monday…

1. Weekend Update: I am going to make a habit of flagging what I consider important issues from the weekends on Monday, since from late Friday to the end of Sunday these days, Ethics Alarms is populated by just a handful of stalwarts and tumbleweeds rolling down the deserted information super-highway. This time, I point your attention to…this.

2. Today’s baseball ethics note: Yesterday, the falling New York Mets lost their second straight game while getting less than three hits (that’s bad, for those sad members of you  who don’t follow baseball) in part because their recently acquired superstar, Robbie Cano, didn’t run hard to first base to try to avoid hitting into a double play. This, in turn, has placed the continued employment of Mets second year manager, Mickey Callaway, in jeopardy, as loafing players on losing teams always will. This is the Star Syndrome (or Rationalization #11, the King’s Pass) in operation: if Cano gets to do what lesser players would be fined, benched or released for doing, then the double standard threatens team unity and respect for the manager.

Cano’s excuse was that he thought there were two outs when there was really only one, because the scoreboard was wrong. A player is supposed to know the number of outs without having to check the scoreboard, but now photo evidence seems to show that the stadium scoreboard was correct, and showed only one out.

Oh-oh. Continue reading

The SAT’s Racial Prejudice By The Numbers

Bribing administrators  and having people take tests for your kids is one way to cheat in college admissions. Another way is to have the College Board cheat for you.

I should have written about this days ago, I know. I haven’t been feeling well, though, and this story literally makes me sick.

The SATs are adding a so-called “adversity score” that will artificially raise the test scores of some students beyond what they actually deserve on a level playing field competition. This is, we are told, “to help colleges and universities account for the various educational and socioeconomic factors that may negatively impact students’ scores.”

Let me translate: this is a cynical and dishonest device to give cover to colleges and universities as they try to base their admissions on race and ethnicity while avoiding legal prohibitions on discrimination based on race and ethnicity.  That is all it is, and exactly what it is. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/19/2019: Conflicts, Hypocrisy, Censorship, And Creeping Totalitarianism…Praise The Lord.

1. I love headlines like this. The Times tells us (in its print edition) , “Party Hosted By Drug Company Raises Thorny Issues.” Really? A group of top cosmetic surgeons had all their expenses paid to attend a promotional event in Cancun for a new competing drug for Botox. The doctors were fed, feted, invited to parties and given gifts, then they went on social media and gushed about the product. The “thorny issue”: Should they have informed their followers that they had just received all sorts of benefits and goodies from the drug manufacturer to encourage their good will? (Because none of them did mention this little detail.)

Wow! What a thorny issue! I’m stumped!

Of COURSE it was unethical not to point out that their sudden enthusiasm for the product had been bought and paid for. This is the epitome of the appearance of impropriety, and an obvious conflict of interest. The Times article chronicles the doctors’ facile, self-serving and disingenuous arguments that they didn’t have such an ethical obligation, but the fact that these are unethical professionals in thrall to an infamously unethical industry doesn’t make the ethics issue “thorny.”

2. The Assholes of Taylor University. Vice-President Mike Pence was the commencement speaker at Taylor University, and when he moved  to the podium, thirty or so students rose and walked out on him, in a smug and indefensible demonstration of assholery. The University should withhold the diplomas of every single one of these arrogant slobs until they each author a sincere letter of apology to the Vice-President, who was the school’s invited guest. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “From The ‘Appeal to Authority’ Files: Why Should We Care What John Paul Stevens Thinks Now?”

Enough abortion for one day: let’s  have a Comment of the Day on another unending Supreme Court controversy, the Second Amendment. Here is Jutgory’s passionate response to the post, “From The “Appeal to Authority” Files: Why Should We Care What John Paul Stevens Thinks Now?”:

So many pet peeves all wrapped into one post:

“Bloviating about Columbia v. Heller, the 2008 decision holding that the Second Amendment created an individual right to bear arms”

NO! The Bill of Rights created no rights. It identified rights upon which the government could not infringe. This is as old as the Constitution. The Federalists said, we don’t need no Bill of Rights because powers not given to the government could not be exercised (naive and idealistic. The Anti-Federalists insisted but wanted it to be clear that the enumeration of the Bill of Rights was not exhaustive of the rights we had.

Sadly, they were both wrong: we needed the Bill of Rights because government seizes power when it can, and, not only do we look at the Bill of Rights as creating rights, we look at it as delimiting the rights we have.

You are spot on about rights not being subject to need. I know many people who don’t need freedom of speech and have hardly exercised that right in a constructive way, but they have it nonetheless.

On the argument that the Second Amendment is limited to militias. First off, see the above argument about rights. Continue reading

The Left Is Going Nuts Over The Alabama, Georgia And Ohio Abortion Bills. It’s Hard To Like Them (Or Respect Them) When They Are Going Nuts

Last week, CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who was once a respectable, perceptive commentator  but who has apparently been driven over the edge by Donald Trump,  claimed that the Alabama Human Life Protection Act will end Roe v. Wade. As I have written here, the law is 100% unconstitutional based on existing law. I doubt that it will even reach the Supreme Court. It will be struck down in lower Courts, and SCOTUS will decide that there is no legal controversy. Toobin, however, decided to use his perch to fearmonger, and shamelessly:

Roe v. Wade is gone and every woman in Alabama who gets pregnant is gonna be forced to give birth soon. And that’s gonna be true in Alabama, it’s gonna be true in Missouri, it’s gonna be true, probably, in Georgia. And that’s what the law is because that’s what the Presidential election was about, in part, last time.”

Let’s see: false, highly unlikely, false, false, and false. Nor can anyone seriously argue that the 2016 election was “about” abortion. The Pew Research Center polled voters about their top concerns, and here were the results:

I count abortion as 11th on the list. Toobin’s statement is fake history and fake news. It is simply false. He blathered on…

“This is what this fight has been about, for years. I think the legislators were very smart, they waited until they got five votes on the Supreme Court and now they’re gonna push this thing through. And Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch are gonna be joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, and this is a victory that Rick (Santorum) and others have been fighting for decades and they’ve won and they should celebrate.”

I don’t know why Toobin just didn’t scream, “ARRRRRGH! WE’RE DOOMED! DOOMED!” and leave it at that. He has no idea how the justices will vote, and since he has proven himself of late to have become an hysterical, partisan hack, there is no reason to take his analysis seriously.

More seriously, however, than model Emily Ratajkowski, whose protest of the Alabama law involved  posting a nude photo of herself on social media, which she has done before when there wasn’t an abortion bill to protest. I think she just likes posting nude and near-nude photos of herself, not that I can blame her. This isn’t quite nude, but you get the idea…

Boy, THAT will punish those men who don’t respect female autonomy!

Emily wrote this to accompany her “punishment”:

“This week, 25 old white men voted to ban abortion in Alabama even in cases of incest and rape. These men in power are imposing their wills onto the bodies of women in order to uphold the patriarchy and perpetuate the industrial prison complex by preventing women of low economic opportunity the right to choose to not reproduce. The states trying to ban abortion are the states that have the highest proportions of black women living there. This is about class and race and is a direct attack on the fundamental human rights women in the US deserve and are protected by under Roe vs. Wade.”

Our bodies, our choice.

Well, you just have to do better than that, and if you can’t, then  shut up. (And remember, I do not advocate overturning Roe at this point.)

  • Attacking legislators for their age and gender marks the model as a hypocrite and a bigot, though a common variety within the current American Left.
  • I’ve discussed the “incest and rape” fallacy here many times. If the issue is human life and when it begins, incest and rape are irrelevant to the discussion. A life is a life, and how or why it begins doesn’t change the value of the life. When someone signals that they don’t comprehend this, that tells me, and should tell everyone, that they haven’t thought very hard about what they are protesting, or that they aren’t very bright. Either way, if an advocate on either side of the debate goes in that dumb direction, I’m disregarding them. It’s static and ethics pollution.
  • “Uphold the patriarchy” is another bit of nonsense cant, about as serious or persuasive as the lyrics of “Imagine.” It is a buzz phrase for anti-male bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.
  • These men are asserting the government’s duty to protect the lives of citizens. Their position is that when women use their bodily autonomy to kill an unborn child, that should be considered a crime, just as when they use their autonomy to shoot someone. The only way someone like Ratajkowski can claim that the objective of such laws is to oppress women is to completely ignore the other life involved in this ethical conflict. Doing so  is intellectually dishonest or stunningly ignorant.
  • If these laws are rooted in racism, why would they seek  to protect the disproportional number of black fetuses aborted in those states?
  • Women can choose not to reproduce, completely effectively, right now. Nobody is telling any woman she has to reproduce. See, Emily, “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is fiction, just like “The Walking Dead.” The idea is that if you have created a living human being, you can’t then kill it or delegate killing it to someone else, no matter how much hardship avoiding the murder option might mean. Starting that prohibition from conception is unworkable, but later? That’s a utilitarian necessity.
  • The fundamental human right that must take precedence over all others is the right to live.

 

Saturday Ethics Notables. 5/18/2019: More Social Media Partisan Censorship, A-Rod’s Potty And Ian’s Potty Mouth…

Why, I asked, on such a beautiful May day, am I inside writing about ethics? And my wife turned into Hymen Roth…

1. PLEASE stop making me defend Alex Rodriguez, who is one of my least favorite human beings, never mind former athletes, on the planet, and yet…this is a strict Golden Rule issue. The ex-Yankees (also Texas and Seattle) slugger  was photographed sitting on his toilet in his luxury apartment’s bathroom. The shot was apparently taken by a rogue photographer in a high rise office building next to the apartment building where A-Rod shares a  $17.5 million apartment with Jennifer Lopez, whose movies are now beneath those of Adam Sandler and Tom Arnold on my playlist.

Legal precedent in New York suggests than  Rodriquez has no case, because in 2015, an appeals court ruled that a gallery show of images snapped through less famous New Yorkers’ windows by an “artist” was not a privacy violation. (I wrote about that photographer here; perhaps the title gives you a sense of where I came out on my analysis: “Why Photographer Arne Svensen Is An Unethical Creep”]

Fine, I see the legal point. If you don’t want people taking photos of you, then keep your window blinds down. However,just because you can do something crappy to another human being doesn’t make it right.

Even if it’s a crappy human being. Continue reading