As I Was Saying…Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/2019 Continued: Dinosaur Ethics, Bakery Wars, Poor Kamala, and Crazy California

I’m baaack…

Sorry to do this, but there were too many items that I couldn’t post on in the time I had this morning, and if I don’t get them up now, they might get lost…

4. Poll update. I’m amazed that the Bouie op-ed suggesting that we dump Marbury vs Madison and just let Congress pass any unconstitutional law it wants is leading the “worst op-ed” race 3-1 over the “we owe it to all those countries we helped to get out of the Stone Age and to avoid having their citizens  being made into slaves or soap by Hitler toflood the U.S. by the world’s poor, criminal and uneducated” screed. I think Bouie’s fantasy is trivial in the end because it’s impossible, though characteristic of the new Left response to defeat, which is “If you’re losing the game, change the rules.”

The illegal immigration rationalizations are far worse, I think, because they make sense to the ignorant, the addled, and the Californians.

Governor Gavin Newsom released an outline of the state’s 2020 budget  that includes $98 million in new annual spending to make 90,000 previously uninsured illegal immigrants eligible for the state’s Medicaid program Who will pay for  it? Why, citizens who are fined—I mean TAXED…sorry. Chief Justice Roberts!—through an “individual mandate” for not buying health insurance as the law requires. This is pure madness.  California is promising benefits to law-breakers, incentives to breach our borders. What kind of pernicious brain virus would make a sentient human being think this is a good idea, or responsible governance?

[I just deleted an ugly, irresponsible, violent statement expressing how bad I think this is, how perverted the policy makers are who support it, and the fate I posited that the state deserves for moving in this direction. I am abashed that I think such thoughts. Close call.]

5. The Equality Act, and a vendetta. I  support the objectives of the Equality Act, which amends the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include invidious discrimination against anyone base on sexual orientation or identity. I wish I could support the Act itself, but it appears to be so broadly drafted that it would, for example,  force women’s sports to allow males identifying as women, males on the way to being women, and women who reached puberty as males to compete against the old-fashioned variety of female athletes, thus making women’s sports a farce.

I also worry that the LGBTQ Mafia is as interested in punishing holdouts against the emerging cultural norms and bending others to their will as they are in equal treatment under the law. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, June 5, 2019: Ethics Corrupters In The House, The Senate, The White House, The Times….

The next morning was going to be a crucial one, but not exactly “good”…

Good Morning!

1. How to expose a demagogue. Senator Elizabeth Warren is near the bottom of my ethics rankings of the various Democratic Presidential candidates, and not just because of the way she handled her crisis of color. She’s a pure demagogue, and a particularly dangerous one, as she is a stirring speaker and apparently shameless.

It takes clarity of thought and rhetoric to expose demagogues, especially Warren’s breed, which carry the trappings of authority—after all, she’s a Harvard professor, so she must be smart (or so those who did not attend Harvard seem to think.) The President’s favored tactic of name-calling is of limited value for this purpose, but Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the veteran mocked by Saturday Night Live because of his war wounds,  is providing an ongoing seminar on how to expose Warren’s dishonesty.

When Warren tweeted this high-sounding sentiment…

…Rep. Crenshaw  zeroed in on its deception.

Note also the gently mocking imitation of Warren’s flip use of “thing,” so much more rhetorically effective than calling her “Pocahontas.”

Here is how Crenshaw eviscerated another typical bit  of Warren pandering…

Then there was this expert take-down….when Warren grandstanded with this…

Crenshaw pointed out exactly what was wrong with it…

Why, yes, that’s exactly what it is.

2. Censorship and keeping the truth from the public is not ethical, nor is it a legitimate way to address problems in a democracy. Continue reading

Rueful Observations On The Latest Development In Virginia Governor Northam’s Blackface Scandal

Well, let’s see: my college has embarrassed me, my law school’s professors continue to make me wish I had earned a law degree by drawing “Skippy” from the cover of a matchbook, black students were apparently insulted in my home city’s famous art museum, my baseball team allowed itself to be split by “the resistance,” and my adopted state of Virginia has the most ridiculous governor since Rod Blagojevich was making Illinois residents consider moving to Tierra del Fuego.

To refresh your memory regarding  the Ralph Northam Ethics Trainwreck, since it’s been stashed in the news media memory hole for a while: the same week  that he appeared to casually explain how post-birth abortion works while showing all the passion of someone describing how to replace a carburetor, Northam’s med school yearbook surfaced showing the governor-to-be either dressed as a Klansman or wearing blackface, unless you subscribe to the theory that the photo of two men in such get-ups was just randomly planted on Northam’s page.

In a dizzying sequence, the Governor 1) apologized for the photo and wearing blackface in it, apparently admitting that it was him 2) said that he didn’t think either figure was him, and he could “tell by looking at it” 3) admitted that he did once wear blackface to look like Michael Jackson in a talent show 4) said that he had to have someone explain to him recently that blackface was considered offensive.

The short version: he’s a babbling, untrustworthy idiot. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/17/2019: Georgia On Various Minds, Carson’s Deficiencies, Harris’s Pandering

Good morning, Ethics Lovers!

The solo performer is the immortal Doodles Weaver, Sigourney’s uncle.

1.  This is indefensible, and—I hate to keep using this word, but don’t blame me, blame prevailing political winds—totalitarian. Carl Malamud believes that there should be open access to government records, and he has a group that has been  putting them online for years. When his group  posted the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, however, the state sued for copyright infringement claiming that giving the public access to the state’s laws and related legal materials without the state’s authorization is the “strategy of terrorism.”

No, having laws that the public has no way to see or understand without paying for them is the strategy of dictators. A federal appeals court has ruled against the state, and now Georgia wants the Supreme Court to step in. So does Public.Resource.Org, Malamud’s group, which also wants SCOTUS to resolve the issue,  since the question of who owns the law is  current in  20 other states that have copyrighted their  annotated codes. The issue is whether citizens can have access to “the raw materials of our democracy.”

I think Georgia is going to lose and lose ugly, though I have given up prediction 9-0 Supreme Court rulings. That’s what this one should be, though.

2. More on “the best people” front. One awful aspect of the Trump Administration that cannot be defended is the President’s irresponsible appointments, which are too numerous to list. In the case of Dr. Ben Carson, whom Ethics Alarms assessed as some kind of idiot savant based on his embarrassing performance in the debates, we knew, or should have known, that Trump appointing him Secretary of HUD was a guaranteed fiasco in the making. Continue reading

And “The Resistance” Jumps The Shark! Pelosi Announces Mind-Bending Impeachment Plan P, and The Washington Post Launches Plan Q

This is all so embarrassing—as an American and an advocate of Constitutional government, I’M embarrassed, and those perpetrating this fiasco have more to be embarrassed about than I do by far— and ridiculous that I am at a loss to describe it fairly. My head-exploding graphics don’t do it justice, and a mere train wreck photo is inadequate. I’m not even certain where to place the focus.

I was tempted to concentrate on the now not rationally disputable fact that if you can read Pelosi’s comments yesterday and consider Greg Sargent’s and Brian Klaas’s columns in the Washington Post and not think, “Holy Cow! These people have completely lost their minds!” you have passed, as the Phantom of the Opera was fond of saying, the point of no return, and your Trump hate and derangement have digested your brain.

This is so, so obvious now, but that’s not an ethics framing, and I’m looking for that. I was thinking about designating the entire Democratic Congress as “Incompetent Elected Officials Of The Month,” but that doesn’t quite encompass the enormity of what we are  witnessing. Similarly, calling the Post’s self-evident decision to put bringing down Trump over all professional standards as well as law, justice and common sense is minimized by calling it mere “mainsteam media bias,” as the Ethics Alarms tag would have it. This is more than that. This is a public display of insanity by those incapable of realizing what craziness is any more.

Did Donald Trump really drive them to this? “Mr. [Trump], are you that smart?”

Let’s start with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said

“Don’t tell anybody I told you this: Trump is goading us to impeach him. That’s what he’s doing. Every single day, he’s just like, taunting and taunting and taunting…We can’t impeach him for political reasons, and we can’t not impeach him for political reasons.We have to see where the facts take us.”

I could have made this gallactically unethical statement an”Unethical Quote of The Month,” but again, that would trivialize its significance. Of course, the statement  begins with a “Comnnie Chung,” an intentionally contradictory “don’t tell anyone I told you this”–what is that? A joke? A signal that Pelosi doesn’t take her own party’s impeachment mania seriously? I have no idea.

I do know, however, that the statement that the President is goading and taunting Democrats into impeaching him is as close as we will ever get to an outright admission that the President’s “high crimes and misdemeanors” consist of his being himself, daring to win the office, and existing on the planet. I’ve checked the POTUS twitter feed: he’s not talking about impeachment “every day” or saying anything that could rationally be interpreted as aimed at trying to goad Congress into taking that step. “The resistance”  regards the President’s existence as enough to justify impeachment. This is Pelosi’s Impeachment Plan P, a Mobius strip, alternate universe theory that says, “We have to impeach him because he’s daring us to and if we don’t, we let him win, but we can’t, but then he’ll win!” [You can find and review Plans A-O here.]

Who in their right mind says things like this in public? It’s like saying “I am  Monga, Empress of the Eels!” You only say it if you are confident your audience thinks you ARE  Monga, or you risk a visit by the men in white coats.

Yet Pelosi’s statement gets worse. “We have to see where the facts take us”—what “facts?” An excessive, disruptive, falsely-reported and dubiously executed investigation provided the facts, and because they do not support impeachment,  the Democrats want to look for more “facts,” they don’t know what, but they are sure they’ll justify impeachment. “Fariness, justice and competence” left the Democrats’ building long ago.

I’m now giving a spoiler on a post I’m working on about impeachment ethics, but this is not how impeachment works, was intended to work, or can work.

What the Constitution says and the Founders intended is that when a President, in office, commits “high crimes and misdemeanors” (“high” refers to crimes relating to the President’s high office, and also modifies “misdemeanors,” meaning that some acts by the President, because of his office and power, may be impeachable even if they are not technically crimes. They are misdemeanors in the general sense, not the legal sense: literally bad acts.), then it may be necessary to remove him from office because those acts make him inherently untrustworthy.

What the Democrats and “the resistance” have been trying to do since the 2016 election is the Bizarro World version of impeachment. Deciding immediately in the wake of their candidate’s defeat (based on no new information that the public didn’t have when it duly elected Trump) that the new President is untrustworthy and dangerous, they have been looking for something that could be used to impeach him. This was essentially what the post-Civil War Radical Republicans tried to do to President Andrew Johnson, and their near-miss failure has been interpreted by many historians (as well as “Profiles in Courage”) as saving the office of the Presidency and maybe the nation itself.

Pelosi’s statement has been mocked in various forums as “we have to pass a bill of impeachment to see what’s in it.”

Bingo.

Now let’s look at the Post’s pundits. Believe it or not, Greg Sargent makes this argument: The Democrats want to get Trump’s tax returns so they can look for something that might justify impeachment, but Trump might prevail in the courts and keep them private, because the courts could hold that Congress was “just rummaging through Trump’s returns to embarrass him and not for a legitimate legislative purpose.” That’s because this is exactly what Congress wants to do.  (I think that the courts rejecting the House’s subpoena is more than possible; it’s virtually certain.)

Democrats dare not take the chance that a court would reject its demand for Trump’s tax documents, because that loss would make Democrats look bad right before the 2020 elections. Ah, but if the Democrats start proceedings to impeach Trump first and then demand the tax returns as part of the inquiry, then they have a “legitimate purpose” to seek the returns!”

There it is: Impeachment Plan Q! Impeach Trump to get his taxes, and then use those taxes to impeach him! Brilliant!

Sargent says, in full derangement mode,

“Not getting Trump’s returns would allow him to get away with one of his most blatant acts of contempt for transparency, for the separation of powers and for the notion that basic accountability should apply to him at all.”

What? When did not providing the public with tax returns become an impeachable offense, since every President before Nixon did exactly that? Accountability for what? The IRS under multiple administrations examined Trump’s returns, and did not find any crimes. Sargent is just giving us “resistance” blather. Ann Althouse calls it “histrionic,” also a good word, and nicer than “nuts.” She writes,

“If the courts took the position Sargent is afraid of, it would be because the court was enforcing separation of powers, limiting Congress to the legislative role and protecting the Executive power from encroachment. Trump isn’t showing “contempt” for separation of powers. He’s taking a position on separation of powers. That position would either win or lose in court, and the court would give the final answer on the meaning of separation of powers.”

Greg Sargent is the model of rationality, however, compared to colleague Brian Klaas, who issues one false theory after another:

“So here’s a question for congressional leaders: Precisely how many crimes does someone have to commit before impeachment hearings are warranted? Does the person in question get a pass if it’s three or fewer? Was there some clause in the Constitution that I missed that says it’s okay for the president to direct a criminal conspiracy in certain circumstances? Is there a Federalist Paper that says the president can commit tax fraud so long as it was years ago, or that obstruction of justice is fair game so long as it happens on Twitter? To oppose impeachment hearings now, you have to believe that the president allegedly engaging in three separate categories of criminal acts isn’t serious enough to even consider impeachment. Really?”

How did a Post editor let this get published? There was no “conspiracy”; the Mueller report was unambiguous on that accusation. The “resistance’s” response is denial at this point, and to keep repeating Big Lies.

Where’s the “tax fraud”? The IRS’s job is to find tax fraud, and didn’t. Trump doesn’t fill out his own returns, and they were presumably examined with unusual care by the agency charged with that responsibility. How dare this hack state as fact that Trump engaged in tax fraud? Oh, he just “knows.” How many times have I heard that justification for impeachment?

And the obstruction claim…there’s no precedent in law or history for punishing opinions, tweeted or otherwise, as “obstruction of justice.” The Justice Department reviewed the evidence and determined that the obstruction theory was weak, ergo no obstruction of justice. Nor was there any underlying crime to try to cover-up by obstruction, and the investigation was not, in fact, obstructed in any way.

It is true that “the resistance” has become completely unhinged gradually, and it may be difficult to see the exact moment of complete detachment from reality, since the movement was hardly rational to begin with. Nonetheless,  that moment has definitely arrived

Morning Ethics Drill, 5/7/19: Unethical Headlines, A Missing Coffee Cup, And A Comment Of The Day

A morning that begins with a trip to the dentist and a referral to an oral surgeon can’t be good. Sorry.

And now I see that without warning or explanation, WordPress has removed its spellcheck feature. I’m sure those of you who are sick of my typos will appreciate THAT…

1. Stop making me defend Anderson Cooper, sort of! Here’s a cheap shot Fox News headline:

Anderson Cooper denies he’s ‘on the left,’ then rips Trump for tweeting about Kentucky Derby

Well, I’m also not on “the left” (Cooper is, of course), and I’m going to rip the President for tweeting his opinion on the Kentucky Derby, without even getting into the fact that his opinion was ill-informed and stupid.

As I wrote more than once during the Obama administration, the President is not the national arbiter of everything, and should keep his opinion to himself unless it directly and clearly involves the national interest. President Obama had a proclivity for injecting himself into controversies large and small, from the Trayvon Martin shooting to picking brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament.  I wrote in this post,

This can no longer be called a rookie mistake, like the Prof. Gates arrest affair. President Obama has now had plenty of time to absorb the fact that the President does not have a blank check to insert himself into every local controversy and use his office to sway public opinion and the conduct of others regarding matters outside his responsibilities. Still, he continues to do it. It may seem trivial at first: the President gave an interview on TNT in which he pointedly suggested that NBA superstar LeBron James consider the Chicago Bulls as he faces free agency.  After weighing in on the most important things for James to seek from his current team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, if he was going to stay there, the President said, “You know, like I said, I don’t want to meddle. I will say this: (Derrick) Rose, Joakim Noah it’s a pretty good core. You know, you could see LeBron fitting in pretty well there.”

Now, I don’t care what Cooper thinks of Trump’s meddling in matters that don’t concern him if the CNN anchor didn’t have the integrity to knock Obama for doing the same thing, and repeatedly. Still, Anderson was on the right track—finally—to say, as he did,

“The president of the United States seems to have a lot of time on his hands And he can’t even stand some horses getting uninterrupted airtime. He’s got to be a part of every frickin news cycle. He can’t help himself!”

(I guess “frickin” is now considered professional lexicon at CNN. Stay classy, Anderson!)

Less defensible was this comment: Continue reading

Greek Easter Ethics Warm-Up: Authority, Causation, Credibility And Dead Ethics Alarms

Christos Anesti!

…as my Greek-American mother used to greet us every Greek Easter morn. You were supposed to respond in kind, but my father’s Greek pronunciation was always so  hilarious that I don’t recall that he ever did.

1. Anthony Napolitano and the appeal to authority. Fox analyst “Judge” Napolitano (you’re not supposed to call yourself “judge” after you stop being a judge, but never mind) is suddenly being hailed as a definitive legal authority because he has “broken ranks” (as the liberal websites put it) to argue that President Trump obstructed justice based on the Mueller report. Virtually nothing Napolitano said or opined on prior to this was ever treated by these same sudden fans as anything but the meanderings of a crank, but “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” as someone once said in Sanskrit.

I would never appeal to Napolitano’s authority, though he is far from a crank. He was indeed a lower court judge in New Jersey, he has taught at a law school, and he has written many books. He is not a conservative or a Republican but a libertarian. Like Ron Paul and his son Senator Rand, Napolitano’s ideology is such that he arrives at positions that make it impossible for me to trust his reasoning processes. Notably, he doesn’t think Abraham Lincoln should have fought the Civil War or abolished slavery, saying that it would have been better to allow slavery to peter out peacefully without government intervention. I wonder how the slaves would have felt about that?

He also believes that human life should have full legal rights at conception, and that abortion ought to be outlawed completely. Well, both of those positions—he has others equally extreme—mean to me that as smart as he may be, I don’t know what kind of extremist bats are flying around in the man’s belfry, so while I believe his arguments  on obstruction should be judged on their objective merits, that fact that he’s the one making them do not and should not enhance their persuasiveness.

2. Trump Tweets segue...in a tweet, the President claimed that Napolitano asked him to appoint the “Judge” to the Supreme Court, and that his much-publicized obstruction claim is Napolitano’s revenge for the President refusing. Continue reading