Category Archives: Law & Law Enforcement

Update And Addendum To “The New York Times’ Unethical Headline (And Fake News)”

ice-raids

Following up on a theme:

Today’s center, above the fold, headline on the New York Times front page:

Migrants Hide, Fearing Capture On “Any Corner”

Emotional message sent: Poor, innocent immigrants whose only crime is being born in another country are trembling in fear as they are subjected to a police state style round-up evoking Nazi Germany, in a demonstration of nationalistic, xenophobic hate!  And that is exactly the message the headline is intended to send.  There is no mention of “illegal” in the headline, despite the fact that if legal migrants are in fear of “capture,” it is only because they have been reading the recent misleading headlines in the New York Times. The statement that migrants are hiding and fearing capture is deceptive and untrue. It begins…

No going to church, no going to the store. No doctor’s appointments for some, no school for others. No driving, period — not when a broken taillight could deliver the driver to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It is happening in the Central Valley of California, where undocumented immigrants pick the fields for survival wages but are keeping their children home from school; on Staten Island, where fewer day laborers haunt street corners in search of work; in West Phoenix’s Isaac School District, where 13 Latino students have dropped out in the past two weeks; and in the horse country of northern New Jersey, where one of the many undocumented grooms who muck out the stables is thinking of moving back to Honduras….

The word “illegally” makes its first appearance in paragraph three, 121 words into the article. The news story—again, this is the front page, and it is presented as news— is written to be read against a background of mournful violins. Poor, poor beset upon, persecuted migrants! The Times’ assignment of villains follows…

“For Mr. Trump’s supporters and longtime advocates of stricter immigration enforcement, they are a welcome move toward restoring law and order to a system that they say offered no deterrent to entering the country illegally. Undocumented immigrants, in their view, have filled jobs that belong to Americans, drained public resources and skipped the line for visas on which others waited for years.”

Wait…what does the Times mean  by”they say  offered no deterrent to entering the country illegally”? Continue reading

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Candy Packaging Ethics: How Much Air Can A Candy Box Contain Without Being Deceptive?

Peeps Manufacturing

Stephanie Escobar is suing the makers of “Mike and Ike,”  claiming that it is misleading customers by filling nearly half the box with air rather than candy. She bought a box of “Mike and Ike” for  $4 at a Los Angeles movie theater, and was stunned  to find that  46 percent of the it  was filled air, what is known in the business as “slack-fill.”  She checked a box of Hot Tamale candy sold by the same company, and there was only 54% candy in that box too, disappointing her greatly.

Her suit argues candy maker “Just Born Quality” Confections is violating California’s false advertising law, unfair competition law and the consumer legal remedies act.

(This is a separate movie candy ethics issue from the apparently obscene $4 price, much on my mind since on my recent visit to the the theater to see “Fences,” a drink, hot dog and popcorn cost me $19. 85. Movies charge those prices to keep the prices of tickets down, and in the aggregate, that is better for consumers and the theater than charging 20 bucks for the movie and half as much for the junk food.)

Just Born vice president Matt Pye promised a vigorous defense to the “baseless allegations.”“Our products and labels comply with all FDA regulations and provide consumers with the information they need to make informed purchase decisions,” Pye said in a statement.

That rather ducks the issue, doesn’t it? How often have you been shocked that a container is mostly air? Many products, candy notable among them, have been reducing the size of the product sold rather than raising the price. That is fair enough, if one can see what one is purchasing. A box, however, doesn’t permit a consumer to see what’s inside. The argument that the labels are compliant isn’t the same as proving that it’s ethical to have a container that’s twice as large as the the contents require.

Fortunately, I’ve always hated Mike and Ike. AND Hot Tamale. But now I’m wondering about my Raisinettes…

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Pointer: ABA Journal

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The New York Times’ Unethical Headline (And Fake News)

immigrants-ellis-island

It is,  I have come to believe, the perfect example of dishonest, manipulative and partisan journalism, and here it is again: The Times headline on my morning paper—in ominous, “this is really important” block letters—

MORE  IMMIGRANTS FACE DEPORTATION UNDER NEW RULES

The headline refers to the President’s order yesterday concerning the enforcement of existing immigration laws. My maternal grandparents were immigrants from Greece at the turn of the 19th Century to the 20th. They did it by the book: Ellis Island, the whole thing. They were immigrants, not illegal immigrants, and the kind of rules this intentionally deceptive headline evokes would not have threatened them in any way. Yet they would have been alarmed by such a headline. Were they in danger of being sent back to Greece? Is the U.S. government now determined to deport immigrants?

That confusion is exactly what the Times and other news sources that have made a conscious decision to engender by eliminating the clear and material distinction between immigrants and illegal immigrants in news reports. The deceptive use of language allows partisans to tar the President and those who seek to enforce the law as “xenophobes,” and also to create fear among legal immigrants, who have nothing to fear.

We know that the Times does this intentionally, because an honest, informative, undeceptive headline is not elusive at all. “New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions” is the web headline for the story, and that is accurate, since President Obama limited the number of law-breaking immigrants who would actually face enforcement of the immigration laws the violated and continued to violate. “Trump administration clears the way for far more deportations” headlines the LA Times: it’s not so hard to be clear and informative. The Times wants to  mislead. Continue reading

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Two Unethical And Unconstitutional Laws On Guns, One From The Right, One From the Left, Bite The Dust. Good.

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I.

As last year’s flat-out demagoguery about banning gun ownership for citizens placed on the FBI’s no-fly list proved, Democrats will never let the Constitution get in the way of an emotion-based attack on gun rights. A rule  implemented by former President Obama after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting (“WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!!”) would have required the Social Security Administration to report the records of some mentally ill beneficiaries to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Those who have been deemed mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs — roughly 75,000 people — would have then been prevented from owning guns.

The American Civil Liberties Union and advocates for the disabled opposed the restriction, which was so broadly drawn that an Asperger’s sufferer could have his Second amendment rights taken away. And what, exactly, is the link between not being able to handle one’s financial affairs and violence? Hell, I can barely handle my financial affairs.

By a 57-43 margin, the Republican-led Senate voted last week  to repeal the measure, and it now heads to the White House for President Trump’s signature.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a leading Republican critic of the rule, said that it was filled with “vague characteristics that do not fit into the federal mentally defective standard” that could legally prohibit someone from buying or owning a gun. “If a specific individual is likely to be violent due to the nature of their mental illness, then the government should have to prove it,” Grassley said

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut where the Sandy Hook massacre occurred, and thus obligated to grandstand regardless of the fact that he’s on shaky 2nd Amendment, 5th  Amendment and also Equal Protection  ground, declaimed on the Senate floor,

“The [Congressional Review Act] we have before us today will make it harder for the federal government to do what we have told them to do for decades, which is to put dangerous people and people who are seriously mentally ill on the list of people who are prohibited from buying a gun….If you can’t manage your own financial affairs, how can we expect that you’re going to be a responsible steward of a dangerous, lethal firearm?”

Well, I guess nobody in Congress should own a gun either, right, Senator? Continue reading

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Weekend Ethics Alarms Challenge: What’s The Best Headline For This Story?

turning-tables

[The winning headline will be added to the post, and an appropriate graphic will replace “the turning table.”]

April Ryan, a reporter for American Urban Radio Networks,  accused White House aide Omarosa Manigault of telling her, during a tense exchange at the White House last week,
that Ryan  she was among a group of reporters on whom the White House is keeping dossiers with negative information. Ryan claimed that she was  “physically intimidated” by Manigault, and described Manigault’s behavior as threatening enough to be “Secret Serviceable,” implying  that it warranted intervention by law enforcement officers. The accusation was widely circulated on the web as an example of the President’s “Nazi” conduct toward the news media.

Manigault denied Ryan’s accusations, and called them “fake news.” Ah, but now we learn that a White House media employee recorded the encounter, and the recording backs up Omarosa.

Ryan, amusingly, is outraged and claiming to be a victim of a surreptitious  recording  she never consented to. “This is about her trying to smear my name. This is freaking Nixonian.” April says she may sue… for slander?

Here is one more example of how smug and self-righteous journalists are also often as ignorant as a pile of dog collars. Making such a recording is legal under D.C. law, which has a “one-party consent” law that recordings  if one person in the conversation consents. As for a slander suit, how would that work? The tape would be evidence that April Ryan slandered Manigault, not the other way around.

Ryan claims that the tape must have been altered. Sure she does. The Washington Post and other sources report that other journalists on the scene do not back Ryan’s account of the argument between the two women, and nobody heard anything about “dossiers.”

Manigault told reporters that White House media staff regularly record interviews between reporters and officials. “We do it all the time,” she said. “When you come into [the press staff’s offices], you’re on the record.”

When you know that the entire mainstream news media is out to get you, and that there are reporters like Ryan, taping everything makes perfect sense.

Nah, the news media isn’t “the opposition party.” Nah, it’s not biased–whatever would give you that idea?

(Kudos to the Washington Post for reporting this media bias smoking gun, incidentally.)

______________________

Pointer: Powerline

Source: Washington Post

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts, and seek written permission when appropriate. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work or property was used in any way without proper attribution, credit or permission, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at  jamproethics@verizon.net.

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From The “You Keep Using That Word…I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means” Files: A Cheap Shot From The Heroes

Many conservatives are cheering this open letter from 14 Medal of Honor recipients to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.):

Dear Sen. Richard Blumenthal,

You recently called upon your Senate colleagues to subject Judge Neil Gorsuch’s record to “extreme vetting,” questioning both his qualification and biography. The Senate certainly has the right and obligation to closely review any nominee for the United States Supreme Court. Conversely, it is our right as Americans and veterans to scrutinize your hypocrisy in doing so.

We are veterans of the Vietnam War. We fought alongside our brothers in arms, many of whom died or were gravely injured there. We saw the treatment meted out on us and our fellow military personnel upon our return, yet we never questioned our commitment to our nation’s freedom. But perhaps more relevant to this discussion is that we know you were not there with us.

The fact you repeatedly and consistently claimed to have served in Vietnam is a gross case of stolen valor in our opinion. You obtained at least five military deferments between 1965 and 1970, at least two of which were seemingly political favors to you so that you could avoid joining us in a war zone. Here are just a few examples where it appears that you have chosen to buttress your political resume by shamefully inflating your record of military service:

In 2003, you apparently stated, “When we returned [from Vietnam], we saw nothing like this [a public outpouring of support for deployed military personnel].”

In 2008, the New York Times reported you said, “We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam …”

At a Vietnam War memorial in 2008, it is reported you stated, “I served during the Vietnam era … I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even the physical abuse.”

We recognize that military service of any kind is valuable to the protection of our nation’s freedom. There is no shame in engaging in “Toys for Tots” campaigns, recycling efforts, or assisting in the improvement or construction of various facilities, which appears to be a fair description of the bulk of your duties during the Vietnam War.

What is offensive to those who fought in a most brutal conflict, some of us who were captured and tortured by our enemy, is any comparison of those most brutal experiences to the ones of people like you who never even sniffed the air in Vietnam.

The letter’s description of the Senator’s lies before being elected a U.S. Senator is accurate. The fact that he did not withdraw from consideration when those lies were exposed, that the Democratic Party allowed him to stand for election anyway, and worst of all, that Connecticut voters debased their state and the U.S. Senate by electing him demonstrated the creeping progressive ethics rot among liberals that has only worsened since.

However, Blumenthal was not engaging in hypocrisy by calling for extreme the judge’s vetting. It would have been hypocrisy if he proclaimed that no public official who has inflated his biography or faked credentials is worthy of public office. That’s not what he said, however. Indeed, if there is anyone qualified to testify to the importance of vetting the qualifications of apparently qualified nominees, it’s Sen. Blumenthal.

No, the letter is an ad hominem attack, and the ethics breach has been committed by its signatories. If they have an objection to his call for “extreme vetting, ” they should rebut it on the merits. Instead, they attacked the individual rather than his argument. That is the essence of ad hominem. Their attack was “to the man” rather than to his position.

The two terms for unethical conduct most often used inaccurately to sustain accusations are, ironically, hypocrisy and ad hominem attacks. You don’t often see both misused in the same matter, though.

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Pointer: Washington Examiner

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Now THIS Is An Unethical IRS Employee…Howard Stern Too, But We Knew HE Was Unethical

[There is supposed to be a photo of Howard Stern here, but WordPress keeps refusing to embed it, thus showing the software’s admirable good taste.]

In May of 2015, Judith Barrigas of Sandwich, Massachusetts called the IRS service center  with a question about her tax refund. She reached IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe, who was goofing off on the job, on hold after a call to Howard Stern’s radio show on satellite radio. Forsythe, still on hold (or so he thought) took the taxpayer’s call, and when the Stern show took reconnected, Stern’s listeners somehow heard Forsythe’s conversation with Barrigas.  Stern and paid sycophant Robin Quivers then joked about the call, which concerned Barrigas’s payment plan: the IRS had applied Barrigas’s tax refund to pay her outstanding debts from 2011 and 2012, even though she complained she already had a repayment plan set up with the  IRS. Her call, which she assumed was private, should have assumed was private and was guranteed by federal law to BE private, was on the airwaves for nearly an hour.

“I’m learning so much,” said Stern at the time, before he finally cut off the surreptitious eavesdropping. “I feel like I’m in math class and I’m flunking because I don’t know one thing he’s saying. I think I’m going to bail on this guy. By the way, this is the most boring job ever. I’d rather live in my parent’s basement if I had to do that. I’d give out all the wrong information. All right, dude, later!”

Barrigas  has just sued  the IRS, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act,  unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, and just the for the Stern side,  negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading

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