Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 3/11/2020: Bad Marks…

Good morning!

Time for Gordon MacRae again. It’s been a while…

1. The mark of a poor loser. No doubt about it, the Democratic Party losers are terrible at that accountability thing. Now it’s Bernie Sanders. Before him, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Amy Klobuchar blamed sexism for their own inadequacies; Harris and Cory Booker blamed racism. Sanders has all sorts of villains, anything to avoid admitting that he and his campaign have been talking irresponsible, undemocratic nonsense for months, indeed years…

  • The “corporate media”
  • The Democratic Party establishment
  • His own youthful (read naive, deluded and ignorant) supporters, who just don’t vote as often as old people.

Maybe this is Presidential conduct now. Obama blamed everything he could on President Bush, and his followers blamed every critique on racism. President Trump is hardly any better at accepting accountability. The all-time winner, or rather all-time loser who beats them all at blaming others for losing is Hillary Clinton.

Perhaps the single most persuasive reason to leave up all those Robert E. Lee statues and memorials is to remind current leaders and future generations of the general who, as his battered, bleeding and defeated troops returned from the field of battle after Pickett’s Charge, one of the worst debacles in U.S. military history, met them saying, “It was all my fault.”

I could respect a leader like that. Are there any?

The “corporate media” bit also is annoying. A Facebook friend, mainstream media bias-denier used Bernie’s lament yesterday to mount a false dichotomy, saying that conservatives blame left-wing media bias while the Left blames the “corporate media.” Sanders indeed received negative coverage, but not because “the corporate media” fears his brand of social justice. The progressive mainstream media is desperate to defeat Trump, and to preserve the Democratic Party, and any idiot can see that running a pro-Castro, Soviet Union rationalizing Marxist would be toxic to both objectives. Even running a deteriorating dementia victim is a better bet, though not an especially good one. Fox News loved the idea of Bernie running against President Trump.

2. The mark of a coward. Sanders  declined to address his disheartened supporters last  night after Joe Biden pretty much ended his hopes of prevailing at the Democratic National Convention by winning decisive primary victories. Before the results were called for the Western states of North Dakota, Idaho, and Washington, the Sanders campaign announced that  Bernie would not be addressing his supporters that evening. Continue reading

Ethics Nosegay,2/14/20: A New Ethics Train Wreck For Happy Valentine’s Day!

Love to all!

What does the Easter Bunny sing on Valentine’s Day? Every bunny loves some bunny sometime…

1. Yes, I think the Roger Stone sentencing mess is an Ethics Train Wreck now. As usual, several cars have been reserved by the President, whose dumb tweeting raised the appearance of impropriety and fed his ravenous critics, who will read anything he does in the worst light possible. Good for AG Barr for saying that such public White House word-barfs make it difficult for Barr to do his job.

The President really and truly does not seem to understand how his own job works: if he makes it known what his personal policy desires are, that’s potentially going to influence policy-makers who are supposed to be independent. Why is this so hard to grasp? True, it would be beyond moronic, if the President wanted to interfere with Barr’s handling of the Stone matter, for him to use Twitter rather than to pick up the phone. Also true: Trump has done things equally dumb.

Do you think the President knows the story of Thomas Becket’s murder, triggered when  King Henry II’s shouted out, to no one in particular, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” Two knights decided to make King Henry happy, though they had received no orders. Imagine if President Obama had tweeted—we know he would have been smart enough to just have an aide whisper in Lois Lerner’s ear— “Boy, these tea party groups are a scam! How do they warrant non-profit status?” before the IRS scandal unfolded.

Nonetheless, as is usually buried in Trump Derangement Enabling articles like this one, there are no knights in this case who can do Trump’s wish-fulfillment. “Just as he used US government power to smear Joe Biden in the Ukraine scandal, he succeeded in getting favorable treatment for a friend in the Stone case — though the final sentence will be up to a judge,” the CNN article reveals (let’s see) eight paragraphs in.  Trump can stand on his head shouting “Free Stone!” through a megaphone; he has no leverage with the judge. Continue reading

The Waffle House Ethics Heroes

I increasingly find myself searching, usually in vain, for stories to reassure myself and Ethics Alarms readers that out society, in the words of the pious churchgoers of Rock Ridge, isn’t “turning into shit.” Here is story out of Alabama involving a Waffle House. I’ve never eaten at one, though there has been a Waffle Shop down Russell Road in Alexandria, VA, less than five minutes from my home by car, the entire 39 years I’ve lived here. The fact that its awning has misspelled “Waffle” with only one “f” for all that time is the reason: I figure that it you can’t spell your own specialty, I can’t trust you to make it right, either.

But I digress…

At a  Birmingham, Alabama Waffle House  on the morning of November second, an estimated 25 customers found that the restaurant had only a single employee named  Ben on duty to serve the whole mob. Apparently there had been a scheduling snafu, leaving Ben with the responsibility of serving everybody. Said one witness to the scene, . “He was just staring at the room full of people. I can’t imagine what he was thinking.”

Then one customer who had been sitting at the bar, asked Ben what was going on and received the answer. He stood up, asked for an apron, and  started washing dishes. A few minutes later a female customer left her table and began bussing those of other partons, taking and serving orders, and making coffee. Then a third customer joined the volunteer staff. Continue reading

Somewhere, Steven Bochco Is Smiling…

In Steven Bochco TV legal dramas—the immortal “Hill Street Blues” was the best of them—everyone was sleeping with everyone else in the judicial and law enforcement system. Police chiefs were having affairs with defense attorneys, prosecutors were having affairs with judges, judges were having affairs with defendants. It was ridiculous, if entertaining, but gave an absurdly misleading impression to the gullible public about the legal system. Later, as Bochco’s star was waning, writer-producer David Kelley continued the myth with his many legal dramas

However, this is not to say that such unethical relationships don’t occasionally occur. Bochco, who died in 2018, would like this story, since he could have written it.

Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission on Tuesday filed a complaint against Coffee County District Judge Christopher Kaminski, alleging that he has been carrying on a romantic relationship with an attorney who frequently practices in his court. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Marshae Jones Case

In case you missed the facts of this instant ethics train wreck a legal case, here they are:

Marshae Jones,  27-years old, was five months pregnant when she attacked female co-worker, Ebony Jemison, 23, in the parking lot of a Dollar Store. The two had a long-standing and bitter rivalry over their romantic designs regarding a man who worked at the same company and who is apparently the father of the unborn child.  Jones  had Jemison pinned in her car while punching her repeatedly. In self defense,  Jemison grabbed her gun and fired point blank at Marshae’s stomach. The car taking Jones  to the hospital broke down, delaying a medical response. Paramedics eventually arrived, but the unborn child had been struck by the bullet, and died.

A grand juryindicted Jones for  “initiating a fight knowing she was five months pregnant,” but chose not to indict Ebony Jemison, who fired the shot. Despite the confusing and incompetent reporting on the case, it is still not certain that prosecutors in Pleasant Grove, Alabama will ultimately prosecute Jones, who according to all reports wanted her baby.  I doubt that they will.  Lynneice Washington, the district attorney for part of Jefferson County, said last week that no decision had yet been made about whether to go to trial, file lesser charges against Jones, or dismiss the case altogether.

“Foremost, it should be stated that this is a truly tragic case,” her statement said. “We feel sympathy for the families involved, including Ms. Jones, who lost her unborn child.”

Observations:

1. The fact that Jemison was not charged should surprise no one, nor does it reasonably affect the ethical and legal issues at issue here. She was attacked. The law of self-defense almost universally allows the use of deadly force when the alternative is sustaining a serious beating.  If one is attacked by a pregnant woman, the response to the attack does not have to be moderated because of the possible consequences to an unborn child. The responsibility for any adverse result to the fetus is completely the expectant mother’s.

2. Thus this headline by ABC and others like it— “Alabama woman charged in fetal death, her shooter goes free”—are inflammatory, misleading and biased journalism, blatantly attempting to take Jones’ side.

3. Alabama law declares a fetus to have the rights of a person from the moment of conception. There is nothing unethical or unreasonable about such a law, whether or not you agree with it. The reverse law, that a fetus/embryo/unborn child has no rights until birth is also ethically and legally defensible. Both cause practical problems and ethical conflicts and dilemmas, as do any compromise positions.

4. As long as a jurisdiction allows abortions within Supreme Court guidelines, there is nothing unethical about the jurisdiction prosecuting someone other than the mother who kills a fetus, intentionally or through negligence. 38 states have laws that classify fetuses as victims in homicide or assault, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In Alabama, a “person” includes embryos and fetuses at any stage of development, and the state leads the nation in such prosecutions. Last year, Jessica Lindsey, 29, was sentenced to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to chemical endangerment for using heroin while pregnant. Raven West, a heroin addict who gave birth to a stillborn baby, received a five-year suspended sentence last year. And Alexandra Laird, who gave birth to two children who tested positive for heroin, received two suspended 10-year sentences and access to a treatment program, according to court records.

Regarding those three results: Good…Good…Good. I have no problem with them.

4. The question is, how different is a pregnant woman who starts a parking lot fist fight that precipitates sufficient violence to kill her unborn child from a woman who knowingly ingests toxic substances that harm or kill a fetus? I don’t see a material difference. If not, then why is it unreasonable to prosecute Jones?

5. It is amazing how deftly the same progressive advocates can turn on a dime and go from “Think of the children!” to “DON’T think of the children!” depending on what’s expedient at the time.

6. Although Alabama is currently challenging Roe v. Wade, this case has nothing to do with its defiant anti-abortion law. I see no reason to believe that Jones wouldn’t be charged under the same criminal statute a year ago or five years ago. This episode has just given pro-abortion advocates an opportunity to attack the state and make Jones into a martyr, though she was not seeking an abortion. At about 20 weeks pregnant, Jones was within the range where she could have had an abortion before the new law, so the feminist argument is, I guess, that if you can legally abort an unborn baby, you should also be able to get it shot without any consequences.

Nice.

7. The callousness with which the news media tries to spin stories related to the unborn is striking. Here’s the Washington Post:

“The 27-year-old was five months pregnant when she was involved in a fight that, authorities say, prompted a woman to fire a gun in self-defense. The bullet tore through Jones’s abdomen and caused a miscarriage.”

No, the bullet struck the unborn child and killed it. That’s not a “miscarriage.”

8. Whatever the outcome, Jones caused the death of her unborn child through outrageous, violent and uncivilized behavior, and warrants no sympathy whatsoever.

As always in such stories, her family says that Jones is a saint. Her mother calls her “a fun-loving mom, churchgoing, a hard-working lady,” insisting, “My child just doesn’t bother anybody.”  Except, that is, a woman trying to make time with the father of Jones’ unborn child, in a parking lot, where she engages in a fist fight. Yeah, that Marshae is a responsible, model citizen! How could this happen to her?

9. Her lawyers say, absurdly,

“This young mother was shot in the stomach while five months pregnant and lost her baby as a result. She lost her home to a fire and lost her job. Now, for reasons that defy imagination, she faces an unprecedented legal action that subjects this victim of violence to further distress and harm.”

I know lawyers must defend their client’s zealously, but this is legal demagoguery.  She was shot because of her own criminal actions. She was fired because she attacked a co-worker. She was a “victim of violence” necessitated by her own attack. I don’t know what the fire has to do with anything; the statement just as well might have said, “And she faces painful root canal work due to chronic tooth decay.” Talk about throwing in everything but the kitchen sink!

10. I think this is worthy of another poll.

________________________________

Sources: ABC, Washington Post, New York Times

Ruby Tuesday Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2019: Of “Bad Charity,” Fake Headlines, Dumb Atticus, And Being Mean To Mr. Ratburn

Tuesday’s child is full of grace.

Tuesday’s ethics, not so much…

1. The other shoe drops...the New York Times yesterday editorialized against the  generous gift to Morehouse students by billionaire and Ethics Hero Robert F. Smith.  It also took a swipe at Smith himself, whose wealth the Times appears to consider suspect. What the mouthpiece of the Left is lobbying for is Bernie Sanders’ free college for all, meaning that not just billionaires but you and I will all have to pay for inflated tuition at institutions that do not so much teach as indoctrinate (or, in the case of Ohio State and who knows what others, molest).

The wonderful thing about Smith’s gift is that it was a complete surprise. The students had a strong financial motivation not to waste their college years taking useless courses on the Patriarchy of Gas Grilling, and instead had every reason to try to prepare themselves for the workplace. Free college education becomes a privilege and a lark, with no accountability or commitment required.

2. Fake Headline Dept. I have seen this in several places: “Ciara Accepted Into Harvard University’s Prestigious Business School.”  (Ciara is a pop diva, if you care.)

Uh, no, she wasn’t. She is going to attend a  Business of Entertainment, Media and Sports program at the B-school that lasts all of three days. She’ll pay for it, too. Ciara doesn’t have a college degree, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I bet she’ll tell people for the rest of her life that she attended the Business School, just like Bill O’Reilly still says he’s a Harvard grad because he attended the Kennedy School of Government on campus.

Not that a Harvard degree is anything to boast about these days… Continue reading

Our Untrustworthy, Perplexing, Depressing State Legislators

As a passionate supporter of American democracy in both practice and theory, I find the proliferation of ignoramuses, fools and morons among both elected representatives and the voters who allow them to acquire access to the levers of power to be a constant source of discouragement. The old adage about democracy being the worst form of government except for all the others is scant consolation, true as it may be. I only tune in to the reliably idiotic goings on at the state legislature level when someone or some news story forces me to take a look, which I anticipate with enthusiasm akin to that I felt toward going down into our scary basement when I was a kid. (OK, up until I moved away at 21. OK, STILL.)

Here are two examples from today….that I know about.

Alabama took another step toward near-total abortion ban legislation, House Bill 314, the “Human Life Protection Act.”  The Republican-supported bill is  in  direct defiance of 1973’s Supreme Court  Roe v. Wade ruling, an obvious gambit to try to get the conservative Roberts court to overturn it. Grandstanding, obstinacy, call it what you will, this bill is futile, foolish, and incompetent. An outright reversal of Roe is not in the cards, not even in the most fevered fantasies of anti-abortion fanatics and pro-abortion absolutists. The new law, if it becomes a law, will be struck down by a the highest Alabama court, and won’t make it to the Supreme Court docket. It’s an illegal law, that’s all. A law reestablishing child labor or repealing female suffrage would have about as much chance of getting the Court’s attention.

If Roe is to be weakened or modified, it will occur incrementally, with the Court ruling on legitimately debatable regulations regarding when a fetus or unborn child qualifies for full Constitutional protection. It is understandable that ordinary, untrained, confused citizens might think that the way to remove established Court precedent is to directly oppose it with a state law, but  that’s because, for most of them, making laws isn’t their job. State legislators, on the other hand, have no excuse but their own lack of preparation for their civic duty, and ignorance. Continue reading