The Texas law, which went into effect yesterday when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to block it on a 5-4 vote. (Guess which justices were on each side. Next question: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb?) The law bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which is after about six weeks of pregnancy. Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a constitutional right to abortion until a fetus was viable (by the medical standards of 50 years ago), would seem to preclude such laws, which other states ( Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio) have passed only to have them held in limbo by the courts The Texas law is the first to be implemented, in part because it approaches the issue from a clever (some might say diabolical) perspective.
The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest, as it should not: if the objective is to protect the human life of the unborn child, how that life came into being is irrelevant. It does permit abortions for health reasons, allowing a termination only if the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life or might lead to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” The clever part is this: the Texas law doesn’t require state officials to enforce it, meaning that abortions won’t he halted by government action. The Texas law deputizes private citizens to sue anyone who performs an abortion or “aids and abets” a procedure. Any citizen has standing, regardless of connection to the patient, the abortion doctor or the clinic and may sue and recover legal fees along with $10,000 if they win.
This means that the Supreme Court will have to consider not only whether the Texas law in unconstitutional, but whether it can even be challenged in court, what the SCOTUS majority called “complex and novel” procedural questions. Predictably, while the majority opinion was relatively restrained, the dissenters freaked out.
1. Just a little insurrection. Georgia state Rep. Park Cannon was arrested last week after attempting to barge into the office where Gov. Brian Kemp was signing a the new Georgia voting reform bill into law. Yesterday she argued that her actions were justified. Why? Because when a Democrat thinks a law is misguided, that justifies trying to stop the democratic process, apparently, as opposed to when citizens think that a Presidential election has been stolen. They are completely different. No really. They are.
“I believe the governor signing into law the most comprehensive voter suppression bill in the country is a far more serious crime,” Cannon said. That sounds familiar too, embodying several illicit rationalizations that the idiots who attacked the Capitol on January 6 also would probably echo. Legal act X that we disagree with justifies illegal act Y we resort to because since we disagree with it, Legal Act X is really a crime. This can, of course, be used to justify almost anything.
As with most statements by critics of the Georgia law, Cannon’s raise the question of whether she has actually read the thing or is just going on what she has gleaned from Democrat and news media propaganda. Cannon described the law as a “voter suppression bill” that with “one stroke of a pen….erased decades of sacrifices, incalculable hours of work, marches, prayers, tears and … minimized the deaths of thousands who have paid the ultimate price to vote.” She says this because the bill requires that absentee ballots be properly verified—nobody died to vote by absentee ballot—-and allows the state to take over when it looks like something fishy is going on with partisan election boards. If the bill really was so restrictive in its terms, those trying to demonize it wouldn’t have to make up stuff. President Biden repeated his lie about the law closing voting at 5 pm, a day after the Washington Post reluctantly noted that it was a whopper, or as Joe might say, “malarkey.”
Still, the news media is doing its level best to prop up the propaganda: Yahoo News, which really is a disgrace, referred to the law as adding “voter restrictions.” Meanwhile, Park is raising money for her legal defense on a GoFundMe page titled “I Stand With Park,” as the crowdfunding site bans citizen efforts to impose critical race theory indoctrination in the schools.”
I haven’t been moved to do the research, but I would not be surprised if Barack Obama is owed the prize for the worst nomination for the U.S. Supreme Court ever to be confirmed by the Senate. That would be Sonia Sotomayor, the self-described “wise Latina” who was picked using the same criteria that led to Joe Biden choosing Kamala Harris as his VP: checking the right boxes. Obama was seeking a Hispanic judge (another first!) and a woman, but managed to choose a judge with weak credentials whose selection insulted better judges, female judges and Hispanic judges who were more qualified than her, and there were a lot of them. Since her confirmation, Sotomayor has introduced touchy-feely “compassionate” arguments exactly where they should never show their mushy heads: in Supreme Court oral arguments and opinions. Some of her opinions read as if they were composed by anyone with a law degree, though her law clerks are expert at stuffing them with the requisite number of case cites for appearances sake.
The latest example of Soromayor’s sentimental hackery was her dissent in the case of U.S. v. Dustin John Higgs, in which the Court, by a 6-3 vote (guess the three!) turned down the writ of certiorari of a man convicted of kidnapping and murdering three women, and sentenced to death. Justice Sotomayor began,
After seventeen years without a single federal execution,the Government has executed twelve people since July. They are Daniel Lee, Wesley Purkey, Dustin Honken, Lezmond Mitchell, Keith Nelson, William LeCroy Jr., Christopher Vialva, Orlando Hall, Brandon Bernard, Alfred Bourgeois, Lisa Montgomery, and, just last night, Corey Johnson. Today, Dustin Higgs will become the thirteenth. To put that in historical context, the Federal Government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades.
Such an approach is a logical fallacy called “appeal to emotion.” That’s not law, that’s sentiment, assuming one is moved to tears by the idea of multiple convicted murderers finally being executed after years of expensive appeals and stalls. Sotomayor seems to think the fact that the “Federal Government will have executed more than three times as many people in the last six months than it had in the previous six decades” and that it was 17 years before the Trump administration did what should have been done all along has more than trivia value. So what? The U.S. has a death penalty, and finally has decided to follow through on it. Good.
The conservative media does itself and its cause no favors when it indulges in the same kind of warped and biased logic, as well as shameless appeals to emotion, that it–rightly–accuses the Left-leaning media of inflicting on the public.
This story is stunningly simple from an ethics perspective. Walt Disney World has a rule that all visitors must wear masks at all times. A careless father who didn’t bother to do his research and preparation for a family trip to the theme park arrived to find that his 7-year-old daughter, who cannot wear a mask due to a disability, would not be allowed in. That was the correct call by Disney. It doesn’t matter whether the rule is excessive or extreme: this is a pandemic-related health rule for the safety, peace of mind and security of Disney’s guests. If everyone doesn’t wear masks, then no one will regard the rule as fair or serious. There can’t be exceptions to such rules, especially, “Aw. just this once, after all, the kid has a disability and has really been looking forward to this” exceptions. Continue reading
You already know Reason 1: both sides of the issue have resorted to the lowest level of debate, appealing to fear, name-calling and emotion as a substitute for general principles of law, ethics and common sense. The pro-illegal immigration forces engage in cynical sentimentality, romanticizing of law-breakers, and false characterizations in order to demonize principled opponents of open-boarders (Hate! Racists! Xenophobes! Children in cages!) Those who believe immigration laws must be enforced resort to fear-mongering, stereotyping illegal immigrants as disproportionately populated by dangerous gang members, felons, killers and rapists.
Reason 2: Nobody reads all the data, and few are interested in the facts. A 2016 report by the National Academies of Science (NAS), a generally progressive-biased but fair and non-political organization, since this is the tilt of academics generally,estimated that the cost to American workers. For example, on page 171 of its September 2016 report, the researchers suggested that immigration, legal and illegal, imposes a 5.2 percent income tax on Americans:
Immigrant labor accounts for 16.5 percent of the total number of hours worked in the United States, which . . . implies that the current stock of immigrants lowered [Americans’] wages by 5.2 percent.
NAS panel member George Borjas, a Harvard economist, calculated the value of the tax at $500 billion a year. The NAS also found that immigrants (legal and illegal) currently create a net fiscal deficit (taxes paid minus services used) that is as large as or larger than the economic benefit to the nation. The immigrants themselves do benefit by coming here. Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, said at the time the study was released, Continue reading
Aw, isn’t she cute! And she has advanced degrees in climate science and computer…no? She doesn’t? Then what the hell are we listening to her for?
Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg has set sail in a zero-emissions yacht for a two-week journey across the Atlantic Ocean to speak at the UN’s climate summit. This is, of course, embarrassing and ridiculous for the U.N., and for adults everyone. Thunberg , who is 16, founded the student climate-strike movement. As with Greta’s US equivalent, the Parkland anti-gun scold Parkland kids, Thunberg has nothing to recommend her as a legitimate authority on anything. She has multiple learning disabilities; she has no training in climate science or physics beyond what would be serviceable in a high school science fair. All she has is certitude, which is a hallmark of childhood and innocence as well as progressive, and a willingness to be exploited, sort of like Joan of Arc.
That’s not a bad comp, really. As Brendan O’Neill writes in Spiked, Continue reading
Legendary D.C. lawyer Jake Stein died last week at 94. He was that rarity in Washington and among lawyers, a universally respected attorney who had made few enemies and had few detractors. He was also long regarded as the sage of the profession in D.C., whose thoughtful and erudite essays that closed the bar associations’ monthly magazine, Washington Lawyer, were perhaps the most-read features of the publication.
I was reminded in his New York Times obituary that Stein represented Kenneth W. Parkinson, a former lawyer for President Nixon’s re-election committee, when he was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice in the Watergate scandal. Parkinson was the only indicted Watergate figure who was acquitted, and Stein’s skillful defense was considered to be the reason. His closing argument was made unusually dramatic by Stein weeping as he described Parkinson as a pawn of “confessed perjurers,” and pleaded for the jury to consider his client’s character and the wounds the unjust prosecution had inflicted on it. “Doesn’t a lifetime, where you built it up grain by grain, weigh against that?” Stein asked plaintively.
I wonder: were Stein’s tears real, and does it matter? Continue reading
In a recent irresponsible statement in reference to the government shut-down over President Trump’s wall, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he didn’t want a border wall to be the symbol of America, that he wanted the Statue of Liberty to be that symbol. In this context, it is impossible to interpret Schumer’s words as anything but a weaselly, wink-wink, coded endorsement of open borders. When the statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, the U.S. had few limitations on immigration. Non-citizens could vote in most states. The population was about 50 million, or about 1/7 of what it is today. The famous poem by Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” is not part of the statue, nor is it official U.S. policy. Today it resides in the Statue of Liberty Museum. In short, it was a different country, with different problems and priorities.
Now comes the terribly sad story of two young Saudi sisters who apparently committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Hudson River rather than return to their country, where women are second class citizens. Should such a story have any relevance at all to U.S. immigration and asylum policy? Should how much a non-citizen wants to live here be a factor in what the U.S. decides is the best criteria for allowing an immigrant to arrive and stay? If the two sisters could be granted asylum because they were women in a culture hostile to women, why not all Saudi women? Why not all Muslim women who are “yearning to be free”? Continue reading
I need Jimmy today. (Bing’s on this one too…)
1. They’re NOT “bombs.” I urge everyone to call their friends on this. Until it is established that in fact the “suspicious packages” (the FBI’s current description) or the “potentially destructive devices” can blow up and that they were intended to blow up, referring to them (as the New York Times has done) as “pipe bombs” and the mysterious asshole who sent them as “the bomber” is misleading and, in many cases, deliberately inflammatory. Cut it out. Nor are the mailed whatevertheyares “attacks.” Nobody has been “attacked” until the intent to harm them has been established, and it hasn’t been.
This is driving me crazy, in case you can’t tell.
The news media obviously wants these to be bombs, wants the sender to be a deranged Trump fan, hell, they’d love it if the sender was Trump himself. So they can’t help themselves, apparently, in jumping the gun and dishonestly reporting what is still very much in doubt. Personally, I would love to have it determined that the perp is a “resistance” member pulling a false flag operation, just to teach the news media a lesson, not that they are capable of learning it.
2. Trump’s Tweets. CNN and MSNBC are melting down with faux fury over this morning’s Trump Tweet, which said,
Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, “it’s just not Presidential!”
Notes: Continue reading
The recent post on the incredibly annoying Change.Org petition backing the “March For Our Lives’ sparked two epic Comments of the Day. I am gratified. That idiotic petition was signed by one of my favorite people alive, and this both inspired the post and made me depressed even before my left-wing Facebook friends started making one terrible argument after another in defense of the thing. (Not a word from the signee. I have a feeling she was so moved by her two teenagers, even though she knows better. I hope that is the excuse. Creeping dementia would be the only other explanation.)
This is a strange issue: the ethics really orbit around tangential matters rather than the alleged controversy itself. The Second Amendment isn’t going anywhere, no matter how loud the screams are or how many demonstrations there are. As is often noted on Ethics Alarms, I am not interested in abstract ethics without real life consequences; indeed, ethical formulas that only work in theory aren’t ethical. To me, the ethics issues following the Parkland shooting are,
- The cynical exploitation of the children by the Left
- The equally cynical, and unwise, hesitation to hold them accountable for their worse excesses in rhetoric
- The recycling of bad statistics and demonstrably (and demonstrated) bad arguments that have been used before to mislead and frighten the public, and
- The unethical cheerleading for the anti-gun position by the news media and pundits.
- The unusually vivid disconnect between the actual facts of the Parkland shooting and the measures being “demanded” in its wake.
The fake controversy—Should the United States allow law-abiding citizens to arm themselves with reasonably state-of-the-art firearms for whatever lawful purposes they decide are necessary and to the extent those citizens feel necessary?—isn’t on the table. This is the United States of America, and that question was answered long, long ago. As long as it is the United States of America, the answer will be the same. Those sufficiently unwilling to accept that fact really are well-advised to consider Australia. I don’t say this as a “Love it or Leave it” rebuke. I’m sorry such people don’t like the basic values and culture of the country, but I would have a similar suggestion for a friend who is determined to keep protesting that the U.S. should make its national language Danish, except, of course, then I would recommend repatriation to Denmark.
The two comments will follow now in successive posts without further musings by me…