Tag Archives: Brett Kavanaugh

Ethics Morning Sickness, 9/29/2018: The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearing Hangover

According to several sources, Republicans not only have the votes to confirm Brett Kananaugh,  a couple of Democrats may even join their ranks. If true, that’s amazing, and also the most encouraging piece of news I’ve heard since Aaron Judge went on the Disabled List.

I don’t have any special fondness for Brett Kavanaugh, and I have no stake in his confirmation. All I have ever cared about is having outstanding, smart, analytical judges on the Supreme Court. I was thrilled when President Obama nominated Elena Kagan, who fits that description; depressed when he appointed touchy-feely mediocrity Sotamayor, lowering the quality of judicial talent so he could check off a diversity box, but then, that’s Obama. Justices like Blackmun, Souter and Kennedy, all appointed to skirt controversy rather than to ensure a competent Court, do subtle, long-lasting damage to our laws. Aggressive, thoughtful, brilliant jurists like Scalia and Ginsberg keep the third branch of government strong. Kavanaugh is undeniably the kind of qualified, experienced judge who has always been routinely confirmed by the Senate regardless of the President nominating him or his party affiliation. What the Democrats and their allies among activist and the news media have done to Brett Kavanaugh is more than wrong; it is very dangerous, and threatens further the basic comity and respect without which no democracy can function. The treatment of Kavanaugh, which I have discussed in detail elsewhere—the demonizing, the fear-mongering, the character assassination, based purely on an unremarkable judicial philosophy—continues down a slippery slope, already greased by “the resistance,”  that ends in civil war.  The Democrats will only turn away from this disastrous path when they conclude that it won’t work, that the American public rejects “the ends justify the means” as an operating strategy. There are signs that the Democratic Senators televised conduct during the Kavanaugh hearings may be a tipping point. I hope so. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Nothing much has changed in my assessment since I wrote this post ten days ago. I still don’t believe or disbelieve Ford or Kavanaugh. There is no basis on which to believe either of them, but the accuser has the burden of proof, and as was true ten days ago, she can’t meet it and didn’t meet it. Nobody confirms her account. She cannot provide specifics, even as to where the alleged attack occurred, who held the party where it allegedly occurred, or an exact date, making investigation nearly impossible. Her parents, who are alive, have not confirmed her account; apparently she didn’t even tell them about the incident. Her testimony was convincing. So was Kavanaugh’s. Those who say “they believe” either party might as well have a “Bias has made me stupid” sign on top of their head. In yesterday’s New York Times, a full page ad listed thousands of names of men proclaiming “We believe Anita Hill. We also believe Charistine Blasey Ford.” All they are doing is virtue signaling for their pals, proclaiming their partisan affiliation (believing Ford is required to save abortion, and depending on which hysterical activist or pundit you listen to, female suffrage, gay marriage and the continued abolition of slavery), and or proving that they lack the power of critical thought.

I’ll have to sort through all of the logical fallacies used against Kavanaugh later: I’m sure a new rationalization for the list or twelve is in there. For example, I have been told and read that women believe Ford because they know other victims of sexual assault who never reported it. But that doesn’t justify believing Ford! It indicates that the fact that she waited all this time, until evidence was gone and memories faded, to suddenly make her accusation when it was most politically useful to her party doesn’t prove she isn’t telling the truth, but it doesn’t make it any more likely that she is, either. A commenter yesterday suggested that there should be more sympathy and accommodation for victims who are afraid to come forward soon after a sexual assault. “I would like to remind you that women often are not able to speak out against harassment until long after the fact because they are afraid and unable,” she wrote. I replied,

Then they lose their chance. There are a lot of things in life like that. If I’m reluctant to speak up and challenge a mob harassing a US Senator while he’s dining with my family, I can’t wait 20 years and do it then, can I? If you are afraid to report a community criminal when you have evidence against him because you’re afraid to snitch, it’s no mitigation to report the evidence after more people have been hurt because of your delay. How about women who don’t stop their boyfriends from sexually molesting their children because they are afraid? Is it acceptable that they wait until the Statute of Limitations has run, the damage has been done, and the kids are grown and molesting children themselves before they speak up?

You don’t have to remind me of the dilemma. I’m sorry, but I am really sick of this argument…It’s an excuse and a rationalization. It makes fairness and due process impossible, and it allows false accusers to manipulate others. Three decades? Holding a complaint until the exact moment when it can’t be defended against AND will do the most damage?

It’s explainable, perhaps, but it isn’t ethically excusable.

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Unethical Quote Of The Week: Fred Guttenberg…And An Integrity Test For Everyone Else

“Put out my hand to introduce myself as Jaime Guttenberg’s dad. He pulled his hand back, turned his back to me and walked away. I guess he did not want to deal with the reality of gun violence.”

—–Fred Guttenberg, the father of one of the Parkland shooting victims, on Twitter, trying to execute a disgraceful and transparent “gotcha!” to impugn SCOTUS nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Sorry, Fred, but I know my Presidential history, and if a stranger offers his hand to me, especially in a hostile environment, my mind flashes back to when Leon Czolgosz used the ploy to assassinate President McKinley. That would be my reflection on “the reality of gun violence.” Of course, I don’t know that Judge Kavanaugh is a student of Presidential shootings, but I also don’t see any reason why “I’m Jaime Guutenberg’s dad” should have meant anything to him at all. It wouldn’t to me. Supreme Court designates are  required to have memorized the names of every shooting victim now?

The entire hearing where this occurred looked like a particularly badly-directed scene from an amateur production of “The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade.” People were dressed up in costumes and screaming; Democratic Senators were grandstanding. Then a complete stranger comes up and offers his hand to the target of all of this hate and commotion.  The fact that Kavanaugh was wary well of his wisdom and judicial restraint.

Anyone who cites this obvious set-up as a relevant or substantive reflection on Kavanaugh’s character or fitness for teh Supreme Court has abandoned all shreds of fairness and integrity, and should be treated accordingly.

Let me be more specific: anyone who criticizes Kavanaugh for this is an asshole.

Take names.

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From The Ethics Alarms “Democrats Must Be So Proud” Files: An Obvious Observation On Today’s Kavanaugh Hearing

It is disgraceful,  embarrassing, and dangerous, and only two or three steps away from Charles Sumner being physically attacked by Preston Brooks on the Senate floor.

It emerged during the proceedings that Senate Democrats planned to disrupt the orderly process of the hearings as a strategy. Nice. I guess that’s their replacement for the filibuster. I think I prefer the device used by Lilly Tomlin’s character in the Netflix series “Grace and Frankie”: when she can’t rebut an argument, she starts singing “She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” as loud as she can, so nobody else can talk.

“The hearing began with protesters breaking in, and continued with serial efforts by Democratic Senators to postpone the hearing. To the credit of committed chair Chuck Grassley, he bulled on through. As he did so, the Democratic side degenerated into a contest regarding which putative candidate for the Democratic 2020 nomination could pander to the base more. Here is how the day began:

GRASSLEY: “Good morning. I welcome everyone to this confirmation hearing on the nomination of —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— Brett Kavanaugh –”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman.”
GRASSLEY: “— to serve as associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.”
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized for a question before we proceed. Mr. Chairman, I’d like to be recognized to ask a question before we proceed. The committee received just last night less than 15 hours ago —“
HARRIS: “Mr. Chairman, regular order.”
HARRIS: “— 42.000 pages of documents that we have not had an opportunity to review or read or analyze.”
GRASSLEY: “You are out of order. I will proceed.”
HARRIS: “We cannot possibly move forward, Mr. Chairman. We have not been given the opportunity to have a meaningful hearing with Congress nominee–“[cross-talk]
GRASSLEY: “I extend a very warm welcome to Judge Kavanaugh, to his wife Ashley, their two daughters –[cross-talk]
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I agree with my colleague, senator Harris. Mr. Chairman, we received 42.000 documents tat we haven’t been able to review —”
GRASSLEY: “— And everyone else joining us today.”
UNKNOWN: ” and we believe this hearing should be postponed —”
GRASSLEY: “I know this is an exciting day for all of you here and your you’re rightly proud —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, if we cannot be recognized I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn.”
GRASSLEY: “— From Judge Kavanaugh —”
UNKNOWN: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. Mr. Chairman, we have been denied real access to the documents we need to advise —” (Audience cheering)
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, we have been denied the real access to the documents we need —[cross-talk] which turns this hearing into a charade and a mockery of our norms and, Mr. Chairman, I therefore move to adjourn this hearing.”
AUDIENCE: “This is a mockery. This is a travesty of justice. Cancel Brett Kavanaugh, adjourn the hearing. [ indecipherable].”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I ask for a roll call vote on my motion to adjourn.”
AUDIENCE MEMBER: “‘[indecipherable]'”
GRASSLEY: “Okay.”
BLUMENTHAL: “Mr. Chairman, I move to adjourn. I ask for a roll call vote.”
GRASSLEY: “We are not in executive session. We will continue as planned.”

A recurring theme was the disingenuous complaint that Democrats, who have received over 400,ooo pages of materials relating to Trump’s nomination to fill Justice Kennedy’s seat on the Court, as well as all of his judicial opinions which are what really matter, did not have time to read the most recently released batch of about 40, 000 pages. Everyone knows that what is in those documents doesn’t matter one bit, because the entire group of Democratic Senators have already made it clear that they are going to vote against Kavanaugh as a bloc. They are going to do it to express their outrage over Merrick Garland; they are going to do it to pander to the resistance narrative that Trump is an “illegitimate” President, they are going to do it because the party increasingly seeks to demonize conservatives, they are going to do it because they are afraid of their base. Oh, there are lots of reasons. All of the Democratic Senators, maybe most,  don’t seriously believe their party’s own scare-mongering that Kavanaugh will lead the Supreme Court to reverse Roe v. Wade, but there is the rapidly pro-abortion—not just pro-abortion rights but pro-abortion—feminist segment of the base to pander to as well.

Essentially, we are watching an entire political party embrace mob-style interference as an alternative to process, because they don’t like what the likely results of the established process will be. Of course this is dangerous to the nation and the Constitution. It is also a tantrum, just like the party’s reaction to President Trump’s election itself.

It was predictable that if the funeral of a Senator was exploited  as an opportunity to attack the President, the hearings on his Supreme Court nominee would certainly be. (I am not finished looking, but so far I can find no comparable direct attacks on Barack Obama during the hearings on his two nominees.) Here, for example, is the reliable demagogue Dick Durbin (D-Ill), doing his best Keith Olbermann imitation:

“You are the nominee of President Donald John Trump. This is a president who’s shown us consistently he’s contemptuous of the rule of law. He’s said and done things as president which we’ve never seen before in history. He dismissed the head of the FBI when he wouldn’t bend to his will. He harasses his attorney general on almost a daily basis in the exercise of his office, and I didn’t vote for Jeff Sessions, but I have to tell you there should be some respect at least for the office he serves in. And it’s that president who’s decided you are his man. You’re the person he wants on the Supreme Court. You are his personal choice. So are people nervous about this? Are they concerned about it? Of course they are.”

As in the hypocritical remarks by the McCain mourners. Durbin is hilariously self-indicting. Durbin’s party has been  contemptuous of the rule of law in areas where the President has been committed to enforce it, as with illegal immigration. Durbin and his party have undertaken direct assaults on the First, Second, and Fourth Amendments. The way Democrats are conducting themselves in this very hearing has never been seen before in history. Continue reading

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Afternoon Ethics Pick-Me-Up, 8/14/2018: Fools, Knaves And Hypocrites

Good afternoon!

1. Unethical tweet of the week, right wing nut division: Jerry Falwell Jr, who heads Liberty University. The acorn that didn’t fall far from the tree tweeted:

Are there any grownups w/ integrity left in the DOJ? When I was a kid, I watched Repubs join Dems to force Nixon out. Now Dems won’t join Repubs to lock up Comey, Lynch, Ohr, Rosenstein, Strzok, , & maybe even despite damning evidence!

Here’s an ethics tip for college age students and their parents: if the leader of a school has this tenuous a grip on basic Constitutional law, pay tuition to some place, any place, else.

2. Then we have the left-wing Pro Publica, which is trying to fuel the desperate Democratic efforts to find dirt on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and thus issued this…

3.  Which political party is more deranged today? Well, an  Ipsos public opinion survey claims that 43 % of self-identified Republicans agreed that “the President should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”  Only 36% of surveyed Republicans disagreed with giving a President the power to shut down news outlets like CNN and The Washington Post.

First of all, this primarily raises legitimate concerns regarding the educational level and intelligence quotient of Americans.  99% of those polled could advocate repealing the First Amendment, just as a majority could proclaim its belief that the national language ought to be Finnish. It’s not happening. Professor Turley’s take-away is that “Trump has truly and irrecoverably changed the party and much of the country . . . and, in this case, not for the better.” Baloney. The fact that journalists have exposed themselves as being partisan operatives uninterested in conveying facts to the public in a fair and unbiased manner has changed the public perception of the value of the news media, and not for the better. Whether the change is “irrecoverable” depends on whether American journalism sees the dangerous error of its path over the past several decades, and becomes trustworthy again. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/31/18: The Self-Deception Edition

Goodbye, July, 2018!

(and don’t come back!)

1. Ethics translation time! Baseball’s current World Champion Houston  Astros just traded for young, exciting closer Roberto Osuna from the Toronto Blue Jays. This raised some eyebrows, because the 23-year-old Osuna is just completing a 75-game suspension from MLB for allegedly beating his wife. The Blue Jays had decided that they wanted no part of Osuna, and that he would not be a member of their team going forward, despite the fact that he is regarded as one of the best late-inning relievers in the game.

Anticipating some criticism from Houston fans and baseball fans in general, who usually don’t like cheering for disgusting people,Astros GM Jeff Luhnow released a statement  following the trade, saying,

 “We are excited to welcome Roberto Osuna to our team. The due diligence by our front office was unprecedented. We are confident that Osuna is remorseful, has willfully complied with all consequences related to his past behavior, has proactively engaged in counseling, and will fully comply with our zero tolerance policy related to abuse of any kind. Roberto has some great examples of character in our existing clubhouse that we believe will help him as he and his family establish a fresh start and as he continues with the Houston Astros. We look forward to Osuna’s contributions as we head into the back half of the season.”

Translation:

“Our team has had bullpen problems all season, and as of now we have no closer, even as the team has lost three games in a row [now it’s four], two of our best players are injured, and we’re beginning a series against the Mariners, who are just a few games behind us. So in the interest of winning and because the ends justify the means, we are suspending our “zero-tolerance” policy regarding “abuse of any kind” to tolerate a player who Major League Baseball has determined to be a very serious abuser. I don’t know how we’re going to tell another player who is credibly accused of less serious abuse that we won’t tolerate his presence on the team when we just voluntarily brought an abuser onto the team, but never mind: there’s a pennant to win. I’m pretending that Roberto has complied with all consequences related to his past behavior when he is currently pleading not guilty in his pending Canadian trial on battery charges, in the hope that most fans aren’t paying attention.”

“Thank you.”

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Ken White Enlightens Us Regarding Judge Kavanaugh

Libertarian, free speech specialist lawyer/blogger Ken White has some news for the anti-Brett Kavanaugh fanatics who are claiming that he will lead an evil Republican plot to take away our civil rights. In a Popehat post titled “You”ll Hate This Post on Brett Kavanaugh”, —which tells you a lot about his readers, don’t you think?—Ken demonstrates that he. unlike the reflex foes of President Trump’s distinguished nominee to replace Justice Kennedy on the Supreme Court, has done his home work, and has made a fair and objective analysis of Kavanaugh’s record on the crucial Constitutional issue of free speech.

His conclusion?

“In conclusion, Kavanaugh’s work on the D.C. Circuit show a judge strongly protective of free speech rights, and part of the trend of applying free speech doctrines both to classic scenarios and to government regulation. His stance on telecommunications and elections laws will get him painted as part of the “weaponize free speech” movement by results-oriented thinkers. He’s strong on First Amendment limits on defamation law and his approach to anti-SLAPP statutes do not, as some have suggested, signal that he wants to make defamation cases easier. But though he might help upset applecarts by applying the First Amendment to regulatory schemes, and will not uphold broad speech restrictions, he will likely not overturn doctrines that make it hard for individuals to recover for speech violations.”

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From The Conservative Media: More Fake Stupid News

Boy I’m tired of falling for this kind of click-bait on the conservative news websites.

“Hillary Clinton Says Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Will Bring Back Slavery” shouted the headline on a story at PJ Media by Tyler O’Neill.  Uh, no, that’s not really what she said. This is; Clinton told the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) at its national convention:

“Let me say a word about the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court,”  “This nomination holds out the threat of devastating consequences for workers rights, civil rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights — including those to make our own health decisions. It is a blatant attempt by this administration to shift the balance of the Court for decades and to reverse decades of progress,” the former Democratic presidential nominee declared. I used to worry that they [the Republicans] wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s. Now I worry they want to turn it back to the 1850s.”

Says O’Neill, maybe with a straight face: “Clinton was clearly suggesting that Trump and Kavanaugh want to return to the days when slavery was legal in the South.”

What hypocrisy. Continue reading

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