On The Gavin Newsom Recall Ethics Train Wreck

Newsom

California’s thoroughly terrible governor, Gavin Newsom, survived his recall election by joining the state’s captive news media in calling a black challenger a racist and a white supremacist. Maybe that’s all that needs to be said, but there so much more. For example, a woman in a gorilla mask, which would clearly have been interpreted as a racial slur if that black challenger had been a Democrat, pelted the accused white supremacist with eggs without any outrage being expressed by major California publications. There is still more…

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Tales Of The Great Stupid: Yes, San Francisco Really Is Going To Pay Potential Criminals Not To Shoot People

Do I really have to explain again what’s wrong–as in unethical— with policies like this? Paying kids to do their homework, not to skip school, or not to use drugs; paying young women not to get pregnant, paying people to get vaccinated—all of these desperate plans undermine societal ethics, turning what must be taught as basic duties of responsible citizenship and life management into quid pro quo trade-offs. Such formulas reward the refusal to behave ethically by paying social miscreants to conform to ethical norms.

Ethics Alarms has written about these offensive programs many times. This one may be the worst of all. The only argument proponents can come up with is extreme utilitarianism: the ends justify the means. In such cases, however, the means involves rejecting ethics, duty and responsibility as essential motivations for good behavior and adopting habits of virtuous conduct.

Naturally, the latest pay-the-bad-guys scheme comes from San Francisco, where the District Attorney has solved the shop-lifting problem by making petty theft legal. I was preparing to write about this when I read that Governor Newsom’s test-marketed theme to win his recall election will be “It’s me or Trump.” This parody of a progressive governor has created a state culture where paying thugs not to kill is looked upon as reasonable, and he thinks implying that Trump, who isn’t running for anything in the Golden State, would be worse will attract votes. And he’s probably right!

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Ethics Observations On The Antifa School Teacher Scandal

Gipe

A “reporter” (I use the word loosely) for James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas somehow got Gabriel Gipe (above), an advanced placement teacher at Inderkum High School in Sacramento, California, to blather on happily about how he was indoctrinating his students in Marxist ideology and was proud of it. All of this was recorded, as is Project Veritas’s way. Gipe said, in part,

“I have 180 days to turn them [students] into revolutionaries…Scare the f*ck out of them… I’m probably as far left as you can go….I post a calendar every week…I’ve had students show up for protests, community events, tabling, food distribution, all sorts of things…When they go, they take pictures, write up a reflection — that’s their extra credit…So, they [students] take an ideology quiz and I put [the results] on the [classroom] wall. Every year, they get further and further left…I’m like, ‘These ideologies are considered extreme, right? Extreme times breed extreme ideologies.’ Right? There is a reason why Generation Z, these kids, are becoming further and further left…I have an Antifa flag on my [classroom] wall and a student complained about that — he said it made him feel uncomfortable. Well, this [Antifa flag] is meant to make fascists feel uncomfortable, so if you feel uncomfortable, I don’t really know what to tell you. Maybe you shouldn’t be aligning with the values that this [Antifa flag] is antithetical to…Like, why aren’t people just taking up arms? Like why can’t we, you know — take up arms against the state? We have historical examples of that happening, and them getting crushed and being martyrs for a cause and it’s like — okay well, it’s slow going because it takes a massive amount of organization…I think that for [left-wing] movements in the United States, we need to be able to attack both [cultural and economic] fronts. Right? We need to create parallel structures of power because we cannot rely on the state…Consistently focusing on education and a change of cultural propaganda. We have to hit both fronts. We have to convince people that this is what we actually need…There are three other teachers in my department that I did my credential program with — and they’re rad. They’re great people. They’re definitely on the same page.”

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Afternoon Ethics Julep, 8/24/2021: Harry Truman Revelations For The Dog Days…

Mint Julep

1. Good Harry, bad Harry. I recently watched the 1961 interviews David Susskind did with Harry Truman in 1961. You can see them on Amazon Prime streaming. I was very impressed; I could not remember any President in my lifetime who appeared so candid, open, and sincere about his principles, certainly none of our recent POTUSes. Truman is not one of favorite Presidents; I regard him as a mediocre man thrust into a job far above his abilities who managed to do better than anyone could have predicted. He rose to the occasion as best he could, and that is deserving of respect. The interviews elevated Harry in my estimation.

Then, yesterday, I read a scholarly paper by Prof. Paul Campos of the University of Colorado Law School that shattered my newly grown regard for Harry. The Former Presidents Act (FPA), a 1958 statute provides ex-Presidents with millions of dollars in future taxpayer-funded benefits. One of the motives behind the House’s “snap impeachment” of Donald Trump was to ensure that he not be a beneficiary of the Act. (They failed. As Nelson Muntz would say, “HAHA!”) Campos’s research shows that while the FPA has always been explained as a response to former President Truman’s financial struggles in part because he refused to exploit his status as a former President cash in (like some Presidents of recent vintage), this was not just a false narrative, but a spectacularly false narrative. Campos writes,

Using recently released and until now unexamined archival evidence… in a complete contravention of the existing standard historical record, [it appears that] Harry Truman was, as a direct result of being president, a very wealthy man on the day he left the White House, with an estimated net worth, in relative economic terms, of approximately $58 million in 2021 dollars. …[T]his wealth was a result of both Truman’s enormous presidential salary — several times larger, in real terms, than the current salary for the office — and, more problematically, of the evident fact that Truman misappropriated essentially all of the multi-million dollar — in 2021 terms — presidential expense account that was set up for him by Congress at the beginning of his second term….[A]gain contrary to the current historical understanding, Truman made another fortune after he left the Presidency, by doing precisely what he claimed he was not doing, that is, exploiting his status as a former President to maximum economic advantage. Indeed, by the time Congress passed the FPA in response to Truman’s various claims that he was at least teetering on the brink of potential financial distress, Truman’s net worth was, in relative economic terms, approximately $72 million in 2021 dollars.”

Well, there goes that newfound respect! Truman was a member of the corrupt Prendergast political machine in Kansas City before entering national politics, so this isn’t as much of a surprise as it would be for some other icons.

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Noon Ethics Munchies, 7/14/2021: On Cuba, Big Lies, Roy Moore, and More [Corrected]

Munchies

1. The President gets a cheap shot...Commenting on Joe Biden’s generally hysterical speech about “voter suppression,” “Bonchie” writes on the conservative blog Red State,

“Of note here is that Biden is channeling Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels by using the phrase “big lie” to disparage Republicans who have concerns about the 2020 election. Yet, despite the phrase’s murderous, anti-Semitic past, the president seems to have no problem saying it repeatedly. In doing so, he echoed CNN’s Jake Tapper and others who have also been fond of the phrase.”

There is nothing wrong with using the phrase or the description. The device was championed by both Goebbels and Hitler, and is an accurate description of a propaganda tactic, an unethical but powerful one, used by both the Right and the Left. Whether the description is used fairly in any particular case is a separate issue. “Big Lies” is a very accurate description of the assault by the “resistance”/Democratic Party/mainstream media against Donald Trump—can you think of a better one?—which is why Ethics Alarms used it here and elsewhere.

What would be fair to note is that Biden has often been an eager employer of Goebbels’ favorite trick himself…as noted in this post.

2. Does anyone understand why Democrats are trying to downplay the current Cuban protests against the Communist government? This makes no sense to me. Thousands of anti-regime protesters took to the streets across the island over the weekend, waving American flags and chanting “Freedom!” and anti-government slogans. Cuba has been a repressive Communist regime since Fidel Castro pulled his bait and switch with the U.S. in 1959, but the most extreme elements in the Democratic Party, the proto-Marxists, have always thrown Cuba metaphorical kisses, like Michael Moore. Barack Obama reversed decades of U.S. policy by opening relations with Cuba without requiring any human rights concessions in return. One would think an outbreak of democracy on the island would be viewed as a good thing, but Biden’s paid liar, Jen Psaki, absurdly explained that the reason for the protests was “concern about rising COVID cases, deaths, and medicine shortages” rather than political oppression.

While Republicans have immediately announced their support for the Cuban people, Reps. Bobby Rush (D., Ill.), Steve Cohen (D., Tenn.), Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), Gwen Moore (D., Wis.) and the more 70 members of Congress, including “The Squad,” of course, signed a letter asking Biden to lift Trump sanctions Cuba in March. They have not had any comment on the demonstrations so far.

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In Americans For Prosperity Foundation v. Bonta, Supreme Court Conservatives Again Defend The First Amendment As Its Left Approves Of Chilling Speech And Association

08-18-17 Free Speech

How did we get to the point where “liberals” want to chip away at the freedoms of speech and association while conservatives defend it? It’s weird: I’m old enough to remember when those mean old conservatives were always trying to silence dissent, not to mention vulgarity and violent TV shows and movies.

But in the final day of the Supreme Court’s term, the 6-3 conservative majority ruled that California—from which all terrible ideas now seem to flow— may not require charities soliciting contributions in the state to report the identities of their major donors. The law was opposed by very unconservative voices like those of ACLU to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and one would think that the alleged liberals on the court would immediately recognize how the law could and would chill free speech. Or don’t they pay attention to the incidents where CEOs have been run out of their jobs for contributing money to anti-gay marriage organizations, to name just one example? It would seem not. This is also weird, for the cancel culture has made simply stating an opinion that contradicts the Woke Borg perilous to one’s career, personal relationships and safety. Is it overly conspiracy-minded to suggest that progressives want it that way, particularly with their success at making wiggly-spined Americans who would make Patrick Henry retch grovel for forgiveness.

Chief Justice Roberts neatly summarized the importance of free association, writing,

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Ethics (And Judicial) Hero: Federal Judge Roger Benitez

cartoon-guns

If one bothers to read his opinion, which most anti-gun, anti-Second Amendment zealots will not, including your outraged friends on social media, it is clear that that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California judge’s long overdue ruling striking down the state’s three-decade-old unconstitutional ban on so-called “assault weapons” is well reasoned, well-researched, and difficult to rebut. As usual, those who want to remove the right to bear arms from law abiding Americans (while law-defying Americans continue to do as they please) are resorting to emotion and dishonesty to argue their case.

It is unfortunate that the judge, who is not one of those evil Trump judges but a moderate appointed by President Bush II, began his opinion with an invitation to be misquoted and misunderstood. “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment,” Judge Benitez wrote, so furious would-be gun-grabbers are aping California Governor Gavin Newsom, who tweeted,

“Overturning CA’s assault weapon ban and comparing an AR-15 to a SWISS ARMY KNIFE is a disgusting slap in the face to those who have lost loved ones to gun violence. This is a direct threat to public safety and innocent Californians. We won’t stand for it.”

This raises the question, so frequently encountered on Ethics Alarms, of whether a speaker is deliberately lying, or just stupid. In this case, it is also possible that he only read the first sentence, which is irresponsible. Benitez, as the rest of his opinion makes crystal clear, was comparing the versatility of an AR-15 to a Swiss Army Knife, not their characteristics as weapons. An important part of his opinion explains that when the California legislature banned semi-automatic rifles,it never even considered the weapon’s value for self defense, and not just as a “sporting rifle.” (The Red Sox have a utility player named Marwin Gonzalez, and I have heard him compared to a Swiss Army Knife because he can play almost any position; in other words, he’s versatile. No baseball writer has been so foolish as to mock the characterization by saying that the comparison is ridiculous because the knives aren’t alive, Gonzales isn’t Swiss, and he’s much, much bigger.) It is also a non sequitur to call a ruling based on black letter law a “slap in the face” to anyone. Not following the Constitution, as California frequently wants to do, is a slap in the face of democracy.

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Tuesday Ethics Torture, 2/23/21: Stevey’s Going, Peter Suprises, Ian Shrugs, And California Dictates…

Torture of Brinvilliers, 17th Century

I spent a half-hour searching for ethics stories that made me feel good. All I found was more sources of gloom and depression. I have a headache, and no matter how many times I play, “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart!,” it doesn’t male me want to laugh, gambol and frolic….

1. Normally the baseball season’s impending approach would cheer me up, as it has for more than 50 years (and that’s another damn thing—I can’t possibly be that old), and this time, nothing. It’s like I’m dead inside. The twin curses of the Boston Red Sox pandering to Black Lives Matter and the team’s rehiring of a proven, and as far as I can see, unrepentant cheater as manager have apparent sucked all of the joy out of what has been a lifetime passion. Now I’m bothered more by the flaws that once I would have shrugged off, like this one: Ian Desmond, a 35-year-old outfielder with the Colorado Rockies, has “opted out” of playing for the second straight season.

“For now, I’ve decided to opt out of the 2021 season,” Desmond wrote on Instagram. “My desire to be with my family is greater than my desire to go back and play baseball under these circumstances. I’m going to continue to train and watch how things unfold.” Between the two seasons, the player has now walked away from a combined $13.56 million. He was owed $8 million this year and was set to make $5.56 million of his prorated $15 million salary last season, though the Rockies have a $2 million buyout for 2022.

Desmond, 35, hit .255 with 20 homers in 140 games in 2019. He’s not special. Yet he has made so much money in a slightly above average career that he can afford to toss away millions of dollars. An industry that pays its workers so much that they have no financial incentive to work makes no sense, and any team that would keep a player like Desmond, whose attitude is, “Eh, I don’t feel like playing baseball…maybe later,” is foolish. He’s healthy, relatively young, and his risks of serious health problems from the Wuhan virus are slim: my grocery store clerks face greater risks by far. Yechhh.

2. Slippery Slope Warning! The slippery slope is both a phenomenon and a fallacy, as when someone objects to something benign by arguing that it creates a theoretical slippery slope that is not benign. Of late however, the assault of the Woke has made slippery sloping a national pastime, particularly involving slopes that lead governments to dictate all manner of conduct that should be none of its damn business.

For example, in California, good little brain-washers Evan Low and Cristina Garcia introduced Assembly Bill 1084 to require gender neutral retail departments. The bill would add Part 2.57 (commencing with Section 55.7) to Division 1 of the Civil Code, to be titled “Gender Neutral Retail Departments.” The bill would enact a regulation based on “legislative findings” that there are unjustified differences in similar products traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys. Thus the bill, on the theory that it will be easier on the consumer if similar items are displayed closer to one another in one, undivided area of the retail sales floor, mandates eliminating gender distinctions in clothing sales. In addition, keeping similar items that are traditionally marketed either for girls or for boys separated incorrectly implies that their use by one gender is inappropriate, the bill claims/

Ah! Illegal implication. Can’t have that!

I would assume that even an idiot could see that this is government indoctrination and has zero to do with serving consumers. If a retail company chooses to market clothing as unisex, they should go for it, but it is not the role of government to dictate how merchandise is displayed.

California is a contagious carrier of terrible and infectious ideas. The other states should be wearing big masks…

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Unethical . . . But Funny! Well, Stupid, Really . . .

Gross netting

This week, Superior Court Judge Kimberly Knill ordered the billionaire bond investor Bill Gross and his partner Amy Schwartz, to stop violating the noise ordinances of the Laguna Beach municipal code by playing the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song music on their outdoor speakers. Evidence showed that music was played so loudly it could be heard inside neighbor Mark Towfiq’s—he’s also a billionaire— home despite concrete construction and half-inch-thick, dual-pane windows.

Why was the couple inflicting the infamous earworm on their neighbor? It seems the music started when Towfiw objected to the Gross estate erecting the ugly plastic netting around a huge glass sculpture that they had installed in their back yard. When he complained, Gross, 76, and Schwartz, 51 retaliated by claiming their neighbor was a Peeping Tom. Then the the couple started inviting him to sit right down as they told a tale about a three hour tour, night after night.

The litigation, which involved teams of high-priced lawyers on both sides, commenced November 9. A city code enforcement official testified that Gross and Schwartz said they would lower the music if Towfiq dropped his complaint about the sculpture. Towfiq’s lawyers presented a text from Gross responding to their client’s request to turn down the music in which Gross wrote, “Peace on all fronts or we’ll just have nightly concerts big boy.”

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Mid-Day Ethics Tidbits, 11/4/2020: Sort-Of Post-Election Edition, With Yummy NONE Election-Related Items!

1. Ay Caramba! Does anyone think that former Playboy model Eva Marie has a legitimate complaint because she was kicked off a Southwest flight along with her seven-year-old son for wearing this outfit on board?

Eva Marie

I don’t. She said she was “humiliated and embarrassed” when a Southwest Airlines flight attendant told her she couldn’t board looking like that. I don’t believe it for a second. She was seeking publicity. “When they threatened to remove me off the plane if I didn’t have a change of clothes, I felt completely humiliated, embarrassed and highly offended,” the Instagram influencer said of the incident. “I’m an A list member for SWA and have a credit card with the airline and I have perks that allow any person traveling with me to fly free because of my high status with the airline. So even as being a loyal customer with them, I felt like the other women on the plane were judging me based on my attire and they were saying my breasts are too large,” she added. “Well, that’s something I can’t help.”

No, you shameless jerk, they were judging you because you won’t observe even minimal social conventions, like not going out in public looking like a stripper mid-routine. If she is a “high status” member of the airline, then she is presumably aware that it has a dress code. It is overwhelmingly likely that she pulled this as a stunt to gain Instagram users  to “influence,” and exploited Southwest to do so.

The airline would be fair and reasonable to ban her from flying.

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