Wow! Extreme Ideology And Resistance To Stubborn Reality Leads To Astoundingly Unethical And Irresponsible Policies…

I don’t understand this at all. I don’t understand how intelligent officials—and by “intelligent” here I only mean “smart enough to put their socks on before their shoes”—-can possibly convince themselves that ignoring common sense and the collected wisdom of centuries as well as the acquired knowledge of recent decades will have anything but disastrous results. But here we stand:

  • In June, the California Highway Patrol arrested two men after a search of their vehicle revealed a stash of cocaine and 150,000 fentanyl pills. Based on the amount of drugs involved, they were booked into jail with an initial bail amount of $1 million each. (Fentanyl kills people.) But a pre-trial risk assessment of the suspects resulted in the men being classified  “low risk,” so they were released on their own recognizance without either the local D.A. or law enforcement officials being consulted. The two men, 25-year-old Jose Zendejas and 19-year-old Benito Madrigal, faced up to 14 years in state prison. They were expected to show up back in court on July 21. Shockingly, they did not. Nobody knows where they are.Their release is part of the social justice movement to eliminate bail because it discriminates against poor people. It also helps with the over-incarceration problem, because it allows criminals to get away with their crimes and harm society again, while broadcasting the message to other would be criminals that they are in a low-risk, high rewards profession as long as they stay where fantasy-blinded progressives run things….like California.

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More Evidence (As If More Were Needed) Of Dead Ethics Alarms In California

Five years ago, California passed a law blocking most taxpayer-funded travel to states “deemed” to have passed laws that discriminate against LGBTQ people. The key word is “deemed.” Assembly Bill 1887 was a response to a North Carolina law that required people to use public bathrooms based on the sex shown on their birth certificate. That’s not discrimination. That’s “a legitimate approach to a difficult issue that a powerful voting bloc in California has strong feelings about.” Twelve states landed on California’s first boycott list, and then, on June 28th, the 52nd anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, gay Attorney General Rob Bonta (above) announced that he was adding Florida and four other states to its official travel ban list, claiming that they passed “anti-LGBTQ” laws that are “directly targeting transgender youth.”

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California Makes Its Values Depressingly Clear: Minority Privilege Over Children’s Lives

Forget it, Jake, it’s California Town.

Two days after the Uvalde shooting, as all of California Democrats, progressives and anti-gun zealots were metaphorically screaming “Murderers!” at those who aren’t willing to gut the Second Amendment to pretend that various restrictions would stop evil lunatics like Ramos, the California State Senate voted to end a legal requirement that students who threaten violence against school officials be reported.

The old law mandated that whenever a school official was “attacked, assaulted, or physically threatened by any pupil,” staff must “promptly report the incident to specified law enforcement authorities.”

Gone. So, for example, the teacher in that screenshot above, taken from a video of an in-class assault, would not be obligated to report it. How odd that the state would eliminate such a restriction as the question rages over how so many people aware that the Uvalde shooter was an anti-social, gun-obsessed menace never alerted authorities. What could possibly be California’s thinking?

Oh, come on. It’s easy! I guessed—that proves it’s easy. The ACLU’s statement on why it supports the repeal tells all:

Decades of research show the long-term harm to young people of even minimal contact with the juvenile or criminal legal systems. Once students make contact with law enforcement, they are less likely to graduate high school and more likely to wind up in jail or prison. These harms fall disproportionately on students from marginalized groups: Black, Indigenous, and Latinx students, as well as students with disabilities, are disproportionately referred to law enforcement, cited, and arrested.

Taking the photo above as an example, that student is merely the victim of centuries of systemic racism, and justifiably enraged by a racist white supremacist culture. Reporting him just compounds the injustice.

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Morning Ethics Heat-Up, 5/18/2022: More Judicial Review And Lies

Because I was otherwise obsessed, I missed noting yesterday a true landmark in law and ethics. It was that date in 1954 when a unanimous the  Supreme Court handed down the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, ruling that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Linda Brown, a young African American girl had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

Written in 1896 as the KKK roamed the South, the SCOTUS ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson held that “separate but equal” accommodations in railroad cars conformed to the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. Plessy was interpreted as justifying segregation in everything from buses to water fountains to elementary schools. The white school Brown attempted to attend was far superior to her the segregation-mandated alternative and miles closer to her home, so The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People  took up Linda’s cause. Thurgood Marshall led Brown’s legal team, and on May 17, 1954, Plessy was overturned after 58 years as “the law of the land” despite the siren call of stare decisus. The opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren declared that “separate but equal” was an unconstitutional doctrine in ringing terms: “We conclude that, in the field of public education, the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”  A year later, the Supreme Court published guidelines requiring public school systems to integrate “with all deliberate speed.”

1. Prudent and responsible, if not courageous. Speaking of SCOTUS, newly confirmed Justice-in-Waiting Ketanji Brown Jackson sat for an interview by the Washington Post and was asked about the leak of Justice Alito’s draft opinion in the Dobbs abortion case. Conservative media was triggered by this section:

Q: What was your response when you when you saw the draft leak [of a Supreme Court opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade]?

A: Everybody who is familiar with the court and the way in which it works was shocked by that. Such a departure from normal order.

Q: Do you think it was a good thing or a bad thing?

A: I can’t answer that.

Q: What do you think about peaceful protests outside of Supreme Court justices’ homes?

A: I don’t have any comment.

Charles Cooke at the National Review writes, “This ranges from somewhere between cowardly and sinister, much like the failure of the justices to issue a joint statement that echoes the chief justice’s condemnation of the leak and statement of determination to identify the leaker, and that condemns the protests, which violate federal law.”

Wrong. SCOTUS justices should not issue opinions on such matters. Her statement that the leak was a breach of the normal order was factual, and breaches of normal order in any institution are unethical. She was right to go no further. As for the demonstrators, some of them may be arrested at some point, and a statement by a Supreme Court Justice regarding their conduct could interfere with a fair trial.

Her responses give me more reason to trust Jackson’s judgment, not less.

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The Road To Totalitarianism: California Shows, Once Again, Which Party Is Driving

Late yesterday, the State Bar of California  announced that Orange County attorney John Eastman (above), a former law school dean, law professor, and a long-time respected member of the bar, is the target of a disciplinary investigation into whether he violated laws while advising President Trump on options available to him in the wake of his election defeat in 2020. Eastman wrote two legal memos that advised Vice President Mike Pence that he could declare that the results in several states were disputed and therefore their electoral votes would go uncounted.  The State Bar’s chief trial counsel, George Cardona, announced  that Eastman has been the center of an investigation since September, saying in part,  “A number of individuals and entities have brought to the State Bar’s attention press reports, court filings, and other public documents detailing Mr. Eastman’s conduct.”

That’s odd: bar investigations of ethics complaints are supposed to be confidential, so complaints can’t be used as political weapons or to impugn lawyers’ reputations. Why is Eastman being treated this way? Oh, I’m sure there is some fine print exception somewhere, but the real reason is obvious from the LA Times story headline yesterday: Breaking News: Trump-connected lawyer John Eastman under investigation.” Eastman is “Trump-connected,” so it’s guilt by association, a Joe McCarthy specialty and a favorite tool of despots for centuries.  Beware, any lawyers out there prepared to give counsel, representation and legal assistance to He Whom Progressives Hate and Fear! There will be consequences. Continue reading

Another Fake Conservative News Or Mainstream Media Cover-Up Conundrum: A School’s Transgender Brainwashing

If this astounding tale is true, then public schools are even more dangerous than I thought they were. If it is false, some conservative provocateurs are getting awfully creative, not to mention bold. In either case, wouldn’t it be great if the U.S. had journalists it could trust to relay the news in an honest and objective fashion?

The Washington Times, New York Post, Fox News, and other conservative news outlets all are reporting that a lawsuit has been filed by Jessica Konen, a California mother, claiming that two teachers and a principal in the Spreckels Union School District manipulated her middle-school daughter into believing she was transgender beginning when she was in the sixth grade.

Starting in 2019, Konen says, teachers recruited her daughter, then 11, into a club for gender anxious students. They “planted” the idea that the student, identified in the lawsuit as “A.G.” was transgender and bisexual, even though she did not understand then what those terms meant. They encouraged her ”to assume a new [male] name and use it at school, but warned her not to tell her mother because she “might not be supportive and that she couldn’t trust her,” Konen’s claim states.

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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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