Lunch Time Ethics Appetizer, 2/13/2019: Rail, Restaurants, Resignation And Reality

Yum Yum!

1. When reality meets ideology… California Gov. Gavin Newsom  announced that

[He’s] abandoning a $77 billion plan to build a high-speed rail line between Los Angeles and San Francisco and will focus instead on completing a 119-mile (190-kilometer) segment in the state’s agricultural heartland. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2008 calling for the linking of Northern and Southern California, a rail project initially estimated to cost $33 billion and be completed in 2020. Subsequent estimates more than doubled the cost and pushed the timeline to 2033. Newsom pledged to finish the segment already under construction through California’s Central Valley. He rejected the idea critics have raised that it will be a “train to nowhere” and said it can help revitalize the economically depressed region.

We’ll see how much that part costs, if it’s ever completed. Meanwhile, Democrats are going to have to declare their fealty to the “Green New Deal,” which pledges to eliminate air travel nation-wide with “high speed rail.”

2. What part of “convenient double standards” is unclear to you? Kelli Goff writes at the Daily Beast (relayed by Ann Althouse, since I have the DB on my Ethics Alarms  Untrustworthy Black List):

“When Rachel Dolezal was unmasked as a white woman who misrepresented her racial and ethnic identity in part to bolster her professional bona fides as a voice of the disenfranchised, she was penalized—heavily. She went from rising media star to late-night punchline, unemployable and impoverished. I don’t wish poverty on Warren, but I don’t understand how her only punishment for a similar fraud seems to be that she may become president.”

Warren, a polished demagogue, got rave reviews for her recent speech throwing her war-bonnet  into the 2020 ring; like Barack Obama, skillful public speaking is the full extent of her qualifications for leadership. But wow—with the Democrats more or less trapped into nominating another woman to run against Donald Trump, what an awful field of openly unethical females they have assembled so far! Warren’s a fraud; Gillibrand is an anti-male bigot; Gabbard is running away from strong anti-gay positions, Harris has attacked the Catholic faith as a disqualifying feature for a judge, and then there’s Hillary, who looks outstanding in this field. Continue reading

The Infuriating, Incompetent, Border Wall Debate

Those entrusted with arguing for particular contentious public policy options have an obligation to do so competently and honestly. Few things in the public arena are more infuriating tha watching the wise and responsible point of view go spinning down in flames because its advocates are inarticulate, confused, repulsive (thus letting the Cognitive Dissonance scale take over), illogical, addicted to rationalizations,or stupid.

Unfortunately, most of our public policy controversies fall into this category. There might have been an intelligent social policy debate to be had over whether marriage should be extended to same-sex couples, but one the opponents resorted to religious dogma or straight-up bigotry, the argument was lost. Affirmative action is on the way to extinction in part due to blatantly hypocritical, pretzel-like arguments from its advocates: in a holiday discussion, an Asian-American woman told me that she did not support the lawsuit against Harvard for res ipsa loquitur discrimination against Asian students because the suit was being pushed by racists.

Oh.

Bye!

The debate over  tightening security at our boarders is literally a no-brainer—of course the U.S. should take necessary measures to prevent illegal immigration—that is increasingly brainless. Give President Trump the prize for starting it down this route. Either intentionally or because the man simply cannot express himself with precision, he initially framed the need to enforce our immigration laws with the confounding statement, “They (that is, Mexico) aren’t sending us their best people.” Well, yes, I guess it would be nice if a better class of illegal immigrants breaking our laws and defying our procedures was getting into the country to steal as many benefits of U.S residence that they can, but in truth it doesn’t matter whether illegal immigrants are the best people or the worst people. I don’t care if every one of them is a candidate for sainthood; it’s not up to foreign citizens to unilaterally decide who lives in the United States, and they have no right to defy our sovereignty. That’s it. That’s enough. It would be nice if no terrorists could gain access to their hunting ground through the porous enforcement Democrats and cheap labor-loving business interests have inflicted on us, but it would be no less imperative to enforce out borders if there were no terrorists. There is no valid, sensible, logical or honest argument from any perspective that we should allow people who come here a) to do so and b) to avoid enforcement of the laws they broke as long as they don’t break other laws. Continue reading

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.”

Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/12/2017: Prisoners Behaving Badly, The Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck Picks Up The Brother Of “The Girl Next Door,” And The Attempted Coup Continues

Good Morning!

On the way to Boston soon for an in-and-out ethics seminar for young Massachusetts lawyers…

1 Why is the New York Times acting as if the 2016 campaign is still going on? Today’s Sunday Times includes a long scold from the Times editors urging the President to “please read the Constitution.” Then it reaches back all the way to 2015 for TrumpTweets that proposed or mused about Constitutionally impossible policy ideas. How does the Times know that the President’s Constitutional acumen hasn’t been enhanced since 2015? It doesn’t, of course. The criticism would be legitimate during a campaign, but a year after an election, it tells us only this: The New York Times is still in the mode it announced during the campaign. The existence of Donald Trump, in its view, justifies the suspension of journalism’s core principles. In the view of many of the Times’ voices on its op-ed page, his existence also justifies the suspension of the Constitution that the paper piously insists the President read. The Times editors have not told those who have claimed in its pages and from the floor of Congress that President Trump should be impeached based on no “high crimes and misdemaeanors” to read the Constitution. It didn’t tell Hillary Clinton to “read the constitution” when she advocated “the Australian approach” to gun control, or grandstanding Democrats in the House to ‘read the Constitution” when they behaved as if the right  of Due Process didn’t exist, so citizens arbitrarily placed on a no-fly list by the FBI could nonetheless be denied the right to own a gun. It didn’t tell “the resistance” to “read the Constitution” when it attempted to distort the operation of the Electoral College to undo the President’s election.

“He has showed disdain for the separation of powers by repeatedly attacking the federal judiciary and individual judges who have ruled against him.” the Times sniffs, but it did not tell Barack Obama to “read the Constitution” when he attacked the U.S. Supreme Court in a State of the Union address. Then the Times goes off into the hyper-partisan stratosphere, suggesting that its editors also need to “read the Constitution”:

He has abused the pardon power by granting his first, and so far only, pardon to a former sheriff who was found in contempt of a federal court for defying an order. And he has failed to take care that the laws are faithfully executed, whether by trying to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, leaving hundreds of critical executive branch positions vacant or threatening to prosecute his former political opponent.

The Constitution places no limits whatsoever on the pardon power; it is absolute, beyond appeal, and can’t be abused as a matter of Constitutional law. The Times’s definition of the duty to faithfully execute the laws is incomprehensible, since it did not object to Barack Obama circumventing crystal clear laws against illegal immigration by ordering them not to be enforced, or when the Obama administration refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act while it was still a valid law signed by the previous Democratic President. The Constitution does not demand that the Federal government be a bloated, deficit-making bureaucracy; the President, not the Times, gets to decide what positions are “critical” in the Executive Branch. That’s in the Constitution. As for “threatening to prosecute his former political opponent.,” the President’s statements regarding Hillary Clinton can be and should be taken as questioning whether the Justice Department under Barack Obama was placing its thumb on the sales of justice for political purposes.

It is increasingly beyond argument that the mainstream news media, led by the Times, is trying to abuse its Constitutionally enshrined immunity from responsibility to engineer a virtual or actual coup. That is dangerous and unforgivable, as well as directly contrary to how the Founders wanted our democracy to operate.

2. I checked the news early this morning to learn the identity of the latest celebrity to have a finger pointed his way as a chorus shouts “HARASSER!” To my surprise and alarm, I discovered that the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck had entered my world: jet-set hotelier André Balazs was accused by actor Jason Bateman’s wife of groping her crotch in 2014. André Balazs grew up across the street from my childhood home in Arlington, Massachusetts. His sister, Marianne, was a good friend and classmate all the way through high school. I knew André as Marianne’s annoying little brother.

It appears that the idea in Hollywood now is to accuse someone else before you or your significant other gets accused. This is because sexual harassment and misconduct has been an accepted part of power-player culture in Hollywood forever, even while the Left’s component of that culture proclaimed that the Right was wielding a “war on women.” The country should not forget how dishonest and hypocritical this was.

I never liked that kid…. Continue reading

Should President Obama Attend Scalia’s Funeral? Of Course.

NICK SCHNELLE/JOURNAL STAR Pastor Larry Zurek leads a funeral mass for former Peoria Fire Cheief Ernie Russell on Friday morning at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Russell was 74.

President Obama, we learned from Josh Earnest, won’t be honoring the late Justice Antonin Scalia by attending his funeral, and the Presidential spokesman couldn’t even say what weekend activity Obama deems more important. Already, conservative commentators and pundits are calling the odd decision an intentional snub, and many on the left are also obviously puzzled, causing them to make up excuses, like suggesting that the Scalia family told the President of the United States to stay away.

It’s not a snub, of course. It’s just a willfully lost opportunity to show some non-partisan class and leadership, or in other words, Obama being Obama. We’ve seen this kind of irrational, arrogant, toxic conduct from him before, as when he was the only world leader who wouldn’t deign to join with other heads of state in the mass support of France following the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks. This is Obama’s “It’s my Presidency and I’ll be a jerk if I want to” streak, unattractive, petty, and a major reason why the United States is as culturally, politically and societally fractured as it is.  Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: DC Radio Talk Show Host Chris Plante

“(MSNBC host) Chris Hayes is like (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow, but with a smaller penis.”

—-WMAL syndicated conservative radio talk show host Chris Plante, riffing on the anti-Fox MSNBC’s new star, Chris Hayes.

Gee, Chris, do you REALLY want to emulate Bill Maher?

As someone who often talks extemporaneously for a living, and who has slammed both legs up to the hip into my mouth more than once, I am genuinely sympathetic to the perils faced by radio and TV talk show hosts who have to be edgy, insightful and witty for three hours a day without a script, knowing that words, once out of their mouths, are irretrievable, and can lead to career meltdowns with the speed of Chernobyl. It’s a tough job that is akin to walking a high wire over a pit of crocodiles, and I usually have great sympathy for those who fall.

But there is no excuse for this. Continue reading