End Of Week Ethics Exegesis, 1/20/2023, SCOTUS Ineptitude, The Child Shooter’s Parents, A Coinkydink, And More…[Corrected]

[NOTE: This was another one of those posts that I had to squeeze in and get up before I had a chance to do a careful proofing. Coming back to it hours later, it is so embarrassing to find all the irritating little typos: missing letters, transposed letters, words I thought I typed in but didn’t. Ugh. I’m sorry.]


The mainstream media (and Democrats, but I repeat myself) is doing everything it can to try to make Lyin’ George Santos the big story rather than Joe’s Biden’s document scandal, which has nicely exposed Biden’s hypocrisy along with that of law enforcement and the Trump-Deranged. The Republicans have made it easier for them than it should be: Kevin McCarthy should have created a committee called “Shameless Lying Committee and placed only Santos on it, and made him chairman. Oh, maybe have Adam Schlitt on it to keep George company. McCarthy’s canned line about how Santos was elected to represent his district by voters and they deserve representation is worse than if he said nothing at all. Santos gets to vote on bills, and that’s all an incompetent, lazy, gullible district like his deserves. (If Santos says one more time that he’s done nothing wrong, I may jump out my office window.)

Back to the news media: This morning I watched CNN, Fox, News, and BBC all at once on the DirecTV “News Mix” channel. The experience would be depressing to anyone under the delusion that broadcast news is anything but a confederacy of dunces. As the abrasive and smug “Fox and Friends” kept repeating the same outrage about Joe’s stash of classified materials, CNN interviewed high school students in Santos’ district in an obviously carefully staged segment purporting to show that teens are more ethical and instinctively wise than their elected elders. (Hey, look at these kids! Let’s let 16-year-olds vote!) When one student said that Congress should vote to expel Santos, his grandstanding teacher didn’t point out that Congress can’t, probably because the teacher doesn’t know.

Neither CNN nor the teacher brought up Joe Biden’s career of making up credentials and experiences, which would have been an interesting counterpoint for the aspiring Democrats in the student group (there was one self-proclaimed future Republican, which doesn’t mean there weren’t others afarisd of getting wedgies) to ponder: the thrust of the segment was that Santos and the GOP acceptance of him pushed the students into the Blue.

MSNBC, as usual, was even more flagrant in its bias, and also funnier. It had—get this—Al Sharpton and former Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele discussing how corrupt and incompetent Republican House members were. Michael Steele calling anyone incompetent is like, well, Sharpton calling anyone corrupt. Steele is now a Never-Trump talking head for MSNBC in the Ana Navarro mold, because his flip-flop was the only way anyone would hire him to give his opinion on anything. He was a disaster as RNC head, embarrassing the party by such stunts as okaying a fundraising mailing that intentionally masqueraded as a census document—while the census was underway. Congress passed a bi-partisan law making such chicanery illegal.

Mostly Steele is just an idiot. I know I’ve mentioned this before, but it should be flashed up on the screen any time this dolt tries to be a pundit. When he was running to be re-elected RNC head (he lost), Steele was asked during the one debate among the contenders to name his favorite book. The other hacks (like Reince Priebus, the eventual winner) said that a Ronald Reagan’s biography was their favorite book, but Steele, trying to seem erudite, said “War and Peace.” “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” he quoted (from “A Tale of Two Cities”), causing questioner Tucker Carlson to facepalm.

1. The SCOTUS Dobbs leak can’t be found. That’s bad enough. Equally bad were the stunning revelations of sloppy procedures at the Court, probably long the status quo, that nonetheless made this scandal inevitable. From the 20-page report

1. Too many personnel have access to certain Court-sensitive documents. The current distribution mechanisms result in too many people having access to highly sensitive information and the inability to actively track who is handling and accessing these documents. Distribution should be more tailored and the use of hard copies for sensitive documents should be minimized and tightly controlled.

2. Aside from the Court’s clear confidentiality policies and the federal statutes outlined above, there is no universal written policy or guidance on the mechanics of handling and safeguarding draft opinions and Court-sensitive documents, and practices vary widely throughout the Court. A universal policy should be established and all personnel should receive training on the requirements.

3. The Court’s current method of destroying Court-sensitive documents has vulnerabilities that should be addressed.

4. The Court’s information security policies are outdated and need to be clarified and updated. The existing platform for case-related documents appears to be out of date and in need of an overhaul.

5. There are inadequate safeguards in place to track the printing and copying of sensitive documents. The Court should institute tracking mechanisms using technology that is currently available for this purpose.

6. Many personnel appear not to have properly understood the Court’s policies on confidentiality. There should be more emphasis on training so that all personnel fully understand the policies.

7. Bills were introduced in the last Congress which would expressly prohibit the disclosure of the Supreme Court’s non-public case-related information to anyone outside the Court. Consideration should be given to supporting such legislation.

Summary: The Court’;s security has been incompetent and inexcusable.

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Today’s Intellectually Dishonest Dobbs Leak Freakout: “A Lot Of Powerful People Seem To Have No Clue What Motherhood Means” (Washington Post)

You have to admit, the pro-abortion hysterics and fanatics are doing a bang-up job proclaiming their fury at the possibility that the U.S. Supreme Court may be about to strike down Roe v. Wade without making anything that hints of a good faith argument on the merits. The latest example of this massive exercise in “appeal to emotion” and “let’s keep the American public as dumb as we can, all the better to manipulate them” is an op-ed by Monica Hesse, the Washington Post’s resident gender bigot. Previously, Ethics Alarms had highlighted her fantasy that Mary, Donna Reed’s character in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” is the “real hero” of the classic (Right–she’s the one who gave up her chance at al education and a career to save her father’s rinky-dink savings and loan so Bedford Falls didn’t become a cesspool under the thumb of the richest and meanest man in town) and this article attacking the Trump White House Christmas decorations and using them to excoriate Melania Trump for existing, sneering that any one who referred to Trump’s First Lady as “elegant” meant it as a code word for “White.” Yes, she’s a race bigot too. I would no more have sampled a Hesse column in the Post than tried a fried centipede as a snack, except the Ann Althouse pointed me to it.

[A side note regarding Ann: she’s written 14 posts including the May 2 entry in which she reported on the leak and proclaimed the looming cancellation of Roe “a calamity.” She has never explained why she thinks it’s a calamity, although in 2006 she opined on what the results of Roe going down might be. She’s a law professor, and her blog has no borders, like this one, which is constrained to examine ethics only. Those 14 posts cover everything from her usual linguistic nit-picking to musing about the leak, but there is no explanation of the “calamity” verdict. That’s irresponsible, and, frankly, cowardly. But I digress.]

Here’s the crux of Hesse’s argument, if you can call it that: the supply chain-triggered shortage in baby formula shows how cruel and ignorant the Supreme Court majority is. She writes,

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I Don’t Understand: Why Is This News, Newsworthy, Or Even Twitter-Worthy?

Huh? Why wouldn’t they remain not just “mostly silent,” but entirely and forever silent? What does abortion have to do with gaming? What possible justification would there be for the video game industry to take a position on the legal and Constitutional issues relating to Roe? What can they add to a productive discussion besides noise and ignorance? Why should the U.S. Supreme Court pay any attention at all to uninformed opinions by those who are brick-ignorant about the law?

This isn’t just an example of “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” This is “If all you care about is a nail, everything looks like a hammer.”

Oh…and it’s not “repeal” you ignoramuses. Laws are repealed. Roe v Wade isn’t a law. SCOTUS rulings are overturned.

SCOTUS Leak Freakout Update: The Times’ Unethical Editorial Of The Month

It’s rare that one sees blunt incivility in an old and revered political publication like the National Review, but here was the headline of Charles Cook’s column there yesterday:

The New York Times’ Editorial Board Is Apparently Extremely Stupid

I had read the editorial and my reaction had been the same, except that I would have been tempted to leave out “apparently.” I’d also categorize this as old news, at least to readers of Ethics Alarms. Then, for a nonce, I regretted the absence of self-exiled commenter “A Friend,” since his predictable efforts to defend the indefensible in the Times would have been particularly entertaining in this case.

Here’s the the paragraph Cooke was reacting to:

Imagine that every state were free to choose whether to allow Black people and white people to marry. Some states would permit such marriages; others probably wouldn’t. The laws would be a mishmash, and interracial couples would suffer, legally consigned to second-class status depending on where they lived.

This is the newspaper that is regarded as the flagship of the news media. This is the newspaper that holds itself up as a paragon of objective news analysis. This is a newspaper that claims that its perspective isn’t skewed by a progressive bias.

This is the newspaper I have been paying almost 90 bucks a month to have delivered every day for four years. Yes, I’m stupid too.

Here, in part, is what Cooke writes in his understandable disgust: Continue reading

The New York Times Wordle Ethics Zugzwang

Boy, did the Times deserve this.

The paper acquired the online game Wordle earlier this year after it became a viral hit. Answers to the puzzle game are assigned months in advance. In a pure coincidence reminiscent of the London crossword puzzle incident that almost derailed D-Day, yesterday’s Worldle answer happened to evoke the current freakout over the draft Supreme Court opinion that suggests that Roe v. Wade may finally be going down for the count. The answer was “fetus.”

Can’t have that! The Times moved quickly to de-trigger the game for sensitive (and virtuously woke) devotees, writing,

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Saturday Night Live Lies And The Biased Mainstream Media Cheers: Propaganda Mission Accomplished

That cold open from last week’s Saturday Night Live was a perfect illustration of the maxim, best articulated by the late, great, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, that “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Satire must be granted considerable license, but basing nasty mockery on a deliberate misrepresentation is unethical even if it is funny. The SNL skit above isn’t funny, unless one finds deliberate misrepresentation and outrageous laziness funny. I don’t.

The opening narration essentially takes the skit out of the realm of humor into the murky world of propaganda and public disinformation. Alito’s draft only states that “no woman has a right to an abortion” in the context of Roe v. Wade’s legally flawed and factually sloppy argument that the U.S. Constitution guarantees such a right through the unenumerated right of privacy. The SNL phrasing is deceitful, technically accurate but misleading. The draft does not state that no woman should have an abortion, and specifically states that the opinion takes no position on whether abortion should be legal or not.

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The Dishonesty And Desperation Of “Pro-Choice” Advocates In The Wake Of The Dobbs Leak, Part 2: Reason Should Be Ashamed Of Itself

It is not a great surprise to see that the libertarian magazine Reason opposes abortion restrictions; one would assume so, given the libertarian creed. (Libertarians Ron Paul, a former House member, and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky), however, both oppose abortion, and take the position that life begins at conception.) However, if the publication is going to declare that Justice Alito’s draft opinion in Dobbs is badly reasoned (and a publication named “Reason” should be careful when it makes such a claim if it wants to maintain a reputation for integrity) it has an obligation to rebut that reasoning competently and fairly.

Thus when I saw the headline on Reason’s website, “Alito’s Draft Opinion That Would Overturn Roe Is a Disaster of Legal Reasoning,” I clicked on it eagerly. Legitimate legal analyses of the draft have been in short supply, with even supposedly respectable legal scholars from the pro-abortion camp resorting to hysterical pronouncements rather than dispassionate argument.

Inexcusably, the author of the article under the clickbait headline doesn’t come close to making the case that the Justice’s draft fits that hyperbolic description. Worse, it is quickly apparent that she wouldn’t know a “disaster of legal reasoning” if, to quote Matt Hooper in “Jaws,” one swam up “and bit [her] in the ass.” As I read her mess, I thought, “Elizabeth Nolan Brown can’t possibly be a lawyer.” Indeed she isn’t. Her graduate degree is in theater.

Oh. One of those.

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Andrew Sullivan On The Dobbs Leak Freakout

It has been fascinating to watch Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned Trump-deranged progressive during from about 2015 on, express his rising dismay at his adopted “side’s” drift to totalitarianism as it uses lies as metaphorical oars in the stream of public opinion.. Sullivan is too emotional to be a reliable pundit, but he’s smart and writes like an angel. His current essay about how Democrats and progressives have abandoned even the pretense of rationality is instructive.

He also mounts an impressive list of ridiculous statements by abortion fans and supposedly trustworthy progressive commentators that are signature significance. Nobody should trust people who say or write garbage like this. Ever. Here are some of Andrew’s gems, only some of which I had stumbled over earlier (the comments in parentheses are mine, not Sullivan’s):

  • Roxane Gay tweeted:“I have typed and deleted a great many comments What do you say when nine people can dictate what happens to your body? It’s ridiculous and hateful.” [That is not, of course, what a reversal of Roe would mean, but disinformation has always been at the heart of the “pro-choice” position.]

  • “The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer announced that the court had abolished the entire 20th century. Yep: no more suffrage for women! Jim Crow now!”

  • Jessica Valenti: “Stripping women of their humanity and rights isn’t a consequence of the ‘pro-life’ agenda, it’s the entire point.” 

  • The Washington Post’s now thoroughly insane Jennifer Rubin: “The right-wing justices and their supporters appear ready to reject one of the Founders’ core principles: that religion shall not be imposed by government edict.” (The smear that opposing Roe constitutes a religious edict is truly despicable, and a lot of abortion fans are stooping to it.)

  • Kurt Andersen another one:“It really is kind of remarkable that only one in five Americans call themselves Catholic, but of the Supreme Court majority apparently about to permit abortion to be outlawed, all but one are Catholic and that one was raised Catholic.”

  • Kamala Harris (who supports her adversary’s position every time she tries to counter it, whatever the topic) was, predicably, Kamala-like:

    Those Republican leaders who are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. Well we say, ‘How dare they?’ How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body? How dare they? How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?

To this and more, Sullivan observes,

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Unethical Website Of The Year: Ruth Sent Us

Ruth Sent Us, a smugly ignorant and unethical website of recent vintage by–what’s your guess, teenagers? Woke undergrads who never read a SCOTUS opinion? The editorial staff of The Nation? Mean satirists?—anyway, people up to no good, has suddenly been getting publicity because it posted the home addresses of the six non-progressive Supreme Court justices. They want people to “protest” outside of their houses.

The Stupid is strong with this one, so naturally it will appeal to the stupid who walk among us. It is generally illegal for more than two protesters to “demonstrate” in front of a residence, and also illegal for them to demonstrate in a neighborhood off private property without a permit. Never mind: Ruth Sent Us has announced a “Walk-by” of SCOTUS homes on May 11. The mob is being urged to wear red “Handmaid’s Tale” robes. Of course they are: referencing the dystopian science fiction novel is signature significance for someone who hasn’t given two thoughts to the issues involved in abortion and couldn’t comprehend Alito’s draft opinion if it were accompanied by pictures and ana interpretive dance troupe. Continue reading

Today’s Dobbs Supreme Court Leak Freakout Update

As discussed here many times, the abortion issue is an ethics conflict, meaning that there are legitimate and important interests at stake on both sides of the controversy. One way advocates or activists signal their lack of qualifications, intellect and integrity to discuss the issue is by denying or ignoring one interest or the other. That’s proving a benefit of the current freak-out over the leaked draft of what might be a total reversal of Roe v. Wade (and Casey, but that’s intrinsic in overturning Roe). People are revealing who and what they really are–phonies, idiots, liars, demagogues, hypocrites, opportunists, irresponsible fools, or nascent totalitarians.

The depressing, indeed frightening aspect of the freakout is the degree to which it demonstrates that most Americans (and a shocking number of the people whose job it is to inform and guide them through complex issues) are so ignorant of the basic civic facts about what the Supreme Court is. Thus the Dobbs leak freakout is to a great extent another indictment of our public school system, its teachers and administrators, and education in America generally. It should, but won’t, make the point to school boards and legislators that before students are instructed in the complexities of gender dysphoria and critical race theory, the priority should be instructing them in the essentials of the Constitution so they can function as citizens.

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