Ethics Hero: Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)

Mike Lee

It was generally lost between in the pandemic resurgence, the post-election controversies and the holidays, but in the final month of the generally awful year of 2020, a single Senator had the integrity and principle to at least delay one more effort to transform the United States of America into a Balkanized culture of competing identity groups.

Hispanics and their allies in Congress, and feminists and their allies have been trying to get approval for the creation of a National Museum of the American Latino and A National Women’s History Museum in Washington D.C. since around the beginning of the century. Last year, after the obligatory studies, commissions and reports, bipartisan bills authorizing the creation of the two proposed museums passed in the House. After all, it’s not as if the year’s budget deficit had blown the national debt up to dangerous levels or anything. Why not spend millions more on new structures honoring only segments of what was conceived as a single nation?

More specifically, why not suck up to two powerful voting blocs in an election year?

Because the Senate is similarly driven by political pandering and is almost as irresponsible as the House, it was assumed that the bills would pass by unanimous consent, a practice reserved for noncontroversial measures. Senators John Cornyn, Republican from Texas (lots of Hispanic-Americans there, coincidentally), and Bob Menendez, the Democrat from New Jersey who is himself Hispanic-American, introduced the legislation setting up the latest hyphenated American museum on the National Mall, and lauded the history and contributions of 60 million Americans, blattety-blah diversity, blattety-blah recognition. But Senator Lee, the Republican from Utah (where, also coincidentally, there are not so many Latinos), stopped the proposed new museums dead (though they will rise again) , as a single vote can do when unanimous consent is needed.

Lee said in part,

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/16/2018: “Ozark,” Slandering Irving, And Language Showdown At Taco Bell [UPDATED!]

Good Morning!

1. Call me an old ethics fogey, but I don’t think these kinds of TV series are culturally healthy. I’ve been watching the Netflix series “Ozark,” and hating myself for it. The show is well acted and even has its ethics dilemmas, but like “Breaking Bad,” which was obviously its inspiration, there are no admirable characters, and the “heroes” are criminals. In the Golden Age of TV, there were unwritten (and sometimes written) rules that shows could not rationalize, trivialize or romanticize illegal, immoral or unethical behavior, and needed to reaffirm positive values. In “Ozark,” “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul,” the latter’s spin-off, as well as “House of Cards,” and “Shameless,” among others, there are virtually no admirable characters at all. I have been watching “Ozark” in part because I like the actors, in part because there’s nothing I want to watch anywhere else except baseball, and, yes, in part because of voyeurism. Still, it makes me want to take a shower, and I fell that the increasing tendency of Hollywood to portray everything and everyone as corrupt makes a “the ends justify the means” rationalization seem like a matter of survival.

2. Post-mortem slander, again. This is a recurring theme here: a famous person is deliberately misrepresented in a dramatic depiction, and legally there is nothing that can be done about it. The First Amendment protects the practice, but it is still wrong, it still leads to public misconceptions, and it still sullies the reputations and legacies of important figures in history who deserve better.

In a recent one-man show Off- Broadway about American song-wrting legend Irving Berlin, writer-performer Hershey Felder portrays Berlin in his dotage as ” a miserable fossil so twisted with rage and zonked on Nembutal that he shooed away carolers who came to his Beekman Place window to serenade him with ‘White Christmas’,”  shrieking “They don’t deserve it,”  meaning the gift of his iconic song. That’s not what happened, however; not even close, according to the Times review of the show:

When he was 95, Berlin not only let those carolers into the house on Beekman Place but also kissed and hugged them and (according to some reports) poured them hot cocoa. “This is the nicest Christmas gift I ever got,” he said.

UPDATE: I relied on the New York Times review for this comment, and not for the first time, trusting the Times to play straight may have been a mistake. Reader Eric Herrault has a very different view, and I am appending his comment here:

In a website however that discusses ethics I think it is important to call attention to the real serious problem here. The quoted “review” in the New York Times of The BERLIN piece, was some kind of personal grudge hatchet job against the performing artist. This brainless reviewer does not describe the show I saw, or in fact the show at all. This is easily provable by seeing the show itself, or having a look at every other New York outlet, major and minor. Nowhere does anyone suggest this twisted and bizarre take on Irving Berlin. The one place it is suggested however, is by the reviewer himself, as he links to and then lauds a review of the book As Thousands Cheer about Berlin, that calls Berlin terrible things and worse. And yet, somehow this neanderthal supports that utter nonsense. The show is full of joy and laughter from beginning to end, with a sad feeling lived too long and the world having passed him by. The ethics violation here is that this disturbed reviewer (for whatever reason) is allowed to write in the first place.

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Res Ipsa Loquitur Ethics Quote Of The Day: Law Professor/Blogger/Irony Master Ann Althouse

free-bingo-design

The NYT article tells us that Sotomayor’s remarks were published in the Berkeley La Raza Law Journal and that she also said:

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”…

… Judge Sotomayor questioned whether achieving impartiality “is possible in all, or even, in most, cases.” She added, “And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.” She also approvingly quoted several law professors who said that “to judge is an exercise of power” and that “there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” she said.

So has Donald Trump refrained from doing a disservice both to the law and society?

—-Ann Althouse, making a slam-dunk point about the hypocrisy of the uproar over Donald Trump’s “racist”suggestion that a Hispanic-American judge might be biased against him.

Althouse and I are right, and almost everyone else is wrong. It’s obvious, and beyond rebuttal on the facts. Althouse has joined me as one who also deplores everything about Donald Trump but who is determined to call out intellectual dishonesty and unfairness in the attacks against him. She also posted this… Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Donald Trump-“Mexican” Judge Affair

Judge Curial. Funny, he looks white to me...

Judge Curial. Funny, he looks white to me…

“Everybody says it, but I have a judge who is a hater of Donald Trump. He’s a hater. His name is Gonzalo Curial… We are in front of a very hostile judge. The judge was appointed by by Barack Obama – federal judge. [Boos]. Frankly he should recuse himself. He has given us ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative. I have a top lawyer who said he has never seen anything like this before. So what happens is we get sued. We have a Magistrate named William Gallo who truly hates us..Watch how we win it as I have been treated unfairly. . . . So what happens is the judge, who happens to be, we believe Mexican, which is great. I think that is fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs. I think they are going to love it. I think they are going to love me. . .I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself. I think it is a disgrace he is doing this… It is a disgrace. It is a rigged system…They ought to look into Judge Curiel because what Judge Curiel is doing is a total disgrace. “

This is what Donald Trump said about Mexican-American judge Gonzalo Curial, who is currently presiding over the civil law suit involving now-defunct Trump University. That is all of it, with the rest being general Trump-speak.

The initial reaction in the news media and from the anti-Trump legal commentators (that is, essentially all legal commentators except the ones who have to eat alone at their law school dining rooms) was that Trump’s entire rant that contained the sentiments above were a threat to the rule of law and judicial independence. As I explained here, that was both hyperbole and a double standard.

It also, as I expected, was far too technical a complaint for the average voter to understand or get upset about, even if it had been valid and fair, which it wasn’t. So the anti-Trump forces, which are mighty and legion, decide to shift gears, and rather than attack the statement as a threat to the Constitution, condemn it  as “racist.” It was so racist that Buzzfeed decided that it could get brownie points by pulling out of an ad deal it had made with the Republican Party by professing revulsion at the party’s presumptive nominee’s “racism.”

The news media has now decided that it is just a fact that Trump’s comments about the judge were “racist.” That’s how the topic is being discussed. Nobody looks at the statement that sparked this nonsense: Trump said something racist, and that’s all there is to it.

Except that he didn’t.

I can’t keep track of all of the subsequent statements Trump has made or will make to defend himself. Since he talks like a stream of consciousness novel written by a Red Bull-guzzling cab driver, he may have said or will say something that is more inflammatory than the statement being attacked; remember, the man literally doesn’t know what is going to come out of his mouth until he hears it. For now, I’m going to stick to the statement that started this.

1. He said that Judge Curiel “was a hater.”

2. He implied that he was biased against Trump, and that this was a “disgrace.”

3. He said, in what I am certain was one of those examples where Trump’s tongue got the jump on his brain, that “we believe” the judge was “Mexican.”

4. He said that the system “was rigged,”that Judge Curiel should recuse himself, and that Curiel should be ashamed.

That’s it!

None of that constitutes a “racist” statement. It does not even constitute  a bigoted statement, and it is in no way the magnitude of offense the Democrats, media and Trump opponents are claiming, indeed, stating it to be.

Before I list the ethics touch-points in this disturbing event (the event being a news media lynch mob devoid of proportion or fairness controlling the discussion and misrepresenting a Presidential candidate), let me make this clear, as if I hadn’t already in dozens of Ethics Alarms posts: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce And Unethical Column Of The Month: Univision Anchor Jorge Ramos

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

Who is the traitor, Jorge?

There are some positions in some controversies that I really cannot manage to respect, because no matter how much I try to understand the points of view, they seem so obviously wrong and ethically indefensible. On “The View” yesterday, for example, alleged comedian Joy Behar, in discussing the character of Bill and Hillary Clinton, stated without joking that she would vote for a proven rapist for President, as long as he or she was a Democrat. This is the kind of position I’m talking about.

Yesterday, the Hall of Fame voting results were announced. Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey, Jr. were elected to the Hall by the baseball writers, and equally welcome to this ethicist-baseball fan was the fact that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both unrepentant steroid cheats, were not elected, and their still paltry vote totals suggest that they may never be. Yet several baseball pundits, reporting on the voting results, preceded this aspect of the news with “Unfortunately.”

I don’t understand that attitude toward cheating at all. I have written about as much about Barry Bonds as any ethics topic on Ethics, and  the case against him is air-tight, with the only defenses ever put forth being invalid rationalizations, easily rebutted. Nevertheless, otherwise intelligent people keep repeating them, hoping to outlast reason and reality by perseverance and repetition. (Sadly, this often works, as “77 cents on the dollar,” “Bush lied” and “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” tragically prove.) In the last 24 hours, I have heard Clemens and Bonds called “great players” so many times that my teeth have been ground down perceptibly. Cheaters are never great, as I explained in one of my favorite posts of 2015.

I was preparing to once again swat down the cultural poison being peddled by the Bonds and Clemens defenders when another of the issues that I believe has no respectable “other side” again raised its uglier than ugly head, so I changed course. That issue is illegal immigration, as in “immigration that occurs in direct violation of U.S. law, making it illegal.” Those who engage in illegal immigration are immigrants, and because their manner of immigration is illegal, they are illegal immigrants. Those who insist on calling them merely immigrants are lying; those who favor euphemisms like “undocumented workers” are engaging in intentional deceit. No, I have no respect for their rhetorical dishonesty–their smug and falsely sanctimonious rhetorical dishonesty—and it should not be tolerated by any U.S. citizen who wants transparent debate on a crucial national policy issue.

The ethics violator in the immediate case is serial offender Jorge Ramos, who uses his position as a broadcast journalist—unethically, since his duty is to report the news accurately, not to spout propaganda—to advocate  unrestricted immigration by Hispanics and Latinos into the United States. It is a logically, historically, demographically, economically, politically and legally irresponsible, outrageous position, but he managed to exceed previously established depths in promoting it by writing, in a column for Fusion, that GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are engaging in betrayal by “turning their backs on immigrants,” who, he says, just got here a little later than they did. Continue reading

OK, The Data Shows That Donald Trump Is Correct. Now What? Do Facts Matter At All Any More?

"Repeat after me: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS GOOOOD. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE JUST IMMIGRANTS. DONALD TRUMP IS A RACIST. THE NEWS MEDIA TELLS YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW....

“Repeat after me: ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IS GOOOOD. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ARE JUST IMMIGRANTS. DONALD TRUMP IS A RACIST. THE NEWS MEDIA TELLS YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW….

The topics are honesty, responsibility, objectivity and accountability, ladies and gentlemen. Also intentional deception by those you trust to keep you sufficiently informed to be a competent citizen of a democracy.

The United States Sentencing Commission has released showing that almost three-quarters of the more than 2,200 people who received federal sentences for drug possession in fiscal year 2014 were illegal immigrants. Moreover, illegal immigrants were more than one-third of all federal sentences for all crimes.

On Fox News, Geraldo Rivera angrily insisted that illegal immigrants committed fewer crimes proportionate to their numbers than legal citizens. I have seen this same claim on various leftish blogs. I assumed it was baloney, and sure enough, it is. They were talking about legal immigrants, you see. Does it make my day to see this dishonest confounding of legal and illegal immigration trapping its proponents?

Yes.

Of course, this didn’t stop the news media and craven Republicans, as well as shameless pro-open border Democrats like Hillary Clinton, from piling on Trump and calling him a racist, because he quite accurately and fairly (also clumsily and in needlessly provocative fashion) describe the current state of illegal immigration in the United States.

Illegal immigrants accounted for 36.7%  of all federal sentencings in 2014, though they only represent an estimated 3.5 percent of the U.S population. The data shows that this includes 20% of the kidnapping and hostage-taking sentences, 12% of the murder sentences, and a frightening 19.4% of national-defense related sentences. You can review the statistics here.

The Washington Examiner  reported this data. Why aren’t the major news sources—the Examiner is a conservative outfit that is to the Washington Post what the Toledo Mudhens are to the New York Yankees—revealing these rather relevant facts while their op-ed writers and cartoonists, like the Post’s execrable Tom Toles, call Donald Trump vile names for truthfully informing the public about the consequences of illegal immigration? If there is another explanation other than a desire to paint Republicans as anti-immigrant bigots at the price of willfully misrepresenting  unpleasant facts, I’d like to hear it. Continue reading

Nine Ethics Takeaways From The Reaction To Donald Trump’s Anti-Illegal Immigrant Comments

Donald Trump thinks her life mattered more than cheap labor and Hispanic votes.

Donald Trump thinks her life should have  mattered more than cheap labor and Hispanic votes. Clearly, he must be punished…

1. Nobody can offer a reasonable justification for the U.S.’s tolerance of illegal immigration.

If anyone could, this would have been an excellent time to offer it. Nobody did this because there is no reasonable justification, just naked greed (big business), political expediency (politicians),  rationalizations (illegal immigration advocates) and sentimentality (everyone else).

2. Donald Trump, as awful as he is, has his uses.

Disgracefully, neither Presidential candidate spoke in any honest detail about the illegal immigration problem in 2012, talking safely and generally about “the need for immigration reform” instead, which is exactly as useful as advocating deficit reform, drug policy reforms and tax reforms, which is to say useless—but sufficient to keep lazy voters nodding like bobbleheads. The fact is that illegal immigration is an existential problem for the country as it can be for any nation, and responsible leaders and aspiring leaders have an obligation to deal with it seriously, openly and directly. They don’t. Thus it is left to buffoons and irresponsible leaders like Donald Trump to drop the stink-bombs they do. Truth from any source is still better than endless lies and obfuscation.

3. The mainstream news media is as biased, incompetent and dishonest on this issue as any other, and arguably more so.

Literally all the mainstream coverage of the organized backlash to Trump’s comments has been based on various critics’ expressions of horror and ridicule at Trump’s words. Virtually none has covered the factual basis for his statement, which is considerable. Most Americans know Trump is a jerk. Do they know that opposition to illegal immigration has nothing to do with racism or opposition to immigration itself? Do they know the corrupt and cynical motivations that placed the United States in this dilemma? No, the news media is only interested in identifying bad guys (Trump, and anyone who doesn’t regard illegal border crossers as heroes) and good guys (those compassionate, rule of law-rejecting pols and advocates who want U.S. immigration restrictions to be a dead letter).  The news media is really one of the bad guys. At this point, for example, the only major news outlet that careful and accurately distinguishes between illegal immigration and immigration is Fox News. For the rest, the conflation of the two is part of a grand strategy of misdirection.

4. The GOP Presidential candidates are cowards, with exception of Senator Ted Cruz.

Only Cruz has had the integrity to praise Trump for raising the issue, and still properly express reservations about his method of doing it. The rest have all expressed politically correct tut-tutting at Trump’s generally accurate statement that the U.S.’s failure to protect its southern border is a disgrace, that Mexico is benefiting by allowing its poorest, most desperate and criminal population to become our problem, and that many of the illegal immigrants bring crime with them. [Read the comments on Mediate regarding Cruz’s statements on Trump. They almost entirely consist of ad hominem insults (whatever he may be, Ted Cruz is no idiot), birther slurs (a man born to an American citizen visiting in Canada is a “natural born” U.S. citizen, you dolts), and statements based on the assumption that letting illegals just waltz across our borders is good policy, which, of course, it is anything but.]

5. The feckless Republicans pols are ducking because they are desperately afraid of alienating Hispanic-American voters, so they jettison their integrity, honesty, and duty as leaders and Americans.

Principled Republicans should trust Hispanic-Americans to have the same responsible concerns for the best interests of their nation as any other informed citizens, and appeal to them as the law-abiding patriots they are to oppose a disastrous open border policy that rewards illegal conduct.

6. Democrats and progressives increasingly rely on using various forms of coercion to stifle debate rather than to engage it.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he is reviewing Trumps contract’s with the city to see if he can punish Trump for daring to suggest that we have an illegal Mexican immigrant problem. He said:

“We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city. Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sister make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”

Boy, the left really, really hates free speech, doesn’t it?  Government official are forbidden from declaring what kind of  speech does or does not have a “place” in any jurisdiction in the United States, but the Democrats keep trying to asert otherwise, on the theory that if they say it often enough, citizens will acccept it. Even though Trump was speaking as a public citizen and a candidate for office, De Blasio thinks it is appropriate for the city government to take punitive action against him for his opinion. This is the Chick-fil-A’ fiasco all over again, and also resembles the Senate Democrats’ strong-arm attack on the Washington Redskins.

It is beginning to look like a vote for Democrats is a vote against the principles of freedom of thought, discourse, dissent and speech. I would assume this would trouble—liberals. Or have they already been corrupted beyond repair?

7. Trump is quite correct to point to that the recent random killing of 31-year-old Kate Steinle by an illegal immigrant, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, who had been deported five times, as a perfect example of what he was talking about.

ICE has explained it turned Lopez-Sanchez over to San Francisco authorities on March 26 for an outstanding drug warrant, and requested an immigration detainer. But Nancy Pelosi’s constituents, mindless supporters of illegal immigration and pro-drugs as well, believe that violates Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures, so they allowed one of Mexico’s best to stay around long enough to kill an innocent white women.

Thank God for that, since only black lives matter. A black victim might have caused the city’s leftists to have a cognitive dissonance meltdown.

The news media is soft-peddling the story as much as it can—CNN calls the alleged killer “undocumented,” as if he misplaced his papers somewhere, another now accepted journalistic deceit—because the narrative is that all illegal immigrants are heroic parents trying to gain a better future for their offspring.  It should be used by Republicans as an effective Willy Horton-style attack on any Democratic Presidential candidate advocating continued border control abdication. The message: Your “immigration reforms” policy killed this woman. Go ahead: deny it.

8. The double standard being employed by the left and a news media in their response to the Charleston church shooting by Dylan Roof and Steinle’s murder is stunning.

Roof used a gun and liked Confederate flags, though there is no evidence that either different gun laws or the absence of the flag would have stopped his rampage. Never mind: the President used the tragedy to rev up the anti-Second Amendment zealots, and an anti-Confederate flag mania has somehow extended to desecrations of statues of Christopher Columbus. Kate Steinle is dead as a direct and undeniable result of the nation’s negligent enforcement of immigration laws championed by the same people who want to tear down statutes of Robert E. Lee, but to suggest that more stringent enforcement is necessary is “racist.”

9. Trump is an idiot.

If he is going to raise important issues as a “straight-talker.’ he is obligated not to play directly into the pro-illegal immigration mob’s strategy of attacking the messenger rather than rebutting the message. He has an obligation to be clear, and not so inflammatory that real content of his message is lost. He just can’t do it.

An Open Letter To America Ferrera In Response To Her Open Letter To Donald Trump

America, America...

America, America…

Dear America (It’s really neat to be able to write a real letter to America on Independence weekend—thanks for that),

I can see why you called your open letter to Donald Trump “Thank You, Donald Trump!” The Donald did indeed do the supporters of illegal immigration a big favor by attaching his obnoxious face, words and character to the proposition that the United States has an obligation to control who comes into the country, like every other responsible nation. It is easy to pretend that any assertion by a big, loud-mouthed jerk is wrong, even when it is right, because most people can’t distinguish a message from its messenger. Similarly, a dishonest and dangerous message communicated by an attractive, Hispanic American celebrity and actress is typically accorded more legitimacy than it deserves, especially since the historical and political acumen of professional actors tends to be limited.

Well played. But that’s not the same as being right.

Your letter begins with a multi-layered lie. “You’ve said some pretty offensive things about Latino immigrants recently,” you say. In fact, Trump said nothing about immigrants. Did you read a transcript of his remarks, or just the portion clipped out of it by news organizations because this is Donald Trump, rich Republican buffoon, and fairness and ethical journalism don’t matter. My guess is that you didn’t read the transcript, which makes your open letter incompetent and irresponsible. Or, if you did, it is intentionally misleading, and an attempt to increase the ignorance of people who take policy screeds from actresses seriously. Continue reading