Unethical Proposal, But The Reaction Was Worth It…And Maybe That Was the Idea

“Mr Gallagher, are you that smart?”
“You’re damn right he is!”

Once again, President Trump brings us utilitarianism at its best and most brutal, and perhaps trolling at its most refined.

The White House apparently has discussed sending illegal immigrants  and dubious “migrants” to sanctuary cities. A Washington Post story described this as “targeting political foes” :

White House officials have tried to pressure U.S. immigration authorities to release detainees onto the streets of “sanctuary cities” to retaliate against President Trump’s political adversaries, according to Department of Homeland Security officials and email messages reviewed by The Washington Post.

Trump administration officials have proposed transporting detained immigrants to sanctuary cities at least twice in the past six months — once in November, as a migrant caravan approached the U.S. southern border, and again in February, amid a standoff with Democrats over funding for Trump’s border wall.

If true, and since the Post is reporting it, who knows if it is, the proposal is unethical, however diabolically amusing. The national government cannot and must not pick and choose among the states, cities and citizens: all must be treated equally, even those, like the sanctuary cities, that are asking to be slapped down. The idea is redolent of Chicago local politics. or the prime of Washington’s Mayor Barry, who somehow managed to see that the roads in Republican districts stayed snow-bound long after Barry-supporting districts got plowed.

However, nothing about the fact that the White House may have wanted to play games with illegal immigrants in the face of Democratic refusal to help him enforce our laws is either surprising or substantive. The reaction of the President’s foes, however, is useful intelligence. If this was ploy launched to make Democrats and others reveal their real attitudes and monumental hypocrisy, boy, did it work. Continue reading

Afternoon Ethics Warm-Up, April 2, 2019: Maddow, Schultz, Pugh, Fosse, AOC, And All That Jazz…

Good afternoon!

1. If anyone cared, this would do in Rachel Maddow. The fact that so many of my otherwise intelligent and reasonable liberal friends insist that Rachel Maddow is God’d gift to journalism was a mystery to me  when she first brought her perpetual smirk to MSNBC. It  perplexed me greatly as she so obviously hyped and twisted her commentary, and once she became the #1 Russia-Trump conspiracy theorist on TV, I admit that I have lost the edge of respect for anyone who still watches her. Rachel Maddow bottomed out, I’d say, yesterday, when she was saying this last week:

“It’s hard to believe that they’d leave the newly appointed Attorney General William Barr to himself to personally pick through the [Mueller] report to try to figure out which mentions in this 400-page report might pertain to an open case”They wouldn’t leave that to Barr to do that. Mueller would have done that!

Mueller’s team would have done that as part of producing anything that they handed over outside their own offices. They’ve done that with every other document they have produced in the course of this investigation. You’d assume they’d be able to do that for this document too. But William Barr says, [exaggerated sigh] it’s taking him a really long time because he’s having to do all that himself.”

While  was saying that it was suspicious that Barr wouldn’t seek Mueller’s assistance with the redactions, the chyron underneath her read,

“Barr: Special Counsel Is Assisting with Redactions”

Unlike the much-mocked Fox News gaffe, in which the talking heads were correctly reciting the story while  the chyron said that Trump was pulling aid from “three Mexican countries“, this time the chyron was right, and the talking head was wrong.  It might just be me, but I’d rather the actual reporters to be telling the truth, and graphics be messed up. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Refresher, 3/24/2019 [PART I]: Bad News And Disenchantment

It will be a

Good morning!

if I stay away from the network talking head shows…

1 Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias! Ann Althouse has a valid observation (some commenters feel it has been obvious for a long, long time) this morning…she writes in part,

I’m seeing 2 big examples of how the media are reporting good news for Trump this weekend. It’s really embarrassing for them because the 2 stories are very big and very good for Trump and, in both, the same move is made to turn it into something negative and ominous.

1. The Mueller investigation has concluded, and though we can’t read it yet, we know that it means that there will be no charges against Trump or any of his people that have to do with colluding with Russians to affect the election. Though some Russians were charged and some of Trump’s people were charged with lying to investigators, the whole reason for the special investigation seems to have been a phantom. After 2 years of uncertainty and anxiety, this is an immense relief and vindication for Trump. Fantastic, upbeat news. Now, here’s how the NYT is presenting the story on the top, left corner of its front page:

As Mueller Report Lands, Prosecutorial Focus Moves to New York

The work by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, may be done, but prosecutors in Manhattan and elsewhere are pursuing about a dozen other investigations.

It all but ensures that a legal threat will continue to loom over the Trump presidency.

2. Under Trump, the Islamic State has been ousted entirely from the territory it had taken over. This is a distinct, satisfying military victory in what has been a long and difficult war. It is the second story on the NYT front page right now, where it looks like this:

THE ISLAMIC STATE

Its Territory May Be Gone, but the U.S. Fight Against ISIS Is Far From Over

• Thousands of Islamic State fighters are still at large in Iraq and Syria, rearming and regrouping.

• The U.S. and its partners still face significant battles against the group elsewhere, in Afghanistan, West Africa and the Philippines.

So watch for it. The rule is: When something good for Trump happens, find the nearest bad thing and make that the focus of the news report.

No other U.S. President has been treated like this by the news media, and this treatment has been consistent from the beginning of his administration. It’s goal, and effect, is undermine public trust and distort public perception. Continue reading

Is It Unfair To Say That The Democrats Favor “Open Borders”? Ten Reasons Why It Is Not.

My sister, a smart if feisty woman who I plead guilty to using on Ethics Alarms like as William Saroyan used his bartender,  was annoyed at my statement in a recent post that the Democratic Party, or which she is a member, though perhaps not quite as proud a member as she once was,  had become the party of open borders. She’s a lawyer, and combining that with the increasing tendency on the left to deny the elephants behind them (“Elephant? What elephant?”) whenever the metaphorical beast starts to stink and squash things, she’s pretty good at blurring such issues. On this one she says, “Obviously the Democrats don’t support open borders. Nobody has ever proposed open borders. We will never have open borders. Obama deported a lot of illegal immigrants.”

All true, and all deceitful. The policy advocated by Democrats and the rhetoric they use in the process creates a modified open borders policy, if an astoundingly stupid one. An open borders policy of any kind for a nation like the United States is suicidal in the long term, destructive in the short term. Progressives and Democrats resort to hilariously consistent talking points when confronted on their hypocrisy and dishonesty: “The system is broken, and we need comprehensive immigration reform.” Quiz them on what that pat phrase means, however, and you get humming. Yes, the system is broken. Democrats, for one illicit reason, and business interests, aka Republicans, for another, broke it long ago, and both have intentionally tap-danced, lied, and intentionally muddied the issue to keep it broken. Now, if my sister objected to my labeling of the Democratic Party as the party of open borders by a arguing that it is unfair to  leave the GOP out of that box, okay, I’ll concede the validity of that in part. The problem is that the Republicans have a President in office who is unequivocally opposed to open borders, to say the least, and who is trying to end the nonsense. Democrats, not Republicans, are blocking him.

The totality of Democratic party and progressive conduct and rhetoric equals a desire to keep out southern borders porous, which means “open” in reality, if not political double talk. Among them, in no particular order since I am rushed and want to get a pots up before I have to do a 7:30 am tech check here in San Diego: Continue reading

An Unethical Quote About An Unethical Quote!

This was Trump’s fault? OK, that makes sense, Senator….thanks for clarifying

I’m sorely tempted to write an unethical post, thus creating the first unethical quote about an unethical quote about an unethical quote…but that would be wrong, as Richard Nixon said.

The topic was the recent New Zealand terror attack, the venue was CNN,  the speaker was Connecticut Democratic Senator Richard  Blumenthal ,and the quote was

“Words have consequences like saying we have an invasion on our border and talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way…I think that the public discourse from the president on down is a factor in some of these actions…Words do have consequences, and we know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.”

That’s right, the Senator was trying to blame a terrorist attack in New Zealand on Donald Trump. I wopuldn’t have to know a thing about Blumenthal to hear such a statement and conclude, with high confidence, that the speaker was a despicable, principle-free asshole. This is the unethical cognitive dissonance game that has the vile objective of ginning up hate by associating something universally understood as terrible to the person or group you want to demonize, despite the fact that there is no connection at all. President Trump plays this game on occasion, as when he links all illegal immigrants to gang members and murderers, the worst of their number, but at least there is some nexus there. Blumenthal’s smear is completely dishonest; it is in the same category as Hitler blaming Jews for the bad economy. (Don’t throw Godwin’s Law at me: an apt Hitler comparison is the clearest way to show how despicable the tactic is.) “If you hate massacres like this, then you should hate Trump too, because he helps make them happen!” No, he doesn’t, and didn’t, you irredeemable hack:

  • Calling illegal immigrants “invaders” is harsh language but not inaccurate. or unfair. An invader is “A person or group that invades a country, region, or other place.” Invade means “to enter (a place, situation, or sphere of activity) in large numbers, especially with intrusive effect.” There is no requirement, ethically or otherwise to describe those who seek to break our laws in nice terms. Failing to do so, moreover, does not cause maniacs to kill people in New Zealand. Did I mention that Blumenthal is an asshole?
  • “Talking about people as though they were different in some fatal way”…nice turn of phrase there, Senator Boob. The President makes distinctions between law breakers and law abiding citizens, and, in fact, there are many material differences between people, which your party increasingly wants to have embodied in law, so some groups have advantages over others in employment and other areas. But how does the vague conduct alluded to in this inarticulate blob of a phrase kill New Zealanders? I’m not seeing it.
  • “Words do have consequences”...True, and what a shame you don’t know how to use them…
  • “We know that at the very pinnacle of power in our own country, people are talking about ‘good people on both sides.” Yes, Senator, we know that the position of your party and supporters is that the only good people are those who believe what you want them to believe.  Everyone else is deplorable.

Continue reading

New Week Morning Warm-Up, 3/4/19: Luck, Fairness, And Delusion

Looking forward to the best ethics week yet…

…but not really expecting it.

…Maybe I’ll get lucky.

1. A Progressive war on luck. Yesterday, NPR, which we all pay for, offered a long segment that was ostensibly about “luck,” but it actually was an extended argument for socialism and a political ad against President Trump. “One we move from talking about merit to concentrating on opportunity, then we have changed our focus from scarcity to abundance,” some Ted-talker said. “Then there is no need for walls.” The general thrust of the program, which included at least one speaker (I didn’t stay to hear all of the agitprop) who literally didn’t know what luck is, was that successful people think that hard work and talent is what got them where they are, when in reality it was all, or mostly luck. Thus the idea being pushed was that national policy should eliminate, or at least minimize, the effect of mere chance on human affairs. This means, once you read between the line, government distribution of resources, jobs and benefits to ensure the “fairness” that the random vicissitudes of cruel fate so often eschew.

As I touched on in a recent discussion of Clarence Darrow’s progressive principles, the rejection of personal responsibility and the very idea of free will has permeated progressiveness from its origins. It is, and has been, an anti-American construct that runs against the core principles the nation was founded on, but the theory has always appealed to those who welcome the opportunity to blame others, or just cruel Fate, for their own mistakes and failures.

That said, of course luck plays a massive and sometimes decisive role in our lives. That’s called “life.” Ironically, one of Clarence Darrow’s favorite poems (I know I have posted this before) makes the point:

Whist by Eugene Fitch Ware

Hour after hour the cards were fairly shuffled
And fairly dealt, but still I got no hand;
The morning came, and with a mind unruffled
I only said, “I do not understand.”

Life is a game of whist. From unseen sources
The cards are shuffled and the hands are dealt;
Blind are our efforts to control the forces
That, though unseen, are no less strongly felt.

I do not like the way the cards are shuffled,
But yet I like the game and want to play;
And through the long, long night will I, unruffled,
Play what I get until the break of day

2. Speaking of controlling “opportunity”…which usually means constraining liberty and autonomy, officials at Lakeland Regional High School in Wanaque, New Jersey have forbidden prom goers from hiring limos or private vehicles to arrive and leave in. The boilerplate official explanation is that the change ensures safety for all students, but it also is an effort to create “equality” because not all students can afford a limousine or party bus. Of course, not all students can afford a prom gown or to rent a tux. Why not ban formal wear, and have a simple dress code that all families can afford, like jeans and a T-shirt?

The school will charge each student $15 for transportation costs.

3. Thank-you, Captain Obvious! Avner Zarmi has written an essay in which she argues that President Trump’s “style” undermines his effectiveness. Ya think? What was Avner’s first clue, I wonder?

If the President could restrain his inner jerk as effectively as his predecessors (for he is far from the biggest jerk to occupy the White House—my vote would be with JFK, but there is lots of competition) and if he wasn’t opposed by a hostile news media determined to magnify his deficits and ignore his accomplishments, he would have a 60% approval rating.

4. And this is why there is a national emergencyContinue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 2/16/2019: The King’s Pass And Kool-Aid

Good morning…

1. A literal “King’s Pass”! The King’s Pass, #11 on the Ethic Alarms rationalization list, was acted out with perfection in Great Britain, where Prince Philip, despite causing an automobile accident that injured another driver, was not charged or ticketed by authorities. The nonagenarian royal has been persuaded to surrender his driving license, however.

2. Politics do not belong in the sports pages...but don’t tell the New York Times. In another King’s Pass-related story,“Patriarch’s Racist Emails Stagger Cubs Owners” (the print version), in which the Times subtly lobbies for the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball to take punitive action against Joe Ricketts, the billionaire whose family owns the team, we had the following statements…

  • “The false assertion that Obama, who identifies as Protestant, was Muslim and born outside the United States were prevalent in right-wing politics during his presidency.” This is just false. The birthers were a radical fringe of the conservative opposition to Obama, and that weak conspiracy theory was never “prevalent.” Nor can the birther claims be fairly called “racist,” though certainly many of their adherents were racist. Among the “racist” sentiments attributed to Ricketts in the article were “we cannot ever let Islam become a large part of our society.”  At worst that’s religious bigotry, not racism. At best it’s a defensible point of view.

In fact, I tend to agree with it, and the experience of Western Europe supports the position.

  • The article approvingly cites the mandatory grovel by Tom Ricketts, chairman of the Cubs, who denounced his father’s emails in a statement, saying, “We are aware of the racially insensitive emails in my father’s account that were published by an online media outlet. Let me be clear: The language and views expressed in those emails have no place in our society.”

Let me be clear: any language and all views have a place in a society founded on the principles of freedom of thought and expression. The casual and routine endorsement of thought-crime and censorship by the mainstream news media (and academia) is far more alarming than any private emails by an elderly billionaire. Continue reading