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

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/9/19: “Nothing Can Bother Me Because It’s Opening Day At Fenway Park” Edition

All’s right with the world..

…despite all evidence to the contrary!

At least for today…

1. Psst! HLN! It’s called “stealing,” you morons. According to a recent survey, 14% of Netflix users share their passwords to the streaming service. That’s about 8 million people. I just watched giggling news-bimbo Robin Meade on HLN and her sidekick Jennifer Westhoven go on about how they hoped Netflix didn’t “crack down” and how this was like “ride-sharing.” No, it’s not like ride-sharing at all. If you want your friend to have  Netflix and they can’t afford it, pay for their subscription. This is theft. Talking heads that rationalize dishonest behavior on TV is one of many cultural factors that incapacitates the ethics alarms of a critical mass of Americans.

And Robin? Being beautiful doesn’t excuse everything.

2.  The Alternate Reality solution to race relations! Professor Chad Shomura of the University of Colorado at Denver has  banned discussions of any white men in his course on American political thought. No Locke,  no Jefferson,  no Rousseau, no Madison, no Hamilton, and  no President before Obama .  Such an irresponsible approach to his course’s topic can’t be prevented by the university because of academic freedom, of course: if a professor thinks he or she can teach physics by playing with puppies, that’s up to them. I would suggest, however, that any student incapable of figuring out that such a course is an extended con is a fool and a dupe. What’s the equivalent of this? Teaching the history of baseball without mentioning Babe Ruth?

3.  Pop Ethics Quiz: Is this fair? After legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN that outgoing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen ” will forever be known as the ‘woman who put children in cages,” conservative pundit and ex-Justice Department lawyer T Beckett Adams tweeted, “I doubt it. People have short memories. There’s a reason we don’t call Toobin the “married man who knocked up a former colleague’s daughter and had to be taken to court to pay child support.”  Adams’ description is fair, but is using it in this context ethical?

I tend to think not, but it’s a close call. [Pointer: Althouse] Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 1/19/19: It’s Fake News Day!

Welcome to the Ethics Alarms Dead Zone!

Increasingly, almost nobody comes here on Saturdays. For me, Saturday is when I have time to catch up on ethics issues, and that’s fun for me. Everybody else doesn’t find ethics fun? How strange…

1. Another day, another fake news story designed to thrill and energize the “resistance.” BuzzFeed published a “bombshell” about Michael Cohen, that impeccably reliable witness, telling investigators that President Trump instructed him to lie to Congress about his pre-election hotel plans—odd that, since there is nothing illegal about planning to build a hotel in Moscow. Without checking sources, without considering the media source’s record of those of the reporters (one of whom has a well-documented pattern of making stuff up), the mainstream media was off to the impeachment races, with CNN and MSNBC in particular talking about almost nothing else all day.  Then, as the day edged into evening, the Mueller investigation dropped its own bombshell, taking the remarkable step of declaring the BuzzFeed story a lot of hooey.  Some pundits on the Right who trust today’s incompetent news media as much as I do even suggested that BuzzFeed knew its claim was false all along, but were confident that nobody could prove it except the Mueller investigation itself, and of course it would never speak up. The same logic was behind Clifford Irving’s Howard Hughes autobiography hoax (Irving assumed that the reclusive Hughes would never come forward to expose him—but he did.)

The Daily Caller quickly compiled a list of eleven previous botched news reports related to the “collusion” narrative, and it was not all of them by any means. I haven’t checked, but I am quite sure that there were not this many mainstream media headline-generating news stories that proved to be false in the past ten Presidencies combined. What will it take for the industry to declare its performance a crisis? What will it take for even the “resistance” to conclude that their pals the journalists are hacks? Blogger Ann Althouse is so disgusted that she has taken to drawing rat cartoons and diagramming the sentences in anti-Trump screeds. “How embarrassing for the Trump haters,” she writes. “I didn’t even write about the BuzzFeed story myself. I’m so jaded about the latest impeachment bait.”

Why isn’t everybody? It isn’t just bias that makes you stupid. Hate makes you stupid too. Worse than that, it makes you LOOK stupid.

Entertaining accounts of the BuzzFeed fiasco are here and here. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/28/2018: The Post-Kennedy Retirement Announcement Freak-Out

Good Morning!

1. How prescient of me to headline yesterday’s warm-up “Deranged” before Justice Kennedy announced his retirement and the progressive/Democratic/ mainstream media/social media freakout commenced!

2. Duh. Since nobody seems to be writing about how perfectly this proves the Trump-inflicted brain damage on the Left, allow me:

  • Justice Kennedy is 81. As my dad used to say when he entered his 8th decade, he’s in the red zone, and can drop dead at any second. Did Democrats really assume he would keep working forever?

Their shock at this is ridiculous and unbelievable. WHAT? An 81-year-old judge is retiring?

  • This is a wonderful example of how people assume that everyone else thinks as they do. The Trump-Deranged have reached the point where they would saw their pets in half to undermine the President, so they assume that Kennedy feels the same way.

There is no evidence that he does, in part because, unlike Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who has periodically trumpeted her contempt for the President, he has been judicially discrete and professional.

  • It is per se irresponsible for an 81-year-old in a challenging job with national impact not to step down before he or she becomes incompetent, or drops dead. Scalia was irresponsible not to retire. Ginsberg should retire (she is 84). Breyer is two months short of 80: he should retire.

Outside of judges, we have multiple members of Congress, notably Pelosi and John McCain, who are being unethical by not stepping aside.

  • The bottom line is that nobody should be freaking out, because everyone should have been prepared for it.

3. We get it! You are vicious, juvenile, angry, rigis and irrational people. The Daily News nicely sums up the calm, analytical, reasoned reaction by the Left:

Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Day: Five Ninth Circuit Judges

“We are all acutely aware of the enormous controversy and chaos that attended the issuance of the Executive Order. People contested the extent of the national security interests at stake, and they debated the value that the Executive Order added to our security against the real suffering of potential emigres. As tempting as it is to use the judicial power to balance those competing interests as we see fit, we cannot let our personal inclinations get ahead of important, overarching principles about who gets to make decisions in our democracy.

For better or worse, every four years we hold a contested presidential election. We have all found ourselves disappointed with the election results in one election cycle or another. But it is the best of American traditions that we also understand and respect the consequences of our elections. Even when we disagree with the judgment of the political branches — and perhaps especially when we disagree — we have to trust that the wisdom of the nation as a whole will prevail in the end.”

—-Five judges of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals  (Judges Jay Bybee,  joined by Judges Alex Kozinski, Consuelo María Callahan, Carlos Bea, and Sandra Segal Ikuta, attacked what Bybee called the “fundamental errors” in the February decision of a three-judge panel upholding the temporary restraining order that blocked President Donald Trump’s first executive order temporarily halting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The opinion denounced the panel’s ruling as a “clear misstatement of law,” and stated that the five, constituting a larger number of judges than the three judge panel whose contrary holding was described as a “unanimous” 9th Circuit decision, had an”obligation to correct” it for the record.

“We are judges, not Platonic Guardians. It is our duty to say what the law is, and the meta-source of our law, the U.S. Constitution, commits the power to make foreign policy, including the decisions to permit or forbid entry into the United States, to the President and Congress,” the five judges stated.

Currently, the President’s revised order is held up by an even more widely criticized temporary restraining order issued by  U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson. As well as following many of the same lines of activist judicial reasoning the five judges criticized in their dissent, Judge Watson’s opinion heavily relies  on the campaign rhetoric of President Trump and statements by  chief aide Stephen Miller in TV interviews. This means, as several critical legal experts including Alan Dershowitz  have pointed out, that the exact same order, if issued by Barack Obama, would not have been blocked, and would have been found Constitutional.

Now that’s a double standard!

In criticizing their colleagues, the five judges said that the panel “brushed aside” the clearly controlling case law of Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972) and ignored entirely the rulings in Kerry v. Din, 135 S. Ct. 2128 (2015) and Fiallo v. Bell, 430 U.S. 787 (1977).  The Supreme Court in Mandel recognized that First Amendment rights were implicated by an executive action but decided…

“when the executive has exercised its authority to exclude aliens on the basis of a facially legitimate and bona fide reason, the courts will neither look behind the exercise of that discretion, nor test it by balancing its justification against the First Amendment 11 interests of those who seek personal communication with the applicant.”

Continue reading

A Question For The Zimmerman Verdict Protesters: What Do You Think You’re Protesting?

justice-for-trayvon-martinThe protests of the George Zimmerman acquittal taking place around the country on campuses and cities has been largely peaceful, which is something, I guess.  Nonetheless, pointless and misguided protests are, in my view, unethical, as those of you who recall my posts about the Occupy movement will recall. They waste public resources, inconvenience bystanders, and risk violence, not to mention trivializing a key tool of democracy. If you are going to demonstrate, you are ethically obligated to have your facts and grievances straight and clear, and a practical objective in mind. By this measure, the post-verdict “Justice for Trayvon” protests fail.

What do protesters mean when they chant, “Justice for Trayvon,” now? What do they want, and why do they think it is reasonable to want it? I have listened to and read so many radio hosts, talking heads, experts, lawyers, activists, callers, friends and relatives on this story, and the truth is this: those who are angry about the verdict and want to sign petitions and carry placards about it cannot articulate a single legitimate reason that is supportable by fact or law. Not one.

I say this not because I am a “Zimmerman supporter.” I am not a Zimmerman supporter. Nor am I a  Trayvon Martin supporter, though I am sorrowful that his young life was cut short. This isn’t a team sport, and it certainly isn’t a game. Those who have used this sad tragedy to divide, polarize and demonize belong on a splintered spit in Hell. I have pleaded for an honest, rational, fair justification, other than raw emotion, for the indignation over this case, requiring only that the facts cited actually apply to what happened in Sanford, and not a litany of racism through the centurues. I haven’t received them, and that is because they don’t exist.

So I ask the protesters, both on the streets and campuses and the pundits, activists, columnists and elected officials:

What is it that you want, and why do you think this episode is the fair and rational place to make your stand? Continue reading