Tag Archives: Joe Arpaio

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/10/2018: All Poll Edition [Updated and Corrected]

Good Morning, everybody.

1 The ancient Greeks in my family were pleased. Yesterday could be used in public schools to teach the concept of hubris. I doubt that public schools teach concepts like hubris, unfortunately. (I doubt that most public school teachers could explain hubris.) For in a single day..

  • We saw Steve Bannon dismissed from his kingdom, right-wing propaganda organ Breitbart.
  • We learned that Joe Arpaaio, who is only not facing prison time because of a generous pardon frm President Trump, and who lost his latest election for sheriff, and who is 85-years-old, announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate in Arizona.
  • NJ Governor Chris Christie gave his farewell address, celebrating himself. Earlier this week he said that he would be President today if not for Donald Trump.

2. “What’s done is done.” Yesterday, a Democratic mouthpiece who sounded like Kristin Chenoweth on speed (looked like her too) was confronted with videotapes of the last two Democratic Presidents swearing that they were committed to strengthening the borders and enforcing immigration laws. “We are a nation of immigrants,” intoned Bill Clinton. “We are also a nation of laws.”

“What’s done is done,” blathered ‘Kristin.’

This is the unethical rationalization known on the Ethics Alarms list as #51 . The Underwood Maneuver, or “That’s in the past”: Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/2017: TV Comics, Law Deans, Sports And California…Everything Is Seemingly Spinning Out Of Control!

Good Morning!

On the day that the Boston Red Sox will begin their stunning comeback against the Houston Astros …

 

1 Speaking of baseball, a poll shows that the NFL fell from the most popular major sport in the nation last year to the least favorite last month, while baseball regained its traditional but usually treated as fictional “National Pastime” status. The NFL also dragged down the popularity of college football. Not all of this can be blamed on Colin Kaepernick, Black Lives Matters, and incoherent protests that aren’t against the National Anthem, well, maybe its third verse, but take place during the National Anthem, well, because. Ethics Alarms isn’t the only voice that has declared football to be callous and barbaric, now that the game’s unavoidable concussions are being shown to cause a deadly brain disease. Too many helmeted heroes beat their spouses and lovers, and commit felonies. The biggest star in the NFL, Tom Brady, is a smug, cheating jerk. It never helps when the President of the United States, even one like Trump, attacks an institution from the bully pulpit. Still, the timing certainly suggest that the NFL’s botched handling of The Knee is the catalyst for its current nosedive in popularity. Just think how many brains will be saved if this is permanent.

Meanwhile,  Major League Baseball is benefiting from staying true to its traditional national role of unifying the country rather than dividing it. No on-field protests mar the National Anthem. The sport is entertainment, celebrating American themes like individualism, the triumph of the underdog, and grace under pressure. In 1942, FDR urged Major League Baseball to keep playing, even though the remaining players were unfit for military service, leaving the teams stocked with older players and a collection of misfits, like Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder.  After Baseball Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis wrote President Roosevelt in January, FDR replied with this letter the same day:

It is not, however, in the best interest of the country to keep the NFL “going.” Continue reading

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From The “Didn’t I Tell You To Stop Making Me Defend President Trump?” Files, An Ethics Alarms Popeye: More On The Joe Arpaio Pardon

I would prefer not to keep talking about the Joe Arpaio pardon, but the news media and the “resistance” won’t let the pardon go, because in the absence of anything legitimate giving them cause to scream for an impeachment, they have to latch on to whatever they can. So this is a Popeye: I’m writing it because, as the spinach-living cartoon sailor would say, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands no more!”

Oh, before I forget: here’s what the Southern Poverty Law Center says about the pardon:

“By pardoning Joe Arpaio, President Trump has demonstrated his contempt for the rule of law and the racism at the core of his agenda. Arpaio, a Trump favorite on the campaign trail, is the former sheriff of Maricopa County, Arizona. He was convicted of criminal contempt of court for intentionally violating a federal court order prohibiting racial profiling. As a result of President Trump’s pardon, Arpaio will never be held accountable for his unconstitutional conduct.”

Following this logic, by pardoning drug dealers President Obama proved that at heart, he is a drug dealer. By pardoning Chelsea Manning, President Obama proved that sharing classified information with our enemies is at the core of his agenda. This is a “law center”  including such tripe on its website? It sounds like the legally ignorant accusation often made against defense lawyers (like Hillary Clinton) that they endorse the crimes, motives and values of their clients.

In a front page article on Sunday, the New York Times tried to break its own record for desperately trying to make a case for Presidential wrongdoing while still stating the undeniable fact that no wrongdoing had occurred:

  • The Times states, correctly, “that there is nothing in the text of the Constitution’s pardons clause to suggest that [Trump] exceeded his authority.” But it tracks down yet another law professor who has allowed the anti-Trump brain virus to swallow his integrity. Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard, claimed that pardoning Arpaio “would express presidential contempt for the Constitution.”

Good thinking. The President expressed contempt for the Constitution by engaging in an action described and enacted in the Constitution. A better argument, though still unfair, would be that President Obama was expressing contempt for the Constitution by not using its pardon power provision even once within his first 400 days in office.

  • More from the Professor: “Arpaio didn’t just violate a law passed by Congress…His actions defied the Constitution itself, the bedrock of the entire system of government.” Yes, and so what? If that same document gives the President an open-ended power to forgive any crime, and it does, then this is just huffing and puffing.

All Feldman is saying is that he doesn’t believe that Arpaio’s particular crime should be pardoned. When you’re President, Professor, by all means let that standard be your guide.

  • By saying Mr. Arpaio’s offense was forgivable, Professor Feldman added, Mr. Trump threatens “the very structure on which his right to pardon is based.”

Note to  Professor Feldman: Get help. The reason the President has unlimited pardon power is because, in the view of the Constitution’s authors, any offense IS forgivable. Presidents have pardoned traitors, those who have killed American citizens. They have pardoned terrorists, and a President of the United States who plotted to subvert justice and our democracy itself. No Harvard Law professor has made the claim that any of those offenses were unpardonable (that is, literally, unforgivable). Why is that? Well, a) Trump is special and doesn’t deserves to be judged by the same standards as other Presidents, and b) the Left hates Arpaio beyond all proportion, because of his opposition to illegal immigration.

  • The Times writes, “It was the first act of outright defiance against the judiciary by a president who has not been shy about criticizing federal judges who ruled against his businesses and policies.” If this pardon is “outright defiance against the judiciary,” then most pardons are. Almost all pardons erase a judicial sentence or verdict.

This is misleading, biased, inflammatory, unethical journalism.

  • The Times writes,

“Mr. Trump could pardon any of the subjects of the special counsel’s Russia inquiry, though some legal specialists believe he could increase his risk of prosecution if he is seen as abusing his pardon power.Were Mr. Trump to announce that he has pardoned himself, impeachment would remain possible. A prosecutor might also test the limits of the pardon power by indicting Mr. Trump notwithstanding such an announcement. That clash could lead the Supreme Court to weigh in on the limits of the president’s power to spare himself from punishment for criminal wrongdoing.”

This story has nothing to do with impeachment! No evidence has been found that suggests the President has committed any impeachable acts. The Times story is about the Joe Arpaio pardon. How can the Times justify suddenly piling tangential hypothetical on top of tangential hypotheticals in this article to get to a scenario where the Supreme Court has to determine whether President Trump can pardon himself for crimes as yet unalleged and undiscovered? Well, the reporter is Adam Liptak, the epitome of what Instapundit calls “Democratic operatives with bylines.” He’s not reporting here; he’s promoting a nakedly partisan narrative. Continue reading

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/27/17

GOOOD MORNING!

(he said through gritted teeth..)

1. I received a nice, polite e-mail from a new reader here who accused me of engaging exclusively in “partisan/political rants.” “Further,” he wrote,  “everything you say appears to be entirely one-sided (right/conservative/republican is good, left/liberal/democrat is bad).”

The man is an academic, so one might expect a little fairness and circumspection, but then, the man is an academic. His description is in factual opposition to the contents of the blog (I’m trying to think of the last Republican leader, conservative or otherwise, I designated as “good”), but I know from whence the impression arises: the fact that the entire American Left, along with its sycophants and familiars, the universities, show business and the news media, have gone completely off the ethics rails since November 8, 2016. I don’t know how else I am supposed to address that. It would have been nice, for balance’s sake, if a conservative cast of white actors in, say, a hit musical called “The Ray Coniff Story” had stepped out of character and harassed, say, Chuck Shumer, but this didn’t happen. If it had, I would have treated that breach of theater ethics exactly as I did the cast of Hamilton’s harassment of Mike Pence. (I would not, however, have been attacked for doing so by my theater colleagues, and no, I haven’t forgotten, and I’m not forgiving.)

If a GOP figure working for CNN as an analyst, say, Jeffrey Lord, had used his connections at the network to forward debate questions to Donald Trump and then lied about it when he was caught red-handed, I would have eagerly written about it in highly critical terms—but the Republicans didn’t cheat. Donna Brazile and the Democrats did. 

If Hillary Clinton had been elected President and Donald Trump and the Republicans formed an anti-democractic movement called “the resistance,” tried to use a single Federalist paper as a rationalization to change the rules of the election and then pressured performers not to allow the new President the privilege of a star-studded, up-beat inauguration to unify the nation, and if a large contingent of Republican Congressmen had boycotted the ceremony, saying that they did not consider Hillary as “legitimate President,” Ethics Alarms would have been unmatched in expressing its contempt and condemnation. If conservatives were trying to limit free speech according to what they considered “hateful,” a step toward dictatorship if there ever was one, I would be among the first to declare them a menace to society. They haven’t advocated such restrictions, however. Progressives have. The Mayor of Portland has called for a “hate speech’ ban. What party is he from? Howard Dean said that “hate speech” wasn’t protected. What party was he the Chair of? I forget. What was the party–there was just one— of the mayors who announced that citizens holding certain views should get out of town?

“Need I go on? I could, because the uniquely un-American, unfair and destructive conduct from Democrats, progressives and the anti-Trump deranged has continued unabated and without shame for 10 months now.  That’s not my fault, and I don’t take kindly to being criticized for doing my job in response to it. I have chronicled this as unethical, because it is spectacularly unethical, and remains the most significant ethics story of the past ten years, if not the 21st Century to date.

And the reluctance and refusal of educated and usually responsible liberals and Democrats to exhibit some courage and integrity and vigorously oppose this conduct as they should and have a duty as Americans to do—no, I am not impressed with the commenters here who protest, “Hey, I don’t approve of all of this! Don’t blame me!” as if they bear no responsibility—is the reason this execrable conduct continues. It is also why I have to keep writing about it.

2. I’m still awaiting the apologies and acknowledgement of my predictive abilities from all of my friends who chided me for suggesting that the Confederate flag and statuary-focused historical airbrushing mania would shoot down the slippery slope to threaten the Founders and more.  Continue reading

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The Joe Arpaio Pardon

To nobody’s surprise, I hope, President Trump  pardoned the former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff, a hero to many conservatives and anti-illegal immigration proponents (there is no ethical justification for not being anti-illegal immigration), who was facing up to 18 months in jail for criminal contempt of court, for defying a judge who had ordered him to stop profiling Hispanics.

As I wrote earlier, the President had no good ethical options in this situation. It was a binary choice, and whichever choice he made would be arguably unethical in one respect or another. Let me repeat what I wrote about this question just two days ago, before the President acted:

Let’s see:

  • Arpaio did defy a judicial order. Should a law enforcement official be treated especially harshly when he does this?

Yes.

  • The judicial order related to Arpaio’s practice of assuming that individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to be violating the immigration laws in his jurisdiction than other citizens. Since his jurisdiction was rife with Hispanic illegals, was this an unreasonable assumption on his part? No. Was it still discriminatory? Sure. Is the balance between profiling, which in such situations is a valuable law-enforcement tool, and the importance of equal treatment under the law a difficult one legally and ethically? Yes. Does a sheriff have the right and authority to ignore the way this balance is decided one legal authorities define it?

No.

  • Is the determination of this balance often polluted by ideological biases, in this case, against enforcement of immigration laws?

Yes.

  • Do Donald Trump, and his supporters, and those Americans who may not be his supporters but who agree that allowing foreign citizens to breach our borders at will without legal penalties is certifiably insane, believe that Arpaio’s position on illegal immigration is essentially correct and just?

Yes.

  • Nonetheless, did his ham-handed methods give ammunition to open-borders, pro-illegal immigration, race-baiting activists like the one who told the New York Times,

“Trump is delivering a slap in the face to dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio. Arpaio belongs in jail, getting a taste of his own medicine. Trump wants to put Arpaio above the law, showing they are both about white supremacy.”

Yes.

  • Is sending Arpaio to jail a political imprisonment?

Yes, although he made it easy to justify on non-political grounds.

  • Are political prisoners the ideal objects of Presidential pardons?

Yes.

  • Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)

Yes.

  • Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?

God, yes.

  • Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?

YES!

  • Will he?

Of course not.

Sure enough, Democrats, Trump-haters like Senator John McCain and my echo-chamber Facebook friends are denouncing the pardon as if the President had loosed Hannibal Lector on the world. In doing so, they really look ridiculous,  and might as well be wearing  “I hate Donald Trump and will scream bloody murder no matter what he does” in neon on their heads. Especially for Democrats, who have argued that non-violent criminals shouldn’t be imprisoned at all when they are young and black, the argument that an 85 year old man’s under-two year maximum sentence is an outrageous object of Presidential mercy and grace—that’s what a pardon is, you know–is the height of partisan hypocrisy.

The fact that Arpaio is 85 alone justifies a pardon by the standards Presidents have used since the beginning of the office. That his sentence is relatively short—many, many prisoners with far longer sentences have been pardoned by Trump’s predecessors–makes the pardon, if ill-considered, also de minimus, especially since there is no chance, literally none, that the old man, now out of office and retired, will have an opportunity to repeat the crime he was convicted of committing. A pardon is an act of grace by which an offender is released from the consequences of his offense, according to the U.S. Justice Department’s website. It does not say that the offender was not guilty, or that the law that was violated can be breached at will.  In 2013, President Obama pardoned Willie Shaw Jr., who was sentenced in August 1974 to 15 years in prison for armed bank robbery. Armed bank robbery is a lot more serious an offense than criminal contempt, but nobody argued that Obama’s pardon “demonstrates flagrant disregard for the rule of law in this country,” not even the most virulent anti-Obama Republicans. But that’s what Senator Diane Feinstein said Trump’s pardon of Arpaio was:

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio should not have been pardoned. He brazenly denied a federal judge’s court order to stop racial profiling and continued to do so until being convicted of criminal contempt. A pardon for that conduct demonstrates flagrant disregard for the rule of law in this country.”

By that a standard, any pardon is an insult to the rule of law. Does Feinstein endorse the brain-dead view of her fellow California Senator, Kamala Harris, who seemed to argue that criminals shouldn’t be pardoned? I suspect the standard they both embrace is that no conservative law enforcement official should even be pardoned for being over-zealous in enforcing a law that their party disgracefully has tried to have enforced as infrequently as possible.

This is the real hypocrisy of the critics of Trump’s pardon. Feinstein’s state is full of sanctuary cities that intentionally undermine and defy the rule of law, without a peep of protest from its two Democratic Senators. They want Arpaio to be immune from Presidential mercy, unlike the 534 draft- dodgers pardoned by Jimmy Carter, tax fugitive Marc Rich, pardoned by Bill Clinton afters ex-wife made large campaign contributions and donations to the Clinton Presidential Library, gangster union leader Jimmy Hoffa, and all the Confederate citizens and soldiers who took up arms against the United States.  They want him to be metaphorically hung up by his heels to appease their open-border, pr0-illegal immigration base, making the fervor to punish him purely political, and having little to do with respect for the rule of law, which their own position on illegal immigration proves that they don’t respect themselves.

Let me be clear. This isn’t a Rationalization #22 “it isn’t the worst thing” defense of the pardon. It is a “the attacks on this pardon are wildly disproportionate to its reality, and thus transparent political theater” indictment of the pardon’s critics. Almost every pardon can be called a rejection of the “rule of law,” if you don’t understand what the pardon power is, and politicians who have been undermining respect for  the very laws that Arpaio went over-board enforcing are the last people on earth who should make that argument. They are ridiculous in their hypocrisy.

Joe Arpaio was an arrogant, grandstanding bully and thug, and unworthy of his badge. I wouldn’t have pardoned him despite his age, but there were some good reasons for Trump to do so. It was almost worth doing just to prompt Trump’s foes and pro illegal immigration hypocrites into embarrassing themselves.

The larger ethical problem with this pardon is the one focused on by P.S. Ruckman on his Pardon Power Blog. He is correctly troubled by the fact that the usual process for Presidential pardons was not followed (Trump does not even have a pardon attorney on board yet), and that for a political ally like Arpaio to be the President’s first pardon (despite the fact that Obama didn’t pardon his first until well into his second year in office), sends a corrosive message:

Hundreds of persons have applied for clemency and have waited for years, some for 10 or 15. Imagine how demoralized they must feel now. Now, more gasoline will be poured on the classic misconception that clemency is only for famous persons, rich people, political supporters, insiders, the “connected.” It is, of course, a false narrative, but a powerful one. One that defames a wonderful check and balance and, in some instances, discourages politicians from doing anything. They err on the side of caution (they think) by showing mercy to no one, or to as few as possible.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up: 8/24/17 [UPDATED]

GOOD MORNING!

1. I’m moving this to the top from its original placement at the end. I warned that the mania for retroactive statue-toppling and historical air-brushing was a deadly slippery slope to cultural chaos from the moment Dylan Roof’s rampage primed the Confederate flag banning push. I said that there was no clear stop on that slope, and that this was a massive ethical error that would quickly spin out of control.

I am accepting apologies and “You were right, I was wrong” messages at jamproethics@verizon.net. I will reply gracefully.

2. It’s a good thing, in some ways, that President Trump has no ethics alarms, or has them but doesn’t understand what all the ringing means, because if he did, he might realize that he has put himself in ethics zugswang in the matter of former sheriff Joe Arpaio, the anti-illegal immigration zealot who is facing up to six months in jail for defying a federal judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos based solely on the suspicion of their legal status. Trump has been urged to pardon Arpaio. Let’s see:

  • Arpaio did defy a judicial order. Should a law enforcement official be treated especially harshly when he does this?

Yes.

  • The judicial order related to Arpaio’s practice of assuming that individuals of Hispanic descent were more likely to be violating the immigration laws in his jurisdiction than other citizens. Since his jurisdiction was rife with Hispanic illegals, was this an unreasonable assumption on his part? No. Was it still discriminatory? Sure. Is the balance between profiling, which in such situations is a valuable law-enforcement tool, and the importance of equal treatment under the law a difficult one legally and ethically? Yes. Does a sheriff have the right and authority to ignore the way this balance is decided one legal authorities define it?

No.

  • Is the determination of this balance often polluted by ideological biases, in this case, against enforcement of immigration laws?

Yes.

  • Do Donald Trump, and his supporters, and those Americans who may not be his supporters but who agree that allowing foreign citizens to breach our borders at will without legal penalties is certifiably insane, believe that Arpaio’s position on illegal immigration is essentially correct and just?

Yes.

  • Nonetheless, did his ham-handed methods give ammunition to open-borders, pro-illegal immigration, race-baiting activists like the one who told the New York Times,

“Trump is delivering a slap in the face to dignified, hard-working people whose lives were ripped apart by Arpaio. Arpaio belongs in jail, getting a taste of his own medicine. Trump wants to put Arpaio above the law, showing they are both about white supremacy.”

  • Is sending Arpaio to jail a political imprisonment?

Yes, although he made it easy to justify on non-political grounds.

  • Are political prisoners the ideal objects of Presidential pardons?

Yes.

  • Would pardoning him send dangerous messages (it’s OK to violate judicial orders you think are wrong; the ends justifies the means; Presidents should meddle in local law enforcement, “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice”) as well as defensible ones ( judges and elected official enabling illegal immigration are a threat to the rule of law; Joe is an old man with a long record of public service who deserves mercy even though he was wrong…)

Yes.

  • Will such a pardon, especially as the news media is again spinning to make the case that Trump is sympathetic with xenophobes and white nationalists, further inflame an overly emotional debate that needs to be calmed, not exacerbated?

God, yes.

  • Is the most responsible course for Trump to stay out of this mess?

YES!

  • Will he?

Of course not. Continue reading

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