Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 9/20/2020: Tales Of The Great Stupid [Updated and Corrected]

1. Yes, these are the people who want to have power over our lives. Imagine: this woman isn’t mourning the death of a human being, she’s angry because that human being can no longer serve her interests. The human being in question continued to work for the public long after she could have retired with dignity and comfort, and this woman is furious that she wasn’t physically able to do so “until 2021.” Not only that, she posted this repulsive video with no apparent comprehension that it exposes her as a horrible human being. She just assumes that most who share her political persuasion are just as  incapable of empathy and compassion as she is. Maybe she’s right.

Again I must ask, “How do people get like this?”

***

Okay, I just stumbled on some timely satire. I generally hate memes, but this is genuinely funny. Forgive me.

2.  Speaking of memes and The Great Stupid, what can you say about an adult who would post this on Facebook in all seriousness, as if it was profound or true?

Continue reading

Notes On The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck

To remind regular readers who may have forgotten, and newer readers who have not taken the time to review the list of Concepts and Special Terms (Shame! SHAME!!!), ethics train wrecks are “chains of unethical conduct created by a central unethical action. As the event becomes more complex and involves more participants, it becomes increasingly difficult to sort out right from wrong, and all parties who become involved with the episode in any way are at risk of engaging in unethical conduct themselves, intentionally or inadvertently.”

In no particular order:

  • It’s not called The Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck for nothing. The individual responsible for this ethics train wreck is, aptly enough, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was irresponsible for her to stay on the court well past her shelf date, as it is irresponsible for any judge to deny the unavoidable effects of age on their acumen and ability. This would have been true if she were completely healthy, but the Justice had cancer, and that also had to sap her energy.

This was arrogance, and any harm to the nation that comes from her refusal to retire ten years ago is part of her legacy.

  • Everyone is a hypocrite. If Mitch McConnell is a hypocrite for treating the SCOTUS nomination by a sitting Republican President differently from his treatment of a Democratic President’s nomination under similar circumstances,  so are Democrats for insisting that he should again do what they claimed was unconscionable in 2016, because this time they think it will benefit them.

Althouse points out: “The strongest argument for Trump to go right ahead and immediately nominate someone is that President Obama made a nomination in the election year of 2016 when Antonin Scalia died. Obama’s nominee was not confirmed, but that was because the GOP controlled the Senate. There was nothing about Obama’s lack of support in the Senate that made him more willing to put forward a nomination in an election year. He made the nomination in spite of the lack of support. Why should Trump refrain when he has Senate support?”

Oh, you know: Because he’s different, and what other Presidents do or did is automatically outrageous when he does the same thing. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Comment Of The Day: ‘On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg'”

This is a working day for me, as I have to revise perfectly appropriate legal ethics course materials because a low level bureaucrat at a bar association CLE department literally doesn’t understand what she is charged with approving, Nevertheless, I will be writing here about the developing Dead Ruth Bader Ginsburg Ethics Train Wreck, or whatever I end up calling it because passengers are boarding at a rapid rate.

Zoebrain’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Comment Of The Day: On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg”is an ideal way to get that discussion started, and Behold!— Here it is:

McConnell is as right to expedite a hasty appointment of any reasonably acceptable Trump nominee in September 2020 as he was as wrong to deny a hearing to any Obama nominee whatsoever in February 2016.

To do so would reveal blatant foetid dishonesty and utter hypocrisy, but I see no good argument against it, other than the limited time available for a thorough vetting, 45 days vs 270. Doing so less than 70 minutes after RBG’s death was tacky, but fitting for this regime, and arguably such haste is needed.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore? Judicially qualified, would certainly shore up the softening Evangelical support, and, most crucially, would cause Democrats to have conniptions. But not on the current shortlist.

Ivanka Trump? Excellent test of personal loyalty, would embolden personal followers of Trump, would cause Democrats to lose their minds, but would do nothing to encourage Evangelicals, and again, not on the short list. Continue reading

Lost Day Ethics Catch-Up, 9/19/2020: Even Ketchup Can’t Cover The Bad Taste Of This Post!

1.  Is it possible that this is real? A couple allegedly sent this email to wedding reception invitees, explaining that their meals would be determined by the value of the wedding gifts they planned on bringing.

Are there really people this crass? Who in their right mind would do anything but send a curt “Bite me!” note to such a couple, and resolve never to waste a second on them again?

2. OK, I don’t see anything wrong with this, at all. The assignment for an Iowa City school district online learning program asked students of all races to write four sentences about what they would do if they were a slave who was freed.

“Think very, very carefully about what your life would be like as a slave in 1865,” the students were asked.  “You can’t read or write and you have never been off the plantation you work on. What would you do when you hear the news you are free? What factors would play into the decision you make?” After an uproar from parents, the assignment was removed and the teacher was placed on administrative leave. A statement from the district called the assignment “inappropriate” and said it “does not support and will not tolerate this type of instruction.”

What would that be? Assignments that call for critical thought and imagination?

Dibny Gamez said her 14-year-old daughter, Ayesha, who is black, would not complete the assignment because it made her feel uncomfortable. “She just starts tearing up,” Gamez said. “And I was, like, ‘No, listen, you don’t have to be ashamed of who you are.’ I said, ‘You are beautiful for who you are. Don’t let not one soul make you uncomfortable for who you are.’” How would that assignment make a rational student be ashamed of who she is?

Justin Grinage, a professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Minnesota , claims that assignments asking students to role-play enslaved people or slave owners trivialize or distort the actual events of slavery. “The best-case scenario with lessons like this is that students come away with a fabricated lie about history. So, best-case scenario, they don’t really learn anything, or they learn the wrong thing,” Grinage told reporters. “Worst-case scenario is that it’s a deeply traumatic experience for students of color, particularly Black students.”

Why? Because he says so? Such an assignment is an excellent way to open up the topics of slavery, how it persisted, what led to its abolition, and why it is such an emotional and controversial issue, as well as empathy, the Golden Rule, and ethics. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: On The Death Of Justice Ginsburg

Another first: This Comment Of The Day, by Michael West, isn’t related to any post or previous comment. It was triggered by the death today of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020), which has immediate political implications with ethical strings attached.

Some past Ethics Alarms posts relevant to the moment are:

and here is Michael’s timely Comment of the Day:

2) Leaders of every party have soiled themselves jumping straight into political maneuvers and demands within hours of Ginsburg’s body even beginning to cool.

3) They have a really really stupid nuclear armageddon countdown timer. If I were an enterprising political commentator, I’d establish a “civil war countdown timer”. No, not like the last civil war (which wasn’t a civil war)…but a real civil war, which would make the last one look like a boy’s nerf-war sleepover. And if McConnell does what he implies he’s going to do in his statement that came out like an hour after the news broke…I’d set that countdown timer to 5 minutes. Since it’s been at about 15 minutes since the Democrats refused to accept the 2016 election and 10 minutes since the riots began this year. Continue reading

Friday Evening Ethics Gallimaufry, 7/17/2020: SCOTUS, Di Blasio’s Delusion, And DiMaggio’s Luck

Speaking of gallimaufry, “A Heavy Dragoon” is one of the best Gilbert and Sullivan “list” songs, but you seldom hear it. Erudite is the listener who can identify all the historical figured named! The song is from “Patience,” the firs show I ever directed, and still one of my favorites. The singer in the clip above, Darrell Fancourt, played the part of the Mikado more times than anyone, and even dropped dead while playing the role.

1. In baseball history, it’s Moral Luck Day. On July 17, 1941, New York Yankees center fielder Joe DiMaggio didn’t get a hit against the Cleveland Indians, in great part due to a pait of great plays by Cleveland third baseman Ken Keltner, finally ending his historic 56-game hitting streak, the longest in MLB history then and now. Largely on the basis of the streak, though it helped that the Yankees won the pennant, DiMaggio was awarded the American League MVP award, despite the fact that Boston’s Ted Williams hit .406 that season, nearly 50 points higher than DiMaggio. In fact, Williams outhit the Yankee during the same 56-game period.

The end of The Yankee Clipper’s amazing streak was luck, and the streak itself was luck. All hitting streaks are. Baseball is the  sport most governed by random chance, especially hitting: a well-hit ball can become an out if it happens to be hit within a fielder’s reach, and a ball barely touched by the bat can dribble down the  baseline for a cheap hit. DiMaggio was undeniably a great hitter, but many players in baseball history were better; he just was lucky—good, but lucky—for a longer stretch of games than anyone else. Yet of all his many achievements, the 56 game streak in 1941 is the first thing baseball fans cite when assessing  the greatness of Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio.

2. It isn’t what it is! Yesterday, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that releasing prisoners onto the city’s streets to avoid their infection by the Wuhan virus  in jail had made New York City safer, saying, “We now have fewer people in our jails than any time since World War II and we are safer for it and better for it.”  De Blasio’s office announced  that more than 1,500 inmates had been released from city jails in three weeks, reducing the number of prisoners to its lowest level in 70 years.

The problem is that his assertion is ludicrous. De Blasio’s boast that the prisoner release made the city safer defied  the evidence of the results of the prisoner release the NYC Bail reform law required in January 2020. Of those who committed felonies that were no longer eligible for bail, 19.5% were re-arrested at least once after an initial non-bail eligible felony arrest, 1,798 of 9,227 individuals were re-arrested. 2020 recidivism resulted in 1,452  major crime arrests (murder, non-negligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny, and grand larceny of a vehicle) vs. 681 in 2019. Meanwhile,  shootings in the city were up 205% in June  compared to a year earlier. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Fallback, 11/3/2019: Poisoning Children For Their Own Good, And Other Alarming Developments

Whatever time it is…

1. Not exactly a shock, but we now know Ruth Bader Ginsburg lied in her 1993 Senate confirmation hearings. At a Georgetown Law Center event last week featuring both Clintons and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Bill Clinton told the audience that he queried the Justice-to- be about Roe v. Wade before nominating her to the Supreme Court in 1993:

[Ginsburg] knew this perfectly well, that I was under a lot of pressure to make sure I appointed someone who was simon-pure, which I had said I thought was important. But I was fascinated by a—either an article I had read or something I had read on Justice Ginsburg saying that she supported the result in Roe v. Wade but thought Justice Blackmun should have decided the case on the equal protection clause not the right to privacy. And I asked her the question and she talked about it just as if it was any other issue, no affect: “This is what I think, this is why I think it,” and she made a heck of a case.

That’s odd, because one of the written questions she responded to in the process was…

Has anyone involved in the process of selecting you as a judicial nominee (including but not limited to a member of the White House staff, the Justice Department, or the Senate or its staff) discussed with you any specific case, legal issue or question in a manner that could reasonably be interpreted as seeking any express or implied assurances concerning your position on such case, issue, or question? If so, please explain fully.

And the now-revered Ginsburg replied,

It is inappropriate, in my judgment, to seek from any nominee for judicial office assurance on how that individual would rule in a future case. That judgment was shared by those involved in the process of selecting me. No such person discussed with me any specific case, legal issue or question in a manner that could reasonably be interpreted as seeking any express or implied assurances concerning my position on such case, issue, or question.

Yet the former President directly contradicted this, in Justice Ginsberg’s presence.

2. Further lives unborn ethics notes: Continue reading

A Futile Call For Fairness And Integrity From Senator McConnell

I know this is a waste of time and words, but here goes nothin’…

Yesterday we got the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 86 and already being treated for enough maladies to kill a normal human being  half her age, has pancreatic cancer. Treatment is going well, we are told, and Ginsberg isn’t even cutting back on her schedule.

Nonetheless, the proverbial writing is on the wall. Sheer will only can accomplish so much. If I participated in “dead pools,” Justice Ginsberg would be at the top of my list, even ahead of soon to be 103-year-old Kirk Douglas. Though she is apparently determined to hang on to her SCOTUS seat if it means that she will finish her tenure in a box that signals “yes” and “no” like  poor Captain Pike in that “Star Trek” episode, I would be stunned if there isn’t a vacancy on the court in the near future. That will mean that President Trump will have an opportunity to appoint a conservative justice to replace the most liberal voice on the current court, a result that will spark panic from the Left and delirious joy from the Right. If this happens after January, 2020, it will also create an integrity test for Mitch McConnell.

That is, it should.

When Antonin Scalia died on February 16, 2016, President Obama appointed moderate liberal judge Merrick Garland to replace him. McConnell, however, the GOP Senate Majority Leader, announced that the Senate would not consider the nomination, debate it, or vote on it. He concocted a rule that when a Supreme Court vacancy occurs in the last year of a Presidential term, it should not be filled until after the November Presidential election. The supposed justification for this was that SenatorJ oe Biden had once made a similar suggestion. Basing any policy or rationale on what Joe Biden says is like using the spontaneous utterances of Tourettes sufferers as life guidance, but never mind: Mitch was gambling that a SCOTUS vacancy would bring more Republicans to the polls than Democrats, and that the Garland nomination would eventually be moot.

The gambit was legal but unethical, but then, that’s Mitch. It was also stupid: Garland was no Scalia, but he was far more moderate than some of Obama’s other options, and if Hillary Clinton had won, as looked like a sure thing in January, she was likely to nominate a far more extreme progressive judge. But in the manner that has hooked suckers and created gambling addicts for centuries, Mitch’s long-shot bet paid off. Trump won; Neil Gorsuch replaced Scalia, and Merrick Garland joined Samual Tilden in the “What If?” Hall of Fame.

If RBG leaves the Court or this vale of tears in 2020, however, Mitch should find himself hoisted by his own petard. By his own words, that new opening on the Court should not be filled by President Trump’s choice unless Trump  is re-elected in November; the public should have the opportunity to include the composition of the Supreme in their calculations regarding who to vote for. So declareth Mitchi n 2016, as progressives and Democrats screamed and ripped their garments,

Having created a principle and a precedent, Senator McConnell should stick to it. The problem wasn’t that his theory in 2016 was indefensible in theory–it is.  The problem just that it was disingenuous. Mitch wasn’t interested in fairness or democracy, just expedient politics. Thus it comes as no surprise that McConnell has told his party members that if there is a Supreme Court vacancy, he will move to confirm a conservative nominee so fast it will break the sound barrier.

He should not, however. Doing so may be good old fashioned hard-ball politics, but it will also be a lost opportunity to start repairing a broken legislative branch that McConnell played a major part in breaking. Such a cynical reversal of his own stated “principles” will also make the public less trusting than they already are of the motives, honesty and integrity, not just of Mitch, but of the their elected officials and government. Our democracy can’t take much more distrust and cyncism. Democracy breathes trust.

Who knows? Maybe Mitch will hit the jackpot a second time. Maybe the delay will backfire, with more outraged Democrats being attracted to the polls than activated conservatives. Nevertheless, Mitch McConnell has an ethical obligation to treat the next SCOTUS vacancy during the final year of a Presidential term exactly like he did the last one, in the name of integrity, fairness, process, consistency, trust, and the health of our Constitutional system.

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/10/19: On Chaos, Pots, Bigotry, Hate Speech And Proving the Obvious.

GOOD MORNING!

And hang in there, David.

1. Ethics and Mortality.  My first harsh experience with the random cruelty of life came in 1967, when Red Sox slugger Tony Conigliaro, young, handsome, dating Hollywood starlets, playing for his hometown team and already a local idol while looking like a cinch to have a glorious Hall of Fame career, was hit in the face by an errant fastball thrown by Angels pitcher Jack Hamilton. That moment violently changed the course of Tony C’s  life, which ended with him in a semi-conscious state at the age of 45 after suffering a catastrophic heart attack seven years earlier that left him brain-damaged and disabled. I get choked up every time I think about Tony, but his tragedy taught me hard lessons. Don’t be smug; don’t get cocky. Do all the good you can and make the most of your life as quickly as you can, because random disaster can strike at any time.

I’m not sure that I needed to have that lesson refreshed, especially since it was also a cornerstone of my father’s philosophy that included refusing to worry about what he could not control. Nevertheless, last night came the news that David Ortiz, Red Sox Nation’s beloved “Big Papi,” had been shot in the back in his home town of Santo Domingo.  The assailant was apparently a motorcycle-riding thief (whom bystanders mobbed and held for the police—don’t you love it when that happens?). So far the news on David is promising, but the bullet pierced his stomach and damaged his liver, gall bladder and colon.

Prior to the attack, it would have been difficult to imagine anyone with a better life than Ortiz. He was still young, rich, with a thriving and stable family, recognized everywhere, and universally admired and loved as a symbol of unity and community. Ortiz’s biggest problem, he said in an interview last year, was deciding among the many attractive options  open to him in baseball, business, philanthropy, broadcasting and entertainment.

Well, he’s got bigger problems now.

I just saw an internet poll in which only 54% of the responders knew who David Ortiz is. I wonder how many know about Tony Conigliaro.

I’m depressed now.

2. When trying to defeat Kettle, running Pot may not be the ideal choice. One of the most common mantras of the Trump Deranged is that the President lies so much. One would think, would one not, that this theme would make it incumbent upon those trying to defeat the incumbent to keep their own public lies, hypocrisies and misrepresentations to a minimum. This, apparently, they cannot do.

For a while there the New York Times appeared to have chosen Senator Kamala Harris as its favored candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination, but the paper shows signs of  concluding, as any objective observer should by now, that she is a loser. Harris also does not have a friendly relationship with facts, as a recent Times “factcheck” of her recent statements on the stump demonstrated.

They didn’t find that any recent contentious substantive statement by Harris were true. They did find that three statements were “misleading” and one was an “exaggeration” (when the Times purported to list all of Trump’s mendacities, fudges, fantasies, exaggerations and misleading statements were referred to as “lies”), but this one they didn’t bother to spin: Harris had tweeted,

“Members of our military have already given so much. Raiding money from their pensions to fund the President’s wasteful vanity project is outrageous. Our service members deserve better.”

This is false, sayeth the Times:

“To build his border wall without the approval of Congress, Mr. Trump will draw from an account for military construction projects, a Treasury Department forfeiture fund and a Pentagon drug interdiction program. He has not announced plans to “raid” military pensions.”

To be fair, most of the Democratic field has been lying at a prodigious rate.

3.  Shut up, RBG. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s  remarks at a judges conference in New York last week included praise for rookie Justice Kavanaugh for hiring only women for his team of law clerks.  “Justice Kavanaugh made history by bringing on board an all-female law clerk crew. Thanks to his selections, the Court has this Term, for the first time ever, more women than men serving as law clerks,” she said.

Wow, that’s excellent progress, since we all know that men are toxic, rape-prone, violent,  sex-obsessed blights on humanity, as, in fact, Kavanaugh was accused of being at his confirmation by Justice Ginsburg’s fervent supporters. Kavanaugh’s hiring choices appear to have been grandstanding and pandering to the admirers of RBG who called him a sexual predator.  Ginsburg’s comments are bigoted. Why is having women rather than men as clerks intrinsically  wonderful?

4. Again: Progressives neither understand nor support the First Amendment. At last week’ s California Democratic Party Convention, Resolution 19-05.94 read as follows…

WHEREAS, Protecting First Amendment rights is critical, but is also limited to exclude hate speech using the concept that offending statements first should be viewed through the lens of the party experiencing the hate, and that Jews, LatinX, African-American, Asian Pacific Islander, Muslims, Disabilities and LGBTI communities can be targets of oppression and hate speech for a variety of reasons.

It is fair to say that we have been sufficiently warned that progressives believe that only they are qualified to define “hate speech,” which includes, for example , “Make America Great Again” and “The Triumph of the Will,” as well as, to generalize, any speech they find inconvenient.  Such an exception in the First Amendment would permit the Left to muzzle dissent and opposition using the iron boot of the law…which is exactly what they seem to want to do.

Serious question: How can anyone in their right mind trust these people?

5. Just musing here...but is it ethical to spend scarce research funds to prove what is, or should be, obvious? I know, I know: lots of conventional wisdom is wrong, so many things that “everybody knows” turn out to be false when researchers look closely. Still—does the fact that dog-owners get more exercise than those without dogs really need independent confirmation? If I don’t take my Jack Russell Terrier, Rugby, out for a good 45 minute walk, he will do everything short of pulling a gun on me to exact his revenge. (My previous Jack, Dickens, did pull a gun on me once. I’m not kidding.)

Another recent study revealed the shocking conclusion that people who are attractive and conventionally good-looking have an automatic advantage in all aspects of social interaction over those who are not attractive or disfigured. Is there anyone on Earth who doesn’t know that? Beautiful people know it, and rely on it. Ugly people know it because they experience the bias every day.

 

Political Fundraising Frauds And Scams, PART I: The Democrats

There’s nothing much  lower and making your iconic ,84 year old, women’s rights advocate on the Supreme Court look like she’s breached multiple judicial ethics rules, but the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) is up to the challenge, A current DSCC fundraising letter, forwarded to me by a friend, does this AND lies to its supporters in the interest of separating them from their money.

  • No, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg” does not “have a powerful message” about this topic. She made that statement more than 20 years ago, before she was “Justice Ginsberg,” when she told Senators that.

I assume that Justice Ginsberg neither gave her permission to be misrepresented  in this fraudulent manner, nor knew the DSCC was planning on making her a party to a scam. She’s old, but she’s not THAT old. Continue reading