Now Washington, D.C. Wants To Cheapen Citizenship

Of course it does.

this week, a D.C. Council committee unanimously approved a bill to allow non-citizens to vote in local elections, and just to make sure the intent was clear, an amendment was added including illegal immigrants to the voting rolls as well. Oh, the term used is “undocumented’ or some other cover-word to avoid the sorry truth, but you know what’s going on.

Several towns in Maryland and Vermont already give non-citizens municipal voting rights. Non-citizens vote in school board elections in San Francisco, and cities in California, Maine, Illinois and Massachusetts have similar legislation on the drawing board. The inclusion of illegal aliens is more unusual, but D.C.’s elected officials apparently felt the need to virtue-signal after reacting like stuck Swamp Creatures when a few hundred illegals were bused to their metaphorical shores. Like Martha’s Vineyard, the “sanctuary city”-preening District loves illegals as long as the vast number of them have to be cared for and paid for by Texas, Florida, Arizona…you know, the where Little People dwell.

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Ethics Quiz: Public Art Ethics

“Ancestor,” a new sculpture by Bharti Kher,  has been chosen to reside at the Fifth Avenue and 60th Street entrance to Central Park in New York City for the next year. It’s 18 feet tall, has 24 heads (detail below)….

…and is made to look old and weathered, though it was cast in bronze and is fresh out of the oven, or whatever. The Times says,

“Ancestor” is, at its core, an Indian goddess form, the kind found in Hindu popular iconography, with hair that rises in a bun yet somehow also hangs in a braid. But protruding in clumps pell-mell from her upper body are 23 extra heads, each with its own expression, peering this way and that.

You can read about what the artist thinks this mess means here. I don’t even have a coherent quiz question to pose, just a group of puzzled queries that follow my immediate, “What the hell?” Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Madeline Brame

“Take that restorative justice bullshit and shove it up your asses! Not for murder!”

—-Madeline Bram, mother of murder victim Hason Correa, 35, a vet and married father of three who was beaten and stabbed to death by a gang in 2018, when the Manhattan Supreme Court handed down a seven year prison sentence to one of the killers.

Well said.

Bram erupted after hearing that the absurdly light sentence had been agreed to by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (above). Bragg is one of several big city DA’s elected with the assistance of George Soros contributions (not that there’s anything wrong with that) who stand for leniency in the justice system as a solution to “over-incarceration.”

The solution to “over-incarceration” is for African Americans to commit crimes in rough proportion to their numbers in U.S. society. Minimizing the consequences of committing these crimes will not achieve that end.

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There Is Hope: In NYC, Again The Courts To The Rescue!

The day before last Thanksgiving, in the day’s “warm-up,” I closed out with this item:

Leaping down a slippery slope. The New York City Council is about to approve a bill allowing more than 800,000 non-citizens to vote in municipal elections if they have green cards or are otherwise residing in the United States legally The measure is expected to be approved in December by a veto-proof margin. It would not allow non-citizens to vote in federal or state elections. This is such a bad idea that Mayor de Blasio, who loves most terrible ideas if they are sufficiently progressive, opposes it. But several towns in Maryland and Vermont already give non-citizens municipal voting rights. Non-citizens vote in school board elections in San Francisco, and cities in California, Maine, Illinois and Massachusetts have similar legislation on the drawing board.

Why wasn’t this a full post? Oh, lot’s of reasons….mostly the fact that the locale was New York City, and like edicts by the mayors of Washington, D.C. and Chicago, and the wacko measures approved in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle and the states those cities are in, New York City’s progressives advocating policies that undercut our democracy and cheapen citizenship (and the Rule of Law, equal treatment under law…don’t get me started!) is hardly news. It’s like the old “dog bites man/man bites dog” definition of news. If New York City bucks progressive mania for a change, that’s news.

Nobody commented even on the item.

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More Scary Tales Of The Great Stupid: New York’s “Restorative Justice”

Indeed, Major Clifton. You can’t get much crazier (or stupid) than this.

As I have related here before, in my fortuitous accidental opportunity to chat privately with genius Herman Kahn many years ago, he observed that societies periodically suffer mass amnesia and forget why traditions, rules and policies that had existed for centuries exist. They then try something new that seems like a good idea at the time, only to be reminded it is, in fact, a terrible idea, and one that everyone once knew was a terrible idea, which is why it had been wisely dismissed centuries or even eons ago. This cycle is needlessly destructive, and those who trigger it are incompetent and irresponsible, usually choosing to adopt magical thinking over cold, hard reality because it supports their ideology. For some reason, or because of a cosmic practical joke, the United States is being tortured by such misbegotten inspirations. “Hey! Let’s just let anyone into the country who wants to come!” “Let’s defund the police!” “Let’s give up on stopping people from getting addicted to drugs!” “Let’s wear masks over the lower parts of our faces all the time, just to be safe! And make our kids do it too!” “Hey, why not spend as much money as we want even when we’re already deep in debt?” (I had to stop myself mid-list because the examples popping into my head were obviously going to keep coming.)

New York City has embraced one of the more ridiculous of the ideas arising out of magical thinking, societal amnesia and The Great Stupid: “restorative justice.” Part of an ambitious reform package created by former NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio (“Hey! Let’s take advice from one of New York City’s most disastrous failures ever!”), restorative justice is, like so many recent terrible ideas, a response to the uncomfortable results of cultural pathologies in the black community. In 2019, De Blasio announced the criminal justice revolution, which was, he explained, necessary because ““For far too long, this city’s answer to every societal problem was to throw people in jail. We lost generations to mass incarceration, mostly young men of color.” Yes, it was “disparate impact” again! Punishing criminals and enforcing laws had a disparate impact on black Americans, because they are still committing a disproportional number of serious and violent crimes. Solution: Stop punishing criminals and enforcing laws!

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“Ethics? What’s Ethics?” Mayor Adams Takes The Reins…[Updated!]

Next time a New York Democrat complains about an elected government official’s ethics when he or she identifies as Republican, breaking out into uncontrollable laughter would be appropriate.

New New York City Eric Adams, elected as the “anti-de Blasio,” almost immediately proved that he has at least one thing in common with New York’s “Worst Mayor Ever.” Just a few days ago, Ethics Alarms noted that the former mayor had defiantly continued to ask corporate contractors for the city to contribute to a de Blasio slush fund, in a time honored unethical shakedown ploy known as “pay to play,” even though he had been formally warned to cut it out by the city’s ethics board. Now the new improved mayor is also signalling that he isn’t very concerned about ethics, the appearance of impropriety, or conflicts of interest.

Adams appointed as his sole male deputy mayor (the other five are female) Philip Banks III, who comes with some interesting baggage. (That’s Banks above on the right, the new mayor is on the left.)

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Not Seeking Prison Sentences For Serious Crimes Has Worked So Well In San Francisco, Manhattan’s DA Will Do The Same

The title is sarcastic: that is the proverbial flat learning curve above.

The “woke” DA of the City by the Bay’s policies have contributed to turning San Francisco into such a crime-ridden hell-hole that even its uber-progressive mayor, London Breed, has metaphorically cried “uncle.” So, naturally, the new DA for Manhattan, ushered into office just as the city has a new mayor who pledged to be tough on crime, wants to follow a similarly lenient policy regarding criminals….and New York is already suffering from its worst crime wave since the Seventies.

What could go wrong?

In his introductory memo to his staff this week, Alvin Bragg announced that his office “will not seek a carceral sentence” except for murder and a handful of other cases, including domestic violence felonies, some sex crimes and public corruption.

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Furious Ethics Catch-Up, 1/4/2022: “I’m Not Dead!” Edition

Well, there I was last night, showing my wife my favorite “Schoolhouse Rock” segment (“Interjections,” a Grammar Rock episode) and getting ready to post an evening ethics potpourri when the Disney Channel, which I only have because I wanted to see the “Get Back” documentary, kicked out. The snow storm’s aftermath had caused an outage in our phone and internet connection (at least we had power, and weren’t stuck on I-95 like hundreds of motorists in Northern Virginia were last night), and Comcast didn’t get everything back up until a few minutes ago. A totally lost day for ProEthics and Ethics Alarms, but the sage words of my friend Tom Fuller kept echoing in my brain like all the Tara lines coming back to Scarlet after Rhett walks out on her. “When you have no options, you have no problem,” Tom always says, and this was a classic example. We were snowed in, and had no communications (not even a newspaper since the second); might as well relax: Snow day!

I was able to get a head start on some items, at least. I apologize for the void…and for any comments marooned in moderation (as well as the inevitable mermaidmary comment unjustly spammed).

But at least I’m not dead.

[That’s the correct Mark Twain quote above, incidentally. He also said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”]

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/14/21: An Old Treaty, A Bad Dad, Clothes For Seductive Kids, Chris Wallace Trades The Pot For The Kettle, And New York Being New York

I feel like Dean established the standard for this holiday standard, written by lyricist Sammy Cahn and composer Jule Styne (“Gypsy,” “Funny Girl”) in July 1945. World War II inspired so many Christmas and holiday songs, notably “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

1. Meeting the terms of a still valid 19th Century treaty seems like an ethical imperative, no? Kim Teehee was selected as the Cherokee people’s first nonvoting U.S. House delegate two years ago; now all that is needed is for the U.S. to make good on a deal it struck with the Cherokee Nation in the 1835 Treaty of New Echota, signed by President Andrew Jackson and ratified by the Senate, promising the tribe a non-voting House delegate. There are apparently some details to work out, among them how to respond when other tribes quite reasonably insist that they also deserve this limited representation in Congress, similar to the what D.C. has. One would think that 180 years is enough time for the complexities to be resolved, especially since the Cherokee Nation’s price for the promise of a non-voting House member was The Trail of Tears, when the tribe was forced to move out of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee to what is now Oklahoma, with more than 4,000 Cherokees dying along the way. There are an estimated 400,000 Cherokees today.

Why has it taken so long for this to become an issue? Well, as for the U.S., it conveniently “forgot” until historians re-discovered the terms of the treaty 50 years ago. The Cherokees hadn’t pressed the U.S. on meeting its treaty obligations because, as the principle chief of Cherokee Nation, Chuck Hoskin Jr. explains, they had other priorities. “Asserting every detail of that treaty was not on their minds,” he says. “It was surviving.”

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The Unethical Prosecutors Ethics Train Wreck

I went to law school to be a prosecutor, and was one for about two weeks after I passed the Massachusetts Bar. Then I was quickly disillusioned, and realized that the weird, intrinsically ethically-conflicted criminal justice system was something out of which I had to get, and the sooner the better. I never looked back, and the situation is even worse now than I thought it was then.

Netflix has truly eye-opening and disturbing documentary about the subject of John Grisham’s only non-fiction book (out of more than 40). Both the book and the film are called “An Innocent Man,” and involve two criminal cases, both murder-rapes of young women, in the small town of Ada, Oklahoma in the Eighties. The title is ambiguous, for there isn’t just one innocent man, but four, all wrongly convicted of rape and murder because of police and prosecutorial misconduct of head-exploding magnitude. At the end of the documentary, two of the men had been freed after serving 12 years for a murder and rape with no physical evidence that incriminated them, and the remaining two were pursuing appeals. (One of them, who had been on death row, was finally freed last summer. The other has had his conviction overturned, but the state is appealing. Both of the men had been in prison for 35 years.)

The prosecutor was the same for both murder cases, and his comments defy belief. In one case, the actual murderer was the prosecution’s prime witness against the innocent men convicted, and evidence implicating him at the time of the crime was withheld by the Ada police who were involved with killer in a drug scheme. More evidence, so-called Brady material that prosecutors are required by law to reveal to defense attorneys, was illegally withheld by the DA. Asked if he owed an apology to the two men the jury convicted when the uncovered evidence prompted their release, the prosecutor’s reply was that he had nothing to apologize for, because he did his job.

No, his job is to try and convict guilty people. That case was finally blown up by the Innocence Project and DNA evidence.

The other case is even worse, believe it or not. A missing girl was seen by a single witness, from a distance, at night, being pulled into a car by two men. An artist’s crude approximation of the witness’s description led to the arrest of one suspectn, who was first shown to the witness, and then the witness was asked to pick him out of a line-up. (That’s an illegal line-up trick, as you can guess.) The second suspect was arrested because he knew the first suspect, and because one of the sketches vaguely resembled him. The first suspect, a young man known in the town as “slow,” confessed following r many hours of grilling by police and gave a detailed description of what the two men had done to the girl, including where they had buried her. Then the second man was led to confirm his own participation in the crime as it had been described by his friend. The taped confessions (and not the illegal questioning leading up to them, which was not recorded) were the only evidence presented at their trial.

Decades later, the body of the victim was found in a shallow grave 30 miles from where the convicted men had said she was buried. She was clothed in a dress bearing no resemblance to the one the men described. Most disturbing of all, forensics showed no evidence of rape, and she had been killed by a single bullet to the back of the head, not by stabbing. The men got a new trial, and were convicted again, with the same DA arguing for their guilt. His explanation: the girl was dead, they confessed to the killing, and the details don’t matter.

Among the 800 pages of Brady material withheld from the two men’s lawyers: a man who resembled one of the sketches had come to police and confessed to the murder before they were convicted.

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