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

Monday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/11/2019: Weenies, Bubba The Love Sponge, Fake Citizens, A Heroic Jaguar And Captain Marvel

Our hero! (Item #6)

Good Morning!

1. Synchronicity! Note that today’s first post and yesterday’s last one (on “peer pressure”) essay are integrally related. I had thought, or hoped, that the latter would prompt considerable discussion, but to the contrary: all commenting has seemingly dried up. Surely Facebook’s embargo can’t be THAT effective. Well, I’ve never understood the ebb and flow here, and lately I understand it less than ever.

2. Nah, Democrats don’t want open borders! While House Democrat  were in the midst of  passing HR1, the entirely symbolic “elections reform” bill that is an open admission that loose election controls elect Democrats,  Republicans  forced a vote on proposed language stating:  “Allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.”

All but 6 Democrats voted against the addition. All but one Republican voted for it.

3. Stop making me defend Tucker Carlson! Media Matters, the one-way-only media watchdog that makes its opposite number “Newsbusters,” look like a paragon of objectivity by comparison, pulled a version of the Hader Gotcha! on Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson. Instead of unearthing old tweets to attack him, MM found audio of old interviews with Tampa shock jock “Bubba the Love Sponge” during  which Carlson made some less than nuanced comments that Media Matters pronounced “misogynist” and “sexist.” Some were; most were not. Media Matters, like the party it swears allegiance to, is addicted to gender-baiting: Carlson’s belief that rape shield laws “totally unfair” is a valid opinion that many non-sexists, including me, agree with.

To Tucker’s credit, he responded to Media Matters’ hit with this statement: mailed to the Washington Post:

“Media Matters caught me saying something naughty on a radio show more than a decade ago. Rather than express the usual ritual contrition, how about this: I’m on television every weeknight live for an hour. If you want to know what I think, you can watch. Anyone who disagrees with my views is welcome to come on and explain why.”

Adds Althouse, “I’m resistant to getting excited about something somebody said years ago because somebody is telling me that’s what everyone is supposed to get excited about today.”

4. Speaking of Althouse...she does an epic job taking apart Democratic hopeful John Hickenlooper, until recently Governor of Colorado, who exposed himself on “Face the Nation” yesterday as a mealy-mouthed weenie who if he lasts until the debates, will be this cycle’s version of Lincoln Chaffee.

Here’s the cringe-producing transcript. Hickenlooper isn’t just mealy-mouthed (Ann’s description), he’s a coward. He wants to run as a moderate but is afraid to say he’s a moderate, choosing instead to argue against “labels.” The best is this part:

GOV. HICKENLOOPER: Well try- if I’ve tried to avoid this all the labeling that goes on. You know, I mean…. I’m running for president because I believe I could beat Donald Trump… but I also believe that can bring us together on the other side and begin getting stuff done. And that’s one thing I think that I bring to the table is I’m a doer. I’m not someone who’s- I mean I’m a dreamer too and I- I believe in big visions….

Snarks Althouse, most appropriately: “A doer who’s a dreamer, a dreamer of big visions. In his dreams, he beats Donald Trump. Noted. ” Continue reading

Is The U.S. Ethically Obligated To Grant Asylum To All Oppressed Women?

In a recent irresponsible statement in reference to the government shut-down over President Trump’s wall, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that he didn’t want a border wall to be the symbol of America, that he wanted the Statue of Liberty to be that symbol. In this context, it is impossible to interpret Schumer’s words as anything but a weaselly, wink-wink, coded endorsement of open borders. When the statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886, the U.S. had few limitations on immigration. Non-citizens could vote in most states. The population was about 50 million, or about 1/7 of what it is today. The famous poem by Emma Lazarus,  “The New Colossus,”  is not part of the statue, nor is it official U.S. policy. Today it resides in the Statue of Liberty Museum. In short, it was a different country, with different problems and priorities.

Now comes the terribly sad story of two young Saudi sisters who apparently committed suicide by drowning themselves in the Hudson River rather than return to their country, where women are second class citizens. Should such a story have any relevance at all to U.S. immigration and asylum policy? Should how much a non-citizen wants to live here be a factor in what the U.S. decides is the best criteria for allowing an immigrant to arrive and stay? If the two sisters could be granted asylum because they were women in a culture hostile to women, why not all Saudi women? Why not all Muslim women who are “yearning to be free”? Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/17/19: The “Why?” Edition

WHY is it a good morning?

1. Why are some people missing their ethics alarms? A family member owned a horse as a pet, and when the horse got old and infirm sold it to a slaughterhouse for dog food. This caused a long-running rift with the Alexandria branch of the Marshall clan, in which my wife will capture spiders and gently release them into the wild while singing “Born Free.” However, the family horse-trader is a saint compared to Fallon Danielle Blackwood, 24, a veterinary student in Alabama, who offered shelter for rescue horses only to profit by secretly selling the animals to Mexican slaughterhouses.   She was arrested on a similar charge last year in North Carolina.

Though the current charges involve just  13 horses, Stolen Horse International, a nonprofit that helps find lost or stolen horses, says Blackwood may be behind the disappearance of dozens more. Her MO was to  reach out to those in need of help caring for their horses and offer the equines  a loving home at her farm near Boaz, Alabama.

Well, I hear veterinary school is expensive…

2. Why do the news media and the public let Democrats get away with the “immoral and ineffective” talking point? I discussed this in detail here. The latest to use the self-contradictory rhetoric was Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.), who denounced President Donald Trump’s “quest for a racist and sinful big wall” between the U.S. and Mexico during a speech on the House floor, and followed up with a tweet calling the wall “hateful and ineffective.” Now it’s “sinful” to enforce the borders, is it? How does someone make the argument that border security is “racist” and simultaneously claim that they are in favor of border security? If trying to keep illegal immigrants out is sinful and racist, how can the claim that border security is desirable be anything but hypocrisy?

This argument depends on listeners not paying attention, being complicit in an open borders strategy, or having the IQ of a mollusk.

3. Why do people this inept keep getting elected to Congress? At a Washington reception billed as a “celebration of Asian-American and Pacific Islander (API) members of the 116th Congress,” Hawaii Democratic Rep. Ed Case said that he felt like “an Asian trapped in a white body.” How awful! Trapped in a white body! Yechh! Pooie!

Pandering to racists is a bi-partisan activity, especially in the Aloha State, where hostility to whites is open and palpable. Continue reading

“Immoral And Ineffective”

Hmmm. I have now, in a single day, heard two Congressional Democrats, in the course of discussing the so-called government shut down, describe the Trump border wall as “immoral and ineffective.” Does this mean that the phrase is an official, focus group tested Democratic talking point now, issued to the troops to be relentlessly repeated over and over again to end debates rather than illuminate them? I assume so, and thus it joins “comprehensive immigration reform,” “sensible gun laws,” and others. If I am right, it is a remarkably dishonest catch phrase. It’s also internally hypocritical.

Simply put, if the wall is ineffective, why is it immoral? And if the wall is immoral, why is being ineffective an indictment of it?

Arguing in the alternative like this is a red flag that signals that the advocate just wants to defeat the proposition, and doesn’t care how he or she does it.  The device originated in the legal profession, as a strategy to advance several competing and often mutually exclusive arguments with the goal of showing that regardless of interpretation there is no viable conclusion other than the advocate’s. Most often, the trick is used in criminal law: My client didn’t know the victim, and if he did, he was too far away that night to kill him, and even if he was the last one to see the victim alive, the evidence against him is circumstantial. In criminal law, the approach is justifiable, for the accused must be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and any doubt will do. The criminal defense lawyer isn’t seeking justice, or the best result for the community, just the best result for his client, as his (or her) clients defines it. It’s a better device to use in court briefs to other lawyers and judges than to a jury, who are likely to think, “Wait, does this lawyer care what the truth is?” The answer to that question is, of course, “no,” as long as the end result serves the interests of the lawyer’s client. If the client is Jack the Ripper, and the lawyer  arguing in the alternative allows him to escape conviction to kill again, the lawyer did the job required by his or her profession. The consequences of freeing the client literally is not the lawyer’s concern: if it is, then he or she is in the wrong profession. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 12/13/2018: The All-Segue Edition

Good Morning!

(Though any day that begins with the legal gossip scandal-sheet website Above the Law sending me a “media inquiry” as they dig for dirt is not a good day.)

1. In brief. Well I have now received the appellant’s brief in a certain lingering law suit regarding Ethics Alarms. What fun. Anyone who wants to read it is welcome; those who have dealt with pro se submissions will immediately recognize the syndrome, lawyers may be amused, and non-lawyers may be edified. I expect to knock out the reply brief today, which won’t have to be more than a few pages. It’s not like I have better things to do or anything…

2. Speaking of cases that should have been thrown out of court…Reason reports:

In June, an Oakland County sheriff’s deputy pulled Dejuante Franklin over in front of a gas station for a traffic violation. While handing Franklin his ticket, NWA’s “Fuck tha Police” began to play in the background. As it turns out, James Webb, who did not know Franklin, witnessed the stop. He decided on his own accord to turn the song up louder before walking into the gas station store. When he exited, the officer slapped him with a ticket for misdemeanor noise violation, citing that Webb played the song at an “extremely high volume.”

It took 9 minutes of deliberation for a jury to bring in a verdict of  not guilty. This was an obvious attempted end-around the First Amendment by the officer, and the judge shouldn’t have let it get to a jury at all.

3. And speaking of abusing First Amendment rights…as well as “A Nation of Assholes,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host and wife-to-be (don’t get me started on THAT) Mika Brzezinski,  called Secretary of State Mike Pompeo a “butt-boy” during yesterday’s show.  Why not? After all, CBS lets its on-air personalities call the President a “cock-holster.” Mika wouldn’t have had her filters down, of course, if the culture around MSNBC wasn’t rife with such hate, but she realized mid-show that this wasn’t exactly professional or civil news reporting, and babbled an apology. Too late!

An ethical, professional news station would suspend her, but this is MSNBC, and there are no ethical, professional news stations.

4. Meanwhile, speaking of media bias and unprofessional reporting...A New York Times “fact check” on the contentious meeting among Trump, Pence, Pelosi and Schumer had this amusing note:

“Mr. Trump has long charged that Democrats want open borders, slinging accusations at a higher clip in the waning days of the midterm elections campaign in November. Democrats do not want open borders, evidenced in part by border security legislation that Democrats have supported. What Democrats do not want is Mr. Trump’s costly border wall.”

Oh, that’s a fact, is it? No, Democrats, at least a great many of them, DO want open borders, evidenced in part by their wilful refusal to distinguish between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, their insistence on signalling through their support for “Dreamers” that bringing children across the border illegally is a virtuous act, their position that illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. as longs as they don’t break any more laws, their constant demonization of necessary border enforcement efforts, and their proposals to abolish ICE. Continue reading