Tag Archives: Senator Diane Feinstein

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/9/2017: Inadvertent Confessions And Admissions

Good Morning, Columbus!

So glad you came!

1 Yesterday, on “Face the Nation,” Senator Diane Feinstein was continuing the Democratic Party’s latest use of a gun tragedy to see if the American public can be frightened, shamed, deceived or panicked into giving up one of the core individual rights guaranteed by our Constitution. The host asked her whether there were any proposed regulations that would have stopped Stephen Paddock or someone like him from committing mass murder.

Her answer, “No.”

Well there you have it, right? This tragedy has nothing to do with honest, good faith gun reform, and everything to do with the anti-gun left wanting to begin eroding the Second Amendment, until the right of law-abiding citizens to arm themselves to the extent they believe is necessary shrinks to insignificance.

I salute the Senator in one respect: at least she’s honest about the fact that the use of the Vegas Strip shooting by the anti-gun left is entirely cynical and exploitative. Contrast her blunt “no’ with the demagoguery of her fellow Congressional Democrat, civil rights icon John Lewis. (The news media always describes him that way, because “race-baiting, hyper-partisan  hack John Lewis” would offend African-Americans.). As I discussed earlier, Lewis erupted last week with this call to no-arms:

“The American people will not stand to see hundreds and thousands of their fellow citizens mowed down because the lack of action on the part of the Congress…We have to do something…The time is always right to do what is right. We waited too long. How many more people will die? Would it be a few hundred? A few thousand? Several thousand? We have to act. We cannot wait.”

The complete Feinstein-Lewis thought, then: “The American people will not stand to see hundreds and thousands of their fellow citizens mowed down because of the lack of action on the part of the Congress to pass laws that would do nothing to stop their fellow citizens from being mowed down in a massacre like the one we are demanding action in response to!”

In one of the many threads following the Vegas Strip shooting, commenter Charles Green asked me,

“Let me ask my basic question again: are there any constructive suggestions (hopefully a tad beyond outlawing bump stocks) that can be offered by the principled defenders of the Second Amendment to find common ground? Any? I for one am all ears.”

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: 6/12/17

1.Senator Diane Feinstein redeemed some of the Democratic Party’s integrity by stating that James Comey’s revelations regarding Obama AG Loretta Lynch’s directive that he lie to the news media and the American people so they wouldn’t think Hillary Clinton was being investigated warranted hearings and its own investigation. This was easily the biggest story to come out of Comey’s testimony, as the U.S. government using its power to influence a Presidential election by spreading misinformation is far more serious than a foreign power influencing an election by allowing the public to see what a candidate and her party have been covering up. (I have stated the issue this way before, and will continue to do so, since it is accurate and true.) That this damning account was mostly buried by the New York Times, the Washington Post and the broadcast media is yet one more smoking gun (as if more were needed) proving just how partisan and untrustworthy the news media has become. It also should focus more attention on the still-percolating IRS scandal, speaking of subordinates interpreting a leader’s expressed desires as directives, as well as  Barack Obama’s repeatedly demonstrated belief that the ends justifies the means in the 2012 campaign, the passing of the Affordable Care Act, the Iran deal, and more.

2. NY Times op-ed columnist Charles Blow, a smoking-gun himself since the Times’ refusal to discipline or can him when he repeatedly used anti-Mormon slurs to attack Mitt Romney, has become the loudest shill for “the resistance” at the paper–quite an achievement, since the whole paper is a shill for “the resistance”—reveals that 43% of the public (according to polls, remember, and we now know how reliable and unbiased they are) believe that Congress should commence impeachment hearings. Blow finds this tragic, but the only two interpretations of the data is that 43% of the public is civicly, legally and historically ignorant, that 43% of the public has been completely misled by the biased reporting of the news media, or that 43% have embraced the anti-democratic view of impeachment being pushed by progressives and “the resistance,” which is that it is a legitimate device to undo elections and ensure that the Left achieves permanent rule over us all. Writes Blow, sniffling,

“I know well that the very real obstacles to removal injures the psyche of those worn thin by the relentless onslaught of awfulness erupting from this White House. I know well that impeachment is one of the only rays of hope cutting through these dark times. I’m with you; I too crave some form of political comeuppance. But, I believe that it’s important to face the very real possibility that removal may not come, and if it does, it won’t come swiftly. And even a Trump impeachment would leave America with a President Pence, a nightmare of a different stripe but no less a nightmare.”

It should bother everyone that a man like this has a regular, high-visibility platform for his corrosive views. Impeachment is national convulsion that good citizens only hope for when a President has engaged in impeachable acts. Blow and other like him, who hope for those impeachable acts to justify removing a President they object to on ideological, personal or other grounds are just  people with busted ethical alarms,  bad citizens, bad neighbors, and dangerous to our democracy.

3. Here is an ethics train wreck from academia. A white professor at the University of Tennessee asserted via a multiple choice quiz ( Colleges use multiple choice quizzes?) that the statement “Black family bonds were destroyed by the abuses of slave owners, who regularly sold off family members to other slave owners” was wrong. A black student vehemently disagreed and challenged the teacher, who then threatened to “get” the student on Facebook. After the professor was pressured into resigning by the university, she emailed the class with a further attack on the student, without using her name. Naturally, the student has decided that this single incident shows the lurking perfidy of white social justice warriors, or to put it bluntly, “Can’t trust whitey!” How do people like the professor get hired? Since when is a professors position “unacceptable’ because it disputes conventional wisdom? Is race immune from non-conforming academic views? And why are college courses using multiple choice quizzes? [Pointer: Fred]

4.  Also from Ethics Alarms Super Scout Fred: this study, showing that Oakland police officers “tend to speak less respectfully to black people than to white people during traffic stops, using language in these everyday interactions that can erode community faith in the police, according to a first-of-its-kind study of body-camera footage released Monday by Stanford researchers.” Ugh. Now that’s “ microagression,” and maybe not so micro.

Ethics diagnosis: incompetent training, negligent oversight, and dead ethics alarms.

5. CNN has a lot of work to do before it can claim to be a professional and trustworthy news source, and one obvious step is to fire Brian Stelter, the network’s alleged journalism ethics watchdog. His predecessor Howard Kurtz was pretty bad, but Stelter is pure flack, seeing his main function as defending CNN and his secondary function as denying media bias, since he is so shockingly biased himself.

Yesterday on his ironically-named show “Reliable Sources,” Stelter and guest Jeff Greenfield blamed President Trump for polls that show a steep decline in public trust of the news media. Greenfield said,  “I think that has served that relentless campaign on Twitter and in his comments, fake news, fake news, fake news has been to convince that group of people that there is no such thing as a set of facts independent of your politics. And that has certainly served to continue and accelerate what you’ve talked about as a long process of declining trust in news.”

The downward trend will continue until prominent members of the news media admit that the reasons trust in journalism have  declined precipitously are

  • That the mainstream media’s partisan bias is obvious and palpable,
  • That has proven itself untrustworthy, and
  • Arrogant hacks like Stelter and Greenfield make it clear to all willing to see reality that the news media thinks that there’s nothing wrong with its reporting.

As for President Trump, he has an ethical and professional obligation to focus attention on the news media’s shift into a partisan political force, both to prioect his administration and  to ensure that the public isn’t deceived. The previous President was happy to ignore this dangerous development, because Obama  foolishly thought he benefited from it. In truth, he and the nation would have benefited more by journalism that held him to higher standards and criticized him when he deserved it, which was often.

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Signature Significance: The Democratic Party’s Irresponsible And Petulant Gorsuch Tantrum [Updated]

Signature significance, in the context of ethics, is when a single example of conduct or a single episode is sufficient to make a definitive judgment about the ethical values of an individual or an organization. It is something so striking and blatant that the usually valid statistical argument that one data point is meaningless doesn’t hold true. Ethics Alarms refers to signature significance frequently.

The Democratic Party’s behavior regarding the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch is signature significance. It won’t work. It will result in permanent harm to the Senate, harm that will initially most affect Democrats. It is hypocritical, irresponsible, and embarrassing, at least if the party is considering citizens who understand what is going on, admittedly a minority. It is unprofessional. It is dishonest. It is unpatriotic. The conduct is so obviously irresponsible that it is difficult to believe that Democratic leaders don’t realize it. Because it is all these things, the strategy is also very close to insane.

I just watched Senator Grassley’s address to the Judiciary Committee, ticking off l the reasons why the inflammatory Democratic rhetoric regarding Judge Gorsuch ranged from untrue to self-contradictory to ludicrous. He wasn’t exaggerating; it wasn’t a partisan speech.  Grassley reminded the committee that Gorsuch had been unanimously confirmed when he was nominated to the 10th Circuit. The Senator correctly explained why the recent mantra that Gorsuch wasn’t “mainstream” was counter-factual, since he has voted with the majority on that court over 90% of the time.

Grassley dismissed as offensive and judicially ignorant (my words, not his; Chuck was appropriately mild in his word choices) the argument that Gorsuch lacked compassion and wouldn’t rule “for the little guy.” Competent and ethical judges—unlike, say, Justice Sotomayor—don’t change their decisions according to which litigant is “big,” “little,” rich, poor, black or white. Their job, duty and role is to clarify what the law is. It is only part of the current progressive delusions, most recently shown in the rulings against the Trump travel halt from terrorist-teeming Muslim nations, that judges should base their analysis on their personal and political biases, when those biases are the “right” ones.

Senator Grassley then moved to the complaint that Gorsuch “refused to answer questions.” “What this means is that the judge wouldn’t say in advance how he would rule on cases that hadn’t come before him yet,” the Senator said. Of course he is exactly right. No judicial nominee has been willing to answer such question since the Democrats politicized the confirmation process forever by voting down Reagan appointee Robert Bork, despite the judge being as qualified and brilliant a jurist as anyone nominated to sit on the Court. No judge should have answered such questions before that, either. Cases are decided on the law and the facts. A justice who has made up his or her mind before even reading the briefs or hearing oral arguments is not judging fairly or competently.

Finally, Grassley pointed out that no Supreme Court nominee has ever faced a filibuster or the threat of one. For Gorsuch to be filibustered by Democrats, despite being assessed by almost every legal expert and commentator as unusually distinguished and qualified (including the left-leaning American Bar Association, which has found conservative judges less than qualified in the past because they were…conservative), is indefensible on the merits. Continue reading

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Unethical Headline Of A Week Of Unethical Headlines: Mother Jones

Senate vote

Almost Every GOP Senator Just Voted to Keep Letting Terror Suspects Buy Guns

You know, I just had an astounding and depressing exchange with a knee-jerk Democrat friend, who reacted to my Facebook post pointing out that CNN’s fake legal expert Ashleigh Banfield—who hosts a show called “Legal Views” and not only isn’t a lawyer, but can barely spell “Constitution”—displayed her rank ignorance once again by expressing amazement that anyone could possibly object to a law banning those placed without due process on a secret list, based on mere suspicion, from buying a gun. It’s called the Fifth Amendment, Ashleigh, you smug incompetent fool–read it. My friend’s response to this utterly factual post was the non sequitur that SCOTUS refused to review a lower court decision upholding a Connecticut law banning semi-automatic rifles. “The Supreme Court disagrees with you,” he wrote.

Huh?

You see, the left is deranged and incoherent on this issue. Totally bats, with principles draining out their ears. Because I object to breaching the core Constitutional principle of due process for any purpose–like every American should; it’s not a partisan issue—he “reasoned” that I must therefore believe that there is a right to own semi-automatic weapons. In fact, I have no position on that and didn’t mention it anywhere in the post. But, you see, good little gun-hating zealots like him believe that if you understand that Guns BAD, you must naturally approve of gutting the rule of law and the Constitution to restrict the sale of guns.  If you won’t happily gut the Fifth Amendment, you must be a gun nut.

The ends justify the means for these people. Constitutional principles only apply to good progressives and their favorite rights. Continue reading

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Flat Learning Curve Update: Yet Another Jaw-Dropping Leadership Fail From President Obama

curve-flat

In the midst of yet another flashing neon display proving beyond all reasonable doubt that Barack Obama has the worst grasp of the Presidential leadership of any POTUS in over a century, a cheerful CNN/ORC poll found that 50% of those polled assert that Obama tenure has been a success, and 53% believe that things are peachy in the United States. It is beyond comprehension.

WARNING!

IMPULSIVE RANT FOLLOWS! SKIP TO MAIN BODY OF POST FOR RETURN TO RESTRAINED ETHICAL ANALYSIS! Continue reading

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Unethical Quote of the Week: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Cal.)

Great, John, now you've killed Rep. Lee's brain. Oh, by the way: Shut up.

Great, John, now you’ve killed Rep. Lee’s brain. Oh, by the way: Shut up.

[ I am on my way back from Newport, preparing to drive for heaven knows how long back to Alexandria, VA, and typing in a small room with no desk, my roommie drying her hair and a Jack Russell that keeps jumping on the keyboard.  I am necessarily saving  expanded commentary about the ethics of the Unites States’ abdication of its vital role in the world for a later date, hopefully tomorrow. Until then, I will just touch on one particularly offensive example of the dishonest and pusillanimous attitude of so many of our elected leaders, who essentially are trying to poison U.S. culture with one of the most unethical pathogens of all…pacifism.]

 “I support strictly humanitarian efforts to prevent genocide in Iraq.” 

—-Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the House’s most reliably knee-jerk opponent of any use of U.S. military force, objecting to the President’s air strikes against ISIS

What a nonsensical, deceitful, irresponsible statement, and stupid as well. An elected official who would utter such intellectually and morally bankrupt gibberish in public has disqualified herself for responsible office, as it makes almost everything about her qualifications suspect—her intelligence, her honesty, her judgment, her education, her sanity. Continue reading

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