Unethical Quote Of The Week: Senator Kamala Harris

“Well, I mean, I would just say, hey, Joe, instead of saying, no, we can’t, let’s say yes, we can.”

Democratic Presidential nominee hopeful Senator Kamala Harris, responding to Joe Biden’s 100% correct observation that a President could not ban so-called “assault weapons” by executive order as Harris had pledged she would, due to the Constitution.

When I was preparing yesterday’s post on the ABC Democratic candidates debate, this statement, which made my head explode at the time it was delivered, was supposed to have a prominent place. Then I couldn’t find it in the transcript. Why? I’m an idiot, that’s why. Somehow I got it in my head that the speaker was Elizabeth Warren, not Harris, so I was searching the transcript for her, and not finding the exchange. Finally I gave up.

Luckily Ann Althouse was similarly nauseated by the same Harris quote, and posted about it on her blog later in the day. Among the truly scary statements, and there were many of them, during the debate (ask your Democratic friends if they can name a single similarly outrageous policy-related quote during any of the 2015 and 2016 debates  by candidates of either party) I rank Harris’s as #1, followed by Beto’s epic “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47…” and Biden’s ridiculous “Nobody should be in jail for a nonviolent crime” statement. (Incidentally, he launched a fun parlor game: see if you can top other players with the most sinister character who would have avoided prison time under Joe’s formula. My favorite: Al Capone). Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “Unethical Times Op-ed Of The Week?”

Timothy Egan’s spectacularly dishonest op-ed for the Times, The Founders Would Gag at Today’s Republicans: The cult of Trump has embraced values and beliefs that Jefferson, Washington and Lincoln abhorred,” was one more conservative- and Trump-bashing exercise disguised as a history lesson, albeit for Americans who know little about history and foolishly assume that they can trust pundits like Egan to enlighten them. Of course, all such exercises in time-traveling appeals to authority are inherently dishonest. 18th century minds, even those as sharp and creative as the Founders possessed, would go into shock at most of what they saw today if somehow provided the opportunity, and would take a while to understand why things have evolved as they have.

Frequent commenter JutGory sat down and treated Ethics Alarms readers with an analysis of developments the Founders would have had trouble with without indulging in the sort of cherry-picking and distortion Egan did to pander to the Times’ progressive readership. The result of what Jut called his “retro-prognostications” is a genuinely educational post, and a distinguished Comment of the Day.

Here it is:

If we are doing retro-prognostications, I bet I could do better:

Disclaimer: the Founders would probably be a bit mystified at the technological advances in general.

They would not be surprised by the abolition of slavery. They would be half-surprised that it took a war to do it (“We put in an amendment process for pretty much this reason, people!”)

They would probably be surprised at how much power the Supreme Court (the weakest branch) wields. Of course it only wields that much power because the other branches have gotten more powerful. To wit:

They would be surprised by the 16th Amendment (income tax), as it is a direct tax of the individual by the Federal Government, but okay (“Yay, Amendment process).

Of course, money is power, so, with more tax money comes more power.

They would be completely baffled by the 17th Amendment (direct election of Senators). That opens the Senate up to national influences, instead of influence from a small group of state legislators. That was kind of the whole point of the Senate: to represent the States, not its citizens.

But, you can’t pass a farm subsidy bill if Senators answer to their legislatures.

Can’t get universal healthcare if Senators stand in the way.

But, you change the Senate selection process, you get popular candidates, supported by national appeal and no specific understanding of the needs of the State (Hello, Al Franken!)

The power grab of the Commerce Clause would puzzle them. Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Catch-Up, 6/22/2019: “The Rifleman” Whiffs. A Paralegal Spills, The Commies Like Democrats, But Students Hate Pioneers

I am so, so far behind, both here on Ethics Alarms, and elsewhere, like prepping for some upcoming seminars, writing new programs, and trying to get the business and home budgets to work. Last week involved the car dying, getting a new one, enduring a six hour, 17 inning loss by the Red Sox, some lingering new computer glitches, and a major video shoot for which I had to write and refine the script, acquire the props and costumes, and rehearse the actors, then assist the team of seven who handled the shoot itself, all while being sick, and progressively exhausted. (This project would not have all happened without the brilliant and tireless work of my business partner and love of my life, Grace.)

Ethics Alarms was lower on the priority list this week than I would have liked it to have been. I’m sorry.

1. “The Rifleman” Ethics: As I have mentioned here before, “The Rifleman,” the 30 minute TV Western drama, starring Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain that ran from 1959-1962, was all about ethics, with almost every episode teaching an ethics lesson to the Rifleman’s son Mark, played by the charming juvenile actor Johnny Crawford.  I just watched an episode from the show’s final season that I hadn’t seen before. Guest-starring Mark Goddard (best known as the hot-headed young co-pilot in the original “Lost in Space” on ABC), the story involved a charismatic young huckster whom Mark admires but his father distrusts. This causes rare friction between father and son. Eventually, Lucas is proven right: the young man is a liar and a crook who was taking advantage of Mark’s guilelessness.

Mark shamefully but manfully tells his father, “I apologize for being wrong.”

NO! One shouldn’t apologize for being wrong. One  has an obligation to apologize for doing wrong, which includes making a bad decision because of laziness, carelessness, poor reasoning, inadequate analysis, or through some other failing. There is no shame or blame in being wrong in the kind of situation laid out in the episode, however.

Until the final moments, the audience couldn’t tell whether this would be one of the episodes where Chuck screws up, with the lesson to Mark being, “Jumping to conclusions and judging strangers harshly before you know anything about them is unfair, Mark. You were right. I’m proud of you.”

In fact, after Mark apologized, I expected his father to come back with exactly what I just wrote. This was moral luck: Mark had nothing to apologize for.

Boy, I’m never going to catch up if  I let issues jump in line like that… Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

I don’t think it is too much to ask for the Speaker of the House to comprehend the limits of her power and position, do you?

Yesterday, as Nancy Pelosi officially seized the gavel from Republican Speaker Paul Ryan, she  declared that she is equal to the President:

Asked if she considers herself Mr. Trump’s equal, she replied, “The Constitution does.”

The mainstream media, invested in defending and bolstering Pelosi, are already spinning the exchange to mean merely that Pelosi considers women the equal of men, and that the Constitution obviously (now) embodies that principle. However, that would have been a question and answer neither worth asking or answering. The question was whether Pelosi, as Speaker, felt that she was the equal of the President in power and Constitutional authority, and she replied in the affirmative to cheers from the “resistance.” Here’s Scott Dworkin, for example, frequent MSNBC contributor and  co-founder of the Democratic Coalition on Twitter:

“The Constitution considers me equal to Trump.” Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Damn straight. Trump is not the boss of Congress, no matter what Trump’s lapdogs Ryan & McConnell made it look like. Speaker Pelosi reminds us how the pathetic GOP is owned by Trump. Weak & useless pushovers.

Down, boy! Someone get Scott some Prozac. As for Nancy, someone get her a high school civics textbook. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 10/8/2018: Weenies, Dummies, Hypocrites And Creeps.

Good Morning!

1. But before we get into the ugly part..I want to recommend an article called “Rationalizations for Unethical Behavior in Tech” over at Medium. The writer, April Wensel, is the proprietor of the Compassionate Coding site.

Her article specifically employs several of the rationalizations on the Ethics Alarms list, quotes me with attribution, and does a terrific job demonstrating what the list is there for, and how it can and should be used. Thanks, April!

2. And here is another reason you can’t trust the media: journalists often aren’t very bright or well-educated.  NBC reporter Ken Dilanian opined on Twitter after Kavanaugh was confirmed that…

It may not happen in our lifetimes, but the idea that North Dakota and New York get the same representation in the Senate has to change. “Senators representing less than half the U.S. are about to confirm a nominee opposed by most Americans” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/06/senators-representing-less-than-half-us-are-about-confirm-nominee-opposed-by-most-americans/ 

To begin with, quoting that Post piece is signature significance for a partisan media hack.  “Most Americans” have insufficient information to oppose or support Kavanaugh on a substantive basis, and uninformed opinions are worthless at best. If “most Americans” opposed him, it was because they were misled, propagandized and fear-mongered into ignorance and bias. This is why we don’t elect Supreme Court justices. The complaint about the Senate that Dilanian glommed onto can be translated as “The Senate is the Senate.” It was designed not to represent the population as a whole, but the states, their interests and their cultures. “It may not happen in our lifetimes” is a statement of ignorance of what it would take to fundamentally change one of the three branches of government from its original form. I’d suggest to Ken that he try reading the Constitution, especially the formula for amending it. The chances that two-thirds of the states will accede to a new Senate construction that lets the big states dictate to the small ones are exactly zero, or essentially the same as the chances that the Electoral College will be abolished.

Dilanian is NBC’s intelligence and national security reporter and frequently appears on MSNBC, and now we know that the network’s intelligence reporter doesn’t understand his own country.

3. Be proud, Democrats! A Democratic Senator I had been blissfully unaware of  until the Kavanaugh nomination stepped up during the  hearings to reveal herself as exemplifying the ugly side of the partisan divide. Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said that the fact that Kavanaugh was conservative was all she needed to determine that he was lying, for example. She’s a virulent bigot. Yesterday, she was asked twice by CNN’s Dana Bash about whether she thought harassing Republican senators in restaurants was inappropriate. She wouldn’t say “Yes,” sending a clear message that her real position is “No.”

Here’s the exchange: Continue reading

Do Good Friends Let Friends Publish Garbage On Social Media? The Duty to Knock Down Irresponsible Opinions

“Stop quoting Maxine Waters!”

I just arrived at Virginia Beach Double Tree after a four hour plus drive in the dead of night. This gave amble time to obsess to the point of madness on Facebook post I saw from a friend. This is a smart, educated person; published in fact. Yet the post was (I am paraphrasing):

“I don’t understand Republicans. They must prefer Pence to Trump: why won’t the join Democrats in impeaching the orange bastard? I don’t get it.”

This post garnered many likes in the Facebook echo chamber, and several theories.

Now, this is not just an uninformed opinion. It is a dangerous opinion. It misinforms everyone who reads it and who has reason to trust and respect the writer. It is written in complete ignorance of the Constitution, and an irresponsible misinterpretation of what American democracy is.

I shouldn’t have to explain this further, but what the hell: if the Founders intended for our system to be a modified parliamentary arrangement where the public can try to elect a President but if Congress decides it prefers someone else, like the Vice-President, it can veto the election with a sufficient majority, then Madison, Mason et al. would have made that clear. Instead they made it clear that an elected President can only be impeached upon a guilty verdict in a Senate trial for “high crimes and misdemeanors,” which means unequivocal, serious and substantive wrongdoing, usually criminal. Yet a frightening number of progressives, driven to fantasy by listening to irresponsible and incompetent elected demagogues like Maxine Waters, actually embrace an imaginary version of our government that, if real, would render democracy a cruel fraud. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.)

OK, have I got this straight, Congressman? You want to abolish the Electoral College, because its antidemocratic, but before you do, you want to use it to overturn an election that you agree was fair and square. Got it. You're an idiot.

OK, have I got this straight, Congressman? You want to abolish the Electoral College, because it’s antidemocratic, but before you do, you want to use it to overturn an election that you agree was fair and square. Got it. You’re an idiot.

Now a member of Congress has sided with the history-addled cheating advocates who are pressuring Republican electors to overturn the results of the 2016 election. One might expect electors to be this ignorant and confused, since they are not vetted or qualified and may be, for all voters know, self-righteous paramedics.  Smug and partisan social justice warriors using fake names are also not surprising us when they advocate something this unethical. However, we should be able to expect our elected representatives to have more respect for and understanding of our system. Unfortunately, we can’t.

Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) concedes that Donald Trump won the election “fair and square.” (This is a small point in Himes’ favor, at least, since so many of his political brethren won’t even admit that). Nonetheless, he has announced that electors should defy the electorate and make Hillary Clinton President when they gather on December 19to  vote,despite the fact that Trump beat Clinton by winning states that gave him, or were supposed to, 306 Electoral College votes.

Himes’s “argument“ mark him as a bona fide idiot. We should not have bona fide idiots in Congress.

“We’re 5 wks from Inauguration & the President Elect is completely unhinged. The electoral college must do what it was designed for,” he tweeted yesterday. No, in fact, that was not what it was designed for. The Electoral College was designed to prevent big states in a federal system from dictating to the other states, which might not share their culture or sensitivities. Imagine a big, wacko state like California dominating our politics. In fact, that’s exactly what would happen without the Electoral College. In the election just completed, Clinton won the Golden Bankrupt Illegal Immigrant-Enabling State by almost 4 million votes, while Trump got more votes than  Clinton in the other 49 states and the District of Columbia.  That’s why we have the Electoral College, and a more brilliant device the Founders never devised. Continue reading