Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/27/2019: Illegal Immigration Trainwreck Edition

Good Morning!

Once again I am trying to get a post up while furiously preparing for a program, this time a super-sized version of “Ethics Rock Extreme” for a federal agency, in collaboration with the marvelous Mike Messer, my rock/country/pop singer and guitar virtuoso partner of almost 20 years….I’ll begetting to ethics observations on last night’s debate when I return, if I return.

1. “Think of the children!” porn.  I’m sure you’ve seen this…

…and have read or heard some of the shirt-rending and hair-tearing prompted by the viral photograph of a drowned “migrant” and his infant son. The injection of pure, unreasoning emotion and sentimentality into the illegal immigration debate is cynical but predictable, and this is just an escalation of the media campaign to frame all illegal immigration in romantic and sentimental terms.

The photo should change nothing. The death of an infant irresponsibly and recklessly taken on a dangerous journey (as well as an illegal one) is the fault of the parent who brought him, not the Presient of the united States, not ICE, not immigration officials. Democrats like Chuck Schumer who exploit such a photo are unconscionable. “Seeking a better life” is not now now has ever been a justification for breaking the law. The photo of an adult and an infant who die in the course of a dangerous attempt to break U.S. laws should prompt pity for the child and anger at the adult, no more, no less.

Those taking up the “Think of the children!” cry need to be asked if their solution is to provide ferry rides across the Rio Grande for children who are forced to accompany their parents in attempts at illegal immigration. Or U.S. lifeguards stationed on the shore, perhaps. Continue reading

Not Just Justice Gorsuch, Prof. Turley: The Entire Supreme Court Is Owed An Apology.

In an article yesterday in The Hill, Constitutional Law expert Professional Jonathan Turley proclaims that Justice Neil Gorsuch is  owed an apology by the Washington political establishment (meaning D.C. Democrats and progressives) which had labeled him a “rubber stamp” and a right wing ideologue in the course of its non-stop wailing about the loss of Obama nominee Merrick Garland, the victim of a ruthless bit of partisan maneuvering by Mitch McConnell. One would have thought that Gorsuch had conspired with “Cocaine Mitch.”

Turley (who testified on Gorsuch’s behalf, so his essay has more than a bit of a smug “I told you so!” ring), focuses particularly on yesterday’s SCOTUS ruling in U.S. v. Davis, in which Gorsuch joined to so-called liberal wing to strike  down an ambiguous law that allowed enhanced penalties for a “crime of violence.” Turley was impressed that Gorsuch squared off against Supreme Court rookie Bret Kavanaugh, whose dissent seemed to be based on a version of the “Everybody does it” rationalization, arguing that the statute was used in “tens of thousands of federal prosecutions” for over 30 years and calling it “surprising” that it should suddenly be ruled unconstitutional. Continue reading

Rushing Out The Door Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 6/11/2019!

Hello, I Must Be Going…

This will be quick…

1. Hoping it was a mistake, fearing it was not. When I wrote about how David Ortiz’s post-baseball life before his near-fatal shooting was full of nothing but promising options, I was not including “having an extra-marital affair with a Dominican crime boss’s wife” among them. Yet that’s the story coming out of Santo Domingo: Big Papi was the target of a hit. Ugh. Maybe it was all a big misunderstanding….

2. I could have written two separate posts about these ridiculous and ethicallyiaddled New York Times op-eds, but I’ll leave it to you:  first up is this thing, as an illegal immigration advocate uses the tit-for-tat and Sicilian ethics rationalizations to argue that letting foreign nationals cross our borders illegally is just reparations for what the United States owes “to other countries for their colonial adventures, for the wars they imposed on them, for the inequality they have built into the world order, for the excess carbon they have dumped into the atmosphere.” By all means, take your best shot at explaining why this theory is nuts, and then explain to me why any respectable newspaper would think it is worth publishing. Then Jamele Bouie, the former Slate race-baiting specialists whose extreme rants were so absurd, the Times decided to make him a regular columnist, issued this, in which he argues for sinking Marbury vs Madison and stopping the Supreme Court from blocking unconstitutional laws, because, you know, the people know best, even though most of them couldn’t name three entries in the Bill of Rights. It would make it easier to Leftist totalitarian regime to take over, though. Or, you moron, a conservative one.

Let’s have a poll!

3. I see fat people...As I’m sure you have noticed, more and more ads and TV commercials are featuring actors who range from chunky to obese. This is in response to the long-standing complaints that the media causes eating disorders and poor self-esteem by promoting unrealistic standards for female bodies. Now, we have a deadly obesity epidemic, and ads are sending the message that it’s normal to be fat. Is this really an improvement?

Ugh..late. Gotta run..back soon!

SCOTUS: There is No Right To Be Executed Painlessly

Good.

Russell Bucklew’s   girlfriend broke up with him, so he threatened her. She ran to a neighbor’s house, but Bucklew chased her down. First he shot the neighbor dead. Then he beat his girlfriend and raped her. Police arrested him after a shootout, but Bucklew eventually escaped so he could attack his girlfriend’s mother with a hammer.

Bucklew was tried and convicted, then sentenced to death under Missouri law. Does this conduct, once proven in court, warrant the death penalty? Personally, I would prefer the bar to be set a bit higher, but I’m not disturbed, as a member of society, to be partially responsible for Bucklew’s demise. He made it clear that he has no intention of abiding by the social contract, and society has no obligation to let him keep breathing.

Two weeks before his schedule execution, Bucklew raised a medical condition as a unique barrier for the use on lethal injection on him, as described by the Court:

“Mr. Bucklew suffers from a disease called cavernous hemangioma, which causes vascular tumors— clumps of blood vessels—to grow in his head, neck, and throat. His complaint alleged that this condition could prevent the pentobarbital from circulating properly in his body; that the use of a chemical dye to flush the intrave- nous line could cause his blood pressure to spike and his tumors to rupture; and that pentobarbital could interact adversely with his other medications.”

Continue reading

Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 3/23/2019: Hypocrisy, Rationalizations, Spin, And Things Your Facebook Friends Will Hate To Pieces

Good Morning!

Doesn’t Barbra sing beautifully? Does knowing she’s ethically dead inside ruin her singing for you? (see #2)

1.  How arrogant and incompetent is this? UNBELIEVABLY arrogant and incompetent. Apparently Jared Kushner and the President’s daughter, Kushner’s wife, have been using private email accounts for official business. It’s against the law. it’s absurdly hypocritical, after the (deserved) criticism the President leveled against Hillary Clinton for her private server shenanigans. The Justice Department should prosecute both of them, and if the President had anyone else competent that he could trust as a close advisor—he fear he doesn’t—he should fire them both.

2. Wow! Barbra rationalizes sexual child abuse! Will this mean that Babs will no longer be welcome at Democrat fundraisers? Doubtful. Progressive never met a double standard they wouldn’t use.

Here is what the singing icon said to the The Times about Michael Jackson’s recent accusers (via documentary and lawsuits), Wade Robson and James Safechuck, and hold on to your heads:

“His sexual needs were his sexual needs, coming from whatever childhood he has or whatever DNA he has. You can say ‘molested,’ but those children[ now grown-up Robson and Safechuck] as you heard, say they were thrilled to be there. They both married and they both have children, so it didn’t kill them.”

Should I rename the infamous Rationalization #22. The Comparative Virtue Excuse: “There are worse things” after the Funny Girl? Her statement is a perfect example: a child being raped by a grown man isn’t a big deal if the kid doesn’t die. Then there is #42. The Irrelevant Mitigation: “He’ll/She’ll/They’ll get over it”:

” #42 is pure callousness mixed with consequentialism, and thus beyond redemption or ethical application.. It holds that wrongful conduct is somehow mitigated by the fact that the wound heals, forgiveness is granted, or time breeds forgetfulness. It isn’t. How and whether victims recover or get over their anger does not alter the original misconduct, mitigate it, and certainly does not erase it. Those who cite this rationalization are shrugging off accountability and are signalling that they will repeat their unethical conduct or worse, counting on their victims to give them an opportunity to harm them again. Anyone who employs The Irrelevant Mitigation cannot be trusted”

The despicable suggestion that Jackson’s alleged victims consented to being raped, however, because they wanted it, is really revolting. This is #48. Contrived Consent, or “The Rapist’s Defense”, which…

…aims to cleanse unethical conduct by imagining that the victim consented to it, or secretly sought the result of the wrongful act. The most infamous example of this rationalization is, of course, the rapist’s defense that the victim either was inviting a sexual assault by flirtatious conduct or provocative dress, or secretly “wanted it.”

It is, perhaps, the ugliest rationalization of all.

The good news is that these idiotic comments, signature significance for someone whose ethics alarms have turned to moldy cheese, are attracting appropriate condemnation. Good. [Pointer: Other Bill]

3. Here’s some dishonest leftist spin for the Mueller investigation, as the impeachment hounds try to somehow make the facts consistent with their delusions. From ThinkProgress:

“Mueller’s team has filed dozens of indictments and secured convictions and guilty pleas in the conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 election: Six of Trump’s close associates and employees have faced charges. George Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser; Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair; Rick Gates, a campaign aide and longtime Manafort business partner; Michael Flynn, a former foreign policy adviser; Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer; and Roger Stone, a longtime Trump adviser, have all been charged by Mueller. Manafort and Cohen have been convicted and sentenced to prison.”

That’s multiple lies framed by a lie. None of Mueller’s indictments involve any conspiracy to interfere with the election except the symbolic charges against Russians,  and if there had been any evidence of such a conspiracy, an American would have been inducted on those grounds. Manafort was indicted for his own crimes, not any related to the campaign. Flynn and Cohen had no involvement with Russia either. The others were charged with process crimes: lying to law enforcement, not “colluding” with Russia.

4. “Worst Nazi Ever!” That’s Instapundit Glenn Reynolds gag tag for Trump actions like declaring that Israel should  have sovereignty over the Golan Heights, ending decades of U.S. policy of tip-towing around the issue. It also fits here: The President issued an  executive order directing federal agencies to “take appropriate steps” to “promote free inquiry” at institutions that receive federal research and education grants, including thorough compliance with the First Amendment.  F.I.R.E. approves.

5. Surprise! Your Facebook friends are wrong, and don’t know what they are talking about...It is overwhelmingly likely that the supreme Court will approve the use of emergency powers to build “the wall.” Richard H. Pildes, professor of constitutional law at New York University, wrote a convincing article, “How the Supreme Court Weakened Congress on Emergency Declarations,” in which points out…

  • The National Emergencies Act (NEA), passed by Congress in l976, never defines that an emergency is, largely leaving that assessment to the President.
  • Presidents have used the NEA 58 times. In every case–every case!— the President spent funds not appropriated by Congress.
  • In no case did the Supreme Court overturn the action.
  • The Supreme Court decision in Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha, which declared that “legislative vetoes are unconstitutional,”  including vetoes of Presidential actions under the National Emergencies Act.
  • Absent Congress overriding Trump’s veto of the bill designed to stop his declaration of the emergency at the border, a result that is unlikely, there is no legal way to block the Trump as he acts on the authority of the NEA.
  • Trump neither violated the Constitution nor violated the separation of powers. His unilateral action was a constitutional power ceded to him by an act of Congress
  • President Obama used the act to transfer funds without congressional authority to his health care act.

I didn’t think there was a chance that the President’s power to do this would not be upheld, and the article makes me more certain than ever.  I also agree with Ronald Trowbridge that if the Justices were capable of ruling only on the law rather than partisan politics, the decision would be unanimous.

 

Ethics Alarms Reader Poll: Will The SCOTUS Decision on “Fuct” Be Unanimous?

It should be. It’s amazing to me that this issue has to take up the time of the Supreme Court, it’s so obvious.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review that case of Iancu v. Brunetti, and decide whether the Lanham’s Act’s ban on “immoral” and “scandalous” trademarks violates the First Amendment. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had refused to register a trademark for a line of clothing called “FUCT,” reasoning that “FUCT is the past tense” of a vulgar word and is “therefore scandalous,” a federal appeals court said. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit had struck down the ban on scandalous and immoral trademarks in December 2017,  but clothing designer and artist Erik Brunetti had agreed that the Supreme Court should hear the case even though he had won.  The cert petitions are here and here.

The Supreme Court struck down another provision of the Lanham Act in June 2017,  when it held that the ban on “disparaging” trademarks violated the First Amendment. The case, Matal v. Tam, was filed by an Asian-American rock band that wanted to trademark the name the Slants. The vote was 8-0 because Justice Neil M. Gorsuch did not participate in the decision. That decision also squashed efforts begun by Democrats and the Obama Administration to force the Washington Redskins to give up their “offensive” team nickname. The team’s trademarks had been cancelled in 2014 following complaints from “offended” non-football fans and a small minority of Native Americans. Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the Court,”It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”  The opinion rejected the government’s argument that protected trademarks become a form of government, rather than private, speech. Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Week, Cross-Filed to “The Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck,” “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias,” AND “Bias Makes You Stupid”: ABC Correspondent Terry Moran

“Overturning Roe vs. Wade by an all-male majority, two of whom have had credible accusations of sexual misconduct lodged against them, would not be a legitimate action.”

—–ABC correspondent Terry Moran, on an ABC news broadcast, as he discussed what would happen to the nation’s highest court if the Senate confirms Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh,

It doesn’t get much worse than this. The statement is irresponsible, unfair, ignorant, partisan, incompetent, inflammatory and untrue. It involves multiple distortions of law and fact. It is an opinion presented as fact by an individual lacking the credentials or authority to issue such an opinion. It also encourages defiance of lawful authority.

Moran is a journalist, trained as a journalist and as nothing but a journalist. His current role at ABC is as a foreign correspondent. He is no lawyer, and apparently has no idea what a conflict of interest is. For him to use his air time to make such a pronouncement, sure to be sucked up by the eager, empty brain cells of social media junkies everywhere, is an abuse of his position and influence. That is, however, what he and his colleagues increasingly call “journalism” in 2018. It isn’t journalism, not the ethical kind. It is propaganda, and worse.

For the sake of brevity, since these are major misrepresentations that could each be the subject of scholarly essays, allow me to just bullet point them:

  • More fake news, Future and Psychic News Division. Why is Moran talking about Roe v. Wade being overturned? There is no case before the Supreme Court that would do that. There is no pending case in the system that would lead to that. None of the sitting justices or Kavanaugh have argued that Roe should be overturned, and the conservative justices have all declared their fealty to the concept of stare decisus, in which established SCOTUS decisions are regarded as settled law except in extraordinary circumstances.

For a broadcast journalist to discuss a remote hypothetical—and it is remote by definition, since none of the conditions necessary for it to occur appear to exits—is brazen fear-mongering and misleading the public.

  • More fake news, Future and Psychic News Division, Part II.  Then Moran forsees what individual Justices will decide in this imaginary case that hasn’t been argued, or briefed. In this he reduces the Supreme Court, which analyzes difficult questions of law, to a group of agenda-driven knee-jerk hacks, which they are not.

Journalists like Moran are the agenda-driven knee-jerk hacks, and at least in his case, are unable to imagine anyone else treating important controversies objectively

  • Gender stereotyping. There is no justification for assuming that a male justice would automatically vote to overturn Roe, and the assumption is historically ignorant. After all, an all-male SCOTUS majority established Roe.

Moran also assumes that no woman on the Court would vote with the male members even if the particular facts and law related to the imaginary, hypothetical future case that may never exist required an honest, objective female Justice to do so. This is  simple-minded, biased thinking that reduces both genders to their lowest common denominators.

  • The misleading word, “credible.” “Credible” means “capable of being believed” by itself. I could state here that I am five foot three inches tall and once worked as Latin tutor to make extra money in school. Those are both credible claims: there’s nothing that makes them unbelievable. They are also untrue. Being credible is not the test for whether any statement of evidence should be believed, and in any dispute, such statements must be considered in the context of other evidence. Brett Kavanaugh’s denial is also credible, except to those who have a vested interest in disbelieving it.

In this nation, and in any just society, we do not make judgments about people based on “credible accusations.” The accusations must be corroborated and substantiated to some extent. Dr. Ford named witnesses, and none of them have confirmed her story. That does not make her accusation incredible, but no conclusions can be drawn from it either.

  • There’s no conflict of interest. I don’t know what tortured definition of conflict of interest Moran thinks he knows, but whatever it is, it doesn’t exist in law or ethics. I’m assuming that a conflict is what he thinks would undermine the legitimacy of his imaginary, future hypothetical SCOTUS decision. If mere gender created a conflict, then neither women nor men could consider abortion cases. Blacks couldn’t rule on civil rights cases. Motherhood, fatherhood, whether a judge had an abortion or chose not to have one, these at most create biases, not conflicts, which occur when a judge’s current tangible, real life, current interests will be affected by a decision he or she is obligated to make. Judges are pledged to ignore their biases, not to never have them. All human beings have biases; judges are professionally trained and obligated to do a better job than the rest of us recognizing them and overcoming them.

Continue reading