The Ethical Take: Ides of March Edition

Published: March 7, 2016

By Jim Lichtman
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Lots to get to, so let’s get to it.

Breaking News: “The Republican Party is Shattering” –

So says Republican Soothsayer-In-Chief Peggy Noonan. Noonan may be a late-comer to the implosion of her party, but after Trump’s decisive win in 7 states last Tuesday, she now admits that Trump is indeed, “a divider of the Republican Party… [and] unpredictable.”

However, Republican Party Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is hopelessly stuck in a state of denial. On CBS News’ Face the Nation, the chairman told journalist John Dickerson, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drama and — and intrigue. And we’ve got plenty of that.”

That’s the committee chair’s assessment of Trump after a week of Republican attempts to stop the billionaire potty mouth:

Rubio’s down-in-the-dirt assaults on Trump: ineffective.

Romney’s gravitas lecture to Republican voters: failed.

Open letter signed by 95 Republican National Security experts telling Republican voters that Trump would “make America less safe”: not a dent in the Trump fender.

The reaction from Trump supporters?

“There’s nothing short of Trump shooting my daughter in the street and my grandchildren — there is nothing and nobody that’s going to dissuade me from voting for Trump,” Lola Butler, 71, a retiree from Mandeville, Louisiana told New York Times reporters (Mar. 5).

“What we need is the voice of the people,” said Faith Sheptoski-Forbush of Romulus, Michigan. “The voice of the people want Trump.”

The Ethical Take: Be careful what you wish for Trumpers.

Meanwhile, Back at the Email Corral –

The New York Times reported (Feb. 29), that the State Department released – finally – the last set of emails of Hillary Clinton.

“Much of the conversation surrounding Clinton’s use of a private server for State Department business,” reports CNN (Mar. 1), “has revolved around the question of whether she took adequate measures to safeguard sensitive information.

“Clinton and her aides insist none of the emails she sent or received were marked as classified at the time they were sent, but more than 2,101 have been retroactively classified during the State Department-led pre-release review process.

“This includes 22 emails upgraded to Top Secret — the highest level — and withheld by the State Department in full.

“Those emails in particular are the subject of intense scrutiny, sometimes leaving the State Department and intelligence community at odds.”

The Washington Post reported (Mar. 2), that “the FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009.”

“As the FBI looks to wrap up its investigation in the coming months, agents are likely to want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails, current and former officials said.”

The E.T.: After reading many reports on this issue, the Take still can’t find any there, there.

Free Speech v. Hate –

A free-speech battle broke out at a High School in Indio, California after several students began wearing anti-gay stickers which show a rainbow inside a circle with a slash across it.

While the students claimed free speech, a few days later, according to the Los Angeles Times (Mar. 1), “About a dozen students at Shadow Hills High School in Indio were asked ‘for now’ to stop wearing [the] stickers… until ‘a proper course of action’ can be determined, according to a statement Monday by the Desert Sands Unified School District.”

“Supt. Gary Rutherford said the district does not tolerate harassment or bullying ‘of any kind. The free expression of these views is protected, within certain limits,’ Rutherford said.”

The E.T.: While expressing a point of view may not, in and of itself, be bullying, from an ethical perspective, the stickers imply hate. How would the school district react if students wore the Nazi insignia to school?

Everything’s different in Texas –

Texas Republican legislators hate Roe v. Wade. So, their way around a law that has been upheld by the Supreme Court was to pass a law in 2013 that “requires the clinics to meet the same standards as outpatient surgery centers. Those upgrades can cost $1 million or more,” as reported by NPR (July 1, 2015).

The case is now before the Supreme Court which, since the death of conservative jurist Antonin Scalia, is seemingly split 4-4. However, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy has been known to vote with the liberal members of the court. While he has upheld a ban on late-term abortion, in 1992 he wrote about placing an “undue burden” on women’s access to abortion, (Planned Parenthood v. Casey).

While the high court is hearing the case, 10 clinics are permitted to stay open, for now. However, if the court ends with a split decision, the Texas law would stand unless or until the case comes before the Supreme Court after a new justice is selected.

The Take: Borrowing a favorite phrase from Justice Scalia: More Texas “argle-bargle.”

Breaking News #2: Thomas SPEAKS! –

For the first time in a decade, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas actually asked questions during oral arguments in a case about gun ownership for domestic violence offenders.

The Take: …. is speechless!


  1. My dad, approaching 90, a PhD and NYC Assoc. Supt. of schools in his day, told me this way back in the 1970’s: “Look at politics as entertainment. You have one crummy vote. Your are up against others who vote twice or are dead. Consider a president a success, if at the end of his term, you are still alive and not starving.”

    I love it and follow that advice to this day. Get over it all, folks! It is DRAMA. And has NOTHING to do with Ethics, Stupid!

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