Ethics Update: The Frontrunners


There was ample evidence over the past week that all three of the candidates currently leading their respective party’s races for the presidential nomination are unqualified for the office by virtue of their deficiencies of competence, character, and principles. Hillary Clinton had the most spectacularly revealing week, but first, the other two….

Donald Trump: Hubris, incompetence, disrespect and unfairness

1. “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump boasted at a campaign rally yesterday. I know, it’s a joke. It’s also an astoundingly stupid thing to say, even in jest, and reveals massive hubris, the quality that brought down many a Greek king and the worst and most dangerous of all Trump flaws. This is what will get him, sooner or later. 3000 years of history and literature teach us that. The comment also reveals utter contempt for his supporters; he is essentially calling them blind morons. The crowd in Iowa laughed….because they are.

2.“Our great veterans are being treated terribly,” Trump says in a new campaign video. “The corruption in the Veteran’s administration, the incompetence is beyond. We will stop that.” Then critics pointed out that the clips used showed Russian veterans, not Americans, and he pulled the ad.

This is the man whose only claim to legitimacy is his management wizardry. Such an error, however, is proof of sloppy oversight and incompetent delegation. Moreover, this is the second time a Trump campaign ad  included mislabeled material: his illegal immigration ad earlier this month used footage of people crossing the Moroccan border to represent the U.S.-Mexico border. Conclusion: he’s faking it, “it” meaning everything. This is all posturing and bluffing, like a student taking an exam for a course he never studied for.

3.  The National Review published a much-discussed anti-Trump issue, and here was The Donald’s rebuttal:

“The National Review is a dying dying paper. Its circulation is way down. Not very many people read him anymore. People don’t even think about The National Review. I guess they want to get a little publicity. But that’s a dying paper. I got to tell you, it’s pretty much a dead paper.”

One of many reasons I will maintain to the death that Donald Trump is not very bright is that he immediately defaults, in all arguments, to rationalizations and logical fallacies. This is the mark of a deficient, unschooled and lazy mind. The issue, dolt, is the substance of The National Review’s arguments, not how big their circulation is. His device here is the ad hominem attack, a tactic popular on middle school playgrounds.

Bernie Sanders: Ignorance and incompetence.

1. Sanders finally put out his health care “plan,” and it was careless, vague and unrealistic. Sanders ignores foreign policy, and his only claim to power is his grand socialist illusions. If they don’t make sense, he’s an even more ludicrous candidate than he appears. The apologetically progressive website Vox reviewed the Sanders health care plan, and found it atrocious. Here’s just a sample, as Vox dismembers just one part of the “plan”:

“…Sanders goes on to say that his plan means “no more fighting with insurance companies when they fail to pay for charges.” To be generous, it’s possible that Sanders is just being cynical in his wording, and what he means is that under his plan, individuals have to fight with the government rather than private insurers when their claims are denied. But the implication to most people, I think, is that claim denials will be a thing of the past — a statement that belies the fights patients have every day with public insurers like Medicare and Medicaid, to say nothing of the fights that go on in the Canadian, German, or British health care systems. What makes that so irresponsible is that it stands in flagrant contradiction to the way single-payer plans actually work — and the way Sanders’s plan will have to work if its numbers are going to add up.”

This is Sanders in his supposed wheelhouse, and he still makes no sense.

2. And here he is away from his comfort zone—the way a branch of the U.S. government works. Sanders, who is relentless in attacking the Citizens United Supreme Court decision—you know, that horrible ruling that said the U.S. couldn’t censor movies and books during an election cycle—tweeted out this:

“Any Supreme Court nominee of mine will make overturning Citizens United one of their first decisions.”

…thus showing that he a) has learned very little after decades in the Senate and b) flunked 10th grade civics. Supreme Court justices are constitutionally required to decide only “cases” and “controversies.” They cannot simply review a previous decision and hold that it was wrongly decided; indeed, they must observe the institutional  presumption that a binding precedent was rightly decided. SCOTUS has to wait for a legal dispute to reach its docket, then, four justices, not one as Bernie seems to think, must agree to hear it. Then a majority of the court must vote to invalidate or uphold the law in question. This process typically takes years.

Sanders’ statement is embarrassing. He can’t blame this on his campaign’s tweeter, because he has said the same, ignorant, misleading nonsense in speeches. I suppose the Senate’s designated socialist crackpot doesn’t have to know beans about the United States government, since he’s only there for laughs, contrast, and isn’t diversity wonderful? A President, however, should understand the government he has the gall to want to oversee before he runs for the office. What else doesn’t Bernie understand? The mind boggles.

Hillary Clinton: Corruption, Dishonesty, and Incompetence.

1. Let’s see: last week…

  • It was revealed in a letter from the Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III, an Obama appointee, that messages on Clinton’s private server were not just classified,  as Hillary has repeatedly denied, but some even went  Top Secret classification, and
  • …included material on clandestine human-intelligence sources, meaning that she potentially endangered intelligence personnel, secret agents and local assets in the field.
  • More released e-mails show that, contrary to Clinton’s assertions, the State Department did tell her to start using the official e-mail system.
  • Robert Gates, Obama’s former Defense Secretary, said that “the odds are pretty high” that her home server was accessed by one or more hostile foreign governments, such as China, Iran and Russia
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey opined in The Wall Street Journal that it is “nearly impossible to draw any conclusion other than that she knew enough to support a [criminal] conviction at the least for mishandling classified information.”

Perhaps most damning of all, the Clinton camp’s response to all of this is that it is just a Republican conspiracy, with the Democratic inspector general complicit in the plot. This is the default Clinton and Co. excuse when facts, logic, a civic responsibility are against them. At this point, only the hard-core corrupted among her acolytes can find this anything but desperate. The episode, even missing some key information, shows that Hillary was reckless, negligent, ignorant of technology and dishonest about what occurred. She also admits to destroying evidence. Maybe those e-mails were purely personal, and maybe they were emails containing classified information that Clinton could afford the FBI to know about. Clinton has based her argument to lead on her competence, and this was stunningly incompetent by any objective assessment.

2. Here, however, is the best part. Ann Althouse, the moderate to liberal blogging law professor, scored a masterpiece reacting to the New York Times’ story, headlined “’90s Scandals Threaten to Erode Hillary Clinton’s Strength With Women.,” nailing both Hillary’s hypocrisy and the disgraceful complicity of the left-leaning news media in allowing it. She writes in part:

Why headline that now? …Does the NYT want Bernie Sanders? I doubt it. But I’m sure they want the Democratic nominee to win the election. Bernie’s heating up so strongly, Clinton’s weakness as a candidate is becoming more obvious, and the NYT is certainly privy to far more oppo-research material on Hillary than I know. Just yesterday, it ran the story “Hillary Clinton Email Said to Include Material Exceeding ‘Top Secret.'” The FBI investigation looms. What else is coming? Is it not too late to bring Biden back out?

I suspect there’s utter panic behind the scenes as Trump and Cruz dominate the GOP race. It would be one thing to let Hillary do her best, maybe fall short, and let nice Mr. Bush sit in the Oval Office for 4 years while the Democratic Party rebuilds itself. But Trump/Cruz won’t be docile seat warmers. It’s a dire emergency.

And so, at long last, what Hillary did to women matters. Women aren’t Hillary’s natural constituency, we’re her victims.Now that the stories…The stories…… are resurfacing…

You submerged them! You submerged them for partisan political ends and you’re participating in dragging them back up because of — I can’t help presuming — partisan political ends….Of course, Clinton herself worked to submerge the story — the story not just of what Bill did sexually but of how Bill’s people, including Hillary, discredited the women. This has gone on for more than 20 years, 20 years of distorting the development of women’s equality in the workplace. 

The professor quotes a young blogging feminist who has just recently discovered,  led by Donald Trump’s unmannerly reminders, that Bill “sexually harassed people and she worked to cover it up, ” and who now says of the Clintons. “A lot of girls in my age group are huge feminists, and we don’t react well to that.” Then she quotes Jennifer Weiner, “a best-selling novelist and feminist,” as saying, that Trump’s attacks make Mrs. Clinton look less like “a strong, self-actualized feminist leader who women can proudly get behind,” and more “like a craven opportunist, and an apologist for a predator.”

Althouse explodes,

“Mr. Trump’s attacks! Why would it take a Trump attack to make you see Hillary that way? He can only make her look that way because the factual material is there. But you were looking away, conveniently. That looking away that you did on your own I call anti-feminism. If you read far enough into the article, you’ll get to a quote from Camille Paglia: “It’s not about Bill Clinton’s peccadilloes… It’s about Hillary Clinton’s behavior towards her husband’s accusers for all those years.” Exactly.”


And there you have it, ladies and gents, our three current front-runners for the Presidency, at this crucial time in our history and that of the world, when a competently led United States is literally a matter of survival.

Please add to the disgrace of their own obvious untrustworthiness and lack of fitness to lead, these:

…The two major parties, who have a duty to present to the American people qualified, admirable and honorable candidates for the office, and have failed that duty spectacularly…

…The news media, which has allowed its bias and incompetence to render it impotent and useless to educate and inform the public sufficiently so that candiadtes this dreadful never reach the point of achieving power, and…

…Most of all, the American public, whose lack of civic literacy, powers of analysis and knowledge allow charlatans, demagogues, scoundrels and fools to win their support without even hiding their nature particularly well.


Sources: Think Progress, Vox, NYT, NY Post, Fox News


37 thoughts on “Ethics Update: The Frontrunners

  1. With Trump, I think the reason why logical fallacies are so popular in the first place is because they *work*. Sure, someone who avoids such fallacies may win an argument on a technicality, but such fallacies deal a knockout blow to some people’s reasoning skill, such a fallacy-user, like Trump wins the argument on appeals to emotion.

    Trump knows his followers. They aren’t there for finely nuanced arguments, nor can they follow detailed plans and differences of opinions. They can however, definitely know that the candidate who called the other guy a “poopy-head” totally pwned him, and they can identify with that candidate. And Trump is riding that type all the way to the nomination. He knows most people don’t vote reason, they vote emotion, and use reason (if at all) to justify what happened afterwards.

    • You think he’s secretly able to rebut the National Review’s substantive arguments point by point, using logic and evidence? Why do you think this? It would be a great relief if you wee correct, but I see no evidence of that at all.

      • I think he’s way smarter than he lets on.

        Since my assessment of Trump’s success flew under the radar here, I’ll post the link again. Followed by a brand new piece on Trump the mimic. (Call me crazy, but if you want to stop Trump, y’all better start thinking way out of the box.)

        View at

        View at

  2. In addition to the parties, media, and public, we also got more evidence of corruption within the State Department this week. They said in a court filing that they can’t finish producing Hillary ‘ s email on schedule, a little bit because of the Eastern blizzard, but mostly because since June they’ve been systematically ignoring documents that require consultation with other agencies. These are, obviously, the most difficult and likely classified documents. Basically, the State Department has been lying to the court for six months, saying they were on schedule when they were actually substituting birthday messages and TV schedules for documents that would have required a thorough review.

      • Hahahahahaha.

        After reading his wiki page I was astounded to learn Cruz had graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School and clerked for all sorts of federal judges and worked in mega-firms and in administrations? Alan Derschowitz even purportedly called Cruz “brilliant.” Meanwhile, the media makes Cruz out to be the educational reincarnation of Tom Delay.

        Of course, we’ve already had one “brilliant” former Senator and “brilliant” HLS graduate in the White House recently. And Bill and Hillary Clinton are brilliant as well, of course. But at least Cruz might release his transcripts and theses. I think his undergraduate thesis was on the constitution and didn’t anywhere fawn over Saul Alinsky. And I doubt AD tosses out “brilliants” when describing students as if they’re Hershey’s kisses on Halloween.

        More an observation about the media than Ted Cruz’s worth.

  3. 1. Dangerous Clown and Loose Cannon
    2. Idealistic Incompetent
    3. Corrupt and Corrupting Crook
    (4. Torquemada)

    A system is broken if these are the only feasible choices.

  4. Do you ever get the feeling from the political front runners in this campaign that this election is primarily being steered towards the elimination of our current political system in favor of something else?

    Do you ever get the feeling that illogical social chaos and division among the people is becoming more and more prevalent across the United States and our leaders don’t seem to be spending any of their political capital to slow the trend, instead what we see is rhetoric from our leaders and potential leaders that seems to support illogical social chaos and division among the people?

    Some may say that trends, such as these, have always been there and it’s all just typical election season political propaganda; I disagree! I’ve been around for quite a while and I see that the trend is much more wide spread and “permanent” than any political season trend can explain. The trend is showing us that the core things that make us who we have been, who we currently are, and who we have the potential to be are being manipulated by the destruction of root moral character.

    When I was young I had hope for the future, my hopes for future generations, my children and grandchildren, are being squelched; is that what our leaders want?

    Do our leaders, and future leaders, see chaos as a method of pushing them to the top of the political ladder?

    Has acquiring of the goal of individual/party political supremacy superseded or completely replaced the goal to serve the people?

    Have the people become the tool of the politicians instead of the politicians being the tool of the people?

    Is anyone else feeling the crushing of “the people” under the weight of our continuously expanding government?

    Division might temporarily make some of us feel stronger than those we oppose, but in the end, division will destroy the initial reason that drove the founding fathers to structured our nation in the manner in which they did; our freedoms rest on the heavy laden shoulders that We the People are better together than we are apart.

    Vote for unity not division.

    • Campaigns that rely on soundbites and creating fear that ultimately create a popularity contest that will place a non-entity in office. You saw it last election where you had a strong campaigner that was ultimately a weak leader. Reality check: Most don’t really care about the intricacies of policies, but are enamored with the “promise.”

      • Rick M.
        What about the divisive rhetoric?

        Divisive rhetoric is no longer just a political season problem, it’s constantly in our faces, it has take “permanently” residence and become a predominate tactic in politics and general incivility across our society. Our society has not been this socially divided into unique subgroups displaying illogical morally bankrupt behavior in many, many years!

        Is the divisive rhetoric a result of a morally bankrupt society or is the morally bankrupt society the result of the divisive rhetoric?

        Is there an actual cause and effect here, an identifiable toggle switch; or what’s worse, is it all just a mutually coexisting feeding frenzy which could easily be translated as an apathetic “it’s just the way it is”? Acceptance of such things is the path to an ever increasing level of doom and gloom.

        We can’t instill change until the root problem is identified.

  5. I’m pretty sure that the reason Trump uses attacks like that whenever he’s criticized is that this is actually how he thinks. One sees a consistent pattern to the insults, rather than being generalized ad hominem attacks: Trump is always hitting people for their lower monetary worth or lack of fame, and publications, sites, and channels for low viewership, circulation, or profit. I think The Donald genuinely believes that the loudest, shiniest, most gilded person in a room is the one that should be listened to, because that is how his world operates: sycophants sucking up to him because of his fame and wealth. It’s terrifying to think of the sort of Yes-Men this guy would fill the White House with.

  6. “Supreme Court justices are constitutionally required to decide only “cases” and “controversies.””

    Wouldn’t a President Sanders have standing (by virtue of both his office and his ability to run for a second term) to start a Citizens United controversy by filing suit? And while such a suit might not have original jurisdiction with SCOTUS (would it?), it should quickly work its way there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.