Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/26/19: Character is IN Again, What Real Obstruction Looks like, And The Biden Follies Open

Wow, THAT week went by fast...

1 It’s the economy, stupid, except when the news media and Democrats want to overthrow the President…The Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter rolled in at 3.2%, considerably higher than the 2.5% predicted by “experts.” This is good news and big news, but because it’s favorable to Trump news, you can’t find it on the front page of today’s Times, or in the headlines at HLN. I’m an economics dummy—that’s one reason I majored in American Government, because I didn’t have to take major Economics course—but I worked at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce long enough to learn that all sorts of good things flow from a healthy GDP, which averaged well under 3 for the entire, benighted, protected and over-praised Obama administration.

There is no question that similar news—there was similar news in 2015—early in the Obama administration would have been heralded as cheer-worthy proof that Obama’s economic stimulus monster, derisively nicknamed “Porkulus” by critics, was working (it was an expensive failure), and that he was leading us out of the Wilderness, just as he had promised. Similarly, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, his smug and slimy ways (“Where is the outrage?” asked poor Bob Dole) were already a matter of record even before Monica Madness, but the liberal news media and Democrats mocked the very idea that Presidential character should matter to voters.

That very year, my old theater company revived Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” a Sixties political satire on Presidential election politics. The play centered on an idealist candidate’s ethical dilemma of whether to release damning information on a competing candidate for the nomination, violating the good candidate’s ethics (the alleged scoop was that his competitor had dabbled in homosexual relationships in the army, not that there’s anything wrong with that: Gore Vidal certainly didn’t think so)  to win the nomination for himself and save the nation from the bad candidate, even though the Army rumors had nothing to do with why he was bad—the man was a Machiavellian right-wing monster (Gore believed all conservatives were monsters). The Washington Post reviewer panned the play, mocking the script as ridiculously outdated. “Who believes that character matters in choosing a President any more?” she asked.

One of the great ironies of the 2016 election and its ugly and getting uglier aftermath is that Democrats (and the Post, of course), have conveniently forgotten the “It’s the economy, stupid!” mantra, as today the fact that the President may have said “I’m fucked!” is deemed more newsworthy and significant than a boost in the GDP. The historical fact is that Presidents are ultimately judged on how well the nation does under their stewardship, not how crusty and rotten their character is (See: Wilson, FDR, Kennedy, Johnson, et al. ) My position is the same as it was in 1996: the nation, the culture and the Presidency are better served by ethical leaders than unethical ones.

Unfortunately, politicians and journalists only agree with me when their party is out of power.

2. Now THIS is obstruction of justice! Massachusetts judge Shelley M. Richmond Joseph was charged  with obstruction of justice,  along with  another court officer, for helping an illegal immigrant elude arrest by the ICE.

“The allegations in today’s indictment involve obstruction by a sitting judge, that is intentional interference with the enforcement of federal law, and that is a crime,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling. “We cannot pick and choose the federal laws we follow, or use our personal views to justify violating the law.”

Police arrested a suspect on March 30, 2018, for being a fugitive on narcotics charges. Officials later discovered that the suspect had been deported twice, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a detainer. On April 2, 2018, a plainclothes ICE officer came to the district court in Newton to take custody of the suspect and was told to wait in the lobby. The judge, however, arranged for the suspect, his lawyer and an interpreter, to leave through a different exit, escorted by MacGregor. (I’m not going to write “allegedly;” this is confirmed by witnesses and the court records.) “ICE is gonna get him?” the judge asked the defendant’s attorney before directing that the court recorder be turned off, which is a violation of Massachusetts court rules.  52 seconds later court recordings were turned back on, and caught the court clerk asking the judge if she wanted to let the ICE officer in. The judge said no, allows the subject to go, saying, “That’s fine. I’m not gonna allow them to come in here. But he’s been released on this.” The court officer who was also charged asks if the defendant is released, and the judge says yes.

Nice. I guess I’m going to have to research this, but right now I don’t understand why officials of sanctuary cities can’t similarly be charged with obstructing justice. That’s obviously what they are doing, and what they intend to do.

3. The Biden Follies. It took less than a day into Joe Biden’s Presidential run to make his first gaffe. “Do you have a message for the rest of the world?” a reporter asked. Biden yesterday. Joe replied, “Yes. America is coming back like we used to be: ethical, straight, telling the truth — supporting our allies. All those good things.”

This was immediately seized upon by internet wags who noted that Joe pledged to make America straight again. Surely this was a dog whistle to blue-collar, anti-gay Democrats, right Chris Matthews? Take THAT Pete Buttigieg!  Though the news media will try to obscure it, Biden’s statement is a lie and hypocrisy bomb. Biden’s ethical? Wasn’t he the only Presidential candidate in history to have to withdraw because he used a stolen speech by another politician to describe his “personal journey”! Telling the truth—like “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan”? Supporting our allies—like Israel, Joe?

Biden has joined my small but growing list of political ethics corrupters. It is clear that he is going to run on a pandering and anti-integrity platform, apologizing for virtually all of his prior positions, endorsing the most popular radical and socialist nonsense being  proposed by his younger, female opponents (a metaphorical hug), and simultaneously hoping to be able to maintain the mantle of the reasonable, centrist candidate. This would be an astounding tight-rope act for the smartest, most unprincipled candidate in the world, but Joe—well, you know.

My Trump-hating sister says that she will vote literally for any Democrat to oust Trump, no matter how dishonest, hypocritical, dumb, facile, phony, corrupt or embarrassing they he or she may be, and Joe is aiming for Democrats like her.

Meanwhile, sensing (as she does), that Joe may be pathetic, he still would probably be a stronger candidate than the rest of the depressing Democratic field, the Washington Post is trying to pretend all of its attacks on Reagan and John McCain for being too old never happened. Now the paper is saying nobody is too old to be President., so Elizabeth Warren, Bernie and Joe can skirt one of the obvious flaws in their ambitions. That’s demonstrably false: look at Presidents W.H. Harrison, FDR, Eisenhower and Reagan. Any time we elect a President older than 65, we’re rolling the dice and buying into a declining asset to handle the toughest  job on earth.

Oh–I almost forgot! The candidate who says that he wants to return to telling the truth said yesterday that he asked President Obama not to endorse him, neatly avoiding the realities that Obama wouldn’t endorse him with African Americans running, and that when a  former President won’t enthusiastically endorse his loyal VP, it’s a serious blow. This is either a lie by Biden, who would obviously love to have Obama’s endorsement, or deceit, because he told Obama, “I’m not going to ask you to endorse me, because I know you can’t.”

As another early illustration of how Biden’s doomed run will make others into liars and fools, here’s Nate Silver, desperately trying to argue that Joe has a shot:

Vice presidents usually win their party’s nomination

Former vice presidents who sought their party’s nomination since World War II

Candidate VP Years Year Nomination Sought Early Polling Avg.* Won nomination?
Alben Barkley 1949-53 1952
Richard Nixon 1953-61 1960
Richard Nixon 1953-61 1968
Hubert Humphrey 1965-69 1968
Hubert Humphrey 1965-69 1972 24%
Walter Mondale 1977-81 1984 34
George H.W. Bush 1981-89 1988 37
Dan Quayle 1989-93 2000 7
Al Gore 1993-2001 2000 54
Joe Biden 2009-17 2020 28 TBD

Notice anything about that list?

Out of nine examples, only one VP won the election, and that was Bush I, who was in the small group (with Van Buren and Taft) of Presidents literally annointed by extremely popular and powerful two term Presidents. Nate’s inclusion of Nixon in 1978 is a cheat; by then Nixon was Nixon, and his Vice-Presidency under Ike was barely mentioned.

Sane media progressives know that Biden, ridiculous and hypocritical as he is, still has a better chance of defeating Trump than the rest of the field. Now watch them disgrace themselves in service of Biden’s hopeless candidacy.

4. Nothing to do with ethics, but..I’ve directed “Follies,” a show about the destructive nature of regret, and  my candidate as Stephen Sondheim’s best musical despite its many problems. I don’t care for SS as a songwriter in general, but there are few ballads in the Broadway canon more powerful and moving than “Losing My Mind,” sung in my production by the remarkable Ann Johnson. None have sung it better, not even Bernadette. Ann is a perfect example of how the identities of our performing stars are controlled by moral luck as much as by talent. The long and winding road just didn’t lead to fame and fortune in her case. It certainly could have: she was that good.

Goodnight, Ann, wherever you are…

19 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/26/19: Character is IN Again, What Real Obstruction Looks like, And The Biden Follies Open

      • Prego, mio amico!

        While I can see the Odana Hills Golf Course 18th tee from the front window, I’m not a golfer. I got frustrated; the only time I could ever hit two good balls was with the sand rake…

        62 ° and not a cloud in the sky today,


        Shoveling boots, shovels, and snow-thrower are already downstairs…flip-flops are already upstairs…jade plants & squash-n-tomato seedlings are hardening on the back porch.

        Yet I read the word pummel being used to describe the delivery of low temperature, heavy, wind whipped precipitation in late April.

        The cruelest month? I’ll get back to you.

        • By the way, a good college buddy resolved the dilema faced by the guy on the green: “The guy is still in the woods. Pick up your ball and drop it in the cup!” (My buddy was, unlike the undersigned, bright enough to drop out after a semester. He’s retired and living in Hawaii, having sold the construction industry publication he started from scratch for about ten million.)

          Ah! Wesconsin! It’s always fair in the Dairy State.

  1. Similarly, when Bill Clinton was running for re-election in 1996, his smug and slimy ways (“Where is the outrage?” asked poor Bob Dole) were already a matter of record even before Monica Madness, but the liberal news media and Democrats mocked the very idea that Presidential character should matter to voters.

    And now they are outraged…over the consequences of rejecting the idea that “Presidential character should matter to voters.”.

    Nice. I guess I’m going to have to research this, but right now I don’t understand why officials of sanctuary cities can’t similarly be charged with obstructing justice. That’s obviously what they are doing, and what they intend to do.

    There is a California law that requires employers to warn their employees of upcoming immigration inspections.

    The DoJ should prosecute those employers who follow this law (for obstruction of justice) and seek the maximum sentence.

  2. 2. Send all illegal immigrants to sanctuary cities. Don’t talk about it, just start bussing them.

    Tell the courts to take a flying leap: Obama did.

    We cannot have a country where one side (progressives) get to defy a branch of government while the other side is bound by it. Progressives have gotten blatant in this tactic, and it is time they learned that it is a two way street.

        • Could you explain? My excuse is that I was referencing H.L. Mencken:

          “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats”

          Not sure where the straw man was in that (I agree with SW, while loathing the circumstances just as I expect he does) but if you can explain how I’m out of line I’m certainly ready to admit to it and offer a retraction.

          • Andrew, I simply thought you reply misread sw’s comment and then threw up a straw man to make your point. I think sw was simply saying it’s time to give the left what it’s been whining for and let things play out as they may. You seem to equate sending “asylum seeker” to specific jurisdictions who have indicated a willingness to embrace them as something wrong. I don’t see anything wrong with it nor do I think it would be illegal, except in the Ninth Circuit, of course, ironically. So to equate illegality on the left with a defensible position by the right in response to the illegality on the left is not declaring war or resorting to piracy. The piracy analogy is what I found out of bounds. Cheers. (I know very little of Mencken but have the impression he was a very bitter man.)

            • That’s the impression I get of Mencken as well, and I think the specific quote I used is well out of context, but felt applicable. I agree with both you and SW regarding the legality of the maneuver, and the fact that the 9th Circus is entirely too likely to find fault where it saw none before (although if they get a ‘bad’ initial draw for the panel, it may have to go to en banc before they inevitably deem it an obvious abuse of power, due to the additions to the 9th over the past couple years. Progress, of a sort.)

              I completely understand why you read my comment the way you did – with no clarifying comment or context offered but the truncated quote, there’s no clues indicating what I meant. That’s my fault for forgetting that everyone else doesn’t live in my head with me, not yours for not following my thought process (which is too often lateral leaps rather than linear progress) and making the same conclusions.

              Brevity may be the soul of wit, but it’s also the enemy of understanding. Thanks for taking the time to clarify, and I hope you are also enjoying the fine spring weather this weekend, wherever you are.

              • You’re welcome, Andrew. It was spring in Phoenix Az this morning, but it’s approaching summer as we head to mid day. 100 degrees in April is a little too soon, but we’ve had great weather all year. Cheers. Clarity and brevity are indeed the goal. Tough to balance some time.

      • For what it is worth, I took Andrews comment in the spirit he intended it, as described later.

        To an extent, this is true, except, it will be repulsing the pirates by their own means… essentially using piracy against the pirates.

        Make SCOTUS decide: either what progressives are doing (with Sanctuary cities) is illegal, or sending them to those cities is. Progressives should not get to have things both ways any more.

  3. 1. Am I the only person who’s noticed that when the stock market is down, the NPR announcers chirp the numbers enthusiastically and when the market is up, they mumble it as if their dog has just died? It’s hilarious and you can set your clock by it.

  4. Trump: “I look at Joe, I don’t know about him… I would never say anyone’s too old but I know they’re all making me look very young both in terms of age and in terms of energy.”

    The thing is, he’s absolutely right. Joe seems very old, enervated, and in decline.

  5. 1. Economic growth

    One of the great ironies of the 2016 election and its ugly and getting uglier aftermath is that Democrats (and the Post, of course), have conveniently forgotten the “It’s the economy, stupid!” mantra, as today the fact that the President may have said “I’m fucked!”

    Ironies? Don’t you mean “tragedies?”

    What the press has done to itself, it’s reputation and to the body politic is unforgivable. Even if I stipulate Trump was able to drive them all mad, it’s no excuse — the press is supposed to try their best to be objective. They have tried their best only to be partisan, unfair, and profit-driven to an unethical level.

    2. Massachusetts judge Richmond

    There’s almost no way a federal court in Massachusetts will convict her. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, possibly the most unethical of all the left-wing AG’s, claimed after Richmond was arrested:

    “Today’s indictment is a radical and politically-motivated attack on our state and the independence of our courts. It is a bedrock principle of our constitutional system that federal prosecutors should not recklessly interfere with the operation of state courts and their administration of justice. This matter could have been appropriately handled by the Commission on Judicial Conduct and the Trial Court. I am deeply disappointed by U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling’s misuse of prosecutorial resources and the chilling effect his actions will have.”

    The hypocrisy of Healey charging someone else with “misuse of prosecutorial resources” is beyond rich. She’s one of the major movers and shakers behind trying to investigate Exxon-Mobile for allegedly suppressing climate change information, and is being sued by gun rights supporters over a unilateral mandate from her office to ban guns she says are “copycats” of “assault weapons.” A federal judge denied her motion to dismiss that suit back in March of last year.

    She also recently approved of a Suffolk DA deciding not to prosecute crimes she thinks are not worth it, like drug possession with intent to distribute, trespassing, shoplifting, and malicious destruction of property.

    3. Biden

    I’m anxiously watching to see if Joe Biden can actually inhale his entire leg from the hip down.

    I’m betting he can, and he’s off to a good start.

  6. Amidst the stronger than expected economic news was the turn around in the net exports component of GDP. US exports rose over 3% and US imports diminished by a similar amount. There are many reasons this could have happened, but Trump’s stated goal of selling more US made goods globally and decreasing our purchasing of foreign made goods is a part of our healthier than expected GDP.

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