Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/4/2020: Meltdown In Iowa Edition [CORRECTED]

Good Morning!

As I write this, there are still no final results from the Iowa Caucuses. The cause seems to be some faulty software and generally poor planning by the Iowa Democrats, resulting in chaos. There is a lot of schadenfreude going on at the conservative websites, and it is unseemly. Much as the Democrats deserve to fall on their faces, this is botched democracy in action, and nobody should be gloating about it.  It’s unfair to all of the campaign workers and supporters of the various candidates—even though the supporters of some candidates should hide their heads under a bag—and chaos in the process serves nobody’s interests. What are the odds President Trump sends out a mocking tweet about it this morning?

Here’s Nate Silver explaining what a catastrophe this is for Democrats.

The bon mot turning up in comment sections and social media over and over again last night was “The Democrats can’t handle a caucus, and they want to run the whole country?”

Until the real vote totals are in  it’s all speculation, but it looks like Joe Biden crashed and burned, with his vote totals missing the 15% threshold required to win any delegates.

1. Pete being Pete. Remember what the Ethics Alarms verdict was on Pete Buttigieg a while back? It stands. Mayor Buttigieg declared himself the winner before any useful vote totals were in. Mediaite: “All this dumpster fire of an Iowa caucus was missing was a candidate who declared victory without a single vote being reported. But shortly after midnight eastern on Tuesday morning, Mayor Pete put the cherry on top of this hideous sundae with a confounding speech in which he seemed to proclaim himself the winner.” He has been sharply criticized by just about everybody, and deserves to be. It’s a jerk move.

Meanwhile, the Sanders camp, remembering the underhanded treatment he received from the DNC in 2016, is suggesting that this may all be a plot by the Democratic Dark lords to rob him of a big victory and the proverbial “Iowa Bounce.” I don’t blame them.

2. Stop making me defend Joe Biden! Biden is getting “Ew!’s and “Ick!”s as a result of this photo..

..taken when he gave his 19-year-old granddaughter s peck on the lips during an Iowa rally. Granted, this wouldn’t be an issue if Joe didn’t have a well-deserved reputation for  inappropriate public behavior with women and girls, but this is one of the best examples I have ever seen of how a photograph, contrary to the old saying, can and do lie. The kiss lasted a nanosecond, but the photo makes it look like Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway in “The Thomas Crown Affair.”

3. Bloomberg’s news service gets what it deserves. I’ll be watching for dark accusations from pundits and the news media that President Trump is disrespecting the First Amendment by not allowing  Bloomberg News to cover his events. (Let me know if you see any.) Bloomberg, now that he is committed to spending billions to defeat Trump, ordered his service not to investigate or publish negative coverage of his campaign or any of his Democratic rivals, just the Trump campaign. Well, that means it isn’t a legitimate news service, put an openly declared partisan propaganda tool, not that CNN and others are not. The Wall Street Journal reported that Bloomberg reporter Jennifer Jacobs was “walked out of the room” before a press conference in West Des Moines yesterday. Good. That’s exactly what should have happened.

4. I’d take on this case, and I bet I could win it with my eyes closed. Cruz Vernon is the only male on the girls’ gymnastics team at Ossining High School in Westchester County, New York, and he’s also the team’s star. The committee governing high school sports in the county, however, has banned Vernon from participating in meets, saying that  the young man “exceeds the physical abilities in his team … thereby creating an unfair advantage” and his participation “would result in a female gymnast being displaced.”  The school has no male gymnastic program.

What geniuses: predictably, this ruling is being assailed from the right and left. All over the country biologically male trans athletes are smashing high school athletic records in girls’ and women’s discrimination, competitions, while  transitioning women are being allowed to compete against unenhanced members of their gender despite being loaded up on male hormones, but this typical, biological male can’t compete in his sport because the school only provides a gymnastic team for girls? These are the crazy years. He’s being discriminated against, and I see no credible defense against his family’s lawsuit.

Of course, he could just declare that he identifies as female, and that would fix everything.

5. It is hard to see a grown man cry, I guess. Fourteen-year veteran NYPD cop Jason Arbeny was convicted of planting crack on an innocent couple, but was so pitiful in his blubbering apology in court that the tender-hearted judge let him off with probation and community service. Judge Gustin Reichbach said that Arbeny had engaged in a “reprehensible” abuse of his authority and the public trust, as well as corrupted the whole criminal justice system. Instead of sentencing him to up to four years as he could have, however, the judge allowed his indignation to be washed away with tears.

This kind of thing is why the justice system is criticized as being capricious and untrustworthy. The judge is incompetent, and should be removed from the bench.

Notice of Correction: This story turned up in several of my go-to sources, and now I learn it was old. Judge Gustin Reichbach died 1in 2012. That doesn’t make it less outrageous, but I’m going to have to always check the dates on these things. Old stories get recycled for no discernible reason. Thanks to Matthew B. for flagging the age of the episode.

6. Exactly. In his post mortem on the impeachment, David Harsanyi writes,

“Perhaps if the public hadn’t been subjected to four years of interminable hysteria over the United States’ imaginary decent into fascism, it might have been less apathetic toward the fate of ‘vital’ Ukrainian aid that most Democrats had voted against when Obama was president.”


30 thoughts on “Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 2/4/2020: Meltdown In Iowa Edition [CORRECTED]

  1. Yep, I came right here as soon as I read the news online.

    Those Democrats just can’t get it together when it comes to technology, can they?

    1. Pete’s pulling an Alexander Haig here. Maybe he hopes that if he says he’s in charge that people will believe him? And anyone in the Sanders camp who isn’t paranoid about how this has gone down just hasn’t been paying attention.
    2. Pecks on the lips happen all the time. I had a great aunt who would kiss us right on the lips. It was weird, but it certainly wasn’t sexual. Of course, they have to go after Biden because they spent all that time making disgusting allusions to incest when it comes to the President and his daughter.
    3. It’s hard to believe we’ve gone so far south that Bloomberg isn’t being vilified for running his own propaganda organ. I guess the Democrats are okay with his policies (and so are their allies in the news media) so long as his employees are only criticizing Republicans.
    4. Cut a girl from the only football team a school has because she can’t keep up with the boys and see how quick that lawsuit gets filed and settled.
    5. Disgusting. He should have been sentenced for the same amount of time his victims would have been sentenced had they been convicted.
    6. The Democrats don’t care about the Ukraine. They didn’t care about John McCain or George H.W. Bush either. They certainly don’t care about the Constitution, “Democratic Norms” (whatever those are) or the damage they are doing to our institutions. Everything they’ve done for the past 3 1/2 years has been seen through the lens of, “How can we use this to get at Trump?”

  2. Wait for it. By Noon this Iowa Caucus issue will be Trump and Russia’s fault. Some Democrat will say it from a national platform.

  3. The decision to use an app instead of paper and telephone, the method successfully used in every other caucus ever conducted, is incompetent and, yes, unethical. All of the hysteria about the supposed risk of hacking, yet all over the country we are switching from unhackable paper ballots to insecure electronic methods. All to save a few minutes in tabulating the results.

    By the way, let me predict now that (1) this November’s election is going to be polluted by the most egregious voter fraud in the history of the United States , 98% of it perpetrated by Democrats, (2) Donald Trump will say so in numerous tweets and (3) the press will denounce him as a fascist for saying so.

  4. #0 I’m not so sure this really is a disaster, it certainly expands the mistrust that the Democratic party has already attained among independents who will likely forget this by November, but democratic lockstep voters loath the fact that a “conservative” flyover state like Iowa has a disproportionate effect on their candidates, so I don’t see the lowering of Iowa’s influence on the process as something the people involved are going to care about. Of course, this will be a disaster against the moderating effect and will obliterate “reaching out to the middle”.

    #5 Even though he had no jail time, a literal reading of the Gun Control Act means the conviction should plant the former officer firmly in the Prohibited Persons category and thus he also lost his career. I hope his pension went with it.

  5. Hanlon’s Razor no longer applies to Democrats. Instead, I use Jumbo’s Razor* (mugs for camera).

    “Never attribute to stupidity that which can be adequately explained by malice.”

    The things democrats accuse their opponents of are usually things they have already done, or are planning to do. The obvious double standards in everything right up to prosecution and imprisonment belongs to one party.

    5. So, let me get this straight. The police in a deep blue city are taking drugs from criminals to pay other criminals to inform on supposedly worse criminals. The these same fine public servants use those drugs to plant evidence on innocent people so they can be arrested and placed in jail. The rationalization is that ‘these people will be out of jail the next day, so no harm in a little bondage-and-incarceration.’

    This is how Democrat controlled cities deal with innocent civilians; how would they treat those the oppose politically, given the power? Kangaroo courts does not even scratch the surface. This IS the smoking gun. Power for the sake of power corrupts those who hold it.

    *Hat Tip to the largest lie of all, the Jumbo.

    • You must have missed all the other cases. Like when the NYPD were wiping off filing cabinets so when the ‘frisked’ suspects (having them put their hands on the filing cabinets) they could lift the prints and claim they found them at the crime scene. Like when a police department went to the hospital, obtained a sample of the victim’s blood, went back to the evidence locker, and put the victim’s blood on the clothing they collected from the suspect. What about when the FBI allowed an innocent man to be convicted of a murder committed by one of their witnesses (who had escaped custody to commit the murder) and then leaked false info to the parole board to make sure the innocent man didn’t get paroled? That man was only freed when someone found it all documented in FBI files. We can go on and on.

  6. “There is a lot of schadenfreude going on at the conservative websites, and it is unseemly.”

    Nonsense. Conservatives should completely shred the Democrats for this. The Democrats are the ones screaming from every roof top about how technology will save our nation. They are the ones who specifically think MORE technology will safeguard elections instead of tried and true non-digital methods.

    • “Democrat, totalitarian and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

      Hey, this could be fun!

      Trump’s Tweet: “The Democratic Caucus is an unmitigated disaster. Nothing works, just like they ran the country. Remember the 5 Billion Dollar Obamacare Web …”

      • I don’t necessarily want to succumb to Shadenfreude (though I will admit the temptation is immense), but I think “condign justice” is appropriate. The Democrats have time and again shown a blindness to their own methods that speaks volumes. From a separate, illicit e-mail server, to woefully inadequate security around their systems, to a poorly designed website, the Democrats have exuded unparalleled hubris. The one aspect of this faulty app fiasco that really infuriates me is that the Homeland Security offered to help the testing of the app, and the DNC declined. How is that crow, DNC? They are so smug, so arrogant, and so blinded by their conviction that they are right that they can’t conceive of any of their efforts having issues. It is like they were constantly praised as children for doing mediocre work, or something.

  7. While I’m usually a Hanlon’s Razor kind of guy, it’s hard to imagine software developers and testers in 2020 so incompetent that they would develop an app for something as important as a statewide party primary, and that app wouldn’t be able to take in simple integers, store them, and produce a sum total of said numbers. This isn’t a mission to Mars, it’s basic math. It’s something computers have done extremely well since ENIAC. A child could write this program in an grade-school computer-programming class. It’s important to note that they’re not claiming that any of the security or authentication protocols or anything complex like that is the problem. The output doesn’t match the input. Simple mathematical calculations are the problem here. Nobody tested this app at all?

    Coming as it does on the heels of the Des Moines Register/CNN poll (that showed far-left Bernie and Liz surging ahead) being withheld, and two weeks of establishment Democrats and party loyalists going hard after Bernie, it’s hard to see this as an isolated incident and not give in to being at least a teensy bit conspiratorially-minded.

  8. What “Mayor Pete” actually said is important to this post and string of comments: “So we don’t know all the results, but we know by the time, it’s all said and done, Iowa you have shocked the nation. Because by all indications, we are going on to New Hampshire victorious“. This was based on the campaign’s internal numbers as their staffers reported from virtually all the precincts. An interesting fact — Bernie’s internal tally shows him slightly ahead, while Pete’s internal tally shows him slightly ahead. No surprise. The surprise is that Mayor Pete apparently finished either second or first, a result that belies all the polling. Once again, polls fail. And Uncle Joe did quite poorly (apparently). Warren also did not make the 15% threshold in some caucuses it managed to (a) pick up enough from other failed campaigns in one instance to put her above the threshold, and (b) in a fit of campaign pique on another caucus, combined with others to get a single delegate for Cory Booker. Of course, those “results” are based on the on-site reporting as those caucuses wrapped up last night. The sad part is that this exercise in local democracy has turned into chaos as Iowa struggles to not repeat the mistake of 2016 when they declared Clinton the victor before it was actually known that she was (by hundredths of a percent). I, for one, don’t support any of these candidates BUT I do not agree with anyone who is calling Mayor Pete’s statement unethical. It was correct —- not “by all indications” but by all indications that his campaign had at the time. Of course, Bernie’s indications differed.

  9. I wonder what made the corrupt NYPD officer story pop up now? It’s on several websites. The case is 8 years old:

    It’s still outrageous – it shows the claim that many officers make about corrupt officers is a lie. They claim that officers are offended and want corrupt officers out. Yet they pay union dues that defend the officer and they know dang well a corrupt officer gets a slap on the wrist. Something like this should deserves decades in prison.

      • I went looking to see if he ended up having to confess to all of the cases that he planted, as I strongly doubt that it is his only case of doing this.

        At a bare minimum, his sentence should be equal to time served by everyone who was wrongly convicted by his conduct. I was curious just how much time those wrongly convicted did end up serving because of his lies.

  10. I don’t care about Iowa as much as I care about the clip from The Music Man.

    It made my day (week and possibly month!)

    Many thanks!

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