Ethics Notes On The CNN/Univision Bernie-Biden Debate

The showdown  was supposed to be Sanders’ last stand, with his sole hope of stopping the Biden surge being to dazzle viewers and show Slow Joe to be too far gone to be a viable candidate. Sanders didn’t do that; he didn’t even come close.  The major ethics takeaway is that this time, at least, Joe Biden did not appear especially more addled than Vice President Joe did, in marked contrast to his quickly aborted cyber-town meeting, in which he often seemed confused and at one point wandered out of camera range.  I know that it seems pathetic to make “not looking senile” an accomplishment in a debate to determine who should be President, but that’s the corner the Democratic Party painted itself into.

Other Observations:

  • Sanders says the same thing over and over again, indeed the same things he said in his debates with Hillary Clinton. To some extent clearing the stage of the flotsam and jetsam candidates just exposes the formulaic and rote nature of his candidacy.

I don’t understand how anyone sentient could seriously support this man for any elected office. With the kids I could understand it, but I know lawyers in their forties without closed head injuries who are Bernie Bros.  It’s inconceivable.

  • Conservative pundits were slamming CNN for not confronting Biden about his fantasy meeting with Nelson Mandela, which was exposed since the last debate. It isn’t the news media’s job to come up with gotchas!…where was Sanders? As with his debates with Hillary in which he adamantly refused to raise her email deceptions, Sanders seems to be less interested in winning than in making his various Marxist talking points. It’s peculiar. It’s also a betrayal of those passionate, if deluded, young supporters who have worked so hard for him.

Why doesn’t Bernie mention Biden’s groping and sniffing problem? Same thing.

  • Sanders continues to let his inner totalitarian creep out from the murk into the daylight. No, Senator, we can’t lock up energy executives for “lying” about the effects of their products on climate change, just as we couldn’t prosecute banking executives for “illegal” activities (according to Sanders) and “income inequality” after the 2008 financial collapse.Sanders also doesn’t comprehend the concepts of “nation” and “society,” and his reflex class warfare rhetoric is calculated to divide while undermining both critical concepts.

“Our job right now is to tell every working person in this country, no matter what your income is, you are not going to suffer as a result of this crisis of which you had no control,” he said. An unethical quote, and outrageously so. In a nation, in a society, we agree to share the benefits when our society succeeds, and the consequences when our society fails. Accepting that responsibility is part of the social compact, and must be. Sanders, and to a lesser but significant extent his temporary party, is trying to rewrite that crucial concept, without which, quite simply, society doesn’t work.

  • In his response to Sanders’ complaining about the 2008 bailout, Biden issued his most articulate section of teh debate, and also the strongest evidence that the gerbils in the wheel of his mind were not dead yet:

Biden Had those banks all gone under, all those people Bernie says he cares about would be in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble. All those little folks, we would have gone out of business. They would find themselves in position where they would lose everything they had in that bank, whether it was $10 or $300 or a savings account. This was about saving an economy. And it did save the economy. And the banks paid back. And they paid back with interest…. Look, the fact of the matter is that if, in fact, the banks had all been — gone under, we would be in a great depression. We would have not — how do you get out of that? Now Bernie is saying that I guess he’s going to do a wealth tax or something, that the top 1 percent could pay for everything. And they should pay for everything that occurred. We were talking about tens and hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s what this was about. And the fact was that it saved the economy from going into a depression. After we passed the Recovery Act, which I was the one that went out and got the three votes to get it changed, that had $900 billion in it and was the thing that kept us from going into a great depression. 

  • Biden officially committed to choosing a female Vice-Presidential candidate. I’m sure that makes feminists happy, but it’s a per se unethical promise, as was his similar pandering about naming a black female judge to the Supreme Court. You can’t deny both are down the middle of the alley expressions of progressive and Democratic priorities today and te affirmative action fallacy, but still: the only ethical approach  to both matters is to promise to try to find the most qualified individuals to fill the jobs, regardless of color or chromosomes. By saying that he will only consider women as his running mate, Biden is literally saying that gender is the single most important factor in choosing a potential President. If that’s true, why was he on the stage?

All the women who ran for the office were found lacking by Democratic voters; why should they be made the President-in-waiting for an elderly, failing candidate?

  • Surprisingly coherent though it may have been, Biden’s embracing the extreme positions of the Democratic base was irresponsible. He pledged a 100-day ban on deportations, a clear call for de facto open borders. he said that  local police should not turn over  illegal immigrants  to the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a sop to sanctuary cities.

Biden’s sole claim to the nomination and his main appeal is that he’s electable. The more radical he tilts to get past Sanders, the less electable he becomes.

  • Conservatives have been gleefully sending around “Grunpy Old Men” memes and Statler and Waldorf jokes. They should cool it. Ageism is still a form of bigotry, and an especially harmful one. (See: “Death of a Salesman”)  It is one thing to make the point that the Presidency is a killing job for much younger men, and installing septuagenarians is a risky bet. It is quite another to ridicule seniors as inherently comical and inferior.

10 thoughts on “Ethics Notes On The CNN/Univision Bernie-Biden Debate

  1. “As with his debates with Hillary in which he adamantly refused to raise her email deceptions, Sanders seems to be less interested in winning than in making his various Marxist talking points. It’s peculiar.”

    The Podesta WikiLeaks dump included an email that referred to some kind of hands-off campaigning agreement between Clinton and Sanders. The specific topic was the Clinton’s personal finances, but I don’t think that we know the full range of topics that were off limits. If only there were some institution that would ferret out facts and relay them to voters….

    https://wikileaks.org/podesta-emails/emailid/47397

    • What a brilliant idea! Some institution that would see its duty as to investigate and report facts that the public has a need t and right to know, and that without which democracy dies in darkness! Someone should launch that!

  2. C’mon Jack, Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon were smart, if bumbling, guys who ended up with Sophia Loren and Ann Margaret. If that’s what 75 looks like, I can’t wait to get there. How bigoted is that? 🙂

  3. I was stunned that Joe seemed fairly rational and with it. He must have been prepped and put on a strict script. I guess I had hoped Bernie would go full “Jack McCoy” on Joe and send him off into a babble fest. Didn’t happen. Maybe behind the scenes, Bernie has been reined in, brought to heel, by the DNC and the Dem powers that be.

  4. I’ve seen it proposed, from different sources, that Bernie doesn’t really want to win the presidency. This idea fits with his record of enjoying the attention he gets from running his mouth, but accomplishing relatively little when in a position to do so. From his early history of being asked to leave a commune for distracting those trying to actually work, to his unremarkable record in Congress ((https://www.politico.com/story/2016/03/bernies-record-220508 ), he has has often been, as they say in Texas, “all hat and no cattle”. As president he might have to put up or shut up, or seriously lose face. The closer that possibility gets, the more he might be trying to orchestrate (or take a dive, with some type of payoff) his own failure without obviously appearing to do so.

    Biden’s comment is still a bit shaky. People with relatively small accounts would have already been protected by the FDIC. Many wealthier investors, and even the average person with a retirement or investment account still often lost big time (anyone have any Wachovia stock?), even as the larger institutions themselves survived. Considering Biden’s record of enriching credit card issuers over protecting consumers, I doubt he was overly concerned about the little guys.

  5. And the bottom line is that whoever he selects for VP will be tarred by the brush he wielded as an affirmative action selection, no matter what degree of actual talent for the position she might concern. The same goes for any Supreme Court nominee, should he get a chance. This is already the fate of nearly every minority who ends up in the higher echelons, regardless ot how they actually got there.

    This whole sick idea of it being someone’s “turn” to be the leader will be the downfall of our society; there are already examples in place should anyone care to look.

    • Another Mike, yes. Nice articulation of a point so obvious people pass it by as if someone somewhere had already answered it but they couldn’t quite remember the details, so “never mind.” From the first person passed through the Admissions Office or HR Department because of their skin color (which made people who got a ticket to ride on the inheritance train look good by comparison) to the present situation in which ANY person of color can be assumed to have or have had the same privilege, it has only gotten worse. I can’t think of anything that has — probably permanently — hindered race relations and racial pride more. And since the discussion continues to be superficial and spurious {“but They need a hand up: this is the Way to Equality”), the true result of affirmative action is buried in everyone’s psyche and no one can look it in the face. It’s a national disgrace. It is apartheid at work. [If I seem to take this personally, I do. I had a very dear friend, a brilliant, shy man, who people decided (incorrectly) had not earned his position, a job he loved and was made for. Nothing he could say or do, no original work or successful project convinced them otherwise. He was “let go” from his job “without prejudice” (loud laughter). The excuse amounted to what we call an appearance of impropriety. It ended badly.

  6. Regarding Biden’s commitments, they would be justified if he could answer the following questions:

    1. Which women for vice-president?

    2. Which black woman?

    If he had made up his mind about his selections, fine. But, if he has set his standards first, he is just a pandering bigot.

    -Jut

  7. “Biden: Had those banks all gone under, all those people Bernie says he cares about would be in deep trouble. Deep, deep trouble. All those little folks, we would have gone out of business. They would find themselves in position where they would lose everything they had in that bank, whether it was $10 or $300 or a savings account. This was about saving an economy. And it did save the economy. And the banks paid back. And they paid back with interest…. Look, the fact of the matter is that if, in fact, the banks had all been — gone under, we would be in a great depression. We would have not — how do you get out of that? Now Bernie is saying that I guess he’s going to do a wealth tax or something, that the top 1 percent could pay for everything. And they should pay for everything that occurred. We were talking about tens and hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s what this was about. And the fact was that it saved the economy from going into a depression. After we passed the Recovery Act, which I was the one that went out and got the three votes to get it changed, that had $900 billion in it and was the thing that kept us from going into a great depression.”

    Lunch bucket Joe is lying or does not know the difference between the bank bailout (TARP) signed into law October 2008 by Bush 2 and the Recovery Act passed in 2009. The the funds allocated to the Recovery Act were supposed to go to those so called “shovel ready” projects that never materialized. Instead a lions share of the funds went to shoring up the budgets of states favored by the Obama administration.

    The following is what actually occurred. What is missing from this historical account was that the Obama Administration effectively cancelled the Bond holder’s paper at GM, and transferred ownership shares to the Union in exchange for basically a reverse “sweetheart” contract. Obama installed a political ally who had no auto experience as the head of Auto bailout program. Only GM and Chrysler took the deal; Ford did not.

    Sources: https://www.history.com/topics/21st-century/troubled-asset-relief-program

    “”The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was a U.S. economic program designed to ward off the nation’s mortgage and financial crisis, known as the Great Recession. Signed on October 3, 2008, by President George W. Bush, TARP allowed the Department of the Treasury to pump money into failing banks and other businesses by purchasing assets and equity.

    In October 2008, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 was signed into law by President George W. Bush. TARP was born out of this act, which was initially proposed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

    The goal of TARP was to mend the financial situation of banks, strengthen overall market stability, improve the prospects of the U.S. auto industry, and support foreclosure prevention programs.

    TARP funds were used to purchase equity of failing business and financial institutions. The Treasury Department also utilized TARP money to buy stock or make loans to other groups and businesses. In all, TARP created 13 different programs.

    The program was originally authorized to spend $700 billion, but that amount was reduced to $475 billion when another bill, the Dodd-Frank Act, was signed into law in 2010.

    On October 14, 2008, the Treasury Department announced that it would use up to $250 billion of TARP funds to create the Capital Repurchase Program.
    Under this initiative, the U.S. government bought preferred stock in eight major banks, including:

    • Bank of America/Merrill Lynch
    • Bank of New York Mellon
    • Citigroup
    • Goldman Sachs
    • P. Morgan
    • Wells Fargo
    • Morgan Stanley
    • State Street

    With the Capital Purchase program, certain institutions were permitted to sell equity interests to the government in amounts equal to 1 percent to 3 percent of the business’s risk-weighted assets.

    • $250 billion was dedicated to programs that stabilized banks ($5 billion of this was cancelled)
    • $82 billion was set aside to bolster the auto industry ($2 billion of this was cancelled)
    • $70 billion was to be used to support the American International Group (AIG) ($2 billion of this was cancelled)
    • $46 billion was committed to help Americans avoid foreclosure
    • $27 billion was dedicated to programs to restart credit markets

    Supporters of TARP believe the program helped the United States bounce back from an all-out economic catastrophe.

    According to the Treasury, the government’s investments in TARP earned more than $11 billion for taxpayers. The government also contends that TARP saved more than 1 million jobs and helped stabilize banks, the auto industry, and other sectors of business.

    As with most government programs, TARP also sparked criticism. Some opponents believe too much money was pumped into the plan and that funds weren’t used wisely. Critics also say the program gave banks a free pass for their financial mismanagement.

    The successes and failures of TARP will likely be analyzed for years to come, as financial experts continue to examine the most effective ways to recover from a financial crisis.””

    The upshot of all this is that the actual bailout of the economy took place with Bush administration policies using slightly more than half the amount spent by the Obama administration for public works projects that rarely materialized. Ironically Joe Biden loves to take credit for things that work others do but never takes responsibility when his crap hits the fan.

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