Pre-Debate Ethics Distraction, 9/29/2020: Prediction: Whatever Happens, I’m Going To Hate It, And The News Media Will Lie About It.

The question for the ages: Was this the most unethical pair in a Presidential debate before tonight?

1. Well this seems ominous. This morning the Trump campaign requested  that a third party inspect both candidates for electronic devices or transmitters. President Trump had already consented to such an inspection, and the Biden campaign had reportedly agreed to this days ago. The New York Post reported a few hours ago that the Biden camp refused the condition.

What’s going on here? I can only assume that it’s gamesmanship. Biden would be beyond demented to try to cheat in a broadcast debate.

2. Here are results of the FIRE’s college free speech rankings survey, as determined by students. My alma mater ranked #46 out of the 56 schools ranked; no surprise there. The school I worked for as an administrator after getting my law degree there is two slots worse.

3. Prediction: It will not end well for poor David Hogg. I foresee a tragic opera in his future. Too young for the prominence he was thrust into as a survivor of the Parkland shooting, cynically exploited by the news media and activists who did not care about him, he is now condemned to have no support from any quarter. His best course would be to quietly leave the public gaze forever, and fight off the addiction of fame. It’s not easy.

Hogg recently used  on Twitter to issue a call for the young  to stage a “nonviolent political revolution,” practicing “humility, kindness, and grace” to create change.

“We must not fall for the slander espoused by those in power that says violence will solve our problems, they only say that so they can have an excuse to grow their authoritarianism. I have seen how violence and hate destroys lives and communities- it is not the answer…The use of violence to acquire political power is deeply rooted in imperialism, capitalism and white supremacy I personally refuse to believe that the use of this same violence will ever create nonviolent systems of government that represent and support everyone.”

“Shut up, white boy!” was the response from the Black Lives Matter fans. he was excoriated on social media for daring to tell “people of color” how to run “their” revolution. Courageously, he stood his ground, held to his principles, and refused to accept their poisonous position.

Kidding! Hogg backed down completely, grovelled an apology, and essentially confirmed my initial impression of him as a a shallow opportunist. He tweeted

“Let me be clear, what I am NOT trying to do is tell [black, indigenous, people of color] how they should react to violence directed at them by the state,” Hogg said. “It is not my place or any white persons [sic] to direct or criticize the way BIPOC people choose to defend themselves against this violence from the state.. .I am sorry for how understandably anyone could have misinterpreted what I saidI appreciate those that have called me out and let me know how this tweet was offensive and I am welcome to continuing to learn. Many are understandably upset and offended and I have have to do my part in admitting to mistakes when I make them and supporting my friends.


I see a great ending to the opera, though, when a middle-aged Hogg, obese, forgotten, without allies, reduced to appearing on reality shows,and re-watching videos of his glory days on CNN,  gazes at a hated rifle he bought during an alcoholic haze. He sings a grand aria, and…

4. So many people don’t understand what’s unethical about this, and I blame the education system. Berkeley, California has passed an ordinance that will “prohibit grocery stores bigger than 2,500 square feet from displaying junk food and other unhealthy items in checkout aisles,” according to CBS.  Retailers will be allowed to sell chips and candy bars elsewhere in their stores, but the city’s protecting shoppers from impulse buying and undisciplined children in line “by offering healthier options at checkout” will contribute to “advancing public health and level the playing field for consumers during an already stressful time” according to the consumer advocates who lobbied for the change.

5. Sad. When I first came to Washington D.C., columnist Colbert King’s columns in the Post flagging corruption in the D.C. government was bracing, old-fashioned public interest journalism. I think it was Barack Obama who ruined him, as King found himself so thrilled by the prospect of an African American  President that he began fudging his principles, as when he defended the racist pronouncement of Rev. Wright, and excused Obama from sitting silent for years as his “close friend” advocated anti-white racism. Trump Derangement and advancing age has now robbed the once admirable pundit of those special talents that made him effective.

In his most recent column, King argues that Justice Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any case involving the 2020 election because Thomas stated in his autobiography that Joe Biden lied to him when Biden chaired Thomas’s confirmation hearings. King knows, or should know, or once knew, that strong personal feelings for or against the parties in a dispute is seldom a valid reason for recusal, unless a judge shouldn’t be on the bench at all. For lawyers and judges, mere friendship or enmity does not constitute a disqualifying conflict of interest: they aren’t jurors, they are legal professionals, and trained to avoid allowing personal feelings interfere with their independent judgment.

Meanwhile, King seems to be untroubled by the fact that Justice Kagan once worked for Joe Biden as special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee for Supreme Court nominations, when she spearheaded the confirmation hearings for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. You see, a liberal Justice appointed by Obama is immune from excess influence by personal loyalties, but a conservative Justice is presumed to be unprofessional.

Once, Colbert King mocked that kind of partisan hypocrisy. Now he’s a practitioner of it.


31 thoughts on “Pre-Debate Ethics Distraction, 9/29/2020: Prediction: Whatever Happens, I’m Going To Hate It, And The News Media Will Lie About It.

  1. I doubt I’ll watch the debate; not more than the first few minutes anyway. You know, early to bed, early to rise…. My main interest is how coherent will Biden be when answering (Of course, Trump has a similar issue but his incoherence isn’t due to possible dementia afaik).

  2. Regarding Hogg, I don’t even know what this means: “I am sorry for how understandably anyone could have misinterpreted what I said.”

    Did they misinterpret it or not?

    If they understandably misinterpreted it, then didn’t they understandably understand what you said.

    So, you are sorry you said something stupid that you did not mean to say.

    Yeah, I feel sorry for him because he is an idiot who does not know what he thinks (or can’t express what he does think).

    Regarding Number 4: the sad thing is that both the grocer’s and the government understand how the grocery store makes money by putting crap by the check-out aisle; but only the grocery store will lose money by packing the check-out aisle with items that no one WANTS to buy.

    However, in fairness, I should consider the possibility that the government believes that the general public would eat shit IF ONLY IT WERE PLACED BY THE CHECK-OUT AISLE next to all of the candy bars and gum. They could be that stupid. (I don’t want my bias of human rationality to color my view of government regulators.)


  3. RE #3: As Taranto used to say (and still does on Twitter): Hahahahahahahaha. What’s the over/under on when he accepts a guest slot on “Dancing With The Stars?”

    RE #4: Sheesh – is there no end to the idiocy of government (oh, don’t bother. I KNOW the answer to that question).

    What the lightworkers of the Berkeley City Counsel obviously don’t understand is that grocery stores pretty much break even on things like meat and veggies. They make a few cents per item on store-branded stuff.

    Where do they actually make money? On real estate. Specifically, shelf space in their stores. All the stuff in the soda aisle, the condiment aisle, the canned goods, that sort of stuff.. the stores make no money selling that stuff. They make money SELLING THE SPACE TO THE BRANDS THAT STOCK IT. In fact, if you ever wondered why people in Coke and Pepsi uniforms are the people you see stocking those sections… it’s because the space rental deal is such that the stores don’t even have to inventory or manage that stuff. And if the Coke space is out of product, it’s not the store that’s losing money. It’s Coke.

    Meantime, those spaces filled with junk in the checkout aisles sell for a premium. The contractor who bought that space most likely even paid for the display racks. Does the Berkeley City Council really imagine that the grocery stores are going to fill that space with carrot sticks?

  4. 1. The refusal may be because Biden’s team asked for breaks every 30 minutes and team Trump said no.

    On a related note that NYT’s article on Trump’s taxes did not make prominant the part -buried deep in the 6 pages- was that during the time in qyestion Trump paid about 24 million in AMT which the press seems to think is not an income tax.

    The Bidens set up an S corp in Delaware to avoid self employment taxes of 15 % from revenues from book sales and speaking engagements.

    Biden will be full of you know what tonight. . . MALARKY

    • Wait, is that true?

      Trump will be mocked mercilessly for denying point blank this debate that he paid only $750, claiming he paid millions. If he really did pay $24 Million in alternative minimum tax, I am going to have a very long wait for election night.

      • Rich, Trump was not asked if he only paid $750 in 2016 and 2017 he was asked if he paid $750 in 2016 and 17. He replied “I paid millions” Thus, he did pay $750.

        The AMT figure comes from the period in which the Times claims he paid no income tax not 2016 and 17.

        Keep in mind that in 2016 he was campaigning and he had turned over the reins of the Trump organization to Ivanka and Don Jr. so we cannot be sure what salary he drew if any. Any member income and losses derived from the LLC’s would be passed through to him. In 2017 he donated his entire salary for being president as he did in 2018 and 19.

        Personally I could care less what he pays in federal taxes. This entire line of questioning is designed to create class envy among the financially illiterate. Every dollar up to $137,700 is subject to payroll taxes the employee pays half and the employer pays half. When you have one owner of the firm the economic burden of the employer’s portion of the tax falls squarely on the shoulders of the owner for every employee. So why does Chris Wallace feel it necessary to delve into an area he knows will play on the abject ignorance of most voters? I say such questions are divisive in objective and substance.

        What is known is that there are about 500 individual investment projects that employ thousands of people each operating as individual entity. Public information indicates DJT is the only or largest member or shareholder in each of these investment projects. It is reported that the various Trump firms employ as many as 22,000 workers. If we assume that he employs half that number and the average salary is say 15 bucks and hour or 30K annually that means he has a wage bill of $330,000,000 on estimated revenues of $440,000,000 and pays $24,750,000 annually in the employer share of payroll taxes. That is a fairly hefty burden for one person. and, that is before the owner begins to fill out his 1040 forms. If you do the math most of his revenues go to wages as do most firms.

        As we all know payroll taxes are technically not income taxes on his income but these taxes do in fact reduce his gross income by that very amount no differently than does federal income tax. Yes every employed person pays payroll taxes but none pay an amount equivalent paid by all employees combined. Payroll taxes are no longer put into the Social Security Trust but instead go to fund the annual budget. I dare say he pays quite a bit of taxes irrespective of what they are called.

        For those who believe he is exploiting the tax code I ask them if they are willing to use the tax tables without taking all available deductions .

  5. 4. When my oldesf boy was 4, we told him the candy in the checkout was for decoration only. Took him about a year to figure out he was being tricked. Wonder how long it will be for Berkeleyites.

  6. Lots of online snark on debate conditions re Biden. “Biden can’t wear an earpiece; he wouldn’t know which voice in his head he’s supposed to listen to. “He asked for the breaks to change his depends.” & so on.

  7. Disgusted by both sides. The President acted like a bully, but he was butting heads with both Biden and Wallace. Biden tried to look alpha by saying “I am the Democratic Party” and trading on his dead son vis-a-vis the Atlantic article that was unsourced, but failed miserably. He also tried to use the same chuckling and disrespectful approach he used on Ryan, which didn’t work at ALL here.

    • Steve

      I think it is a fine line between being a bully and not being rolled by the opposition. Trump may have gone overboard but I think I would prefer that to a Romney or Ryan performance. Trump was elected the first time because he was willing to do battle instead of acquiescing to the opposition simply to show collegiality and a willingness to work across the aisle. Harry Reid drove the nails into the coffin of collegiality and decorum some years ago. His protege’s in the House and Senate will cut your throat in a heartbeat, smile as you bleed out and then blame you for making a mess. I don’t blame Trump for his aggressive stance but he needs to do it with more finesse.

  8. In modern day and age “debates” contribute nothing. First, they aren’t really debates anyway. Second, anything you need to know about a particular candidate is 100% available, immediately, at any time.

    So, I’ve not wasted a drop of time watching them. I know what I need to know, and still have 40 more days to find out more….immediately when the info arises.

    So, I can spend my time doing something meaningful.

  9. We watched for about 15 minutes…as much as I could take. The President isn’t very likeable at all in this forum, but he wasn’t four years ago, either. VP Biden is even less likeable, but that’s because I know what waits for us if he’s elected. It will be painful…and very expensive.

    • I think that he may have lost some points tonight, he tried to steam roller both his opponent and the moderator and that is just not a good look. that said, bringing up the tax question was probably not a good idea. Biden’s statement that antifa is just an idea, and that he is the Democratic Party, plus his attempt to trade on his dead son while dredging up the Atlantic article that is still unsourced, were not good. He was starting to not make sense towards the end. However, I think all anyone is going to remember is the president bullying everyone in the room.

  10. I can’t believe American politics has devolved in to the one of those circuses elsewhere when the the two sides clear the benches for physical free for all. Chris Wallace is ill suited for what our debates have become and his questions being so long allowed the two to go off into their preferred areas of attack instead of giving a relatively succinct answer.

    It also appeared to me that the questions were structured in such a way that Trump had to defend his decisions while Biden was given the opportunity to lay out his ideas. Having to defend the measurable and complex issues of pandemic response coupled with widespread unrest in major cities fomented by race baiters while your opponent merely has to give unmeasurable platitudes is sort of unreasonable. The only one challenging Biden on his record was Trump while Trump was challenged by Wallace and Biden.

    Trump may come across as overbearing tonight but I recall Biden’s debate with Paul Ryan in which he behaved as Trump did tonight. Perhaps the game plan was to not let Biden pull that again.

    The Charlottesville reference was a bald face lie and Wallace knew that yet he positioned the question about race to reflect the events in Charlottesville. Why did he do that? If you are going to ask a question about race relations in the US why put one side immediately on the defensive?

    What if Wallace had asked Biden about Obama’s remark that had he had a son he might look like Trayvon when it was demonstrated in court that “little Trayvon” was in the process of bashing Zimmerman’s head into the ground because he thought he was a gay guy trying to pick him up? Or what about the narrative that the Kenosha shooting was racially motivated when in fact the police were called to protect the woman from her estranged boyfriend who had raped her, had a protective order against him, had a history of violence against police officers ,and failed to comply with lawful orders from the police which resulted in him being shot as he walked around the car and reached inside. Do these narratives promote divisiveness or social cohesion?

    Wallace’s statement that Trump defend his decision to end Critical Race Theory was conflated with more benign “sensitivity” trainings. These are two very different things and was used to create division. If you want to ask why he stopped funding Critical Race Theory that is fine but to confuse the public with the term sensitivity training is wrong.

    What is wrong with asking, ” going forward how will your presidency seek improve social cohesion and harmony among different groups in the US?” Why do we care what happened yesterday when we are electing a president to lead the future.

    I truly believe that the Covid issue is one that should not have been up for discussion in tonight’s debate. Debating what is being done is not helping the ongoing situation. With that said, Trump missed a great opportunity to call out Biden’s late to the game positions. He did say that Biden called him a xenophobe and racist for shutting down travel. He should have then moved on to state that he allowed Fauci and Birx to run the public health advisories and that any deviation from one recommendation resulted from Fauci and Birx coming to new assessments regarding the virus. He should have said so many claim I don’t follow the science but everything I stated was given to me by Fauci and Birx. I was told by Fauci that the virus was no worse than the flu early on and that warmer weather would mitigate its spread. When we got better information we changed how we advised the governors. Unfortunately not all the governors acted upon that information properly.

    He should have pointed out he mobilized the industrial base to shift production into PPE and medical devices in need, he build additional hospitals in hot spots and put the USS Comfort in New York harbor where it stood empty while the governor was pushing Covid patients in to nursing homes infecting thousands. He could have pointed out that Governors take point on state pandemic plans and the federal government is to back them up. Trump should have pointed out he has no authority to make state decisions. Because of that over 25% of the Covid deaths were attributable to two states New York (36K ) and New Jersey(14K) Finally, he should have hammered home the point that it is PfIizer , J&J, and others updating him on vaccine development. And he should have demanded that Biden stop implying that he (Trump) has anything to do with the scientific development of the vaccines and suggesting that the vaccines cannot be trusted.

    Trump would have been better to have simply stated that every country measures infections and deaths differently. He should have pointed out that in the US if anyone dies and also tests positively for Covid it is treated as a Covid death even if the person died from lung cancer or auto accident. He could have pointed out that excess deaths are only 66,000 over the same period a year ago and that some of these excess deaths were a function of delayed treatment as hospitals shut down elective treatments, and higher suicides and overdose deaths from being quarantined for extended periods. He could have pointed out that only 6% of the deaths are from only the Covid virus. He lost points where he could have nailed Biden to the wall.

    I am sick of all of it. I have very little respect for any politician or media figure right about now.

    • Final thought:

      Why did Wallace continue to conflate solicited absentee mail in ballots with ballots mailed out to every single entry on the voter registration rolls? This was a deliberate attempt to confuse the voter. and cast doubt on Trump’s concerns about voter fraud.

  11. Steve of NJ wrote: “However, I think all anyone is going to remember is the president bullying everyone in the room.”

    This is an odd comment. Since over years now it has been demonstrated time and again that the President is constantly maligned in the most open and grotesque ways. I was trying to imagine how Trump’s more classic supporters would relate to his belligerency and it would not, I do not think, bother them at all.

    I think there is a general sense among generally white America — effectively this is the demographic I am most concerned about as without it there is no more America — of a need to kick back, a need to react, a need to claim and reclaim power. I think the question is How can this be done fairly. But there is no doubt (in my mind) that this must occur.

    I have said this before and it seems worth repeating: Trump is a symbol and also a symptom of a beaten-down and disempowered white America. I do not any longer regret at all putting it this way. I have gotten clear that it is completely ethical to think and see in these terms. Trump is a *distorted figure*, a figure marred by his own choices of course, but also as one who was (almost literally) beaten on by the New York Intellectual Establishment for many years. Just as they hate Trump they hate the America that resonates today with Trump. They would destroy Trump if they could, but they would also — and they are trying to — destroy an America that they wish to supersede. They will stop at NOTHING to achieve this aim.

    So, let’s turn the topic to this *bullying* which is far more consequential. I do not think many on this blog can even speak about this, given a general *sold-out* stance. But that is what pseudo-conservatives do — it is about all that they can do.

    So Trump is an ugly, distorted man, and it is odd and yet fitting that whole swaths of people are relying on him to defend them in this present time that is drowning America’s original demographic. He was not prepared for the task. He really was the *worst choice* for the task. And yet it is amazing to witness how he has risen to the occasion. The task that has been given to him (which has a conscious aspect but also an unconscious, psychological one) is the one that he has responded to. This is visible in that he is not and has never been, in any sense! a religious-ethical man — in fact completely the opposite — and yet it is a certain segment of America that has called on him to defend their ideas, their stance.

    However, because of moral and ethical failings so many American cowards are unable to understand that there is a strong and necessary link between religious identity and the identity of a nation and people, and here I do indeed refer to European Americans (the dominant demographic at least for a while longer). It is just in this that *so many of you* who write here are weak and fearful. You cannot self-identify. Thus you actually work for the opposition more than for the *proper team*. And that is why the term ‘progressive’ defines you far better than ‘conservative’.

    The entire ‘white supremacy’ reference — and the reference to Charlottesville and also the the Proud Boys — and the way Trump handled it indicates a very real integrity on Trump’s part. Those that needed to hear him NOT condemn themselves and their interests, stated or felt, will be *empowered* to carry on. Over the last 4 years a tremendous new awareness, a new circulation of information, has reached many hundreds of thousands, many millions.

    My personal observation (we watched the entire thing) is that Trump clearly dominated. I though he was somewhat measured overall. He always came back with substantive comments, though they were always cut up and badly arranged as is much of his thinking. It is ‘dominating’ that is needed. Even if it is show (which it is in many ways). In this sense I don’t think that bullying is the right term here. He showed himself capable to *firing back*.

    What European-America needs is just that will and that energy, but projected through a lens of rational intellectualism. Trump in this sense is like *average America*, stumbling over concepts that it is not allowed to think!

    • The entire ‘white supremacy’ reference — and the reference to Charlottesville and also the the Proud Boys — and the way Trump handled it indicates a very real integrity on Trump’s part. Those that needed to hear him NOT condemn themselves and their interests, stated or felt, will be *empowered* to carry on. Over the last 4 years a tremendous new awareness, a new circulation of information, has reached many hundreds of thousands, many millions.

      Well golly, I did Nazi that coming.

      Oh, wait…

      …Yes I did.

  12. I advise you to very quickly get out of your *reactive mind-set* and to begin to examine what is going on in the present with more seriousness.

    Because you can only *react* you cannot really understand what is going on, and why it is going on. Your reaction is like an historical habit. Something you do reflexively. I wish to let you know that it does not — not in any sense — help your cause, or what I imagine your cause to be because you never make any definitive statements!

    So you are deal just in strange expressions of (twisted) sentiment, never in a concrete idea. You are relevant to me in this sense only because you illustrate an important thing. You, because you are Jewish, and because you are steeped in those ‘categories of fear & reaction’, will only see things through a specific, but very limited, lens. In this sense you are like the NY Intellectual Establishment, a term that refer to the Jewish underpinning to that establishment.

    Instead of denying this — a failure to see and a failure to name — my suggestion is to *make it plain*. To talk about it. To make it conscious.

    There is — indeed there is! — a great deal of sentiment that is circulating in America, in Europe, in all the former English colonies, that is Jewish critical. This is a fact. But it has to be seen and understood, not denied as it always is by applying, as is always done, the ‘anti-Semitic’ characterization. Many of those who went to Charlottesville are were (and are) Jewish critical and also non-Zionists, or Zionism-critics. These are coherent positions. I have examined them though I too grew up steeped in pretty much all that you were steeped in.

    True though, my Christian conversion has given me tools with which to examine the essential conflict between Judaism and Christianity. I can talk about this carefully and also rationally. But you can’t! But these things MUST be understood in order to understand our present! If you exclude this, you will make a mistake.

    All you can do is react through Old Tropes. You are in no sense helping. If you examine the Jewish-critical positions of many, not all but many, of those in the dissident right or the *disobedient right*, you will find not so much anti-Jewish attitude but rather a strong and developing resistance to the meddling of Jews in Gentile affairs. The behind-the-scenes or the *ideological* meddling. The way that Jewish organizations reactively vilify their *enemies*.

    It is all a complex topic. It is one that should come out into the open though. But it is suppressed, and for reasons that are also not incoherent.

    • you never make any definitive statements!

      There is no problem personal, professional, or political, that can not be dealt with passive-aggressively,

      • That is an odd admission. Can’t you be aggressive but in a directed, rational way?

        To further explain what I mean by the Gentile perception of Jewish meddling I submit the following. Observe her attitude, observe her presumption.

        In The Intercept (which Jack mentioned reading and I subscribed to) there is this comment about Trump and the Proud Boys:

        “While the president’s reply struck some observers as more evidence of his inability to stem the torrent of half-digested thoughts and phrases that fly from his lips in an incoherent jumble, leaders of the neo-fascist group exulted on the social media platforms Telegram and Parler, seeing the answer as a call to inflict violence on left-wing antifascist activists and protesters.

        “Trump basically said to go fuck them up! this makes me so happy,” Joe Biggs, who organized a Proud Boys rally that drew an embarrassingly small crowd of a few hundred in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, wrote. Biggs had reason to be encouraged, since Trump did stop short of actually condemning the group, pivoting instead to say: “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about Antifa and the left, because this is not a right-wing problem… this is a left-wing problem.”

        So, here is the secret key for decoding these phrasings: Any group of Whites of Europeans that would ever, even minimally, hold to a defensive position, that would react, even lightly, against what Spectre is saying (which is part of larger machinations) can only be because they are neo-fascist. To have identity, to focus on one’s own people, to assert that one can make choices and also discriminations — that is evidence of neo-fascism.

        It is all a trick and a very devious one that must be exposed for what it is. If what I have said here is NOT TRUE, then you are required to refute it. If you cannot refute it, it stands.

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