Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/9/2021: Understanding, Not Understanding

Prelude: Wait, what is it that the 38% approve of? A new Quinnipiac University poll—yes, yes, I know: polls— purports to show that President Biden’s performance as President thus far is approved of by 38% of the public. I don’t understand this at all. Ten per cent or less would be reasonable; after all, there are a lot of inattentive morons out there. But 38%? Amazing. It has taken nine months of Joe Biden for the rest of the public to figure out that we elected Joe Biden, and a diminished version at that, which is like saying that Donald Trump isn’t as straightforward as he used to be. Biden has 32% approval with independents: based on what? The superb Biden policies on illegal immigration? His foreign policy expertise? His strict observance of facts, like yesterday when he claimed that vaccinated people couldn’t infect others with the Wuhan virus? His administration’s respect for free speech rights, as the Justice Department attempts to intimidate parents who oppose school curricula that will teach that the united States is racist? 39% approve of Biden’s handling of the economy, with inflation soaring and the national debt nearing 20 trillion. 42% say the administration is competent! Competent at what?

The best that I can figure out is that Biden is competent at not being Donald Trump, and Trump Derangement runs so deep that this is sufficient for almost 40% of the public to call across-the-board failure and ineptitude “good.” Do they really trust this guy? Do they really feel secure know his steady hand is at the helm? His handlers/puppeteers try not allow him to speak unless he’s reading off a teleprompter. During an Oval Office meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Johnson took questions from the British press while Biden looked on, but when reporters directed questions to Biden, they were shut down. Do American approve of that? Incredibly, 44% believe Biden is honest. Biden has never been honest, and his lies have been constant and obvious, including his denials that his black sheep son isn’t the influence-peddling crook he obviously is. “Biden was seen as far more trustworthy than his predecessor. Sure, he made his share of gaffes. But that was part of his authenticity,” says The Hill. You know, authenticity, like using sets to pretend he’s in the white House when he isn’t…


…and earlier,

Biden-Booster-Vaccine-Mask fake

I don’t get it.

1. Dear Pope: Butt out. A representative for Pope Francis urged Republican Missouri governor Mike Parson to grant clemency t condemned triple murderer Ernest Johnson, telling Parson in a letter that the Pope “wishes to place before you the simple fact of Mr. Johnson’s humanity and the sacredness of all human life.” Parson refused to intervene, and Jackson was executed by a fatal injection.He guilt was never in doubt: Jackson shot three people during an unsuccessful robbery attempt, then attacked them with a claw hammer. Police found two victims in the store’s bathroom, and the third in a cooler. The Pope abuses his position and influence by attempting to interfere with our justice system, not that this the first time a Pope has tried it. It’s not even the first time in Missouri: in 1999, during his visit to St. Louis, Pope John Paul II persuaded Democratic Gov. Mel Carnahan to grant clemency to Darrell Mease, weeks before Mease was to be put to death for a triple killing. Just think: in 1960, Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, a Catholic, had to convince voters that he would take orders from the Pope. At least this Pope had a reasonable argument for sparing Johnson. “Racial justice” activists and Missouri members of Congress, Cori Bush and Emmanuel Cleaver—I don’t really have to tell you their party affiliation, do I?—sought mercy for Johnson because he is black, and living in such a racist country made him do it.

There were some valid arguments for letting Jackson live—he has the IQ of a sponge, for example—but the appeals of the Pope, who was sticking his Holy Nose where it doesn’t belong, and the likes of Bush and Cleaver, who were arguing for a precedent that would mitigate all crimes committed by blacks, would have tipped the scales for me in favor of execution.

2. Did you ever wonder how the U.S. was allowed to lock up “War on Terror” detainees indefinitely at Guantanamo, while periodically having some of them tortured? One reason appears to be that the U.S. Supreme Court had no idea what was going on, as oral argument in United States v. Abu Zubaydah demonstrates. You can read the transcript, available here).

3. Speaking of SCOTUS…the Court affirmed the decision of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (and the later denial of a motion for consideration), rejecting a silly lawsuit designed to give D.C. residents a vote in Congress. The suit was frivolous, because it asked that courts over-rule the Constitution on constitutional grounds. It says right in the piece of parchment that House representation is limited to ‘the people of the several States.” Allowing the District to have a voting member requires an amendment, which isn’t going to happen. Congress does have the power to make D.C. a state.

In an entertaining post, Prof. Turley focuses on the incompetent or dishonest Washington Post story about the decision. He writes in part,

There has long been a problem with the one-sided coverage of these challenges and past unconstitutional proposals in Congress. Stories often present a distorted account of the constitutional debate in echoing the views of those advocating for judicial or legislative intervention to give D.C. residents a vote in Congress without statehood. The Washington Post article downplays the significance of this loss while repeatedly insisting that it does little to undermine further efforts at legislative interventions…the Post repeatedly spins the decision as “only affirm[ing] the finding, by a three-judge panel made up of federal judges in D.C., that Congress is not constitutionally required” to give D.C. residents a vote. Again, the lower court went well beyond just saying that Congress was not required to give a vote. It repeatedly stressed that it cannot do so even if it wanted to because the Constitution limits votes to “the people of the several states”…In rejecting a new statutory argument, the Court again reaffirmed the fundamental rejection of this claim: ‘It was that premise – that residents of the District qua residents of the District are not among “the people of the several States” – that informed our conclusion that Plaintiffs’ equal-protection law claim was pretermitted by the Constitution’s own dictates.’ None of that was even intimated, let alone recognized, in the Post coverage. As with past coverage, the suggestion was that this was not a major loss and there are still grounds for legislatively securing a vote. Notably, this is simply a failure to report the actual tenor and holding of the lower court decision that was summarily upheld by the Supreme Court.  It is a recurring problem….Court reporting today is increasingly marked by one-sided accounts that ignore countervailing views or even judicial holdings. That only tends to fuel the anger of readers who were never fully informed of contested claims or the weight of opposing precedent. They then assume that it must be raw ideology or the bias of the courts when these claims fail.

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

4.. New York Times Ethics Quote of the Year, or “KABOOM!” In its lead editorial piece today, the Times published Dartmouth sociology professor Brooke Harrington’s angry assessment of the significance of the massive Pandora Papers leak. The quote: “Each successive leak drives home the same message: Abandon any hope that government will serve the people or that the rule of law will be applied equally to all, the foundational premises of modern government.”

How can the Times publish this as it continues to use its power, influence and biased reporting to push the public to accept more government regulation of their lives and liberty, as they cite, like Dr. Fauci, the need to give up selfish individual freedom for “the greater good”? From Obama’s in-your-face birthday party extravagance, to S.F. mayor London Breed’s explanation that she partied maskless in violation of her own edicts because she “felt like it,” to Hunter Biden openly selling his paintings to anonymous parties seeking government access, U.S. politicians and elected officials have repeatedly proven that the professor’s analysis is correct. The massive hypocrisy and lack of integrity it takes for a newspaper to simultaneously admit that governments should not be trusted and that we should support a more powerful, intrusive and less accountable government is mind-blowing.

And that’s where it’s hard to see how Biden, who turns 79 years old next month, turns this around by making his arguments on how to fix X, Y and Z and beyond.

“Battered on trust, doubted on leadership, and challenged on overall competency, President Biden is being hammered on all sides as his approval rating continues its downward slide to a number not seen since the tough scrutiny of the Trump administration,” Quinnipiac polling analyst Tim Malloy candidly observed in a statement after the poll was released.

And that’s the thing: Biden was seen as far more trustworthy than his predecessor. Sure, he made his share of gaffes. But that was part of his authenticity, his charm, his ability to connect with people, according to the argument made by more than a few political pundits in selling the Biden brand.

Just 44 percent of Americans now believe Biden is honest, down 7 points in the same poll in April.

Add it all up, and we have a flailing economy, rising inflation, rising crime, essentially an open border and a mess in Afghanistan. While all of this is happening, the president and vice president are shielded from the public outside of tightly scripted events. Democrats also are in the midst of a civil war and, despite controlling the House and Senate, can’t get a massive spending bill across the goal line.

Things are looking brutal indeed for this administration.

If these polls and others like them are any indication, Team Biden needs to make some serious changes, and quickly — because whatever plan it had to script this presidency clearly isn’t working.

18 thoughts on “Saturday Ethics Warm-Up, 10/9/2021: Understanding, Not Understanding

  1. Missing a “not” here: “…had to convince voters that he would take orders…”

    This sentence could use a “however” or a “though,” since it looks like it’s missing a “not” because it contradicts the sentiment of the previous sentence: “Congress does have the power to make D.C. a state.”

  2. Sadly, Jack, the national debt is nearly *30* trillion bucks. Oh, I remember those days, a simpler time, really, when the national debt was a mere $20 trillion. What was that, 2015 or 2016? It seems so long ago.

  3. #4 It’s going to be hard for America to succeed and prosper with these malcontents in charge. If she does, it will be in spite of them. I don’t think that Biden and “Them” (The ones who keep telling him who to call on during briefings) would be able to get out of their own way. There’s just too many parts pushing and pulling at the same time. I think it is mostly going to be the rearranging of deck chairs on the Titanic until midterms. After midterms, They might send Ole’ Joe to glue factory and let Kamala lead the way. She can run for office twice this way, not that it will help her much. For Joe to change anything, he has to admit that all is not well. He’s too stubborn, arrogant and senile to do so, and his “Adults in the Room (TM)” are too sycophantic or scheming on their agenda to steer him from the shoals. Anyways, the media will cover for him, and just ask in a befuddled fashion, why are his poll numbers are bad, even though they are from reliably Dem partisan pollsters. They’ll blame it on the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. Forget it Jake, it’s Chinatown.
    via GIPHY

  4. 42% say the administration is competent! Competent at what?

    I think there’s a distribution along some political axis with, say, a far left side and a far right side which both agree that the current administration is competent, which is to say that the goal of the current administration, which it pursues very effectively, is the destruction of the nation. They agree on this point and disagree regarding whether that end should be pursued.

    The poll tells me that a surprisingly large portion of the actively evil party’s base is in on the con. They actively want their political opponents to starve in the streets, banished from all economic participation. They’ve been feeding on this malice like a drug. What they’re too neurochemically-addled to realize is that once the complex international trade economy breaks down, they won’t be dukes and duchesses of a new utopia. They’ll be starving in the same gutters as the rest of us.

    I suspect we’ll look back at what happened to Venezuela and wish that we had such a stable collapse.

    On the popes, speaking as a Catholic, yes. Mercy and Justice aren’t different things, and only a heathen or heretic would say anything else. The modern absolutist stance against the death penalty is a clear departure from the Tradition and part of a larger heresy that’s infected the hierarchy. The unification of the modern papacy with the global elites’ bizarre orchestrated deconstruction of every nation at once gives the current climate an unmistakable apocalyptic flavor.

    None of this is going to be fixed before a horrifying disaster of some sort. One notable source predicts the “living will envy the dead”.

    • While it seems bleak, we have a couple years to prepare for the bad ones… AND, as we speak, there’s a group of stellar individuals who know things won’t and can’t be fixed by the current system and are committed to building a new one.

      How? I’m not sure but I do know they’ve continued to fully live, share, celebrate life, while contributing to the community the live in and encourage others to do the same.

      I had the honor of meeting some is these amazing hymns during the pandemic.

      There are millions globally waking up to the tyranny and the data are numbered for the ones pulling the strings.

      In fact, I believe this week, they will be named publicly. When it happens I will let you know!

      Exciting times to be alive. I’m thankful for this group here!

      You’re all very cool people.

  5. The first part is fairly easy. There are a certain number of true believers in the Democratic party who would be absolutely convinced that there president was doing really well even if we suffered another Great depression on his watch. These are the people who would vote for a ham sandwich if it had a D next to it. There is also a lingering hatred of Trump among some folks and an attitude that, no matter what happens, at least he’s not Trump. I’ve heard of building a cult of personality, but this is the first time in history I remember a cult being built around the hatred of one person. There have been plenty of rulers in history who picked a group to hate to rally their people against, most notably a certain paper hanger turned artist turned politician from Austria that we don’t need to name, but I don’t think I remember any leader pointing specifically to one man as the greatest enemy of all. Even in the days of dynastic struggles between kings, the question was usually the house, not the individual.

    That said, the speed with which these numbers have fallen should worry him, and should worry the Democratic party as a whole. I don’t think I’ve seen a president this incompetent in my life, and that includes from Nixon to now. Even Jimmy Carter, who is probably the most inept president of the last quarter of the 20th century, maybe even the last half, didn’t offer this country botch after botch after botch.

    I once compared the numbers for Trump as we were going into the last election being the equivalent of approaching the final exam when you have botched everything before it and knowing things were going to end badly in this course. By botch, however, I meant turning in a mediocre performance, not complete failure. This is the equivalent of getting back your first midterm in a course, failing miserably, and coming to the conclusion that you are in over your head, maybe even way over your head. If you are smart, and it’s still early enough in the course, you will withdraw.

    I hate the idea of giving up, I hate the idea of not seeing something I started through to completion, I hate the idea of having to acknowledge that there are just some things I am just not able to do. However, false bravado has resulted in a lot more than failed academic courses too many times.

    A similar thinking is, I’m sure, passing through the minds of a lot in the Democratic party. They don’t want to acknowledge that their party’s president is acting like a reverse Midas and everything he touches is turning to crap. They don’t want to acknowledge that they might have been wrong in nominating him, leave alone pushing his election. Worst of all, they don’t want to face up to the fact that maybe the last president was actually doing a better job. This can’t possibly be, right? They said Hillary was the most qualified candidate ever, and Biden, with 40 years in Congress and 8 years as vice president was more qualified than that. How could he go wrong? Theirs is the party that has spent the last two centuries trying to make this country and the world better, fairer, more inclusive, more peaceful places, right? How could their policies go wrong?

    Unfortunately, here we are. Sorry, Democratic party, but the fact is you really have no one to blame for this mess except yourselves. You are also going to have no one to blame but yourselves when things go very badly for you next year at the polls and your chances of transforming this nation evaporate, at least for now. I just hope and pray that this country survives to that point. Oh, and after this coming election and the next one go the way I think they will go, we’re going to remember how you talked about how we couldn’t be forgiven and that you were going to come for us to make sure we could never rise to power again because we were so bad for this nation. Don’t complain when we do to you as you have said you wanted to do to us.

    As for Pope Francis trying to intervene on behalf of this triple murderer, I can only shrug and say that he has made his position known that he is absolutely against the death penalty, no matter what the offense and no matter whether the person feels remorse or not. That said, there are a lot more worthy things for him to devote his intervention power to other than trying to see the life of someone who snuffed out three other lives spared. He is 83 years old plus, and I don’t think it will be too long before we are choosing yet another elderly religious scholar to fill the See of Peter. For the sake of the church, I hope it is someone who views the papacy as the papacy, not just an opportunity to be the chief nice guy.

    I also don’t think that there is an obligation for this nation’s executives to keep the courts aware of everything they are doing, especially not when they are prosecuting a war. American civil rights jurisprudence holds that law enforcement should not be like a law school exam with much worse consequences than academic failure. How much less than, can national security policy be a law school exam? I do applaud the court for smacking down this stupid lawsuit seeking statehood for DC and yet another attempt at a power grab.

    The last part here is pretty obvious, the New York times in its staff are among those true believers I talked about.

  6. I saw Steve Bannon or someone of his ilk quoted as saying the faux Oval Office set is used so Joe can read from the teleprompter right in front of the camera. Pretty comical, really. I wish the backdrop would fall over and someone could frantically say, “Just ignore the man behind the curtain!”

  7. Re: Biden approval ratings. It’s ridiculously amusing that everything is terrible right now, but everyone’s saying everything’s fine. Of course, when the Trumpies were running things, things were pretty darned good, but of course all we heard was “everything’s terrible!”

    Europeans can not fly into the United States because of Covid, but over two million illegal aliens will enter the country, and stay, via the southern border, with medical and legal impunity. As Baron Ochs says in “Der Rosenkavalier,” as he’s unwittingly wooing a guy in drag, “Everything’s going to plan.”

  8. 3) Since it’s a federal district, prescribed by the Constitution, I always thought that they would need to amend the Constitution to make the District a state.

    Or do we think they can stick that in under reconciliation?

    And last, but perhaps most important — why isn’t there a protest movement to change the name? After all, Columbus…..

  9. Incredibly, 44% believe Biden is honest. Biden has never been honest, and his lies have been constant and obvious, including his denials that his black sheep son isn’t the influence-peddling crook he obviously is.

    An honest politician is defined as one who stays bought.

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