Ethics Quiz: VP Harris And The Julie Principle

Father’s Day naturally got me thinking about Jack Marshall, Sr., and it was he who explained The Julie Principle to me. The context was one of his best friends from childhood, an obvious sociopath. It puzzled me that my father, who was literally dedicated to all of the virtues in the Boy Scout Creed and whom I witnessed placing his values over his self-interest repeatedly throughout his life, would remain friends 60 years with someone who so clearly was the opposite of my father, a deceptive, self-centered, even cruel individual who never showed any hint of remorse or contrition.

As I have related here more than once, Dad, tone-deaf as always, responded to my puzzlement by singing the opening lines from the famous “Show Boat” ballad, “Can’t Help Lovin’ That Man of Mine,”sung by the tragic mulatto, Julie : “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly.” He then explained, “I decided long ago that it was a waste of time and emotion to keep complaining or criticizing someone for conduct they will never change. You have too choices: either accept that a person will do what he does, like a bird or a fish, or decide that you can’t stand the way he or she is and cut them out of your life. But to keep getting angry or upset when someone simply acts as you know they will is pointless.”

I wrote the first post here designating my father’s philosophy as the Jule Principle in 2013. Looking back, I officially applied the JP to the late Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, and Donald Trump (both before and after his election), writing shortly after his surprise victory,

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

Note that nobody heeded my advice, but I was right. But I digress: Joe Biden got Julied here both before and after his election, also “The View,” Hillary Clinton, and most recently, poor, addled Larry Tribe. Looking back, there are many other individuals who have earned Julie’s pass, and I’ll take nominations. I also see that following the lesson of Julie is hard. I have frequently forgotten the fishiness of several Julie designees.

The subject of this Ethics Quiz, however, is Kamala Harris. I gave her a sort of half-Julie Principle nod regarding her general sliminess and lack of integrity, writing,

If, as many seem to assume, Harris is making stuff up to pander to the crowd, why fixate on this episode? We all know, or should, that the woman is shallow, has no core, and that saying whatever she thinks will endear herself to the most people at the moment is her defining characteristic. As Julie sang, “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly”: Kamala’s gotta make stuff up to pretend she’s something she’s not for the gullible, the naive, the hopeful and the blind.

That, however, evoked Julie in the context of Harris’s deplorable ethics, and before she took office as the woman a “heartbeat from the Presidency.” Over the 18 months since then, we have also learned that Harris is a babbling, incoherent fool, and I have frequently expressed horror at such gibberish coming from someone who was chosen by Biden to fill her critical role in the Administration.

She did it again today: speaking to a group of about two dozen elementary school-aged children at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, Harris said,

“I think that we all know today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom. And think about it in terms of the context of history, knowing that black people in America were not free for 400 years of slavery. Let this be a day that is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom, but to speak about it honestly and accurately, both in the context of history and current application. With the Emancipation Proclamation and Civil War, it required America to really ask itself, who is free? How do we define freedom? Freedom in terms of the autonomy one should have? Is freedom given to us or are we born with freedom? Right? I would argue it is our God-given right to have freedom. It is your birthright to have freedom. And then during slavery, freedom was taken. And so we’re not going to celebrate being given back what God gave us anyway, right? We should think about it also in terms of current application, asking is everyone we know free? Do we know anyone who is not free? Around the world do all people have freedom? Are there those who are without freedom? When we talk about freedom, are we talking about freedom from — or are we talking about the freedom to?”

What the hell?

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day:

Does Harris deserve a Julie Principle pass for her evident inability to think and speak in addition to one for her appalling lack of integrity?

A few notes as you make up your mind:

  • There were not “400 years” of slavery in the US. At least the “1619 Project” got that right.
  • Harris’s clean-up crew—and what a job that must be!—quickly explained that “the vice president was referring to 400 years since slavery began.” Except that’s not true either. In fact, the explanation is off by thousands of years.
  • Harris “would argue” that freedom is a “God-given right”? That contention requires no argument: it’s right in the Declaration of Independence and is a founding core principle of the United States.
  • First she says “today is a day to celebrate the principle of freedom, and then she says,  “we’re not going to celebrate being given back what God gave us anyway.”
  • What is that “current application”? Is there any chance at all that her young audience had a clue what she means? Does she?

Finally, Majority House Whip James Clyburn, a crucial Biden supporter, said yesterday that if Joe  doesn’t run for re-election, his fallback choice is Harris. How can he, or anyone, justify wanting to inflict such an idiot on the nation, especially after it has gone through the trauma of the Biden Presidency? Talk about integrity: does he care at all about the nation, or is it enough that she’s an idiot “of color”?

25 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: VP Harris And The Julie Principle

  1. I would also point out that there were many free blacks in the United States long before the Emancipation. And, the Emancipation only freed the slaves in the Confederacy. So if we want to teach history we need to acknowledge that the EP was a strategic military decision to promote revolution by slaves against their owners.

    My answer to the question of the Julie Principle is absolutely NO. She is lazy and unwilling to do the hard work of becoming knowledgeable about the subject matter at hand. Fish might have to swim, and birds might have to fly but that does not mean that I have to accept anyone’s unwillingness to make the effort to do the best damn job you can even if you cannot be the best or even competent.

  2. I struggle to understand how to apply the Julie Principle. If we grant Harris the Julie Principle, are we bound not to comment on how every time she speaks she dumbs down the room? Is she given a pass for teaching false history? Is she given a pass for being so annoying with her cackle? If so, no Julie Principle from me.

    Or are we just saying that, Harris is acting like Harris again, and here’s why? Isn’t she stupid? Then sure. Hand it out.

    If the latter is the proper application of the Julie Principle, then I feel that many politicians get it. AOC, for instance. We don’t get excited about her latest whopper, so much as we say, “well the idiot has spoken and said something utterly brain dead…AGAIN. Because too many people think she’s brilliant, now I have to explain that this idea, like every other one she has had, has the intellectual rigor of a belch and should be tossed aside like the rest of the trash that spews from her mouth.

    • AOC is a perfect nominee for the Julie Principle.
      What’s the point, once all questions are settled, of constantly railing about the fact that Joe Biden is in the midst of some kind of dementia when he wasn’t all that sharp to start with? It’s obvious and has been now for years. It’s in res ipsa loquitur territory now. So is Kamala’s once shocking incompetence. So we accept what we have, and work on enlightening ourselves and others about matters that are not so screamingly obvious.

      • What is the point of railing against these people? The answer is if we stop it becomes normalized and the idiocracy will take over. It is one thing to ignore the ladies of the view or Don Lemon. If t is quite another to ignore the behavior of those who can legally take your freedoms.

        • No, they can’t “legally” take our freedoms, because they are guaranteed by our highest law, the Constitution, which is backstopped by the supreme laws of God. They make take our freedoms “under the color of law,” but that is merely the raw exercise of power, not lawful authority. The curtailment of any civil right under color of law is already a violation of federal law, and prosecutions should be occurring against federal officials daily. There will come a tipping point, as yet undetermined, when many of “we the people” will decide we are not bound by unconstitutional laws and will no longer comply. The states had better start standing up against federal overreach before that tipping point is reached.

          • Excellent point James but if one does not have the resources to fight it in court it still results in loss of rights. Hate crime enhancements based on pejorative utterances at the time is case in point.

            Until ruled otherwise by the highest court in the land all legislation is legally enforceable and punishable.

  3. Does she write her own speeches or is she just speaking extemporaneously? Surely, there is someone out there capable of stringing statements together that make sense who could write a speech for her.

    It seems to me that she has a flat learning curve.

  4. The Julie Principle, applied those I care nothing about, makes sense. Applied to long-time, close personal friends, it makes more sense. Applied to family members, it makes even more sense. Applied to politicians, it does not make sense at all.
    For those I care nothing about, a Hollywood star for example, if someone were to point out some idiotic statement, part of a pattern, I might say, ‘So, what?’, and change the conversation.
    If I want to keep a close personal friendship, I likewise might overlook what otherwise would be a signature-significant flaw, expecting that the person would not change anyway, while maintaining the hope that eventually they might begin to see things differently. The advice to accept the behavior or end the friendship is good advice, but there is the further step of stating that the unacceptable behavior could end the friendship. I applied that one time to a golfing buddy, telling him that if he did not change we would no longer play golf together, and, to his credit, the behavior at least changed and the occasional statements tinged with racism ended.
    I would more willingly apply the Julie Principle within the family, knowing there would be repeated contact and knowing that they always would be family. I would not declare someone to no longer be a part of my family; to do so to me seems ridiculous.
    Applying the Julie Principle means that we have foregone the ‘duty’ to confront and have excused the behavior. I would not grant politicians, especially those in high state or federal positions, that concession. And, why should I? They have offered themselves up as leaders, they have achieved some success, and they propose to continue in that or even higher leadership roles. An insignificant quirk that does not affect their ability to lead, yes, I might overlook that. But anything that does affect their ability to lead, whether it is inappropriate tweets or displays of willful ignorance, should not be excused.
    Harris’ visit to the museum was not happenstance, it was planned, and her remarks also were planned. If in such situations she cannot say what she means, if she cannot catch her own errors in speaking and correct them immediately, if she does that repeatedly, then she is not fit to lead. To apply the Julie Principle in this case of the museum visit, for example, would require that we accept and ignore that she either is too lazy to learn what she should know or that she is incapable of learning what she should know. Neither is acceptable, and therefore applying the Julie Principle likewise is not acceptable. To say, ‘That’s just the way she is’ is to ignore the fact that people can and do change, and sometimes must.

  5. Could it be that Youtube and ABC News have applied the Julie Principle? The videos that each have of Harris’ visit to the museum omit the part where she said there were 400 years of slavery in the U.S. Could it be that they just thought, ‘Ho-hum, another Harris flub which should be ignored’?

  6. It’s difficult to apply anything to a moving target. Nearly ever utterance from Biden & Harris is more shocking than the ones preceding them.
    The letter the President sent out to the CEOs of American oil companies sounds like nationalization and price controls are coming. Biden lived through that and has seen it destroy other countries, but that doesn’t give me any assurance that he won’t do that to the US.
    I’d love nothing more than for Biden & Harris to be predictable enough to apply the Julie Principle.

  7. “Does Harris deserve a Julie Principle pass for her evident inability to think and speak in addition to one for her appalling lack of integrity?”

    Personally I don’t think we should apply the Julie Principle to Vice President Harris, I think her nonsense should be pointed out, how often that nonsense is pointed out is an individual choice.

    As for the Julie Principle in general…
    I’ve actually thought a lot about Julie Principle since reading about it here on Ethics Alarms and while I have absolutely no problem with people making a personal choice to apply the Julie Principle to those in their personal life I have come to the conclusion that I have a real problem with applying it to public figures. As I have said before on Ethics Alarms, “I don’t use the Julie Principle when it comes to racism” I have also made a personal choice that I will no longer apply the Julie Principle to any elected official or prominent public figure, these people made a personal choice to put themself in the spotlight and I won’t dim the bright narcissistic light they’ve chosen to shine on themself. I think applying the Julie Principle to public figures, especially politicians, “could” result in sliding a little down a slippery slope into unintentionally ignoring unethical behaviors. That’s my personal choice, others can make their own choices.

  8. Re “400 years”
    Yesterday, a Facebook group linked to an article about a nonagenarian woman who has apparently walked 2 1/2 miles every Juneteenth for many years in an attempt to raise awareness of the significance of the date–the distance signifying the number of years between emancipation and the reading of General Order #3 in Galveston.
    But the post said that Juneteenth has been celebrated for “over 160 years.” I pointed out the unlikelihood of that statement’s accuracy, given that the event being commemorated happened 157 years ago. I got a snippy reply that they’d correct it to “almost,” but wasn’t this woman wonderful? Sigh.

  9. To my thinking, the essence of the Julie Principle is this:

    Stop trying to convince me of something that I already agree with.

    So if we take fictional politicians A and B, and stipulate that both of them are dunces, then what is the proper response to someone who insists that A is an absolute genius but agrees that B is not at all the sharpest knife in the drawer?

    The Julie Principle then means that it’s fine to argue that A is indeed a dunce and to point it out with available evidence when A shows it to be true. On the other hand, there’s no point in doing the same for B since, in our discussion, the person with whom we’re having the discussion is generally in agreement. If you DO insist, then YOU’RE the asshole, and it’s just “Yeah, I get it, B is an idiot. I’m not arguing that with you.* Why do you keep bringing it up? Just DROP IT already!”

    And in that vein, there was never much of a disagreement from the Right that President Trump was a boor and a bit of an asshole, and there’s not much argument from the Left that Vice-President Harris is a pretty dim bulb. So there’s no point in haranguing about either of them.

    I think THAT’S the best rule-of-thumb for the application of the Julie Principle.

    –Dwayne

    * “I know that B can GET the job, but can he DO the job?”

  10. I think her Authentic Frontier Gibberish is saying, “People of Color are a special group that has unending needs. People of Color will not be free or satisfied with their lot until THET say so. People of Color fully intend to keep moving the goalposts. For starters, we want People of Color to be given a substantial amount of money. We want People of Color to never be jailed or reprimanded for their behavior. We want People of Color to be over-represented in all areas of society and the economy and academia. We want People of Color to control all the levers of power in the country. Then we’ll see what we need at that point.” Ergo, it’s not really gibberish, it’s a demand.

  11. I think Clyburn is supporting Harris, because the Democrats are Democrats first, then US citizens. What’s good for the Democrats is good for the country. This is to protect the party from the depredations of Bernie Sanders. Since Harris is an unprincipled bobble head, she is acceptable to the party poobahs, and they can get her to work with them. Bernie et al are True Believers, and they will not be so amenable.
    I think Harris deserves the Julie Principle, because she spouts off nonsense and laughs like Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker, and those are basically her trademarks.

    • My guess: it’s because of her skin shade, and nothing else. If Clyburn cared more about the party than his “tribe” he would seek someone who wasn’t both unpopular and incompetent. Granted, the options—Bernie, Pete,AOC, etc.—are stunningly bad, but none as bad as Kamala.

  12. Jack asked, “does he care at all about the nation, or is it enough that she’s an idiot “of color”?”

    I think it’s clear to the woke that VP Harris is a woke woman and a person of color and that’s good enough for the reality challenged woke sheeple of the political left to vote for knowing full well that anyone that stands against a “Harris for President” campaign will be tarred as a misogynist and a racist, that’s the end of their arguments.

    Remember…

    Here’s the extreme progressive’s of the Democratic Party four tenants of “truth”…

    1. The left is right.
    2. The right is wrong.
    3. Wrong is evil.
    4. Evil must to be destroyed.

    …that’s the dead end of a progressives’ ability to think critically.

  13. The Julie Principle is *at best* I shrugging of the shoulders that you cannot do anything about a certain person, but that person has a quality you appreciate enough to ignore the ethics flaws. It’s still a rationalization.

    At worst, it’s a type of King’s Pass, where you’ve elevated whatever quality you like to the level of tipping the scales in your mind against the the flood of ethics violations saying otherwise.

    In any case, the Julie Principle fairly applies to people you have the power to cut out of your life, but you don’t.

    I can’t cut Kamala Harris out of my life. So, no, the principle doesn’t apply. All of her miscreance is a fair target all the time.

  14. The Julie Principle should only apply to family and friends. For politicians, first vote them out of office, and to government bureaucrats fire them before you apply it to them. It should only apply to people in their personal lives, not to people with a high public profile.

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