I have low expectations of Joe Biden ethically and intellectually, but this made my head explode.
Three weeks before the November elections, Joe Biden spoke at Lake Michigan College before an audience including Representative Fred Upton, Republican, who represented the area and was in a tough race for reelection. Biden effusively praised Upton, reflecting on his support for cancer research and calling him “one of the finest guys I’ve ever worked with.” Biden’s surprising endorsement was included in Upton’s campaign ads, and the Republican narrowly defeated his Democratic challenger. This week, the New York Times revealed that Biden received $200,000 from the The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan to give the speech, according to a contract obtained by the Times and and its interviews with organizers. The Economic Club of Southwestern Michigan is supported in part by grants from a foundation run by Fred Upton’s family.
I’m sure it’s just a coincidence.
That’s a bribe, my friends. It’s not the illegal kind, though if Upton were a lawyer and he paid Biden to say that he was a great one, that could get Upton suspended or disbarred. Joe Biden, a former Democratic VP with the accumulated prestige and respect that position carries, accepted $200,000 from Republicans to help defeat a fellow Democrat.
Of course that was unethical; also venal, disloyal and dishonest. It was, at very least, what the government ethics regulations call “the appearance of impropriety,” endangering the public trust. What was represented as a genuine endorsement was no more sincere than when celebrities pimp for breakfast cereal or cosmetics; it was baught and paid for. Did Biden’s audience know he was paid that much endorse Upton? Did the voters who saw his remarks not think, “This guy must be great: he was endorsed by a leader of the Democratic Party!”
Biden now acts as if there is nothing to be ashamed of, telling the US Conference of Mayors after the story came out, “I like Republicans. Bless me, father, for I have sinned!” This is deceit and obfuscation: it’s not the endorsement itself that is damning, it’s the bribe. Biden accepted an obscene speaking fee to throw a fellow Democrat under the bus. Vox, which has about as much integrity as Biden has, also tried to lead readers away from the real issue. “Praising a House Republican for their good work on cancer research isn’t exactly at odds with how Biden views himself or wants to present himself to the public. He wants people to believe he can bring Americans together. But if Biden decides to jump into the race, the question will be whether that’s the message Democratic primary voters want to hear right now,” the progressive site concluded.
Gee, do you think voters might also have doubts about the character and integrity of a politician who takes a bribe to undermine his own party? Vox doesn’t even seem to see that as an issue, or sees that it is an issue and is helping Uncle Joe bury it.
Biden is currently the front-runner in polling regarding possible Democratic Presidential candidates.
Progressives and the news media have decided that they don’t like the Constitution, so they are actively trying to confuse the public, which is depressingly easy.
We know Democrats and the mainstream news media hate the Electoral College and don’t view it as “legitimate.” The latest anti-Constitutional spin is that there is a national “popular vote” that should rigidly dictate the party representation in Congress. Vox’s Ezra Klein suggested that a revolution was coming if the imaginary Congressional “popular vote favored Democrats and Republicans held the House, but that’s Ezra and Vox—I assumed that this was an aberration. No! The same wacked-out theory was all over social media. The concept is based on regarding the Democratic and Republican Parties as Borg-like hives, with there being no legitimate distinction between on party candidate or another, as if no voter actually cares about experience, character, the record, skills, or any of those minor matters. Party is All.
I hate to keep pointing out that the Left is behaving, speaking and thinking increasingly like totalitarians, but the Left is behaving, speaking and thinking increasingly like totalitarians. Here’s what one of my Facebook friends, a lawyer and pretty openly a militant socialist, wrote yesterday (in part):
If you are on the left, fight for your ideal candidate in the Democratic primary and then vote Democrat in the general. The primary is the time for “who should represent the left in this election.”The general is the time to support the left over the right.
I don’t care if that nominee is “too far left” (Gillum) or “too centrist” (Sinema or McCaskill) or just “not exciting enough.” In every general election in the United States there are two candidates who have a chance to win. The Democrat is on the left, the Republican is on the right.
There is never a situation in which the agenda of any self-identified progressive or liberal or marxist or socialist or lefty or whatever is advanced by a win by the Republican. Never.
As anyone who has read Ethics Alarms for any length of time knows, I reject that argument absolutely. It is unethical, flat out. The agenda of our representative democracy is to have qualified, dedicated representatives and leaders whose judgment we can trust. It is, however, a nice summary of how someone can rationalize voting for people like Hillary Clinton, Bob Menendez, Nancy Pelosi and Maxine Waters. Or Jack the Ripper, as long as he ran as a Democrat.
But I digress. Totalitarians can only prevail by misleading the public, and so the “popular vote” confusion is apparently deemed worth promoting. ABC’s News’s Matthew Dowd brought up the fact that more ballots were cast in favor of the total number of Democratic candidates than Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate. That’s a nice piece of meaningless trivia, but he raised it as if it meant something. It doesn’t, but “The View’s” Joy Behar—remember, this woman has a daily platform to spout her analysis of news and politics—finished Dowd’s thought by saying, “Because of gerrymandering.” Continue reading
Prelude: I guess I’m glad that I don’t have to face the dilemma I described in the previous post. Giving my Facebook friends the in-the-face-rubbing they so richly deserved—yes, it genuinely ticks me off to be accused of taking talking points from Sean Hannity when I point out really, really bad arguments by any objective standard—would have been wrong, but it would have felt so, so good. Actually, I could still justify some nyah-nyahing, because the “resistance” and the Democrats failed miserably last night, but they won’t admit it, and it’s hard to get those who have technically won to admit that, in fact, they lost.
But they did. Let me reiterate, in case there is any confusion, that nothing could make me vote for Donald Trump, now or ever. It is a national tragedy that someone with his temperament and ethical deficits is in the White House. He is an ethics corrupter, like Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barry Bonds, and many others, but the entire Democratic Party has become an ethics corrupter of far more consequence and danger to the country. There are too many factors to balance and weigh, but I think the reason there was no “blue wave” last night is that much of America understands the latter as well despite no illusions about President Trump.
All the Democrats had to do was to be fair, civil, and rational over the past few months, and their dreams might have come true. That they couldn’t do it suggests to me that they are incapable of being fair, civil, or rational, and who wants to trust such individuals with power? As I wrote in a comment this morning,
“All the hate, all the anger, all the boycotts and obscenity, all the fake news, all the legal harassment, all the Sally Yates/James Comey sabotage, all the judicial partisan blocking, all the one-way ridicule on the comedy shows and the bullying on social media, all the Republican retirements, all the NeverTrump tantrums from people like Flake, McCain, George Will and others, the late attacks and threats by right-wing wackos—all of that, and the Democrats picked up a lousy 35 seats or so, with a President who (probably) has an approval rating under water?”
“Mid-terms are always examples of regressions to the mean. Everyone once thought that the GOP would lose both Houses and the White House in the last election. Trump behaves like a baboon,and even while his policies are working, people like me are embarrassed to have an ass like this representing the country. The Left’s tactics didn’t work; they played into Trump’s hands.”
This can’t be spun, though the news media will try: In Obama’s first mid-term, the GOP picked up 63 seats. In Clinton’s first, the flips were 54.
1. Speaking of spin, which is the process of misleading the public about events for partisan purposes (it’s unethical) …it’s fun/depressing to consider some of the various headlines linked at RealClearPolitics:
- “Split Decision: Divided Government Returns to D.C.” Carl Cannon, RealClearPolitics
(The government was already divided. Trump’s not a Republican, and Republicans within his administration were and are working against him.
- “For Democrats–and America–a Sigh of Relief” —Frank Bruni, New York Times
(What a great tell. It’s adorable that to the Times and its resistance pundits, the only Americans they acknowledge are the ones that agrees with The Times.)
- “Democrats Won the House, But Trump Won the Election”— Ed Rogers, Washington Post
- “Trump’s Political Strategy Is Failing” —Ezra Klein, Vox
Klein and Vox are hilarious. I wonder what color the sky is on their planet?
- “Voters Want Balance, Not Resistance”— Josh Kraushaar, National Journal
I think that’s a fair analysis, but will it stop House Democrats from spending most of their time trying to “get” Trump? Of course not.
- “Kavanaugh Fight Was the Turning Point for Republicans”— Byron York, DC Examiner
Not just Republicans, but fair and reasonable Americans. But the ethics corrupting Democratic party has minimized the number of such Americans. Here is part of a letter in the New York Times magazine, extolling an article about the travails of a convicted felon trying to get a law license after serving time for a robbery at gunpoint he committed when he was 16:
“This article left me in tears both for Betts’s years long effort to become a lawyer despite his rehabilitation and for the continued battle to make life fair for brown-skinned people in America. I couldn’t help thinking that our government just voted to allow an alleged sexual predator, and clearly a very angry white man, to the Supreme Court for life….”
Hey, Amy Gittleman (that’s the letter-writer’s name), I’m accusing you of sexual assault. Now you are exactly as much an “alleged sexual predator” as Brett Kavanaugh. Are you angry about that? Of course Kavanaugh was angry: he was smeared in public by a 30-year-old discovered memory alleging his misconduct as a minor. But you think that a conviction of a felony while a black man was a minor shouldn’t be a bar to practicing law, while an unsupported accusation of unreported misconduct as a minor that surfaces with a political agenda should be a bar to joining the Supreme Court if the accused is a “white man.” Got it. You’re an idiot. Who or what made you this way?
- “Democrats’ Health-Care Revenge”—Jeff Spross, The Week
Classic example of spin. Pick what you want the Democratic House gains to mean, and say that they mean that.
“Dems’ Victory in House Provides Crucial Protection for Mueller”—Elie Honig, CNN
Another tell. The mainstream news media narrative is that the Mueller investigation really, really, really is going to find impeachable acts by the President. It should be obvious that it’s not, and that if an Evil Traitorous Trump had any reason to fear Mueller, he would have fired him long ago. Mueller needs no protection, just a sympathetic and partisan ethics panel.
But this is CNN.
- “Exit Polls: Majority Say Russia Probe ‘Politically Motivated'” —Philip Klein, DC Examiner
This is because the Russia probe was and is politically motivated. “You can fool some of the people…”
2. But enough about the elections…Let’s talk about our future military leaders and animal cruelty. At West Point, before the annual rivalry football game, two cadets kidnapped two Air Force Academy falcons, the football team’s mascots, threw sweaters over them and stuffed them into dog crates. Aurora, a two-decade old bird, bloodied her wings from thrashing inside the crate, and sustained life-threatening injuries. Army officials apologized and promised a full investigation.
“We are taking this situation very seriously, and this occurrence does not reflect the Army or USMA core values of dignity and respect,” the academy said in a statement.
The two cadets have the judgement of an Adam Sandler character, and should be kicked out after a hearing. That’s all we need is military officers with that level of sensitivity and common sense.
3. “Walking Dead” ethics. I once regarded the AMC show as the best ethics drama on TV. Indeed, it still has flashes of that: one of the speeches a dead character gave to Rick Grimes in a fevered dream last episode was a wonderful description of ethics. (If only I could find the video clip…. ) But a few seasons ago (this is Season 9) the show started cheating, making the audience believe a favorite character had died horribly by deceptively framing the scene, having the executions of main character Rick Grimes and his son prevented at the last minute by a huge Bengal tiger that was somehow invisible until he pounced on the would-be murderer, and now, strike three, “Rick Grimes’ final episode.”
For weeks, we were told that main character Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, would finally get chomped or otherwise killed, joining most of the other characters that started out with him in a desperate effort to survive a zombie apocalypse. We even saw him apparently blow himself up, char-broiling hundreds of zombies in the process in a final heroic act, since he was fatally wounded anyway having impaled a kidney on a steel construction rod, bleeding non-stop, and being on the verge of shock trauma. And then–surprise! At the end of the episode, we see Rick miraculously alive, winging off to somewhere in a helicopter. You see, said the producer on the weekly post-episode show, “Talking Dead,” it was Rick’s final episode on THIS show, but the character survived to emote another day, in a movie, or a spin-off, or maybe even “Walking Dead” after its fans get over being lied to once again.
The Democrats deserve to lose these midterms more than any party has deserved to lose since Republicans got clobbered after Watergate. The corrupt Tom Delay-led GOP Congress during the Bush years was pretty bad, but that was just the elected officials. The whole Democratic Party has disgraced itself along with “the resistance,” the news media, Hollywood, academia and social media for two full years.
This is hardly a new or original interpretation. Lindsey Graham, as close to an ethical member of Congress as I could name, put it pretty clearly squarely in his perfect rant during the Kavanaugh hearing: these people want power so much they will do and say almost anything. Over the past two years, they have relentlessly engaged in fearmongering, while accusing Trump of fearmongering. They have engaged in intimidation, defiance of democratic traditions and institutions, and rejection of core values that are bulwarks of democracy while accusing Trump of being a fascist. By enlisting the mainstream news media as a partisan ally when it is critical that journalists remain objective and neutral, it has crippled the integrity of a crucial component of what makes a democracy work. Graham accurately described this part of the tragedy as well:
“Well, one of the things we’ll learn from Kavanaugh is how in the tank the media really is for the other side. I don’t think they’re the enemy of the people. They’re just allies of the Democratic Party. If a Republican had done to a Democratic nominee what they did to Kavanaugh, it would be front page news everywhere. If Barack Obama’s jobs numbers were anywhere close to what we’re talking about, they would stop the Earth from rotating to make sure everybody heard about it. So the bottom line is it doesn’t work anymore. MSNBC and NBC have become one when it comes to the news cycle. Saturday Night Live is making fun of a guy who lost his eye in Afghanistan. There is a backlash growing in this country from the over the top effort by the left to portray everything conservative as bad and mean and un-American.
The news media deserves to lose the mid-terms, and imagine where we are when that statement actually makes sense. Continue reading
Good Morning, Voters!
1. From the “bias makes you stupid” files. Yesterday two smart, once reasonable Massachusetts lawyers of the female persuasion debated me regarding the appropriateness of Dr. Blasey Ford’s late and unsubstantiated hit on Brett Kavanaugh. They were obnoxious about it, too, rolling their eyes and giggling to each other at my position, with one saying that I sounded like her “Southern friends.” I like them both, but a better example of how bias makes you stupid could hardly be devised. Their primary reason why Blasey Ford’s suddenly recalled trauma from the distant past should have been allowed to smear a qualified nominee for the Supreme Court in nationally televised hearings was this: women and girls in those les-enlightened days had good reason not to report rape and sexual assault, as they often were not believed and because a “boys will be boys” attitude prevailed in the culture. Moreover, they said, almost in unison, women still have good reasons not to report sexual assault. “Do you have daughters?” they asked, “gotcha!”-style.
To anyone whose ethics alarms are in good working order and who recognizes the difference between an emotional argument born of gender and partisan alliances and a good one, the rebuttal is obvious and comprises a general ethics principle:
One person’s misfortune, no matter how tragic or unjust, never justifies being unfair or unjust to somebody else.
Accusing anyone of anything three decades after the alleged incident is unfair.
Publicizing an allegation that cannot be verified and for which there is no supporting evidence is unfair.
Using alleged misconduct as a minor to impugn the character of an adult and a professional with an unblemished record of good conduct is unfair.
Dispensing with a presumption of innocence under any circumstances is unfair.
Dispensing with due process under any circumstances is unfair, because due process is itself fairness. (The two lawyers kept saying that this was not a trail so due process was not involved. The argument is either disingenuous or ignorant. Due process just means procedural fairness, in any context.)
Punishing one individual male for the fact that other males have escaped accountability for sexual misconduct is unfair-–and illogical.
Giving special considerations to one individual female because other females have been unfairly treated regarding their allegations is unfair—and illogical.
The two female lawyers kept saying that my position is a conservative one. It is not. It is not an ideological position in any way, though their position certainly is. May they regain intellectual integrity soon. And I forgive them for being so utterly insulting during our debate.
2. This is essentially a Big Lie argument from Vox: Ezra Klein, Vox creator, tweeted,
I don’t think people are ready for the crisis that will follow if Democrats win the House popular vote but not the majority. After Kavanaugh, Trump, Garland, Citizens United, Bush v. Gore, etc, the party is on the edge of losing faith in the system (and reasonably so).
An esteemed commenter recently accused me of being unfairly dismissive and insulting when a commenter dissents. That’s occasionally true but not generally true, and one circumstance where I may become dismissive and insulting is when a position is indefensible, like this one. It is either dishonest or so obtuse that no one capable of writing it down should be trusted again. Continue reading
(And HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my brilliant, talented, always challenging, Trump-hating lawyer little sister, Edith Sophia Marshall!)
1 Quiz results: about 90% of responders found the drag Python sketch about a ladies club re-enactment of Pearl Harbor funny. Whew. As for the one voter who said that it was unfunny because it made light of human tragedy and violence, I’m glad you never attended any of the stage comedies I directed.
2. Ending birthright citizenship for illegal immigrant offspring? President Trump told Axios in an interview that he was preparing to issue an executive order to end birthright citizenship for children of immigrants here illegally. “It was always told to me that you needed a constitutional amendment. Guess what? You don’t…You can definitely do it with an Act of Congress. But now they’re saying I can do it just with an executive order.”
I have found no authorities who agree with Trump’s lawyers, if indeed they are telling him that. If they are, I don’t blame him for listening to them: if there was ever a President who was legally clueless, it’s this one. Some conservatives are livid about the suggestion (obviously all illegal immigration-boosting liberals are as well), noting that this proposal is exactly as unconstitutional as Obama’s immigration-related EOs. I tend to agree with them. Ethically, the birthright rule is an incentive to break the law and anachronistic, since it originated when there were no legal restrictions on immigration nor reasons to have any. if the question gets to the Supreme Court, however, it will pose an integrity test for the conservative justices. Their philosophy is that you can’t just re-write or ignore the Constitution when it gets in the way of desirable policy, and this is a perfect example.
It is also very possible—likely?— that the President was using this trial balloon to energize the anti-illegal immigration base as the “caravan” continued its march. Continue reading
Focus, Jack, focus!
1. Not the World Series, ETHICS! And speaking of ethics…
- What kind of lie is this? Rich Hill, the Dodgers starting pitcher last night who almost unhittable, said in an interview that he “liked” his team’s chances of winning the Series despite being behind 3 games to 1. World Series history and basic math says that the chances are “slim.” He likes the slim chances? Does he really like them? Does he believe liking them means they are more likely to break his way?
Is he just lying to buck up his team and its fans, when he really doesn’t “like” the chances at all, not being, you know, an idiot? Does that make it a “good lie”?
- The Fox World Series broadcast team of Joe Buck and John Smoltz is incompetent. In a potentially game-changing play in which the Boston catcher’s throw attempting to complete a home-to-first double-play sailed past first, allowing the game’s first run to score, the two alleged experts said that there was no interference. Wrong. There was interference, and it was obvious: Bellinger, the Dodgers runner, was on the infield grass rather than the yard-wide running lane to the right of the baseline, which exists precisely for plays like that, when the catcher needs a lane to throw unimpeded to first base to get the out. It should have been called runner’s interference, completing a double-play and ending the inning without a run scoring. Instead, the run scored on the errant throw from Boston catcher Vasquez, and the next batter, Yasiel Puig, hit a three-run homer to give L.A. a 4-0 lead. There was no discussion of the rules and issues involved.
But after the game, over at the MLB cable channel, former Yankees manager Joe Girardi and baseball analyst Harold Reynolds graphically illustrated that the interference should have been called. This is what the Fox broadcasters are paid for: to explain the nuances of the rules and the game to the average World Series viewer, whose baseball acumen is rudimentary. The umpires missed the play, even though as Reynold pointed out, it was called many times during the season. Umpires are reluctant to call interference of any kind during the post-season, because it’s messy, and guarantees controversy and an on-field arguments.
- For an unusual first ball ceremony, former Red Sox-Oakland Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley (Now an ace Boston TV color man, known New England-wide as “Eck”) threw a pitch to ex-Dodgers catcher Steve Yeager as Kirk Gibson stood in the batters box. Gibson, you should recall, hit the famous “The Natural” home run off Eckersley to win Game #1 of the 1988 World Series, after limping to the plate as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the 9th inning. How many ex-players would voluntarily re-enact their worst moment on the field on national TV? Imagine Ralph Branca throwing a ceremonial first pitch to Bobby Thompson.
Eck personifies humility and exemplary sportsmanship.
- Trump Tweets, Baseball Division. This made me laugh out loud, I have to admit. During the game, the President criticized Dodgers manager Dave Roberts decision to replace Hill with his first baseball tweet:
“It is amazing how a manager takes out a pitcher who is loose & dominating through almost 7 innings, Rich Hill of Dodgers, and brings in nervous reliever(s) who get shellacked. 4 run lead gone. Managers do it all the time, big mistake!”
I wish the President would confine all of his tweeting to second-guessing managers and coaches. It’s obnoxious, but harmless. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, presented with the tweet during his post-game press conference, handed it ethically and well. Steely-faced, he asked, “The President said that?” and responded, sufficiently respectfully, “I’m happy he was tuning in and watching the game. I don’t know how many Dodgers games he’s watched. I don’t think he was privy to the conversation. That’s one man’s opinion.” Roberts was referring to the fact that Hill told him that he might be getting fatigued. Nonetheless, lots of people other than the President questioned Robert’s decision.
It is pure hindsight bias, of course, as well as consequentialism. If the Dodger bullpen had held a late-inning 4-run lead as every previous World Series bullpen had, nobody would be criticizing Roberts.
2. The confiscated handicapped van. [Pointer: Michael Ejercito] Andrea Santiago’s $15,000 van with a customized wheelchair lift was confiscated by the City of Chicago as an abandoned vehicle. She has polio and multiple sclerosis, and the family claims the vehicle was parked legally and obviously not abandoned. This is a Roshomon situation, for the accounts of the city and the family are irreconcilable. Chicago’s Department of Streets & Sanitation sent this statement: Continue reading
Res ipsa loquitur.
I especially like “serial bomber.”
NPR—remember, you pay for this bilge— embraced a similar theme in this tweet:
The list of prominent people who were sent suspicious packages reads like a Trump enemies list: politicians and Trump critics who are often targeted in his rally speeches and tweets.
Like the late night comedy shows and Saturday Night Live, segments of what was once regarded as the legitimate mainstream news media are choosing to pander to the virulently anti-President Trump audience, and defying the sensibilities of anyone who has a shred of fairness or objectivity. This is straight up, indefensible, partisan hostility, not just unethical but willfully unethical.
1. Dave Roberts did indeed get a standing ovation from the Boston fans when he was introduced in the pre-game ceremonies. As I promised…
2. Another family has written an attack letter against a member running for office. This is the second instance of this ugly campaign tactic this election cycle. I don’t care what party is involved, or who the candidates are. Amy family members who would do this are contemptible. The Laxalt family members, the culprits this time, even wrote that they didn’t know their target very well. If they don’t know him, why do their opinions matter? Have they no decency? Has no one any decency?
3. I thought my left-wing echo-chamber addled Facebook friends were kidding when they suggested that President Trump and the Republicans were paying for the herd of illegal aliens marching on our borders. No, apparently some progressive pundits and journalists are actually claiming this, with a Blasey Ford level of evidence. You know, none. So illegal immigrants, encouraged by open-borders rhetoric from American progressives, Democrats and the biased news media, set out to force themselves past our laws and borders, and because this display risks enlightening the public about just how irresponsible and dangerous the left’s romanticized fantasy about illegal immigration is, they are denying that it’s real, and blaming it on Trump. Amazing.
4. Now here’s a campaign controversy you don’t see very often: the Democratic candidate for the Minnesota State legislature may have married her brother. I might argue that such incest is not necessarily relevant to her qualifications as a legislature, except that there is evidence that the marriage was a factor in possible immigration fraud and student loan fraud. Continue reading