Elizabeth Warren, The Presidency, And The Female Leadership Problem

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for President is reportedly running out of money, and the other woman in the race for the Democratic nomination is counting on prevailing as the “none of the above” candidate, a long-shot at best. Meanwhile, the party that pronounced itself “the party of women” in 2012—with Bill Clinton as its star convention speaker!—now seems to be looking at a battle among three white men in their late seventies. This is not where progressives thought they would be at this point in the giddy summer of 2016.

Naturally, feminists and the news media are determined to explain this as the result of plain old, typical, anti-female bigotry.  The explanation is simpleminded, hypocritical and incoherent. From the Times:

[I]n dozens of interviews with Democrats over the past several months, at events for Ms. Warren, debate watch parties and polling places, many professional, college-educated women say they have been enraged by the obsession with electability in the 2020 race. These are women who see themselves in Ms. Warren and argue that simply by asking whether a woman can be elected, pundits and voters who fancy themselves as such, are creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. For mothers, this moment includes the difficulty of speaking about gender to school-age girls who do not care about the finer points of policy details, but are happy to declare, “I want a woman president.”

Let’s look at the components of that statement, from a piece about how women allegedly feel that her gender has kept Elizabeth Warren from being a strong contender for the nomination.

  • It is the Democrats and progressives, specifically the “resistance,” who have made “electability” the primary factor in choosing the blue party’s nominee in 2020. Such minor items as policy, experience and character have been thrown aside by constant repetition of the myth that anyone, literally anyone, would be preferable to having President Voldemort in the White House. The members of the Facebook Borg constantly say that they will vote for whoever the Democratic Party nominates, which means that they have surrendered any discretion regarding qualifications for leadership. All they care about is winning. In that context, of course electability is essential.

Saying so isn’t sexist. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Recent Developments In The Democratic Nomination Race

  • From CBS News: “Congregants at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, silently protested 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg as he delivered remarks there Sunday, standing and turning their backs on the former New York City mayor. Bloomberg addressed the congregation at Brown Chapel AME Church during a church service in which he discussed voter suppression and the fight for civil rights. But roughly 10 minutes into his remarks, several in attendance rose from their seats and silently turned away from him.The churchgoers remained standing through the end of Bloomberg’s remarks.”

Comment: Go ahead, Mike, spend your way out of this.

I had so many annoying discussions with Facebook Trump-haters who were  pinning their desperate hopes on Bloomberg to take the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump in November. Their logic: he would spend however much money it took. But people, even smart and experienced people, tend to wildly over-estimate the power of money, marketing, and advertising. People are lazy, gullible and often stupid, but they aren’t that lazy, gullible and stupid: no amount of hype and saturation advertising will persuade a market that a  self-evidently bad product is a good one.  Bloomberg is a bad product, at least for the Presidency. His record is wrong, his tools are inadequate, his character won’t be tolerated outside of the Big Apple. Hatred of Trump isn’t enough, and, as the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love.”

  • Here’s the President of the United States doing a “Dorf” imitation to mock Bloomberg’s height.

Comment: I mention this because it’s funny. Wrong, but funny. Otherwise, I’m not going to complain about how un-presidential it is. This is how Trump is, and if he’s the President, this what Trump being President is and will be. Like it, tolerate it, or lump it.

The Julie Principle. Continue reading

OK, I’m Making The Call: Joe Biden Gets The Benefit Of The Julie Principle From Now On…

That does it.

After today, I’m not mentioning, complaining about or laughing at Joe Biden’s latest blithering gibberish and evidence of advancing cognitive rot. The Julie Principle now applies.

First the provocation: today Joe said at a South Carolina campaign appearance, “I’m looking forward to appointing the first African-American woman to the United States Senate.”

Unlike many of Joe’s brain farts, I have no idea whathe wanted to say. Do you? Senators aren’t appointed any more, and Joe knows that, having been elected as one himself. He also knows that the first African American woman was elected to the Senate 27 years ago, that being Carol Mosely Braun. What could he possibly been trying to say?

Well, it doesn’t matter. Joe has activated the Julie Principle. Please read this post and this one to catch up; I am recently sensitive to repeating myself here. To be as brief as possible, the Julie Principle, named after the character who sings the famous ballad from “Showboat” that begins, “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,” in which she admits that her lover is scum, and won’t change, but she loves him, and accepts his flaws.  My father, whose longtime best friend was a sociopath, the opposite of my father in every way, explained that his friend’s character was evident , set, and unchanging, and once Dad understood that, he had two choices: accept his flaw and remain friends with him, or decide that he was irredeemably  corrupt, and have nothing more to do with him. Continue reading

Seven Ethics Observations On The Chaotic South Carolina Democratic Candidates Debate.

CBS hosted the debate, and its transcript is here.

1. Well that was embarrassing. I tried to find a YouTube clip of all the candidates simultaneously shouting,  talking over each other and waving their arms; I couldn’t, but I’m sure there are several, and I’m sure they will be used in Republican campaign ads. This group is objectively horrible even when they are coherent and well-behaved, but as I watched this debacle, I thought, “Boy, Facebook is really going to be cranky tomorrow.”

2. It’s not just the candidates who are to blame, of course. The story of the night was just how incompetent the CBS moderators were: timid, unprofessional, passive. In a situation like that, you have to blow a whistle, stop and warn everyone. You tell the group that if they don’t behave, there won’t be any more questions. You cut their mics if necessary. The moderators have a duty to do whatever is necessary to keep order, because the debate, which is supposed to help voters decide who our next President should be, is literally useless unless there can be an orderly and audible exchange of ideas.

Once again, the inept Gayle King was at the center of a televised mess. Oprah Winfrey’s “gal pal” <cough> has her job for one reason, and it’s her connections <cough>what is this in my throat?–and no other good reason. She’s a local TV news mediocrity elevated  beyond her merits, an example of the Peter Principle in action with a the ugly element of unethical influence added.

Usually the impact of King’s  glaring lack of ability is minimal, but in a case like this it does actual damage. Ann Althouse picked up on one example last night that annoyed me as well. Late in the debate, the moderators again asked the seven candidates to take a break from shouting over each other, and Joe Biden said, “Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It’s my Catholic school training.”

…Gayle King responds, “Vice President Biden, you’re a gentleman. Good home training. Thank you, sir.” But Joe Biden doesn’t want to be Gayle King’s good little boy. He says, “Yeah, gentlemen don’t get very well treated up here.”

 Good home training. Ridiculous. Biden was making a criticism — “Why am I stopping? No one else stops. It’s my Catholic school training” — a justified criticism, and Gayle King understood or pretended to understand that to be supportive of her and justifying her bonding with Biden, like the 2 of them are well bred and polite, but he cut her off.

“Gentlemen don’t get very well treated up here” — that’s superficially polite, not telling King she’s not doing her job, but the treatment in question is from the moderators.

He’s saying: I have been polite and gracious, but you’ve presided over an event where rudeness wins. Catholic school may have taught me good behavior, but you, Gayle King, are teaching bad behavior.

… it’s interesting that King changed “Catholic school training” to “home training.” She cleaned the religion out of it for him. She erased his Catholic identity. And if it’s home training, the implication is domestication by a woman.

Continue reading

Oh-oh…Ethics Quote Of The Week: Joe Biden

“My name’s Joe Biden, I’m a Democratic candidate for the United States senate—if you like what you see, help out, if not, vote for the other Biden”

Democratic candidate and gaffe grandmaster Joe Biden, speaking today, before tonight’s South Carolina debate,  to a South Carolina campaign crowd.

It isn’t that Biden’s statement has anything to do with ethics, whatever he was saying.  It’s that his bizarre pronouncement raises an immediate ethics issue. If we were playing “Ethics Password,” the announcer would say in hushed tones, “The password is fairness.” What is fair to Biden here, and how can I get past my biases to decide? I have believed for more than a decade that Biden is an idiot-savant with surprising political skills; I don’t believe you can say ridiculous and nonsensical things as often as he has for so long and not be inherently untrustworthy and more than a little addled. I also have found his demeanor, appearance and increasing tendency to speak in  gibberish of late evidence of precipitously declining faculties from a height that was never all that impressive to begin with.

And yet I am in favor of  giving any politician, disk jockey or improv comic the benefit of the doubt, because I know the perils of speaking extemporaneously from first-hand experience. Thus the question is, how eager should we be to shrug off this latest jaw-dropper from Biden as the natural and forgivable result of flying around the country and its inevitable “If this is Tuesday, it must be Saginaw” confusion? Is it just a particularly egregious example of wacky old Joe being wacky old Joe, and thus an occurrence where the Julie Principle is in play, or, in the worst case, is this latest head-scratcher so close to the former VP showing up nude with a duck on his head that an intervention is called for?

Help me out here.

 

Ethics Observations On This Hilarious Trolling Competition

  • The President  wins, obviously. It does not demonstrate good judgment to challenge a master at his own game, on his home turf.

The ethics values at issue: hubris, competence.

  • It’s good to see that Mike Bloomberg is determined to elevate the level of campaign discourse, isn’t it?

Of course, Trump’s trademarked person insults about adversaries’ appearance are unpresidential and infantile, but they are his unapologetic style. Did Bloomberg not watch the 2016 GOP debates, when Marco Rubio lowered himself to Trump’s level with return personal insults only to see his support erode as a result? Did Bloomberg’s advisors?

Running against a President on the basis that he is a boor and an asshole and behaving like a boor and an asshole to do it is both hypocritical and stupid. Moreover, Rubio’s blunder is a matter of record. Bloomberg isn’t doing his homework.

Ethics values: Honesty, integrity, competence, diligence. Continue reading

Seven Ethics Observations On The Las Vegas Democratic Candidates Debate

The transcript is here.

This was certainly the most entertaining of the debates so far, not that entertainment should be the purpose of such things. The substitution of Trump-obsessed billionaire Michael Bloomberg for Trump-obsessed billionaire Tom Steyer appeared to alter the chemistry of the entire group, rendering everyone nastier and antagonistic, and to each other, not President Trump. Steyer, after all, was always a pure vanity candidate, and like Stephen Yang, irrelevant, taking up space, and clogging the pipeline for voters to figure out who might be the best candidate. Bloomberg, incompetently and hypocritically, was considered a leading contender by “experts” (incompetently) and Democrats (hypocritically) as he entered his first debate.

1. Bloomberg, as I expected but far more spectacularly than I expected, proved that he isn’t a top contender no matter how much he spends. The former NYC mayor stood there with a perpetual ‘why do I have to put up with these peasants?’ look on his face, and though he had to know he would come under fire, appeared to be unprepared.

Elizabeth Warren’s (and to a lesser extent, Joe Biden’s) crushing attack on his (terrible) responses in defense of his stop-andfrisk policies in New York City (a utilitarian toss-up, but not for a party in which racial profiling is considered per se evil) and accusations of allowing a hostile work environment in his business reminded me of Chris Christie’s merciless humiliation of poor Marco Rubio in 2016. In particular, Bloomberg was a deer caught in the headlights when challenged on his transparency and asked to release women who had made complaints in his workplace from their non-disclosure agreements. His answer– “I’ve said we’re not going to get — to end these agreements because they were made consensually and they have every right to expect that they will stay private”—was nonsense of the sort I particularly detest. No one who understands what a non-disclosure agreement is could respond to that with anything but, “Huh? How stupid do you think I am?” Bloomberg, however, was counting on the ignorance of the public.  Releasing  women from the deals they made doesn’t affect their privacy: if they don’t want to talk, they don’t have to. All it means is that they get to keep their hush money, and not lose it if they don’t hush.

Competent moderators would have and should have  pointed that out, but you know—Chuck Todd. NBC.

Bloomberg started out with deceit—“I knew what to do after 9/11 and brought the city back stronger than ever.”  He didn’t become mayor of New York until four full months after 9/11.  His performance went downhill from there. Anyone who got excited at the prospect of him being the nominee after last night needs to see a neurologist. Continue reading

Comment Of The Day: “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel ‘IQ 83’ Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is”

I want to express my admiration and appreciation to the Ethics Alarms comment gang for adding quality content to the blog while I was occupied in involuntary technology wars. The comments were copious and uniformly excellent, with several strong Comment of the Day candidates. In fact, I feel completely superfluous.

Here is Chris Marschner’s Comment of the Day on the post, “More Evidence That Arthur Herzog’s Novel ‘IQ 83’ Is Coming True—Beside The Fact That Bernie Sanders Is Leading The Race For The Democratic Nomination, That Is“:

While the focus is on Michelle Wu, Bloomberg’s past comments regarding the intellectual skill sets of farming and manufacturing are beyond the pale for stupidity. He flat out stated that farming requires only the ability to dig a hole and plant a seed, while manufacturing – using a lathe – one only needs to turn on the machine and make it go the right way.

Sure, he was not running for President at the time he made those comments but for him to suggest that the analytical problem solving skills the information age requires are not present in these occupations is prima facie evidence that he either lacks analytical skills when he made such a deduction, or his cerebral library of information on occupational skill sets has too few volumes of information.

While we are closer to AI than we were when Bloomberg established his financial reporting enterprise that allowed investors to make better investing decisions, most computing still relies on if x do y, if not do something else. If the computer cannot make sense of the data it returns an error code and stops, Fundamentally the computer says, in the immortal words of the robot from Lost in Space ” That Does Not Compute”. Continue reading

Amy Gets A “Gotcha!”

Senator Amy Klobuchar, the suddenly surging Democratic Presidential candidate, stumbled when she was quizzed by reporter Guadalupe Venegas of Telemundo on the name of the president of Mexico.

When asked “Can you tell me his name?” about the leader of the rather important U.S. neighbor to the south, Klobuchar answered “No.”

It is Andrés Manuel López Obrador,  known by his initials, AMLO ,  who took office in December 2018. (I had to look it up.) Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend Joe Biden!

Once again, the accountability concept is eluding Democrats.

Joe Biden is many things, few of them admirable, though he has been bolstered by either gullible or complicit journalism for decades, He is not, however, responsible for the gruesome state of the current Democratic Presidential field, nor is it Joe’s fault that Democrats are facing the prospect another defeat at the hands of Donald Trump, this one worse than the first.

In the wake of the impending collapse of Biden’s campaign, accelerated by his embarrassing showing in New Hampshire, the memo has already gone out, it seems, recruiting pundits and others to blame Joe for the current mess.

Jonathan Chait has always been one of the less impressive progressive mouthpieces in the news media, with “think pieces” that seldom show much quality thought and advocacy skills that would fail a First Year law student moot court competition. Chait was in typical form, which is to say “poor,” with this essay  titled “Biden’s Campaign Was a Disaster For Liberalism and the Democratic Party,” which concludes,

Right. It’s Joe’s fault. The fact that the Democrats tossed away all the traditions of minimal cross- party comity and attempted a never-ending coup for President Trump’s entire term: that’s on Joe. The fact that three anti-Jewish, anti-American, far, far Left women prone to saying vulgar, stupid and bigoted things, handicapped by varied ethical problems have become prominent symbols of the Democratic Party: Biden’s fault. That the Dracula-like romance between disaffected members of the Left coalition and government dominance over the economy and personal liberties has once again risen from the dead…it’s that damn Biden again! The contrived impeachment was botched so badly that it made the President more popular rather then less? That’s Joe’s doing too. Continue reading