Observations On The Latest Democratic Candidate’s Debate

1. The futile, meandering, preaching to the choir debate this week, played against the backdrop of the Democratic Party’s disastrous impeachment hearings, should have made the purpose of the latter clear as crystal for anyone not in denial.

The hearings, like Mueller’s unprofessional and unethical statements after his report was submitted, are designed to “soften” up the President and wound him before the campaign, so he can be bested by one of the stunningly weak options the party has gathered for itself.

This is a misuse of the impeachment process, and was devised as one long, long ago. Thus Rep. Al Green admitted last week that impeaching Trump has been his long-time quest. And Atty. General Barr, to his great credit, made the soft coup plot explicit in his recent speech, saying,

“Unfortunately through the past few years we have seen these conflicts take on an entirely new character. Immediately after President Trump won election, opponents inaugurated what they called ‘The Resistance’ and they rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver to sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration. The fact of the matter is: that in waging a scorched earth, no holds-barred war of resistance against this administration, it is the left that is engaged in the systemic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law. . .

“This is a very dangerous and indeed incendiary notion to import into the politics of a Democratic republic. The fact is, that, yes, while the president has certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio, he was upfront about what he was going to do and the people decided that he was going to serve as president.”

The discussion of Barr’s speech (and Prof. Turley’s misguided criticism of it) in the Open Forum was excellent. Had I been get to a keyboard, Barr would have received an Ethical Quote Of The Week honor. He articulated exactly what Ethics Alarms identified as the undemocratic process under way since the first “Not My President!” protests, when the “Resistance” disgraced their ideology and our history. Barr didn’t mention it, but Hillary Clinton has explicitly said that she considered herself a member of “the resistance.” The defeated opponent of a legally elected President of the United States has allied herself with a movement to erase the results of the election that defeated her by any means possible—and now so has her party.

And may I say, the FOOLS. You can’t trust polls, but the indications are that, as expected by the non-Trump deranged, the impeachment charade has hardened support for the President and public resentment of Democrats.

The transcript is here.

2. Also in the Fools category: continuing to have a mob on stage for a “debate.” Twelve is far too many people to have a useful or coherent debate, or even whatever these things are.

3. MSNBC talking heads should not be permitted to moderate these things. The bias was so thick you could hardly see the stage. The moderators carefully set out not to ask  questions that would make the candidates have to thread any policy needles. Where were questions about whether teachers and professors should be dismissed for using “the N-word” to discuss “the N-word”? What is the position of these candidates on censoring speech?

Why weren’t the candidates asked to explain why the large number of children detained “in cages” by the Obama administration, as revealed again when Obama’s 2015 statistics were falsely publicized this week as Trump administration counts,  didn’t trigger any outrage at all in their party, and now its mentioned as groundz for impeachment? Why weren’t they asked to explain what their solution is be to  waves of children being used as sympathy-drawing pawns by illegal immigrants?

How about, “Beto O’Rourke recently withdrew from the race. He had received criticism for openly admitting that he favored gun confiscation. What is your position on gun confiscation, especially in light of the recent news that New Zealand’s efforts have fallen far short of what the nation expected?”

Instead, we got Rachel Maddow asking Elizabeth Warren  if she  would she try to convince other Senators to convict President Trump in a Senate impeachment trial.

Indeed, the whole night was disproportionately devoted to Trump-bashing, as if this would distinguish any candidate from another.

4. As Joe Biden appears more and more of a liability, doesn’t the claim that President Trump was only seeking an investigation of the ex-VP to eliminate a feared rival for his office look like more and more of a contrivance? Why wouldn’t Trump want to run against this boob?

Defending his record with black voters during the debate, Joe Biden called Sen. Carol Moseley Braun the “only” black female Senator (she was the first), and invoked her name like being endorsed by Braun is a badge of honor. Braun was clumsily corrupt; only the fact that Bill Clinton was pulling the strings of the Justice Department stopped her from being indicted.  A 1993 Federal Election Commission investigation found that she never accounted for  $249,000 in campaign funds. The IRS twice requested that the the Justice Department investigate her further, but it refused. After all, you couldn’t have the “first black President” turning on the first black woman Senator. Continue reading

Ten Observations On Democratic Candidates Debate 2B [UPDATED]

[I’m reviewing last night’s debate first, and will catch up on Debate 2A later today. The candidates on the stage were Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, Julián Castro, Bill de Blasio, Michael Bennet, Jay Inslee and Andrew Yang]

1.  The most obvious point is that having 10 participant televised “debates” is no way to pick a President. It’s incompetent, it is unfair to all the candidates,  the audience, and even the moderators, who have to make their priority trying to allocate time fairly among the ten rather than guaranteeing an enlightening discussion. and it highlights skills, or the lack of them, that have a dubious relationship to leadership and being an effective President.

2. If Joe Biden gets the nomination, it will only highlight how mind-numbing;y awful the alternatives were. Because his first debate performance was so dreadful, the spinners are trying to term this one a success because it was better, a non-ethical adaptation of Rationalization #22, “There are worse things.” Biden was as verbally chaotic as ever, but looked shockingly tired, enervated, and unenthusiastic, as well as just plain old. He reminded me of Fred Thompson’s regrettable run in 2011, when it was so clear that his heart wasn’t in it, and that his vigor had fled. Biden shouldn’t be running.

3. Biden still managed to utter one of the most unethical sentences of the night:

“I have the only plan that limits the ability of insurance companies to charge unreasonable prices, flat out, number one. Number two, we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail, for the 9 billion opioids they sell out there.”

Intentionally vague, misleading, careless and faintly totalitarian! Good job, Joe!…

  • What’s an “unreasonable price” to a group that thinks that its fair to make insurance companies agree to pay for medical expenses that they know are coming because the insured already has the problem when he or she bought the insurance?
  • As the New York Times detailed here, it is hardly just the big drug companies who have fed the opioid crisis. Major drugstore chains and Walmart, contending they distributed billions of painkillers. Unscrupulous doctors wrote dangerous prescriptions.  There is also no supply without demand: many opioid addicts share responsibility, perhaps the major share, for their plight. Joe, however, with a blunt mind and blunt rhetoric, deceptively reduces a complex issue to “Drug companies BAD!” to pander, to inflame, and to keep the public in the dark. Or maybe he believes its that simple.
  • [Update] My mind just assumed that Joe wanted to jail pharmaceutical executives for selling opioids, and I still think that’s what he meant, but who knows with Joe? Joe is such a muddled fool that my auto-correct failed me. He was saying that insurance companies are breaking the law by fulfilling their obligations? What IS he saying? Thanks to commenter William Reese for flagging this.
  • Did he really mean “we should put some of these insurance executives who totally oppose my plan in jail”? I assume not, but since the party he belongs to is tilting more toward liberal fascism every day, this is a dangerous phrasing, because a lot of progressives would be happy to jail political opponents.

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Ethics Dunces: The US Women’s Soccer Team

Short version: The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team behaved like unsportsman-like assholes while trouncing the Thailand team 13-0 in Riems, France.

A 13-0 score in international soccer is approximately like a 25 to nothing score in professional baseball.

Long version: The U.S. women obviously were far superior to the Thai team, but still celebrated every goal like it was the accomplishment of the century.  Complaints about running up the score were, as they always are (except in school sports) absurd: as several commentators said, a pro team should always play as hard as possible and as well as possible, whatever the score and whoever the competition. To do otherwise insults the opposition, the spectators and the sport itself.

Celebrating excessively after every goal, however is obnoxious, violates the Golden Rule , and amounts to taunting once the game’s outcome is no longer in doubt. Just to put a bright, ugly cap on the bad conduct, team captain Megan Rapinoe, who had previously “took a knee” during the National Anthem while representing the United States in World Cup events, stood silent during the anthem this time, after telling the media .that doing so was a “fuck you” to President Trump.

Nice.

Asshole.

But let’s get back to the team’s disgrace. TSN analyst Kaylyn Kyle got it right, saying on the air, “They’re the No. 1 team in the world and for me, I’m disgusted, honestly.  … For me it’s disrespectful, it’s disgraceful,” For this accurate ethics assessment, she got death threats: there are lots of assholes out there. Another former player and analyst, Clare Rustad, also had it right, telling her listeners,  ‘”I just think they could have won with some humility and grace, and they just couldn’t manage to do that.Celebrating goals later in the game like this is just completely unnecessary. What is this?’

The defenders of the taunting were universally ethically obtuse. But first, here’s the dumbest, most pandering, and embarrassing:

This so stupid that I won’t insult MY readers by explaining why.

This tweet, by former star Abby Wambach, apparently expressed an agreed upon rationalization, the “if you dream about it, then its OK to act like a total jerk” excuse:

Side note: Yes, men behaving like that would be equally criticized if not more. Abby couldn’t resist the cheap gender bias card, I suspect because she knows she’s playing a losing hand. Continue reading

The Most Unethical 2017 Super Bowl Ad Is Yet To Be Revealed, But The Prize For The Most Shameless Is A Lock

Of course, all Super Bowl TV ads by definition are horribly unethical, exploiting for commerce a professional blood sport that renders healthy young men brain-damaged for a drooling public’s coarse amusement. To Hell with all the ads I say. Still, some are worse than others.

History suggests that the obnoxious Audi commercial above won’t be the worst, but it nicks a wider range of ethical breaches than the typical Super Bowl ad. For that it deserves, at very least, a hardy Ethics Alarm Bronx cheer, or “raspberry”…

to wit…

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As Usual When Gender Discrimination In Wages Is The Issue, There Is More To The Women’s Soccer Lawsuit Than The Media Wants You To Know

women's soccer

The gender wage discrimination issue makes my head start to hurt every time it is raised, which, I admit, has made me grateful that Hillary and Bernie have been concentrating on the other progressive issues they fill with half-truths and deceit. Some of those are the wealth gap, mass incarceration, the evil of big banks, discrimination against Muslims, trigger-happy police, campus sexual assault, climate change, gun violence  and the minimum wage. As with these pet progressive agenda items, it isn’t that there aren’t real problems there that require effective policy initiatives, but that advocates are so infuriatingly dishonest when debating them—exaggerating statistics, demonizing opponents, and persisting in using false facts, studies and myths long after they have been definitively disproved.

If the new media was competent and even-handed, challenging the false assertions as they should, this would not be such an impediment to rational debate. The news media is seldom objective, however. On all of these issues and more, it plays the role of advocate and partisan ally with depressing regularity. An activist on the keft has to make a truly outrageous statement to even be challenged, as when Black Lives Matter organizer Aaron Goggans suggested on CNN yesterday that black on black crime is a “myth.”

There is gender discrimination in wages; I have seen it up close, in my family and in companies and organizations I have worked for. I have personally taken action to address it. The issue is complicated, however, and not close to the absurd “77 cents on the dollar” figure that has been employed, unchanged and virtually unchallenged, for decades, nor is it fairly represented by studies that show how men in the same careers make more over their working lives than women.

Never mind; the news media allows the issue to be debated in an atmosphere dominated by misrepresentations. My reflex approach is that  until advocates for a position are willing to stop lying, spinning, and demonizing, I will pointedly avoid supporting them. Call it the Clean Hands Doctrine. Gun control is one example. Climate change is another.

When  five players on the U.S. Women’s Soccer team filed a federal complaint last week accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination because, they said, they earned as little as 40% of what players on the United States men’s national team earned despite reaching the team’s third World Cup championship last year, I read and heard nothing but cheers from women’s advocates, Democrats, pundits and Facebook posters I also read nothing but sexist snorting from the conservative side. (“Wanna know how to get paid the same as men for playing soccer? Try out for the men’s team! HAR!” ). The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle, but you wouldn’t know that from reading most accounts or watching the news channels. Continue reading

10 Ethics Observations On The CNBC Republican Presidential Candidates Debate

cnbc_moderatorsnew

The transcipt is here.

1. Seldom are the  verdicts on a presidential debate as near unanimous as those on last night’s CNBC affair, in which Gov. John Kasich, Mike Huckabee, Carly Fiorina, Gov. Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen.Ted Cruz, and Sen. Rand Paul took loaded questions from the CNBC panel of Becky Quick, John Harwood, and Carl Quintanilla. The questions and interjections from the moderators were so hostile, so disrespectful, so obviously concocted from a biased perspective, that the criticism came from all sides of the political spectrum.

Mostly the work of the CNBC trio was just unprofessional. The rules seemed arbitrary, the three talked over each other, they neither commanded nor deserved the participant’s cooperation. It was, correctly, called the smoking gun of news media bias, and a terrific honesty, fairness and integrity test for anyone watching. If you did and still say that it didn’t stench of a hostile exercise in media bias, then you lack all three. It was an embarrassment for CNBC and journalism.

2. Ironically, though the moderators were terrible, it arguably was the best debate yet for the Republicans. The hapless trio actually gave Sen. Ted Cruz a chance to show that you tangle with him at your peril, and to display his impressive mind and speaking ability. He said…

“Let me say something at the outset. The questions asked in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And you look at the questions — Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain? Ben Carson, can you do math? John Kasich, will you insult two people over here? Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign? Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen? How about talking about the substantive issues? The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every thought and question from the media was, which of you is more handsome and why? Let me be clear: The men and women on this stage have more ideas, more experience, more common sense, than every participant in the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks. Nobody believes that the moderators have any intention of voting in a Republican primary. The questions being asked shouldn’t be trying to get people to tear into each other, it should be what are your substantive solutions to people at home.”

Bingo. Cruz’s perfectly delivered reprimand is being sloughed off by many in the press as a repeat of Newt Gingrich’s trick, in the 2012 debates, of routinely beating up on moderators regardless of what they asked. This, in contrast, was fair, accurate, as perfectly delivered as it was impressive. I had followed the debate closely, and I wouldn’t have been able to run down the list of hostile questions like that without checking notes. Cruz is probably the smartest candidate in the race. Too bad he’s a rigid ideologue and a demagogue with the charisma of a chain saw.

3. CNN’s comment on the Cruz slap-down: “Here’s an attack all Republicans can love.” This means, I suppose, that only Republicans care about having a news media that isn’t trying to manipulate national elections. That conclusion should offend all Democrats—unless, of course, it is true. The desire to have an unbiased and competent news media should not be a partisan issue. Continue reading

Elle’s Paul Ford: Nominee For Most Unethical Father Of The Year (Non-Criminal Division)

"We're giving one of you most of our money, because we already know the other one won't need it."

“We’re giving one of you most of our money, because we already know the other one won’t need it.”

Bias, as we say here often, makes you stupid, and social justice delusions unmoored from facts, ethics, common sense and reality make you spectacularly stupid.

A nauseatingly self-congratulatory feature by Elle writer Paul Ford was introduced by the women’s magazine this way:

“As Paul Ford’s twins grew, he couldn’t stand the fact that his daughter would always lag behind his son financially. Then he hatched a brilliant plan….”

Here’s the brilliant plan, in Ford’s own words: Continue reading