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.

Continue reading

Stop Making Me Defend President Trump! Those Stupid Tweets Are Many Things, But They Aren’t “Racist”

CNN called them racist yesterday (so did Huffpo, but you know—Huffpo.). That’s not journalism. You tell the public about a statement, and you let others of note or credibility characterize it. It is particularly unethical journalism to cross the line into characterizing a statement and to characterize it falsely to conform to a false narrative or “big lie,” which the “Trump is a racist” assertion is.

Ann Althouse, bless her, saved me the time of explaining why yesterday’s stupid tweets, which I posted about here, are not racist in her first blog post this morning. No one should have to explain that the tweets weren’t racist, since they weren’t, and have no characteristic of racism whatsoever. Critics who choose that cheap route should have to explain why the tweets are racist, using the actual definition, which the accusation defies. Here is Althouse, after repeating the original set of tweets: Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, July 1, 2019: Movies, Cultural Literacy, “A Nation Of Assholes,” And The Mystery Of The Fake Public Defender

Good Morning!

1. Any ideas about what was going on here? I’m stumped. This is New Orleans public defender—that is, former  New Orleans public defender—Ashley Crawford:

She began working for the Orleans Public Defenders last October, and since that time apparently handled over a hundred cases without having ever acquired a license to practice law. The Orleans Public Defenders said the bar certificate of good standing she presented to the office last fall when she was employed had been falsified, and Ashley used the bar number of another attorney. She’s fired now, and facing charges.

Crawford  graduated from  the Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in 2016, then  clerked for a New Orleans judge beginning that fall. Judicial clerks are not required to pass the bar exam, though many do.

Why would she—would anyone—do this? Now she is facing criminal penalties, and will never be able to practice law legally. It should be far easier to pass the bar exam and be admitted properly than to fake having a law license. She also has caused havoc for the judicial system: any defendant convicted while being represented by Crawford has an automatic right to a new trial.

There’s a lesson, a tragedy, a made-for-TV movie here; I just wish I knew what the lesson is. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Warm-Up, 6/23/19: War, Law, Silly Names And Silly Movies

Hi!

1  Every President should be hesitant to go to war.  It is amusing watching Democrats and the news media (B.I.R.M.*) trying to thread the needle and criticize the President for pulling back on the decision to retaliate against Iran with a military response, when the Left virtually always protests military action of any kind. It is particularly amusing since the whole Iran confrontation exposes how irresponsible, dishonest, cynical, and cowardly the “solution” to the Iran problem was that President Obama secretly engineered: the “Let’s give Iran billions of dollars back to cause terrorism and chaos throughout the world in exchange for a promise not to nuke Israel until I’m rich, retired, and can’t be expected to do anything about it” plan.

2. About the Massie case. Nobody took the bait and wrote about the Massie Trial in last week’s open forum, so allow me to explain why it’s relevant.

The legal and academic world is still reeling from Harvard’s punishing law school professor Ronald Sullivan for representing Harvey Weinstein, who, the supposedly educated student citizens of Harvard have apparently been taught to believe, doesn’t have a right to a fair trial and a zealous legal defense. In the Massie case, Clarence Darrow  came out of retirement in 1932 to defend Grace Fortescue, a rich Southern heiress who had traveled to Hawaii in order to seek justice for her wild and unreliable daughter, who accused five Hawaiian men of raping her. The trial resulted in a mistrial due to a deadlocked jury,  ramping  up racial tensions between whites and native Hawaiians. Fortescue paid to have one of the native Hawaiians her daughter accused, Joe Kahahawa , kidnapped and brought to her home in Honolulu, where he was tortured and shot. Grace Fortescue, Thomas Massie, and Edward Lord. Deacon Jones were arrested at the scene and charged with murder. Darrow, 74 and long absent from the courtroom, agreed to defend Grace even though she was obviously guilty, a racist, and the kind of rich, privileged bully that he has spent his career opposing.

L to R: Clarence Darrow, Edward Lord, Deacon Jones, Sheriff Ross, Grace Fortescue, Thalia Massie, Thomas Massie, and George Leisure

Why would he do it? Two reasons, said Darrow: he had been wiped out by the Great Depression and needed the money (he was paid $30,000) and he had always wanted to visit Hawaii. Darrow, you see, knew that every defendant deserved the best possible defense, even rich racist murderers. Continue reading

Memorial Day Ethics Warm-Up, 5/27/19: Gee, Can We Celebrate Those Who Die For Our Nation And Not Be “Nationalist”?

 

This, of course, was my father’s favorite Sousa march; he once mortified my mother by standing and doing a parade ground march routine on the Mall when they played it on the Fourth of July. You knew it has words, right?

1. Nah, there’s no mainstream media confirmation bias! Political scientist Time Magazine columnist and Donald Trump critic Ian Bremmer intentionally tweeted as fact a fake Donald Trump quote:

“Kim Jong Un is smarter and would make a better president than Sleepy Joe Biden.”

Immediately, the quote was picked up on social media by the Trump Deranged, mainstream media pundits, and some elected officials. Here’s ridiculous CNN contributor Ana Navarro, who exists on the network solely to attack the President as a “Republican”:

“Don’t shrug your shoulders. Don’t get used to this insanity. The President of the United States praising a cruel dictator who violates human rights, threatens nuclear attacks, oppresses his people, and kills political opponents, IS NOT FREAKING NORMAL.”

Note she also gets in one of the top anti-Trump Big Lies, that the President is “abnormal.”

Bremer’s quote was retweeted thousands of times, until he admitted that he made it up. This is using the web to spread falsehoods. He should be banned from the pages of Time and dismissed as an analyst and a pundit.

Incredibly, Ann Althouse defended the lie as satire, writing,

“Stupid of journalists and congressmen to retweet it as an actual quote, but there’s nothing wrong with “fabricating” it. Are we so humor deaf that we’re going to start denouncing comedians as liars?”

Ann needs an ethics check-up. There’s nothing funny about lying in a setting where many will believe you, whether the liar is a comedian or not. Nor was the quote humorous. Bremer was doing exactly what the unethical hoax news sites do when they deliberately publish fake news in a style and manner designed to fool people into believing it.

I guess we can’t assume that what Ann states as fact is true either. It might be “satire.” Continue reading

Althouse Ethics

Blogger Ann Althouse, who doesn’t write an ethics blog but does a good job flagging ethics issues and outrages, had an unusually ethics-centered day of blogging. Here are brief comments from me on four of her posts, which you should read. I had two of these in my queue, and I’m grateful to Ann for saving me some time I desperately need,

Ann notes how, in the Post comments to the article, which has nothing to do with Donald Trump, some people cannot help using the topic to attack the President, as she writes, “Trump Derangement Syndrome, symptom #1: When things aren’t at all about Trump, you visualize violence against him and get off on your vision.”

This is, in a nutshell, what Facebook is like, every day. I could spend all my time writing, “Do you listen to yourself? You’re completely consumed by blind hate of the President of the United States. Get help. You’re embarrassing yourself, and making  society divided and ugly. You, and everyone like you. Not him. YOU. “

This is why Democrats are deluding themselves if they think poor Joe is a viable candidate. They can’t possibly attack President Trump for being dumb, inattentive, incompetent, old or mentally unfit with Biden making gaffes like this—or worse—almost daily, and he will make them almost daily, Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Week: Ann Althouse

“There’s the Muellermania paradox — a highly emotional reaction to the way Trump seems to have been highly emotional. (Have you heard he said “I’m fucked” when he found out they’d appointed the special counsel?!!! That seems like a perfectly normal reaction to me but a lot of people are hyperventilating about how cahraaazzzeeee it is. Are they hyperventilaters mentally sound enough to be trusted?)”

—Bloggress and law prof Ann Althouse, commenting on the Mueller Report freakout.

I’m sitting here trying to get the Red Sox out of their slump, and Friday traffic here, as usual, has slowed to a trickle in the afternoon, and I tried to post a link on Facebook, encouraged by a commenter here who said  he had been successful, only to be, once again, told by Our Social Media Masters that I am unworthy, so I’m going to put up uncharacteristically brief posts as they occur to me.  The all-time record for posts here is seven. I should be able to beat that. I’ll read them.

The Red Sox are already losing 2-0.

Ann is essentially apolitical, but frequently annoyed, as I am, at the irresponsible, unfair and biased attacks on the President. Democrats are embarrassing themselves, pundits are embarrassing themselves,  “resistance” celebrities (like Rob Reiner–what made you this way, Rob?) and my Facebook friend bitter-enders are embarrassing themselves. Continue reading