The Democratic Party Debates And The Appearance Of Impropriety

If the Democrats want their nominating convention to descend into chaos and result in a disastrous split, I’d say they are making all the right decisions. If they want to bring a united and confident organization into the 2020 battle with the GOP and President Trump, however, they are botching things badly.

The ethics issues at play here are fairness and competence.

The Democratic National Committee now says that the next debate,  finally a  head-to-head showdown between socialist Bernie Sanders and whatever-he-is-at-the-moment Joe Biden, will have both candidates seated as they take unplanned <cough!>questions from undecided voters in the audience, unlike the previous debates which had the candidates  challenged by questions from professional journalist moderators while standing behind  podiums for hours.

Brilliant! What could go wrong? Except that some in the Bernie Sanders camp are convinced that the format has been deliberately engineered to minimize the exposure of Joe Biden, who appears to be aging as quickly as  poor Walter Donovan after he chooses the wrong chalice in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” Continue reading

No, It’s Not “Cheating” Or Unfair For The DNC To Keep Tulsi Gabbard Out Of Upcoming Debates.

The conservative media is trolling the Democrats over their likely exclusion of Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard from the upcoming Democratic candidates debates. They say that since Gabbard won a single delegate in the primary election in American Samoa (for heaven’s sake), this should get her an invitation to the next televised debate under the rules set out by the DNC. (I haven’t checked the rules, so I’m assuming they are being accurately represented. Since I don’t believe it matters what the rules say, I’m not going to take the time to check.)

DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa squished Tulsi’s hopes with this tweet:

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Merry Christmas Ethics Present, 12/25/2019: On Critics, Climate Change, And…

MERRY CHRISTMAS

EVERYONE!

1. Critic Ethics. A new book about iconic “New Yorker” film critic Pauline Kael reinforces the question that kept coming to mind when she was savaging movies monthly: why would anyone care what she thought about anything? The woman hated “The Sound of Music.” She panned every John Wayne movie because his personal political views were too conservative for her. If someone’s tastes and values are that different from yours, her judgment about just about anything doesn’t provide guidance or perspective.  Pauline Kael thought that the Charles Grodin-Jessica Lange version of “King Kong”—you know, the one where Kong was played by a man in a gorilla suit?—was better than the original.  What good was she? Why would anyone want to read a book about her? Why would anyone write one?  In fact, why am I even wasting a section of a “warm-up” on her?

2. Follow-up on the Democratic debate climate change segment. What is now obvious is that none of the candidates plan on ever telling voters specific facts indicating why they should want to gut the economy and surrender personal freedoms to government mandates. That climate change is a certainty is “settled science,” it’s an “existential crisis,” and anyone who questions the accuracy of apocalyptic models and projections is a science denier. Events like the California wildfires are irrefutable proof that all the projections are correct.  Of course, few of the climate change hysterics could read and translate a climate model, or understand the science involved sufficiently to either critique it or agree with it. (But I agree that it would be lots of fun to hear Joe Biden try.) Meanwhile, they are all telling the public that fossile fuels need to be banned, and with them the industries and jobs they support. All of this depends on the public being ignorant, gullible, and so stupid that they shouldn’t be allowed to leave the house without a chaperone.  For example, is the public aware of this—is the news media reporting it, and are any of the candidates capable of it should be ignored in favor of crushing the economy for speculative benefits? From Axios: Continue reading

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 The Latest Democratic Candidate Debate

If you have no life, you can watch the whole debate here. This is the transcript.]

1. I find the debates, all of them, profoundly depressing, much as I found the Republican debates in 2015.  These are not impressive people. A great nation needs great leaders, and it is increasingly clear that whatever great leaders the U.S. may have are not in politics. Is this group clearly less inspiring than Jeb Bush, Huckabee, Chris Cristie, Rubio, Carson (ugh), Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Cruz, and Trump? No. The Republicans had no Demagogue Extraordinaire at Elizabeth Warren’s level, or a babbling, doddering candidate on the uncomfortable cusp of senility like Joe Biden. The Democrats don’t have a bomb-thrower like Trump, either, unless you count Bernie, but Yang and Steyer cover the “outsiders who have no business running for President” niche covered.

The ethics takeaway? The political parties are incompetent at doing their job, which is training, recruiting and vetting competent leadership for our Republic.

2. Given what the recent James O’Keefe hit on CNN revealed, I question whether such a biased network should be allowed to host officially sanctioned debates.  Debate moderator Anderson Cooper, who only evades being designated as a hack because there are so many worse hacks working with him (Cuomo, Lemon), framed a question to Joe Biden this way:

“The impeachment inquiry is centered on President Trump’s attempts to get political dirt from Ukraine on Vice President Biden and his son, Hunter. Mr. Vice President, President Trump has falsely accused your son of doing something wrong while serving on a company board in Ukraine. I want to point out there’s no evidence of wrongdoing by either one of you.”

Hackery.

  • “Political dirt” is not reporting; it is a partisan characterization and misleading. “Dirt” means facts that the American public has a right to know, and in this case, evidence of high-level corruption and influence peddling by the Obama administration, which is absolutely a legitimate area for the White House to seek foreign assistance in exposing.
  • Of course Hunter Biden did “something wrong.” He did something wrong by accepting benefits from an entity seeking special considerations from the U.S. government when his father was a primary figure and power-broker in the administration in power. His position created a conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety for Hunter’s father.
  • Joe Biden then told Cooperthat he never “discussed a single thing with my son about anything having to do with Ukraine. No one has indicated I have.” Hunter has indicated that he did. Did Cooper challenge Biden on this seeming contradiction? No. Did any of the other candidates? No.

3.  How can someone not be bothered by Biden’s rambling, mostly incoherent answers? (And yes, I was constantly bothered by Trump’s rambling answers last time around.) Continue reading

Ethics Warm-Up: I Wish I Were Surprised, But I’m Not

NOW what?

Quite a bit, actually…

1. Res Ipsa Loquitur #1 The Democratic National Committee has barred Fox News from hosting its Presidential primary debates. I guess the Democrats don’t want any tough questions interfering with their efforts to rig the nomination this time around.

If there was ever better proof that the Democratic Party considers the mainstream media their captive allies, I don’t know what it would be. In 2016, Republicans subjected their candidates to outright hostile questioning from CBS and CNBC journalists, and Fox treated Donald Trump as roughly as a candidate can be treated in the Republican debates. I watched all the pre-nomination debates: Fox’s Neil Cavuto was among the very fairest of all panelists, and as Fox News has correctly said in its protest about the Democratic slur, Chris Wallace, Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the proposed Fox News debate questioners, are at least as objective and professional as any Left-media journalists.

DNC Chair Tom Perez’s excuse for this blackball move is self-evidently dishonest: “Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.” Oh, the New Yorker says so! That settles it then!

The GOP didn’t pull out of the Vice-Presidential debates in 2008 even though the NPR’s debate moderator, Gwen Ifill, had her pro-Obama book sitting at her publisher  waiting for he candidate to win. CBS wasn’t barred from hosting debates, event though David Rhodes, then president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhodes, Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Meanwhile, Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, is the brother of Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, an Obama  special assistant.  Claire Shipman, a national correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” was married to Jay Carney when he was President Obama’s press secretary. These were real, hard, conflicts of interest. The bias of the Fox News journalists is apparently based on the fact that they may run into Trump pal Sean Hannity in the lunch room.

The Democratic Party is prepared to do everything in its power to make sure the American public does not get properly informed regarding the character, skills and beliefs of its 2020 Presidential candidate, and is confident that every network but Fox can be depended upon to assist them in achieving that goal.

2. Almost certainly untrustworthy study of the week, but great for confirmation bias purposes:  According to an article in “The Atlantic,”  a survey conducted by the polling firm PredictWise that assembled a county-by-county index of American political intolerance  based on poll results determined that ” the most politically intolerant Americans… tend to be whiter, more highly educated, older, more urban, and more partisan themselves.”

That would explain the posts by my Facebook friends… Continue reading

A Brief But Pointed Comment On Last Night’s Democratic Presidential Candidate’s Debate

Gee, am I imagining things, or didn’t Bernie and Hillary repeatedly mock their Republican counterparts for being uncivil, mean and unruly in their debates, while superciliously noting how the Good Candidates—you know: them—were always respectful, measured in tone, polite and professional? I’m certain I heard that, more than once.

I definitely heard Democrats and progressives in the pundit class, which is to say, 95% of the mainstream media, say that, because I wrote this more than a month ago:

1. The smug comments from Democratic pundits and operatives about how “substantive” the Democratic debates have been and how “ugly” and “childish” the GOP debates have been is really nauseating, and the news media should flag it as such. When one candidate is ugly and childish, as well as shameless about being so, the other candidates have little choice but to get down in the mud. That’s the situation in the Republican debates, and that is entirely due to Donald Trump. When, meanwhile, one candidate is notable for lack of trustworthiness and dishonesty, and her only opposition refuses to reference the major reason the public (accurately) believes her to be so,  the resulting debate will be muted. Sanders, in short, isn’t doing his job. That’s nothing for Democrats to be smug about.

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