Biden’s Attack On Mayor Pete

A Pointer to Ann Althouse for flagging this.

The Biden camp released this attack ad today. Althouse opined that it employed race-baiting and homophobia.

She’s right. The race-baiting is obvious: Joe Biden learned the lesson of the Obama administration and “Black Lives Matter”; if a white person does or says anything negative affecting a black person, it’s racist. The gay-bashing is insidious, and I have no question that it is intentional. Biden’s marketing team could have emphasized many minor aspects of a small city mayor’s duties to make the same point, but it deliberately chose topics like brightly-colored lights to make the river look fabulous, and ornamental bricks.

The fact that Mayor Pete is gay has been almost entirely ignored in media coverage, however, and if you don’t know Buttigieg is gay, none of the homophobic dog whistles  will reach your ears. I showed the video to my wife, and she noticed none of them because, I was surprised to learn, she didn’t know Mayor Pete is gay. Once I told her, she agreed that the ad probably intended to remind those who are.

The fact that Buttigieg is gay is irrelevant to his qualifications for the Presidency, but his sexual orientation is the Woolly Mammoth in the room regarding his electability. Anti-gay prejudice is not the exclusive domain of the Deplorables; it runs high in the African American community and among Hispanics as well.

I think Biden’s ad is unethical.

My still recuperating wife had another interesting reaction. She found it obnoxious for Biden to have the chutzpah to mention his role in passing the Violence Against Women Act when he habitually and unapologetically gropes women of all ages in public.

He does, you know.

Saturday Afternoon (Because I Was Up At 5 AM Writing About CNN’s Unethical “Town Hall”) Ethics Warm-Up, 2/24/18: Generic Packaging Scams, Goodbye Molly, Polls, And Welcome Student Commenters!

Good Afternoon!

1 The kids are all right! Ethics Alarms has recently been graced with comments by some intrepid and articulate high school students on the guns and schools issue. I salute all of them, as well as the teachers who sent them our way. Some of the students also encountered the tough debate style and sharp rhetoric that our regulars also engage in. One of the students who found himself in a particularly spirited exchange, mostly with me, just sent me a long, self-flagellating and abject apology. My response in part..

Relax. Apology accepted, and I am grateful for it, and admire you for writing it. But you impressed me in many ways. I wish I could meet you.

When I was growing up, there was no internet. I just managed to earn as reputation as a clown, a master of sarcasm and insults, and someone who would never back down from an argument the old-fashioned way—by talking. I made a million gaffes along the way. I made an ass of myself. I hurt people. I also scared some people, but eventually I learned some boundaries. Meanwhile, the skills I acquired being a jerk sometimes have served me well, in college, in law school, in management, in theater, in ethics. (I’m still a jerk sometimes. You have to keep that edge.)

You are welcome to comment on Ethics Alarms any time, my friend. Just remember we’re all human beings, nobody hates anyone, and no mistake is final.

I do hope that any time young readers who identify themselves as such come here to argue, Ethics Alarms commenters will keep in mind that the best result, no matter what they might say while testing the waters here, is to keep them coming back.

2. Packaging designed to make you feel stupid…I’d do a whole essay on this again, but there have been a lot of “yelling at clouds” posts lately. The common practice of generics intentionally imitating the packaging of the original product they derive from is per se unethical. (I’m sure I have written about this before, but cannot find it. I know I criticized the practice of cheap kids animated videos of  stories like “Beauty and the Beast” copying the artwork and color scheme of the corresponding Disney version to fool inattentive purchasers.) My wife just got caught by a CVS scam—the company is a long-time offender—that fooled her into buying for my use an inferior knock-off of Pepcid A-C which I need because the Parkland shooting deception and agitprop is giving me ulcers. It is intentionally packaged with a red fez-shaped cap to look sufficiently like the good stuff to deceive consumers.

See?

Of course, as with the video, it isn’t exactly like the original: the shade of red is different, the cap shape isn’t quite the same, giving them plausible deniability.

There should be some kind of law or regulation to discourage this. I’m going to go into the store and complain to some nice clerk or manager, who will shrug and say she’s sorry, which is to say that, once more,  I will be yelling at clouds . Continue reading

The Democratic Leadership Apparently Endorses Beating Up People Whose Opinions They Object To. Good To Know!

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) posted a photo of himself on Twitter  posing with the book “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook.” The book calls for violence as a tool of political advocacy. Ellison’s post said the book should “strike fear into the heart” of President Donald Trump. This guy, the only Muslim in Congress,  is the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee. It drew pushback from Republicans who have criticized the movement’s at-times violent disruptions of speaking engagements and white supremacist rallies. After receiving well-deserved criticism, Ellison’s spokesman Karthik Ganapathy said that Ellison has not read the book, and has espoused nonviolence throughout his career. Do you believe that? Why would he appear to endorse a book he hadn’t read? Surely he knows what the antifa is and what they do.

The CBS outlet in Ellison’s home state wrote that the tweeted endorsement “drew pushback from Republicans who have criticized the movement’s at-times violent disruptions of speaking engagements and white supremacist rallies.” No Democrats think that their party’s leadership endorsing a group that wears masks and acts like brown shirts deserves criticism?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but most of the news outlets reporting that a high ranking official of the Democratic Party advocated violence and a domestic terrorist group were among the so-called conservative press. The New York Times, for example,  did not view this as news fit to print, since, I surmise, it might tip off the public prior to the 2018 elections that there is, in John Dean’s words, a cancer growing on the Democratic Party. One of many, in fact. Continue reading

Ethics Quote Of The Month: Hillary’s “Basket Of Deplorables”

basket-of-deplorables

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric. Now some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

—-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a fundraiser—just as Mitt Romney’s infamous “47%”  comment in 2012 was made at a fundraiser!—the LGBT for Hillary Gala in New York City on Sept. 9, 2016.

One of the consistent features of both Clintons is that they engage in so much problematic conduct that often one incident worthy of serious criticism will be knocked out of the headlines by another.

Hillary’s 9/11 “over-heating, well, dehydration, well, ok, since it’s on video, she has pneumonia” fiasco,  demonstrating that suspicions that she and her campaign aren’t being truthful about the state of her health are not “conspiracy theories,” effectively muted discussion about her “basket of deplorables” classic, complete with an imaginary word, “generalistic,” that if it had been uttered by George W. Bush would have been mocked far and wide.

I categorize this as an ethics quote rather than an unethical quote, because it is both ethical and unethical simultaneously. (The Clinton’\s seldom say things that aren’t adaptable to multiple interpretations; this allows them to leap from one to the other, like they are ice floes, when one meaning is justly condemned or found to be false.)

On the ethical side, it is completely fair and accurate to diagnose Trump supporters as deplorable, defined as “lamentable, or deserving censure or contempt.” This doesn’t apply to those conflicted potential voters who have reluctantly decided that in the terrible binary choice Americans have had shoved down their civic gullets by the two incompetent political parties, Donald Trump is preferable to Hillary Clinton. That is not the most responsible choice—it can’t ever be responsible to give such power to an unstable and ignorant boor—but it is an excusable mistake, given the horrible dilemma.

Supporting Trump, however, as in actively wanting him to become President, is as good a definition of “deplorable” as I can imagine. In this respect, Hillary was too generous. 100%, not merely 50%, of Trump’s supporters are deplorable. They lack the values, civic responsibility, understanding of their own nation and its history, or sufficient intelligence to be competent voters.

You know: deplorable. Continue reading

Observations On The New Hampshire Democratic Candidates Debate

NH debate

I’m sure that there are loyalists who just love watching Clinton or Sanders no matter what they are doing and saying, just as I will watch even a lousy Danny Kaye movie just to see Danny Kaye. But wow, I’d really like to see the results of a post-mortem on the brain of anyone who said last night’s debacle was anything but excruciating and depressing. If I were a Democrat, I’d be on a three-day drunk after last night. I’m not, and I’m still considering it. This was easily the worst presidential candidates debate I’ve ever seen, read about or analyzed.

Why? Well, how many other debates had two candidates, their faces contorted in anger, shouting at each other (Bernie is always shouting, really) when they hardly disagree about anything of substance? How often is it so obvious that one candidate isn’t trying to win, and avoids every opening and opportunity to take down his opponent? As I have said before, if I had contributed to Sanders, I’d demand my money back. I thought losing the pathetic Martin O’Malley would be a plus, but it wasn’t. Focusing only on the irredeemably absurd Sanders and the unquestionably corrupt Clinton just made the question more vivid: after two and a half centuries as a major party, how could the Democratic Party have so little respect for the American public and so little devotion to its role in selection of the Presidency to leave us with this?

Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, here are specific observations. The transcript is here.

1 More than any debate in 2016, this was performed as if  only hard-left loyalists were watching, and the moderators behaved that way as well. Agenda items like the minimum wage and “equal pay for jobs” were tossed off as shorthand and givens, without any fear that anyone would say, “Hey, wait a minute..” Yesterday, for example, data was revealed showing that in six major cities that enacted large minimum wage hikes last year, employment has suffered—as predicted by anyone without “progressive” blinders on. That would have been a good question to raise, but nobody was there to raise it. Rachel Maddow? Right.

2. The debate was deja vu, and little else. How many times do we need to hear Sanders’ generalized rap about the economy being rigged, Wall Street being a den of thieves, and single-payer health care being obviously the way to go because “everybody does it”? How many times do we have to hear that Hillary is going to “improve [Obamacare]… build on it, get the costs down, get prescription drug costs down” without being given a clue how, and without anyone even asking the question? How is she going to do all this without having the country “plunge back into a contentious national debate that has very little chance of succeeding.” What does that mean, Hillary? Funny, I thought debate was how policies get made in a democracy. Please explain: what is your substitute for democracy? Don’t “progressives'” have a totalitarian ethics alarm any more?

3. Clinton’s responses to the Sanders accusation that she’s not progressive enough—the Democratic doppleganger of the annoying and equally silly Republican accusation that a candidate isn’t a “true conservative,” were something to behold:

  • “I am a progressive who gets things done.” A bumper sticker slogan, and by the way, what things? Honestly, I can’t name any at all: she was a Senator, didn’t create any major legislation, and wasn’t a successful Secretary of State. What things does she get done? Again, Bernie won’t ask a real question….but then, he hasn’t accomplished anything either. Later, to prove her credentials in getting things done, Hillary talked, as she always does, about “fighting” for this or that, even going back to her days with the Children’s Defense fund and the DOA Hillarycare bill that crashed and burned in her husband’s first term. A 69-year-old candidate for President who  actually “gets things done” wouldn’t have to dig this deep—and a candidate trying to defeat her wouldn’t hesitate to say so.
  • She actually compared Sanders’ criticism of her progressive bona fides with not regarding a liberal Democratic Senator as progressive enough when that Senator, Paul Wellstone, has been dead since 2002, and Sanders has never mentioned him during the campaign at all! This was a straw man for the ages.

4. Having finished that pointless “debate,” they moved on to whether Hillary was the “establishment.” This sounded like a an acid-flashback from 1968, but never mind: here was Hillary’s rebuttal:

“Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.”

Sexist, insulting, tribal and dumb. Merely having two X chromosomes means that you are by definition not part of the existing power structure even when you have been part of that power structure for decades? This is just a dog-whistle to vagina-voters, who themselves are a disgrace to democracy, fairness and civic responsibility. What is it about Hillary Clinton’s career since hooking up with Bill that has shown her to be a power-seeker and broker distinguishable in conduct and motives from a man? Oh, that’s right: when her husband serially abused women as well as betraying their marriage, she sided with..him, against them.

5. Ethics alarm: “The reality is that we have one of lowest voter turnouts of any major country on earth because so many people have given up on the political process,” says Sanders. Sanders really does believe that when the United States is different from all those other less successful countries, it must be wrong. This “reality” just cynical poison that Sanders likes to say, even though it contradicts his own rhetoric. If Obama is such a great President, wasn’t he elected over Romney and McCain? Doesn’t Bernie think that makes a difference, and that the difference was votes? The GOP Congress he and Hillary are complaining about was elected when Democrats stayed home and Republicans came out in force, was it not?  If the impression that their participation makes no difference is wrong, as it is, why does Sanders keep citing it as if he agrees? What does “so many people have given up on the political process”  mean? Is he really attacking democracy itself Continue reading

Senator McCaskill, A Cheater And Proud Of It

Inexplicably, Richard Nixon never wrote an article boasting about how his campaign forged an attack letter that tricked Edmund Muskie into an emotional meltdown that let George McGovern get the 1972 Democratic nomination.

Inexplicably, Richard Nixon never wrote an article boasting about how his campaign forged an attack letter that tricked Edmund Muskie into an emotional meltdown that let George McGovern get the 1972 Democratic nomination. Strange…

What is increasingly disturbing is that so many of our representatives and high elected officials appear to have no idea what ethical conduct is. This leads them, as Donald Trump did in the Republican candidates debate, to boast about their unethical conduct in public and assume that the public, as well as the news media, will nod approvingly. It is more than disturbing that they are usually correct, and thus are both exploiting the nation’s ethics rot and contributing to it as leaders are uniquely able to do.

This was what the leader of Senate Democrats, Harry Reid did when he expressed no remorse for lying about Mitt Romney during the 2012 campaign (“Romney lost, didn’t he?”). Now, in a signed article in Politico, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) has explained how she gained re-election by manipulating the democratic process in Missouri. Obviously, she sees nothing the matter with what she did: the article is essentially one long gloat.

With it, she marks herself as a cheat, a fick, and an ethics corrupter, as well as a disgrace.

But she’s a winner, so it’s all good!

In the essay called “How I Helped Todd Akin Win — So I Could Beat Him Later,” McCaskill explains how, after her campaign identified Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin as the weakest Republican candidate to run against her, it ran cognitive dissonance ads engineered to increase his support among the most ignorant and extreme Republican primary voters. She writes,

So how could we maneuver Akin into the GOP driver’s seat? Using the guidance of my campaign staff and consultants, we came up with the idea for a “dog whistle” ad, a message that was pitched in such a way that it would be heard only by a certain group of people. I told my team we needed to put Akin’s uber-conservative bona fides in an ad—and then, using reverse psychology, tell voters not to vote for him. And we needed to run the hell out of that ad….Four weeks out we would begin with a television ad boosting Akin…then we’d go back into the field and test to see if it was working. If it was, we’d dump in more “McCaskill for Senate” money, and we’d add radio and more TV in St. Louis and Kansas City. ..As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign..

Let me explain this so even the most hopeless “the ends justify the means” partisan can understand it. The idea behind democracy is to have the best possible candidates run for office, and to give the public good choices rather than lousy ones. Each party has an obligation to run a fair competition to find the candidate it believes is 1) best qualified for the office and 2) most able to prevail in the election. It is not fair, ethical or legitimate politics for the opposing party to interfere with this process to ensure weaker competition. This is not fair to the public, which has a right to have a good choice, not a horrible one. It is also undemocratic. It is wrong, no matter how clever it is. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: Prosecutor Ethics, “What The Hell Were You Thinking?” Dept: Dog-Whistling “Dixie” To The Jury

Dixie

I will introduce this fascinating Comment of the Day by one of the blog’s masters of the long form comment, Chris Marschner,  by saying that I think it is only tangentially related to the post, though he would disagree. Chris is writing about the history of “Dixie” and why it should not be associated with racism. Whether I agree with that analysis or not, the fact is that the public does overwhelmingly associate the song with a longing for the simplicities of the Old South, when the darkies were singing in the cotton fields and those Northern folks weren’t sticking in their noses where they don’t belong. This is the basis of an Idaho court’s decision to overturn the conviction of a black defendant after the prosecutor gratuitously and needlessly quoted the lyrics of the song in her closing argument.  That decision was correct, because the issue is whether the comment could reasonably have been an appeal, or seemed like an appeal, or have had the effect of an appeal, to racial bias. I don’t think that conclusion is arguable.

Here is Chris’s Comment of the Day on the post, Prosecutor Ethics, “What The Hell Were You Thinking?” Dept: Dog-Whistling “Dixie” To The Jury:

The prosecutor failed her client – the people- not because she used the words of an 19th century song but because she failed to come to understand that history and culture of the US has been so bastardized that even an appellate court has no understanding and context of the origins of the song and the history and culture of the south. And, because of its misunderstanding believes the lyrics to be racially prejudicial.

“Maybe Erica is so young, color blind and historically ignorant that she had no idea that “Dixie” has been played at Klan rallies and used as the campaign theme for states rights, segregationist, white supremacy candidates since the Civil War. Maybe she didn’t recognize the cotton reference as racial.”

This song was written by a northerner named Daniel Decatur Emmett and performed in New York in an 1859 minstrel show by Emmitt in blackface. The reference to cotton is geographic in nature because cotton represented the primary agricultural commodity and wealth creator of the southern states – nothing more unless one is predisposed to finding anything related to the antebellum south as racist

Many songs have been coopted by various groups but to suggest that lyrics of Dixie are inherently racial because they are used by White supremacists is faulty logic. If a white supremacist adopted the image of Leonardo D’Vinci’s David or Venus d’ Milo or other classical work of art on their flag that would not mean that any such depiction suggests racial superiority. Continue reading