Unethical Joe Biden Quote Of The Week: Time For “The Julie Principle”?

The President is rapidly getting into Trump territory, saying so many outrageous things so frequently that it feels churlish to call him on it. Is it time to invoke the Julie Principle? I wonder. Ethics Alarms actually called for Joe to have the benefit of it in 2020, but that was before he became President, which clears the slate.

This past week alone, Biden has made one obnoxious, dishonest, absurd statement after another. Notably, he pronounced himself blameless for the Democratic Party wipeout in Virginia and elsewhere: nice accountability there, Joe! I wouldn’t expect your history-censoring party to know this, but after Pickett’s Charge that guy whose statues Democrats got pulled down did NOT say to his returning, bloodied troops, “This wasn’t my fault!”

But that exchange with the reporter reasonably asking Biden about his administration’s reversal regarding his categorical denial that his administration might be paying up to $450,000 to illegal immigrants claiming that the Trump policies separated them from their children was even worse. First of all, his claim that the reporter whose assertion he called “garbage” had suggested that all illegal immigrants were going to be paid $450,000 was a lie. It was explicitly about settling a lawsuit, and when the President said “That’s not going to happen,” he was referring to the settlement—or he was confused because he doesn’t know what’s going on his own administration. The ACLU and his own Justice Department quickly corrected him, so Joe cannot say that he was making a correct response to the ridiculous question he falsely said was asked by Fox’s Peter Doocy. I knew what Doocy meant: it was clear to me.

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Ethics Wreckage, 11/1/2021: Moral Stains, And More

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1. Stop making me defend President Biden! President Joe Biden apparently fell asleep during today’s opening sessions at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland. Naturally, the conservative media and bloggers are having a ball mocking “Sleepy Joe.” It’s unfair. I wonder how many of the critics have had anything close to the killing schedule Presidents have, with constant travel and stress, time zone changes and everything else they have to deal with. Much younger Presidents than Biden have nodded off during meetings. I dozed off myself briefly at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce briefing, and I was 29 at the time.

2. Bingo, Ann Althouse! Ann reviews a stream of consciousness blatherfest by Speaker Nancy Pelosi that read,

“So again, the transformative agenda, the president was knowledgeable. I mean, he knows chapter [inaudible 00:04:20] because he wrote this, he campaigned on this. He spoke to this in his state of the union address. I told him last night, on phone last night, but today in front of our colleagues, that when he gave that state of the union address, we were sitting behind him, the vice president of the United States, Kamala Harris, and the speaker of the House, me. And people said, “How did it feel? How did it feel? The two women.” I said, “Well, that was exciting and historic.” What was really exciting is the speech the president made about women, not about two women, but America’s women, and what would happen with this progressive agenda that he was putting forth. At the same time, we’re moving forward with BIF, a once in a century chance to rebuild the infrastructure that past the Senate a while back. The BIF has good things and it has missing things. And of course, the fact that we have the reconciliation… Let me not call it that anymore, let’s call it the Build Back Better legislation is essential because that’s where we have the major investment in climate. Although there is some in the BIF. Roads, bridges, water systems, crumbling. Some water systems are over 100 years made of, and our colleagues talked about their own experiences in their own communities, some made of bricks and wood. That’s a nice water system, right?”

Quoth Ann: “If Trump spoke with that level of coherence, he would have been derided as a blithering idiot.”

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How Donald Trump Could Be A Great American And Ethics Hero, But Almost Certainly Won’t

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One of the benefits of not having Donald Trump as President—such benefits do not include having Joe Biden in the White House—is that I don’t have to write about him as often or regularly point out the relentless efforts to de-legitimize and destroy his Presidency. However, the Trump Deranged in the news media and the Angry Left in general let Trump live, as the cliche goes, rent-free in their heads, so now he has become a boogeyman. Say his name three times in front of a mirror, and he’ll appear and murder democracy.

On his substack newsletter, Andrew Sullivan, who occasionally called out Trump Derangement excesses but still never could bring himself to extend any respect to The Donald, weighed in today with an essay called “How Biden Could Bring Back Trump.” What the piece is really about is how wretched Biden’s Presidency has been so far, especially regarding illegal immigration. But to get his core readership’s attention, Sullivan felt he had to frame the argument as he does in his final two paragraphs:

“…the immigration debate reflects an elite that simply cannot imagine why most normal citizens think that enforcing a country’s borders is not an exercise in white supremacist violence, but a core function of any basic government. Which is to say that far from taming the brushfire of right ethno-populism, Biden may be fueling it. Trump may not need to send the country into a constitutional crisis in 2024. If mass migration continues to accelerate under this administration, and Biden seems unable or unwilling to do anything about it, Tump could win that election in a romp. And deserve to.”

Andrew can’t bring himself to quite say that Trump was right about illegal immigration all along, that the public mostly agreed with him because they aren’t insane, and that Biden’s policies and rhetoric are incompetence itself. He does write, though, to be fair to Sullivan, “The temptation to reduce every normie concern about immigration to ‘white supremacy’ was too hard to eschew. And the view that “All Borders Are Racist” — as perfect an expression of woke extremism as “Defund the Police” and “Pregnant People” — became an elite cause. Nation-states and borders? That has been left in the dust of the Obama era.” Bingo to that. Still, the big scare isn’t the collapse of the rule of law and the natural disastrous consequences of open borders. It’s that it all might bring Truuuuuuump back.

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Incredibly, A Unanimous U.S. Supreme Court Rules Against The Democrats’ Theory That Illegal Immigrants Can Be Transformed Into Legal Immigrants After The Fact

See? The government isn’t completely crazy. Not for the first time, the Supreme Court has emphatically sided with the rule of law, confounding the Biden Administration and such Democratic Party stars as Senators Mazi Hirono (D-Hawaii), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), among others. Along with them, we also had the Democrat attorneys general of Washington, D.C., Massachusetts, California, and 17 other states arguing for one more step on the way to open borders.

Best of all, the slap-down opinion was authored by Obama appointee Justice Elena Kagan, who wrote in Sanchez v. Mayorkas, issued today,

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Two Wins For Law And Ethics Over Ideology

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Judges are proving less partisan and ideologically driven than the increasingly totalitarian Left had hoped.

1. In Vitolo v. Guzman, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at Cincinnati ruled last week that the federal government violates the equal protection clause when it considers race or sex in in allocating Wuhan virus relief funds. Following the same track as the earlier case discussed here, the Court agreed that the U.S. Small Business Administration violated the Constitution by giving preference to minority- and women-owned restaurants.

Antonio Vitolo and his wife own a restaurant called Jake’s Bar and Grill. Vitolo is white, his wife is Hispanic, and they each own 50% of the restaurant. Of course, Jake could have gamed the easily manipuated SBA system by just handing his wife the extra 1%. The government requires small businesses to be at least 51% owned by women, veterans or “socially and economically disadvantaged” people to jump to the head of the line, because someone is presumed to be socially disadvantaged if they are a member of a designated racial or ethnic group. A person is considered economically disadvantaged if they are socially disadvantaged, and they face diminished capital and credit opportunities. In such a system, whether the business owner being given preference has actually been disadvantaged doesn’t matter. He or she is presumed to be disadvantaged. This nicely follows the circular logic of Critical Race Theory.

The group preferences are taken into consideration during the first 21 days in which the Small Business Administration awards the pandemic grants to restaurants. After priority applications submitted during that period are processed, the Small Business Administration processes grant requests in the order that they were received. That is, white men come last.

The 6th Circuit majority said Vitolo and his wife are entitled to an injunction forcing the government to grant their application, if approved, before all later-filed applications, and that their color and gender should be irrelevant. The government did not demonstrate a “compelling interest” justifying preferences based on race or sex.

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Weekend Ethics Frolics, 5/9/2021: Birthing Persons Day Edition

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Surely you have heard by now that a few addled Democrats in Congress have begun using the hilarious term “birthing people” to describe mothers. This is in order to pander to the trans population, because the special problems of this tiny minority are worth turning the entire culture inside out and upside down. So far it’s three certifiably silly people on the Hill whose credentials as ethics dunces are unusually strong, even for Congressional Democrats (the links go to signature significance EA posts: Senator Cory “Spartacus” Booker , certifiable Rep. Ayanna Pressley, previously heard arguing that “girls” have a right to attack other girls with knives “uninterupted”, and the spectacularly unqualified Rep. Cori Bush, who was supposedly on Biden’s short list for VP, which is terrifying—yes, even more terrifying than Kamala Harris:

birthing person tweet 1Birthing person 2

This is fascinating from an ethics perspective, specifically the slippery slope. The Great Stupid that has descended over the land, with special focus on progressives, has led to vocal support for so many ridiculous ideas—defunding the police, paying people more to stay out of work than to have jobs, open boarders, electing Joe Biden, packing the Supreme Court, and more—that the once fairly bold line between “progressive” and “batshit crazy” appears to have been erased. At some point, and maybe “birthing people” is it, even left-tilting Americans will wake up and say “Whoa! These are wackos!”

And indeed they are.

1. Also from the “What an idiot!” files…On baseball and Giants’ Hall of Fame immortal Willie Mays’ 90th birthday last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Twitter account posted a picture of Willie McCovey. Willie Mays is a national icon, probably the greatest African-American baseball player of all-time, and any American, especially any American elected official, who does not know what he looks like is too ignorant of America’s culture and history to serve competently. (I’m only exaggerating a little.) Not only is this an insult to the Say Hey Kid (What does that nickname mean, Nancy? Huh? Come on, you represent San Francisco!), it’s the kind of “they all look the same to me!” mistake that white officials are typically savaged for, as when Senator Rubio mixed up Rep. John Lewis with Rep. Elijah Cummings. At least Cummings and Lewis looked a little bit alike. McCovey, who was also a Hall of Fame slugger and who also played for the Giants,

Willie McCovey Holding Baseball Bat

looked nothing like Willy Mays…

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…and to make the distinction easy for baseball ignoramuses, Willie McCovey is DEAD.

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“Veritas”…Right.

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Only my recent travails have delayed my letter not only withdrawing from my Georgetown Law Center class reunion committee but announcing that I have no intention of attending any celebration of a degree that has embarrassed me repeatedly for several years, most notably in this revolting episode. But, to be fair, my undergraduate degree has been rendered equally nauseating, and over a much longer period. That Harvard—it has to be #1 in everything.

This Month’s Harvard Magazine continued the apparently irreversible trend. The Harvard Library announced that it is removing the “illegal alien” subject heading from its collection descriptions, citing the hoary progressive talking-point that “actions can be illegal, but people cannot.” This has always been sophistry and rhetorical sleight of hand to make it linguistically difficult to describe what it is that is objectionable about those who illegally cross our borders and remains here, receiving the benefits of this nation without having been granted them. When the elite and educated in a society start bolstering bad ideas and flawed logic by abusing their perceived authority and confusing the ignorant and gullible, propaganda gains overwhelming power.

The “no person is illegal” trick is intellectually dishonest, of course. Illegal aliens are people who are in this country illegally. Ergo, while remaining in this country, their existence here is illegal, and hence they are illegal. One could say with equal validity—that is, none—that no drug can be truly illegal, because objects themselves can’t do anything, legal or not. It’s what is done with the drugs that is illegal–make them, distribute them, sell them, use them. You can’t prosecute an object.

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Sunday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 4/25/21: “Genocide,” Crisis” And “Honeymoon”

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The good news is that I’m back at the keyboard, though at a ridiculous hour. The bad news is that I’m here because I’m out of pain-killers, and my mouth is killing me. [UPDATE: I started this post at 3 am, couldn’t continue, and now it’s after noon. I’m clearly a weenie. I’m pretty sure my father endured worse pain than I am dealing with all through his life and repeatedly after his foot got blown up in the war, and he never complained once…]

Yesterday marks a great moment in ethics, and my plan was to mention it on time. On that date, April 24 in 1863, Francis Lieber, a Prussian immigrant whose three sons served in the Civil War, created what became General Orders No. 100. Reflecting his many writings on the topic, it was a code of conduct for Federal soldiers and officers when dealing with Confederate prisoners and civilians. The code was subsequently borrowed or adapted by many European nations, including influencing the Geneva Convention. Unique when it was written, Lieber’s code was the product of a committee of four generals and Lieber, who were tasked by Union General Halleck to draft rules of ethical combat. The the 157 articles established regulations and standards for the treatment of prisoners, exchanges, flags of truce, and much more. The document was written almost entirely by Lieber, and there was nothing like it.

1. President Biden does the ethical thing that President after President didn’t have the guts to do…He finally authorized referring to the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian genocide as “genocide.”

Good. Any President since 1916 (that’s Woodrow Wilson through Trump) could have made official the historical reality, but keeping our Turkish allies happy by enabling their long denial was deemed more pragmatic. Of course what the Ottoman Empire did to its Armenians was genocide. An estimated 800,000 to 1.2 million Armenian men, women, children, elderly and ill Armenians were marched to the Syrian desert in 1915 and 1916, with many thousands killed on the way. There they were placed in concentration camps. After another wave of massacres in 1916, only 200,000 of those deported survived. Many of these were forcibly converted to Islam and integrated into Muslim households. Still more massacres and ethnic cleansings of Armenian survivors were carried out by the Turkish nationalist movement after World War I. Naturally, the Armenians’ property was confiscated in the process. The genocide reduced the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire by an estimated 90%

2. And yet, ironically, the same administration refuses to use the word “crisis” to describe the current illegal immigration mess at the Mexican border, a crisis entirely created by Biden’s implicit invitation to aliens to break our laws and eventually benefit from doing so. Thus Politico, part of the Left’s propaganda and disinformation apparatus, sent out a memo to staff telling them not to use the term “crisis,” and to “avoid referring to the present situation as a crisis, although we may quote others using that language while providing context. While the sharp increase in the arrival of unaccompanied minors is a problem for border officials, a political challenge for the Biden administration and a dire situation for many migrants who make the journey, it does not fit the dictionary definition of a crisis. If using the word ‘crisis,’ we need to ask of what and to whom.”

The situation indeed fits the dictionary definition of “crisis.” Politico also doesn’t seem to be troubled at all that it and every other news source referred to a similar but far less massive wave of children showing up at the border when Trump was President as a “crisis.”

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Spring Clean-Up! Some Ethics Stories That Need Disposal Before The Weekend…

  • I have some major projects and stalled efforts percolating (Yes, Michael Ejercito, including that one!) so I need this post to make sure some interesting items don’t get left on the metaphorical rock…That’s my favorite Charles Addams cartoon above, and the only sad one he ever drew, I think. It was published well before this hit song by the Irish Rovers ( a really big hit in Boston), and I’ve often wondered if the cartoon inspired it. What do you think?
  • In the NYT workplace advice column “Work Friend,” Roxane Gay was asked by a reader about an office colleague who took up a collection to give condolence gifts to two fellow staffers who had lost their pets. Is this a common practice “in our pet-obsessed society,” she asked, or “is it, as I think, utterly bananas?”

This is, to begin with, an utterly bananas use of an advice columnist, assuming there is a good use. If that’s what she thinks, why does the writer need the confirmation of a stranger? Who is Roxane Gay, other than someone can’t spell “Roxanne”? The writer believes, obviously, in the “appeal to authority” fallacy, and is the kind of person who will tell you that her opinion is right because Charles Blow agrees with it. For the record, Roxane asked what was going on in the writer’s life that had her feeling so callous. In fact, this is an easy ethics call: the passwords are kindness and consideration. It doesn’t matter why a friend or colleague is emotionally devastated, or whether you would be as upset facing the same loss. The point is that your friend has suffered what he or she feels is a great loss, and the kind thing to do is to say, “I’m sorry. I care.”

It’s never occurred to me to send flowers or a card to someone who has lost an beloved animal companion, but thinking about it because of this column, I would have appreciated such a gesture after sweet Patience, our English Mastiff, had to be put down at 7 when her cancer became untreatable, or brilliant and brave Dickens, our first Jack Russell, who once saved our son from a malling by a larger dog, and whose heart and lungs gave out after 14 years, or Rugby, who for 16 years demonstrated how to love every living thing and who would sit on my desk with his head on my arm as I typed out Ethics Alarms posts. I can get choked up thinking about any of them still. It’s not “bananas” to be kind to someone suffering these kind of traumas. It’s called “being nice.” Continue reading

Just To Review: The Ethics Of Illegal Immigration Doesn’t Change

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Yes, that’s the Honduras caravan above, headed to the U.S. with the encouragement of Joe Biden.

President Biden, predictably, is making illegal immigration (or as progressives like to call it to confuse the public and call people racists, “immigration”) a priority, thus immediately resurrecting an ethics debate that has been relatively quiet lately. As background for the discussions here that will necessarily come, here is one of the articles on the topic from The Ethics Scoreboard—as long as it has mysteriously re-appeared from cyber-limbo, we might as well take advantage of it. This post is from March 27, 2006; the impetus was a bill in Congress that sought to address the illegal immigration mess, and that anyone could tell was doomed to fail, which indeed it did. Nearly 14 years later, we are having the same arguments, with the same deceit regarding the same facts and issues. It’s depressing, but the subject cannot be ducked just because it is difficult and unpleasant. The post below, then titled H.R. 4437: Impossible But Ethical” is presented as a helpful primer. (Also worth reading, “Advocate Deceit And Illegal Immigration”, from 2007.)

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