Monday Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 7/12/2021: It’s The Great Stupid, Charlie Brown!

Gypsy moth

1. Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Guess who! Yes, of course it is VP Kamala Harris, and this would be a stand-alone post if I hadn’t begun the day with another Kamala story. You may have heard about this one, if you don’t depend on mainstream media.

The Vice President suggested during an interview at the end of last week with BET News that voter ID laws will make it unacceptably difficult for rural voters who do not live near Kinko’s or OfficeMax to cast ballots. “In some people’s mind, that means you’re going to have to Xerox or photocopy your ID to send it in to prove who you are. Well, there are a whole lot of people, especially people who live in rural communities, who don’t — there’s no Kinkos, there’s no OfficeMax near them,” she warned. “Of course people have to prove who they are, but not in a way that makes it almost impossible for them to prove who they are.”

Naturally the interviewer, the historically unobjective Soledad O’Brien, who was the worst talking head at CNN before the whole network went to Journalism Hell, just smiled and nodded as if Harris had said that the world was round. Elsewhere, Kamala’s idiotic statement got the reaction it deserved. Harris had managed to insult rural America and show her own ignorance in one single gaffe. Kinkos hasn’t existed for several years; it’s called FedEx Office now. Wrote PJ Media’s Bryan Preston, his tongue piercing his cheek,

“Rural Americans have access to these things called ‘smartphones,’ which they can use to scan and send their IDs if they need to. They also have access to these things called ‘scanners,’ ‘printers, and these amazing devices that can scan,  print, and even digitally transmit information wirelessly. It’s like magic, really. Rural Americans also have this amazing communications tech called ’email.’ They also have various means of getting their information from where it is to where it needs to be — in physical form! There’s even a whole government service dedicated to moving physical pieces of paper and even packages from place to place called the ‘U.S. Postal Service.’ We truly live in an age of miracle and wonder.”

One Tweeter writes, “She’s so misinformed and so ridiculous. It’s absurd.” Yes, It’s that trademark Harris smug laziness, all right. If she is going to keep up the dishonest Democratic talking point that voter ID is racist and a means of “voter suppression,” it would be prudent to check some facts. Harris doesn’t do that very often. The episode was reminiscent of President Bush the Elder expressing amazement at a grocery store checkout scanner, causing widespread mockery in the media over how out of touch he was. Yet I can’t find any mention of Harris’s telling botch outside of the “conservative media.” Gee, why is that? When poor Dan Quayle was VP, the fact that he misspelled “potato” was news for a week. Harris shows that she thinks of rural America as a primitive wasteland, and it isn’t newsworthy at the Times, Washington Post, CNN, CBS and the rest.

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“Is We Getting Dummer” Or Is The News Media Deliberately Trying To Make Us Dumb?

Ethics Alarms has occasionally referenced the Arthur Herzog novel “IQ 83,” in which mutant DNA infests the U.S. population and lowers its average intelligence disastrously. “Is We Getting Dummer?” a typo-riddled New York Times front page asks. In the novel, the news media is one of the victims of the virus; today, it appears to be spreading the equivalent, and perhaps doing so intentionally.

Less than two weeks ago, we discussed a jaw-dropping (technically “head-exploding”) op-ed in the New York Times that criticized President Biden for giving poor Vice-President Harris assignments that were too darn hard for her, thus undermining her chances at being President, which was much to be desired. “[Biden] had to know that in choosing her as his vice president, he was making her his heir apparent. But based on how things look now, her work as his No. 2 could end up being baggage more than a boon. Mr. Biden and his team aren’t giving her chances to get some wins and more experience on her ledger. Rather, it’s the hardest of the hard stuff,” the Fordham political science professor wrote.

I thought this was about as incompetent an argument as I had ever seen published in a supposedly trustworthy publication, and even sinister in that too many readers lack the intellectual wherewithal to recognize its non-logic for the dog’s breakfast that it is. Prof Greer obviously thinks that Kamala Harris is qualified to be President, though why she does remains vague. But imagine an op-ed that takes the position that Harris is being unfairly “sabotaged” in her Presidential aspirations while simultaneously making it clear that she is obviously unqualified (which, of course, she is.)

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KABOOM! The New York Times Op-Ed Page Is Trying To Kill Me (And, Apparently, The USA)

jackheadexplosion

Once again, we have an opinion piece that an objective, serious newspaper that respects it readers and is committed to the idea of promoting good government and a responsible citizenry would read upon submission and say, politely holding back giggles, “Come on! We can’t print this: it’s ridiculous.” Not only that, but the author, Christina Greer, is actually employed by a university to pass along her brand of “reasoning” and “analysis” to innocent, unsuspecting students, who pay for the privilege. She’s an associate professor of political science at Fordham.

I hate beginning the day with dire thoughts of hurling myself into a woodchipper in despair. It’s been happening a lot lately.

This is the title: “Dear Kamala Harris: It’s a Trap!” And this is its thesis: Mean, possibly sexist and racist President Biden is setting up the Vice-President to fail by giving her really hard assignments that she isn’t qualified to pull off, and this is likely to adversely affect her chances of being elected President. No, I’m serious: I wouldn’t make that up. I couldn’t make that up. Prof. Greer really argues that in an essay that tries to turn so many basic premises of political and social reality on their metaphorical heads, it made MY head blow up. [Once again, much gratitude is due to reader Steve Witherspoon, who constructed that GIF.)

Here is the crux of her argument:

Addressing the root causes of migration is one of several jobs President Biden has handed Ms. Harris, who had no deep expertise with Latin America issues or the decades-long quandary of federal immigration reform. He has also asked her to lead the administration’s voting-rights efforts, which are in a filibuster limbo. According to The Times, he has her working on combating vaccine hesitancy and fighting for policing reform, too, among other uphill battles….

“Ms. Harris, at this point, can’t seem to win for trying. She is a historic yet inexperienced vice president who is taking on work that can easily backfire as so many people sit in judgment, with critics sniping (especially right-wing commentators) and allies spinning (like with official statements about “success”).

“And all the while, the clock is ticking. Most political observers think that if Mr. Biden decides not to run for re-election in 2024 (when he will be 81), Ms. Harris most definitely will. He had to know that in choosing her as his vice president, he was making her his heir apparent. But based on how things look now, her work as his No. 2 could end up being baggage more than a boon. Mr. Biden and his team aren’t giving her chances to get some wins and more experience on her ledger. Rather, it’s the hardest of the hard stuff.”

The translation for “historic but inexperienced” is “unqualified.” Being a historic VP is just box-checking. It doesn’t get the job done, and there is no excuse for making “historic” a candidate’s only asset, which is definitely the case with Kamala. (Electing a wombat, a coma victim, or a lawn chair would also be historic.) Harris has no executive experience. She was a prosecutor, and a pretty bad one, who rose in California politics by sleeping with a powerful pol. Joe Biden chose her as his running mate because his party had painted itself into a corner and decided that it was more important that he have a female, sort-of black running mate than someone actually qulaified to be President. She prevailed because the alternatives—Stacey Abrams was the least horrible of her competition— were even worse than she was. She was chosen entirely for her lack of a y chromosome and her skin shade, even though it was clear, or should have been, that Biden would be the most fragile President elected since an irresponsible FDR ran for a fourth term knowing he was a goner.

I shouldn’t have to explain this to a political science professor, but being President of the United States is hard. Being delegated difficult aspects of it is an opportunity for a competent VP to show that she is capable of handling the challenge, and any individual in the position of Vice-President should relish the chance. If the Vice-President isn’t up to any task under the President’s list of responsibilities, then she wasn’t qualified to be in the job in the first place. I cannot imagine Greer’s complaint being made on behalf of Teddy Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Adlai Stevenson, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George H.W., Bush, Al Gore, Dick Cheney and many other previous VPs; it would be an insult. She appears to think that the objective is to sneak an unqualified, certified screw-up into the White House for the same reason she was allowed to run for Vice President, to be “historic.” Somehow, I think most Americans would like a little more reason to place the fate of their nation into a leader’s hands.

Having pre-exploded my head with her basic premise, I was spared later eruptions when Greer suggested that giving poor Kamala tough jobs to handle shows how racist and sexist we all are. Look at this sophistry:

“This country has yet to have an honest conversation and reflection on the ways in which race and gender play out in electoral politics. There are voters who look at Ms. Harris and immediately believe she is unqualified for the job because of her gender, her immigrant parents and the color of her skin. Republicans tend to say the quiet part loud, but if we are being honest, far too many Democrats would never be able to vote for a Black woman at the top of the ticket, no matter how qualified.”

Uh, Professor? Harris isn’t qualified, and your essay makes that clear, not that it already wasn’t obvious. So this is all obfuscation and misdirection. What your essay argues is that voters should favor a candidate who isn’t qualified just because of her gender and color—which is idiotic. Greer blathers on,

Many white liberals like racial and gender equality in theory but get a little gun-shy when asked to make room at the table for others on a long list of issues — school integration, housing, homelessness, incarceration, policing and executive leadership among them. And for those of you scoffing, ask yourself why you can list almost every major and minor flaw of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to name just a few. Many liberals struggle with issues of gender and race in practice; they may not admit to having a problem with Ms. Harris per se, but many still expect her to conform to certain standards and judge her harshly when she struggles on issues that are difficult to begin with.”

Boy, I’m sure lucky my brains were all over the ceiling before I read THAT paragraph. I can list the major flaws—we don’t need to get to the minor flaws— of Hillary Clinton, Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren, Maxine Waters and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (who all have thick files on Ethics Alarms) because I pay attention. Hillary is the best of that terrible group, and she was a candidate for President only because of her husband, ran arguably the worst campaign in American history, and had been a notable failure as Secretary of State.

The nonsense continues; read the rest if you dare. Two final points:

  • If you found yourself guessing the author’s race, you would be right. And articles like this do no favors for the cause of “diversity and inclusion.” The essay, to be blunt, is incompetent and biased, with a female, black scholar making a self-evidently foolish argument driven by her own loyalties. Academics have to be better than that, and if they aren’t, the raise a rebuttable presumption that they were hired for reasons that have nothing to do with their skills, erudition, or the “content of their character.”
  • Hilariously, Ezra Klein, whom we recently visited as he inflicted his own biased distortion of reality on Times readers, found Greer’s analysis spot on, tweeting, “This seems right. Kamala Harris will probably be the Democratic nominee in 24 or 28. Biden’s team should be giving her portfolios that make it likelier she’ll win. Instead they’re giving her impossible problems that will likely become liabilities.”

I’m in a “How could this happen?” mood today, I guess. How did progressives get this stupid and confused? I really can’t understand it. Nobody would have written an op-ed like Greer’s ten years ago. If someone did, it would have never been published, and if the thing were published, it would have been mocked mercilessly across the political spectrum.

Good Ethics News! It Is Fair To Say That Vice-President Harris Will Never Be Elected President

Holt and Harris

There is no question about it: fraudulent personalities and con artists have been elected President of the United States in the past. However, that challenge isn’t easy, and being able to fool the public most of the time isn’t the only skill required to pull it off.

Kamala Harris is one of those truly awful politicians who radiates phoniness and opportunism. She has no true principles other than dedication to her own ambition and narcissism, and it is fair to conclude that if she ever had access to the power of the Presidency, she would create a bipartisan disaster.

Fortunately, Harris can’t fool anyone, at least not enough. She isn’t smart or dexterous. Her insincerity glows like an LED bulb. This is why she was such a spectacularly unpopular Presidential candidate when she ran in the Democratic primaries. The Vice-Presidency was handed to her based on nothing unique or admirable about Harris, just her color and her chromosomes. This provided her with a second chance to make a good first impression, but she just can’t do it.

Good.

This episode is in itself minor, but it features such a spectacularly dishonest and bumbling performance by Harris that it should erase any fears that anything short of Joe Biden’s demise will put her in the Oval Office.

During an interview with NBC News yesterday, Harris, who has been criticized for not visiting the U.S.-Mexico border despite being delegated the job of overseeing the mess there, was asked whether she had any plans to do so.

Harris: I – at some point – you know – we are going to the border. We’ve been to the border. So this whole – this whole – this whole thing about the border. We’ve been to the border. We’ve been to the border.

Or as Ralph Kramden would say, “Huminahuminahumina…”

When Lester Holt protested that despite her use of “we,” she had not, in fact, been to the border, her lightening-fast retort was…

Harris: “I – and I haven’t been to Europe! And I mean, I don’t – I don’t understand the point that you’re making. I’m not discounting the importance of the border.”

That’s it! That’s proof positive that Harris is too dim to hide her own dishonesty even to fool some of the people some of the time, or to get past a mildly challenging question from a Democratic ally like Holt. After trying deceit to duck the point Holt was making (“We’ve been to the boarder”—see, it depends on what the meaning of “we” is!), she resorted to a grade school level deflection (‘I haven’t been to lots of places! What’s your point?‘) The point is that her job doesn’t require her to go to Europe, but the boarder crisis does mandate that she go there and learn something. As she knows. And the best she can do is a virtual Jumbo, as in ‘I have no idea what you are referring to!’

This is Kamala Harris. She’s not just inept, she’s an inept phony. She may fool a few people with cognitive disabilities or who don’t give a damn, but most Americans will see through someone who talks like that, and they don’t want such empty suits as their leaders no matter what their political affiliations are.

She’s never going to be President.

Isn’t that nice?

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 5/21/2021, To A Chorus Of Cicadas

Cicada Ethics: Sweep up all the disgusting things (and their husks) that have accumulated on your front walk at least twice a day so people don’t have to walk on them and their dogs don’t eat them.

1. Charles Grodin (1935-2021): Thanks a lot! Charles Grodin was a talented and versatile actor who was extremely good at playing dislikable characters. We can blame him (not Jon Stewart) for creating the unfortunate cultural phenomenon of the allegedly funny TV talk show host who decides he is qualified to bombard viewers with partisan rants. It’s a self-indulgent abuse of power, position and trust, but it’s also now the norm, with every late night talk show host (and Staurday Night Live) but the generally sweet James Cordon using their show as a platform to bash Republicans and conservatives and extoll progressives no matter how mockworthy they are. Grodin started the bait-and-switch (He’s funny! Wait, why is he so angry and preaching at us?) in the mid-Nineties, and though it eventually killed his show (not soon enough), the template was born.

Grodin made Ethics Alarms in 2014, with his campaign against the felony murder rule.

2. Speaking of staying in one’s lane…Yet another ugly result of social media is the phenomenon of people publishing uninformed opinions that they are unqualified to be so emphatic about. A baseball writer and recovering lawyer, Craig Calcaterra, whom I have referenced here before, has migrated from NBC Sports to substack, and is asking me to subscribe to his newsletter. Craig is funny and smart, and his baseball analysis is superior to most. But he is addicted to making political pronouncements, and while he has a right to his biased and often ignorant opinions on things he’s far from an expert on, I’ll be damned if I’ll pay to read them. For essentially the same reasons I object to watching football players “take a knee” during the National Anthem, I expect sports writers to stick to sports. Here’s a tip to anyone peddling a newsletter to me: I regard referring to the January 6 Capitol riot as a “deadly insurrection” as Democratic Party propagandist and signature significance for a pundit who is not concerned with facts.

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End Of Day Ethics Sighs 1/21/2021: Here’s Kamala! Here’s Batwoman! Here’s Your Newsmedia! And “Heeeere’s Johnny!”

sigh

A very good friend who is married to another very good friend posted yesterday that Kamala Harris’s swearing in as Vice-President moved him to tears, and the Facebook post instantly harvested about a hundred “likes” and “loves.” As God is my witness, as Scarlett used to say, I had to fight to restrain my self from writing on his page (since there is no “What the FUCK is the matter with you?” icon to click on), “Why, because she’s a woman with no qualifications to be President or Vice-President? Because she’s the first Indian-Jamaican VP, and you’ve always wanted one of those? Because she’s just the right skin-shade to pretend to be an African-American, when she’s not? Does it choke you up because she slept her way to political power, then locked up a lot of black men for drug crimes, then accused the U.S. of being racist because of “over-incarceration”? Or does any Democrat, even phonies and rank incompetents, getting power make you feel all misty inside and out? Really, I’m curious.”

Well, he’s a nice, good-hearted guy who has the political sophistication of a cheese, so I just shut up. However, his reaction is just incomprehensible to me.

1. Oh, look, now there’s black Batwoman. Yay. Isn’t this a little cliched and formulaic by now? Will every fictional character eventually have to be made black or have his or her race switched, and every male character get virtual transexual transitioning, to satisfy the Woke and Wonderful? Mikey (who liked Life cereal), is now a girl. Jake from State Farm is now black. Perry Mason’s Paul Drake in the new reboot is black. Inspection Lestrade, Sherlock Holmes’ ally, is black on the Netflix Holmes spin-off. (Watson became female in the TV show “Elementary.” And Asian!) A really bad movie made Ralph Kramden from “The Honeymooners” black; Norton too. On Broadway, when there was a Broadway, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr were black, and they aren’t even fictional. Of course.The whole Ghostbusters team was turned female for the reboot (but still had only one black member). There is much, much more. Isn’t this lazy? Isn’t this boring? Don’t women, blacks and other minorities want to have their own popular and iconic characters rather than just taking over white or male ones? Why isn’t such fake “diversity” an insult? Aren’t hand-me-down characters like hand-me-down clothes?

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On Kamala, King, Lies, The Media And The Julie Principle

King and Harris

Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris has a favorite story she likes to tell about her childhood, most recently in Elle Magazine. The article begins with the anecdote: Harris was attending a civil rights march in Oakland, California as a toddler. She fell out of her stroller, and,

“‘My mother tells the story about how I’m fussing,and she’s like, ‘Baby, what do you want? What do you need?’ And I just looked at her and I said, ‘Fweedom.’”

The story also appears in Harris’s 2010 book “Smart on Crime” as well as her book published in 2019 titled “The Truths We Hold.” Yet it sounded strangely familiar to some people this time around, and sure enough, it seems that the tale is oddly similar to a story Rev. Martin Luther King related in his famous interview published in Playboy a half-century ago. During the interview, King recalled an incident:

“I never will forget a moment in Birmingham when a white policeman accosted a little Negro girl, seven or eight years old, who was walking in a demonstration with her mother. “‘What do you want?’ the policeman asked her gruffly, and the little girl looked him straight in the eye and answered, ‘Fee-dom.’ She couldn’t even pronounce it, but she knew. It was beautiful! Many times when I have been in sorely trying situations, the memory of that little one has come into my mind, and has buoyed me.”

Now Harris is being mocked on social media and by conservative pundits for her apparently fake and stolen story.

Observations:

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Getting To Know Kamala Harris

Most Americans, even and indeed perhaps especially those who voted for the Biden-Harris ticket have scant knowledge of who Kamala Harris is, and for Democrats, that was a good thing.

She was chosen as Biden’s running mate purely because he had to pick a woman and one “of color,” and if Oprah wasn’t available, the field was far from stellar. Those who did know much about Harris, the Democrats who paid attention to her cringe-worthy debate performances and who watched her various giggling, pandering interviews, were sufficiently unimpressed to withhold their votes, even when the alternatives were as weak, or weaker, than the cognitively fading, accused sexual harasser former Vice President, and even while the news media was openly cheer-leading for her.

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 11/3/2020: Anything Important Happening Today?

dewey headline

Today in election history, Harry Truman celebrated pulling off one of the greatest upsets in American history, defeating Republican Thomas Dewey and turning the two-time Presidential loser’s name into an eternal punchline, thanks to the Chicago Tribune’s over-eager headline based on early returns the night before. With Truman’s popularity at historic lows and all of the experts declaring the President defeated before that race began,  Dewey campaigned at a leisurely pace, though not exactly a Joe Biden pace. Truman, in contrast, campaigned furiously as the underdog.  Truman defeated Dewey by 114 electoral votes, creating the all-time template for surprise Presidential victories, and embedding the photograph above in American lore.

Even this couldn’t displace it…

Newsweek cover

1. Althouse gets defensive about “abstaining.” One of the bloggers most quoted at Ethics Alarms became triggered by a critical comment about her abstaining from voting and defended herself today, though not too well. Althouse addressed the commenter, named Slothrop, as well as the general attack on 2020 non-voters like her by Instapundit firebrand Sarah Hoyt. Ann countered in part,

[T]his method of using insults to push people to vote is ugly. Are they doing it because they think it’s effective? I don’t yield to bullies. …Slothrop appeals to my vanity as he insists that I be a good person — not cowardly and neglectful of duty. Hoyt denounces vanity and insists that I not get involved in any sense of my personal goodness… she portrays the abstainer as snooty — with her nose in the air, acting like she’s “too good for this.”

Slothrop is distinctly wrong when he says voting is a duty. No. It is not. Like speaking, like religion, like getting married, like having sexual relations, voting is a right, and a right entails the power to decline to exercise it. It is horrible to be forced to speak, forced to take on a religion, forced to get married, forced to have sex — these are loathsome impositions. 

Hoyt is wrong — in my case at least — to attribute a refusal to vote for Trump to taking offense at his personal style — his manners, his crassness. I happen to enjoy his personal style…

Trump has his style and I have mine. If it makes you want to stomp your foot, go ahead. You can keep “stomping your foot about” how cruelly neutral I am. You’re free. You’ve got your right and I’ve got mine. 

Verdict: Lame. Voting is a duty of citizenship, as long as the citizen is informed, as Althouse certainly is. Yes, there is a right not to do your duty, unless a law makes it mandatory. I’m shocked, or perhaps enlightened, that Althouse would excuse her refusal to make a tough choice to “style.” Let’s see, how many rationalizations on the list does that rattle, along with the rest of her self-defense? I’ve got at least eleven:

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Monday Between Halloween And Scary Election Day Ethics,11/2/2020 [CORRECTED]

I had a conversation with a friend who said she would never speak to anyone so devoid of values and intelligence to vote for Donald Trump (she was bluffing) and then immediately thereafter demonstrated that she was incapable of explaining what was so unbearable about the President beyond generalities, Big Lies, and deflections (when the quality of the President’s advisors are a go-to argument three minutes in, you’ve got nothin’…) Upon cross examination, she could not coherently justify voting for Joe Biden either, except through denial (“He’s not senile, he’s just not as sharp as he used to be, and at that age, who is?” Yes, and that’s why nobody has run for President at that age. And no, Joe did not used to forget who he was running against, what office he was running for, or repeatedly get thousands mixed up with millions) even when it was acknowledged that he was far from the sharpest tack in the package. Finally, she said, “I’d vote for Biden even if he was completely demented.’

And there it is: the rational, informed, analytical Democratic voter. In the end, it’s mostly about hate.

  1. Speaking of dementia…Conservative flame-breathing pundit Kurt Schlichter tweeted that Sean Connery’s last words were “Elect Donald Trump.” Sure, Kurt. Yesterday I learned that 007 had been losing a long bout with dementia. If he was no longer compos mentis, that endorsement really isn’t worth much, and he would have been much more likely to endorse Biden out of comradery.

2. What’s going on here? What are we to make of all of the sudden reports that the President is surging in multiple states? For example, yesterday the Des Moines Register described the poll results showing that what had been a Biden lead was now a 9 point Trump advantage:  “Republican President Donald Trump has taken over the lead in Iowa as Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden has faded…”

There are similar stories coming out of other states, and more than one pollster is now predicting a decisive Trump win. Are pollsters deliberately trying to avoid a catastrophic embarrassment by hedging their bets at the last minute? Are conservative media forces trying to bolster GOP confidence to get out the vote? Are we witnessing another election where the undecideds suddenly all flip in the same direction in the final hours, like in 1948, 1980, 1988, and 2016?

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