The President Sees Dead People: Ethics Observations

The most important observation may be that the mainstream media is covering this disturbing episode rather than burying it.

From the New York Times:

President Biden looked in the audience on Wednesday for Representative Jackie Walorski, Republican of Indiana, during a White House conference on ending hunger, apparently forgetting that Ms. Walorski had died last month.

“Jackie, are you here? Where’s Jackie?” Mr. Biden said as he thanked lawmakers who had sponsored legislation on the hunger issue. The president appeared to be confused at her absence and said something under his breath about whether she had planned to be at the event.

In fact, Ms. Walorski was killed on Aug. 3 in a car accident in her district, along with two of her congressional aides, when a vehicle she was in collided head-on with another. The driver of the oncoming car was also killed.

Mr. Biden did not correct himself during the remarks, but the incident quickly went viral on Twitter and other social media platforms, with some people seizing on the moment as evidence that Mr. Biden, who is 79, lacks the mental capacity to be president.

“Some people”? Not to throttle a theme, but why just “some people”? Isn’t forgetting that someone is dead (when you made a public statement about her death just a month earlier) a classic sign of dementia? And why is this a surprise to anyone who has been paying even a little attention to Biden since before he was handed the Democratic Party’s nomination?

Of course, after that straightforward and factual account, the Times slipped back into familiar “Republicans pounce” territory. “The president’s political opponents have been pushing that attack since he took office.,” the news item says. It’s not an attack! It’s a legitimate concern for any American when it becomes obvious that the leader of the nation is sliding into senility. Again: why aren’t Democrats and the President’s supporters equally alarmed? Integrity? Honesty? Responsibility?

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Ethics Quote Of The Week: Back-Up White House Spokesman John Kirby

“If anyone gets any kind of idea in their head that taking away from Karine or her work, that’s really regrettable. And I’m very sorry that that’s any impression that anyone would have.”

—-National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications Spokesperson John Kirby, a retired Navy rear admiral, responding to a bold reporter who asked what his role was at the White House, since “almost everywhere I go, I have Black people telling me that the reason you’re at the White House is to undermine the first female Black [press] secretary. So can you clarify that?”

John Kirby, the deft and articulate Pentagon spokesperson who was brought to the White House to stand in for Karine Jean-Pierre whenever possible since she is incompetent but can’t be fired, issued the above tersely, showing why he was called upon for the half-rescue mission.

He continued,

I am simply working at the National Security Council, on national security communications. And with her good graces I’m able to come up here every now and then to talk to you about national security issue. That’s my portfolio. That’s where I’m limited. That’s where I’ll stay. And I do it at her invitation and with her approval to come up here. That’s the focus. I’m happy to answer national security questions and that’s about it.

Great answer! Diplomatic, elusive, pretending to deny the truth without doing so…he regrets that anyone gets the impression that he’s covering for Karine’s ineptitude (which is what “undermining” really means in this context), and he’s sorry that anyone has figured it out (though it is obvious to anyone who has heard Jean-Pierre babble and noticed the stark contrast with Kirby’s clarity and  skill. Kirby proved what his role is while ducking the question and preserving Karine’s dignity, such as it is.

Meanwhile, here was the White House paid liar lying about the recent Martha’s Vineyard debacle (for hypocritical illegal immigration fans): Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Fox News White House Correspondent Peter Doocy

I guess I’m going to have to show young Doocy more respect. The flagrant nepotism that allowed him to acquire an on-air job with Fox News made me reflexively suspicious of his qualifications, but he has proved himself to be a quick learner, a tough questioner, and as in this latest episode, gutsy.

Doocy asked President Biden’s paid liar Karine Jean-Pierre about Democratic claims that the 2016 election was “stolen” or illegitimate as a counterpoint to the President’s Reichstag address last week asserting that GOP rhetoric that Biden’s 2020 election victory was illicit threatened democracy.  When Jean-Pierre ducked Doocy’s question, saying that the White House will focus on the present rather than 2016 (baseball fans recognize this as the “Mark McGwire Deflection”), Doocy read her some of her own past tweets, like…

and…

“If denying an election is extreme now, why wasn’t it then?” Doocy asked. Continue reading

Saturday Night Ethics Fever, 8/27/2022: Davy Crockett, and Other Ethics Stories…

For once, here is a germane Davy Crockett historical ethics note that has nothing to do with the Alamo. The episode is relevant to the recent vote-buying Hail Mary by President Biden, using tax-payer funds to deliver a large monetary gift to those who took on a financial obligation, derived its benefits, and were complaining that requiring them to pay their debts was “unjust.” It comes from an essay published in Harper’s Magazine in 1867, first flagged by the Foundation for Economic Education in 2008, and today by Instapundit.

A bill was taken up in the House of Representatives appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer, and several impassioned speeches had been made on the bill’s behalf. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Rep. Davy Crockett (D-Tenn) rose to speak. He said,

“Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.

Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as a charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

The bill, which up until that point had been considered a cinch to pass overwhelmingly, was voted down. Later, the Harper’s piece claims, Crockett was asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, and replied by telling the story of a man who told him he would not vote for him again because he had voted for a Treasury pay-out of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children as a result of a recent fire in Georgetown. The man, as Davy told it, explained in part,

“‘It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. …The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man…while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other…So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better…

Crockett claimed that he replied,

“‘Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.”

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Most Incompetent White House Press Secretary Ever!

There is no longer any doubt; indeed, this conclusion seemed unavoidable almost from the beginning of Karine Jean-Pierre’s tenure as President Biden’s paid liar. It was clear immediately that she, like so many other Biden Administration hires, was chosen to check off tribal boxes—female (check); black (check); lesbian (check)—and actual skill and qualifications were afterthoughts, if considered as factors at all. However, the bar for this position is lying-on-the-ground low; there was always a substantial chance that Jean-Pierre might prove barely capable at her job by pure luck, or charm, or something.

Nope. She’s the champ, and I can’t see any future White House spokesperson being worse unless one just froze in front of the cameras and twitched. What clinched it? This statement Jean-Pierre made yesterday:

“There has been an urgency from this President from day one, when the Supreme Court made this extreme decision to take away a constitutional right, it was an unconstitutional action by them.”

Wow. Even allowing for political hyperbole, stating that a Supreme Court ruling is unconstitutional is moronic, making every listener inclined to trust the President and his spokesperson instantly dumber. Continue reading

“Freefall” Ethics Reflections: “Is This It?”

British novelist William Golding, whom you probably know best as the author of “Lord of the Flies,” wrote a disturbing novel the year I was born called “Freefall.” It was on the reading list of a literature course I took as a college junior, and though it was easily the least well-known of the novels we studied (and is one of Golding’s least-known books as well), “Freefall” is the one that has most echoed back to me at various times over the decades.

The first-person narrator is a miserable and depressed man, an artist, imprisoned in a German prisoner of war camp during World War II and awaiting torture in a small, dark store room. In fear and isolation, he finds his mind reviewing the minutiae of his life, as he searches for the exact moment when his life went horribly and irretrievably wrong and he lost control. In flashbacks, he constantly stops, sometimes after re-living what seems to be the most trivial event, and asks “Was this it? Was this the moment?’

I thought about “Freefall” once again this morning, as I tried to process a series of absurd and incomprehensible recent occurrences and statements. “Is this it?” I found myself wondering, like Golding’s pathetic hero, “Is this it? Is this the moment The Great Stupid completely obliterates all reason and leaves the United States public wandering around aimlessly moaning like the zombies in ‘The Walking Dead’?”

No, it’s not a particularly momentous chain of events, just one that can’t happen anywhere that has sturdy values, trustworthy leadership, and functioning ethics alarms.

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Oh-Oh! The President’s New Paid Liar Is Incompetent At Lying

When the name Karine Jean-Pierre was first mentioned on Ethics Alarms (here, Item 4), it was after the lead-in, “Biden’s not even trying to be responsible at this point.” Her major qualification to take over the press secretary job—aka “Pofficial paid liar”— from the unbearable Jen Psaki, it seemed, was that Jean-Pierre is a black lesbian, which White House flacks (echoed by the mainstream media of course, boot-licking as usual) hailed as “historic.” (My reaction, then and now: who cares?) She also has a major conflict of interest, being married to CNN correspondent Suzanne Malveaux. Later, after non-bootlicking reporters did some digging, we learned that she has been a habitual race-baiter. The New York Post reported that between 2015 and 2020 the new voice of the White House had accused people, policies, ideas, or words of being “racist” 57 times on Twitter and 43 times in TV appearances on CNN and MSNBC.

To be fair, being a knee-jerk race-baiter is a valid qualification for being a Democratic President’s press secretary in 2022.

However, the main objective in appointing Jean-Pierre, as with any job, has to be that she be able to do it competently. That means lie, which is what people in her position do and have done since the role came into being. The job is easier now that it has been for many past occupants of the position, because, as already noted, most of the reporters likely to toss questions at a Democrat President’s paid liar aren’t seeking the truth, and nearly completely unwilling to make her boss look bad. (That might risk his losing re-election, which, we are told daily, would endanger democracy.)

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End Of A Bad Ethics Week Sign-Off, 5/6/2022: Espy, Psaki, Chappelle, And Terrible Movies

Is it unethical to make really bad movies? I’m talking about irredeemable garbage, not inspired lunacy like Ed Wood films, so mind-blowingly terrible that they are hypnotic as well as unforgettable. Isn’t it irresponsible to spend money and mislead audiences when you have no talent whatsoever?

I’ve been thinking about this ever since we tried to watch “Birdemic: Shock and Terror,” which we were counting on to be amusingly bad, and it was, instead, bad beyond all expectations. Though it was obviously modeled on “The Birds,” no birds appeared until half-way through the film, and they may have been the worst special effects I have ever seen anywhere. The sound quality was poor, and the writer-director makes Wood seem like Orson Welles by comparison. The movie also makes Mystery Science Theater 3000’s “Manos, the Hands of Fate” seem like “Casablanca.” (That famously awful film, at a $19,000 budget, was still almost twice as expensive to make as “Birdemic.”) We had to bail on the film when the birds appeared, because screeching woke up Spuds and put him in a panic.

Here’s the whole film. The “birds” appear at the 47 minute mark, but the acting and dialogue really has to be experienced to be believed:

There is a sequel.

1. Is Jen Psaki the worst weasel ever to serve as a Presidents paid liar? It’s hard to say, but her exchange with Peter Doocy on the doxxing of the Supreme Court justices is truly despicable. (No wonder MSNBC wants to hire her.)

Doocy: “[Y]ou guys spent some time…talking about what you think are…extreme wings of the [GOP]. Do you think the progressive activists that are now planning protests outside of justices’ houses are extreme?”

Psaki: “Peaceful protests? No. Peaceful protest is not extreme.”

But the question wasn’t about peaceful legal protests. It was about illegal protests that violate the privacy—how’s that for hypocrisy?—of Suprem Court members and their families.

Doocy: “Some of these justices have young kids. Their neighbors are not all public figures, so would [Biden] think about waving activists that want to go into…neighborhoods in VA and MD?”

Psaki: “Peter…our view is that peaceful protests, there is a long history…of that.”

What? A long history of harassing and trying to intimidate SCOTUS justices at home? Even if that wasn’t an outright lie, the fact that there’s a long history of misconduct doesn’t excuse the misconduct. She could have given the same answer regarding tar and feathers.

Doocy: “Is [protesting outside the homes of justices] the kind of thing [Biden] wants to help your side make their point?”

Psaki: “Look, [his] view is that there’s a lot of passion, a lot of fear, a lot of sadness…We want people’s privacy to be respected.”

Translation: “Emotion justifies everything, and I don’t want to answer your question.”

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