“Rarrit!” Joe Biden Produces An Epic Example Of Authentic Frontier Gibberish, And It’s Not Funny

Two days ago, Joe Biden did an interview on ABC’s “This Week…”  that produced an  indecipherable utterance that makes “Blazing Saddles'” Gabby Johnson seem like Winston Churchill.  Tanned and rested, which no travel during the week to exhaust him and having not appeared on TV for several days, Joe offered America this bit of wisdom:

“We cannot let this, we’ve never allowed any crisis from the Civil War straight through to the pandemic of 17, all the way around, 16, we have never, never let our democracy sakes second fiddle, way they, we can both have a democracy and … correct the public health.”

You know, his words reminded me of an episode when I was the editorial page editor of my high school’s weekly newspaper. The submissions from my “staff” were particularly terrible one week, and no amount of re-writing by me could produce enough quality opinion to fill the page. I decided to take one particularly incomprehensible screed, cut out each line of text, pull them randomly out of a hat, paste them in their new sequence, then punctuate the mess and capitalize letters so it appeared to be an article. I published the result under the headline, “Discrimination in Portugal” without a byline.

Nobody noticed. One student told me that she found the editorial “Thought-provoking.” This has bothered me ever since. Continue reading

Noonish Ethics Warm-Up. 3/24/2020: The Web Is Alive With The Sound Of Zugswang!*

So far, there have been only 28 Wuhan virus deaths in Austria…

1. There is nothing strictly unethical about the Democrats attempting to use the current crisis to get some of their non-pandemic agenda items, like them or not, passed. That’s politics. They would be remiss if they didn’t try that. It will be unethical if their efforts materially interfere with the efforts to assist individual and business victims of the Wuhan virus, and if that is what they do, there is ample evidence to hang them, like this:

…if, that is, the facts are reported fairly.  Speaker Pelosi’s House bill including such pork as support for the Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts is also a “smoking gun.”

2. Ethics Quote of the Week from Dr. Fauci: Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Recent Developments In The Democratic Nomination Race

  • From CBS News: “Congregants at the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama, silently protested 2020 presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg as he delivered remarks there Sunday, standing and turning their backs on the former New York City mayor. Bloomberg addressed the congregation at Brown Chapel AME Church during a church service in which he discussed voter suppression and the fight for civil rights. But roughly 10 minutes into his remarks, several in attendance rose from their seats and silently turned away from him.The churchgoers remained standing through the end of Bloomberg’s remarks.”

Comment: Go ahead, Mike, spend your way out of this.

I had so many annoying discussions with Facebook Trump-haters who were  pinning their desperate hopes on Bloomberg to take the Democratic nomination and defeat Trump in November. Their logic: he would spend however much money it took. But people, even smart and experienced people, tend to wildly over-estimate the power of money, marketing, and advertising. People are lazy, gullible and often stupid, but they aren’t that lazy, gullible and stupid: no amount of hype and saturation advertising will persuade a market that a  self-evidently bad product is a good one.  Bloomberg is a bad product, at least for the Presidency. His record is wrong, his tools are inadequate, his character won’t be tolerated outside of the Big Apple. Hatred of Trump isn’t enough, and, as the Beatles sang, “Money can’t buy you love.”

  • Here’s the President of the United States doing a “Dorf” imitation to mock Bloomberg’s height.

Comment: I mention this because it’s funny. Wrong, but funny. Otherwise, I’m not going to complain about how un-presidential it is. This is how Trump is, and if he’s the President, this what Trump being President is and will be. Like it, tolerate it, or lump it.

The Julie Principle. Continue reading

OK, I’m Making The Call: Joe Biden Gets The Benefit Of The Julie Principle From Now On…

That does it.

After today, I’m not mentioning, complaining about or laughing at Joe Biden’s latest blithering gibberish and evidence of advancing cognitive rot. The Julie Principle now applies.

First the provocation: today Joe said at a South Carolina campaign appearance, “I’m looking forward to appointing the first African-American woman to the United States Senate.”

Unlike many of Joe’s brain farts, I have no idea whathe wanted to say. Do you? Senators aren’t appointed any more, and Joe knows that, having been elected as one himself. He also knows that the first African American woman was elected to the Senate 27 years ago, that being Carol Mosely Braun. What could he possibly been trying to say?

Well, it doesn’t matter. Joe has activated the Julie Principle. Please read this post and this one to catch up; I am recently sensitive to repeating myself here. To be as brief as possible, the Julie Principle, named after the character who sings the famous ballad from “Showboat” that begins, “Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly,” in which she admits that her lover is scum, and won’t change, but she loves him, and accepts his flaws.  My father, whose longtime best friend was a sociopath, the opposite of my father in every way, explained that his friend’s character was evident , set, and unchanging, and once Dad understood that, he had two choices: accept his flaw and remain friends with him, or decide that he was irredeemably  corrupt, and have nothing more to do with him. Continue reading

President Trump Has This Unfortunate Habit In Common With The Clintons: He Lies For No Reason

Bill Clinton’s proclivity for lying in public just because he felt like it drove me dangerously close to stark raving mad. He lied about trivia and substantive matters; he lied when it was easy to check his facts. Hillary’s similar penchant arguably was more infuriating, because she was so bad at it. She would be President today if she had just  admitted that she screwed up by using a “home-brewed” server. All she had to say was that she didn’t understand the technology and made serious mistakes, even to the extent of sending messages that contained classified material and violating her own department’s policy. She could have done this in 2015, and never heard a peep about the matter again. Not that I was sorry to see her torpedo her own candidacy, but still: how ridiculous and unnecessary.

The Democratic/resistance/mainstream media narrative about Trump’s lies is exaggerated and hypocritical, especially giving the stream of whoppers that routinely issue from Pelosi, Schumer, Warren, Schiff and others. Unlike other “resistance” themes, however, it isn’t entirely unwarranted. Trump, as I have noted for a long time, just says stuff; half the time I’m pretty sure he believes complete fantasy when he says these things. That’s not a mitigation. A U.S. President can’t responsibly do that, but Trump does, has, and presumably always will. This is Julie Principle territory: Fish gotta swim, Birds gotta fly, When he’s off script, Trump’s gonna lie.

Shortly after he was elected, I wrote,

Donald Trump, more than any national figure in my lifetime,  requires a careful, measured application of The Julie Principle to serve everyone’s best interest. Screaming “TRUMP IS TRUMP! ARRGHHHHH!” for four years will do no good at all. Find a way to co-exist with him so his negative proclivities do as little damage as possible and his positive ones have a chance to thrive, and save the explosions of indignation for substantive matters where opposition is essential.

All of that said—and did I call it, or what?—it is astounding to me that after three years in office we still have to endure infuriating episodes like the constantly shifting explanations for why General Soleimani was droned.

From the interview with Defense Secretary Mike Esper on “Face the Nation” yesterday:
Continue reading

Thanksgiving Dinner Ethics Appetizers, 11/28/2019: Boing Boing, Boeing, And Bears In The Woods

Have a gentle, loving Thanksgiving, everyone.

And thanks so much for visiting and participating.

Tangential question: Does anyone watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade any more, with the lip synced musical numbers in the street, the inflatable balloons of anciet cartoon characters, the floats that are virtually identical every year, and the phony blather from the B-level celebrities in the booth? Isn’t this spectacle now something that people watch out habit, like the Miss America pageant, “Peanuts” holiday specials and the Oscars, even though it has the entertainment value of styrofoam?

1. Tucker Carlson endorses the Julie Principle! Last night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson made the shocking statement that President Trump has been less than truthful with the American people.

“We’re not gonna lie to you, that was untrue,” Carlson said. “The crowd at the 2017 inauguration was not the largest ever measured at the National Mall. Sorry, it wasn’t. Why did the president claim that it was? Well, because that’s who he is. Donald Trump is a salesman, he’s a talker, a boaster, a booster, a compulsive self-promoter. At times he’s a full-blown BS artist.”

Observations:

  • NOW Carlson is enlightening us about this? Every sentient being knew this about Donald Trump ten years ago, before the Presidency was a twinkle in his eye.
  • Has there ever been an irrelevant fabrication by any U.S. President as harped upon incessantly by critics and the media as Trump’s silly claims about his inauguration crowd?
  •  The Washington Post, aping the New York Times, manufactured another one of those compilations of Trump “lies.” As of last month, the Post says, Trump had told over 13,000 false or misleading statements since taking office, including, of course, including the Inauguration boast. If I didn’t have a sock drawer crisis to deal with, I’m sure I would find that at least a third of those “lies” are in fact nothing of the sort, but mistakes, off-the-cuff exaggerations, and obvious puffery, as in, “Trump said X was ‘the —-est,’ but Y is actually  —-er.”
  • Here is what I wrote almost exactly three years ago, before that Inauguration, in a post called, “Trump, His Critics, and The Julie Principle”:

Yesterday, many, not several but many, of my Angry Left Facebook friends posted links to stories attacking Trump’s silly tweet about him really winning the popular vote and there being millions of fraudulent votes for Hillary Clinton. “Is he going to do this sort of thing his entire administration?” one friend asked.

YES! YES HE IS! OF COURSE HE IS! DON’T YOU KNOW THIS ALREADY? ARE YOU REALLY GOING TO FLIP OUT AT EVERY SINGLE  INSTANCE WHEN TRUMP SAYS OR TWEETS SOMETHING STUPID LIKE THIS?

If so, then you are going to go nuts, and you will just become irrelevant and annoying.

Which, of course, they have. Including the Post and Tucker Carlson. Continue reading

Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 9/19/2019: Easy Ethics Edition [Corrected]

I’m baaaack!

Ann Althouse has boasted that she has only missed one day of blogging since she started the Althouse blog, long before Ethics Alarms took its first metaphorical breath. This has enlightened me regarding how much time tenured professors must have on their hands. Missing a full two days of ethics commentary, as I did this week, makes me feel like an irresponsible slug-a-bed who is betraying loyal readers who depend on a service, but it was literally impossible for me to research a post, never mind write one, between hotels, meetings with my teaching partner, meals, travel and the seminars themselves. When I finally arrived at home and office, I almost immediately had to handle a long conference call in which I was quizzed on some tricky legal ethics issues, and then was officially brain dead for the rest of the evening. It is hard to think clearly about ethics when one is exhausted. And I still am, but the warm-up format is a relatively safe way to ease myself back into the saddle.

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

1. Getting the really important stuff out of the way first...Sean Spicer made his debut on “Dancing With The Stars.” I posted last month about the double -standards and bias of the pundits who criticized the show for having the former White House spokesman as a contestant, and their animus is still one more example of unethical mainstream media partisanship. However, Spicer taking a pay-off to look ridiculous on national television—he gets $125,000 for each week he “dances” before he is mercifully voted off—is unprofessional, even though increasing numbers of public servants are doing it. Spicer is giving media critics of the President another stick to beat him with, and denigrating his own role as well as the administration by casting himself as a clown.

Spicer was a slow loris even by the miserable recent standards of press secretaries, and emblematic of how the President’s pledge to appoint and hire “the best people” appears in retrospect as a cruel joke. I can’t say I feel sorry for him, still, in presenting himself as target, he has provoked the mistreatment media into exposing its pettiness and apparently irrepressible gratuitous hostility to the President. The New York Times covered Spicer’s terpsichoral misadventures in the politics section, so it could write sections like…

In the White House, Mr. Spicer held a job that has usually been considered a golden ticket to future respectability and financial comfort. His predecessors have landed in lucrative corporate gigs at Amazon and United Airlines, or become the hosts of their own television programs. But trading in his famously ill-fitting suit to become a trending neon GIF felt like the culmination of a different kind of post-White House journey, one that is q.uintessentially Trump.

The job has been a “golden ticket” for “respectability” for recent press secretaries of Democratic administrations, because the mainstream news media seldom had adversarial relationships with Presidents they helped elect. Of course, the Republican varieties who have been hired by Fox News aren’t respectable. Spicer’s fate is “quintessentially Trump” because the current President is the first that the press has refused to grant even minimal respect from the beginning of his administration. Continue reading

Observations On The President’s Stupid Hurricane Map “Scandal.”

Destined to take its place in “resistance” and mainstream media obsessions along side President Trump’s stubborn misrepresentation of his inauguration crowd, the controversy over the bizarrely altered Dorian path  map was one more in a long nauseating chain of similar incidents. If you were lucky enough to miss it, here’s the scoop.

In the middle of a Labor Day tweeting frenzy, President Trump issued an erroneous tweet that Alabama would be affected by Hurricane Dorian. I have no trouble in filing this part under “Who cares?” He’s not a meteorologist, a scientist or even a relaible source of information. Over-heated and contrived complaints that his goof “endangered citizens” are just familiar Trump derangement: anyone who depends on the President for weather predictions when there are so many obviously more reliable authorities available may be doing the gene pool a favor.

Officials with the National Weather Service quickly issued a public correction, tweeting, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.” That should have ended it

But, in the throes of the kind of inexplicable, self-destructive, foolish impulse that we have all grown to expect and love, President Trump then appeared in a video released by the White House in which he displayed a weather forecast map, dated from 11 a.m. on Aug. 29, supposedly showing that Alabama would  be affected. The graphic appeared  to have been crudely altered with a black Sharpie, however, as you can see above.

“We had, actually, our original chart was that it was going to be hit — hitting Florida directly,” Trump says. “That was the original chart,” Trump said. “It could’ve, uh, was going towards the Gulf.”  Later, he tweeted out that chart, saying,

This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!

Here’s the  chart that he tweeted:

It also includes misleading lines drawn onto the graphic.

Why, why, WHY??

Observations: Continue reading

Unethical Tweet Of The Week: Yes, It’s Representative Ocasio-Cortez Again!

I know we’re getting perilously close to Julie Principle territory here. The Congresswoman says and tweets so many ignorant, logically flawed, impulsive and silly things so often that it seem ungallant to keep swatting at them.

On the other hand, elected officials, especially members of Congress, have an ethical duty not to make their supporters, followers and the public in general dumber and more ignorant than they already are. The tweet above does that: it misrepresents laws, law enforcement, the nature of abortion, reality, justice, too much to process, really.

It also shows seriously damaged critical thinking skills and an abysmal grasp of analogies. “Right?” No, NOT right, you fool. Abortion bans target the intentional taking of what these laws deem human life. Got that? Intentional. No ICE agents set out to cause the deaths of premature babies that were, in fact, placed in peril by their mothers who endangered them by bringing them along as they attempted to break U.S. laws. There is no valid comparison here. None. Continue reading

The Incredibly Stupid But Nonetheless Revealing Nancy Pelosi Video Ethics Train Wreck

Seldom does a news story I deem too predictable and silly to warrant posting about suddenly explode into a full-fledged ethics train wreck, but this time, it did. President Trump apparently couldn’t resist the irony of Speaker Pelosi calling for “an intervention” for him in one of her typical rambling, halting, disturbing performances, and tweeted “PELOSI STAMMERS THROUGH NEWS CONFERENCE” along with a video.

This was, of course, both juvenile, petty and typical conduct by the President. At this point, I don’t see how anyone can get upset about it, be surprised by it, or pretend to be outraged by it. Doing so is one more marker of Trump Derangement: yes, we KNOW you hate the man and can’t stand his manner, manners, and mannerisms. These were a matter of record years before he was elected. Anyone who voted for him knew the was part of the package. What possibly is accomplished by railing about it now?

“The man’s an asshole! No, really, look, he really, really is an asshole! Don’t you see? HE’S REALLY AN ASSHOLE!!!!” We see, for God’s sake. We’ve always seen. Shut up! [See: The Julie Principle.]

Now, if Donald Trump were 14, or not President of the United States and obligated to be a role model and epitome of dignity and rectitude, one could sympathize with this latest example of tit-for-tat payback. Pelosi accused him of a “cover-up” because he has chosen not to cooperate with Democrats looking for things—something, anything— to impeach him with. This is the three year old “we know you must have done something horrible because you are horrible,” guilty until proven innocent smear that the “resistance” has used from the moment Trump was elected to try to undermine his Presidency in an  undemocratic, slow-motion coup unlike anything the nation has endured before. Then she made her “intervention” comment. Of course the President resents it and is furious, and he has never denied that his personal ethics code demands that he strike back when he is attacked. No, it isn’t ethical, admirable or Presidential. But it’s him.

The Speaker was also crossing lines of decorum that shouldn’t be crossed, but that horse not only left the Democratic barn long ago, it has traveled cross-country, mated repeatedly, and has nasty, mean-spirited, hateful colts galloping all over the place. One of Trump’s gifts is making his enemies behave worse than he does, and the Democrats and the “resistance” have taken the bait and asked for more, the fools. All they had to do was to take the high road, speak respectfully but sadly about the President’s transgressions, stick to the facts, and refrain from name-calling and ad hominem attacks. Like the man on the ledge heeding “Jump!” chants, they chose to follow the worst of their supporters’ demands instead, proving, of course, that they were no better than the President, and, I would argue, worse. Continue reading