Observations On The Gruber Tapes: Tipping Points, Integrity Checks, Totalitarian Tactics and Very Loud Ethics Alarms


A lot of people in the Obama administration, the media, and even some of your friends would like to characterize the many videos of Jonathan Gruber revealing, as Geraldo Rivera called it, himself an apologist for the administration, “the ugly side of the political process” as no big deal. It is a big deal. I recognized it as a big deal from the first of the videos, as every objective and honest American should. The tapes are as significant and important as the Nixon White House tapes, which revealed  a conspiracy at the highest levels of the government to cover up a criminal attempt to rig the political process and corrupt democracy. Those tapes prompted reforms and political upheaval. So should Gruber’s inconvenient truths, if we believe that our form of government is worth saving. This should be a tipping point. We cannot tolerate this, nor long survive it.

We all should make sure that the many ideologues, activists, hacks and villains who want to ignore the significance of the Gruber tapes fail, and while doing so, metaphorically mark their chests with a giant, red “C” for “corrupter,” if not a “T” for “traitor.” I have heard all the excuses. lies, spin and rationalizations now. If you care about the American system, and want to be part of the solution to this ethics rot in our government and leadership rather than siding with those who want to continue it, then just think a bit. If you banish your biases, you’ll come to the right conclusion, which is this: what Gruber has revealed is serious, dangerous, and wrong.

Some specific ethics observations and conclusions:

1. Apparently the entire Democratic party, the progressive movement and many of the elites in journalism and academia have embraced the undemocratic principle, a key tenet of the theories of Lenin, Islam, Mao, Joseph Alinsky, Goebbels, Joe McCarthy and Big Brother, to mix historical and fictional villains, that deceiving the public and the use of lies are  virtuous and necessary means of governing, because the public does not know what is in its own best interest. This is totalitarianism. There is no disguising it. It is sinister and intolerable. It should not be sugar-coated, and the public needs to be told, in unambiguous terms, why this is more than political expediency. It is a rejection of the premises and ideals that the nation was founded upon. We must reject it, and reject those who excuse it, rationalize it and employ it, in either political party.

The party that has been caught red handed, however, with no plausible escape, is the party of the Affordable Care Act.

2. Every bob and weave, lie and double-lie in response to Gruber’s videos, have failed. The fact that the lies were attempted, however, underscores how serious the corruption is. I immediately went to Media Matters when the story broke. The one-sided advocacy group that pretends that progressives can do no wrong and that there is a conservative media conspiracy, if you can read that without passing out from laughing, has been in rare form in its frenzied efforts to pretend that Gruber’s exposés are meaningless. It headlines its empty defense “The Fraudulent Media Campaign To Scandalize Obamacare’s Passage,” though the mainstream (that is, liberal) media, to its permanent shame, tried to ignore the story longer than I would have thought possible. Then MM tries to bolster White House spokesman Josh Earnest’s risible claims that the Affordable Care Act was passed with unusual transparency. Yes, I’d say lying outright about what the bill would do is unusual transparency, though that’s not what they mean.

This is, as I already pointed out, a Jumbo-–a desperate lie that is obviously a lie to anyone with their eyes open. No law that complex is transparent; no bill that isn’t permitted debate in its final form is transparent; no text that is so long and convoluted that it can’t be read (or printed out from the internet without owning a paper store) is transparent. If it was transparent, we wouldn’t be heading to the Supreme Court over what the proponents of the law term a “typo.” If it was transparent, then what was always intended to be a tax would not have been furiously defended as not being a tax. If it was transparent, the President would not have told the public over 30 times that the law’s passage would not cause anyone to lose a healthcare plan they liked.  The passage of Obamacare was not transparent. Anyone who claims otherwise is one of the liars, earning that big, red “C.”

3. The transparency argument only works for glassy-eyed progressive zombies who will follow the talking points of their masters and gurus wherever they lead. For the less cognitively handicapped, the fall-back rationalization is another totalitarian specialty: “The ends justifies the means.”

I was watching Fox’s “The Five,” and the four right wingers turned to token Democratic operative and pundit Bob Beckel regarding Gruber and the videos. Beckel adamantly refused to discuss Gruber, and insisted that he be allowed to list the accomplishments of Obamacare, as if that would be a complete defense, a persuasive defense, or any defense at all. Beckel, a long time operative, represents the inner workings of the Democratic Party—if he has accepted the proposition that it is acceptable to pass sweeping laws by lying about their intent and effect, then it is reasonable to conclude that the party has as much contempt for American citizens as Lenin had for the Russian peasants.The missing dimension in the whole Jonathan Gruber scandal is this: however the law got made, it worked,” asserts the Daily Kos, channeling its inner Hitler. Never mind the fact that the D.K.’s claims of success are premature, dishonest and exaggerated, even if that were correct, it would not justify passing legislation this way in a democracy. For if you can say that about a healthcare law, what can’t be justified that way? Progressives…and certainly the Daily Kos can be taken as an accurate barometer of progressive thought and ethics (sadly), have fallen into a dark, deep unethical hole. If that is how progressives think, reason and act, then Americans can no longer trust progressives. They want to win policy arguments by any means necessary, and that is unacceptable.

4. Gruber’s trail of inconvenient truths shows us that legislators game and rig the system that they use as “objective” authority in their fake “transparency.” From the Washington Post:

“As the agency put it, “Dr. Gruber developed a proprietary statistically sophisticated micro-simulation model that has the flexibility to ascertain the distribution of changes in health care spending and public and private sector health care costs due to a large variety of changes in health insurance benefit design, public program eligibility criteria, and tax policy.”The model, the Gruber Microsimulation Model, is the coin of the realm, in large part because it is similar to the model used by the Congressional Budget Office. That means administration policy-makers could predict with reasonable certainty how CBO would score legislation. Given that legislation in Washington often falls or rises depending on the CBO score, that made this model a very powerful tool for administration officials.”

Got that? One of the main uses Gruber’s talents were put to was to rig the numbers so the CBO would come up with a positive—though false—report on the law’s long and short term economic effects. Gaming the CBO is a slimy, well-known technique in Washington indulged in by both parties, but this is the first time it has been thrust squarely in the spotlight beyond the cynical, winking view of policy wonks and political junkies. So much was made of CBO “scoring” during the Obamacare debate that the coming revelations that they were, to be vulgar, crap, will be well publicized, as will why they were crap: Obama hired Jonathan Gruber to make sure the scoring would be misleading. How I remember progressive blogger, supposed truth teller and  falsely impugned Affordable Care Act defender Barry Deutsch  lecturing me here about how the CBO projections proved that the bill was sound, and after all, it was non-partisan. A good progressive, carrying poison information to the masses. Your “C” will be in the mail, Barry—wear it with pride.

For the rule is garbage in, garbage out. It would be nice to have an objective agency scoring honest numbers regarding proposed bills, so the public could know what they are supporting (or not), and what it is in for if the bill passes. That would be transparency, and an aid to democracy.  But we can’t trust the parties to provide figures that haven’t been cooked by snotty math whizzes like Jonathan Gruber (he was paid $400,000 for the mission), so the process is part of the fraud. We’ll never trust a CBO score again, or if we do, we deserve what we get.*

I suppose, in this horrid mess, that qualifies as good thing. They’ll have to find a new way to lie to us.

5. NBC, PBS, The New York and LA Times, ABC, CBS, and AP did their damnedest to censor this story. Think about that. Think about what would have occurred if a tape of a Defense Department consultant surfaced in 2006 in which he said that the Bush administration never thought that there were WMD’s, and just used the story to fool “stupid voters.” This was an easy integrity check for the mainstream media, and except for the Washington Post and eventually  CNN, it disgraced itself, playing the role of Pravda.

CNN media ethics reporter Brian Stelter acknowledged that the MIT professor’s videos were virtually ignored outside “conservative media,’ and grudgingly admitted that it was an important story that should have been reported as such. His excuse: the reason for the embargo was news fatigue about the Obamacare problems, and how it has been debated and “covered endlessly.” This, from an employee of the network that shelved most news for a month to give up-to-the-second updates on a missing airplane long after everyone was sick of hearing about it!  This, from the same mainstream media that reported on Kim Kardashian’s naked butt on the internet while pretending the Obamacare naked deception didn’t exist!

If the Gruber episode doesn’t provoke the public to demand an overhaul of U.S. journalism, nothing will.

6. A loud, resounding ethics alarm has arisen from this episode. The Republicans had better not try to exploit it, for the rotten system is a  product of their construction as well, and they are equally accountable.  They have an opportunity, as do honorable and patriot Democrats, to finally level with the American public they have been elected to serve, and deliver real transparency while rejecting the governing philosophy of the arrogant elites who have pushed U.S. democracy to the brink of failure. It could happen.

All we can do is hope, for the sake of our children.

* This pales in ethical importance to the rest, so I did not include it in the main observations, but what a scummy, untrustworthy, wretch Gruber is! He accepted all that money, parlyed it into more lucrative consulting contracts, then reveled in celebrity on the speaking circuit by revealing matters that any professional should know were  confidential, and that keep such information secret was part of the expectations of his fee. The Obamacare creators trusted him, and he couldn’t keep his mouth shut, undermining his work and their objectives. It is not as if he was whistleblower—far from it. He thinks this lying and manipulating is cool. He sees nothing wrong with it. He’s a horrible example for his students, and MIT should not allow him to corrupt them.


Sources: Mediaite, Washington Post 1, 2, Media Matters, Newsbusters

20 thoughts on “Observations On The Gruber Tapes: Tipping Points, Integrity Checks, Totalitarian Tactics and Very Loud Ethics Alarms

  1. “Crossroads of Journalism?” If only. The most telling point of this most telling of essays is #5, laying out how the mainstream media tried to bury, then minimalize, then spin this embarassing revelation, citing to every reason except the truth: they were protecting Obama and his signature legislative achievement.

    I see what you are trying to say with the graphic, and it is a good graphic, but, with respect, Jack, I think you have it backwards. This reminds me more of the famous Cold War quote regarding the domino theory, where one domino goes over, then others, and the unavoidable fact is that the last one is going to go over very quickly. The dominos have been tipping over for six years for the de facto alliance between mainstream journalism and liberal politics and now we are reaching the end of the row.

    The first started to fall with the 2008 campaign as it became very obvious the mainstream media was taking sides. Every morning the headline would be about how Obama was ahead in yet another poll. They kept falling with the push for the sequester, the ACA, and every other initiative of the first two years. Still more fell as the media did it’s best to report every stumble, bumble, and dribble by Romney and the Republicans while pushing Benghazi, the IRS abuses, Fast and Furious, and the rest of that litany under the carpet as just being noise by the conservative media. Now the snowball of deceptions, spin, and outright lies has gotten too big to hide and the really damaging truths are being revealed.

    At this point Obama’s supporters, both political and journalistic, are faced with the unpleasant choice of either admitting they backed a mass of deceptions or, frankly, becoming part of those deceptions. We talked a little bit in another thread about how Woodrow Wilson saw his political support evaporate after his promises and visions came up short. It was mentioned yesterday in an article by Peggy Noonan how Nixon found himself face to face with a Barry Goldwater telling him his support had collapsed in the wake of the tapes and he was going to vote for impeachment. Eventually even the most partisan people with functioning ethical compasses reach their tolerance level for being lied to and used as pawns and dupes. I’d say last week’s election shows where the voter’s tolerance level was. I have some possibly misplaced faith that some Democratic politicians’ tolerance level isn’t too far from where we are now. I am sorry to say I have very little faith that mainstream journalism’s tolerance level is anywhere near. Like Venezuela at the death of Hugo Chavez, this country is going to be left with a journalistic establishment that really can’t do anything because it’s been too long in one leader’s pocket.

  2. Do a search for “vote against their best interests”. Note which party has been asking that question for years. Apparently, they got sick of the democratic process at some point and started seeking alternative solutions.

      • I did do a Google search and it is mainly left-,leaning people asking this question. And they were asking this question even in 2006, so it simply is not sour grapes by those who lost elections.

        Nevertheless, this probably happens in every election. There are three reasons why voters would vote against their own self-interests.

        – Reality proved to contradict their predictions about how a policy would affect their self-interests. For example, businessmen supported President Richard Nixon’s wage and price controls, which turned out to be a disaster.

        – The interests of a particular voter may, at times, be in opposition, so the voter has to choose. A ballot initiative may help one of a particular voter’s interests while harming another. And candidates support a wide variety of policies.

        – Perhaps most significantly, many voters put aside their self-interest for the perceived good of the nation. The 14th amendment is an obvious example. If voters had always voted solely for their own self-interest, the 14th Amendment would not have guaranteed equal protection; it would have enshrined racial apartheid and segregation into the U.S. Constitution.

    • “What Makes People Vote Republican?”
      Edge.org, Sept 2008

      (Long, but recommended reading. There are some fascinating political admissions here, and some of the science is quite interesting. A lot of the critiques of Republican tactics are not at all wrong, but the contempt for voters is strong. Also worth reading for a few critiques of this corrupted type of Liberal thinking from Sam Harris and Michael Shermer. There at least seemed to be some honest introspection at the time.)

      “Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?”
      “[C]onservatism is a partially heritable personality trait that predisposes some people to be cognitively inflexible.”
      “But how can Democrats learn to see—let alone respect—a moral order they regard as narrow-minded, racist, and dumb?”
      —Jonathan Haidt, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia

      “It is common to make the assumption that people are thinking when they vote and they are making reasoned choices. I harbor no such illusion.”
      “Republicans do not try to change voter’s beliefs. They go with them. Democrats appeal to reason. Big mistake.”
      “They worry about money. Who wants to take their money away? Liberals of course. They want to give it to the blacks.”
      “As is often the case, the real answer is quite simple. Most people can’t think very well.”
      “[T]hey are not equipped to think about politics and, in my mind, they are not equipped to vote. The fact that we let them vote while failing to encourage them to think for themselves is a real problem for our society.”
      —Roger Schank, Psychologist & Computer Scientist

      “The underlying fiction of electoral bodies is that the electors make rational choices about (ideally) what is in the best interests…”
      —James J. O’Donnell, University Professor, Georgetown University

      “[A] rational analysis of voting suggests that the core act of modern democratic government makes absolutely no sense.”
      —James Fowler, Professor of Medical Genetics and Political Science, University of California

      “Why do people vote against their own interests?”
      BBC News, Jan 2010

      “But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform . . . are often the ones it seems designed to help.”
      “[T]he perils of trying to explain to voters what will make them better off.”

      “What Makes People Vote Against Their Own Best Interests?”
      Daily Kos, Nov 2011

      “Most of us liberals have been perplexed as to why any working class stiff (especially those in the lower income brackets) would vote against his/her own best interest and vote for corporate and wealthy interests instead.”

      (Links to the articles on Edge, listed above.)

      “Why Do People Vote Against Their Own Best Interests?”
      Huffington Post, April 2014

      “I too am baffled by the way people, especially women, vote against those who share their ideals and values…”
      “Both women and men should vote for elected officials whose actions show that they have the best interests of the citizens and country in mind, but for some reason, they don’t.”

      • God, the elitist, condescending tone of all the commentors you just listed is nauseating. Could that be at least a small part of why they’re falling out of favor?

        • The early comments from Edge certainly acknowledge that condescending elitism is part of their image problem, but it’s mind boggling to see them pass it off as merely a strategic failing in the face of those dumb plebeians. Warnings from more rational members of the intellectual elite apparently went unheeded in later years, and even the faint glimmer of political self-awareness was lost.

      • That phrase, “best interest”, has bugged me about the left for quite some time. What’s the Matter With Kansas was a very revealing book by it’s very existence. Progressives thought it was a great book. Everyone else realized that the thinking involved was inherently elitist.

        My best interest is MY best interest. It is intrinsically a matter of taste. I don’t smoke… but I understand why some highly stressed people do. If they think it’s a good tradeoff, well, they are free to think so. I can try to convince them that they are wrong, but overriding that choice because I think I know what their preferences should be is incredibly authoritarian.

        The right mostly doesn’t think in quite the same way. In my experience, they are more likely to argue based on harms (real or imagined) to third parties than they are to base their arguments on what they think is best for everyone. There are exceptions of course, but they tend to think of harms to actual children rather than considering the masses to all be children.

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be “cured” against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.” – C.S. Lewis.

        It’s probably my favorite political quote.

  3. What are you talking about,Jack? Gruber is a hero! Unwittingly perhaps, but a hero nonetheless. Can you think of an instance when the blatant , undeniable malfeasance of both this administration and the press was revealed in s uch a way that even the most dense liberal skull HAS to be breached?

  4. “…even the most dense liberal skull HAS to be breached?…
    Joed, I wouldn’t hold your breath. I’ve already heard several people (Liberals, all) saying variations on “Who cares if they lied? It was for America’s own good”. I suspect that is going to become the official line very shortly.

  5. thanks for being one of the few OBJECTIVE voices to say this: “…a key tenet of the theories of Lenin, Islam, Mao, Joseph Alinsky, Goebbels, Joe McCarthy and Big Brother, to mix historical and fictional villains, that deceiving the public and the use of lies is a virtuous and necessary means of governing,” (emphasis added)

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