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.