In “Falling Down.” a movie I like better every time I see it (or think about it), Michael Douglas plays a man who snaps, Sweeney Todd-like, and begins shooting people after the collective injustice, meanness, cruelty, stress and stupidity of daily life becomes unbearable. Finally cornered, he hears a law enforcement officer demand his surrender. “I’m the bad guy?” he says, in a stunning moment of self-awareness. “How did that happen?”
We’re still waiting for that moment of self-awareness from the Left. How it happened in their case is a matter of historical record: accumulated arrogance, cynicism and the rejection of their own ideology’s core principles–you know, liberalism?—did the trick. What was left was pure power-seeking, anger, hate, and “the ends justifies the means,” the “ethic” of fascism and totalitarianism.
When the metaphorical ethics Rubicon was finally crossed could be debated. For me, it was when Hillary Clinton, confident of her historic landslide victory, lectured designated loser Donald Trump about how despicable and un-American it was for him to hint that he might not accept the legitimacy of her election as President. Then, as soon as he was the victor, Clinton, her party and all of its followers proceed to challenge the legitimacy of his election—and have continued to do so in various ways ever since.
The fact that this exacerbated dangerous national divisions, endangered the Constitution and undermined the ability of an elected President to govern didn’t, and apparently doesn’t, faze them at all. Patriotic Americans, fair human beings, ethical people and the “good guys” don’t behave like this. It is signature significance for bad guys.
Now, I certainly knew that electing a walking ethics vacuum like Donald Trump would rot the culture’s values, as I warned here repeatedly. I did not anticipate that the primary agents of turning the U.S. into a nation of assholes would be the Left. I assumed that they would hold the values line as best they could, and not challenge the President in a race to the bottom of the barrel, much less win it. All they needed to do was to uphold traditional standards of justice, honesty, civility, respect for institutions and integrity to ensure that Trump, at worst, would be a short-term aberration. Or, as Glenn Reynold likes to say, all they needed to do was not act crazy. They couldn’t do it.
The Left has rejected freedom of speech, accepting the often violent efforts of college students to threaten and silence speakers whose views they regard as “hate speech.” It has opposed the rule of law in immigration policy, labeling the essential sovereign function of controlling borders as “racism.” It has advocated dividing society into favored and disfavored groups Women must be “believed”; men must be presumed guilty; police must be presumed racist.
There are too many examples to cover in less than a book; I think Ethics Alarms has dealt with most of them. The current low point, however, is the issue at hand: the Kavanaugh nomination. Only the fact that the Left and its biased allies in their misguided quest, the news media, have so thoroughly corrupted their sympathetic followers among the public can explain why there isn’t a mass declaration of outrage. I’m still surprised and disappointed. I thought my liberal friends had more integrity. This is the lowest of the low, and the terrifying question is what the next low point will be.
Sticking only to what Ethics Alarms designates the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck, one has to wonder what more documentation the Left needs to spark its collective conscience and to arrive at the same conclusion as “Falling Down’s” tragic hero. This debacle began with the Left, all components, announcing its monolithic opposition to a qualified judge who would have been overwhelming approved under any other administration, in any other era. The very left-leaning ABA Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave its highest rating to Kavanaugh. Never mind: the Democratic Party commenced a campaign of fear-mongering, insisting that in some case not yet in existence, the judge, who has been vocal in his support of stare decisus (following well-established SCOTUS precedent), would join with the so-called “conservative” wing of the Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.
This convenient prognostication was enough to lead to angry demonstrations by feminists and pro-abortion activists who had never read a Kavanaugh judicial opinion in their lives, and probably no SCOTUS decisions either. The tactics of the Left here were intimidation and misrepresentation, as well as revenge, tit-for-tat, or what Ethics Alarms sometimes calls “Mob Ethics.” Call attention to the treatment of Kavanaugh—it was Barack Obama who pointed out that elections have consequences, after all—and, failing to locate a legitimate defense, the social media Left’s reflex argument was “Yeah, well what about Merrick Garland?”
Of course, Ethics 101 teaches that past unethical conduct does not make unethical conduct in response less wrong, but the two strategies are not equivalent, legally or ethically. No one set out to slander and smear the character of Garland to justify doing what they had already made up their mind to do. The approach of the Democrats—decide that you want an opponent removed, so seek to find an allegation, an incident or an accuser to make that removal possible, is the opposite of what our legal process requires. Starting out with the presumption of guilt and then using the power of the prosecutor to search for a crime to pin on a target is a fascist strategy (and exactly the Democratic/”resistance” plan to undo the 2016 election by removing President Trump), and an unequivocal violation of prosecution ethics, as well as fairness and justice.
It does embody “The ends justify the means,” however: the motto of all Bad Guys in fiction and history.
Despite its own history of having the excesses of the #MeToo witch hunt mentality bite hard—Senator Al Franken was forced to resign primarily because of his pre-Senatorial conduct as a comedian before any due process or investigations—an old, old allegation of sexual misconduct was the chosen weapon for Kananaugh’s destruction. First, the discovered 30 year plus memory of another liberal professor, Christine Blasey Ford, doing her Anita Hill impression was deliberately held for two months by Senator Feinstein, thus preventing Kavanaugh from responding to them in a non-ambush scenario. Bad guys.
The tactic was unfair and cynical, based solely on the Democratic desire to run out the clock on Kavanaugh’s confirmation so maybe a “blue wave” could give the Democrats a Senate majority. As the Ford scenario has developed, the intent of stalling has become increasingly obvious. At the same time, Democrats and their propaganda machine in the media began making the case that any attempt to defend himself would by itself make Kavanaugh unfit to serve. After all, even women making three decades old accusations at the last minute to derail the confirmation of a qualified jurist deserve respect. Anyone, even the target of her attack, doubting her words or motives would obviously be a sexist pig, and an apologist for rapists. This is what the Democrats now regard as justice. It’s also the kind of double bind, heads you lose, tails I win process favored by James Bond villans.
Meanwhile, not a thought has been given, apparently, to the disastrous long-term consequences to the political process, society and the culture if the Blasey Ford scheme is successful.:
- High school conduct will now be considered legitimate cause to punish adults and impugn their character long after they have established and earned public trust. No longer will any quarter be given for bad judgement and poor choices before majority.
- No man, anywhere, will be safe from old grudges, newly “woke” indignation, and accusations by women times perfectly to undermine trust and support.
- The standard will now be that anyone—well, any man— accused of sexual assault must be presumed guilty, and has the burden of proof of proving a negative. Two columnists for the New York Times have endorsed this standard, as well as various Democrats and activists. The accusation is enough even if it is unsubstantiated. This doesn’t even have the Salem safeguard of throwing the accused witch into the lake (Sink, and you’re innocent, though dead. Float, and you’re a witch…and soon to be dead.)
- Women, and only women, will have been granted the power to destroy lives, careers and reputations. They will use it.
- American society, already dangerously divided along racial, generational, regional and partisan fissures, will be more divided along gender lines as well.
The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass writes,
It threatens Republicans now, and Democrats tomorrow. It will threaten even those who don’t give two figs for politics and see all such talk as lies told by knaves to fools.
What we are seeing are founding American principles being swept — among them the presumption of innocence and the rights of the accused — to feed the appetites of power politics
That’s what Kavanaugh is dealing with, having to testify and defend himself against uncorroborated allegations of sexual predation 36 years ago, when he was in high school and in his freshman year of college.
The short-term politics of all this is quite clear, a movement led by cynics and assisted by their handmaidens in the Democratic Media Complex.
It is designed to convince suburban women voters that Republicans are hateful creatures, help Democrats pick up congressional seats in the November midterm elections and do away with President Donald Trump.
But look deeper and you’ll see something else.
The sweeping away of traditions that have been carefully nurtured from the founding of this nation, to protect individual liberty and shield us from the passions of the mob.
Without these principles, we are no longer a republic.
Kass’s analysis isn’t some novel theory. It’s essentially the same thing I have been writing since Democrats and “the resistance” plotted to defy the Electoral College. But all of this is tolerable, apparently, if a theoretical future SCOTUS opinion in a non-existent case that might restrict the possibly too wide-ranging rights of a woman to kill her unborn child for any reason or whim can be prevented by destroying the reputation of the presumed decisive vote in that future case.
Sounds like SkyNet’s plan in “The Terminator,” doesn’t it?
The latest news from the Brett Kavanaugh Nomination Ethics Train Wreck would have Michael Douglas’s character begging, “Enough! Enough! I get it! I’m the bad guy!” halfway through the list….but then, he had some integrity. For example:
- Ford’s attorneys presented to the Judiciary Committee four sworn declarations from Ford’s husband, Russell, and three friends supporting the California college professor’s accusation that Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and attempted to pull off her clothes while both were high school students in 1982. None of them witnessed the incident. None of them involved statements from Ford before 2012. All were sworn statements regarding what Ford told them, presented for the purpose of proving the truth of her accusation.
All four are classic hearsay evidence, as in bad, unreliable evidence. Allowing them as evidence in a trial would guarantee reversal on appeal.
- During the twelve days since Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein publicly announced Blasey Ford’s allegations, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows have spent nearly six hours (344 minutes) repeating and analyzing the allegations. 8% of that time has been devoted to Kavanaugh’s denials, the problems with the accusations, and the lack of corroboration for the accounts.
The Bad Guys are being assisted by partisan and biased journalists to the detriment of the public.
- Apparently everyone now needs to scrutinize their high school yearbooks, and be ready to make full disclosure of any potentially disqualifying jokes, in-jokes, secret jokes, “dog whistles” or anything else an opposition research firm might find provocative.
[My position is that high school conduct is completely irrelevant to assessing adult character and must be held so, unless the conduct involves provable crimes that indicate serious emotional or mental problems that typically continue into adulthood.]
- Mississippi State professors canceled class or excused students so that they could attend a “moment of silence” for Brett Kavanaugh accusers. Yale Law School cancelled classes so students could protest against Kavanaugh. It is unethical for educational institutions to signal the “right” political position by such administrative actions, just as it was unethical for public schools to excuse student from class to protest gun ownership.
That’s indoctrination, not education. Totalitarian governments use schools that way, not those that support individual liberty and Constitutional principles.
- No degree of hypocrisy is too great to inhibit the effort to destroy Kavanaugh. This is the “have you no decency?” problem: Joe McCarthy had no decency, and neither do today’s “Bad Guys.” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley evealed that the prosecutor hired by the GOP to question Blasey Ford was Rachel Mitchell, a career prosecutor from Maricopa County, Arizona. This move is fair to both Ford and Kavanaugh, and is also politically smart, since the Democrats were salivating at the opportunity to use the spectacle of “old white men” being “disrespectful” and “sexist” by challenging a “survivor” of theoretical sexual assault. So the lawyer representing Christine Blasey Ford sent a letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley objecting to Republicans hiring an “experienced sex crimes prosecutor” for tomorrow’s hearing.
Now guess what that objection would be? She’s female. She’s not a partisan. So what…oh, riiiiight! She’s female and she’s not a partisan, so the Democrats can’t claim foul when Ford’s story is exposed to be as questionable as it is. Give the lawyer credit for making an absurd objection sound as plausible as possible.
“This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate,” Michael Bromwich wrote. “Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case.”
Gee, it sure seems like Judge Kavanaugh’s on trial. He’s being accused of sexual assault and perjury. This is a cynical argument to skirt due process and spare Ford the tough and probing questions her last minute accusation deserves.
“The central point is that there is no precedent for this Committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the Committee from performing their responsibility to question witnesses,” Bromwich continued.
That’s amusing. Before Anita Hill, using a last minute, uncorroborated attack on a SCOTUS nominee was unprecedented. Before The Borking, a party refusing to confirm an undeniably qualified nominee was unprecedented. Who is this guy to tell the Senators what their duties are, and what traditions are to be upheld? Well, he’s working for the Bad Guys. He doesn’t have to make sense.
It shuld be obvious that the objective he claims to be concerned about is advanced by an experienced non-partisan questioner, but this lawyer’s job is to advance the agenda of the Left, by any means necessary. In this case, the means is misleading the public, if possible.
- Now to enter the realm of true thuggery, we have the experience of Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who was dining with his wife at the D.C. restaurant Fiola, and who was forced to leave by a mob that entered the restaurant chanting “We believe survivors.” This is also the realm of the fascist play-book. Democrats, progressives and “the resistance” have cheered and enabled this undemocratic conduct both directly (as with Maxine Waters) and indirectly, through increasingly violent and irresponsible rhetoric. Only bad guys do stuff like was done to Cruz; this isn’t one of the cases where the response can be “Well, both sides…” No, only bad people do this, because it is unequivocally wrong. It is intimidation; it is uncivil; it is dangerous.
I find myself wondering if an organization that has abandoned its core values so obviously, cynically and publicly can ever recover them, and be trustworthy again.
* I am not playing the game I have had commenters play, protesting that there is no monolithic “Left” and that progressives are not necessarily Democrats, who are not socialists, and that “the resistance” and antifa are distinct, while the news media isn’t political. Baloney. When these groups and their leadership show any independence and stop supporting the monolithic unethical conduct all of these components of the left have engaged in since November, 2016, I’ll begin taking that complaint more seriously.