Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?

Wave

I don’t want to pick on the Democrats in their hour of crisis, but I can’t let this pass.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair the Democratic National Committee, sent a video message to party loyalists stating in part,

“Your dedication is at the heart and soul of who we are as a party — but our party has a problem. We know we’re right on the issues. The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for. But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections. That’s why we lost in 2010, and it’s why we lost on Tuesday. We’ve got to do better.”

What???

1. “A problem”?

2. How can anyone “know they are right” on “the issues” ? All issues? It is enough that advocates believe they are right. Saying one knows one is right presumes a level of omniscience that is the mark of the arrogant and immodest—no wonder the parties won’t compromise with each other. The opponents of the religious right mock those who base their opposition to evolution, abortion and same-sex marriage on unshakable certainty based on faith. What’s the Democratic faith that justifies similar certainty?

3. “The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for.” This is just factually false. The majority of the public thinks climate change is a crock. The majority wants tougher immigration enforcement, not less of it. The majority wants litigation reform, which the Democrats fight to preserve trial lawyer fees. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. So is affirmative action. The majority of the public thinks that there is an I.R.S. cover-up. The majority thinks Barack Obama is a weak and feckless President. The majority of Americans think there should be some limitations on abortion, and don’t want to pay for other people’s birth control. Six in 10 American think guns make homes safer, rather than, as the Democrats see it, endangering children.

Yes, the public is in favor of raising the minimum wage, and always is. It will be in favor of raising the minimum wage one minute after the minimum wage is finally raised. The public doesn’t understand the minimum wage, and never has, which is why it is always low hanging fruit for Democrats. If that is the “cause” Schultz is referring to—and since the President mentioned it first among his priorities in multiple speeches, who knows? It might be—see #1 above—then this really is a low ebb in Democratic fortunes. I just heard a liberal radio talk-show host talk about how progressives should be excited that some states approved a higher minimum wage. That’s not “progressive,” that’s traditional. Continue reading

With More Evidence Of Pre-Election Obama Administration Sleight-of-Hand, I Ask Again: How Do Democrats React To This?

Somebody?

Somebody?

The post is intended to follow-up on this one, asking supporters of the President who are unbiased, fair and honest, how they continue to trust this administration in light of the repeated pattern of hiding negative developments as long as possible, assisting the compliant news media in burying them, and intentionally delaying admissions, disclosures and bad news until after elections.

It is not a partisan question, but a legitimate ethics inquiry. As I explained in discussing the recent election eve Fast and Furious document dump, there is not any legitimate question about whether this is ethical conduct by the Obama Administration, or whether it is in any way consistent with the pledge of transparency made by Candidate Obama in 2008 and currently posted on the White House website. It isn’t, on both counts. There is no argument about that—I know that. What I don’t understand, and very much want to, is why anyone—Democrat, progressive, Federal worker, journalist, MSNBC hack, Markos Moulitsas, Harry Reid, anybody at all—would excuse or try to justify it sufficiently to say “Yes, I trust these people.” I asked, and nobody took up the challenge.

Is it because everyone actually realizes how inexcusable and sleazy this is, and nobody trusts the Administration any more? That can’t be it: otherwise, I wouldn’t be reading all these amazing blog posts about columns about how stupid the American voting public was to send an emphatic “We’re sick of the Democrats” message at all levels of government, across states of all political persuasions. Is it because all the Obama supporters are in the throes of  DODD (Desperate Obama Defense Derangement)? I suppose that’s possible. It is also possible that Obama defenders are gun-shy here, since their standard refrains of “Republicans are obstructing everything,” “it’s all Bush’s fault,” “everybody does it,” “it’s because he’s black,” and “nobody’s perfect” not only fail to persuade but attract well-deserved derision.

I don’t know the answer, but I want to understand, Trust is the basis of democracy, and trust must work both ways. The Obama Administration consistently shows that it does not trust the American public to approve of its policies and conduct if the public has timely information about what the facts are. Why do so many people trust a leader who doesn’t trust them, and has contempt for its trust?

It happened again, you see. Continue reading

Brad Paisley and Jon Stewart: The “It Was Just A Joke” Follies

Joker04Once again, we visit the ethically murky realm of jokes, near-jokes, misfired jokes, fake jokes, the ‘it was just a joke’ excuse and things the purveyor of non-jokes wish were jokes after the fact. Interestingly, by my estimation, the real and non-offending joke among our twin set today was the one delivered by a non-comedian, and the dishonest joke excuse was employed by a professional comic.

Case A: Jon Stewart

Appearing on CNN election day with Christiane Amanpour to talk about the  midterm elections, the host asked Stewart if he voted. The comic/pundit/news anchor/progressive hit man responded “no” saying, “I just moved. I don’t know even where my thing is now.” Said Ann Althouse:

“The epitome of apathy. And this is the man who shows the young folks how to think!”

She was not alone. Later, as he hosted a special live election night edition of “The Daily Show,” Stewart  apologized, saying:

“…to set the record straight, I did vote today… I was being flip, and it kind of took off, and you know what, I want to apologize. It sent a message that that I didn’t think voting was important. I shouldn’t have done that. That was stupid.”

This was flagged to me as a solid and ethical apology, and I agree, if that’s what it was.  I don’t think that is what it was, though. I think it was damage control, and a lie. Maybe Stewart voted and maybe he didn’t, but he’s a professional comic. His “flip” dismissal of voting to Amanpour didn’t read a s a joke, and she didn’t seem to take it as one. He’s one of the highest paid and popular comedians in the country, and doesn’t know how to make it clear when he’s joking? Or can’t tell when a joke misfires, and he has to backtrack so people don’t think he’s serious? I am dubious. Continue reading

Incompetence Personified: Six Years, And He Still Doesn’t Understand His Job.

No change. Amazing.

No change. Amazing.

The flat learning curve reared its ugly head again in President Obama’s post-shellacking press conference. I did not expect him to admit that the election results were a direct repudiation of his leadership, management and policies, because the man is a narcissist, and he can’t process such information. I expected him to spin the defeat as insignificant from a public will perspective, and he did, noting that only a third of the electorate bothered to vote. That is, of course, the 30% that has been paying attention.

But I was genuinely surprised that he still, still, after all this time, displayed a complete lack of comprehension of what Presidential leadership involves and has always involved since the beginning of the position two centuries ago. Persuasion. Compromise. Trading. Negotiation. Repeatedly, Obama kept saying that he was sure that he and Republicans would find “common ground.”  When they did, he said, things would get done. He made it clear, however, that if he didn’t agree that a policy measure was in the best interests of the country or wouldn’t work, he would block it.

This is madness. It may sound reasonable to civicly ignorant casual observers of the government, as is most of the President’s supporters, but that characterization of how laws get made and a system of checks and balances works would produce a D in any political science course in any junior college in America. The President is obviously intelligent. I presume he’s read about the Presidency….I don’t know, maybe he hasn’t. Is it possible that he doesn’t know that every President made deals with hostile legislators that resulted in laws that President detested, in exchange for moving along policies that were worth the sacrifice? How can he not comprehend this, after six years? The man is President of the United States, and after six years, he still thinks the job is about giving orders and making decrees. Continue reading

Comment of the Day: “Make Voting Compulsory, Because We Can’t Let THAT Happen Again”

Maybe Ruth Marcus would like this system better...

Maybe Ruth Marcus would like this system better…

Theories of democracy and political science, Robert Heinlein, minimizing bias from self-interest, scientist suspicion, GIANT BUGS…okay, it doesn’t quite get to the bugs. But what’s not to like about texagg 04’s reflections and exposition sparked by the post on Ruth Marcus’s plug for compulsory voting? Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, Make Voting Compulsory, Because We Can’t Let THAT Happen Again: Continue reading

Make Voting Compulsory, Because We Can’t Let THAT Happen Again

It's simple, guys, really: we just drive you to the polling place, and we vote the way we tell you to. Otherwise, you'll be breaking the law."

“It’s simple, guys, really. We just drive you to the polling place, and we vote the way we tell you to. Otherwise, you’ll be breaking the law.”

Well that didn’t take long at all. Engaged Americans who have been paying attention to the mess in Washington decided to defy the news media’s will and ringingly reject the governing philosophies of the last six years, so not-so-secretly-true-blue pundits of the mainstream media came out with their plan to make sure that future elections will be dominated by unengaged, low-information voters who will go to the polls and vote as they are told, or, as it often is in Presidential elections, vote for whoever guarantees them the most benefits or who scares them the worst.

Washington Post editor Ruth Marcus delivered a call for compulsory voting in her column this morning. It is one of the most ethically indefensible columns I have ever read in a respected publication, and remember, I read all the New York Times columns. How anyone can take Marcus seriously after such a revolting demonstration of multi-level ethics blindness is a mystery, assuming anyone does.

To begin with, her partisan motives couldn’t be more obvious, though she denies them. After last night’s carnage was recorded, TV panels across the liberal media spectrum confidently opined that Democrats shouldn’t worry: once those dependable Democratic voters from the “base” show up to vote, as they can only motivate themselves to do in sufficient numbers every four years, all of this unpleasantness will go away in 2016. “Ah HA!” thinks Marcus. If we force those easily manipulated, self-interested, group-identifying, naive, uneducated, ignorant and easily frightened voters ( Republicans will take away your Social Security! Your food stamps! Your contraceptives! Your children will be shot in school! “They’ll put y’all back in chains!”) to come out every two years, we won’t have to endure elections like this at all! ( Over at the New York Times, a leftist scholar who saw the writing on the wall right before the election proposed another solution to the same problem: eliminate mid-terms altogether.) Continue reading

Not Funny, Just Hateful, Harmful And Wrong: The New York Post’s Despicable Post-Election Front Page

Post Obama STRIPPED

Yes, I know the New York Post has made an art form of in-your-face, outrageous, I-can’t-believe-they-printed-that headlines and front page shenanigans, epitomized by the deathless classic, “Headless Body Found In Topless Bar.”

Yes, I know that Post is owned by Australian schlockmeister Rupert Murdoch, and yes, I know that the Obama-hating market is large and especially enthusiastic after the Tuesday Night Massacre Democrats just suffered under President Obama’s leadership.

And yes, I know that this is essentially a cartoon via photoshop, and that insisting that the Office of the President must retain its dignity after Bill Clinton got through with it and Democrats en masse declared that it didn’t matter how disgusting a POTUS’s  “personal” conduct was in the White House as long as poll numbers were high and unemployment was low, so come on, Bill: lead our national convention in condemning how Republicans denigrate women!

I know all that. It doesn’t matter. Barack Obama is the President of the United States, and this kind of personal, disrespectful ridicule insults not just him, but the office he holds, the nation, and every citizen of the United States of America. If this front page were published in France or England, I would regard it as an attack and an insult. Where is the line where legitimate editorial criticism becomes vicious, culture-poisoning disrespect and a breach of ethical journalism standards? I don’t know; we can argue about it. Wherever the line is, this is over it, by a lot. Continue reading

Election Ethics Catch 22: The Necessary And Destructive Lie

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: "Don't worry, men! I believe we will win!"

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: “Don’t worry, men! I believe we will win!”

In the last 48 hours, both Joe Biden and Democratic Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told interviewer on national television, and thus the American public, that the Democrats would hold the Senate in tomorrow’s elections. Literally nobody believes this. News reports abound that Democratic pollsters and consultants don’t believe this. Polls show that Democrats are in for an epic clobbering that will give Republicans control of both Houses of Congress. Is there a chance this won’t come to pass? Sure there is: that why we cast real votes. But there is a big difference between “I hope our party holds the Senate” or “I think if everyone gets out and votes, we can hold the Senate,” and “We will hold the Senate.” The latter means “I honestly believe we will hold the Senate.” In context, it is either a statement of ignorance and delusion, or a lie.

Now with the track record of Biden and Schultz, one can never be certain that they aren’t delusional, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are lying. (They have track records in that area as well.) They are lying because they don’t really believe what they are saying, but feel they have no choice. This is the Underdog’s Dilemma. If anyone is going to care about a contest, neither competitor can concede or admit that it’s a hopeless mismatch. This is especially true for the leaders of  a team facing near certain defeat, and perhaps more true even in politics than in sports. Even when defeat seems inevitable, a candidate or his or her party’s leaders can’t admit it. Why would anyone bother to come out and vote when the object of the vote admits it’s a waste of time? The integrity of the system demands that the myth that anything can happen is kept alive until the final vote is counted. Sometimes, as we all know, the impossible upset happens. Truman defeats Dewey. Eric Cantor, a Republican heavyweight whose polls show him waltzing to re-election, gets beaten in the primary by some guy nobody ever heard of. Continue reading

“Can The Democrats Find The Right Message On Obamacare?” You Mean Other Than, “We Lied To You And Gave You A Law That Doesn’t Work Right But You Should Still Trust Us To Fix It”?

One more time....

One more time….

“Can Democrats find the right message on Obamacare?” asks the Washington Post’s “Wonkbook,” as it reviews various strategic options for threatened Democrats after the party’s “fix Obamacare” candidate lost a winnable Congressional race in Florida. The question, objectively interpreted, really means “Can Democrats fool voters into trusting them one more time?” That’s a good question, and the answer is far from certain. The use of the word “right,” however, is cynical.  The Post means “effective.” The right message, as in the ethical and honest one, would have to be based on these undeniable and unpleasant facts: Continue reading

When The Truth Hurts, But A Lie Will Hurt More

see_no_evil_hear_no_evil_speak_no_evil

In the early stages of the  Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Bill Clinton infamously asked his then advisor-polster Dick Morris to research whether a lie or the truth would best serve Clinton’s purposes.  (Morris’s recommendation based on his polling data: “Lie your head off.“) The attitude that truth is just a conduct option with no more or less to recommend in it than various versions of spin, deceit, obfuscation, misrepresentation, fabrication and denial is endemic to politics, which is not to say that it is necessary or healthy. Lies can be justifiable tools of the trade in the utilitarian world of politics and government, but if there isn’t an accepted recognition that they are inherently harmful, lazy, undermine trust and tend to become addicting (See: Dick Morris and Bill Clinton), then the cure becomes worse than the disease.

The Presidency of Barack Obama should be remembered as a stark lesson in the danger of avoiding unpleasant truths. What focused my attention on this was an interview that featured journalist Geraldo Rivera opining that describing President Obama’s performance in the wake of the Ukrainian incursion “weak” was “unhelpful,” “borderline patriotic” and “accomplishes absolutely nothing but scoring cheap political points in the near future.” At the same time, this morning’s Washington Post is filled with commentators struggling with the Democratic Party’s Obamacare problem, following the disheartening defeat of Alex Sink in a special Congressional election in Florida. Some of those commentators argue that beleaguered Democrats should aggressively make the case that the Affordable Care Act is a roaring success. Or as Dick Morris would put it, “Lie your head off.” Continue reading