Integrity And Trustworthiness Litmus Test: The Obamacare Lie That Can’t Be Spun

No President in memory has been so immune to the consequences of being caught blatantly lying to the American people as President Barack Obama. There have been uses for this fact, of course, for those willing to use it. It has provided a valuable tool for those interested in knowing what politicians, pundits and journalists have at least fumes of integrity and trustworthiness in their professional character, a useful litmus test, as when Susan Rice dutifully went on five Sunday morning talking-head TV shows and spread a version of the CIA’s talking points on the Benghazi attack that was intentionally misleading. That incident exposed the untrustworthy character of Rice, now National Security advisor; White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer, virtually the entire crew at MSNBC (naturally), official White House liar Jay Carney, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the President himself, among others. Meanwhile, some unlikely figures, like old-lib CBS  “Fave the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, shined by refusing to abet the cover-up.

The unfolding IRS scandal—yes, it is still unfolding— has similarly been an excellent test, as those we should never trust again have adopted the administration’s official lie—a contradiction of its own statements and testimony—that there is in fact no scandal, and that a few inept and rogue agents screwed up, though the evidence of systemic corruption, illegal political use of  IRS power and an ongoing cover-up is persuasive and becoming more so.

Neither of these sagas, however, as well as others like the NSA spying scandal and the various excesses and incompetencies of Eric Holder’s disgraceful Justice Department, have managed to permeate the awareness of the average members of the public, especially those who have been supporters of the President or his party. Benghazi is still obscure to most of the public, and is too far away; the fact that the I.R.S. targeted tea party groups doesn’t alarm those who aren’t Republicans or ethicists as much as it should; and the news media, which is almost entirely run by members of the political left, has continued to soft-pedal facts and revelations that would have had all of them imitating Woodward and Bernstein were a President of another party, or shamefully, another race, involved. Such integrity tests are not helpful to observers who don’t want to use them, who don’t know enough about the subjects involved to know they exist, who don’t mind being lied to, or are happy to be led by those who lie, as long as they do it with style and inspiring speeches.

I wonder if the now undeniable lie about the Affordable Care Act will be different. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: “Face the Nation” Host Bob Shieffer

“The nation was plunged into shock. Nothing like this had ever happened.”

—“Face the Nation” host Bob Shieffer, looking forward to the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s assassination, and describing the aftermath of the murder in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Wait…what???

Hey Bob...do any of these guys ring a bell?

Hey Bob…do any of these guys ring a bell?

As it is, younger generations have a tendency to assume that what is happening now is unprecedented, that every crisis is the worst crisis, that what they are experiencing is unique. The remedy to this self-centered, ignorant and crippling cognitive malady is education, resulting in perspective. Unfortunately, the schools are doing increasingly little to provide useful historical context, and our leaders find it useful to exploit the low-information voter (worker, driver, patient, parent, student) for its own devices.

That leaves the field of journalism. Journalists, however, do not generally go into the arena of describing the present because of any particular respect or appreciation for the past, so their ability to convey perspective is usually limited as well. Fortunately, there are still older, veteran, experienced pros like Bob Shieffer,  76 years young, who…who…who appears to be as irresponsibly ignorant of basic American history as the college goofs Jay Leno makes look silly on his “Jay Walking” segments. How is this possible?

What could Shieffer possibly mean by saying of JFK’s assassination that “Nothing like this had ever happened” that is not flagrantly misleading, careless, ignorant and wrong? For those of you as bad off as Bob, there had been three previous Presidential assassinations before JFK, and all of them were big deals. Lincoln’s was a bigger deal than Kennedy’s in fact, because the U.S. had barely finished a war, and Lincoln’s assassination caused legitimate fears that it was part of a second Southern assault. Let’s see…maybe we can give Bob the benefit of the doubt and find an explanation for his statement that doesn’t involve having to shop for rest homes: Continue reading

Ethics Quote of The Week: Washington Post Blogger Jennifer Rubin

“How about this for a new communications plan: No one investigates themselves. No one take the Fifth. No executive privilege is asserted to protect anyone in the White House from testifying. Everyone tells the truth. And Holder goes. Otherwise it just looks like more spin and more prevarication from a White House determined to do everything but tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”

—-Washington Post conservative blogger Jennifer Rubin, discussing the Obama Administration’s defensive and evasive posture in response to the various scandals within.

Good sign!

Good sign!

I was torn about how best to raise the issue of why Eric Holder’s removal as Attorney General is an ethical imperative. Labeling President Obama an Ethics Dunce in his ridiculous decision to leave the investigation of Holder’s conduct in the various news media investigations to the Justice Department itself was fair, but obvious. Noting the apparent dishonesty of Holder’s denial to Congress that he was involved in the surveillance of James Rosen—

“In regard to potential prosecution of the press for the disclosure of material — this is not something I’ve ever been involved in, heard of, or would think would be wise policy.”

—-seemed too easy, and I also do get tired of the word-parsing employed by the seemingly impenetrable Obama defenders here, for which this would be blood in the water. Continue reading

See, Rush, This Is Why A Lot Of People Don’t Trust You

It doesn't matter what you do, Bob...there's no pleasing Rush.

It doesn’t matter what you do, Bob…there’s no pleasing Rush.

This afternoon, Rush Limbaugh was mocking Bob Shieffer, of all people, for calling out White House lackey Dan Pfeiffer for his various attempts to deflect the Obama scandal barrage.  During the appearance of Pfeiffer as a White House spokesman on “Face the Nation,” Shieffer said,

“You know, I don’t want to compare this in any way to Watergate. I do not think this is Watergate by any stretch. But you weren’t born then I would guess, but I have to tell you that is exactly the approach that the Nixon administration took. They said, “These are all second-rate things. We don’t have time for this. We have to devote our time to the people’s business.” You’re taking exactly the same line they did….and I don’t mean to be argumentative here, but the President is in charge of the executive branch of the government. It’s my, I’ll just make this as an assertion: when the executive branch does things right, there doesn’t seem to be any hesitancy of the White House to take credit for that. When Osama bin Laden was killed, the President didn’t waste any time getting out there and telling people about it. But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don’t even seem to know what has happened. And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens, and I’m not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed….But what I’m saying to you is that was just PR. That was just a PR plan to send out somebody who didn’t know anything about what had happened. Why did you do that? Why didn’t the Secretary of State come and tell us what they knew and if he knew nothing say, “We don’t know yet?” Why didn’t the White House Chief of Staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you, why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House Chief of Staff here to tell us what happened?”

I’ve given Shieffer Ethics Hero status for this. Admittedly, in a competent, ethical journalistic environment, such a response to an obvious flack job like what Pfeiffer was peddling would be standard operating procedure, and with a Republican scandal-ridden White House, it might be. The news media’s pro-Obama bias is so strong, however, that Shieffer’s words are welcome, unusual and praiseworthy. So what were Rush’s objections? Continue reading

Heroes, Dunces, Truthtellers, Liars, Spinners, Incompetents, and Fools: More Ethics Forensics On The Government Scandal Wave

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This is a mercurial story, several in fact, but one of its most valuable uses is to allow us to sort out various individuals and institutions for their trustworthiness and character based upon their words and conduct regarding the multiple scandals hurtling around Washington.

  • Fool: Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Mn). Bachmann is talking impeachment, which has signature significance: any elected official who brings up impeachment now or anytime before hard evidence turns up proving that President Obama personally delivered  a bag of gold to the IRS leadership to make sure proprietary tax information was leaked is an utter, irresponsible dolt. 1) No President has ever been convicted after their impeachment, and heaven knows we have had multiple Chief Executives factually guilty of “high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is a waste of time, an all-encompassing political warfare glut that this nation can’t afford at this point, especially when the U.S. Senate is in control of the same party the impeached POTUS belongs to. Yes, I agree with the principle that corrupt Presidents should be punished; I’m glad Bill Clinton got his just desserts, but I also know that if he and the rest of the government had been concentrating on what was going on in the world rather than hiding blue dresses, the Twin Towers might be standing today, and 3000—10,000?—-Americans wouldn’t be dead. Impeachment is like using a nuclear bomb: it’s a useful threat, but the reality is too horrible to permit. 2) Anyone who thinks making Joe Biden President is a solution to anything is certifiable. 3) There is nothing at this point that would support a legitimate impeachment. 4) Putting the scandals in that context just supports the agreed-upon White House and media spin that this is all about politics. Shut up, Michele.

Herman Cain, the News Media’s New Sarah Palin

Calling Herman Cain an Oreo and an Uncle Tom is bad, but comparing him to Sanjaya? Is there no limit to media cruelty?

At least when the media and pundits decided to suspend basic principles of fairness and decency to attack Sarah Palin for the unforgivable crime of being an outspoken conservative woman (even before she had a chance to show she deserved to be attacked for other reasons), she had been nominated for Vice President. Business executive Herman Cain, a similarly reviled aberration from the expected norm as a black Republican, is now getting equally unconscionable journalistic treatment just for getting decent poll numbers.

I will move past the race-based attacks from columnists and the MSNBC hit squad that have explicitly referred to him as an Oreo, an Uncle Tom, a black man who “knows his place,”  “the GOP’s token,” and “the Sanjaya of the Republican field,” as well as the many demeaning references to him as a “joke candidate,” and go right to this weekend, when the Palin standard was on bright display.

Here is part of the interview of Cain on “Face the Nation,” after host Bob Scheiffer showed Cain’s bizarre web ad, which ends with his campaign manager taking a puff on a cigarette:

Continue reading

Stay Classy, Mr. President: It’s Part of Your Job

Appearing on PBS’s “Inside Washington,” this week, veteran Democratic media cheerleader Mark Shields reached the conclusion that other Beltway pundits on the Left and the Right had reached before him: Democrat  accusations that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is pumping foreign contributions into domestic campaign ads, in violation of Federal law, are baseless, and worse.  “It was absolutely fallacious on their part,” said Shields. “And they made it up, the White House did.”

President Obama, in his campaign appearances, has continued to suggest that this illegal tactic is occurring. The facts the accusation is based on was revealed by White House advisor David Axelrod when he repeated the accusation to an incredulous Bob Shieffer on last Sunday’s “Face the Nation” on CBS. Shieffer asked Axelrod if he had any evidence this was true, and Axelrod’s replay was,”Well, do you have any evidence that it’s not, Bob?” He then called upon the Chamber to prove a completely unsubstantiated claim wrong. This is, of course, a small bore version of Adolf Hitler’s unethical “Big Lie” tactic. Hmmmm…where else have I heard this approach used recently? Oh, I remember: “If Barack Obama really is a U.S. citizen, why doesn’t he prove it?” One would think the White House and President Obama would find this tactic beneath them.

The sad fact is that in the past few weeks, almost nothing has been beneath the President’s dignity. Continue reading

Sunday Ethics Round-Up: Cynical Fines, Drunk Norwegians, Lazy Newsmen and Pitiful Ballplayers

Here are some ethics issues to ponder from the recent news and around the Web:

  • Who says it pays to be ethical? The astounding insistence, under oath, by Goldman Sachs executives that they had done nothing wrong in selling admittedly “crummy” investment products to clients while using the company’s own money to bet that the same products would fail will not be sufficiently punished or contradicted by the S.E.C.’s cynical cash settlement of its suit against the firm. For a $500 million penalty, Goldman Sachs is off the hook for the equivalent of four days’ income, as the Obama Administration claims to the unsophisticated public (“Isn’t $500 million a lot of money?”) that it is “getting tough” with Wall Street. The fact is that Goldman Sachs’ unethical maneuvers paid off handsomely, and nothing has happened that will discourage it from finding loopholes in another set of regulations and making another killing while deceiving investors legally and, by the Bizarro World ethics of the investment world, “ethically.” You can read a perceptive analysis here. Continue reading