More On The Smoking Gun Jonathan Gruber Video

Yup, that’s the same video that led off the previous post. Be warned: I may write about this video until everyone here is sick of it, because I might keep writing about it until I see it on MSNBC , discussed on the Daily Kos and examined by Talking Points Memo. I try to keep emotionally detached from the issues I write about (though my favored style of expression may suggest otherwise), because emotion is not conducive to careful and dispassionate ethical analysis. This video, however, enrages me.

It enrages me because it betrays the thinking of an arrogant elite so certain that its wisdom regarding the best policies for the nation that it justifies abandoning the promise and the integrity of democracy as our nation’s Founders devised it. The need for a fully and fairly informed citizenry is at the core of Madison’s structure, and the root of many of our enumerated rights. This is why free speech is essential, and why an unfettered, uncensored press has been given unlimited license. If our elected leaders, however, decide that the proper and effective way to govern is to deceive the public, to hide the truth, to garner public support of measures that the public misunderstands by design, and to gain and retain power through fraud, artifice and lies, there is no democracy, no genuine republic. Such a  government reflects the cynical and anti-democratic values of Lenin, Mao, Hitler, and Big Brother. And like these dictators and liars real and metaphorical, Jon Gruber—and make no mistake: his words reflect exactly the culture of the those he worked with in the White House—sees nothing wrong with this. The ends justify the means, you see, and after all, they are better than us. We’re stupid. They need to deceive us for our own good. Continue reading

“The Stupidity Of The American Voter”: This Is Our Government, This Is The ACA, This Is The Obama Administration, And This Is Arrogant, Undemocratic And Unethical….Now What?

Neither the words not the arrogance should shock anyone who is clear-eyed and been paying attention. The fact, however, that one of the key architects of the Affordable Care Act would feel comfortable saying this in public exposes something rotten and ugly about our elected and appointed deceivers. Here is what M.I.T. economist Jonathan Gruber, recognized as one of the chief architects of Obamacare, said in a 2013 symposium, caught on video and only surfacing in the media—that biased, unreliable, conservative media, natch—now:

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”


1. Res ipsa loquitur. Still…

2. I guess that explains the other transparency issues in the administration, unless you are so gullible that you believe that Gruber was not expressing the culture in which the ACA was passed.

3. Note that the stupid voters are Obama’s supporters.

4. Leaders who have such contempt for those they lead are not only untrustworthy, but dangerous.

5. Any law that is passed with this philosophy deserves to be repealed for that reason alone.

6. This does not describe a democracy. This describes government by fraud.

7. So Justice Roberts was right all along. It was a tax. It was a tax intentionally disguised to slip past stupid voters and lazy legislators.

8. And Gruber is proud of it.

9. I guess M.I.T. is proud too. I believe any reputable school would fire someone like this from the faculty. He is advocating cheating.

10. The video above is on YouTube. Send it far and wide, especially to your progressive and Democratic friends. Their reactions will be fascinating.


The Progressives’ Attacks On Shelby County v. Holder: Unethical and Ominous

How DARE the Supreme Court not defer to Congressional judgment when it knows Congress is incapable of competent decision-making!

How DARE the Supreme Court not defer to Congressional judgment when it knows Congress is incapable of competent decision-making!

After reading more of the hysterical, sneering attacks on the Supreme Court’s decision in Shelby County v. Holder, I have concluded that I initially neglected to recognize the deep bias and contempt for basic rights that underlie them. The critics have no legitimate arguments to support allowing the current formula set out in the Voting Rights Act to continue, except that they believe trampling on innocent citizens’ rights is acceptable government practice if it makes the civil rights establishment happy, and allows the myth to be perpetuated that Republicans sit up late at night trying to figure out ways of stopping blacks from voting. “It may be unconstitutional, but it works!” is the best of their claims, a pure embrace of that hallmark of corrupted ethics, the ends justify the means. Note that this is also the justification being offered by the Obama Administration for drone strikes, PRISM, and tapping the phones of reporters. This isn’t an argument but a philosophy, and one that is offensive to core American values.

The Times, no longer the premiere news source in the country but certainly the premiere Democratic Party ally masquerading as a news source, clinched it for me. In its scathing editorial condemning the decision, the only arguments it could come up with were… Continue reading

Unethical But Irresistible: The Trouble With Anonymous Sources

“Hello, CBS? Jan Crawford, please. Jan? I can’t talk too loudly because I’m on Justice Roberts’ wall…listen, I’ve got a…DAMN! Lost the signal again! That’s it, I’m dumping Sprint…”

The reverberations of Chief Justice Roberts’ surprise parsing of the Affordable Care Act continue unabated. He is, according to which pundit or analyst you read, a patriot, a fool, a traitor, a Machiavellian, a genius, a coward, a patsy or a hero. Now CBS reporter Jan Crawford has the Washington, D.C. elite chattering from their Manassas hotel rooms, where they have fled to find electricity and air conditioning, with a story that is headlined: “Roberts Switched Votes To Uphold Health Care Law.” Her story begins…

“Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations. Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold”

It is attributed to two anonymous “sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.”

In the absence of named sources whose credibility can assessed for their own motives and reliability, Crawford’s report should be treated as no better than rumor. It is not being so treated, however. The story is headlined as fact, and the media is treating it as fact in many cases, though more responsible media sources are using the headline, “CBS: Roberts Switched Votes To Uphold Health Care Law.” Although all newspapers and legitimate news organization have ethical guidelines urging “caution,” “retraint”and “circumspection” in the use of anonymous sources to support a story, they are also addicted to them like crack. Most anonymous sources have good reasons to stay anonymous, prime among them the fact that they are breaking laws, regulations, professional ethics codes and bounds of trust by talking to reporters. Others have axes to grind and personal objectives served by planting stories. We can’t assess any of these things without knowing the identifies of the sources, and, of course, the targets of anonymous stories can’t defend themselves against ghosts. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Month: Chief Justice John Roberts

“We do not consider whether the Act embodies sound policies. That judgment is entrusted to the Nation’s elected leaders. We ask only whether Congress has the power under the Constitution to enact the challenged provisions…Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments. Those decisions are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them. It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

—-Chief Justice John Roberts, in the introduction to his majority opinion in the case of National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, which upheld the Affordable Care Act on the grounds that the so-called “individual mandate” was a tax, not  government-mandated commercial conduct.

The Chief Justice’s statement is what is called dicta, commentary in a Supreme Court opinion that is neither binding on future courts nor a substantive part of the decision. Dicta, however, often has great influence in shaping future cultural consensus, and we can only hope that the Chief Justice’s wise and ethical words stick.

He is talking about process and accountability, and what is necessary for our democratic republic to work, and, frankly, survive. Reading letters to the editor and web site comments about yesterday’s decision, I find the overwhelming civic ignorance and “the ends justify the means” obsession of the vast majority of the writers more than depressing. The Supreme Court decision did not “vindicate” the Democrats and President Obama—only positive outcomes from the law they rammed through the system using every obfuscation and trick in the book could begin to do that, and even then it might be impossible, at least from an ethical standpoint. The Supreme Court’s decision raised the serious question of whether the law was passed under false pretenses, a tax disguised as something else so as not to call attention to its violation of the President’s promise not to raise taxes on the middle class. Once the Affordable Care Act began traveling through the courts, the Administration began suddenly calling the individual mandate a tax—a term that was not used in the 2500 page law itself—because it recognized that its Commerce Clause rationale for the individual mandate was shaky. Some courts found the bait-and-switch cynical and offensive, and refused to consider it. The bait-and-switch was offensive, or should be to citizens who believe that the public should know the truth about the laws Congress passes, but Roberts properly held that it isn’t up to the Supreme Court to protect the public from the curs, liars and knaves they regularly elect to high office because “character doesn’t matter.” In a democracy, this is the public’s job. We are accountable. The Supreme Court doesn’t exist to protect us from our own laziness, lack of principles and stupidity. It exists to make sure that if our elected officials pass lousy, ill-considered and un-read laws that roll the nation ever closer to a national diet of moussaka, at least they did it within the bounds of the Constitution. If We the People decide to tolerate cynical, dishonest, incompetent leaders and representatives and the nation ends up like Stockton, California, well, at least one branch of government did its job to make democracy work.

In the end, it will have been the people who failed to uphold their part of the experiment. That’s what the Chief Justice was saying.

I wonder if anyone is paying attention.


Source: National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius

Graphic: Linda Life

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

The Supreme Court Upholds The Individual Mandate and Obamacare: The Ethics Opinion

This morning the Supreme Court announced its decision upholding the key provision in the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a Obamacare. It is apparently a huge and complex decision, and is now available in text form online here.

The political and legal analysis will be coming soon from others far more qualified than I [UPDATE: The legal dissections have begun, and you can’t do better than to start here] , and while I am deeply interested in them, that’s not my job. I won’t be able to read the opinions and the various concurring opinions and dissents, not to mention digest them, for quite a while, but some ethical verdicts are already evident from what I do know: Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Lubricant 1: Jennifer Rubin on Intimidating the Supreme Court

Whatever one may think about the Constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” it is a difficult and complex question. Anyone who argues otherwise 1) doesn’t know what they are talking about, 2) is lying, or 3) is basing their opinion on ideological considerations rather than legal ones. The members of the Supreme Court, which must decide the question (and in fact have almost certainly decided it) do know what they are  talking about, and while they all have ideological tilts in the sense that each gravitates to a particular Constitutional philosophy, political considerations, ideas pushed by the media and the popularity of particular legislation are supposed to play no part whatsoever in their deliberations.

The degree to which the Democrats, led by President Obama, have attempted to intimidate, hector and insult the Court into deciding the case in favor of the mandate is unprecedented in my lifetime, and I think it is unprecedented period. The advocates for the law had its legal representative make their case before the Court, and by all accounts he either botched it, or didn’t have points strong enough to withstand the challenges posed by the Justices in oral argument. Fearing that their landmark legislation that was passed by a whisker will topple because of the flawed cornerstone that its architects foolishly, arrogantly and unnecessarily placed at its foundation, Democrats have been pre-emptively impugning the honesty of the Court, essentially arguing that if the law is overturned, it will only be because of political favoritism and bias. It has been a disgraceful display, and is a despicable tactic. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: The U.S. Supreme Court

As the perfect tonic for all the attempts to silence Gilbert and Sullivan songs with controversial lyrics, reject bus ads espousing controversial positions, and declare that words like “target” are just too darn inflammatory for the sensitive, politically-correct ears of CNN viewers, here comes the U.S. Supreme Court, galloping to the rescue with a near unanimous (8-1), ringing reaffirmation that free speech is a bastion of American democracy, even when the speaker or speakers are vicious, unfair, cruel, radical and deluded. Continue reading