House Republicans on Monday quietly voted to strip the independent power from an outside ethics panel established eight years ago following a string of corruption scandals, a move they made just hours before the start of the 115th Congress. A measure defanging the Office of Congressional Ethics, authored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, will now be included in the House Rules package, which is poised for a Tuesday afternoon vote before the entire House.
The provision’s most important feature changes the OCE from an independent entity to a body that falls under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee, a 10-member, bipartisan committee of lawmakers that rarely hands out serious punishment. Goodlatte’s provision renames the OCE the “Office of Congressional Complaint Review,” and said the changes were needed because lawmakers have been subjected to investigations provoked by partisan outside groups.
The move was incompetent, as it is terrible public relations and undermines the public trust. I’d call it straight-up unethical as well, because it constitutes the appearance of impropriety, which is prohibited by House ethics rules already.
Then, that evil, fascist President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted…
“With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it … may be, their number one act and priority. Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance! #DTS,
“If I hear anybody saying their vote does not matter, that it doesn’t matter who we elect — read up on your history. It matters. We’ve got to get people to vote,” Obama said. “I will consider it a personal insult — an insult to my legacy — if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election. You want to give me a good sendoff? Go vote.”
President Obama’s argument for electing Hillary Clinton…
—-President Barack Obama,addressing the Congressional Black Caucus gala in a speech excoriating Donald Trump and praising Hillary Clinton as the candidate of black America. Obama warned that while his name would not be on the ballot in November, all of the progress that the country has made over the last eight years was on the line.
1. What progress? This is the Big Lie that has been repeated from the beginning? The greatest progress made in the last eight years has been the stock market, which is not, I assume, the progress the Congressional Black Caucus cares about. Divisions in American society have been exacerbated, and grossly so. Racial trust is at its lowest level in decades. The schools? Higher education? The debt? The nation’s leadership abroad? The Affordable Care Act, which has helped health insurance become less affordable for anyone not receiving government subsidies? Gross incompetence, malfeasance and lack of accountability in one federal department and agency after another: is that progress? Has there been progress in dealing with the threat of terrorism? Murder rates are up after years of decline. There have been more mass shootings in this administration than in the last three combined. More Americans are on public assistance: is that progress to Obama? A majority of the public thinks the country is off the tracks; public trust in government is at its lowest point in history, far lower than after Watergate. First Amendment, Second Amendment, and Fourth Amendment rights are under assault as never before. Progress?
The question isn’t political, it’s ethical: if there isn’t progress, then Obama’s statement is a lie. By his own benchmarks when he ran for office, the major one being governing as neither white or black, liberal or conservative, but for the welfare of the entire nation, he has failed disastrously, and the signs are everywhere. No, his spinners don’t get to argue that there would have been progress if the evil Republicans in Congress hadn’t foiled Obama (in part because he hasn’t the political skills to negotiate or the political courage to compromise), because Obama said there IS progress. Continue reading →
Last year, in September, California became the first state to prohibit by law the suspension of students for “willful defiance” unless the activities involved were certified by the school superintendent as meeting the specific standards enumerated in the law, all of them very serious, most of them already crimes. What was the rationale behind Assembly Bill 420? Well, it seems African American kids were being disproportionately suspended. They made up about 6 percent of total enrollment, but 19 percent of suspensions for defiance.
According to the Justice Department’s politically motivated embrace of the “disparate impact” approach, any policy that disproportionately affects a minority group adversely is presumptively racist. It couldn’t possibly be true that black students are, as a group, more likely to defy authority, especially the authority of white teachers, right? The fact that pundits, members of the Congressional Black Caucus, MSNBC, Al Sharpton and the President keep hammering on the idea that America is run by a racist cabal, and that the only reason we aren’t getting ready to replace Teddy Roosevelt with Barack Obama on Mount Rushmore is that his wonderful accomplishments have been denied and distorted by white racists, and that our police departments are hunting down and murdering unarmed young black men as the justice system looks the other way—none of this could possibly be feeding anger, frustration, and hate among among young black students that is translated into willful defiance in class—why would anyone think that?
The law is lunacy. The California state government is endorsing the idea that the schools, especially white teachers, are bigots, and thus the government is reinforcing exactly the emotions and beliefs that feed African American classroom defiance in the first place. Now uncooperative minority students will be able to have their disruptive conduct validated (with disruptive conduct by non-minority students similarly encouraged), treated gently and with understanding, inevitably reducing the educational value of class by allowing more chaos and less discipline, undermining the education of well-behaved students black or white. Meanwhile, toxic behaviors, attitudes and conduct by students that will hamper their prospects of success after school will not attract trigger negative reinforcement.
And when the out-of-school defiant conduct occurs later in response to a lawful command by a police officer?
Of course, they would also be staging a walk-out if a white AG was being held in contempt.
The Congressional Black Caucus plotted to walk out of Thursday’s contempt of Congress vote regarding Attorney General Eric Holder’s stonewalling regarding legitimate oversight of the deadly Fast and Furious fiasco, and did, taking most of the other Democrats along. In so doing, the CBC, as if there was any doubt, unequivocally demonstrated its virulent racial bias, which interferes with its ability to discharge its duties in a fair, honest and legitimate matter.
The CBC had circulated a letter explaining its supposed rationale, which oddly manages never to mention that Eric Holder is African American. Yet it is unimaginable that the Congressional Black Caucus would stage a walk-out if Holder was the white Attorney General appointed by a white President. This is politics, but it is also dishonesty and naked tribalism. It should not be, pardon the expression, whitewashed, or allowed to proceed without calling it what it is—racial bias in the halls of Congress, where none belongs.
Here is the offensive and disingenuous letter being circulated by the CBC—with some commentary by me in brackets: Continue reading →
African-Americans are nearly five times more likely to be convinced that gunman George Zimmerman is “definitely guilty” of a crime than non-blacks.
75% of African-Americans believe that racial bias led to Martin’s shooting, whereas less than half of non-blacks do, though a majority of the public believe that race was a factor in the tragedy.
73% of blacks, about twice the percentage of the rest of the population, believe that Zimmerman would have been arrested if the person he shot was white.
What we now have, clearly, is significant, dangerous, and festering racial distrust, not created solely by the Trayvon Martin incident but exacerbated by it. This can only harm race relations, law enforcement, and the nation generally, and yet it is beyond argument that this divide has been encouraged and nurtured. Obviously the potential already existed, and one would think that responsible figures in public life, the civil rights establishment, elected office and the media would take the responsible course and attempt to minimize the shooting’s potential for increasing racial divisiveness in America.
They did not. Once again, they ripped the scab right off racial healing, and did so recklessly, cruelly, ineptly, and in some cases, maliciously. They are still doing it, or passively allowing it to be done by others. This is wrong, and shockingly so. Rational and fair analysts and observers all along the ideological spectrum should be saying so, but they are not. Fairness and honesty should not partisan issues. Playing the politics of hate and divisiveness is a threat to the fabric of the United States of America and in this case, risks unraveling decades of progress in race relations and understanding. There can be no excuse for it, and yet the primary culprits reside among the most influential and prominent institutions in the country. Journalists. Congress. Civil rights organizations. Pundits. Educators. And the President of the United States. Continue reading →
In a jaw-dropping example of naked bias, dishonesty, and Bizarro World journalistic ethics, African-American author Karen Hunter complained on MSNBC that the Associated Press was racist by transcribing President Obama’s speech to the Congressional Black Caucus without restoring his intentionally dropped dropped G’s, as other services—unethically—did.
Here’s part of the AP version:
“Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes,” he said, his voice rising as applause and cheers mounted. “Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’. We are going to press on. We have work to do.”
It is one of the Ethics Alarms truths that “When the going gets tough, the tough get unethical.” That is not universally true, however, for there are individuals, in public and private life, who manage to maintain their ethical values even under pressure, even when unethical tactics appear to be an inviting way out of peril, even when maintaining ethical integrity can lead to failure and defeat.
I once thought Sen. John McCain was such a man, but I was proven wrong when he defeated a conservative rival for his Senate seat by embracing unethical policies and positions that he had once decried. I once thought that Barack Obama, despite his other deficiencies as a leader, had a strong claim to being more honest and ethical than his likely Republican rivals. He is now proving me wrong again. Continue reading →
Worse than Joe "You Lie!" Wilson; worse than Allan "The Republicans want you to die!" Grayson. Will anyone say so?
Many Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have specifically stated in the past that they have no interest in budget-balancing issues, and that their primary and over-riding objective is to keep government money flowing to their neediest constituents. That’s a narrow and irresponsible position, but defensible if your view of the duty of elected representatives is that they are only advocates for the voters who elect them, and not bound by any obligation to national welfare as a whole. Even if one accepts this approach (shared by many in the Tea Party), it does not excuse executing that advocacy by stirring up race hatred with diatribes attributing monstrous and unjustified motivations to political adversaries.
“This is the effort that we are seeing of Jim Crow. Some of these folks in Congress right now would love to see us as second class citizens. Some of them in Congress right now with this Tea Party movement would love to see you and me… hanging on a tree. Some of them right now in Congress right now are comfortable with where we were fifty or sixty years ago. But it’s a new day with a black president and a Congressional Black Caucus.”
Don't fool yourself...a lot of our leaders would be happy to turn the US "red."
Although Speaker Nancy Pelosi hardly “drained the swamp” regarding corruption in Congress as she extravagantly promised, she did do more to establish genuine, non-partisan oversight of the genuine, non-partisan sleaziness in the House of Representatives. Last year, 20 members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Rep Mel Watt, co-sponsored legislation that would have gutted and neutralized the Pelosi-created Office of Congressional Ethics. Why did the Congressional Black Caucus have it in for the OCE? Well, a disproportionate number of its members were being investigated for ethics problems. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), who crafted that bill, suggested that this was because the office was racist. In fact, it was because the Congressional Black Caucus has a disproportional number of wheeler-dealers whose definition of “ethics” is self-serving at best, and the OCE, not being subject to political intimidation like the House Ethics Committee, just followed the money and raised the appropriate questions about members’ activities, Republican or Democrat, black or white.
Fudge’s bill died, never coming to a vote in committee or on the House floor, since the House realized that effectively ending ethics oversight after the disgraceful Rangel affair would not look good to voters. Now, however, ethics isn’t the main focus; cutting spending is. So Congressional Black Caucus member (and one-time target of an OCE investigation) Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) is seeking to add an amendment to the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill that would cut OCE’s funding by 40 percent. Continue reading →