Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/30/18: The State Of The Union Stinks Edition

Good Morning, everyone!

1 Well, it’s good to know you have kept an open mind…New York Times Trump-Hater Michelle Goldberg, who has written for just about every left and far left website and publication imaginable,  on today’s Times editorial page:

“No matter how well Trump delivers the lines in his State of the Union — announced theme: “Building a safe, strong and proud America” — he will not become presidential. There will be no turning of corners or uniting the country. At best, Trump will succeed in impersonating a minimally competent leader for roughly the length of an episode of “The Apprentice.”

Has any major newspaper, prior to a President’s first State of the Union message, given prominence to such an unfair and disrespectful bit of hate-punditry? I doubt it very much.

2. ‘Where have you gone, Pres’dent Gerald Ford, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you…woowoowooThe only President to begin his State of the Union negatively was President Gerald Ford, in 1975: I must say to you that the state of the Union is not good.” He was right, and courageous, to do so, and President Trump would be right and courageous to do so now, though for different reasons. Ford was speaking of the economy, but economies get better. The State of the Union is also not good when it is being torn apart by hyper-partisan warfare, and both parties are attempting to increase the divisions among citizens while exploiting them. Of course, the current President, who has some useful skills Gerald Ford lacked, but not a flea’s nose’s portion of his character, would never dream of using his time in the national spotlight for anything less than an orgy of self-congratulation. Continue reading

Ah, Mediaite? CREW Is NOT An “Ethics Watchdog Group,” It’s A Partisan Media Matters Hit Group

See, Congressman, it works this way: if you were a Democrat, CREW would ignore your junket to London, and so would Mediaite. Fox News, however, would be all over your ass...

See, Congressman, it works this way: if you were a Democrat, CREW would ignore your junket to London, and so would Mediaite. Fox News, however, would be all over your ass…

Did Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tx)*, one of the prominent conservatives in the Republican-led Congress, misuse over $6,000 in campaign funds on a speaking trip to London? Maybe; it sounds like one of those typical gray election law controversies, and one of the lesser ones, except that Gohmert is on a lot of partisan hit lists. If he did misuse the funds, I’d want to see him fined, or whatever the violation warrants, and chastened too.

That’s not my concern right now, though. What interests me is that the alleged misuse of funds was flagged by Citizens For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and in reporting it, Mediaite said, in a story headlined, Ethics Watchdog Accuses Gohmert of Misusing Campaign Funds:

“An ethics watchdog group has filed a complaint against Rep. Louie Gohmert, accusing the Texas Republican of misusing campaign funds to foot the bill for a trip to England that included a 5-star hotel and a $200-plus taxi ride.The complaint, filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), was addressed to the staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics and demands an investigation into whether Gohmert violated House rules by using campaign money for a trip that seemingly had nothing to do with his campaign.”

CREW, as I have repeatedly pointed out for years, is no “ethics watchdog.”  Continue reading

Shock: CREW Finally Comes Clean… It Wasn’t So Non-Partisan After All!

Yes, David Brock really does wear his hair like that, and yes, I admit being biased against anyone who does.

Yes, David Brock really does wear his hair like that, and yes, I admit to being biased against anyone who does.

There is a real need for a fair, non-partisan, non-ideological ethics watchdog organization in Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, what we are stuck with is the Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, headed by Melanie Sloan, and it is none of these things. The only clue on the group’s website, however, is the fact that Republicans are somehow found to be engaging in unethical conduct at a rate of about three times that of Democrats, and the Democrats CREW does criticize are so blatantly unethical that an old, blind and deaf watch dog would be disgusted by the stench. The mainstream news media, and which on the whole is about as unbiased as CREW is, still cites the Center as a “non partisan” source, all the better to attack Republicans with a semblance, though a deceptive one, of objectivity. CREW has operated, and quite dishonestly, as a nonprofit registered under a section of the Tax Code — 501(c)3, which prohibited partisan activity.

To be clear: CREW has done some excellent work flagging unethical conduct by Republicans officials. It is the lying about being objective that makes it an unethical organization. I wrote about CREW’s facade here, and here, and also noted when it briefly dropped is pose when Sloan briefly joined that famously objective operative and lobbyist Lanny Davis’s firm—this is the same Lanny Davis who became a familiar fixture on TV spinning his friend and client Bill Clinton’s conduct during the Monica scandal—shortly after CREW blatantly pushed the interests of Davis’s clients on its website.

Continue reading

CREW vs. Issa: Biased Accuser, Guilty Accused

Unethical for Rep. Issa to make it, and unethical that CREW didn’t

The Center for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington does almost half a great job in its stated role as a government ethics watchdog. The supposedly non-partisan group is obviously partisan, since it goes after unethical Republican officials with frequency and relish while targeting unethical Democrats with infrequency and reluctance. CREW’s complaints, however, are almost always well-supported and legitimate. Why almost half a great job? CREW can’t be as effective in its efforts to expose unethical Republican conduct as it needs to be because its obvious bias makes the organization’s motives and judgment less trustworthy and more vulnerable to attack.

We have a perfect example in the news. “The Hill” reports that CREW….

“…has asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) violated rules by producing a video that attacks President Obama. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official of the Month: Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.)

“Corrupt, mentally ill and absent is no way to go through Congress, son.”

Here are a few questions about Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., of the Illinois Second Congressional District:

1. Why is Jesse Jackson, Jr. still on the ballot as the Democrat running for Congress in Illinois’ 2nd District, when he himself admits that he is laboring under a disability that has prevented him from doing his job, and doctors tell him that the road to recover will be a “long one”?

2. Why didn’t Jackson resign his seat, which he has been unable to fill except in name for six months due to his illness?

3. Why are the mostly Democratic voters in his district preparing to return him to office, at a time when the United States, even more than usual, needs all of its members of Congress alert, trustworthy, stable and present, when Jackson is incapable of being any of those things? Continue reading

Depressing Fun From CREW: “Are You More Ethical Than A Member of Congress?”

And yet, it once was even worse...

The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington have a neat little feature on their website, an interactive survey entitled, “Are You More Ethical Than A Member of Congress?” It is well done, pointed, educational, and, if you hadn’t already figured out that the ethics on Capital Hill (and the character of the elected officials displaying them is beyond redemption, really depressing.

It is only a slight exaggeration to say that if you aren’t more ethical than a member of Congress, you are probably either in jail, or should be.

You can take the survey here.

 

Sunday Ethics Trio: CREW, Coercion and Condiments

The C Street Horror…Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington appears to have jumped the rails in its hysterical protest of President Obama appearance at the National Prayer Breakfast, a venerable if odd event that dates from the Eisenhower administration. Some of CREW’s objections are that the event’s organizers, a group with the admittedly sinister-sounding name “The Family,” preaches “an unconventional brand of Christianity,” (As does Rev. Wright. So what?) lacks transparency (Just like the Obama administration of late. This is a matter worth investigating, exposing and reforming, but if the President has to boycott organizations based on a lack of transparency, he’ll be living on the streets), has been “linked” to unsavory causes (Translation: CREW doesn’t like the group’s politics), and that the C Street Christian home the group maintains in Washington has housed a lot of politicians with ethical problems, like Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen John Ensign. That’s a bizarre complaint, don’t you think? Continue reading

The Ethics of Bigotry, Part I: A Dubious Complaint

The Congressional Black Caucus is complaining that the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE)is unfairly targeting black members. Seven African-American Congress members are the targets of full investigations, 15% of the total black members of the House. And they are the only members currently under a complete investigation. Continue reading