I’m stunned. I honestly did not think it was possible for Nancy Pelosi to surprise me any more, as my expectations for her utterances are so low as to be subterranean. I certainly didn’t think she could make my head explode again. Pelosi accomplished the impossible, however, by including this astounding line in a letter to Paul Ryan regarding a GOP replacement for the Affordable Care Act. She actually wrote…
“The American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of this legislation before any vote in Committee or by the whole House.”
1. This is the same woman whose most famous quote, regarding the ACA, is “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it….”
2. The law the Republicans want to replace with something the “American people and Members have a right to know the full impact of … before any vote in Committee or by the whole House” was one that almost no Democrats read before voting for it, so even they didn’t understand its “full impact.”
3. The ACA passed in this manner included a mandate that Pelosi and her party swore was not a tax but a penalty, and then when the law was challenged argued to the Supreme Court that it wasn’t a penalty, but a tax.
4. The President of the United States who signed the ACA materially misrepresented the impact of the law repeatedly by stating that it allowed Americans who wanted to keep their current health plans to do so.
How dare Nancy Pelosi make that demand? How astoundingly hypocritical, overflowing with gall, and immune to self-awareness can any human being be? This is like Bill Clinton lecturing Donald Trump about avoiding intimate relations with subordinates, but worse.
Of course she’s right, but Pelosi is the last person on earth, literally the last person, entitled to demand transparency regarding health care bills. How can she say something like this? Is she senile? Is she trying to look ridiculous? Is she so completely devoid of integrity that she can advocate the exact opposite of her own conduct and that of her party without a twinge of irony or shame? Does she believe that her followers are so blind, stupid an unable to hold a memory in their heads that they won’t see how offensive this is, coming from her?
Are they that blind and stupid?
Now and then you may read here that someone is “ethically estopped” from making an argument that otherwise would be valid. The term derives from the legal concept of estoppel, the principle that precludes a person from asserting in a legal proceeding something contrary to what is implied by a previous action or statement of that person or by a previous pertinent judicial determination.
If you want an example of how I apply estoppel in an ethics rather than a legal context, look no further than New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who decided to grandstand over Ted Cruz’s cheap shot about Donald Trump’s “New York values.” Cuomo puffed himself up with indignation, and after Cruz defined New York values as “socially liberal, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, and focus around money and the media.” Cuomo demanded that Cruz apologize, saying…
“I’m always open to give him an education on what New York values are all about. And if he had any class, he would apologize to the people of New York. Not that I believe they need it or they want it. But if he had any class, he would apologize.”
Cruz was wrong to make such a statement, but Cuomo eliminated himself from the huge pool of Americans who were entitled to call for his apology, since two years ago, Cuomo himself declared the same dichotomy Cruz was asserting, and even more unethically.Then he said, of conservative Republicans,
It is more than fair, actually. This is what George Will calls “condign justice.” It is so appropriate, ironic and long deserved that all fair-minded Americans should run into the street shouting “Calloo! Callay!”
Well, metaphorically at least.
The fact that Bill Clinton smugly ducked impeachment while damaging the law, the culture, his office and his party in the process (just ask President Gore) and was allowed to slip easily into the role of beloved elder statesman and obscenely compensated celebrity speaker was enough to make one question the existence of cosmic justice. The fact that his wife was allowed to undermine the cases of his various victims and then achieve high elected office wearing the mantle of feminist champion was, if possible, worse, a catalyst for cynicism and despair.
I know of what I speak.
But as American jurist John Bannister Gibson (1780-1853) observed, “Millstones of Justice turn exceedingly slow, but grind exceedingly fine.” Both Bill and Hillary got careless and smug as time went on, as the culture evolved around them, not entirely in healthy ways, but definitely dangerous ways for them. Thanks to the Obama Administration’s weaponizing of sexual discrimination, bias and assault for partisan combat, feminists adopted an extreme and dangerous approach to sexual assault, taking the position that all women who accuse a man of rape or assault must begin with the presumption of credibility, in direct contradiction of long-held, core principles of American justice, which hold that the presumption of innocence rests with the accused, and an alleged victim must still prove her case. The Democratic Party, which back in Bill’s day shrugged off Clinton’s conduct with rationalizations like “Everybody does it” and fictions like “Illicit sexual activity by the President in his office with an employee that he subsequently lies about under oath and uses his power as President to evade responsibility for is personal conduct” (Bernie Sanders, who is old and didn’t get the memo, just repeated this canard: Try to keep up, Bernie!), embraced the feminist position with foolish and undemocratic gusto, and suddenly Hillary Clinton was saying, as if the history of her husband didn’t exist, that all victims of sexual abuse had the right to be believed. She said this, and then sent Bill out on the road to support her. Continue reading
You know that quote time machine that politicians keep using? It doesn’t exist. Stop letting them act as if it does.
We have a growing mass of public figures in politics and government who increasingly communicate in sloppy, vague, hyperbolic and ambiguous language and assume that they can wait and see how the public reacts to it before they, their spokespersons, defenders, enablers or friendly pundits need to clarify what they “really meant.”
Well, the hell with that.
Communication precision is more crucial than ever in the new, technology-driven public media, when tweets can be circulated to millions within minutes, and on-camera statements live on YouTube forever. This habit of allowing influential figures to spout lies, nonsense , smoking gun revelations about their character and worse and then insist on a do-over when they are called on the obvious meaning of their own words must stop. Among other things, it appears to be killing the little switch in the brains of these people that is supposed to stop human beings from saying stupid things before they say them. That switch goes by the name Prudence, which encompasses common sense, respect, responsibility, restraint, honesty in communication, and more. We should want our leaders to have that switch working perfectly. Unfortunately, most of our most prominent leaders and would-be leaders appear not to have a functioning switch at all. Continue reading
I swear, I didn’t set out to have this be “Inexcusable Presidential Candidate Monday” on Ethics Alarms, but the worst of the worst have been busy as bees trying to make my head explode. Hillary’s tweet may be the worst of the batch.
What would possess her to walk into the social media buzz saw that would be (and was) sparked by such a pious assertion issuing from William Jefferson Clinton’s top enabler? How many victims of sexual assault did she undermine to advance her husband’s ambitions and her own?
Is she that deluded? That convinced of her corrupted supporters’ willingness to believe anything she says, or to excuse every cynical, shameless maneuver? Has she finally reached the point where she has issued so many, many lies that she can no longer keep them all straight, and now blunders into obvious contradictions? Or is she trying to sabotage her own campaign, taking her copious skeletons out of the closet and hanging them from the roof for all to see?
I don’t know, but I do know this: if there is any woman on earth whose past conduct should constitute estoppel from making the statement that “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported,” it’s Hillary Clinton.
And by the way, what is this “hair” they were discussing?
Really, creating this kind of singled-handed, one passenger Ethics Train Wreck takes some kind of talent; I’m just not sure what to call it.
Here is how Atlanta CBS affiliate morning show host Michelle Burdo managed to turn a hair care segment on her morning broadcast into a controversy for the station, a self-proclaimed racial incident, a pathetic example of political correctness groveling, and, on top of it all, a demonstration of the lack of courage, skill and candor that now infects her profession:
1. In a hair treatment feature on Monday’s installment of Better Mornings Atlanta, Burdo said to her African American guest, “Let me tell you something. I’m not a colored woman but I have kinky hair just like her and when you straighten it every day, it’s…” I’ll let you guess what it is; I don’t really care. The point is that she said the dreaded “colored woman” phrase that was the approved genteel and sensitive word for African-Americans by the 1920s at least. The phrase was out of favor by the Sixties, although blacks and whites of earlier generations would still use it, like older Americans today will still call women girls, gals, broads and similar anachronisms of a less gender-sensitive time. Continue reading
According to a poster on Reddit, a woman allegedly left the message above on her receipt after eating a pricey meal at a restaurant. “Single mom, sorry,” she wrote, in the space left for a tip. “Thank you—it was great!” The furious waiter’s colleague scanned and posted the receipt, with appropriate invective that has been matched and exceeded by others on the site.
As usual, there are denials that the story is genuine, and claims that some single mother-hating trouble-maker created this miserable ethics smoking gun. “I think this bill is a fraud because I’ve met very few single mothers who expected to get special treatment for their status. They’re just hoping no one holds their situation against them,” wrote one skeptic. This is the “No True Scotsman” fallacy in Technicolor. The fact, if it is a fact, that few single mothers expect special treatment doesn’t prove that this one didn’t or doesn’t. Continue reading
Et tu, Fact Checker?
In its review of Washington Post “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler’s shameful refusal to call the Democratic dissembling on Social Security, Ethics Alarms saved the best—which is to say, worst—for last.
Beginning with a statement typical of Obama Administration and Democratic leadership positioning on the subject, Rep. Xavier Becerra’s (D-Calif.) “Social Security has never contributed a dime to the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt…not one penny to our federal budget deficit this year or any year in our nation’s history,” Kessler gives a brief history of Social Security, why it has no more money, and concludes with this nonsense:
“Becerra is sincere in his convictions and his statement is true, so far as it goes. Yes, Social Security in the past has not contributed to the nation’s debt. But it’s basically a meaningless fact and actually distracts from the long-term fiscal problem posed by the retirement of the baby boom generation and the shrinking of the nation’s labor pool.” Continue reading
The Washington Post “Fact Checker,” Glenn Kessler, is among the most biased of the breed. On the issue of the Obama Administration’s outright dishonesty on Social Security, however, he is embarrassing his paper and the entire Fact-Check community.
Lately, his strategy has been to bury obvious dishonesty by the Obama Administration and Democrats regarding Social Security in technical details, excusing straightforward misrepresentation (how’s that for an oxymoron?) and encouraging readers to shrug, give up, and move on
How nice for the President to have political allies posing as objective truth-tellers. Continue reading
Nadya Suleman, a.k.a. Octomom, strikes a dignified pose
From the beginning, the only thing keeping Nadya Suleman from being unequivocally despicable has been the lingering suspicion that she was mentally ill. It might be more than a suspicion, to be fair: having octuplets by artificial insemination when one already has six young children and no viable means of support could be called “proof.” Now even that malady is an insufficient defense: the issue is settled, and she is despicable beyond redemption. One cannot call her the worst mother on the world, sadly, because every day brings the story of another infant thrown down a laundry chute or left in the care of a six-year-old while mom goes partying or looking for drugs. She may be, however, the worst mother ever to become famous for being a mother.
In the latest issue of InTouch magazine—the rag is one full step down from Us magazine, and one half-step up from The National Enquirer—Suleman confesses that she now reviles her octo-brood. “I hate the babies, they disgust me,’ she says. “My older six are animals, getting more and more out of control, because I have no time to properly discipline them.” Elsewhere in the article she bellyaches about how hard it is being a single, unemployed, narcissistic, absurd, irresponsible mother of fourteen children. “The only way I can cope is to lock myself in the bathroom and cry. Sometimes I sit there for hours and even eat my lunch sitting on the toilet floor. Anything to get peace and quiet,” she laments. Yes, Octomom says she regrets having all the children. Continue reading