Yikes! I Better Finish “Will The Audacious ‘It Isn’t What it is’ Propaganda Assault By The American Left Succeed?” Quick Before The Answer Is Too Obvious To Bother With: The Democrats’ Amazing Filibuster Hypocrisy

Wowie Zowie, Democratic “It isn’t what it is” grandstanding is reaching record heights faster than I can comment on them!

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), cementing her Ethics Hero credentials that (I admit) I doubted would stand up in June) delivered a speech yesterday in which she reiterated her  support for the filibuster, pretty much killing Democrat Party efforts to unilaterally change the rules to enable the party to ram through legislation that would federalize elections and permanently weaken their integrity. The filibuster is a long-standing procedural device that requires three-fifths of Senators to agree in order to advance toward a vote. It is very much a pro-democracy measure, instituted to prevent a bare Senate majority from passing important and controversial legislation without bi-partisan support. You can’t have a smaller Senate majority than Democrats do now, with a 50-50 split only enhanced by the Vice-President’s tie-breaking vote.

Sinema said that she personally supports both the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, but does not believe it is wise to kill the filibuster. “And while I continue to support these bills, I will not support separate actions that worsen the underlying disease of division infecting our country,” Sinema said. “There’s no need for me to restate my longstanding support for the 60-vote threshold to pass legislation.” 

She did this despite President Biden’s disgraceful speech this week claiming that anyone who continues to support a filibuster to stop his party’s voting rights legislation is choosing to “stand on the side of George Wallace over Dr. King, Bull Connor over John Lewis, and Jefferson Davis over Abraham Lincoln.” It had to be one of the worst examples of race-baiting as an illicit political tool of recent memory, particularly since the claims that the legislation has any connection to race is fictional. It is not discriminatory to require voters to prove who they are at the polls. It is not “racist” to limit early voting. I would eliminate it entirely: the procedure encourages blind, knee-jerk, fact-free partisan voting over voter consideration of all relevant information during the campaign. It supports incompetent democracy. It is not racist to place limits on mail-in voting, vote-harvesting, or drop-boxes. It is responsible. Moreover, allowing such easily manipulated weaknesses in election controls encourages distrust in the final results.

It is profoundly disturbing that all but two Democratic Senators have the courage and respect for democracy to oppose the filibuster rule change, and apparently none will stand up for the integrity of elections. Meanwhile, Sinema is being called a racist and a foe of democracy for doing the right thing. Continue reading

A False Narrative Exposed, Part 2: The Times’ Editors Beclown Themselves

Clowns

[This is Part 2 of the Ethics Alarms essay that begins here.]

The first section of “A False Narrative Exposed” concluded,

The extent of the Democrats’ false smearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett and the blatant fearmongering regarding the consequences of her confirmation are put in sharp perspective when one goes back and re-reads the New York Times editorial of the week before headlines, “The Republican Party’s Supreme Court.”  Indeed, the Times editorial shows us much more: the utter dishonesty of the mainstream media and its willingness to mislead rather than inform the public; it’s deliberate employment of false history to advance its partisan ends, and perhaps  most damming of all, the weak powers of reasoning and analysis the alleges cream of the journalistic crop applies to its craft. Then there are the repeated reminders that the Times is so deeply in bed with the Democrats that it can count its moles.

Let’s look at that editorial…

“What happened in the Senate chamber on Monday evening was, on its face, the playing out of a normal, well-established process of the American constitutional order: the confirmation of a president’s nominee to the Supreme Court. But Senate Republicans, who represent a minority of the American people, are straining the legitimacy of the court by installing a deeply conservative jurist, Amy Coney Barrett, to a lifetime seat just days before an election that polls suggest could deal their party a major defeat.”

Right—those phony polls meant to suppress the GOP vote showing that the Democrats were going to increase their dominance of the House and win control of the Senate. The scandalously misleading and mistaken polls were also part of the novel Democratic argument, endorsed by the Times, that the Senate should reject a legal and historically routine SCOTUS nomination because of clearly biased polls…a corrupting phenomenon the Founders never heard of.

“As with President Trump’s two earlier nominees to the court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the details of Judge Barrett’s jurisprudence were less important than the fact that she had been anointed by the conservative activists at the Federalist Society. Along with hundreds of new lower-court judges installed in vacancies that Republicans refused to fill when Barack Obama was president, these three Supreme Court choices were part of the project to turn the courts from a counter-majoritarian shield that protects the rights of minorities to an anti-democratic sword to wield against popular progressive legislation like the Affordable Care Act.”

The only valid question for the Senate to consider was whether Barrett was qualified. Even the deeply progressive-biased American Bar Association  agreed that she was. I don’t know what the Times is trying to say: the Federalist Society wouldn’t have approved of an unqualified justice. “Anointed’ is just cheap Times rhetoric meaning “conservatives tended to agree with her jurisprudence,” just as progressives approved of the late Justice Ginsberg. Both had to excel during tough questioning in their confirmation hearings. Neither was “anointed.” The editorial board is pandering to its readership’s hysterical biases against conservatives….

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Signature Significance: The Democratic Party’s Irresponsible And Petulant Gorsuch Tantrum [Updated]

Signature significance, in the context of ethics, is when a single example of conduct or a single episode is sufficient to make a definitive judgment about the ethical values of an individual or an organization. It is something so striking and blatant that the usually valid statistical argument that one data point is meaningless doesn’t hold true. Ethics Alarms refers to signature significance frequently.

The Democratic Party’s behavior regarding the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch is signature significance. It won’t work. It will result in permanent harm to the Senate, harm that will initially most affect Democrats. It is hypocritical, irresponsible, and embarrassing, at least if the party is considering citizens who understand what is going on, admittedly a minority. It is unprofessional. It is dishonest. It is unpatriotic. The conduct is so obviously irresponsible that it is difficult to believe that Democratic leaders don’t realize it. Because it is all these things, the strategy is also very close to insane.

I just watched Senator Grassley’s address to the Judiciary Committee, ticking off l the reasons why the inflammatory Democratic rhetoric regarding Judge Gorsuch ranged from untrue to self-contradictory to ludicrous. He wasn’t exaggerating; it wasn’t a partisan speech.  Grassley reminded the committee that Gorsuch had been unanimously confirmed when he was nominated to the 10th Circuit. The Senator correctly explained why the recent mantra that Gorsuch wasn’t “mainstream” was counter-factual, since he has voted with the majority on that court over 90% of the time.

Grassley dismissed as offensive and judicially ignorant (my words, not his; Chuck was appropriately mild in his word choices) the argument that Gorsuch lacked compassion and wouldn’t rule “for the little guy.” Competent and ethical judges—unlike, say, Justice Sotomayor—don’t change their decisions according to which litigant is “big,” “little,” rich, poor, black or white. Their job, duty and role is to clarify what the law is. It is only part of the current progressive delusions, most recently shown in the rulings against the Trump travel halt from terrorist-teeming Muslim nations, that judges should base their analysis on their personal and political biases, when those biases are the “right” ones.

Senator Grassley then moved to the complaint that Gorsuch “refused to answer questions.” “What this means is that the judge wouldn’t say in advance how he would rule on cases that hadn’t come before him yet,” the Senator said. Of course he is exactly right. No judicial nominee has been willing to answer such question since the Democrats politicized the confirmation process forever by voting down Reagan appointee Robert Bork, despite the judge being as qualified and brilliant a jurist as anyone nominated to sit on the Court. No judge should have answered such questions before that, either. Cases are decided on the law and the facts. A justice who has made up his or her mind before even reading the briefs or hearing oral arguments is not judging fairly or competently.

Finally, Grassley pointed out that no Supreme Court nominee has ever faced a filibuster or the threat of one. For Gorsuch to be filibustered by Democrats, despite being assessed by almost every legal expert and commentator as unusually distinguished and qualified (including the left-leaning American Bar Association, which has found conservative judges less than qualified in the past because they were…conservative), is indefensible on the merits. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Usually the “Incompetent Elected Official” category comes down to some variety of a conclusion that can be summed up by the sturdy phrase, “What an idiot.”  This one is worse than that.

Representative Devin Nunes is chairman of the House committee investigating Russian interference in the Presidential election. This involves intelligence, investigations and secrets that are necessarily a matter of discretion until a final report can be released. No investigation can proceed in a trustworthy manner if every new shred of information becomes public, or worse, is revealed to parties who have a stake in the investigation. This has been understood by members of Congress since, oh, the first Congressional inquiry. The Constitution’s framers assumed that Congress would conduct investigations, just as as the British House of Commons did. James Wilson of Pennsylvania, Convention delegate, a future Supreme Court Justice and the Declaration of Independence signer that “1776” unjustly smears as a weenie , wrote in 1774 that House of Commons members were considered

“grand inquisitors of the realm. The proudest ministers of the proudest monarchs have trembled at their censures; and have appeared at the bar of the house, to give an account of their conduct, and ask pardon for their faults.”

During the First Congress in 1790, Robert Morris, who was the superintendent of finances during the Continental Congress and a financier of the American Revolution, asked Congress to investigate his handling of the country’s finances to clear his name of claimed improprieties. If Nunes doesn’t know the history of the legislative function he is involved in, he should.

Nunes had received intelligence that related to the President’s disputed claim that “he” (meaning who and what, it is unclear) had been wiretapped (meaning surveiled, presumably) by  “Obama” (meaning someone who reports to Obama, I’m guessing), and chose to bypass his committee members, Democrats, protocol and common sense by relaying it directly to the White House. The new information,  Nunes said, showed that American intelligence agencies monitoring foreign officials may have “incidentally” picked up communications from Trump transition team members, and thus the President’s much maligned accusation was kind-of, sort-of, bolstered.

Predictably, the President followed this good news with a tweet. Ugh.

Continue reading

Supreme Court Vacancy Ethics: A Competent Choice, An Unethical Announcement, And An Irresponsible Reaction

gorsuch

You know, if every day is going to set off multiple political ethics controversies, I’m not going to have time to write about lobster hats.

Last night, President Trump selected Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee.

A. The Choice

Except for those who literally are determined to freak out and condemn anything President Trump does, this was a competent, responsible choice. He would be one of the best of the available choices for any Republican President, more qualified than Obama’s snubbed selection, Merrick Garland, to fill the same vacancy, and Garland was certainly qualified. It’s ridiculous that Gorsuch is one more Harvard grad on a Court that is exclusively Harvard and Yale, but that aside, he adds some diversity of outlook by being from the middle of the country rather than the coasts. He writes clearly, unlike, say, Justice Kennedy, and is not a pure political ideologue, like Ginsberg or Alito.

Before the Democrats’ rejection of Robert Bork shattered the tradition of allowing every President the privilege of having his SCOTUS nominations approved absent real questions about their competence or honesty, a nomination like this one would have garnered bipartisan praise. Trump made a responsible, competent, choice. Really. He did.

B. The Announcement Continue reading

Question: How Do You Spot A Biased Newspaper?

Slanted? Waddya mean "slanted"?

Slanted? Waddya mean “slanted”?

Answer: Read the Letters to the Editor.

I now subscribe to the New York Times, and the uniform one-way slant of the Letters to the Editor is palpable and fascinating. I’ve been tempted many times, including today, to do a post critiquing the biases in all the Times letters in a single edition. Maybe some day.

80% of the letters list progressive or Democratic talking points, either because that’s the approximate proportion of liberals among the Times readership, or because that percentage (it is remarkably consistent, day to day, paper to paper) reflects the bias of the editors choosing which letters to print.  I have concluded that the letters are probably even more weighted to the left than the reader opinions published reflect. The Times just feels obligated to include a non-conforming, aka “conservative,”  view here and there so its bias won’t be screamingly obvious. It’s an objective paper, after all.

Today’s mail call was dominated by one letter after another excoriating Donald Trump’s cabinet appointments, which was also the theme of today’s Times editorial. In particular, the appointment of Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State was a target of the correspondents’ disgust.  The majority view was stated in one letter this way:

“Like Donald Trump, Mr. Tillerson has no experience in the delicate and sensitive art of diplomacy.”

It wasn’t until the fourth letter (out of five: 80%!) that a commenter mentioned the obvious, and exactly what I was thinking as I read all the expressions of  horror: Continue reading

Ethics Note To Senator Cruz: You Can’t Begin A Principled Stand With A Lie

Little is more damaging to the public’s trust and faith in government than when elected officials engage in gratuitous lies—statements that can only convince those who don’t bother to check the facts underlying them, made for their momentary impact on the theory that the effect is worth the eventual exposure of the lie for what it is. Such lies are detestable, because they not only reinforce the impression that politicians lie when their lips are moving, they also convey the message that lies are merely tools of the politicians trade, and not even particularly shameful or worthy of criticism. When a politician engages in such transparent dishonesty, he or she is saying, quite literally, that lying is no big deal.

It is a big deal. It is especially a big deal when the point of the lie is to fool the public into believing something the politician is doing is a big deal itself, when it is really a sham.

Welcome to Sen. Ted Cruz and his fake filibuster, also known as Ted Cruz’s Bad Jimmy Stewart Impression.

"Ted, I knew Mr. Smith, and you're no Mr. Smith. You're not even Rand Paul..."

“Ted, I knew Mr. Smith, and you’re no Mr. Smith. You’re not even Rand Paul…”

Evoking memories of the Frank Capra classic, “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington,” Sen. Cruz told the world that he was going to talk on the floor of the Senate against Obamacare until he couldn’t stand any more…you know, just like the Jimmy’s idealistic junior Senator in the film, who finally collapses of exhaustion to end his filibuster but whose courage makes the corrupt, manipulating senior Senator from his state confess that he was trying to fund a lousy health care b…no, wait, it had something to do with a kids camp and influence peddling. I haven’t seen the film in a while.

Cruz, however, unlike Stewart, is not engaging in a filibuster, because he is not trying to block a vote or anything else: Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has scheduled a vote on funding the Affordable Care Act for today, whereupon Cruz has to sit down and shut up whether he can still stand or not. Continue reading

Rand Paul’s Dumb, Wasteful and Irresponsible Fillibuster

The sequel, "Mr. Smith Gets Stupid" was not a success.

The sequel, “Mr. Smith Gets Stupid” was not a success.

Sen. Rand Paul proved to my satisfaction that he doesn’t have the intellectual chops to be a U.S. Senator with his foolish argument in 2010 that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was unconstitutional, while suggesting that he would have voted against it. (For the record, Paul’s been targeted on Ethics Alarms for various ethics transgressions five times since 2010. He is not our favorite Senator.) You can hide IQ inadequacies a long time on Capitol Hill—look at Joe Biden—but those missing points are telling at the moment, as Paul stages an embarrassing, silly, and wasteful filibuster in the old style, doing his best “Mr. Smith” impression to block the inevitable confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.

Sen. Paul says he’ll talk until he drops or until the Obama administration states definitively that it doesn’t have the right to “kill an American on American soil.” Why is this such a high priority for Paul? Eric Holder answered his office’s query on the topic with this eminently reasonable response, which Paul has managed to completely misconstrue. Holder said in part, Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Sen. Scott Brown

It doesn’t matter whether the Obama Administration jobs bill Sen. Brown voted for is a good bill or not. He is an Ethics Hero for not marching in lock-step according to the demands of those who voted him into office to break the Democratic so-called “filibuster-proof” majority. A U.S. Senator, any Senator, has an ethical duty to excercise independent judgment. In light of the weight of expectations placed on him by conservatives and Obama opponents in the wake of his upset victory in Massachusetts, Scott Brown’s willingness to break ranks so early in his tenure speaks well of his character. Continue reading