“From The Ethics Alarms “Nah, There’s No Mainstream Media Bias!” Files: The Unethical Headline Of The Month

Here is the headline in the print version of this New York Times story (which the Times headlines appropriately on-line):

Justice Department Acts Against Protections For People With Pre-existing Conditions

This is as pure an example of journalism deceit and a pernicious variety of fake news as I have encountered. An equivalent headline would be to describe  the ACLU petitioning to overturn a federal ban on “hate speech”  as “ACLU Acts Against Protections for Blacks, Gays and Muslims.”

The individual mandate was always unconstitutional as a penalty, and the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the Affordable Care Act on that basis, until Justice Roberts hit on the brilliant but perverse argument that even though the Obama administration and Democrats had insisted that the device wasn’t a tax in order to get the thing passed, it really was, so it was legal after all. Congress, however, repealed the “tax,” so now that pretense no longer works. The mandate is unconstitutional…again.

I know the Democratic approach to legislation and public policy is increasingly “the ends justify the means” and “the Constitution is just an archaic piece of paper,” but the fact is and has always been that the document is our nation’s (increasingly vulnerable) bulwark against tyranny, and it is the duty of the Justice Department and the courts to oppose unconstitutional, as in “illegal,” measures, even those that appear to solve difficult problems.

If a provision is unconstitutional, it doesn’t matter what benefits it may have. We cannot have a precedent that holds that the Constitution can be ignored for “good reasons.” No reason is good enough. That kind of thinking is how Japanese-Americans ended up in concentration camps under an iconic Democratic President, approved by a liberal Supreme Court.

The individual mandate, without the cover story that it is a tax, violates the Constitution. That’s all we need to know. The ability of insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions under the ACA becomes impossible without it? Well, we’re just going to have to come up with a solution that isn’t unconstitutional, won’t we?

Deceiving the public into believing that upholding core constitutional principles is excessive and sinister when it blocks otherwise desirable policy initiatives is playing with fire. It makes the public civically ignorant. It places false emphasis on results rather than the rule of law.

It paves the road to totalitarianism.

Observations On The Gruber Tapes: Tipping Points, Integrity Checks, Totalitarian Tactics and Very Loud Ethics Alarms


A lot of people in the Obama administration, the media, and even some of your friends would like to characterize the many videos of Jonathan Gruber revealing, as Geraldo Rivera called it, himself an apologist for the administration, “the ugly side of the political process” as no big deal. It is a big deal. I recognized it as a big deal from the first of the videos, as every objective and honest American should. The tapes are as significant and important as the Nixon White House tapes, which revealed  a conspiracy at the highest levels of the government to cover up a criminal attempt to rig the political process and corrupt democracy. Those tapes prompted reforms and political upheaval. So should Gruber’s inconvenient truths, if we believe that our form of government is worth saving. This should be a tipping point. We cannot tolerate this, nor long survive it.

We all should make sure that the many ideologues, activists, hacks and villains who want to ignore the significance of the Gruber tapes fail, and while doing so, metaphorically mark their chests with a giant, red “C” for “corrupter,” if not a “T” for “traitor.” I have heard all the excuses. lies, spin and rationalizations now. If you care about the American system, and want to be part of the solution to this ethics rot in our government and leadership rather than siding with those who want to continue it, then just think a bit. If you banish your biases, you’ll come to the right conclusion, which is this: what Gruber has revealed is serious, dangerous, and wrong.

Some specific ethics observations and conclusions:

1. Apparently the entire Democratic party, the progressive movement and many of the elites in journalism and academia have embraced the undemocratic principle, a key tenet of the theories of Lenin, Islam, Mao, Joseph Alinsky, Goebbels, Joe McCarthy and Big Brother, to mix historical and fictional villains, that deceiving the public and the use of lies are  virtuous and necessary means of governing, because the public does not know what is in its own best interest. This is totalitarianism. There is no disguising it. It is sinister and intolerable. It should not be sugar-coated, and the public needs to be told, in unambiguous terms, why this is more than political expediency. It is a rejection of the premises and ideals that the nation was founded upon. We must reject it, and reject those who excuse it, rationalize it and employ it, in either political party.

The party that has been caught red handed, however, with no plausible escape, is the party of the Affordable Care Act.

2. Every bob and weave, lie and double-lie in response to Gruber’s videos, have failed. The fact that the lies were attempted, however, underscores how serious the corruption is. I immediately went to Media Matters when the story broke. The one-sided advocacy group that pretends that progressives can do no wrong and that there is a conservative media conspiracy, if you can read that without passing out from laughing, has been in rare form in its frenzied efforts to pretend that Gruber’s exposés are meaningless. It headlines its empty defense “The Fraudulent Media Campaign To Scandalize Obamacare’s Passage,” though the mainstream (that is, liberal) media, to its permanent shame, tried to ignore the story longer than I would have thought possible. Then MM tries to bolster White House spokesman Josh Earnest’s risible claims that the Affordable Care Act was passed with unusual transparency. Yes, I’d say lying outright about what the bill would do is unusual transparency, though that’s not what they mean.

This is, as I already pointed out, a Jumbo-–a desperate lie that is obviously a lie to anyone with their eyes open. No law that complex is transparent; no bill that isn’t permitted debate in its final form is transparent; no text that is so long and convoluted that it can’t be read (or printed out from the internet without owning a paper store) is transparent. If it was transparent, we wouldn’t be heading to the Supreme Court over what the proponents of the law term a “typo.” If it was transparent, then what was always intended to be a tax would not have been furiously defended as not being a tax. If it was transparent, the President would not have told the public over 30 times that the law’s passage would not cause anyone to lose a healthcare plan they liked.  The passage of Obamacare was not transparent. Anyone who claims otherwise is one of the liars, earning that big, red “C.” Continue reading

A Jumbo For Press Secretary Josh Earnest


Responding to damning comments from key Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber that the passage of the ACA  was predicated on avoiding transparency and exploiting “stupid voters,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this during a press briefing in Burma:

“The fact of the matter is, the process associated with the writing and passing and implementing of the Affordable Care Act has been extraordinarily transparent.”


Except, of course, for the President and other elected officials repeatedly saying that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan—period.”

Oh…and that it was drafted in secrecy by lobbyists from the health care industry and Congressional aides and voted on before anyone in Congress had an opportunity to read it in its final form.

Then there was the fact that the usual procedure of vetting the bill through committees in the House and Senate was bypassed, and floor debate was curtailed.

Of course, the bill was so long and written in such impenetrable jargon and had so many cross-references that it was unreadable. This is wht Nancy Pelosi explained that we had to pass it to find out what was in it.

Other than that, though…wait!

There was the little device of swearing that the individual mandate was not a tax until the bill was passed, then arguing before the Supreme Court that it was in fact a tax, as the bill’s architects intended from the start.

Extraordinarily transparent.

“Elephant? What elephant?”



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 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 Hero: The American Bar Association

Well, I'll be hornswoggled! INTEGRITY!

The mainstream media and left-of-center pundits managed to leave criticism of President Obama’s bizarre—for a lawyer and supposed authority on Constitutional law, and yes, for a President too—assertion that there was something “unprecedented” about the Supreme Court declaring an act of Congress unconstitutional, and something inappropriate for this to be done by “unelected” judges, to conservative sources, an increasingly common and deplorable technique that allows the Left to thereafter discredit legitimate and non-ideological observations as “partisan.” Thus it was a relief, and a credit to the organization, when the reliably liberal American Bar Association weighed in with the same critique of the President’s comments, with similar intensity. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: Prof. Paul Horwitz

“I can think of a number of posts about the ACA from legal scholars last week that were clearly and openly offered as advocacy and did a fine job of it. And I can think of others that were clearly not offered as advocacy at all, and said useful and interesting things about the oral arguments…But I do believe that some posts last week traded on the authority of their authors, made overconfident or disingenuous claims about the state of current law and the strength or weakness of opposing arguments, and did so for strategic reasons. I see those reasons as more inculpatory than exculpatory. I don’t see the minimal requirements for scholarly integrity that I offered as changing because of the medium, or because of the importance and currency of the case.”

Hey, Professor! We assume you're smarter than we are: don't play games with our trust!

—-University of Alabama Law Professor Paul Horwitz, writing about the confounding number of liberal law professors and scholars who wrote internet posts professing that the constitutionality of Obamacare’s individual mandate was obvious and undeniable, and that the provision’s Supreme Court approval was assured. As Ethics Alarms did regarding other commentators, Prof. Horwitz suggests that some of the commentary was designed as spin, or to use his term, to “shape the narrative.” He argues that in cases where the scholar was deliberately over-stating the case for constitutionality, this constituted a breach of integrity and honesty. Hie professor-speak for this is “inculpatory.” He means that it was unethical.

Which, of course, it was. Continue reading

Obamacare Defenders, Spinning

Are you hypnotized yet?

It would be nice, it really would, if partisans on both sides of a legitimate, close issue of national importance would admit that there are valid arguments on each side, show some mutual respect, and not frame their arguments as if anyone who thinks differently is deluded, stupid or evil.

Thus it has been elevating, if, I suppose, misleading, to read over a year’s worth of debate on the topic now under consideration by the Supreme Court, Obamacare’s so-called individual mandate, over on the scholar and lawyer- glutted blog, the Volokh Conspiracy. Written by distinguished and articulate academics, it is a right-leaning and libertarian site for sure, yet manages to cover all sides of most of the issues it considers thoroughly and fairly. Nobody could read the detailed, case and precedent-filled essays about the individual mandate and think for a moment that its constitutionality is an open and shut case. It’s obviously a very close question, and one that involves far wider implications than merely one health care law. This is one of the periodic landmark constitutional cases in which the Supreme Court is being asked to approve another key adjustment in the meaning of our remarkably flexible but hard to amend national by-laws, or, in the alternative, put up a red flag and a brick wall that reminds our government that there are some things is cannot do, even if it would dearly like to.

If you care about the case being argued in the Supreme Court as I write this, go read some—it would take you a month to read it all—of the discussions on this topic over at Volokh. If you can understand the sometimes technical and overly-dense writing, you will recognize how difficult a legal issue this is. If you can’t understand it, then stop rendering opinions about the case, the mandate, and the inevitability of its approval or rejection. Journalists and pundits should follow the same advice. Continue reading