“Fuck the EU”

Victoria Nuland, meet Earl Butz.

Victoria Nuland, meet Earl Butz.

In today’s news, Victoria Nuland,  Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and the top American diplomat in Europe, is heard in a viral Youtube video saying “Fuck the EU,” meaning the European Union, meaning the United States’ allies in Europe, meaning the constituency it is her job to get along with,and not insult like a middle schooler.

A U.S. government competent in international diplomacy, serious about international affairs, and familiar with the concepts of damage control and accountability would sack the unfortunate Ms. Nuland immediately. Waiting until she becomes completely useless and the gaffe escalates into a serious international rift with substantive consequences would be incompetent, lazy and stupid. But this, remember, is the Barack Obama Amateur Diplomacy Era. Nuland has apologized for saying “Fuck the EU,” and that, for now, is the best the European Union will get, because the President Obama and his subordinates (fish-rots-head-down) doesn’t acknowledge the ethical principle of accountability, nor professionalism and competence, as far as I can see.

In its actions, if not its words, the administration has been saying “fuck the rest of the world” with some regularity.  Obama’s nominee for Ambassador of Argentina revealed in last week’s confirmation hearings that he has never been there, nor does he speak Spanish. Unlike the many other countries’ languages that our ambassadors assigned to them can’t understand, it really isn’t hard to find qualified diplomats who speak Spanish. Noah Bryson Mamet, however, wasn’t nominated to head the embassy in a major South American nation because he has a clue of how to do that job. He bundled $500,000 for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, you see, and no fewer than 23 such “bundlers” have received ambassador posts as their pay-off. Continue reading

Ethics Heroes: Senate Republicans

crack

Just say “No.”

Sneaking expensive entitlements into long-term national policy is craven, dishonest, and continues the dangerous trend of sloppy, election-driven legislating that has become virtually standard operating practice in recent years. Senate Republicans generated some hope for transparency and the future of honest debate on governing philosophy by using the threat of a filibuster to block yet another extension of the supposedly “short-term” extensions of unemployment benefits.

I’ve written about this recently, so I won’t belabor it, but there was nothing in Democratic rhetoric surrounding the extension to disprove my suspicion, which was  full-blown three years ago, that this is nothing but a strategy for embedding  a permanent government subsidy of unemployment without a national debate regarding the consequences of such a policy. A ‘temporary” benefit is permanent if elected representatives lack the integrity and courage to end it; for an example one need only look to the supposedly short-term “Bush tax cuts,” which a Democratic President and legislature, despite exorbitant rhetoric about how irresponsible they were (and irresponsible they were), extended, and they are in place still. There is not a single Democratic argument in favor of the supposedly temporary extension that would not apply to a policy of paying the unemployed forever. Here are some quotes from “The Hill” yesterday:

  • “We’re one Republican vote away from restoring benefits to 1.7 million Americans.  There is one Republican vote standing in the way of a lifeline to these 1.7 million people.”-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)

1.7 million, 1 million, 657,000…when would such benefits not qualify, in Reid’s words, as a “lifeline”? If the answer is never, and it is, why would anyone believe these are intended to be temporary benefits? Isn’t the money just as crucial to an unemployed worker whether he or she has 1.7 million companions in misery, or fewer? Continue reading

Manipulated: “The Fact Checker’s” Top Ten Lies Of 2013

liars2Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post “Fact Checker,” came out with his list of the ten worst “Pinocchios” of the year (Kessler rates lies from one little growing-nosed puppet to four.) The Post’s version of this kind of column is fairer than most (The fairest and least tarnished by bias is FactCheck.org, by a mile. Its list of worst lies is here.), and I don’t want to quibble with him too much, but it is clear to me that the top ten was rigged not to embarrass the President and his administration more than it already does.

The list gives Obama’s infamous pledge about Obamacare letting everyone keep the plan and doctors they want the #1 slot, which was unavoidable and most deserved. (Want to know how a really left-biased source handles the same statement? When Dick Chaney stated in an interview that this was a lie, the Daily Beast’s headline was “It takes one to know one..”) Obama also was rewarded two more top lies on the list, relating to the sequester and Benghazi, giving him the year’s championship and a total of three, but some of his statements in the post-Newtown gun control push were equally dishonest, and this one absolutely deserved a place: Continue reading

Integrity And Trustworthiness Litmus Test: The Obamacare Lie That Can’t Be Spun

No President in memory has been so immune to the consequences of being caught blatantly lying to the American people as President Barack Obama. There have been uses for this fact, of course, for those willing to use it. It has provided a valuable tool for those interested in knowing what politicians, pundits and journalists have at least fumes of integrity and trustworthiness in their professional character, a useful litmus test, as when Susan Rice dutifully went on five Sunday morning talking-head TV shows and spread a version of the CIA’s talking points on the Benghazi attack that was intentionally misleading. That incident exposed the untrustworthy character of Rice, now National Security advisor; White House spokesman Dan Pfeiffer, virtually the entire crew at MSNBC (naturally), official White House liar Jay Carney, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the President himself, among others. Meanwhile, some unlikely figures, like old-lib CBS  “Fave the Nation” host Bob Schieffer, shined by refusing to abet the cover-up.

The unfolding IRS scandal—yes, it is still unfolding— has similarly been an excellent test, as those we should never trust again have adopted the administration’s official lie—a contradiction of its own statements and testimony—that there is in fact no scandal, and that a few inept and rogue agents screwed up, though the evidence of systemic corruption, illegal political use of  IRS power and an ongoing cover-up is persuasive and becoming more so.

Neither of these sagas, however, as well as others like the NSA spying scandal and the various excesses and incompetencies of Eric Holder’s disgraceful Justice Department, have managed to permeate the awareness of the average members of the public, especially those who have been supporters of the President or his party. Benghazi is still obscure to most of the public, and is too far away; the fact that the I.R.S. targeted tea party groups doesn’t alarm those who aren’t Republicans or ethicists as much as it should; and the news media, which is almost entirely run by members of the political left, has continued to soft-pedal facts and revelations that would have had all of them imitating Woodward and Bernstein were a President of another party, or shamefully, another race, involved. Such integrity tests are not helpful to observers who don’t want to use them, who don’t know enough about the subjects involved to know they exist, who don’t mind being lied to, or are happy to be led by those who lie, as long as they do it with style and inspiring speeches.

I wonder if the now undeniable lie about the Affordable Care Act will be different. Continue reading

Trapped In The Land Of Liars

Liars“In a certain town there are two tribes—one  always tells the truth; the other always lies. A stranger arrived in the town and asked one of the natives whether he was a Truth Teller or a Liar. The native answered, but the stranger didn’t hear the answer. The stranger then asked two other natives who overheard this conversation, what the first man had said. The first replied, “He said he was a Truth Teller.” The second replied, “He said he was a Liar.”

—-Old Brain-Teaser

Senator Dick Durbin (D-ILL)  posted this on his Facebook page:

“Many Republicans searching for something to say in defense of the disastrous shutdown strategy will say President Obama just doesn’t try hard enough to communicate with Republicans. But in a ‘negotiation’ meeting with the president, one GOP House Leader told the president: ‘I cannot even stand to look at you.'”

Durbin, the #2 Democrat in the Senate, much like the #1, Harry Reid (and the GOP #1, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and…but I’m getting ahead of myself) is a serial shiv-master, adept at making explosive and unfair partisan accusations. This one is typically irresponsible and despicable, because he tells the tale of inexcusable disrespect to the President of the United States but does not attach it to any one individual. Unethical. Cowardly. If he’s going to blow the whistle, he has an obligation to blow it and point, so the accused can defend himself. The Golden Rule demands no less. Of course, this method indicts all GOP leaders, which is Durbin’s design.

The Illinois Senator is also not very bright, and thus his account, which is also based on hearsay so he actually cannot know if it is true or not, does not prove what he purports it to prove. The President’s obligation to negotiate and communicate is independent of what any one lawmaker thinks or how that lawmaker may act. Durbin’s argument is the Tit for Tat rationalization: bad conduct by Republicans…or just this one Republican…justifies the President not doing his job. Dumb. Unethical. Unfair.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Sen. Dick Durbin!

But wait, there’s more!

Republicans at the meeting Durbin referenced denied his charge, but we would expect that no matter what happened.  The amazing thing is this: Asked about the alleged incident at a press briefing, White House spokesman Jay Carney, who didn’t have to say anything, replied that he had investigated Durbin’s story, and “it did not happen.” Continue reading

Now THAT’S An Ad Hominem Attack

"How do I rebut your argument? Here's how, you, brain-damaged Hell-spawn!"

“How do I rebut your argument? Here’s how, you, brain-damaged Hell-spawn!”

David Plouffe at least has done something useful, if not ethical.

We get a lot of accusations here—aimed at me and also between warring commenters—of using ad hominem attacks. Ad hominem attacks are indeed unethical, not because of the negative descriptions of the target they involve, which may well be accurate and fair, but because they are a dishonest and unfair debate tactic. The motive behind a true ad hominem attack is to avoid dealing with the substance of what an adversary claims, argues or asserts by attacking the person, character or background of the adversary.  The intention is to avoid the implications of a fact or illuminating opinion by asserting: “This person is bad, so don’t listen to what he has to say.”  It is a logical fallacy, of course. Whether an individual is bad or not doesn’t change the facts; a bad person may have performed a brilliant analysis, uncovered the wisdom of the ages, or uncovered the key perception that solves enduring mysteries. It is unethical for one seeking to rebut the argument to attack the arguer as if it’s the same thing. When successful, ad hominem attacks deflect the real debate and turn it into a debate about something else, focusing on the original speaker, now feeling the need to defend his honor rather than his position. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Week: White House Spokesman Jay Carney

“We could go down the list of questions–we could say ‘What about the president’s birth certificate? Was that legitimate?’”

—–Jay Carney, in yesterday’s news media briefing, apparently suggesting that public concern with at least four episodes raising legitimate questions regarding  serious misconduct at high levels of the Obama Administration was the equivalent of “birtherism.”

Welcome to the club, Jay!

Welcome to the club, Jay!

At this point, it is fair to say that Jay Carney can no longer be expected to be honest, responsible or professional, and thus can be included among the elite class of public figures, like Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Bill Maher and Newt Gingrich, to whom absurd and unethical utterances are like breathing in and out, are shameless, and barely noteworthy on an ethics blog. Unethical people say and do unethical things. That pretty much covers it.

Carney, however, is not like the others in that he speaks for the White House, and Barack Obama. Continue reading