Are Democrats Deceiving Their Supporters, The Nation, Or Themselves?


I don’t want to pick on the Democrats in their hour of crisis, but I can’t let this pass.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair the Democratic National Committee, sent a video message to party loyalists stating in part,

“Your dedication is at the heart and soul of who we are as a party — but our party has a problem. We know we’re right on the issues. The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for. But the electoral success we have when our presidential nominee is able to make the case to the country as a whole doesn’t translate in other elections. That’s why we lost in 2010, and it’s why we lost on Tuesday. We’ve got to do better.”


1. “A problem”?

2. How can anyone “know they are right” on “the issues” ? All issues? It is enough that advocates believe they are right. Saying one knows one is right presumes a level of omniscience that is the mark of the arrogant and immodest—no wonder the parties won’t compromise with each other. The opponents of the religious right mock those who base their opposition to evolution, abortion and same-sex marriage on unshakable certainty based on faith. What’s the Democratic faith that justifies similar certainty?

3. “The American people believe in the causes we’re fighting for.” This is just factually false. The majority of the public thinks climate change is a crock. The majority wants tougher immigration enforcement, not less of it. The majority wants litigation reform, which the Democrats fight to preserve trial lawyer fees. Obamacare is wildly unpopular. So is affirmative action. The majority of the public thinks that there is an I.R.S. cover-up. The majority thinks Barack Obama is a weak and feckless President. The majority of Americans think there should be some limitations on abortion, and don’t want to pay for other people’s birth control. Six in 10 American think guns make homes safer, rather than, as the Democrats see it, endangering children.

Yes, the public is in favor of raising the minimum wage, and always is. It will be in favor of raising the minimum wage one minute after the minimum wage is finally raised. The public doesn’t understand the minimum wage, and never has, which is why it is always low hanging fruit for Democrats. If that is the “cause” Schultz is referring to—and since the President mentioned it first among his priorities in multiple speeches, who knows? It might be—see #1 above—then this really is a low ebb in Democratic fortunes. I just heard a liberal radio talk-show host talk about how progressives should be excited that some states approved a higher minimum wage. That’s not “progressive,” that’s traditional. Continue reading

Election Ethics Catch 22: The Necessary And Destructive Lie

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: "Don't worry, men! I believe we will win!"

Unrecorded Custer quote that he probably said: “Don’t worry, men! I believe we will win!”

In the last 48 hours, both Joe Biden and Democratic Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz told interviewer on national television, and thus the American public, that the Democrats would hold the Senate in tomorrow’s elections. Literally nobody believes this. News reports abound that Democratic pollsters and consultants don’t believe this. Polls show that Democrats are in for an epic clobbering that will give Republicans control of both Houses of Congress. Is there a chance this won’t come to pass? Sure there is: that why we cast real votes. But there is a big difference between “I hope our party holds the Senate” or “I think if everyone gets out and votes, we can hold the Senate,” and “We will hold the Senate.” The latter means “I honestly believe we will hold the Senate.” In context, it is either a statement of ignorance and delusion, or a lie.

Now with the track record of Biden and Schultz, one can never be certain that they aren’t delusional, but I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they are lying. (They have track records in that area as well.) They are lying because they don’t really believe what they are saying, but feel they have no choice. This is the Underdog’s Dilemma. If anyone is going to care about a contest, neither competitor can concede or admit that it’s a hopeless mismatch. This is especially true for the leaders of  a team facing near certain defeat, and perhaps more true even in politics than in sports. Even when defeat seems inevitable, a candidate or his or her party’s leaders can’t admit it. Why would anyone bother to come out and vote when the object of the vote admits it’s a waste of time? The integrity of the system demands that the myth that anything can happen is kept alive until the final vote is counted. Sometimes, as we all know, the impossible upset happens. Truman defeats Dewey. Eric Cantor, a Republican heavyweight whose polls show him waltzing to re-election, gets beaten in the primary by some guy nobody ever heard of. Continue reading

The Free Range Mom, Bias, and the Perils Of Blind Loyalty

About  the blind leading the blind---not only is it dangerous, it looks ridiculous to those who can see.

About the blind leading the blind—not only is it dangerous, it looks ridiculous to those who can see.

One of my favorite bloggers just fell into the blind loyalty trap. I’m sympathetic, but this is something that those who accept the responsibility of  teaching us important lessons and clarifying difficult issues must avoid at all costs. Bias makes us stupid, and blind loyalty breeds bias like carrion breeds maggots. It pains me to see Lenore Skenazy, author of the Free Range Kids blog, undermine her credibility like this.

She titled her post Horrible Editorial Chides Mom for Not Predicting Unpredictable Crime. In it, she takes the side of a mother who left her four-year-old son in an unlocked, running van while she picked up her daughter at a northeast school. Someone was drove her van off with her son in it, and subsequently crashed. The boy was unhurt. Under the circumstances, there is nothing horrible about the editorial, which uses the incident—even Skenazy agrees that the mother’s conduct was “dumb”—to caution parents about leaving children in cars. This is the editorial that aroused Skenazy to defend the indefensible:

“A Calgary mom has no doubt learned her lesson. The woman recently left her four-year-old son in her unlocked, running van while she picked up her daughter at a northeast school. The mother said she was gone about six minutes, and when she came out, someone was stealing her van with her son in it.

Fortunately, the incident ended well, with the child unhurt after the thief crashed the van, and the suspect was taken into custody.…charges of child endangerment need to be pressed to set an example, because no matter how often these types of things occur, other parents continue to leave their kids in similar situations. It takes just a few minutes to get your child out of a vehicle and bring him or her along with you on whatever errand needs running. Sure, it’s more convenient just to leave a child in the car and do the errand, unencumbered. However, child safety should trump inconvenience every time. Better a few extra minutes lost bundling a little one in and out of a vehicle than a lifetime of regret and what-ifs.”

The rationalizations in Skenazy’s defense begin with the title of her post, which is dishonest and in her own words, “dumb.” She is using moral luck as a defense, arguing that the sequence of events as they unfolded were merely unfortunate, and the mother just as easily could have returned to her van and car with nothing amiss. The odds favor nothing bad happening in six minutes; on the other hand, the odds of nothing bad happening are much better if a child isn’t in an unlocked vehicle with the engine running at all. Continue reading

Ethics Observations On Sticks, Leadership, And Chris Christie’s Vindictive Bridge Closing Scandal

Christie apologizes

Before we delve into the starting point for most ethics inquiries—What’s going on here?— a summary…

Last September, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed all but one lane of the George Washington Bridge , horrifically tangling commuter transportation in Fort Lee, New Jersey, just across bridge from Manhattan. The lane closures  delayed emergency responders to four calls, and may have resulted in at least one death. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s office had attributed the lane closures to a traffic study.  But smoking gun e-mails emerged proving beyond the shadow of a doubt that the bridge closing was far more sinister: top Christie aides engineered the gridlock specifically to cause problems for Fort Lee, whose mayor had angered the Governor by refusing to endorse him for re-election. It was political payback of a particularly brutal and Machiavellian sort.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” wrote Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Christie, in an email on Aug. 13 to David Wildstein, Christie’s appointee at the Port Authority. Wildstein resigned in December after news of the scandal first broke; he has since refused to answer questions in a hearing on the matter, citing the Fifth Amendment. Christie fired Kelly yesterday, and in a long and emotional press conference, profusely apologized while insisting that he knew nothing of the plot, but accepted responsibility for the actions of his staff. The incident is attracting national interest because Christie, a Republican,  is an intriguing and controversial  potential candidate for a 2016 Presidential run.


  • This is bad, and there is no defense for it. Government power should never be abused like this, by anyone. Distorting one’s duties to the public to harm members of the public out of such motives as spite, revenge, retribution, intimidation or personal and political gain is the moral equivalent of a crime.
  • In fact, it should be a crime. It can’t be, because the problem is that some degree of such distortions of the duty to act in the public’s best interest are essential political tools that cannot be jettisoned without undermining effective leadership as well. Politics works through the carrot and the stick, and the stick virtually always causes collateral damage. At every level of government, refusing to do what a powerful leader wants must have negative consequences, or nobody will do what the leader wants, and he or she will no longer be effective. That, in the end, hurts the public too–presumably more seriously than the short-term harm from political payback. Continue reading

Wait…Did Debbie Wasserman Schultz Expose A Media Ethics Scandle? Is MSNBC Staging Interviews? Does Anybody Care?

"And now let's ask our guest a tough question: what do you think about what I just showed our audience, Congresswoman? I hate to put you on the spot!"

“And now let’s ask our guest a tough question: what do you think about what I just showed our audience, Congresswoman? I hate to put you on the spot!”

In an appearance on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co., Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz answered queries from Chris Jansing about President Obama’s multi-year lie—desperately being recast as a “promise” by the reporters who have the honesty to report it at all (it’s hard to admit that the leader you’ve been promoting for five years is just just another manipulative fraud )—that “you” can keep your doctor and your health plan if you like them, “period.” I was struck by the unethical means (an ad hominem attack)  Wasserman Schultz employed to rebut a clip of Marco Rubio criticizing the President,  and her pure obfuscation that followed. I also mentioned that she appeared to not know how to pronounce the common word “misled,” saying it instead as “myzeld,” which is usually proof that a speaker is 8 years old.

Sharper eyes than mine among the commenters noticed what I completely missed: the Congresswoman looks like she’s reading from a teleprompter. That would explain “myzeld” more plausibly than my explanation (that everyone in the woman’s life from grade school to now has allowed her to sound like an idiot by not correcting a childish word gaffe). It would also indicate something far more significant than the well-established fact, barely post-worthy, really, that Wasserman Schultz employs unethical debate tactics and is dishonest in statements to the media and the public. If true, it would indicate that MSNBC is staging what it represents as spontaneous, candid interviews, and allows Democrats to know the questions they are going to asked in advance, prepare responses, and have them running on teleprompters at the MSNBC studio. Continue reading

Incompetent Elected Official Of The Month: Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Please watch the above, and listen carefully.

How does someone like this become the spokesperson of a major political party, much less get elected to Congress?

  • Her response to Marco Rubio’s undeniably accurate statement was a pure ad hominem attack.
  • Her explanation for why the President’s intentional misrepresentation isn’t the lie that it obviously is consists of nothing but assertively delivered double-talk and irrelevant talking points that do not address the issue.
  • She thinks “misled” is pronounced “myzeld.” Let me repeat that…

She thinks “misled” is pronounced “myzeld!!!!”

I am not surprised at the first; the second is standard operating practice for this Congresswoman (and she has lots of company these days, on this topic), but the last is the canary dying in the mine. Continue reading

More Integrity Test Results: The Bad, The Cynical, The Desperate, The Ugly And The Mind-Blowingly Stupid

denial1The last couple of days have added more embarrassing examples of desperate supporters of the Democrats, President Obama and/or the Affordable Care Act thoroughly disgracing themselves by adopting rationalizations, distortions, denial, tortured reasoning and worse to avoid holding President Obama accountable for intentionally misleading the American people for more than three years regarding whether they could keep their healths plan if they liked them, “period.”

Two aspects of this disgusting spectacle are remarkable. One is that there is such a wide and creative variation among the integrity-defying tactics taken by this distinguished assortment of pols, elected officials, hacks, flacks, pundits and journalists. The other is that after this is all over, nearly half the American public will still loyally insist on trusting the promises and pronouncements of this very same group, though they proved themselves, in this episode, untrustworthy beyond a reasonable doubt. The first of these developments is surprising. The second extinguishes all hope.

Now the latest additions to the list of shame:

  •  David Axelrod, Obama political advisor. Today on “Meet the Press, ” Axelrod chose as his truthbuster the rationalization that since the President wasn’t lying to all of the Americans he was addressing, he wasn’t lying at all. Continue reading

Another Ethics Hero For CNN’s Anderson Cooper, and a Jumbo for Debbie Wasserman Schultz

“Discord? What discord?”

Anderson Cooper seems to have decided to single-handedly  stand for objective journalism in the midst of Democratic cheer-leading from most of his colleagues in the broadcast media. Of course, he chose the lowest-hanging fruit imaginable as a target: the Democratic National Committee’s ridiculous, abrasive, shamelessly dishonest chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who earned a Jumbo for persisting in a falsehood that nobody could possibly believe.

The Democrats walked into a controversy of their own making when they approved a platform that removed any mention of God (since God is not, presumably, a Democrat, I don’t know why anyone cares) and an assertion that Jerusalem is the proper capital of Israel. Both of these apparently were also approved by the candidate, President Obama, and conservative blogs and the Republican campaign had a field day with the supposed implications of both. [This was a classic “tit for tat,” because the Democrats had loudly insisted that anything appearing in the GOP platform was attributable to Mitt Romney.] Someone, maybe the President, then concluded that God and Jerusalem needed to go back into the language to stem the bleeding, and what followed was a raucous, and, depending on your orientation, embarrassing or ugly display on the convention floor, with some delegates booing the return of God and Jerusalem and with a repeated voice vote that allowed them back sounding much more like a tie than the required two-third ayes. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Rep. Debby Wasserman-Schultz

Honestly, if you had told me that the Democrats could find someone to chair their national organization who was as big a buffoon, hypocrite and embarrassment as Michael Steele, I would have said that it was impossible. And then along came Debby...

On “Meet the Press,” the Democratic National Committee Chair. Rep. Debby Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), reacted indignantly to the Rush Limbaugh-Sandra Fluke incident, saying in part,

“…And the bottom line is that the leading candidate on the Republican side for president couldn’t even bring himself to call Rush Limbaugh’s comments outrageous and call him out and ask him to apologize… Rush Limbaugh, in that apology, said that he was trying to be humorous. I don’t know any woman in America, David, that thinks that being called a slut is funny.”

By Wasserman-Schultz’s own conduct, however, we may apparently conclude that she thinks it is funny when a woman is called a “dumb twat” and a “cunt,” both of which vulgarities were directed at Republican women by HBO’s Bill Maher. Continue reading

Ethics Hero: ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper

Neat trick by Jay Carney: Speaking for the President, AND doing an uncanny impression of a weasel!

It shows the degree to which we now take bias and favoritism by the news media for granted that a reporter doing what once was regarded as his duty now appears heroic.  Sadly, that is where we are.

That is also why Jake Tapper warrants an Ethics Hero designation for pressing White House press secretary Jay Carney on the obvious disconnect between President Obama’s lecture on civility in January in the wake of the Giffords shooting, and his happy acceptance of the call by  Teamsters leader Jimmy Hoffa, Jr. to “take these sons of bitches out” at a rally over the weekend. The exchange: Continue reading