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

The Democrats, Earmarks, and the Transparency Dodge

The arguments for continuing the irresponsible and frequently corrupt earmark process are misguided at best, and dishonest at worst. Mostly they are dishonest, Senators and House members graft appropriations in the millions for local projects that are never weighed, prioritized or evaluated in the voting process, killing budget restraint by a thousand cuts. They are also used as legislative currency, as two elected officials trade one irresponsible expenditure for a dubious state project for another.

Earmarks are an invitation to corruption, as they often are the result of thinly veiled quid pro quo arrangements. The device makes the American taxpayer the underwriter of expenditures that often have no greater purpose than to grease the skid for re-election for one more fiscally irresponsible politician. For decades, U.S. Presidents have complained about them; most since Ronald Reagan argued for the Constitutionally problematic line-item veto to combat them. Now, spurred by the recent voter revolt over out-of-control spending, the Republican Caucus in the Senate has voted to ban earmarks. The full Senate, however, with eight Republicans joining with the earmark-happy Democrats, voted down a proposed moratorium. Continue reading

Ethics Hero and Ethics Quote of the Week: Sen. Lindsey Graham

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) delivered the following remarks as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted in favor of President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Obviously Ethics Alarms approves of Graham’s vote and reasoning, as it is consistent with what I believe is the most ethical, fair and responsible course for all Republican senators. His statement, however, is extraordinary in its appeal to the best instincts of ethical public servants, and rather than just a link (the text comes from The Hill), I think proper respect and admiration dictate a full presentation. It embodies fairness, civility, professionalism. respect and dignity, as well as the ideals of collaborative government. When he concluded, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said, “During the course of his statement, I reflected on some of the things that I have said and how I’ve voted in the past and thought that perhaps his statement suggested there was a better course for many of us to consider in the future.”  The chances of such a course actually being followed would have been vastly increased, of course, if some of Graham’s colleagues shared his courage and integrity. Still, it is a start.

Here is what Sen. Graham said: Continue reading