The Lie That Never Dies

arrgh

Gloria Borger, in a CNN panel this morning about how Democrats should work with President Trump, once again stated as fact that Mitch McConnell vowed to make President Barack Obama a “one term President” from “day one.”

There are a few persistent lies that I have vowed to flag every time I read or hear them. One is that “women earn only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns for equivalent jobs.” This is another. Borger’s myth has been trotted out again and again to prove that Republicans set out to sabotage Obama’s administration, and never gave him a chance. It is absolutely false.

I am no fan of Mitch McConnell, who is just a GOP version of  the horrible Harry Reid, and approximately as unethical. But McConnell’s comment was not made on “day one,” but on October 23, 2010. as he tried to rally Republican voters to give the party more power in Congress, which it did. Moreover, he did not vow obstructionism, but opened the door to bipartisanship if the President would compromise. Here is the quote and its context. Remember that Republicans had been rolled-over in the contentious Affordable Care Act passing.

McConnell: We need to be honest with the public. This election is about them, not us. And we need to treat this election as the first step in retaking the government. We need to say to everyone on Election Day, “Those of you who helped make this a good day, you need to go out and help us finish the job.”

National Journal: What’s the job?

McConnell: The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.

National Journal: Does that mean endless, or at least frequent, confrontation with the president?

McConnell: If President Obama does a Clintonian backflip, if he’s willing to meet us halfway on some of the biggest issues, it’s not inappropriate for us to do business with him.

National Journal: What are the big issues?

McConnell: It is possible the president’s advisers will tell him he has to do something to get right with the public on his levels of spending and [on] lowering the national debt. If he were to heed that advice, he would, I imagine, find more support among our conference than he would among some in the Senate in his own party. I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change. So, we’ll see. The next move is going to be up to him.

“I don’t want the president to fail; I want him to change.” Somehow that part always gets left out, as well as the fact that McConnell had two years of Obama before he made this statement. If he had decided that Obama needed to be defeated after two years, that is a long way from not giving him a chance. Yet this lie, and it is a lie, gets repeated again and again, by Democrats, by partisans, and on blogs. It should never, however, be repeated by journalists, who should be aware of the facts, and not misrepresent them, spreading and embedding misinformation in the process. But so many of them are biased, you see. They want this story to be true, and so to them it is.

The news media is dissipating its power as well as its credibility and trustworthiness with incompetent stunts like Borger’s.  Doing this so soon after last night’s thunderclap makes one wonder if they are capable of learning.

The New! Improved! Bipartisan! Gun Bill Is ALSO Unconstitutional…And The Statements Of The Senators About It Are Nauseating

Collins et al

The New York Times, which apparently only respects that part of the Constitution that protects biased and dishonest newspapers, cheers a newly  proposed anti-gun measure as one that “puts new muscle and momentum behind what would be one of the few restrictions placed on gun ownership in the past 20 years.”

It also takes away the rights of citizens without due process of law.

The compromise bill, proposed by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and backed by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), was cooked up a day after the Senate, in the words of the Times, “refused to advance any of four measures intended to make it harder for suspected terrorists to buy guns.”

No, that’s U.S. citizens who have not been convicted of any crime, not “suspected terrorists.” It is not a crime to be suspected of anything. The government cannot take away your rights because it suspects something, or fears you might do something in the future.

Is that really such a difficult concept from elected officials and journalists? Why is that?

“Surely the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Orlando that took so many lives are a call for compromise, a plea for bipartisan action…Essentially, we believe if you are too dangerous to fly on an airplane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun,” Collins said in a news conference.

I call on my fellow citizens in Maine to remove this incompetent woman from her high office, for she is unfit to serve: Continue reading

Ethics Verdict: The Republicans Should Vote On (And Approve) Judge Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland

For Senate Republicans, holding hearings on President Obama’s qualified and moderate nomination for the Supreme Court is both the ethical course and the politically smart course. It is also in the best interests of the nation.

In fact, the Byzantine political maneuverings by the President and the Republican leadership, by turns petty and ingenious, have handed Republicans a political chess victory, if only they are smart enough, responsible enough, and patriotic enough to grab it. Naturally, they aren’t.

It is infuriating, and all citizens should be infuriated.

A brief review of how we got to this point of looming GOP disgrace is in order:

  • Justice Scalia died, removing a towering conservative force from the Court. This meant that almost any replacement, and definitely one named by Obama, would make the Supreme Court more liberal than it has been in many years.
  • Seizing on the opportunity to make the election a referendum on the composition of the Court (which is was going to be anyway), Mich McConnell announced that no nominee named by Obama, an outgoing POTUS less than a year from leaving office, would be considered by the Senate.
  • Democrats and their allies in the punditry predictably pronounced this to be a breach of Senate duty. Embarrassingly, records surfaced of  Joe Biden asserting the same basic principle that McConnell was arguing for, when Bush was the President. Biden, I must duly note, is an idiot, but he’s still the current Vice President. Then again, all Biden has to do is say now, “I was wrong.” As he frequently is.
  • Though many predicted that Obama would name a transsexual, disabled black Jewish Latino judge with Socialist leanings to maximize the opportunity to politicize the process, he did the opposite. He named a qualified jurist.
  • The judge he named, Merrick Garland, is a white, veteran 63-year-old judge with a distinguished record, nothing flamboyant or controversial, who is as close to a non-ideological, non-partisan moderate as any Democratic President is likely to appoint from now until the stars turn cold.

Now, if Senate Republicans were interested in doing what is in the best interests of the nation—that is,  filling the Supreme Court vacancy as soon as possible, giving proper deference to a responsible and reasonable nomination by the President, avoiding a nasty and divisive partisan fight, and ensuring that the next Supreme Court Justice won’t be an intractable leftist firebrand determined to gut the Constitution or another “wise Latina” mediocrity who will pollute the record with touchy-feely ramblings—they would leap on this opportunity and unanimously confirm Garland, saying publicly that they reconsidered McConnell’s declaration in the interest of restoring the integrity of the nomination process and returning to the time before Democrats politicized the process beyond reason in the Bork hearings, giving the President his choice, regardless of philosophical bent, when the nominee is qualified, dignified, experienced and trustworthy. like Judge Garland Continue reading

Ethics Observations On The Selma Celebration “Gotcha’s!”

Selma redux

1. The big controversy as of this morning involved the New York Times front page photo, which managed to be cropped exactly at the point where former President Bush could have been seen. Given the Times’ proclivities, conservative blogs and Fox News presumed the snub was intentional. If it had been intentional, that would have indeed been disrespectful and unethical photojournalism. The Times explanation, however, seems reasonable. It tells us something, though, that nobody at the Times saw this coming. I think it’s incompetence born of bias. “Where’s Bush?” “He was too far down the line, so the photo looks lousy if he’s included.” “Damn. Well, put a note in explaining that.” Bias makes us stupid, and the fact that no Times editor had this conversation is, in fact, stupid.

2. If the NAACP was setting the place cards, and I assume they were, then Bush should have been second row center, and not an MSNBC demagogue and race-hustler who owes the U.S. back taxes. Talk about biased and stupid. The NAACP claims it wants to be a unifying force in the country, but it doesn’t. It promotes divisiveness,and intentionally. It’s good for business.

3. A graceful, fair, respectful and competent President of the United States would have insisted that his immediate predecessor be in a position of prominence, as part of the message that this event was an important part of the history of America and all Americans. It would have been the right thing to do. Bush would have done the same for him. But we do not have a graceful, fair, respectful and competent President. We have an arrogant, petty, self-absorbed and divisive one.

4. …who can, on occasion, rise to give an excellent speech, which he did. Continue reading

“The Cynic”: Mitch McConnell And Political Dysfunction

Let's give credit where credit is due...

Let’s give credit where credit is due…

As we survey the irresponsible, unnecessary but apparently intentional explosion of the political process wreaked by the President’s unilateral action on illegal immigration (not “immigration,” and mark any news organization that uses this deceitful phrase as henceforward untrustworthy), it would be wrong to omit the responsibility of Mitch McConnell and his ilk–any it is a bipartisan ilk— for getting the nation to this dangerous place.

The Republican Senate leader, now Majority Leader, is the epitome of the cynical, power-hungry politician who now dominates our governmental processes, and make them all inefficient, corrupt, and undependable. As chronicled in the e-book soon to be published in hardback, “The Cynic: The Political Education of Mitch McConnell,” in his more than three decades in public service McConnell has perfected the craft of the permanent campaign, careful calibrating positions and policy measures not so much to accomplish any goal in the interests of the public and the nation, but to hold power in the next election. This is the corruption of American democracy, and reporter Alec MacGillis makes a strong case that McConnell has been one of the primary forces making sure the political process only works for politicians. It is all about the game to McConnell, and as McGillis shows, he is as deft at playing it as anybody. MacGillis writes,
Continue reading

The GOP’s Favorite Unethical Tactic: Deceptive Mailers

McConnell mailerIt’s not sufficient, apparently, that Senator Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky) Democratic opponent Allison Grimes has thoroughly disgraced herself (See here and here, and that’s not all, but I didn’t want to pick on her with so many other unethical candidates running under the banner of either political party) and probably squandered any chance she had of unseating the GOP Minority Leader. So  the Republican campaign geniuses decided to attack this not-ready-for-prime-time politician using a tactic out of former Republican Chairman Michael Steele’s playbook. That means unethical, for those of you who didn’t follow Steele’s slimy reign.

In 2010, Steele approved the GOP sending out mailers disguised as official U.S. Census documents twice, the second time after the House of Representatives had rebuked the despicable tactic and voted unanimously to make them illegal. Since then, the GOP has hectored those citizens foolish enough to contribute to a Republican candidate with mailings deceptively designed as renewal notices, as if something would expire if you didn’t send in another check. This is a sleazy method of inducing someone to open junk mail, and it shows how thoroughly mass mailing is dependent on influencing the dim, timid and too forgiving that such dishonestly packaged appeals work. Continue reading

Ethics Quote of the Week: “Meet the Press” Host Chuck Todd

“Can Kentuckyians expect her to cast a tough vote on anything? Is she ever going to answer a tough question on anything? You want to be a U.S. Senator? If you can’t say — if you can’t find a way to stand behind your party’s president, you can disagree with him but can’t answer that basic question and come across looking ridiculous. I think she disqualified herself”

—–New “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” reacting with disgust to Kentucky’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes refusal to answer a reporter’s question regarding whether she voted for President Obama.

Did Allison hear the cock crow, I wonder? And is this why we call such conduct being "chicken"?

Did Allison hear the cock crow, I wonder? And is this why we call such conduct being “chicken”?

Well, she disqualified herself if voters believe senators should possess minimal levels of loyalty, candor, honesty, integrity or courage.

This latest fiasco for GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s opponent comes on the heels of her staff and supporters being caught on video opining—Happily! Smugly! Proudly!— that she is lying about supporting the state’s coal industry in order to get elected. It takes a lot to make McConnell look good by comparison, but Grimes seems to have pulled off that amazing achievement with brio.

That’s something, I guess.

_____________________________

Pointer: RealClearPolitics

Allison Grimes Ethics: Do Parties, Candidates And Citizens Really Think Lying Is A Legitimate Campaign Strategy?

Alison Lundergan Grimes

This is hard for me. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky)is among my least favorite U.S. Senators, and conservative hit man James O’Keefe defines unethical journalism. But O’Keefe’s sneaky tactics, the smug candor of McConnell opponent Alison Lundergan Grimes’ staff and supporters, and her own blatantly misleading statements make it obvious that she and the Kentucky Democrats think that it is acceptable to lie outright about a crucial policy issue to win an election. It isn’t. Any candidate who thinks that way is unqualified for office. I’d love to see McConnell lose to an ethical candidate on his merits. or lack of them. Grimes, however, is a liar, and apparently her staff and supporters are fine with that.

O’Keefe-produced videos show five employees of the Grimes campaign, local Democratic Party affiliates and a key supporter opining that Grimes is faking her support for the coal industry out of political expediency, and will default to the national party’s anti-coal stance the second she hits Washington. Continue reading

Ethics Hero Emeritus: Senator Howard Baker (1925-2014)

Howard_Baker

Howard H. Baker Jr., a three-term Tennessee Senator whose trademarks were integrity, honesty, and a refusal to allow partisanship get in the way of what he believed was the right thing to do, died today.  The Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky,  called him “one of the Senate’s most towering figures.” How ironic, or perhaps just insincere. If McConnell understood and admired the qualities that made Baker “towering” he couldn’t possibly be the divisive, petty, ultra-partisan hack that he is. Then again, comparing Baker’s career and character to the scrimy, petty, self-centered and ethics-challenged dwarves that make up all of McConnell’s colleagues  in both Houses and on both sides of the aisle reveals such an obvious disparity that even the sorry likes of McConnell couldn’t deny it.

Howard Baker stands especially tall in my memory as I watch the disgraceful conduct of House Democrats, doing all they could to derail the I.R.S scandal hearings and to prevent the uncovering of facts surrounding the executive branch’s abuse of power, because they have chosen political loyalty and expediency over transparency, fairness, duty to country, and trust. Contrast this horror show with the principled stance of Baker during Watergate, seeking uncomfortable truths rather than throwing obstacles in the way of efforts to uncover them, treating abuse of power and attempted cover-ups from his own party’s President as he would the same from a Democrat, asking the famous question, “What did the President know, and when did he know it?” Continue reading

Being Fair To Harry Reid: This Began With A Borking

Blame the first domino, not the last one..

Blame the first domino, not the last one..

I generally revile Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for his hyper-partisan leadership of the Senate, his unethical statements and his manner of conducting himself.  Still, I am bound to take this rare opportunity to defend Sen. Reid, who is taking the brunt of  criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for weakening the filibuster last week. True: he didn’t have to take this course, and I think it will probably, as the talking head shows Sunday seemed to agree, make the toxic and dysfunctional politics in Washington worse, not better. Reid, however, is not the primary one at fault. He was doing his job as he saw it, dealing with circumstances that are now beyond his control.

What led to the so-called “nuclear option” becoming reality was an unplanned convergence of Machiavellian politics, breaches of professional duty, dishonesty, irresponsible legislating, lack of statesmanship, unfairness, disrespect, bad luck, incompetent leadership, and most of all, a cycle of revenge that is now only likely to continue. Most of this was out of Harry Reid’s hands.

History shows that U.S. Presidents were once virtually always given the benefit of the doubt regarding judicial appointments to the federal courts, except in the rare cases of serious ethical questions or dubious qualifications. It was a good system, and the right system, and both parties followed it, realizing that the ideological mix in the courts was fluid and cyclical, and that today’s new conservative judge would eventually be offset by the appointee of the next liberal President, and vice versa. Democrats destroyed that tradition and accord on judicial appointments when in 1987, the Senate Democrats blocked President Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork, who had been selected by President Reagan to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Continue reading