Ethics Dunce: Sen. Max Baucus

Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who, along with Majority Leader Harry Reid, was the prime mover of Obamacare through to passage by the U.S. Senate, attended a citizens forum in Libby, Montana regarding health care reform and other issues, along with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sibelius.

One attendee, Judy Matott, asked Baucus  and Sebelius, “if either of you read the health care bill before it was passed and if not, that is the most despicable, irresponsible thing.”

Baucus replied that he “essentially” wrote the Senate health care bill, but didn’t actually read it. Continue reading

Summer Rerun: “Ending the Bi-Partisan Effort to Destroy Trust in America”

[TV is full of reruns these days, and sometimes I am grateful for them, for it gives me a chance to see episodes of favorite shows I had missed for some reason or another. Back in early March, I posted the following essay about the origins of America’s current crisis of trust in our government, and how it might be cured by our elected leaders. Since then, the crisis has deepened, and as I was doing some routine site maintenance, I reread the post. It is still very timely (unfortunately), and since far fewer people were visiting Ethics Alarms in March, I decided to re-post it today, with just a few minor edits. I promise not to make this a habit. Still, trust is the reason why ethics is so important in America: if there is a single post of the more than 700 I have written here since October 2009  that I would like people to read, this is it.] Continue reading

Andy’s Unethical Health Care Propaganda

I understand the government’s problem when it passes legislation in a fog of lies, misinformation, spin and deceit so think on both sides that nobody even pretends to know what the consequences will be. And it certainly is embarrassing when claim after claim about the legislation made by the House Speaker and President himself is shown to be untrue or mistaken after the fact: “Oops! The law won’t really be budget-neutral!” “Sorry! Many of you won’t be able to keep your health care plans after all!” “Darn! There really isn’t anything in here that will keep costs from rising!”

Gee, maybe they should have read the thing before voting for it.

Be that as it may, it does not justify the Obama Administration paying $700,000 in taxpayer funds to run TV ads showing avuncular old Andy Griffith, of Mayberry fame (Pssst! Andy used to specialize in playing con-men and scam artists before he and Don Knotts teamed up), telling seniors how peachy the new system will be. Continue reading

Rep. Bart Stupak: Double-Reverse Ethics Dunce

Michigan Democrat Bart Stupak has been wrong in so many ways lately it is hard to keep count. If you are going to be wrong, however, the ethical way is to have integrity and at least be consistent in your wrongness. He couldn’t even do that right. He did manage to become Ethics Alarms’ first Double-Reverse Ethics Dunce. That’s something.

First, Stupak staged a revolt in the House to insist that the original House health care reform bill didn’t wouldn’t mandate the use of taxpayer funds for abortions.

What was wrong with this?  Oh, only everything…. Continue reading

Essay: Ending the Bi-Partisan Effort to Destroy Trust in America

Both the Pentagon shooter and the Texas I.R.S. attacker were motivated by a virulent distrust of the U.S. government, the distrust mutating into desperation and violence with the assistance of personal problems and emotional instability. We would be foolish, however, to dismiss the two as mere “wingnuts,” the current term of choice to describe political extremists who have gone around the bend. They are a vivid warning of America’s future, for the media, partisan commentators, the two political parties and our elected officials are doing their worst to convert all of us into wingnuts, and the results could be even more disastrous than the fanciful horrors the Left and the Right tell us that the other has planned for us. Continue reading

Conservative Stories, Liberal Stories: Isn’t a Drunk Senator Just Plain News?

A Youtube video shows Montana Senator Max Baucus (D) giving a rambling rant of a speech from the Senate floor, waving his arms and slurring his speech like Uncle Billy in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as he condemns Republicans for being overly partisan in the run-up to the health care bill vote. Was he drunk? It sure looks like it to me, based on some considerable experience with such things, but no, the real reason he looks drunk to me must be my right-wing political bias, because only conservative blogs and media seem to see anything intoxicated about the good senator’s speech at all.

This isn’t just silly; it is harmful. Continue reading

Well, It’s Better Than Senator Burris’s Version…

[An Ethics Alarms reflection on the Christmas Eve Senate vote passing that esteemed body’s version of health care reform…in the tradition of “A Visit From Saint Nicholas,” because 1) you haven’t read enough parodies of that poem this year, 2) it seemed appropriate, but mostly 3) the version Sen. Burris read on the Senate floor was so terrible that I had to get its taste out of my mouth.]

Continue reading

Proof of Dead Ethics: Attacking Your Adversary’s Family

It is a standard threat in movies about the Mob and TV dramas about thugs: “Do what I tell you, or your family’s dead.” The tactic of going after loved ones as a particularly awful form of revenge is a calling card of the truly despicable. That is why the Valerie Plame scandal so damaged the Bush Administration’s popularity, even though it was never clear (and still isn’t) that anyone there really did try to “out” Plame’s CIA status to get even with her obnoxious husband’s fueling opposition to the Iraq invasion. Just the plausible suggestion that Vice President Cheney’s gang may have committed such an ethical outrage was too much to bear.

You would think, then, that those who most revile Cheney’s no-holds-barred approach to political combat would be the least likely to emulate him. You would be wrong. Continue reading

Abortion Debate in the Senate: Inconvenient Ethics

It will be major irony if the Senate health care reform bill, an irresponsible, cynical, dishonest piece of legislation (any legislation that is 2000 pages, unreadable, and largely unread by those voting for it is, by definition, irresponsible, cynical and dishonest), fails because of its position on abortion. The bill is an abomination and deserves to fail, but not because of that. Continue reading