SPECTACULARLY Unethical Quote Of The Week: President Obama

“Don’t blame us for all the mistakes in the law—look at how long it is!”

…on the Affordable Care Act and King v.Burwell, at his news conference. When President Obama was asked about the soon to be announced Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, he launched in an epic of unethical assertions and rhetorical games. I’ll highlight the unethical—not merely dishonest in some cases—statements and elaborate afterwards.

THE PRESIDENT: What I can tell state leaders is, is that under well-established precedent, there is no reason why the existing exchanges should be overturned through a court case. (1) It has been well documented that those who passed this legislation never intended for folks who were going through the federal exchange not to have their citizens get subsidies. (2)That’s not just the opinion of me; that’s not just the opinion of Democrats; that’s the opinion of the Republicans who worked on the legislation. The record makes it clear. (3)

And under well-established statutory interpretation, approaches that have been repeatedly employed — not just by liberal, Democratic judges, but by conservative judges like some on the current Supreme Court — you interpret a statute based on what the intent and meaning and the overall structure of the statute provides for. (4)

And so this should be an easy case. Frankly, it probably shouldn’t even have been taken up. (5)And since we’re going to get a ruling pretty quick, I think it’s important for us to go ahead and assume that the Supreme Court is going to do what most legal scholars who’ve looked at this would expect them to do. (6)

But, look, I’ve said before and I will repeat again: If, in fact, you have a contorted reading of the statute that says federal-run exchanges don’t provide subsidies for folks who are participating in those exchanges, then that throws off how that exchange operates. (7)It means that millions of people who are obtaining insurance currently with subsidies suddenly aren’t getting those subsidies; many of them can’t afford it; they pull out; and the assumptions that the insurance companies made when they priced their insurance suddenly gets thrown out the window. And it would be disruptive — not just, by the way, for folks in the exchanges, but for those insurance markets in those states, generally.

So it’s a bad idea. (8)It’s not something that should be done based on a twisted interpretation of four words in — as we were reminded repeatedly — a couple-thousand-page piece of legislation. (9)

What’s more, the thing is working. (10)I mean, part of what’s bizarre about this whole thing is we haven’t had a lot of conversation about the horrors of Obamacare because none of them come to pass. (11)You got 16 million people who’ve gotten health insurance. The overwhelming majority of them are satisfied with the health insurance. It hasn’t had an adverse effect on people who already had health insurance. (12)The only effect it’s had on people who already had health insurance is they now have an assurance that they won’t be prevented from getting health insurance if they’ve got a preexisting condition, (13)and they get additional protections with the health insurance that they do have.

The costs have come in substantially lower than even our estimates about how much it would cost. Health care inflation overall has continued to be at some of the lowest levels in 50 years. (14)None of the predictions about how this wouldn’t work have come to pass.(15)

And so I’m — A, I’m optimistic that the Supreme Court will play it straight when it comes to the interpretation. (16)And, B, I should mention that if it didn’t, Congress could fix this whole thing with a one-sentence provision. (17)

Wow, that’s even worse that I thought. Have there been more dishonest, deceptive, irresponsible statements by a President of the United States? Maybe. I don’t see how there could have been one that was much worse, though.

I’ll try to be brief, or else this will be a book. The numbers correspond to the bolded sections above… Continue reading

Unethical Quote Of The Month: The White House, a.k.a. President Obama

“Today, two judges of the Fifth Circuit chose to misrepresent the facts and the law. The president’s actions were designed to bring greater accountability to our broken immigration system, grow the economy and keep our communities safe. They are squarely within the bounds of his authority, and they are the right thing to do for the country.”

—-White House spokeswoman, Brandi Hoffine, relaying the White House’s response to the Fifth Circuit’s refusal to lift the injunction blocking President Obama’s dubious plan to defer deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants, using executive order rather than legislation.

The bottomless pit of miserable White House tactics...

The bottomless pit of miserable White House tactics…

There appear to be no depths of unethical rhetoric to which the Obama White House is not willing to stoop for political gain.

The wording of the White House statement is unethical: despicable, irresponsible, and offensive to the judicial system, as well as beneath the dignity of the Presidency.

Well, of most Presidencies, anyway.

The President is free, of course, to disagree with a court decision, and may say so. To imply, however, that the two judges who formed the majority in this ruling did not make their decision fairly and legitimately, but rather “chose” to misrepresent facts and law—essentially accusing them of dishonesty, is unethical to the bone. There is even an ABA Rule of Professional Conduct prohibiting such a comment as undermining “public confidence in the administration of justice.” The President is not only a lawyer, but a former law professor. He should be ashamed of himself, and we should be ashamed of him. Lawyers have been suspended for making similar statements, and he is President of the United States, whose statements are infinitely more harmful. Continue reading

Congress’s Ongoing Insider Trading Scandal


The best I can figure is that when the exposure of outrageous corruption will devastate power politicians in both parties, neither party, nor their partisan herds, nor their lackey journalist allies, see it as advantageous to look under that rock. Does anyone have a better theory? Because the fact that almost all Senators and members of Congress, and often their staffs, enrich themselves using their knowledge of what laws are about to be passed, and the fact not only is nothing being done about it, but that most of the public doesn’t even know about it and no one is working very hard to tell them, is maddening.

The latest chapter is typical of the hypocrisy and dishonesty in this long-running ethics fiasco.

In 2012, Congress passed the STOCK Act, a bill that was supposed to stop insider trading for lawmakers and their staffs. Of course, the laws making insider trading illegal should have already stopped the practice, and the ethics rules prohibited it as well with such phrases as “conflicts of interest” and “appearance of impropriety.” Lawmakers aren’t supposed to break laws, you see. No, really. They’re not!
Continue reading

Iran Letter Ethics Q and A: Senate Heroes, Blame, Trust And Captain Queeg

Question:  Are the seven GOP Senators who did not sign the Iran letter Ethics Heroes?

Answer: I almost designated them as such, but that would have been a mistake. There are too many non-heroic and even unethical reasons Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Senate Foreign Relations Chairman might have chosen to refuse to go along with their colleagues. Based on the explanations I’ve read, that seems to be the case. Collins, for example, says that she didn’t think the letter would work. Wrong answer: the reason to reject the letter is because it’s a flat-out violation of legislative limits imposed on the Constitution. Similarly, Flake says that he didn’t think the letter was necessary, whatever that means. It is also likely that some of the seven felt they could have their cake and eat it too: they want the letter to undermine U.S. diplomacy, but don’t want to take the criticism that goes with signing it.

Question: Do I blame President Obama for the letter?

Answer: A friend who is such a knee-jerking Obama enabler and excuser that it’s a miracle he can walk posted yesterday’s  Thirteen Ethics Observations On The GOP’s Letter To Iran on his Facebook page, and one of his knee-jerking friends wrote, “Typical: blame Obama.” I did not and do not blame Obama for the fact that the Republican Senators engaged in a foolish, dangerous and bright-line violation of the separation of powers, and anyone who could read the post otherwise is so deranged by bias that their faculties are impaired…or they just aren’t very bright.

I did write, and it is true, that the President shares significant responsibility for the poisonous and dysfunctional relations with the Congress that led to this fiasco. He is at the top of the government; it’s ultimately his job to make the government and the system work. Obama and his enablers reject accountability at every turn, but the unavoidable facts are that he is in charge, he took the job voluntarily, and whatever doesn’t work, including the government itself, is on his record. He never made a good faith, sincere, dedicated effort to work with the Republicans in Congress; he never worked to develop the negotiation, compromise, horse-trading, cajoling, quid pro quo skills that successful, competent Presidents have used to deal with the same levels of political opposition that he has found impossible to cope with. He took no steps to build trust in Congress, and engaged in serial conduct that was guaranteed to destroy trust, and has.

Finally, his illegal immigration executive order (the illegal accurately modifies both “immigration” and “order”) and his unilateral alterations to his own, incompetent and sloppy, health care law showed exactly the same contempt for constitutional limits as the Senate letter.

Obama is not to blame for the letter. He is absolutely and ultimately accountable for the conditions that prompted the letter and the decision to send it.

Question: Is there an ethical justification for sending the letter? Continue reading

Thirteen Ethics Observations On The GOP’s Letter To Iran

Letter to IranFrom the Washington Post:

“An already heated battle between the White House and Republicans over negotiations to curtail Iran’s nuclear program grew more tense Monday when 47 Republican senators sent a letter to Iran designed to kill any potential deal.

The White House responded by accusing the Republicans of conspiring with Iranian hard-liners, who oppose the delicate negotiations, and suggesting that their goal was to push the United States into a military conflict.”


1. The letter cannot be defended as anything other than an effort to sabotage sensitive international negotiations. As such, it is direct interference with the President’s ability to do his job. The fact that Republicans, like Israel, have abundant evidence that President Obama is likely to do that job, in this case, badly and even dangerously is no justification for this unethical, unconstitutional, arrogant and offensive act. The American people elected Obama president, and with that came the authority to conduct foreign affairs and oversee negotiations with foreign governments. The letter is wrong in every way.

2. It does not matter, and should not matter, to any American whether or not they believe that a breakdown in negotiations with Iran would be preferable and safer than the kind of deal this President is likely to produce. It does not matter. The letter is per se a breach of the separation of powers, and as precedent, endangers the nation’s entire governance structure.

3. Anyone who defends this atrocious, reckless and unprofessional conduct is fully embracing “the ends justifies the means” as a principle of democratic government.

4. If he was not aware of it and did not approve it, Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell is obligated to condemn this action, and punish all signatories,  stripping them of committee assignments related to foreign affairs.

5. He won’t. Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky)

dunce-capSenators should not intentionally set out to make the American public stupid, or to validate invalid ethical constructs. Thus this explanation of his current proposal from Sen. Rand Paul needs to be derided, and should also cause concern for anyone who thinks it’s important for the Republican party to find some leaders who are trustworthy. Paul, in the course of pushing his stillborn, grandstanding plan to use a constitutional amendment to require government bigwigs to live with the same health care laws they impose on the rest of us, said this to The Daily Caller:

“My amendment says basically that everybody including Justice Roberts — who seems to be such a fan of Obamacare — gets it too. See, right now, Justice Roberts is still continuing to have federal employee health insurance subsidized by the taxpayer. And if he likes Obamacare so much, I’m going to give him an amendment that gives Obamacare to Justice Roberts.”

See, the fact that U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refused to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional using a highly-controversial legal distinction in no way suggests that he personally “likes” it, and anyone who thinks that is what judicial opinions, especially Supreme Court Opinions, mean is shockingly ignorant of the judicial system, the legal system, the law, the role of judges in society, the Constitution, and by extension, pretty much most of the principles that give government, management and leadership any integrity or competence. The fact that such an anyone has risen to the level of U.S. Senator goes beyond shocking to terrifying. Continue reading

Ethics Alarms Lubricant 1: Jennifer Rubin on Intimidating the Supreme Court

Whatever one may think about the Constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare,” it is a difficult and complex question. Anyone who argues otherwise 1) doesn’t know what they are talking about, 2) is lying, or 3) is basing their opinion on ideological considerations rather than legal ones. The members of the Supreme Court, which must decide the question (and in fact have almost certainly decided it) do know what they are  talking about, and while they all have ideological tilts in the sense that each gravitates to a particular Constitutional philosophy, political considerations, ideas pushed by the media and the popularity of particular legislation are supposed to play no part whatsoever in their deliberations.

The degree to which the Democrats, led by President Obama, have attempted to intimidate, hector and insult the Court into deciding the case in favor of the mandate is unprecedented in my lifetime, and I think it is unprecedented period. The advocates for the law had its legal representative make their case before the Court, and by all accounts he either botched it, or didn’t have points strong enough to withstand the challenges posed by the Justices in oral argument. Fearing that their landmark legislation that was passed by a whisker will topple because of the flawed cornerstone that its architects foolishly, arrogantly and unnecessarily placed at its foundation, Democrats have been pre-emptively impugning the honesty of the Court, essentially arguing that if the law is overturned, it will only be because of political favoritism and bias. It has been a disgraceful display, and is a despicable tactic. Continue reading

White House “Ethics”: Obamacare Justifies The Means

Supreme Court protests: pointless when anyone else organizes them, unethical when the White House organizes them.

I was stunned by the news reports of the White House organizing pro-Obamacare demonstrations outside the Supreme Court, and then found myself stunned that I was stunned.

It should have been obvious to all, which includes me, that President Obama and Democratic supporters of Obamacare were so determined to pass this mess that it stopped mattering to them long ago what democratic and constitutional principles were nicked, warped, distorted and violated in the process. This should be obvious regardless of whether one likes the final product (as if anyone knows what that really is, even today—principle nicked: transparent government).

The final bill was passed with a series of legislative maneuvers that had never been mustered all in the support of one controversial bill (principle warped: process and representative democracy); it was built on an expansion of Congressional power the is either unconstitutional or a frightening slippery slope (principle distorted: individual freedom); the individual mandate was (and is) simultaneously sold to the public as not being a tax while argued to the courts as one (principle violated: honesty and integrity), the Congressional Budget Office’s verdict was obtained using accounting tricks and deceitful projections (principle nicked: fairness); and misrepresentation was the norm on both sides of the debate (principles violated: respect for the public; candor, transparency and honesty). Now that the President is already campaigning for re-election and the health care law remains his signature accomplishment—if you consider it that and not a fiasco—the White House has made it clear that, while it may not be fair to say it will stop at nothing to save it, what it won’t stop at to protect the measure is a damning indictment of its integrity.

From the New York Times, one of the few non-conservative media sources to cover the story: Continue reading