Tag Archives: Ethics

Bob McDonnell Gives Ingratitude a Bad Name

No, that's not Maureen & her daughter. It's the official 1st Lady portrait.

No, that’s not Maureen & her daughter. It’s the official 1st Lady portrait.

The Bob & Maureen McDonnell corruption trial is not proving to be the unmitigated disaster for the McDonnell family that I first assumed. As the trial continues Maureen is looking more and more like her official portrait, currently on display at the Richmond Salvation Army Store.

She can’t do anything about the age difference — the youngster in Maureen’s “First Lady” portrait appears to be graduating from college next fall — but the size differential is rapidly closing. There’s nothing like the Federal Corruption Trial Diet to help remove those unwanted pounds that appear barnacle–like over the years.

A few more weeks in the courthouse and Maureen will be down to her fighting weight, which may come in handy if she’s sentenced to hard time.

The McDonnell saga, which in many ways represents the typical I–won–the–lottery–and–blew–it–all story has been invaluable for those who write. If you’re interested in brushing up on the whole story here are the relevant columns:

Politicians and their lack of will power when it comes to gifts are here.

The McDonnell family’s descent into a life of dependency in the governor’s mansion is here.

And why Bob McDonnell should have resigned as governor is here.

The prosecution has now rested its case and regardless of whether or not McDonnell is guilty, the picture painted of the family is only flattering if you compare them to the Kardashians.

Trial testimony left out the thousands of dollars it cost when the McDonnell kids raided the mansion’s pantry to take food to college. (That was only tax dollars and everyone knows those are free.) Instead the trial focused on what Jonnie R. Williams showered on the governor. There is the $20,000 shopping tab Maureen ran up on her New York City shopping trip that was chaperoned by Williams. His unintentionally funny description of the outing into Women’s Territory warmed the heart of every husband who’s sat bored on a mall bench outside a clothing store as the women shopped and the credit card smoked: “It went on for hours.”

Then there is the brand new set of golf clubs, golf bag with the UVA logo and golf shoes given to Bobby McDonnell who thought the give was “excessive” but not so excessive that he sent it back. In fact he and his father and brother played multiple rounds of golf and charged hundreds of dollars in green fees, caddy fees, food and golf accessory purchases to Williams during 2011 and 2012.

There’s even a rumor they tried to flag down Marine One and invite Obama to join the threesome.

The haul from the Jonnie Williams ATM was so extensive the WaPost designed an excellent graphic that shows whom got what that you can find here. Weddings were profit centers, the family was showered with plane tickets, a trip to Cape Cod, the Final Four (ironic that, because McDonnell’s governor term was the final four years of his political career), Florida, another golf bag, flights on private planes, a watercolor and a turkey dinner (wait, sorry, that was Ken Cuccinelli’s thanksgiving gratuity from Williams). And since the McDonnells were good conservatives they would NEVER stoop to taking an Obamaphone, but they did pocket two Williams’ iPhones.

The mental image one has after reading the list is of the Beverly Hillbillies living it up in their new California mansion, but that’s completely unfair to the Clampetts, because they were using their own money.

Now that the prosecution’s story of Rent–A–Politician has concluded, the defense strategy is two–fold. First Maureen is a maniac who had hot pants for Williams and hid everything from her husband. She was the mastermind behind the plot to trade official support for Williams’ patent medicine product, Anatabloc, in return for Williams making the McDonnells his foster children.

My favorite story involving Maureen is from the WaPost and it concerns her efforts to sell Mitt Romney on the diet supplement during a trip to South Carolina. Now I’ve seen Mitt’s legs and they are about the size of a pipe cleaner, so Maureen’s instincts were good. Mitt could use some bulking up.

Staffers sensing a disaster put a stop to that plan, but they couldn’t intercept Mrs. McDonnell before she cornered Ann Romney on the campaign bus, where Maureen’s pre–trial bulk made it impossible for Mrs. Romney to escape.

Exhibiting her usual tact and concern for the feelings of others, Maureen blurted to Ann that Williams’ Anatablock was so great it could “potentially cure MS.” Ann Romney —who no doubt had a few choice words for the advance staff after the event — has multiple sclerosis, so the sales pitch was vulgar, insensitive and fit Maureen as snugly as one of Williams’ free designer dresses.

Or as McDonnell political advisor Phil Cox said on the stand, “I was horrified. I thought it was a train wreck.”

Bob’s defense is different. He’s not crazy, but he may be the biggest ingrate in Commonwealth history. Big Watch Bob’s story is reciprocation is not a word in his vocabulary. He accepted $120,000.00 in no–doc loans to shore up his failing real estate investments, wore the Rolex, presided over the acceptance of the other thousands of dollars in booty and did absolutely NOTHING in return for Williams.

He just sent all William’s calls to voice mail where they died a lingering death. It would have made more sense for Williams to forget the McDonnells and hire a lobbyist, but come to think of it 120K probably wouldn’t be enough to hire a Hamas spokesman.

As far as strategies go this is a variation of the Viet Nam defense: We destroyed the reputation in order to save it.

And just to make sure there was no doubt as to McDonnell’s ingratitude the WaPost writes, “In the afternoon, defense attorneys presented a parade of former McDonnell cabinet secretaries to testify to all the things McDonnell could have done to assist Williams and his company. In turn, each witness agreed that McDonnell never took those actions.”

In other words don’t loan Bob your lawnmower with the expectation that you can borrow his rake later.

I can see the fun couple’s social life drying up the longer the trial continues. Who wants to host a couple that will never return the favor and might ask you to take them to the mall before they leave?

Ingratitude as a get–out–of–jail strategy can’t be helping fund raising for McDonnell’s legal defense. (Lawyers are something else for which McDonnell doesn’t deign to pay.) If a signature loan for 120K doesn’t warm the cockles of Bob’s heart when he’s facing foreclosure, what is your measly 5K for lawyers going to achieve?

Holes: A mother’s love of son and country

“Doc, send my uniform to my mom. She’ll fix ‘em for me,” once said, was all the breathe that young soldier had left in him.

Major Daniels honored that soldier’s last request. He and a sergeant removed the uniform in silence. They set the pants and top across chair backs to let the blood dry out. It would take some time to let that much of a soak be ready for sending to the soldier’s mother.

No one wanted to believe in war. So untouched as the country was by it for so long. Sure, soldiers came home from war all the time. Plenty of conflicts and fighting, over there. But in the streets and towns of America, no, who would have thought so?

But it happened anyway. While plucking at the rose petals of freedom, the Federals had finally grasped a thorn. Once orders were given to use armed drones on citizens within the States all hell broke loose.

There were minor militias in the field across the country for both sides. Federal forces were of course the better armed and trained, in the beginning anyway. Militia backup for the federals were nothing but untrained, undisciplined thugs from the streets, looking to set their wrath upon anyone who got in the way. More in it for the pillaging ‘pay-back’ as they had been told all their lives they were due than any sense of preserving the union or patriotism. Blood was the currency.

In the Rebel ranks, all walks of life were there. Young, old. Rich, poor. Men and women. Everyone who knew what was at stake turned out in some way or another. Still, they were outnumbered. A war against them, generations in the planning had been let loose. From private to general though among the Rebel ranks, all knew it was a fight of winner-takes-all. Knowing what was at stake steeled spines as well as heated blood with courage enough to stand against those lopsided odds.

Her son’s funeral was a quiet affair. So many of her family were supports of the Federals, sending hateful letters to the mourning mother of how glad they were that her boy was dead: He was so stupid for fighting. Another brainwashed extremist as far as they were concerned, good riddance.

Those who weren’t there that loved the boy were already gone to fight or dead. As for the rest of the people who had known that young soldier, they didn’t have the time to worry about what was going on or to come to his funeral. No matter what happened those people didn’t care one way or the other, indifferent to anything other than what was on TV. As far as those kinds of people were concerned their lives were static. Nothing ever changed or would. Blissful indifference.

She stood there with her husband. He stood holding her, solid as a rock. Only his eyes told of the pain and anger ravaging within. Together the soldier’s parents stood over him, even after the grave was filled in and the workers left.

In the morning her husband left with a kiss. Rifle slung over his shoulder and a bag in hand. For a moment he stood looking back at his wife, his home of so many years. At the flag hung from his porch. Meeting his wife’s eyes- husband and wife-father and mother- both knew exactly what had to be done and were set about doing it.

Several days later a paper wrapped package came to her in the mail. Letters full of hate still came but had become a trickle. To each of those kinds of letters received she sent notes in response, notes of forgiveness. She did not return to those senders back their hate, but love instead. No easy task. She let her faith guide her pen strokes.

Feeling the softness beneath the paper wrapping she knew what was wrapped inside. Over the last year she had gotten several like it. Her son would send back uniforms and other things that needed to be mended. Some things were hard to come by anymore so an old fashioned approach was needed. Needle and thread. Frugality.

It was not her son’s handwriting on the paper she stared at from her chair at the dining room table. With great care she opened her last package of her son. She took up the uniform and sought the places to be mended.

Her heart was hard yet her fingers did their work. Threading the needle. Stitch by stitch. Her sons dried blood stained the fabric where she closed up holes. Bullet holes. Such small things.

She pricked a finger while at the last hole. One that would have been near to her son’s heart. She pressed the fingertip into the shirts stain, mixing hers and his together.

Laying out the clothes across her bed she went in to take a shower. There with the water in her face she cried aloud. Letter the spray wash away her tears as fast as they came. All that was held back against her heart she let free.

In the morning she stepped down her porch and walked to her car. She turned to look back, standing for a moment. She looked at the home she had lived for so many years. At the flag hanging from her porch. To the window upstairs that had been her son’s bedroom. A rifle slung over her shoulder and a uniform stained crimson in places scarred by careful stitches. She knew what needed to be done, and set about doing it.

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Tom is an erratic contributor to CDN. Former U.S. Army Signal Corps soldier, outspoken future Re-Education Camp intern #7-2521, world traveler, combat veteran and Author of the new books Lone WolfSucker Punched, dystopian near future America novels, and One Tough Truck (a War Story) available at Amazon.com.

 

 

A Moral Case for Capitalism

There is a pervasive attitude in academia and in the culture at large that socialists are misunderstood intellectuals and capitalists are selfish, greedy pigs. What is absent in the cultural discussion is the moral case for capitalism.

Capitalism is morally right because it is consistent with free will, individual autonomy, and human creativity; it is a more ethical basis for an economy than socialism due to its just framing of labor and reward; and lastly, when it is consistently enforced, it disperses economic means through market accountability, and impairs government coercion.

As the socialist Rudolf Hilferding observed in his criticism of the Austrian school economist Bohm-Bawerk, given that the base philosophical assumption of free market capitalism is the individual, and that of Marxism is society, this makes it nearly impossible for an intelligent conversation to emerge between the two camps.

Let us make the straightforward argument that society exists for the sake of man, and not man for the sake of society.

The instrumental rationality of socialists being that man is a means to the end of an abstract notion of society, carries with it disastrous inhumane consequences when effected, and is indeed inconsistent with free will. Frustrating the free will of human agents necessarily leads to reduced creative and productive potential. Artists, writers, and other cultural creators should never knowingly or unknowingly reinforce the collectivist values that undermine their own self-expression. Yet our artists and entertainers constantly provide support for collectivist government in the realm of values.

Government, as Rose Wilder Lane pointed out in The Discovery of Freedom, can only obstruct and restrain. Since government is by nature an institution of force, and force is inherently a relative concept, government necessarily can only empower some members of society at the expense of others.

Thus, there is a need to keep economic and political affairs separate. Free market capitalism empowers the many by giving people more say over their own lives; and by connection, leads to more creative and productive potential. The separation of political coercion from economic activity allows there to be a civil society where people can be free to speak their minds without fear of economic reprisals. People are thus accountable to the free market, or in other words, the public for their cultural creations and not to the government.

In addition, a free market economic system is more stable than a centrally planned one. Certainly, fostering those conditions that are most conducive to improving mankind’s quality of life is the most ethical. To argue against this proposition we might consider an ‘objection by mischievous assumption.’

But the latter point requires a more extended, even if glossing, discussion. The point is to show by examination that the Marxist critique is fundamentally wrong and that capitalism is clearly the better of the two systems. Indeed, it might also be shown that the two systems are diametrically opposed and incompatible at the core value level.

The philosophical foundation of rationality, quite necessary to harness the gains of the empirical method of science, led to man ascending from the darker ages of mysticism, feudalism, and superstition to the modern era of scientific progress and the undeniable improvement in mankind’s quality of life. But the socialist wants our human relations to revert back to those of a pre-modern society, where we live as a tribe in deference to our government chieftains. As an additional insult, they label such an agenda “progressive.”

So the argument goes that man will ineluctably be led to a brighter tomorrow by removing the philosophical foundations on which modern civilization stands? An untenable proposition and one that must be discarded.

The important thing to remember about free market capitalism is that no one person is needed to “devise it” or “run it.” What you need is to protect individual rights, enforce property rights, and allow people to produce and trade, which they will naturally do. The job then is to keep the currency sound, so transactions are transparent to all buyers and sellers, and stable, so people can save without being penalized.

Indeed, by securing sound currency and a stable economic environment, man can plan his future on solid footing. In such a world,  productivity would be rewarded with increase, while foolishness would be met with ruin, and laziness with want.

How ethical is your state?

The results of the State Integrity Investigation, a joint effort by The Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International, were released today. Presumably to keep things relatively simple, grades were given to each state on an A through F scale. Now, not to keep everyone in suspense, no one did well. There wasn’t a single state that earned an “A” grade in this investigation.

PA State Capitol

PA State Capitol - Jim Bowen (CC)


It should go without saying, there is no “Bell Curve” on this test. While it’s likely that this will go the way of many other stories telling us what we already know – that government is corrupt – this one offers a slightly different outcome. Sure, you can visit the site and see the report card broken down by state. You can even take advantage of the social options on the site, to discuss the results.

But the big deal on this site is arguably the categories page. For now, there’s not a lot of content on these pages. But this is where the people who are bothering to post suggestions on how to improve government are going. While it’s likely that there may be some infantile rants showing up on this site, so far, it is looking like it will be a place that voters should be telling their State officials to visit.

Bottom line is that while this study website might turn out to be useful as a clearinghouse for ideas about government reform, it’s unlikely to make too much of a difference. And as for the results on the study, didn’t we already know that we have corrupt state governments? Does it really do us any good to have a better idea just how corrupted they really are? Only time will tell.

Politics: Today’s Top Ten Oxymorons

The word oxymoron is defined by Bing dictionary as being, an “expression with contradictory words:” a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect, e.g. “wise fool” or “legal murder”. (fools are not considered to be wise people and murder is never “legal”)

Number 10 on the oxymoron list comes to us via the group of 2012 GOP Presidential candidates, in the form of Rick Santorum. While Santorum is mainly running on the platform of being the non-Romney conservative alternative, an oxymoron has been used to better describe Mr. Santorum’s Senatorial voting record and when we look at that record, Mr. Santorum qualifies for the Number 10 oxymoron of the day: A Big Government Conservative.

Number 9 Small Government Liberalism. This oxymoron is so outrageous that it surely sits right next to the “wise fool” oxymoron on the list of most contradictory statements ever written. Yet in California, ( the most Liberal state in the country) we see that a Mr. Matt Rozee  actually tries to pass himself off as a small government Liberal when running for Congress. He also claims to be an Executive Director at Fox in his bio. That should make those folks that criticize Fox News for appearing to veer left recently feel pretty good.

Number 8 The Public Option becomes a ludicrous example of an oxymoron, when it is being used to promote the Liberal health-care “reforms” that basically forces everyone into a government-run health-care system where the only option people end up with is the government plan, simply because the government has put all the other health insurance companies out of business. A great example of another supposed “public option” is the option to pay taxes to support our current big government debt-spenders. The phrase, “no taxation without representation” comes to mind here.  In that case you have the option to pay your taxes and shut up.. or go to prison. Unless you are a member of Congress of course, such as Claire McCaskell (D-MO), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), or current Treasury Chief Timothy Geitner. We can now add Government Motors to the list of big government tyrants and crony-capitalists who do not have to pay taxes like the rest of America.

Number 7 –  Bureaucratic efficiency. This oxymoron is self-explanatory and would seem to be some kind of joke, if this country wasn’t $16 trillion dollars in debt and headed straight off the Greek-style debt cliff, like the plunge the once-great city of Detroit is currently undertaking. When it comes to big government  bureaucratic efficiency, today’s United States Post Office  serves up a heaping helping of reality as to how efficient a once-proud and stable organization becomes when the big government meddlers of Congress get involved.

Number 6Tolerant Liberal  becomes a great example of an oxymoron when we see this video of Rep Maxine Waters most recent expose’ of Congressional hate-speech and partisanship.

Number 5 – Secret Government Talks becomes an oxymoron when big government media manipulators use it to announce the secret meetings to the entire world, as we see in the article, ridiculously titled,  Afghanistan and US in secret talks with Taliban.  Everything qualifies as a big government secret that needs to be kept from the American taxpayers today, when we look at the recent refusal of the Obama administration to allow White House officials to  appear before Congress to explain how half a billion dollars were given to the bankrupt green energy  firm Solyndra.

Number 4 –  President Obama’s numerous campaign statements that he is working to reduce deficits and debt is a form of an oxymoron that is so far out of touch with reality that it is hard to understand just how he expects the American people to believe it. For the perfect example of this, please President Obama’s Budget Buffoonery. In that article, it shows how Obama’s latest budget proposal adds trillions of dollars of debt, and makes zero cuts to big government spending, all contrary to his thousands of recent [taxpayer-funded] campaign speeches about the need to cut the deficits and lower the national debt. Barack Obma has in fact piled more debt onto the backs of future generations of Americans in 3 1/2 years than G.W. Bush did in 8 full years in office. Obama’s debt chart can be seen in this article. Obama has piled on record debt in 3 straight years,’09, ’10, and ’11 and the 2012 deficit is now projected to once again be a whopping 1.32 trillion, and which the White House underestimated by 138%! Some folks could confuse Obama’s oxymoron about cutting deficits and debt with a blatant lie, designed to win reelection and hide his Liberal debt-spending of the past 3 1/2 years.

Number 3 – Accidentally on Purpose is a good example of an oxymoron that is mainly used as a form of sarcasm today. When looking at the debt-spending of Obama in number 4 above, while claiming that he is “reducing deficits and debt” a lot of Americans have now come to the conclusion that Obama is bankrupting America accidentally on purpose.

Number 2 –  Congressional Ethics has to be considered a flaming oxymoron today, when examining the current crop of corrupto-crats in Congress which include the following “honorable civil servants.”  Rep Alcee Hastings ( D-FL) who is the impeached federal judge who was found guilty of numerous corruption charges, yet has been re-elected to serve in Congress for 19 straight years! How about he above mentioned far left radical extremist and hate-speech generator, Maxine Waters (D-CA) who lobbied the White House for TARP money for her husbands bank illegally? When it comes to Congressional Ethics, the completely discredited former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and her profiting from insider trading certainly ranks among the top ten in hypocritical hyperbole when it comes to congressional ethics.

Number 1 and the political oxymoron of the century has to go to the statement that “Barack Hussein Obama is the most gifted speaker in the history of U.S. politics,” while the only speaking the current campaigner-in-chief does in public ever since he was elected. is to read words written by other’s and inserted into a teleprompter.  While Obama might qualify as a “gifted speech reader,” reading from a teleprompter hardly qualifies him for the most gifted speaker in U.S. history award. However, it does qualify him for the oxy-moron ( pun intended) of the century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Politics: Today's Top Ten Oxymorons

The word oxymoron is defined by Bing dictionary as being, an “expression with contradictory words:” a phrase in which two words of contradictory meaning are used together for special effect, e.g. “wise fool” or “legal murder”. (fools are not considered to be wise people and murder is never “legal”)

Number 10 on the oxymoron list comes to us via the group of 2012 GOP Presidential candidates, in the form of Rick Santorum. While Santorum is mainly running on the platform of being the non-Romney conservative alternative, an oxymoron has been used to better describe Mr. Santorum’s Senatorial voting record and when we look at that record, Mr. Santorum qualifies for the Number 10 oxymoron of the day: A Big Government Conservative.

Number 9 Small Government Liberalism. This oxymoron is so outrageous that it surely sits right next to the “wise fool” oxymoron on the list of most contradictory statements ever written. Yet in California, ( the most Liberal state in the country) we see that a Mr. Matt Rozee  actually tries to pass himself off as a small government Liberal when running for Congress. He also claims to be an Executive Director at Fox in his bio. That should make those folks that criticize Fox News for appearing to veer left recently feel pretty good.

Number 8 The Public Option becomes a ludicrous example of an oxymoron, when it is being used to promote the Liberal health-care “reforms” that basically forces everyone into a government-run health-care system where the only option people end up with is the government plan, simply because the government has put all the other health insurance companies out of business. A great example of another supposed “public option” is the option to pay taxes to support our current big government debt-spenders. The phrase, “no taxation without representation” comes to mind here.  In that case you have the option to pay your taxes and shut up.. or go to prison. Unless you are a member of Congress of course, such as Claire McCaskell (D-MO), Charlie Rangel (D-NY), or current Treasury Chief Timothy Geitner. We can now add Government Motors to the list of big government tyrants and crony-capitalists who do not have to pay taxes like the rest of America.

Number 7 –  Bureaucratic efficiency. This oxymoron is self-explanatory and would seem to be some kind of joke, if this country wasn’t $16 trillion dollars in debt and headed straight off the Greek-style debt cliff, like the plunge the once-great city of Detroit is currently undertaking. When it comes to big government  bureaucratic efficiency, today’s United States Post Office  serves up a heaping helping of reality as to how efficient a once-proud and stable organization becomes when the big government meddlers of Congress get involved.

Number 6Tolerant Liberal  becomes a great example of an oxymoron when we see this video of Rep Maxine Waters most recent expose’ of Congressional hate-speech and partisanship.

Number 5 – Secret Government Talks becomes an oxymoron when big government media manipulators use it to announce the secret meetings to the entire world, as we see in the article, ridiculously titled,  Afghanistan and US in secret talks with Taliban.  Everything qualifies as a big government secret that needs to be kept from the American taxpayers today, when we look at the recent refusal of the Obama administration to allow White House officials to  appear before Congress to explain how half a billion dollars were given to the bankrupt green energy  firm Solyndra.

Number 4 –  President Obama’s numerous campaign statements that he is working to reduce deficits and debt is a form of an oxymoron that is so far out of touch with reality that it is hard to understand just how he expects the American people to believe it. For the perfect example of this, please President Obama’s Budget Buffoonery. In that article, it shows how Obama’s latest budget proposal adds trillions of dollars of debt, and makes zero cuts to big government spending, all contrary to his thousands of recent [taxpayer-funded] campaign speeches about the need to cut the deficits and lower the national debt. Barack Obma has in fact piled more debt onto the backs of future generations of Americans in 3 1/2 years than G.W. Bush did in 8 full years in office. Obama’s debt chart can be seen in this article. Obama has piled on record debt in 3 straight years,’09, ’10, and ’11 and the 2012 deficit is now projected to once again be a whopping 1.32 trillion, and which the White House underestimated by 138%! Some folks could confuse Obama’s oxymoron about cutting deficits and debt with a blatant lie, designed to win reelection and hide his Liberal debt-spending of the past 3 1/2 years.

Number 3 – Accidentally on Purpose is a good example of an oxymoron that is mainly used as a form of sarcasm today. When looking at the debt-spending of Obama in number 4 above, while claiming that he is “reducing deficits and debt” a lot of Americans have now come to the conclusion that Obama is bankrupting America accidentally on purpose.

Number 2 –  Congressional Ethics has to be considered a flaming oxymoron today, when examining the current crop of corrupto-crats in Congress which include the following “honorable civil servants.”  Rep Alcee Hastings ( D-FL) who is the impeached federal judge who was found guilty of numerous corruption charges, yet has been re-elected to serve in Congress for 19 straight years! How about he above mentioned far left radical extremist and hate-speech generator, Maxine Waters (D-CA) who lobbied the White House for TARP money for her husbands bank illegally? When it comes to Congressional Ethics, the completely discredited former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and her profiting from insider trading certainly ranks among the top ten in hypocritical hyperbole when it comes to congressional ethics.

Number 1 and the political oxymoron of the century has to go to the statement that “Barack Hussein Obama is the most gifted speaker in the history of U.S. politics,” while the only speaking the current campaigner-in-chief does in public ever since he was elected. is to read words written by other’s and inserted into a teleprompter.  While Obama might qualify as a “gifted speech reader,” reading from a teleprompter hardly qualifies him for the most gifted speaker in U.S. history award. However, it does qualify him for the oxy-moron ( pun intended) of the century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Charlie Rangel – Ethics Expert

 On Friday, December 2, 2011, Martin Bashir had Charlie Rangel on MSNBC to discuss remarks made by Newt Gingrich for suggesting those in poor neighborhoods needed greater access to jobs and a stronger work ethic.

Yes, that is the same Charlie Rangel who was censured in December, 2010, for tax evasion, including failure to pay taxes on rental income from a villa in the Dominican Republic, or to report hundreds of thousands of dollars in assets on financial disclosure forms. Ironic?

First Question

After listening to a sound clip in which Newt Gingrich makes his statement (see below), Martin Bashir asks Charlie Rangel about the remark.

Bashir asked Rangel: “As someone who represents a district in New York that includes some extremely poor neighborhoods, what’s your reaction to Mr. Gingrich? I mean, he’s suggesting poor people have no civilized habits whatsoever.”

To that question Rangel responded: “I don’t know how he receives millions of dollars as a historian when basically our nation started with poor people, the only thing going for them was hard work and hope. And this is happening throughout this country, indeed it’s happening throughout the world. The lack of sensitivity that this person has as a former member of Congress, but even more inconceivable as a leader of America and the free world, no, he just doesn’t get it.”   [emphasis mine]

Bashir’s question includes “… no civilized habits whatsoever.” I don’t find Bashir’s assertion anywhere in either Gingrich statement. But that fact did not stop Rangel from responding, nor did he ask for clarification.

Further, Rangel’s response included, “…the only thing going for them was hard work and hope.” So, Charlie, are you agreeing with Gingrich or not?

Second Question

Bashir continued, playing another Newt Gingrich sound clip (again, see below).

Bashir asked Rangel: “There he is again, talking about speaking to that preacher, advising people in the neighborhoods. Have you ever seen him strolling in your neighborhoods, in your district?”

Rangel responded: “I think we ought to make a formal invitation and see how every mother, single or married, wants the best for her child, black or white, Jew or Gentile, how hard they work during this time in order to find a job when you find five or six people looking for just one vacancy.” He continued, “And it’s so un-American and so un-Republican, this is not the Republican Party I’ve known since I’ve been involved in politics. This is a mean-spirited thing that the meaner you are, the more support you get from your party.”   [again, emphasis mine]

Gingrich Statements

Newt Gingrich’s statement: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So, they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of “I do this and you give me cash” unless it’s illegal. What if they became assistant janitors and their job was to mop the floor and clean the bathroom and you paid them?”

Newt Gingrich’s second statement: “We have to have the courage to walk into that neighborhood, to talk to that preacher, to visit that small business, to talk to that mother. And we have to have a convincing case that we actually know how to create jobs.”

The Cult of Excuse

Life is not fair. Anyone who has ever dealt with a government institution knows that government is inevitably less fair. Never the less, it is effective politics to claim that life can be made fair because fairness is undefined and carries a beloved connotation. This idea of fairness has evolved into something particularly despicable recently, a cult of excuse. The obsession with victim hood has turned victimizers into victims, and has made all excuses reasons to behave inhumanely. This has eviscerated traditional morality, something the American left has tried to do since the turn of the century along with their fascist analogs in Europe.

 

There is a very popular opinion among those on the left and some on the very far right that the attacks of September 11th 2001 were the fault of American foreign policy. This may be effective, although ignorant, as a political argument, but morally it is complete hogwash. There simply is no fault to speak of. Terrorist chose to take a particular action in order to make a political point, an action that is, no matter what the case, wrong. America had helped Bin Laden free Afghanistan from communism, Bin Laden went after the U.S. when Kuwait refused help from him and took help from the U.S. instead. Yet besides the reality of the situation, the cult of excuse took hold, ignoring all rational political and moral realities.

 

A more recent event has shown that this cult of excuse is incredibly pervasive. Three hikers were picked up by Iranian authorities in Iraq and charged with spying. When the last two were finally released, they expressed an odd opinion. Although they did admit they were held unlawfully and charged with crimes they were most certainly not guilty or capable of, they placed a majority of blame on their home country, the United States. Citing American foreign policy as the reason they were held. Factually, Iran is an oppressive regime that has committed atrocities on their own people, and their behavior is a reflection of this and a reflection of the weakness and permissiveness of America’s new foreign policy of appeasement. The moral reality of this incident is simple. Iran imprisoned three innocent people on trumped up charges, which is simply wrong. The cult of excuse is so ever present that despite knowing that Iran’s actions were inexcusable, they still showed sympathies to their captures reminiscent of Stockholm syndrome.

 

Simply put, there is no excuse for doing what is invariably wrong. Civilization relies on this concept. Yet time and again, excuses are provided for wrong doing by third parties or by the victims themselves. What this develops is a platform by which to blame something other than the individual. Individuals, being imperfect, are happy to oblige this way of thinking. While those making the excuses use the blame that should fall on the individual as a political weapon. The victimizers are obliged to victimize more, thus creating more fodder of blame to be used politically. It works out very well for politicians, civil servants and those who have something to gain from said blame, but is utter poison to society and the victimizers’ next victim.

 

Ethics? What Ethics?

House Ethics Committee Banner

The House Ethics Committee is officially known as the Committee On Standards Of Official Conduct. I wonder how many people actually know this, and really understand what that title is supposed to mean. While it is quite obvious that our government’s legislative bodies need rules and regulations under which to operate, the House Ethics Committee of today seems to be lacking … ethics.

That is not a statement I make lightly, or without some serious research to back it up.

Here we have a governing body put in charge of what I view as being similar to our military’s Code of Conduct in our House of Representatives. This committee investigates House officials, members, or employees when allegations or evidence of criminal or unethical actions surfaces. What I do find unethical here, is the fact that career politicians are serving on this powerful committee that is put in charge of deciding which career politicians to investigate, just how that investigation is carried out, and what “punishment” they recommend. This breeds partisanship right from the start, not to mention the fact that they have given themselves the power to squash any calls for investigations of corrupt politicians they so choose. How many times have we heard the chairmen of this committee announce that they have “reviewed” the allegations of misconduct, and find no wrongdoing ? Somehow I get the strong feeling that if it was the taxpayer doing the investigating instead of political cronies, the outcomes of these investigations would be quite different. For people who want us to believe that our elected officials are held to a higher standard of ethics when conducting the people’s business, these same people sure are quick in setting those standards lower when investigating their party pals or political cronies.

The list of examples that show a lack of true ethical behavior within the House Ethics Committee is longer than I could ever hope to include in this article. The Charlie Rangel debacle is the most recent one. Found guilty of 11 ethic violations, Charlie was “sentenced” to Censure by the House. This elected official, this trusted guardian of the taxpayer’s dollars, neglected to pay income taxes for several years, along with several other episodes of malfeasance and misconduct. Mr Rangel was also the Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Was he expelled from Congress? No. Did he do any jail time? No. Did he pay any fines? Not proven to us, but they did decide to actually make him pay the back taxes at some point. When we talk about ethics, we must ask ourselves why is he still a member of the people’s trusted Congress? Do not lecture we the people, on ethics and standards of conduct while Charlie Rangel is still a member of Congress, thank you.

Fast forward to this week, and my inspiration for writing this article. At TheHill.com, I ran into an article, “Ethics Committee debates hiring outside counsel for Waters investigation.”, written by Susan Crabtree that provides some good insight into this situation.

Chairman Jo Bonner- (R- Ala) apparently wants to have the ethics committee continue with the Waters investigation, (which is the Committee’s supposed main reason for existence) while Ex-Chairman Zoe Lofgren, (D-Calif) wants an outside Legal firm to handle it. First of all, since we the people demand cutting spending in Congress, I say no to the added expense of hiring someone else to do their job here. This always seems to be the solution in Congress these days, throw more tax dollars at the problem while shirking your own responsibilities and duties. No excuses please.
Secondly, if Lofgren feels there is too much partisanship and bickering within this committee for them to do their job, maybe it’s high time we replace any members who are obstructing this investigation, or do away with the committee completely? It isn’t difficult to see what is happening here. Last November, Lofgren wanted to fire the lead lawyer on the case, and he is now on administrative leave indefinitely, which also conveniently gives Lofgren an excuse for hiring an outside law firm. Bonner accused Lofgren of playing politics with the ethics process, as to her many apparent decisions to delay the trial. On and on with the childish infighting and partisanship, to the point that this investigation has ground to a halt once again.

If this was in the real world, instead of Congress, the whole committee would be fired for this type of nonsense. Millions of taxpayer dollars have already been spent on this debacle and what have we got to show for it? Nothing! No progress, no trial, no justice, nothing. This committee appears to be at a stalemate, the cause of which lies solely within the committee itself. We had the GOP take the majority in the house in 2010. Changes were supposedly coming. So what do the geniuses in our House of Representatives do to start the 112th Congress as far as the Ethics committee goes? They install the same incompetent, childish, partisan members responsible for this Waters debacle, right back onto the Ethics Committee! (Lofgren and Bonner ) Once again, the people who have proven to be the most incompetent, ineffective elected officials to serve on this committee, are put right back into a position to continue this malfeasance masquerading as an Ethics Committee !

When discussing Ethics within our Congress, Maxine Waters’ hiring practices come into also question. Meet her Chief of Staff, Mikael Moore – who also happens to be Maxine Waters Grandson. Is nepotism allowed when it comes to hiring people to work in Congress on the taxpayers dime ? Well it is supposedly against the rules when it comes to hiring spouses and siblings, yet hiring grandchildren isn’t defined under nepotism rules? Maybe Lofgren and Waters could get together and explain that one to the people? Which brings us to one last observation about our House Ethics Committee.

When reading the Rules of The Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at ethics.house.gov, we see that they have posted the rules and amendments for the 111th Congress.***
Take note that these rules were adopted on February 10th 2009, and then Amended on June 9th of 2009. They created a new set of rules, then had to change them again 4 months later. Who oversees these rule changes? Surely, it couldn’t be the very same people on this committee that have delayed and bungled the Waters investigation, possibly beyond repair? Zoe Lofgren, the Chair of this circus has now been reported to tell Minority leader Nancy Pelosi that she is too “burned out” to continue in her position as Vice-Chair of the Ethics Committee due to partisan bickering. That equates to the Ringleader of the Circus, blaming the Elephants for the closing of the show after she has almost single- handedly burned down the entire tent. Ethics? What Ethics?


Additional Sources:

* http://ethics.house.gov/About/Default.aspx?Section=3

***http://ethics.house.gov/Media/PDF/111th_Rules_Amended_June_2009.pdf