Tag Archives: corruption

Reconsidering “Lincoln,” Lincoln…And Trump

I’ve been reading a lot about Abraham Lincoln of late. A book by William Hanchett called “The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies” reminded me that while President Jackson is the closest historical match for the populist, outsider aspect of Donald Trump’s rise, the startlingly close match for the antipathy and hatred Trump has faced from the moment of his election eerily traces the experience of Abraham Lincoln.

Like Trump a minority President, Abe won only 39.8% of the popular vote but was still comfortably elected by the Electoral College. As with Trump, his opposition refused to give him a chance to govern or unify the nation, although in his case, the Democrats divided the country literally, seceding from the union before Lincoln took the oath of office. Today’s Democrats are without that option (thanks to Lincoln!), but are doing everything else in their power to undermine the elected leader. (And California, the most Democratic state, is saber-rattling about seceding.) Also like Trump, Lincoln did not concede that his lack of a popular vote majority in any way robbed him of a mandate to govern.

From the moment the election results were known, many Democrats proclaimed the election of Lincoln itself to be an act of aggression, a “declaration of war.” Many in Lincoln’s own party—even his own Attorney General—accused him, with some justification, of engaging unconstitutional measures. The Governor of New York evoked the Revolutionary War generation, saying that they would not stand for such incursions on their rights. Constitutional expert George Ticknor Curtis of Massachusetts predicted that the Lincoln Presidency would “be an end to this experiment in self-government.”

Meanwhile, pundits and critics heaped personal abuse on Lincoln, calling him grotesque, a barbarian, ” gorilla.” Diarist George Templeton Strong, whose words are so often quoted by Ken Burns in his documentary about the Civil War, called him a “yahoo.” It was said that fashionable New Yorkers would be ashamed to be seen in the presence of someone as boorish and uncultured as Lincoln;  it was rumored that he rejected handkerchiefs and “blew his nose through his thumb and forefingers, frontier-style.” As late as 1864, a New York editor wrote,

“[The President] is an uneducated boor. He  is brutal in all his habits and in all his ways. He is filthy. He is obscene. He is vicious.”

Somehow, despite this cruel barrage of ad hominem rhetoric, arguably more successful then that it would be now since the public has more knowledge of the President and can make their own observations, Lincoln persevered to meet the greatest challenges any President ever faced.

While still pondering some of the parallels with today’s relentless attacks on our current President, I watched again the 2012 Stephen Spielberg-directed film “Lincoln,” which was almost unanimously praised when it was released, and which I enjoyed a great deal when I first saw it. This time, however, “Lincoln” revealed itself as an ethics corrupter. Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Character, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Race

“The Keepers,” The Catholic Church, And Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

I began watching Netflix’s new “true crime” series “The Keepers” last night. I may not last through all seven episodes. In addition to the documentary story-telling methodology, which moves at the pace of a slug-race, the story of how unsolved murder of a Baltimore nun might  be part of  (yet another) horrific cover-up by the Catholic Church made me so angry and frustrated that I quit in the middle of the third episode. The series makes the case that the nun, Sister Catherine “Cathy” Cesnik, was killed because she was about  to reveal ongoing sexual abuse of young teenage girls by the priest running the Archbishop Keough High School for girls.

The abuse and the extent of it is not speculation. As in so many other places, the Catholic Church in Baltimore eventually paid millions in damages to multiple victims of multiple predator priests who the Church moved around the  region—so they could molest and assault new victims—rather than handing them over to law enforcement. It is hard to imagine any priest worse than Father Joseph Maskell, however, if even some of the allegations against him are true. Victims say he used student files and illicit police connections to target teenage girls who were already being sexually abused. He manipulated them using a sick combination of religion, guilt, hypnotism and intimidation, sexually abused them, and even delivered some over to members of the Baltimore police department for more abuse.

The documentary focuses on the school’s Class of ’69, though there must have been equally abused girls before and after. The conspiracy of silence began to crack in 1992, when an especially  victimized member of the class suddenly realized that she had repressed memories of horrible experiences, and finally complained to the Baltimore Archdiocese, setting off the kind of despicable Church defensive strategies too familiar to anyone who has seen “Spotlight.”

This documentary isn’t good for my state of mind. It makes me wonder not only if all is lost, but also if all wasn’t lost long ago. I was raised in a largely Catholic community. I am not religious, but as an ethicist I recognize the important, civilizing role religion has played in teaching and enforcing moral principles for the majority of the public for whom ethical analysis is too challenging. Episodes like the Father Maskell scandal raise questions that I rebuke myself for asking, like “How can this be?” “Jane Doe,” the star witness in the documentary, is still a devout Catholic. Her immediate response to every dilemma is to pray. I don’t get it. She was savaged, threatened and abused by a priest that she knows the Church allowed to prey on the vulnerable students entrusted to him. Why would she still trust the Catholic Church?

Why would anyone? Continue reading

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Filed under Arts & Entertainment, Childhood and children, Education, Gender and Sex, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Popular Culture, Religion and Philosophy, U.S. Society

In Denver, A Cautionary Tale: Absolute Devotion To Unethical Partisan Doctrine Corrupts Absolutely

All right, maybe he’s got a bad temper, but only a xenophobe wouldn’t want him as a neighbor…

Time was when this story would have made my head explode. Not any more. Progressive and Democratic fanaticism regarding the rightness of facilitating and honoring illegal immigrants has been driving that side of the ideological divide farther and farther away from reason and responsible citizenship. This, as horrible as it is, now is just one more incremental step toward madness.

The Left’s strategy of tarring all principled objections to illegal immigration as “racism” and “xenophobia” has mandated that to them all immigrants, legal and illegal, are just immigrants. Thus their furious battle to keep deserving illegal immigrants from being deported (all illegal immigrants deserve to be deported, though it is impractical at this point to do it) slides easily into a passion for preventing deserving legal immigrants from being deported. What legal immigrants—non-citizens who are U.S. visa holders and legal permanent residents do our laws and common sense dictate do not deserve to stay here? The answer is those who commit serious crimes, of course. Non-citizen aliens are guests here. When a guest in your home is caught stealing a vase, or sexually assaulting your daughter, you kick him out, and rightfully so. If America’s guests can’t respect out laws, they can’t be trusted, and if they can’t be trusted, we don’t want them here. We certainly don’t want them to become citizens.

Yet the Denver City Council agreed this week to change to local sentencing guidelines specifically to shield legal immigrants from deportation proceedings when they are convicted of domestic abuse. In a 12-0 vote, council members reduced criminal penalties for several “low-level” crimes, reducing the maximum sentence to less than 365 days in jail because under federal law, a legal alien resident who is convicted of a crime resulting in a sentence of a year or more can be deported.

Can’t have that! Continue reading

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement, Rights, This Helps Explain Why Trump Is President

We Now Have Definitive Proof That Hillary Clinton Was Engaged In Blatant, Illegal Influence Peddling

The Office of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has confirmed that Hillary Clinton, while Secretary of State,  made a personal call in March 2011 to  pressure—my sourcesays says “demand”—that Bangladesh’s prime minister  restore Dr. Muhammed Yunus, a 2006 Nobel Peace prize winner, to his previous position  as chairman of the country’s most prominent microcredit bank, Grameen Bank.  The bank’s nonprofit, Grameen America, which Yunus chairs, had donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative. (Gee, I wonder why.) 

There is a recent video of Hasina explaining this episode to her Parliament.

To be clear, it was illegal for Hillary Clinton to use her position and influence with the U.S. government to assist any donor to  her spouse’s charitable foundation, and if you really think it was just her spouse’s, I have a perpetual motion machine for sale that you might like. She also knew it was illegal. Federal ethics laws require government officials to recuse themselves from matters that have an impact on their family’s business. 

Federal laws prohibit bribes, too.

Yunus had been disqualified from serving in the position, but had illegally served anyway, and collected a salary,  for a decade past the statutory limit. After complaints were filed, he was terminated by order of the high Bangladesh court. So not only was Clinton delivering a political favor bought and paid for by a Clinton Foundation “donation,” she was asking the Prime Minister to break her own nation’s laws.

This is real, stinky, high-level, low-class corruption. There is no other way to describe it. Clinton was using her position with the U.S. government for personal profit, and abusing the public trust by doing the bidding of foreign nationals in exchange for cash. Moreover, you know and I know that this could not have been some weird one-off aberration due to Hillary’s interest in Bangladesh. If she did this once there, she did it in other instances. I cannot emphasize enough how serious conduct it is. It is as unethical, venal and dirty as public service gets.

This was your candidate, Democrats. This was your champion, feminists. This was your standard-bearer, liberals. This is the woman whose defeat has sent you into the maw of madness, progressives. Now what?

Hillary Clinton was unfit to serve by virtue of her conduct and her character; I said so for many months, and this is smoking gun evidence. I will be watching to see who among her supporters and cheering section has the integrity to admit it.

I admit: the story shocks even me.

Let’s see if the revelation by the Prime Minister makes the headlines in the news shows, the Times and the Post. Let’s see how the Clinton machine tries to spin it.

You know they will.

 

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Filed under Around the World, Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Family, Government & Politics, Law & Law Enforcement

From The “Saint’s Excuse” Files:The Catholic Church, Penn State, and Now Choate…What Have We Learned?

Protect the hive. Always protect the hive…

The renowned private boarding school school Choate Rosemary Hall, alma mater of such luminaries as John Dos Passos, Edward Albee, Glenn Close, multiple Kennedys and dozens more of the rich, famous and powerful, , just revealed that at least twelve former teachers had sexually molested, and in one case, raped, students without the crimes being reported to police. The pattern continued over decades. In some cases, teachers were allowed to resign after being confronted with evidence of abuse, and administrators wrote still letters of recommendations for them after they were fired. The predators then went to other schools, sometimes in positions of power and authority.

After the similar institutional conduct revealed by the Catholic Church and Penn State, does anyone believe that this is a rare occurrence in institution, including the most prestigious—and virtuous!—ones? The lesson is that established, powerful, iconic institutions are programmed to protect themselves above others, and regard their own missions and continued vitality more precious than any single individual, even a child.

Revisiting one of the most important of the Ethics Alarms’ 92 rationalizations:

13. The Saint’s Excuse: “It’s for a good cause”

This rationalization has probably caused more death and human suffering than any other. The words “it’s for a good cause” have been used to justify all sorts of lies, scams and mayhem. It is the downfall of the zealot, the true believer, and the passionate advocate that almost any action that supports “the Cause,’ whether it be liberty, religion, charity, or curing a plague, is seen as being justified by the inherent rightness of the ultimate goal. Thus Catholic Bishops protected child-molesting priests to protect the Church, and the American Red Cross used deceptive promotions to swell its blood supplies after the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Saint’s Excuse  allows charities to strong-arm contributors, and advocacy groups to use lies and innuendo to savage ideological opponents. The Saint’s Excuse is that the ends justify the means, because the “saint” has decided that the ends are worth any price—especially when that price will have to be paid by someone else.

Continue reading

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Filed under Business & Commercial, Childhood and children, Education, History, Law & Law Enforcement, Leadership, Philanthropy, Non-Profits and Charity, Religion and Philosophy

How To Rehabilitate An Ethics Corrupter

I guess most people no longer even notice this kind of thing, but it drives me crazy, and will continue to until I am, in fact, crazy.

There is no doubt: Donna Brazile is an ethics corrupter. With the complicity of mainstream media elite and her cocktail party pals, she has for years been falsely represented to audiences on various public affairs shows and “round tables” as an honest and trustworthy political analyst, when in fact she is a paid operative of the Democratic Party. This has been true since she was the campaign manager for Al Gore’s failed Presidential bid. It is deception every time she is introduced on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” as anything else but a paid agent of the Democratic party. Since her opinion isn’t merely biased but paid for, presenting her as an authority or a pundit is misrepresentation, and intentionally so.

During the last campaign, Brazile revealed her character by using a position with CNN (that never should have been offered, given her known loyalties) to help Hillary Clinton cheat in a town hall and a debate against Bernie Sanders. She cheated. Her cheating was revealed in the e-mails hacked on John Podesta’s e-mail account, but Brazile lied about it when confronted with the evidence, implying that the e-mails were fabricated. Later, after that deception flopped spectacularly, she said that she was “proud” of cheating for Clinton, and regretted nothing.

To sum up, we know, and the media knows, that Donna Brazile is a corrupt partisan, who is eager to misrepresent herself and reality, and cheat when necessary to win for her clients. She should never be presented as an independent, objective, honest or trustworthy commentator or authority. Never. Her presence stands for the unethical propositions that the ends justify the means, and that the Left must prevail even if doing so requires cheating and lies.

Ah, but Donna is one of the gang in Washington, good people, don’t you know, so her journalist pals and the news media are working hard to make Donna acceptable again. Thus I see this headline at “The Hill”:

Brazile: Sending Clinton town hall topics ‘mistake I will forever regret’

Drudge takes the hand-off, and links to the story like this..

DONNA SEEKS REDEMPTION: REGRETS LEAKED QUESTION…

ABC, next to CNN the network that has most shamelessly passed off Brazile as trustworthy commentator, headlined the story,

Donna Brazile: Passing debate questions to Clinton camp ‘a mistake I will forever regret’

FACT: Donna Brazile has never said, implied or stated that she regrets cheating on Clinton’s behalf. Never. Yet these are the headlines of stories that desperately attempted to convince the public that the opposite is the case.

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Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

The Strange Story Of How Alabama Corruption Threatens To Infect The U.S. Senate

That's Senator Starnge on the right, and Governor Dormammu on the left...

That’s Senator Strange on the right, and Governor Dormammu on the left…

Personally, I love the idea of Congress having a “Senator Strange.” The movie almost writes itself, with a Senator who has magic powers and who says things like “By the Hoary Hordes of Hogarth! Point of order!”

But not like this.

Now bear with me. This is a complicated story and will take a while, but as Keven Costner says to James Earl Jones (as Terrance Mann) in “Field of Dreams,” “It’s a good story.”

And a really, really strange one, in more ways than one..

When the Senate confirmed Jeff Sessions as U.S. Attorney General in hearings that may be best remembered as the time Elizabeth Warren earned the fawning admiration of feminists by behaving like a mean-spirited jerk, it meant that Alabama’s Republican governor got to appoint his successor. There wasn’t much discussion in the news media about who this might be, because it’s hard for journalists to inform the public properly when it is concentrating on bringing down the President, per the orders of their Eldritch Progressive Masters—sorry, I’ve got Dr. Strange stuff rattling around in my brain now—but there was some interesting speculation in Alabama.

You see,  Republican Governor Robert Bentley is fighting to avoid  impeachment as the result of a sex scandal, and one that called his honesty into question as well.

An official fired by Bentley alleged that the Governor had engaged in an extramarital affair with his senior political adviser, Rebekah Caldwell Mason. An audio recording surfaced in which Bentley told a woman named “Rebekah” that he “worr[ied] about loving you so much” and that “[w]hen I stand behind you, and I put my arms around you, and I put my hands on your breasts […] and just pull you real close. I love that, too.” At a press conference, Bentley apologized for the comments but denied having an affair and stated that his relationship with Mason was purely platonic.

Sure. Continue reading

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Filed under U.S. Society