A Presidents Day Encore: “How Julia Sand Saved A President And Changed The Nation”

Chester Arthur and Julia

I’m pretty sick of U.S. Presidents and Presidential history at the moment, so for my own state of mind and perhaps yours, I’m re-posting a 2015 article about my favorite story about a President ever. Here it is…

In my overview of the U.S. presidency (the four parts are now combined on a single page under “Rule Book” above), I noted that our 21st President, Chester A. Arthur, was one of my personal favorites and an Ethics Hero. He confounded all predictions and his previous undistinguished background, not to mention a career marked  by political hackery and toadying to corrupt Republican power broker Roscoe Conkling, to rise to the challenge of the office and to effectively fight the corrupt practices that had elevated him to power. Most significantly, he established the Civil Service system, which crippled the spoils and patronage practices that made the Federal government both incompetent and a breeding ground for scandal.

I did not mention, because I did not then know, the unlikely catalyst for his conversion. Recently a good friend, knowing of my interest in Arthur, his tragic predecessor, James Garfield, and presidential assassinations sent me a copy of Destiny of the Republic, the acclaimed history of the Garfield assassination and its aftermath by Candace Millard. It’s a wonderful book, and while I knew much of the history already, I definitely did not know about Julia Sand. Her tale is amazing, and it gives me hope. If you do not know about Julia and Chester, and it is not a well-known episode, you should.

Continue reading

Was Rush Limbaugh A Worthy Recipient Of The Medal Of Freedom Award?…Epilogue

I am doing this for my own sanity. After I researched the post about Rush, I couldn’t stop thinking about the figures who have not received Medals of Freedom. If you think about it, it will drive you crazy too. The honor is now self-defining, like all such honors—the Mark Twain Award and the Kennedy Center Awards come to mind.

The sequence in the post that asked “Why Robert De Niro  and not, say, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman or Dustin Hoffman? Why Loretta Lynn and not Johnny Cash? Why Stephen Sondheim and not Jerry Herman? Why Chita Rivera and not Rita Moreno? Why Vin Scully and not Ernie Harwell?” did it to me. President Trump has entered the realm of post mortem MOF honors, for Elvis (if Elvis, why not Buddy Holly?)and Babe Ruth (If Babe, why not…well, there really isn’t anyone like Babe Ruth). I have no problem with either of them: they are clearly cultural icons who changed America. But once we open the doors to the past, there are thousands of important Americans who haven’t been honored.

Every President from Kennedy on has been awarded a medal (JFK,  LBJ and Bush I posthumously) except Nixon and Bush II.  If dead Presidents are eligible, then where’s Washington? Adams? Jefferson? Madison? Lincoln? FDR? Truman? Ike? Teddy? Trump can make progressives’ heads explode by giving the Medal to Andrew Jackson. He can have a ball with this. Continue reading

The Resistance Thinks This Is Appropriate Political Humor. This Tells Us All We Need To Know About The Resistance [UPDATED]

After the shooting of  Rep. Giffords in Tucson, Democrats and the news media attempted to blame the tragedy on the “eliminationist rhetoric” used by Republicans, citing Sarah Palin’s use of cross-hairs on an electoral map to point to Democrats being targeted for defeat. At one point, CNN’s John King even chastised a guest for using the term ‘”in the crosshairs” in talking about the candidates. “We’re trying, we’re trying to get away from that language,” King solemnly inveighed.  “Andy is a good friend, he’s covered politics for a long time, but we’re trying to get away from that kind of language.”

Eighteen months later, the producers of “Game of Thrones” thought it was a hilarious inside joke to place a model of George W. Bush’s head  on a pike in one scene showing multiple severed heads.. Alluding to his beheading was wonderful, at least to Hollywood liberals. Putting Obama’s head on a pike would have been, of course, unthinkable, and proof of racism.

I wrote at the time,

“Criticism, satire and humor regarding any U.S. President, living or dead, is fair, ethical and within the realm of the freedom of expression that makes America great. Incivility, disrespect, denigration, hate and incitements to violence directed against any President, living or dead, is wrong. However any of these men performed in office, whether their policies were popular or not and whatever the consequences, good or bad, of their decisions were, every one of them was a patriot and a public servant who made significant sacrifices to attempt to meet the challenges of the most difficult job in the nation, and to do what he thought was in the best interests of the nation. Eight of the 44—that’s 18%—were shot at. Five of the 44—-11%—were shot, and four of them died.  The acceptance of the responsibility of the President is itself an act of courage. Evoking the intentional killing of a U.S. President in any context is irresponsible, and to mock a former and living President in the manner of barbarians and terrorists of other lands, to treat him as the terrorists treated Nick Berg, is as offensive an act of disrespect as I can imagine.”

Now Kathy Griffin, who hosts New Year’s Eve for CNN, has posed for the photograph above. I’m sure the “resistance”—you know, like Hillary—thinks it’s just hilarious, and that Griffin is getting high-fives from her pals at the network and Hollywood.

These are objectively hateful, ugly, irresponsible people, and their depravity becomes deeper and sicker almost daily. They really think behaving this way toward the nation’s elected leader will return them to power. In that belief, they are insulting all of us.

UPDATE: I almost forgot: this is the second controversy over beheaded Trump art. In half of one year in one term, Trump has been graphically murdered twice, while no other President since Lincoln had been beheaded in any high profile forum once.

Unethical Quote of the Week: Thomas Jefferson

 “Brought from their infancy without necessity for thought or forecast, [blacks] are by their habits rendered as incapable as children of taking care of themselves, and are extinguished promptly wherever industry is necessary for raising young. In the mean time they are pests in society by their idleness, and the depredations to which this leads them.”

—-Thomas Jefferson, quoted in a new book, “Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves,” by historian Henry Weincek. Jefferson wrote this in 1819, 43 years after the Declaration of Independence, in response to a request for support from a family friend who was taking his own slaves to freedom. Jefferson refused, and this was part of his response.

Great writer. Great philosopher. Bad man.

I have been working on a post on the topic of Presidential character, a lifetime study for me, as a rebuttal of a post on the Daily Caller titled, “Why Good Men Don’t Become President?” Good men do become President; in fact, almost all of the men who have become President were or are good men, Barack Obama included. Leaders, however, are a peculiar breed of good men, since leadership itself requires a different priority of virtues than other roles. Those who do not understand or appreciate leadership, and I believe that the author of that article does not, often conclude that leaders are necessarily bad.

Thomas Jefferson, I submit, was one of the few bad men who did become President. Continue reading

Unethical Quote of the Month: The Producers of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”

“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can’t afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former President and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”

—– David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the producers of HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” explaining how a replica of former President George W. Bush’s head came to be placed on a pike in one episode. HBO had previously apologized for the display as “in very bad taste.”

Stay classy, Hollywood.

I detest public lies that the liars know nobody in their right mind will believe, as they are insulting, dishonest (obviously) and degrade the culture by sending the message that lying is just a game., and being a liar is nothing to be ashamed of. I also detest fake forced apologies, in which  individuals have been ordered by some authority to issue mea culpas or else, and the result is  apologies so insincere that they border on parody.

This statement by the producers of “Game of Thrones,” then, is especially objectionable, because it meets both criteria. Continue reading

Dear President Obama: Show Some Respect. President Hayes Earned It.

We're sorry, President Hayes. He doesn't know what he's talking about.

One of the many deplorable tendencies of the previous Democratic President was to use the memories, reputations and good names of his predecessors as props to deflect criticism for his own slimy and irresponsible conduct and lies. A standard feature of Bill Clinton’s “everybody does it” defense during his Monica travails was to have his surrogates, like the shameless Lanny Davis, mouth that Bill was no different from other Presidents who used the power of their office to cheat on their wives and exploit other women. Since it wasn’t too ennobling for this tactic to rely on the two most indisputable examples of Presidential sexual excess–Jack Kennedy being a (false) Democratic icon and a misogynist, and Warren G. Harding being the U.S.’s worst or next to worst President ever (depending upon your opinion of James Buchanan, President Clinton allowed his lapdogs to accuse FDR (who as a paraplegic was almost certainly incapable of anything but an illicit affair of the heart), and Dwight Eisenhower, whose supposedly adulterous relationship with his female driver in World War II is 1) unconfirmed rumor only and 2) has nothing to do with his conduct as President. The last time I respected Chis Matthews was when he reprimanded a Clinton surrogate for raising the Ike story, calling it—correctly—an outrageous slur on a great American patriot  to try to excuse Clinton’s inexcusable conduct.

It is disheartening to see President Obama displaying a similar lack of respect and deference for his White House predecessors. Every one of the men who served in the office of President performed a great service at significant personal sacrifice in a job both impossible and dangerous. If anyone is obligated to give these men appropriate respect, it should be the current President, whoever it is. But just as President Obama has set new records for blaming his immediate predecessor for problems deep into his own term, he has shown a Clintonian willingness to trash a past President  for his own purposes.

This would be despicable if the denigration had a basis in fact. Obama’s slur on the 19th President, Rutherford B. Hayes, however, has none. Continue reading