The Rich Are Always Right … Right?

Idiot of the Week medalBefore I start, look at the picture of Newt Gingrich above and tell me … what the heck is he wearing?  Is it a Batman cape, or is he unable to button his jacket around his waist?  Or perhaps his momma never taught him the right way to wear his suit jacket?  Curious.

In July, I awarded former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich my coveted Idiot of the Week award.  Today, Mr. Gingrich remains as much an idiot as ever, proving yet again that Filosofa knows how to pick ’em!

In anticipation of the fact that Donald Trump and his staff are highly likely to march to their own drummer, play by their own rules, Mr. Gingrich, no doubt after much serious thought, has come up with a solution:  change the ethics laws!  So simple, right?

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 is a United States federal law that was passed in the wake of the Nixon Watergate scandal and the related ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ (Nixon’s dismissal of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, and as a result the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus on October 20, 1973, during the Watergate scandal.) It created mandatory, public disclosure of financial and employment history of public officials and their immediate families. It also created restrictions on lobbying efforts by public officials for a set period after leaving public office. Last, it created the U.S. Office of Independent Counsel, tasked with investigating government officials.

U.S. ethics laws cover a wider range of issues, including bribery, conflict of interest, impartiality, supplementation of federal salary, nepotism, and more.

Gingrich’s rationale for changing the ethics laws?  Donald Trump’s wealth. In his mind, I suppose, the rich are special and laws should be changed to accommodate them.  I call BULLSHIT! 

trump-bad-pic-2“We’ve never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work. We’re going to have to think up a whole new approach. In the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon. It’s a totally open power. He could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules.’ Period. Technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.”

American University government professor James Thurber said, “Speaker Gingrich’s statement that wealth trumps the rule of law, basically that’s what he was saying, is jaw-dropping. I can’t believe it. He’s a historian. He should also know that we did not want to have a king. A king in this case is somebody with a lot of money who cannot abide by the rule of law.”

Richard Painter, a former George W. Bush White House ethics lawyer, said Gingrich was off on his reading of the Constitution. “If the pardon power allows that, the pardon power allows the president to become a dictator, and even Richard Nixon had the decency to wait for his successor to hand out the pardon that he received for his illegal conduct. We’re going down a very, very treacherous path if we go with what Speaker Gingrich is saying, what he is suggesting.”

Newt Gingrich always looks hungry.Gingrich himself has reason to oppose existing ethics laws, as he ran afoul of them in 1997, when as Speaker of the House, he was fined $300,000 by the House Ethics Committee for using poor judgment in his conduct. He engaged in tax fraud using tax-exempt organizations to finance the spread of his conservative political philosophy via distributed films of a college course he was teaching entitled “Renewing American Civilization.”  The most serious charge examined by the Ethics Committee was an allegation that Gingrich intentionally provided inaccurate and unreliable information in two letters to the panel in an attempt to win a quick dismissal of the ethics case. Gingrich placed the blame on his staff and lawyer for the inaccurate and unreliable submissions. It marked the first time in the history of Congress that a House Speaker has received a reprimand for unethical conduct.

But back to present day.  Gingrich’s suggestion that the ethics laws be changed to accommodate Trump, and that Trump use his ‘pardon pen’ to forgive any moral or ethical wrongdoing by his minions is beyond ludicrous.  Ethics is defined as “moral principles that govern a person’s or group’s behavior.” It seems to me that those ethics ought not be different based on how much money one has in the bank.  It reeks of classism and sets a precedent that we can ill afford.  Sorry, Newt, but Donnie, Jeff, Steve and all the rest need to play by the same rules those who came before them have had to play by.  Otherwise, those of us who believe that “all persons are created equal” are going to scream FOUL so loud that you will hear it all the way down there in the Peach State!

13 thoughts on “The Rich Are Always Right … Right?

  1. Dear Jill and friends,

    DT and his team keep talking about how difficult it is to divest himself from his vast empire. This is not a true statement. There are competent, decent folks out there who could act as a trustee. But this means he would have to act in a manner that is completely above board. Now that could be a problem for DT.

    Hugs, Gronda

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  2. Sometimes I think England gets along much better because we don’t have a written constitution. That means lawyers and politicians can’t argue about what’s constitutional and what isn’t. Mostly we just muddle along in the same old way we have done for the last thousand years, and that seems to work for us. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • You may be right. You guys have much more experience at it than our short tenure. I just wonder if our current problems are going to lead us to a civil war, as it seems the rifts and divides are growing day by day. Hugs, Jack … and in case I don’t get another chance before Sunday … Merry Christmas!

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  3. Jill, as someone who has been around the block more than a few times, a rule of thumb is beware of any legislator who wants to change the rules. This is especially true with ethics laws. You correctly cite the Saturday Night Massacre where Nixon ordered Richardson to fire his special prosecutor Cox, who resigned under pressure, then fired Ruckeshuas, when he refused to fire. The other name in this mess is Robert Bork who ended up firing folks. Bork later came up for the Supreme Court, but was voted down, my guess, in part due to his role here.

    Gingrich uses his history to his advantage, but often times leaves out a lot of context and history that runs counter to his argument. He seems to conveniently forget he was having an affair when he was mortified that Bill Clinton was as well. Neither one showed their finest in the regard.

    Back to the wealthy, I like to reference a study done jointly by the University of Toronto and University of California at Berkeley which surprised everyone. Through a series of games and tests, they found significant differential in the propensity to cheat the wealthier you are. The tests ranged from ceding the right of way, eating cookies left for kids, not returning incorrect change in your favor, dice cheating, etc. The propensity to cheat was twice as great for people of wealth. What was equally interesting, even with fake money in a rigged Monopoly (one person got 2 x the amount for passing “go” and had two dice to one for the opponent, the winner would dictate to the loser throughout the game in obvious condescending tones. When the roles were switched, the same thing happened.

    This does not mean all rich people cheat. The point is there is a greater propensity to do so than those who are not rich, which flies in the face of Gingrich’s argument. We should have more rules rather than fewer. And, if that does not convince you, I have consulted with many CEOs and leaders. I have come across some very egalitarian leaders, but I have also come across some of the greediest SOBs you will ever encounter. It does not take long to recognize is this leader looking out for all or himself. Or, as one minister of church said to us, “Your job is to look after the shepherd, the Lord will look after the flock.” That is a direct quote.

    Sorry for the soapbox, Keith

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    • Never apologize for the soapbox, Keith! Your comments are always enlightening and appreciated! Yes, I did forget about Bork … the whole Watergate scandal was, much as today’s Trump scandal, so filled with evil-doers, idiots, and so multi-faceted. Just like today, one struggled to keep up with the latest. I find the study you referenced to be very interesting! Not at all surprising, but certainly it validates what I have long believed … that the wealthy, overall, feel a sense of entitlement. You know what’s interesting, though? It seems, and this is based solely on personal observation, that the ones who inherited their wealth are the ones with the attitude of entitlement more so than those who started with little or nothing and worked hard all their lives. Those who earned their wealth, seem to be more ‘down-to-earth’, more humanitarian, and more willing to share what they have. Trump did not earn his wealth … he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, so to speak. Thanks again for your comments … you contribute much and I always learn from you!

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      • Jill, I would agree with your anecdotal assessment. I have met very down to earth people who you would not know were worth a fortune. It does seem to be an attribute more associated with the nouveau riche.

        Here is a funny, true story. Belonging to Augusta National Country Club (where The Masters is played) is quite exclusive. A few older members were playing cards and a new member who had a high sense of self wanted to join the game. When he learned they were playing with only dollars, he had a fit and said let’s play for some real money! He was making a spectacle of himself and irritating these very wealthy men.

        Finally, one asked the insistent younger man, how much are you worth? The guy said about $10 million. The older man said, OK, let’s cut the cards for that amount. The younger man walked away with his tail between his legs.

        Take care, Keith

        Liked by 1 person

    • Bozzaroworld! I like that … not the place, but the term. And I have marked your words … I’m sure they will come back to haunt us soon and often over the next year, until the head Bozzo can be successfully impeached! 🙂

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  4. If you’re serious, he’s wearing a raincoat which can be buttoned up to the neck using the lapels. In his case it’s undone and the lapels are loose. I’m sure he thinks it’s his cape of power though.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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