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Whatever happened to honor and integrity in America?

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All things being equal, liars and cheats have the advantage in society. People who are willing to act dishonorably can, and often do, gain the upper hand on others, most often in financial terms although it works the same in personal relationships as well. A liar can make up stories about people they want to undermine, while an honest person is forced by conscience to hew to the facts. A dishonest person can make promises in business that he or she has no intention of keeping, to the obvious disadvantage of anyone who falls victim. An honest person can’t do that. This reality would be devastating for human society if it weren’t for the fact that for thousands of years our civilization built strong disincentives against dishonesty. For centuries, cultures across the world and of every religion, have placed a powerful premium on honor and integrity. To be discovered as dishonorable, whether as a liar, a con, or a philanderer, was to bring shame to yourself, your family, and even your clan. It was that sense of shame that kept our culture intact by substantially raising the risks associated with dishonorable actions. So, what happens when the leader of the most powerful country in the world is utterly shameless? It’s a question that we need to be asking because it is, undoubtedly, among the most significant of the many risks posed to the future of American society by the administration of Donald J. Trump. I’m not going to pretend for a moment that America wasn’t already experiencing plenty of evidence of the breakdown in our culture at the very top. The increasingly predatory nature of corporate America was an early warning sign that dates back at least to the 1980s. The fraud at the heart of the 2008 financial collapse was the most obvious evidence of the problem. And our political leaders on both sides of the aisle failed us when those responsible for the collapse were allowed to skate away without taking responsibility. It was an eminently teachable moment and we learned all the wrong lessons. In that sense, one could argue that Donald Trump is a symptom of the pre-existing disease. Yet we cannot avoid the fact that he has advanced our societal illness to a degree from which we may never recover. To think about how much America has changed in just two years, try imagining how any of the almost daily revelations of dishonor within the Trump administration would have been viewed and discussed by the media and the public under any prior administration. Imagine if President Obama had questioned the heroism of his 2008 presidential opponent, John McCain, because he had been captured when his plane was shot down over North Vietnam and then went on to spend day after day bad-mouthing him even after his death. Imagine if George W. Bush had refused to divest himself from businesses he owned and then brazenly directed millions of dollars in government revenues towards those businesses. Imagine if President Reagan had ignored the pleadings of his own White House legal counsel and national security officials to approve top secret security clearances for his adult children, who remained connected to their own outside businesses. Imagine if Jimmy Carter had lied or misled an average of 11 times a day, which is the current running total for President Trump according to the Washington Post. The American constitution has so few real checks on the president’s personal and business behavior because our founding fathers simply could not imagine that a president would do any of these things, much less all of these things. They lived in an era when honor still mattered. I certainly recognize that presidents have lied to us at times in the past. But I also know that presidents have suffered in the public’s estimation as a result. When President Clinton’s lie about his affair with Monica Lewinsky was exposed, he acknowledged his shame publicly and apologized to the country in what had to have been the most painful moment of his life. When the White House tapes exposed Richard Nixon for who he was, he had to resign in disgrace. Trump would have dismissed it all as “fake news,” and moved on to the next lie or distraction without skipping a beat. After all, you can’t shame the shameless. If you don’t think the world has changed in the past two years, try to imagine Republicans in Congress today telling Trump it was time to go, as GOP leaders did with Nixon back in 1974. And Nixon looks like a Boy Scout by comparison. Trump’s former top campaign officials, his former personal lawyer, and his first national security advisor are all headed for jail for various forms of dishonesty. Half his original cabinet has left under clouds of scandal. Yet none of that matters to his supporters, who seem blind to the consequences to the nation’s soul. While the pending incarceration of all of these individuals is a hopeful sign that all is not lost, does anyone really believe that most of them won’t be pardoned before Trump’s term is up? Particularly the ones, like Paul Manafort, who continued to lie for the president? We have a man who views the world like a Mafia don (he calls cooperating witnesses “rats,” after all) and the voters gave him absolute power to pardon his henchmen. What a country! I’ve never been a Republican, but I certainly remember when things like honor and integrity were seen as values for many within the GOP. It was a party that once claimed to stand for personal responsibility, service to country, and family values. How quaint that all seems in the age of Trump. Today the party is led by a preening, self-absorbed, makeup-wearing man-child who inherited his fortune, faked bone spurs to avoid Vietnam, and whose notion of family values is probably best expressed in “grab-‘em by the …” And, if you believe the polls, forty-some percent of the country, and virtually every Republican, says: “Who cares?” Forget the slippery moral slope. As a nation, we’ve fallen from the cliff and we’ll be facing the consequences of life in a post-moral, post-decency society for generations to come. Once we allow the guardrails that have kept society more or less on the straight and narrow to be so thoroughly stripped away, the disincentives to any and all forms of dishonesty or dishonor virtually vanish. We humans are quick learners, so it won’t take long for such a message to work its dark magic on society, from Washington to every corner of America. When we say that it’s fine for the leader of the country to lie multiple times a day, to bully the less powerful, to dishonor the dead, to pal around with criminals, white supremacists, and dictators, and to pay hush money to porn stars, we can no longer claim any kind of moral high ground. We can no longer pretend that morality or decency or honor has a place in American society. When we don’t speak out in opposition to the debasement that President Trump’s actions represent to this country and its sense of identity, we dishonor ourselves. When an entire political party is willing to prostrate itself before such a man, it has lost any claim to legitimacy it might have once had. I know these are strong words, and I don’t write them casually. Yet I can truly say that after more than two years of Donald Trump as president, I and many others are sickened by the dishonor that we are all witnessing every single day in the Trump White House. Who, if not us, is going to stand up for the America we once knew?

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Ms. Scarlet
So very well said!
Wednesday, March 27
bonfire
Amen! We raised our kids in the early internet years before social media became prolific. It was fairly easy to monitor the computer and television then so they would not be watching very violent or sexual material. I would never have imagined that parenting today would be so much more difficult when it's not only limiting children and teens exposure to unhealthy social media, cable news but the amoral behavior of the president, his administration staffers and like-minded legislators who aid and abet them. They are the absolute antithesis of role models for our children and grandchildren to emulate. It's pretty horrifying to realize children are growing up who have not experienced a president or leaders with integrity, maturity and common decency, only a group of incompetents, perpetual liars, criminals and nutters robbing them of their futures.
Friday, March 29
Scott Atwater
Not surprisingly those afflicted with Trump derangement syndrome have decided to reject the findings of the Mueller report. It turns out that Trump was telling the truth the entire time, while the former heads of the FBI, CIA, the DNC (the same people that rigged a primary against Sanders), and a complicit news media attempted a Coup d'état of a duly elected president. Take note, members of the former administration not only coordinated and spied on an opposition political campaign and it's candidate, they also tried to undermine it. If this wasn't a blatant abuse of power, nothing ever will be. Seeing that Trump has been exonerated, perhaps you crackpots should begin your hunt for "dishonesty" and "shameful" behavior a little closer to home.
Friday, March 29
bonfire
You fancy yourself as a comedian SA. Trump never, ever tells the truth about anything which should be clearly obvious to everyone by now. No doubt you and other trumpers know that but simply don't care nor care. Trump and his family's sole interest has been grifting money, money, money for themselves beginning from the presidential campaign and they haven't stopped since. Instead of draining the swamp, the corruption in his entire administration, cabinet members, agency chiefs has been unprecedented, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Steve Mnuchin, Wilber Ross, Michael Flynn Tom Price, Seema Verna, Paul Manafort and the list just goes on and on. They are all looting our government and it's coming out of your pockets as well as everyone else who is not filthy rich. They are all looting our country and want even more tax cuts for themselves. I don't know if you have children or grandchildren but it's incomprehensible to me that any parent or grandparent below the lucky ducky 1% would not be very concerned about their futures. I fail to see any benefit to supporting trump or the WH administration when it's only a matter of time before most Americans get thrown under the bus. He and his cohorts have no loyalty to supporters.
Saturday, March 30
jtormoen
Insert recent Adam Schiff comments here. Oh, and please remove earplugs first
Saturday, March 30
Scott Atwater
The thing is.....you are now saying that the extensive Mueller investigation results are a lie, and I find that astounding. My advice to you is to try and overcome your Trump hate. No matter how much you dislike the man the facts and findings prove that he didn't collude with Russia, now ask yourself who had something to gain by making that false accusation in the first place. If you really want to set an example for your grandchildren, perhaps start with some core principles like the rule of law, due process, and the acceptance of fact over emotion. Teach them to think for themselves and stand up for everyone's rights, no matter how much they may dislike or disagree with any particular person. Think about it, the example you are setting is....that the ends justify the means. That you don't have to accept election results if you don't like them. That facts don't matter and the miscarriage of justice is ok if you don't like an individual or group of individuals.
Sunday, March 31
snowshoe2
We seen 2 sentences of the Barr report referring to the Mueller report. The rest wast just filler. Yes 100 contacts by his administration with Russia were verified. Yes a simple lie was a big deal in society. The bar has been so low now. We have always said look up to the president as a example how to live your life. How much lower to we lower the bar on how we act. They talk about corruption in the Roman Empire. Well were there. Yes Trump on TV again and again encouraged Russia to interfere. Like someone raping someone and you stand here and encourage it. Trump does. Fact check around 10,000 verified lies in 2 years. YOU WANT YOUR CHILDREN TO ACT LIKE HIM.
Sunday, March 31
bonfire
SA, it's not surprising you are sympatico with trump and his cohorts. You have so much in common, making up wild whoppers out of thin air. Several people, 34, close to trump indicted: Michael Flynn-pleaded guilty Paul Manafort-pleaded guilty Rick Gates-pleaded guilty George Papaddopoulos-pleaded guilty Michael Cohen-pleaded guilty Alex Van Der Zwaan-pleaded guilty Richard Pinedo Konstantin Kilimnik 12 intelligence agents for Russia's GRU 13 Russians and 3 affliliated companies Roger Stone Trump has expressed admiration for strongmen leaders and murdering dictators multiple times plus meeting with some of them without translators or WH staff. Duterte Putin Xi Jin Ping Kim Jung Un Abdel Fattah el-Sissi Erdogan Nothing to worry about SA? Not concerned that Trump is mentally unstable and fits all the signs of a malignant narcissist? Feel safe with Trump and cohorts in charge? Great comment by Rep. Jeffries: Trump is A. a legitimate president B. a Russian asset C. the functional equivalent of an organized crime boss or D. a useful idiot who happens to have been victimized by the greatest collections of coincidences in the history of the republic.
Sunday, March 31
Scott Atwater
Facts: 1. Manafort pleaded guilty to crimes that predate his involvement on the Trump campaign. 2. Flynn pleaded guilty to avoid bankruptcy and spare his son from becoming a legal target, It was recommended that he receive no jail time. 3. Papadopoulos was a low level volunteer who also agreed to a plea bargain, obviously he too was not equipped to take on the federal government. 4. Contacts with Russians are not illegal or unusual. Most members of congress and their staff have numerous contacts for a multitude of non-nefarious reasons, even Adam Schiff. Attorney General Barr's summary of the Mueller investigation unequivocally states that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. If this were a lie, or misrepresented Meuller's findings in any way....DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT MUELLER WOULD REMAIN SILENT AND SAY NOTHING ABOUT IT? https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/03/31/there_was_no_collusion_adam_schiff__139912.html
Sunday, March 31
Marshall Helmberger
I'm not sure why Scott Atwater is so fixated on the Mueller report. This column is unrelated to that report. Trump's degeneracy doesn't require an investigation. It's there for the cameras and the public to witness on a daily basis. The bullying. The lies. The demagoguery. The utter lack of empathy for the vulnerable. This is the man who bought a full page ad in the New York Times to advocate state-sanctioned murder of five young African American men who were later shown through DNA evidence to be innocent of a rape and murder in Central Park. And Trump never apologized or acknowledged that he was wrong. His malignancy was apparent well before the 2016 election and long before there ever was a Mueller report. Those who defend him clearly don't hold honor , decency, or the truth, in very high regard. I wonder if they recognize the harm they are doing to our country?
Sunday, March 31
bonfire
I noticed that SA has not championed trump as a great role model for our children and our standing in the rest of the world. Curious. I suspect his fixation on Mueller report is a deflection from trump's complete lack of any character. It is a bit difficult to defend the sleazeball. Trump has been in cahoots with Russians for 30 years running criminal operations, money laundering out of Trump Tower and other Trump properties. Money laundering is easier to hide in real estate transactions due in part to lax regulations when doing transactions with no mortgage and wire transfers from overseas. As Michael Kinsley says, "The real scandal isn't what's illegal, it's what is legal." I think white collar crime is long overdue for tougher penalties and stricter regulations on those entities that take advantage of the legal loopholes. Trump has a long history of being a degenerate in everything he does. He and others can say "no collusion" till they are blue in their faces but it's obvious trump is corrupt and dirty as heck. Also, he always cheats at golf even if he's being watched.
Sunday, March 31
Lee Peterson
To a normal, decent person, there is nothing to argue about in Marshall's article. My guess is that sa is doing it just for sport. He or she probably has nothing better to do. Take it with a grain of salt. Most of sa's drivel is right out of the Fox News playbook. Why do you think she or he identifies with "Scott Atwater", the name of a long defunct outboard motor brand? I wouldn't sign my name to that crap either. I bet we'll see a letter or two in this week's paper supporting Marshall's editorial from folks who are unafraid to sign their real names... Safe travels, Lee Peterson
Monday, April 1
Scott Atwater
Marshall Helmberger - you did indeed bring up Trump's "former top campaign officials" in your article. I took the opportunity to point out that your grievances against Trump pale in comparison, or at the very least mirror the behavior of those screeching nonstop about the Mueller investigation for the last 24 months. If true unbiased investigative journalism ever makes an appearance in this nation again I'm quite sure that the trail from the Clinton campaign to the Steele Dossier, to the FBI, to the Department of Justice, to the fraudulent FISA warrants acquired to spy on an opposition political party......would be an interesting and perhaps disturbing read. On another note, Mr.Helmberger, I notice that you are quick to condemn Trump for his full page ad during the Central Park rape episode, but failed to mention the media's role in bringing the public to a state of hysteria. I don't excuse Trump's behavior, the difference between you and I is that I don't excuse you or your fellow journalist's behavior either. Remember Mr. Helmberger, lying by omission is still lying. Bonfire - You lack the ability to see issues from any position other than your own. I tried to point out several times that the behavior of someone else doesn't give you an excuse to treat said person unjustly. The real question is, what kind of a role model are you? Judging by your posts and the ease at which you dismiss inconvenient facts, I strongly suspect that if you didn't have double standards.....you'd have none at all. Lee Peterson - I find it mildly amusing that you only seek the identities of people that differ with you philosophically or politically. I'll bet you don't equate that with bigoted behavior.....but here you are for all to see. I would however like to thank you, Mr. Peterson, for not using this occasion to launch one of your feeble-minded rants against the NRA. For that I am truly grateful. In closing, I'd like to say that from my perspective I see none of you (or those of your political persuasion) any worse, and certainly not any better, than our president Donald J Trump.
Monday, April 1
jtormoen
I'd be glad to note the current score, but figure most all can count. Most ... but guessing not quite all.
Monday, April 1
Steve Jacobson
OMG Marshall! You wonder why Scott Atwater keeps bringing up the Mueller Investigation? It's because the Democrats have been waiting with bated breath for the report to come out. Now that the report is out you want to act like it didn't matter anyways? Maybe it's time to discuss the next great threat to unseat President Trump - Joe Biden! BTW - Scott Atwater is leading 7 - zip!
Tuesday, April 2
jtormoen
Like I said ... "Not quite all"
Tuesday, April 2
Lee Peterson
The majority of Americans are aware that the ones who are feeble minded are those who have been brainwashed and sucked in by the NRA/Republican dogma. NRA Maria Butina and the organization's affinity for Russia? No wonder you're afraid to sign your name sa.
Tuesday, April 2
bonfire
SA, if Obama had been a sleazy degenerate president like trump exhibiting the same disgusting behaviors, you would have been screaming to lock him up. Projection, projection, projection. You still haven't defended trump's shameless, immoral conduct.
Tuesday, April 2
Scott Atwater
Bonfire, the issue is so much larger than defending Trump's behavior.....both real and imagined. I find it ironic that Marshall came to the defense of John McCain in his article. The same John McCain that was thoroughly demonized by the media when he ran for the presidency. These tactics are nothing new, but what is disturbing this time around is the targeting of Trump's supporters. Sure, political rhetoric is expected in the political arena, but we are now seeing an unprecedented level of uncivilized, irrational, and dangerous behavior....people run out of restaurants, assaults, calls for harassment by elected officials, the persecution of the Covington High School kids....the list goes on. As stated earlier, this is so much larger than Trump. I feel that I have failed to articulate my stance on the present state of politics, and how we arrived here. I contend that it isn't just because of Donald Trump. There is plenty of blame to go around, in my opinion. I'll try one final time.......see if you agree or disagree with the following article: https://fee.org/articles/the-most-pervasive-bigotry-isnt-what-you-think/
Tuesday, April 2
Lee Peterson
John McCain was reasonably and fairly scrutinized by the media during his presidential run. No Democrat questioned John McCain's integrity or his patriotism, certainly not Barack Obama or Joe Biden. Remember?? The fact is that McCain has been "thoroughly demonized" by Trump and his surrogates. sa lives in a world detached from reality. John McCain torpedoed his own campaign when he selected Sara Palin to be qualified for the vice presidency. Not everyone is ignorant. McCain was never taken seriously after he took Palin on board. Come to think of it, Americans can be proud that we chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by 3 million votes. And the shellacking the NRA/Republicans took in the 2018 mid terms speaks for itself. Trump continued his lying, hate filled rhetoric today in an extended, truly pathetic rant from the oval office. Today's lying lunacy was another example of why Marshall wrote his article. "Honor and Integrity"? People like Trump and sa, have zero link to either. I urge folks to move on. Send $25 to AOC. She's worthy of capitalization.
Tuesday, April 2
bonfire
I'll pass on reading your link to a fatuous libertarian outfit which gets funding from Koch Bros. I've read enough of that bilge from Ayn Randian Paul Ryan.
Wednesday, April 3
Scott Atwater
A shame that you refuse to read the article Bonfire, I guess the truly indoctrinated don't trust themselves to evaluate subject matter regardless of the source. I suggest that BookBurner may be a more appropriate screen name for you.
Wednesday, April 3
Scott Atwater
List of grievances that I have with Donald Trump: 1. Claimed that he had Native American ancestry, later proven that he didn't. 2. Once described Obama as "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy". 3. Couldn't name the three branches of government when asked in a recent interview. 4. Told the American public that 4 Americans were killed in an attack on the US embassy in Benghazi because of a YouTube video. 5. Told the American public “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan”. 6. Directed the Justice Department to secretly collect personal and work-related phone calls made by AP reporters and editors. 7. Once instructed his supporters to confront their opponents by saying "if you see them anywhere, if you see them in a restaurant, if you see them in a department store, even at a gasoline station, just tell them, you're not welcome here or anywhere".
Wednesday, April 3
Mark Josephson
The conservative Bret Stephens has some interesting perspective: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/12/opinion/charles-van-doren-trump.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share
Sunday, April 14