Get PJ Media on your Apple

Belmont Club

A Government For Sinners

October 10th, 2013 - 4:10 pm

Now that Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence is established fact, a local TV station’s documentary video of his rise and fall provides a fascinating look back, not simply at the man, but at the system. Kilpatrick’s career arc has a unnerving familiarity, first of all in the contrast between his public high mindedness and the reality of private crooked behavior.

The one is distilled by the scenes in which the young, burly mayor frankly promises the audience to lift them up. You can feel the hope; you can taste the expecation in response. It is in his touching remarks about the sanctity of his home, the celebration of the high moral character of his father; or in his pledges of the inviolability of his marriage. There is in those inspiring clips a glimpse of all we want him — and all we want ourselves — to be.

This stands in marked contrast to the later scenes when we watch Kilpatrick deny the tawdry crimes he was later to apologize for in the next video sequence.  It comes through in the on-camera complaints by black businessmen who heard Kwame’s supposedly noble father declare that he didn’t need them any more after taking their contributions since “now that we won we can get all the white money we want.”

Through this invidious parade of contrasts there appears not an iota of remorse; not the shadow of irony. Even as Kilpatrick is led from office he gamely says “you’re setting me up for a comeback”; he is still the king of the hill, still the prince of summer and sunlight, untouched by the shadow of anything he might have said or done.

Only occasionally does reality burn through, as when one of Kilpatrick’s bodyguards shoves a nosy newspaperman against a wall or when his pal Bobby Ferguson emerges from his office to menace, with fake solicitude, a news camera crew working outside.

But the Kilpatrick saga is familiar in yet another sense. It’s like a fictional mini-series. All the props are there: the lavish hotel stays, the cars, clothes, the mistress, even the stripper party at the mayor’s mansion complete with the mysterious demise of one of the dancers who witnessed the proceedings.

There’s even a philosophical look back by a journalist, like a kind of Nick Carraway, invoking hope as the excuse of his investigative blindness. “Like many Detroit journalists, I counted myself for some years among the seduced. I’m not sure I ever trusted Kilpatrick, but I know I wanted to.”

This was not for want of exposure to skeptics.

There was the retired Detroit cop who remembered encountering Kilpatrick and his pals when they were teenagers, and dismissed my theory that Kilpatrick had matured with the observation: “Once a punk, always a punk.”

There was the restaurateur who bristled every time Kilpatrick’s wife led her entourage into his establishment, partook regally of his hospitality, and left with no thought of paying the check, much less tipping the staff.

And there was the CEO whose wife refused to speak to him after he agreed to underwrite the eleventh-hour advertising blitz that allowed Kilpatrick to snatch his 2005 re-election from the jaws of a near-certain defeat. “How,” my friend’s spouse demanded, “could you be so stupid?”

Well, because, like the journalist said. “I wanted to”. The “I did it for Love” line is the most famous of Famous Last Words. That’s when the Audacity of Hope becomes the Blinkers of Crime.

These dramatic elements make the story of Kilpatrick’s fall less about one man than a parable about politics. This is evident in the reader comments to Kilpatrick’s 28-year sentence. ‘Why so harsh?’ they lament.  ’There are others — many others — out there’.  That is the general tenor. And they’d be factually correct.

Sure there are others. Most reform campaigns are a process of simply shoveling the s**t against the tide. To invert the angler’s lament, the Detroit Mayor is the one that didn’t get away. You should see the ones that did, the ones still in the pond.

Elmer Gantry, Jay Gatsby, Vito Corleone and Willie Stark are probably more representative of the human condition than Thomas Jefferson, Albert Einstein or Mother Theresa. I’m not sure that I’ve met an actual saint yet but I am pretty sure I know a fair number of grifters. The founders may have known this and in their wisdom designed a government for sinners.

They understood that human nature being what it was, the only way to limit the damage of bad government and prevent tyranny was to limit the scope of government itself and impose upon it a system of checks and balances. That and not allegiance to individual politicians and still less loyalty to the GOP or the Democrats, is the best guaranty, not of Good Government, but against Bad Government.

For man is a piece of work. Many are, anyway.

Perhaps we ought, unlike the Detroit journalist, seek not to believe, but on the contrary to disbelieve. We should force ourselves not to trust in anything other than statistical penchant of the common herd to follow its self interest. We can count on people to look out for Number One. Your mileage thereafter may vary.

Hope is a dangerous commodity when applied to government. There is in Hope a kind of temptation to avert our sight from reality, to believe in Unicorns, websites you can only reach by dialing a phone number or a world without nuclear weapons. There was once a time when we knew better than to trust people who promised to look after us. Long ago we knew we were fallen and remembered what the angel with the flaming sword once said about Adam, “once a punk, always a punk.”

That didn’t mean all was lost. But it definitely meant we had to go back by another way. Lincoln once said, ”you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” To believe in that statistical promise is to trust somehow in the workings of God, even if we don’t believe He exists.


Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres
Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free
The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.
Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific
Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
It is a sad fact, that Black politicians are not "equal under the law" or judged by the content of their character. Any charges of corruption, theft, abuse of office, or disagreements over policy involving a Black politician are answered first, foremost, and automatically with countercharges of racism. And that counter-charge is functionally an effective refutation of any proof of misconduct until it can no longer be ignored despite the best efforts of the Democratic Party and the Media [no small redundancy there].

Granting that incumbency provides a level of legal immunity to any politician, but that level gets more impenetrable based on how far Left you are, and how much melanin one has.

The institutions whose purpose is to protect society from corruption; law enforcement, various inspectors-general, auditors, the media, and Congress are now nothing more than part of the enabling process for corruption.

That 20% of the soldiers who are Black are being victimized even more than the rest of us; because not only are they being victimized the same as the rest of us, their sacrifices for the country are tarnished by those whose corruption is given a pass based on their shared skin color with those soldiers.

Subotai Bahadur
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
What exactly do you mean by your point that blacks make up 20% of our soldiers? God bless them because they have found a way out.

I have done something out current president has never done - I grew up in a poor black neighborhood - the Queensbridge housing projects in NYC - like many of the 20% you mention, I grew up in a broken single parent home and fortunately joined the military, where for the first time in my life, I actually had responsibility placed on me and was expected to step up to the occasion. That experience saved me.

The plight of the black family was duly noted by Senator Patrick Moynahan about the rise of single parent homes. He was (and still is) spot on and for it was tarred and feathered by his fellow democrats.

Unfortunately generations of blacks have been lied to by disgusting hustlers such as Sharpton, Jackson and Obama who couldn't give a rats bottom about their welfare, only their own fortunes.

All Americans need to learn about our founding principles, flawed though the authors may have been. They created the greatest country, that over time, corrected its wrongs through its Judeo/Christian conscious.

They had a sense of historical perspective and knew just how fragile a thing a society such as ours actually is.


(show less)
(show less)
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
"We should force ourselves not to trust in anything other than statistical penchant of the common herd to follow its self interest. We can count on people to look out for Number One. Long ago we knew we were fallen and remembered what the angel with the flaming sword once said about Adam, "once a punk, always a punk ....'" Wretchard

Succinct summation of the Christian concept of original sin. Here's where I differ with Reagan's sunny optimism on the human spirit. While I am certain of, and indeed have witnessed the redemption of man by the grace of God through Christ Jesus, man himself a fallen creature. One cannot trust the goodness any man. "Trust, but verify" - now that portion of Reagan's advice I agree with.

Contrast the attitude towards Kilpatrick, or any one of the multitude of corrupt miscreants who are Democrats and occupy political office anywhere, with that towards Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Aside from resigning from his position under plea agreement, he was sentenced to eight years and four months, and served almost all of that time. It was the longest sentence ever given to any Congressman. The IRS attacked and seized nearly all of his assets. There were moves to attempt to revoke not only his Congressional pension, but his pension from 20 years service in the US Navy. Vindictively, a Democrat judge even refused to lift his status as a felon so that he could own firearms for skeet shooting.

I have little sympathy for the fate that has fallen a corrupt Congressman, but this man was also a hero in service to his country in ways 95% of his accusers would never have served. Both attitudes towards, and the recriminations against this man were markedly different than they would have been, had he been a Democrat. I won't go into chapter and verse here, but the comparisons are easy to find - corrupt Democrats are EVERYWHERE.

So while I have little sympathy for Cunningham, the "progressives" can rot in hell before I'll find sympathy for them. When I hear of a sad case, Joe Biden's loss of his wife and daughter for example, my heart is hard. Once I would have had sympathy in such situations, but these people will end my liberty and my life at a whim, i.e. "sometimes you just need to break a few eggs to make an omelet..", toward the greater progressive good.

I don't trust men uncritically, nor do I expect "human goodness". I'm always amazed when average men do good things. I'm never surprised when leftists do evil; that is their natural state. Kilpatrick, his father, this wife, his entire clan can rot in hell.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (50)
All Comments   (50)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard - That title ought to be "A Government of Criminals"

http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterpavlo/2013/10/07/prosecutors-spoon-feed-journalists-stories/?commentId=comment_blogAndPostId/blog/comment/1069-3630-2253


"Check out Exhibit 9247 in the BP trial. Flowpath analysis by Ole Rygg in August 2010, after the successful Static Kill. There is proof that the flow was exclusively up the inside of the production casing. Rygg + Kurt Mix + William Burch were the BP flowpath analysis team.

The government was selling the “too few centralizers” meme to “prove” BP was grossly negligent. Rygg proved that the flow was NOT up the annulus and therefore that meme was FALSE.

Now you know why the Federal prosecutors made Kurt Mix the first person criminally charged, though he had ZERO to do with the events leading up to the blowout and deaths of 11 men. He was a roadblock to getting billions of dollars in fines.

The exhibit is available in the Rygg depo package.
http://www.mdl2179trialdocs.com/releases/release201310011130002/Rygg_Ole_2012-10-03.zip

This confirms that government arguments that the relief well finally killed the well are FALSE (Tom Hunter admits as much in his depo). This explains why the chief counsel’s report was released after the Oil Spill Co-Chairmen testified before Congress, though they knew the contents of the report which was to be released later. They did not want public attention drawn to the fact that no oil and gas was found when the relief well did finally intersect the annulus at 17,200 feet, confirming Rygg’s analysis.

It explains why the USGS has failed to release its analysis of the cement fragments found on the deck of the Damon Bankston, which was alongside the Deepwater Horizon when the well started spewing mud. That nitrified cement would provide further proof of “nitrogen breakout”, as BP alleged in the Bly report.

Isn’t withholding exculpatory evidence a CRIME? How do government employees get to commit crimes unpunished?"


50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2001/0430/076.html

MP, here's another Forbes article --from April 2001. Read it closely, and think about how that quickly-buried spate of stories on the BOP forensic investigation was 'compromised' (meaning the results were from that point on forever questionable) in full view of a watching world.

This article is by no means the sole point of departure for the dark conclusion. It's merely a first step in framing a hair-raising but sole all-explanatory hypothetical. Or hypothesis or something.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
CHU LIED, DOLPHINS DIED, CHILDREN CRIED!
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
CHU LIED, DOLPHINS DIED, CHILDREN CRIED!

--better steer clear of the seafood,
how 'bout a hotdog weenie?
--a choice delivered from on high
by the party of the Greenie.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard: A suggestion for another thread.

Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, commander of the 20th Air Force, and commander of the USAF land based Nuclear arsenal, was just relieved. Vice Adm. Tim Giardina, the Navy's counterpart was relieved a day earlier. Never in my life, has there been anything like the purge of General and Flag officers in the US Armed forces, as under Obama.

This is well past the point of coincidence. Obama is molding the US military into something new, which is conjecture, to be sure. However, if a President sees fit to purge dozens of senior military officers, I think it's incumbent on him to prove that partisanship plays no part. Given the Obama Administrations track record, suspicions of partisanship are well justified. People talking of a coup d'état aren't necessarily nutty.

I think the Officer Corps of the joint services are going to have to "go political", to speak up sooner or later. Everyone of these fired officers have been "disgraced" in a way that would make other officers want to run far away from them. Honor is a priority for the military, so Obama may be removing these relieved officers honor to prevent opposition by the officer's corps.

Or, perhaps the US military services have just had a bad run of luck, i.e. the entire officer corps has gone corrupt just in time for a doctrinaire leftists to rescue the country from their clutches.

We report, you decide.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thanks for the heads up OldSaltUSN.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
http://seattletimes.com/html/politics/2022018074_apxnuclearmissteps.html

(excerpt)

The decision to sack Carey was made by Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Air Force Global Strike Command, which is in charge of all Air Force nuclear weapons, including bombers. The case appears to be unrelated to that of Giardina, but the two men are associated in the chain of responsibility for U.S. nuclear weapons.

Carey did not report directly to Giardina, but the ICBMs under Carey's command would, in the event of war, receive their launch commands through Strategic Command, where Giardina had been the deputy commander since December 2011. By coincidence, Kowalski, who fired Carey, has been nominated to succeed Giardina at Strategic Command. The Senate has not yet confirmed Kowalski.

(close excerpt)

"By coincidence, Kowalski, who fired Carey, has been nominated to succeed Giardina at Strategic Command."

(repeated for emphasis, probably unnecessarily)


--guys n' gals, this may be a race to see which comes first, we dig to the bottom of these stories, or the bottom of these stories lands on us.

===

https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=ie7&rls=com.microsoft:en-US&ie=utf8&oe=utf8&q=what+is+happening+with+the+military+purge%3F&rlz=1I7GGLL_en#q=what+is+happening+with+the+military+purge%3F&rls=com.microsoft:en-US

===

(the Seattle Times article, again)

Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, commander of Global Strike Command, decided to fire Carey following an inspector general’s investigation into Carey’s “personal misbehavior” during a temporary duty assignment this summer, Air Force spokesman Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick told reporters during a briefing Friday.

Kodlick declined to provide details of the incident other than to say it did not involve sexual misconduct, drugs or gambling. Kodlick would not, however, rule out alcohol as a factor in the personal misconduct. Kowalski received “reports” of personnel misbehavior from other service members who were traveling with Carey on the TDY trip, which he passed along to the IG, Kodlick said.

“They had to wait for the investigation to see what actually occurred,” Kodlick said.

Carey was notified and interviewed as part of the investigation, Air Force officials said.

After the formal completion of the IG investigation, senior commanders will determine if Carey will face any further disciplinary action or possible court-martial, Kodlick said. Carey has been temporarily reassigned pending the outcome of the investigation.

(end excerpt)
===

You know, the optics are SO bad on these high command firings (which bear in mind are not firings so much as replacings) that there must be --somewhere --an equal-value counterweight to the importance of those optics.

Some thing that makes it sensible to an administration already under fire from the right, to run this purge right in the face of the political opposition --for no apparent gain other than to punish grown men for having a drink or a wink at the gals around the office, or for falling for a set-up honey trap, which is bad but so is a secret police policy of entrapment.

For cryin' out loud, these are soldiers --soldiers get to be a little ribald --it's part of the compact, always has been, or had been.

Of course, what we don't know is, is this a purge of bad soldiers by good, or good by bad? It is one or the other, roughly, but which is it? OK, considering this administration, if we don't know which it is, what would be the way to bet?
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Given Snowden's revelations, I don't imagine it would be hard to dig up dirt on inconvenient generals in powerful positions (nor civilians in political positions of national importance either). Shoot, a feller could have a pretty good time recomposing power structures to his own will when given access to every supposedly-private electronic communication in a country.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sic Transit Gloria Petraeus.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Peacetime military always has trouble keeping things clean, and even Dubya never really put the Pentagon or the country on a full war footing. Military has been running down resources at least since 2003, and fighting huge budget pressures along with everyone else since 2008.

Fake casino chips? Note sure he should be removed for that, but it is pretty dumb. Even walking into the casino is pretty dumb for that kind of rank. Better if he takes the whole chorus line for a ride in a B-52.



50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Subotai Bahadur wrote: "It is a sad fact, that Black politicians are not "equal under the law" or judged by the content of their character. Any charges of corruption, theft, abuse of office, or disagreements over policy involving a Black politician are answered first, foremost, and automatically with countercharges of racism."

A sliver lining in the current cloud is that Soetero may single-handedly be defusing that "racism" defence for ever.

A supercilious English movie critic once noted that Richard Roundtree's performance in "Shaft in Africa" reminded the viewer that the average black actor was like the average white actor -- average. If only Soetero could have risen to the level of Average! Instead, it will be clear to all future generations that the color of a man's skin does not guarantee the content of his character, nor even his basic competence.

With Janet Yellen in charge of the Federal Reserve, it is highly likely history will record that when women & minorities were finally allowed to drive the bus, they drove it into the ditch. And maybe that will make future generations pay more attention to character, experience, and competence in their selection of leaders, rather than blindly going with breasts & melanin.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
> And maybe that will make future generations pay more attention to character, experience, and competence in their selection of leaders, rather than blindly going with breasts & melanin. <

Making the bold assumption that future generations have any say at all in the selection of their leaders.

Subotai Bahadur
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
...The percentage of black persons serving in our military today is less than 15%.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Blacks are about 13% of the population. It seems the armed forces have achieved parity with the nation. In fact they achieved it long, long ago.

The 20% number was largely USA. USN and USAF have higher entry requirements because of the more equipment centric nature of their force. While USN, for example, has a place for cat III's, there are not as many openings, based on both size of the Navy vis-a-vis the Army and as a percentage of the total force. To beat a dead horse, the Army has a much smaller need for nuclear power operators, while the Navy's need for deck force is smaller.

Of more interest is the retention rates and the numbers of Administrative and less than administrative discharges and NJP actions by catagory. I do not have that data, and can't get it. That implies a problem.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or even, "Sure I'll respect you in the morning."
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
While I was reading your column I suddenly thought of something that hadn't crossed my mind in a long time. Growing up my grandmother used to say "attribute to man the basest of motives". I used to be horrified when she said it because I thought what a terrible way to go through life. Suspicious, wary, never wholly trusting unless that trust was proven over and over, and even then.. Turns out, all these years later, the old gal was pretty much on the money. Thanks for the reminder.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
My mother taught me something that informs and guides my life more than 30 years after her passing.

"A man never stands as tall as when he stoops to help a child."

I have dozens of honorary nieces and nephews. Mom would be proud.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama was hoisted to victory on the shoulders of white guilt. Guilt is self-referential and the essence of self-centeredness. So many failed to realize what damage they inflicted on this nation so they could feel better about themselves.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
And yet, in the face of all the petty, mean shutdown theater the general population does, what? Nothing! In the face of the under the bottom rhetoric from the Democrat leadership, the Republicans do what? Near nothing!

This is all the evidence needed to show the advance of the Gramscian march through the institutions of our once great country.

But, there is hope that in their arrogance, the progressive regime will overreach. It will probably be something they consider small and inconsequential, just a minor reinforcement that becomes the trigger.

The country can be great again - we'll see.
50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
The press is supposed to be very cynical. Excessively so. All the hoary old newspaper men were portrayed as men of the street, hard boiled and hard headed. Since the basic writing skills required to do a newspaper story do not exceed those of my high school days (early '60s) and the pay blue collar, most were not college men.
Now, Ivy League "Journalists" get 6 figures right out of college and are political advocates at best, agiprop lakeys at worse.
And Marion Berry is still a player in DC.

50 weeks ago
50 weeks ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All