Questions of ethics and responsibility…

In just the last few days, we have had a number of troubling breakout stories hit the news which might call into question the ethics of Republicans running for office. It saddens me that even in the face of these troubling news items, the race is still too close to call in states.

Let me share a story. I promise it will have some meaning in the larger sense, but for now I’m going to give you the small picture. It’s one that bears on today’s political issues and on our appearance in light of the world we share.

When I was a child, of some now-unremembered, relatively young age, I had specific tastes in food that might seem odd (or maybe not). Two of my deepest desires, for fresh, sweet butter and for the cream filling inside Oreo cookies, got me into a world of trouble with my father. It wasn’t the first time and I’m sure it wasn’t the last time he got angry at me for my behavior, but I sure remember his reaction, all these years later.

The Butter Incident started out innocently enough with my taking the opportunity on occasion to dip my index finger across the top of the butter stick in the fridge. Over time, my finger wore down the top of the stick so that it sloped slowly down to about half an inch shorter than either end. Quite obviously, something was happening to the butter. When Dad called me on it, I lied, even though he must have known I was the culprit. Having observed young children, the level of oblivious that goes into “I didn’t do it” when the clear evidence shows otherwise is simply stunning.

Dad sent me to my room for lying. I suppose I must have been angrier for having been caught than contrite at having done the deed, but as I know for a fact that I was the guilty party, with a clear recollection of the taste of Land O’Lakes often recalled as I hunt for comfort food. Besides, there were clear fingerprints as evidence.

The Oreo Incident was much worse, in the long run.

Dad built a nice wood storage box for our fireplace, sat it on the floor next to the mantle, and filled it with wood for the fire. Rochester weather being was it was, we had fires going much of the winter, and he didn’t want to haul the wood in every time he wanted to light a fire. I found it a convenient hiding place to hold the chocolate cookie parts when I was too young to figure out the “peas in the trash” method of disposal. I recall disposing of half a bag of Oreos by eating the cream out of the centers and dumping the remains in the wood box.

I’d have gotten away with it, too, if Dad hadn’t discovered the parade of ants leading from the outside to the wood box and back. Dad’s discovery led to a violent outburst, which ultimately resulted in a kicked-in hole in my bedroom door. (Fortunately, I wasn’t harmed in the incident.)

I learned quickly that the truth was the best method to avoid such outbursts. If I got in trouble, for the most part, I tried to own up to it.

These days, it seems no matter how nasty the retribution might be, some people just feel there is nothing large enough to keep them from doing harm, on a level far uglier than taking a little cream out of a cookie or swiping a little butter off the top of the stick.

On the brink of our next election, with several states already accepting early votes, stories are coming to light that we should have seen far, far earlier.

I have in mind Donald Trump’s fizzled-out bombshell of a smokescreen:

Aside from making himself an instant laughingstock, it appears Trump had something of his own to hide. This ill-conceived, inept stunt, timed as it was, also failed to take attention away from a damaging report of his inability to do the job. In a fit of glorious irony, the news has broken that the condo association for his own building, Trump Tower, fired the Donald. Better than any spanking, I say.

But that’s not all.

A few days ago I suggested a link between Delphi and Bainport, and that this might be the smoking gun to which Ann Romney referred when she said there would be no more tax reports because she didn’t want to give the press any more ammunition. It was odd timing that at around the same time these issues were percolating to the top, Ryan got caught with his hands up to the elbows in an ad hoc photo-op that cost the soup kitchen far more than Ryan’s campaign.

A little over 48 hours ago, news has broken that a 20-year-old divorce case that set Mitt Romney and his associate Tom Stemberg (founder of Staples) against Stemberg’s ex-wife in a nasty court case which left Maureen Stemberg Sullivan essentially destitute might have included lies from Romney that indicated Stemberg had a lower real net worth than court records indicated. Earlier today, Stemberg Sullivan appeared in court and later this afternoon the court approved the unsealing of Romney’s testimony. She will file a separate motion to lift the gag order shortly, though not necessarily in time for the election.

Getting one’s hand caught in the cookie jar used to mean something. Children learned that truth and honesty were always the best methods. I am sad that this rule appears to apply only to those who aren’t rich enough to hide their lies. When will we learn that the same rules apply to everyone?

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