What Republican Speakers of the House hide behind those smiles

newt gingrich.JPGNewt Gingrich. Dennis Hastert. John Boehner. Paul Ryan.

What comes to mind while running through that list of individuals? They all seem to have been hiding something creepy behind their smiles.

The first two were scions of hypocrisy. Powerful men, for sure. Keen on forceful implementation of partisan ideology. Absolutely. 

But Gingrich carried on affairs outside of marriage, even serving a wife struggling with cancer a directive for divorce. Harsh, dude. And Gingrich invented the brand of divisive, winner-take-all, scorched earth politics that are tearing the country apart these days.

And that was carried on by yet another tough-guy conservative speaker named Dennis Hastert. But his smile was ultimately wiped off his face by scandal.

ct-dennis-hastert-lawsuit-met-20170222.jpgYet let’s recall that Dennis Hastert was Speaker of the House for a very long time. He hid his sordid past from the public while pretending to be the good-guy Coach beloved by community and country.

Yet even in that role, he was dismissive of political balance on all matters of domestic policy. He also happily trotted alongside warmongers like Bush and Cheney as they lied to the world and committed what amounted to war crimes through the torture and death of Iraqi citizens.

Then we learned that Hastert hid dark secrets about his own past, essentially bribing men that he had sexually abused as boys to keep quiet so that the lie of his legacy could be sustained. Is it any wonder he was forceful in his politics as well?

John-Boehner.jpgSuch is the dog-whistle world of conservative politics that the legacy of John Boehner was to preside over the highly prejudiced conservative resistance to America’s first black President, Barack Obama.

Boehner acted in league with the likes of the dog-whistle king Mitch McConnell, who swore that his only goal in life was to make Obama a one-term President. Thus Boehner failed the American people in his role as moderator of Republic, whose Constitution specifically guarantees equal rights and fair treatment for all, even the President.

Boehner further compromised the American people through cynical collusion with lobbyists to turn the Affordable Care Act into a bonanza for insurance companies and Big Pharma.

Yet even Boehner was deposed for incompetency by his own party, who didn’t like the idea that he even talked with President Obama, much less tried to work with him.

Paul-Ryan-Smile.jpgAnd that’s how the Republicans arrived at the likes of Paul Ryan, who didn’t even want the job as Speaker of the House.

Thus Ryan sorts into the bin as yet another hypocrite who insists that he hates government while forming his entire career and wealth around the advantages it has conferred to him. Along the way of course, Ryan has spouted trippy stuff about the merits of Ayn Rand and the blessings of free market economics, but in the end he has turned to be little more than a smarmy salesman for a brand of hateful politics that even he found distasteful. He has squirmed and writhed under the thumb of Donald Trump, but he has yet to stand up to the man. And now he’s quitting so he won’t have to.

At times Ryan has tried to act sort of human, but he kept making obviously stupid mistakes. These included a claim that he ran a marathon in three hours when he’s never even come close to that time in real life. Ryan’s excuse? He was somewhere in that range.

Which about explains the lack of effectiveness and honesty in all of Ryan’s political life. Multiple efforts to gut the Affordable Care Act and replace it have failed. When it came to reforming health care, Republicans proved to be an empty vessel devoid of substantial ideas of even reasonable change. Ryan is a poster boy for that political naivete.

Ryan smiling.pngNow he’s “retiring” as he puts it. But in truth, he’s actually quitting for a few years to avoid the bloodbath that is fast approaching for the conservative cabal installed by ignorance of people who consistently vote against their best interests.

That dire fact is being demonstrated in real time by the impact of trade wars being barked into existence by Donald Trump, whose tariffs are predicted to have dire economic effects on farmers here in the USA. Trump has promised that “we’ll make it up to you” but nothing the President says in that sort of context ever comes true.

There’s a simple reason for that. Trump doesn’t have the moral capacity to speak the truth. That’s not how he’s lived his life. And that’s not how he got elected in the first place. If Trump started telling the truth, he’d be impeached immediately. So instead, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has been assigned to tell the truth for Donald Trump, and the Big Orange One doesn’t like it one bit.

So there will be some shit hitting the fan very soon. And that’s why Paul Ryan has decided that he has to leave for the moment. He’s been outstripped by a master hypocrite and liar who exceeds even the orange complexion of former Speaker John Boehner.

The line of Republican Speakers has thus proven to exemplify the worst extremes in America politics. From forceful jerks to complicit liars, the Gingrich-Hastert-Boehner-Ryan lineage is a pitiful demonstration of the conflicted, hypocritical core of conservatism as an ideology. These men demonstrate the fact that the conservative doctrine is a cobbled-together mess of competing desires that constitute neither virtues or values. The Republican Party is a gathering of neocontrarians.

paul-ryan-smile (1).jpgIt’s all about getting the money and power and keeping it. Hence the activist conservative Supreme Court rulings that favor the “free speech” of hidden political contributions. That’s a thin veneer to cover the cause of political corruption.

Because if Republicans can’t win on the merits of their results, they must excel at getting rich people to pay their way into office. Coming off the Bush era, with 9/11 taking place under their watch, a war of choice in Iraq that cost trillions and an economy that crashed under Republican rule, the GOP doctrine was proven to be a grandiose lie.

But hypocrites and conservatives without conscience (to quote John Dean) excel in the realm of cognitive dissonance. Thus the GOP strategy has been to deny that any of that happened under Bush and Cheney. Or else they disclaim those two as unrepresentative of true conservatism. Which is nothing more than lying about the past. Revisionism. And poor excuses for massive fraud.

And that’s the only reason why Republicans are sad that Paul Ryan is leaving office. He put a friendlier face on their massive disgrace. His friendly altar-boy good lucks and his smiling mug serve as the Poster Child for Republican denial. That tradition incorporates conservative denial of science and evolution, climate change and education in general.  But Ryan’s smiling visage overcomes with a youngish-looking appeal for conservative dollars.

And that’s rather creepy. Because one must wonder, given the history of the sexually abusive proclivities of former Speaker Dennis Hastert, if there isn’t something a bit sketchier behind the Republican love for outgoing speaker Paul Ryan.

That smile looks mighty pained at times. Given the dire history of Republican Speakers and their propensity to avoid the truth at any cost, we can only assume that Paul Ryan must be hiding a little something behind that smile.

 

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The call to action for men on the #metoo campaign

She was young, pretty and employed at a growing company dominated by male leadership. Her slight foreign accent gave her an exotic appeal, and her supervisor found the combination too alluring to resist.

melania-trump-donald-trump-020380f2-6db7-4202-b16c-b737c623c9e2.jpg

“What are you wearing under that dress?” he inquired. It only got worse from there. He asked the young woman questions about whether she had had sex with her boyfriend that morning. This type of harassment went on for weeks, and months.

Finally she confessed some of these things to her friends while driving back from lunch one day. I happened to be in the front seat as the conversation unfurled. Her friends were aghast, but not entirely surprised. They had all been harassed at the same place of employment as well.

trump-00-c0c8f54f-fb46-4333-a0c0-b170cdef0673.jpgAs a male employee at that company, I’d heard plenty of comments from other men about the women who worked there. They’d stop by my office and ask things like, “Did you see what (name) is wearing today? You can see her panties through the material.”

Some form of that commentary happened almost every day. Meanwhile the men at the company began engaging in a childish game of pretending to grab the crotch of other men passing by in the hallway. My immediate supervisor would sometimes approach from behind my office chair and put his hand down the front of my shirt to grope my chest in a “kidding” fashion. And so on. And so forth.

So I asked the driver of the car to pull over that day when our associate confessed the degree of sexual harassment she was facing. I turned around to face her and said, “You know, you don’t have to put up with this.”

“What do you mean?” she responded.

Trump-leaves-Melania-behind-807515“I have a friend who’s a lawyer. He probably knows someone who can represent you and get this to stop.”

And from there, I placed the call to set the wheels in motion. My friend indeed knew a lawyer who specialized in harassment cases. I spoke with her on the phone and described what I’d heard. She told me that she’d obviously need to speak with the woman in question. So I gave my associate that lawyer’s information and an official complaint was filed. The harassment was stopped. Our associate was transferred to another position away from her assailant and received a monetary settlement as well.

Call to Action

The call to action in that case was to help that associate get assistance. Although there might have been internal mechanisms to confront the harasser in other ways, the culture of that company might not have delivered equitable results. But it finally did change thanks to multiple harassment cases brought through both internal and external means. The call to action was effective, and harassers either changed their ways or cost the company money in terms of settlements or lost productivity. Hit them where it hurts, and change does come along.

Melania with ObamasSo an atmosphere in which harassment is tolerated is not, in the long term, a financially viable alternative for any organization. If the costs aren’t immediately financial, the exhaustion imposed on associates affects productivity, or relationships fracture, teams break down or absolute criminal activity takes place. The definition of harassment is “aggressive pressure or intimidation” and that crushes the spirit.

The Weinstein Company just found that out. Yet so has the President of the United States, whose often proud declarations of sexual harassment now dog his reputation and impugn his character. It is true that harassers and bullies often get their way for quite a while. But sooner or later they cross the wrong person and/or the true nature of their actions is exposed. Just ask former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, whose sexual abuse of boys was hidden by hush money for decades. But it caught up with him. Now he’s facing his accusers for the real crimes he perpetrated on them fifty years ago.

Harassment is not confined to man against woman. People can be harassed over their sexual orientation or made to feel inadequate by constant criticism or bullying statements of many stripes.

Trump.jpgHarassers will often claim persecution of their own. “Stop being so politically correct!” they may whine, or “I can say what I want! This is America!”

But those statements are pathetic excuses for the lazy minds and ugly nature of those whose character is stunted by immaturity or ignorance.

The call to action on #metoo for all… is to stand up to harassment, bullying and ignorance on all fronts. But let us also consider that it is no small irony in the fact that First Lady Melania Trump has made bullying her cause.  Sometimes the truth is hidden in plain sight. Her cause may in fact be a personal cry for help. When her husband leaves her behind in public ceremonies, pushes her hand aside if he’s impatient or focused on his own ego, and clearly considers her an accessory to his success, and not a real part of his foundation, the darker secrets behind that relationship may be important to consider.

The truth may be known someday, but the evidence is there in the manner in which she is treated by her husband in public. No one is immune to harassment. Not even the wife of the most powerful man in the world. And isn’t that a shame?

#metoo is a just cause.

The socialism of sociopathy

Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocialoften criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.

IMG_8609Perhaps you noticed the difference in tone between the Republican and Democratic debates? The Republican “debate” was all about name-calling, angry accusations and selfish calls for political support because the “other guys” both within their own party and political opponents outside the realm of Republicanism are doing it all wrong.

Basically what we saw was a line of sociopaths socializing over a menu of red political meat. And to no one’s real surprise, they were eating their own.

Contrasts

By contrast, the Democratic debate focused on issues of substance, and when issues like the Hillary Clinton emails came up, candidate Bernie Sanders steered the subject back to matters that mattered. “Enough about your damn emails,” he barked. “Let’s talk about real issues.”

See, there really is a moral equivalency that needs to be measured in the nature of how Republicans conduct themselves and the manner in which Democrats are trying to solve America’s problems. Notice the difference there? For a lineup of sociopaths, it’s literally impossible to think about the impact of what they’re saying about others. They don’t care. They’re antisocial to a major degree.

Crass and uncaring

Donald Trump is leading the polls on the Republican side. His misogyny is so bald-faced and crass. His entire campaign is about the fact that “he’ll do this” and “he’ll do that.” And it will be better. He’ll force people to the table to negotiate. And if they don’t like his deals, he’ll dump them and move on. He’s the king of anti-socialites, primped with a bad hair style and a bad brain beneath it. He’s a sociopath.

And yet he rallies the sociopaths who love his style. That’s because there’s a brand of socialism that emanates from sociopathy. That’s how organizations like the Klu Klux Klan were able to help impose Jim Crow laws that favored whites across the nation. All social advantage was conferred to white people through economic and political power. Blacks were denied jobs and even a seat at the counter or on the bus.

This is the most evil brand of socialism. Here’s how it is defined:

Socialism is a social and economic system characterised by social ownership and/or social control of the means of production and co-operative management of the economy, as well as a political theory and movement that aims at the establishment of such a system.

Do you begin to see how it works? Sociopaths like Donald Trump and Marco Rubio (who acts like a serial murderer) and Chris Christie and so on…love to claim they favor capitalism as a socioeconomic system. But their brand of capitalism does not provide equal opportunity for all to participate in the system. By definition and design, the Republican Party has concocted through a combination of Good Old Boy political favors and outright bribery and control by industries such as oil, pharmaceuticals and even agriculture, turned America into a socialistic oligarchy.

Oligarchy: a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.
When you put the two words together, Socialism and Oligarchy, and study how our economy has been manipulated to push wealth to a small fraction of ownership, you begin to realize that the socialism proposed by candidates such as Bernie Sanders is really more like a market correction than it is an attempt to socialistically redistribute wealth from one segment of society to another.
We recently saw the result of a market correction as managed (and designed) by the greedy sociopaths currently running our economy. America’s wealth convulsed and contracted, and millions of people lost millions of dollars, jobs and wages became depressed as a result. Meanwhile the richest got richer. We were literally told that the tax dollars of everyday Americans would be necessarily used to bail out banks that were “too big to fail.”
Convenient untruths
Well, isn’t that convenient? Meanwhile millions of middle class and often middle-aged Americans were cast out of work, and companies refused to hire them if they were out of work more than six months. Then a cast of sociopathic Republican Senators and Congressman began to blame these Americans for collecting unemployment insurance. They refused to pass a bill that would allow people to keep collecting said insurance as they continued looking for work. They further accused people of not even trying to look for work.
I sat around the table at a business luncheon in 2009. Around me sat a group of local businessmen, all who blanched when the banking industry speaker admitted that companies like his would not soon loosen restrictions on loans for capital and payroll loans. You could feel the anger and frustration surge, for these were good conservative people who ran businesses that employed other people. They felt abandoned by the very system they supported. They were victims of the socialistic sociopathy of oligarchic capitalism. But one wonders if they recognized it, or would ever change their vote to people that actually cared whether their businesses survived.
It’s doubtful.
Hierarchies
The sociopaths at the upper levels of the economy have zero empathy for other people, you see. By definition they entirely lack “a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.” And when the economy tanked, many of them actually gave themselves performances. Big companies held parties using the federal dollars they received in bailouts. That is the most sociopathic thing one can conceive. 
See, it has become a pattern in the America that the socialism of sociopathy works against the interests of everyday people trying to make a living, run businesses, raise a family and enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
And as if the economics of sociopathic socialism were not enough, the political Right also wants to rule the inside of a woman’s body, and prevents the Equal Rights Amendment from even being considered for passage.
Well, shoot
Meanwhile, the sociopathic socialists also constructed a gun culture in which the rights of everyday people who do not want to own or possess guns are being forced to consider their own safety just by attending school or going to a movie theater. The sociopathic socialists tell the world that guns make the nation a safer place to live despite the fact that 30,000 annually die from gun violence. Guns are the perfect expression of sociopathic socialism, because they now are legal for Concealed Carry in all 50 states, and lobbies are working to pass Open Carry laws so that people can walk around brandishing weapons in public.
Stop and think about that for a moment. We’re talking about a fully militarized society at that point. All people who do not carry weapons would be at a social disadvantage wherever they go.
Fighting back meekly
Small efforts to combat this brand of sociopathic socialism still exist. One can find No Guns signage on the doors of churches and businesses that do not want people carrying weapons. And yet, the sociopathic socialists warn that it is No Gun Zones that are the most dangerous places because it confers advantage to so-called criminals with guns.
How is this logic even tolerated? Well, the slogan for gun rights that trump all other rights is “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”
And that, my friends, is the most sociopathic statement ever concocted. It actually invites people to kill. Look at those last three words. “People kill people.” That’s the slogan for sociopathy. And now it is socialized into our country’s lexicon.
Good gun owners
Granted, there are millions of gun owners that use and keep their weapons lawfully. But they are doing precious little to prevent the sociopathic strain of gun owners from ruining their rights as guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Instead these lawful gun owners either weakly or submissively go along, or else get on their Right To Bear Arms stump as if standing proudly above others on grounds of the Second Amendment and ignoring the part about a “well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security fo a free state…” was justification enough to ignore the fact that our police are being shot and killed and hundreds of thousands more people per year are harmed by gun violence.
Hate, fear and aggression
This is the socialism of sociopathy. It harnesses hatred, fear and aggression to confer political power on those whose worldview has no empathy, and whose greed blinds them to the mechanics of true democracy, which works to provide an equal and fair playing field for all citizens.
It’s no coincidence that political leaders like Paul Ryan cite the sociopathic writings of Ayn Rand as a model for his own behavior. Or that men like Newt Gingrich could deliver an ultimatum note to his wife in her sickbed from cancer, and take part in all sorts of other schemes while hypocritically castigating President Clinton for his affair. And that supposed Good Guy Dennis Hastert was paying hush money all these years to cover up his own transgressions while pretending to be a man of high honor.
All of them, sociopaths. These are not people of good character, and they have assembled a political party around principles that are exclusionary, manipulative of cultural norms and backed by a strangely sociopathic brand of Christian faith that is literally divorced from the teachings of Jesus Christ.
It all requires a considerable amount of cognitive dissonance to sustain. But the fundamental sociopathy behind a cultural force that works against social welfare by blaming the victims of its policies for causing ill to society is the methodology of a sociopath with psychopathic disorder.
Psychopath: a person with psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoraland antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.
Think about the Rush Limbaughs of the world, who with his multiple failed marriages still feels it’s his right and responsibility to tell women how to live and what to do with their bodies. Or Bill O’Reilly, caught in multiple lies about his journalistic history, and yet he claims to operate in a “No Spin Zone.” 
These are manipulations of image that exhibit sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies. And yet millions of people buy their schtick and pipe up with “dittos!” to Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. 
This is the socialism of sociopathy. It’s a sickness American needs to cure. But there’s a problem in that people with the illness seldom recognize it in themselves. And so they vote even against their own interests just so the person who appears to be below them on the social ladder will not get a leg up. That’s the socialism of sociopathy. 
America is a sick place sometimes. 
FlagWaiver

The weary world and Dennis Hastert

dennis-hastertThe so-called “accidental” Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert has long lived on reputation of being a good old boy. He is a quiet man by nature who worked hard to bring value to his home district, which happens to cover the area where I live.

As such, and as a United States Congressman, he made appearances in his district giving talks about political doings at the state and national level. In the late 1980s I happened to be the person who booked speakers for our local Rotary Club. When it became evident Hastert was available to talk to our club, I was urged to make contact and have him come to our breakfast meeting.

Hastert was introduced by the club president and spoke about a few issues of importance at the time. George H.W. Bush was President of the United States and the post-Reagan Republican world was trying to make sense of their newfound sense of power. It wasn’t going all that well, but you’d never know from the way the party continued to talk about its fiscal and social exploits.

At the end of his talk Hastert invited our Rotary members to ask some questions. There was one issue in which I was keenly interested. I waited my turn to ask about some environmental legislation the government was considering. This was during an era when there started to be some serious blowback toward green legislation. In particular there were concerns about the economic impact of so-called environmentalists. That term had become one of derision by those on the political Right––who accused environmentalists of putting the needs of the earth before human interests. But in fact there were arguments against environmentalism from both the economic wing and religious wing of the Republican party. Fiscal conservatives claimed environmentalism was too costly for business while religious conservatives catered to a wing of Christianity that said human beings had dominion over the earth and could do whatever they wanted with it. As a result of these accusations, environmentalism was becoming one of the dividing issues between Republicans and Democrats.

Recent past

It wasn’t always that way. President Nixon, a devout Republican, had established the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) for good reason. In the early 1970s when Nixon was President, environmental pollution had turned America into a dangerous mess. Rivers caught fire from pollution and pesticides were causing species such as the bald eagle and peregrine falcon to disappear from their natural ranges. Passing laws for environmental protection was the right thing to do and a Republican thing to do dating back to Teddy Roosevelt, who led the way in establishing the National Park System.

But the arc from considerate Republican stewardship to a party more concerned with extraction than conservation was taking a hard right turn in the late 1980s. Which is perhaps why Dennis Hastert felt comfortable outwardly laughing at my sincere question about environmental legislation. He looked around the room and laughed when I brought up the subject. And people laughed with him.

I was shocked. Was I missing something? Was the environment a joke in some people’s minds? Apparently so.

Rotary redux: What goes around…

The next time Dennis Hastert was invited to our Rotary Club to speak, I was the President of the club. You can imagine that I was not so eager to have Hastert speak this time around. Yet his political stature had begun to rise, and his fans were many. While not yet Speaker of the House, the name Dennis Hastert was held in high regard. His tenure in office was growing.

But when it came time to introduce Dennis Hastert to our Rotary Club, I kept the introduction clipped and brief. “Good morning Rotary members,” I said. “Our speaker this morning is Dennis Hastert.”

No protocol. No long list of titles relative to his position in government. I skipped all that jazz. My fellow Rotary members were angry. “How could you show him such disrespect?” they demanded to know.

I explained exactly why his introduction was so brief. “He did not show me respect as a human being last time he came here to speak. And I don’t care what someone has in terms of a title in front of his name,” I responded. “Basic respect comes first. And he didn’t show it to me.”

National conduct

When Dennis Hastert ascended to the podium of national leadership I watched his conduct carefully. At one point there appeared a photo on the front cover of the Chicago Tribune. Now Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert stood proudly with a bunch of Republican leaders including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and a couple other GOP legislators signing a piece of law that essentially limited women’s rights. There they were, a gaggle of powerful white men proudly signing away the rights of half the population. It made me sick.

The ideological approach of that entire era of politicians made me suspicious of every motive they put forward. I had learned from direct experience that men like Dennis Hastert can have a dismissive approach to anyone that does not agree with their doctrine or politics. When those ideologues swept into power with the stolen election of George W. Bush in 2000, it was evident to me what would come next. Abuse of power. The Good Old Boys had control and they weren’t going to pussyfoot around trying to do what they wanted and to get what they thought they deserve.

Only their agenda repeatedly and predictably failed. Without consideration of basic human rights, the actions of Republican ideologues flout the Constitution, ignore the clear call to considerate governance and indeed, undermine respect for the American ideal around the world.

It was not just circumstance. One failure after another took place; from 9/11 to Katrina, the torturous war in Iraq to the fall of the economy. The policies of these men produced nothing but tragedy and dismissive excuses for why it was somehow not their fault. Yet you could still sometimes see the harsh expressions and catch traces of the bitter laughter on faces of men such as George W. Bush, Dennis Hastert and Donald Rumsfeld as they continued forcing their agenda on America.

Perhaps even disturbing was the lack of apparent laughter (and less a shred of compassion) from men such as Dick Cheney, whose sneering and snarling demeanor was not even fit for public consumption lest the public actually catch on to the nasty nature of the men operating behind the scenes.

Perhaps the only thing that can make a mercenary laugh is the paycheck they collect for accomplishing their task, and then they only share that smile and laugh among associates who are “in on the joke.” That certainly seemed to be the case with Cheney, whose business interests in Halliburton suddenly made billions from the war in Iraq. But the cynicism seemed pervasive in all branches of government it seemed, especially the likes of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose title of “Supreme Court Justice” seemed almost ironic as he dispensed clearly partisan rulings and opinions that seemed to fly in the face of Constitutional common sense. Meanwhile he laughed off his critics.

Damned Dems

Sure, there are interesting types among the Democrats as well. People love to point to the likes of President Bill Clinton as an example of a corrupt and laughing politician. But how ironic it is that the three Republican Speakers of the House who pushed for Clinton’s impeachment for lying about his sexual affair with Monica Lewinsky turned out to have sexual secrets and philandering histories of their own?

Clinton admittedly was an embarrassment to America in his sexual dalliances, but he was certainly not the first or last President or powerful politician caught with his hands down someone else’s pants. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had his girlfriends on the side yet found the time and courage to lead America out of the Depression and through the massive travails of World War II. JFK was another Democrat whose lust for women was well known yet he also seemed to transcend his personal failures with a will for social justice and equal rights. He envisioned the space program that beat the Soviets in putting a man on the moon. And what killed Kennedy? A secret cabal of hateful CIA agents and mobster laughing into their collars as they looked the other way while the motorcade came to a stop and a hail of bullets caromed from every direction.

The same hateful secret government killed Martin Luther King, Jr., another womanizer it turns out, the very same way. Assassinations in the name of secret ideology.

Forgiveness and gay thoughts

All this begs the question: What should be forgiven in our public figures? What is the acceptable balance between kept secrets and privacy? Does it matter what people do in the bedroom if they otherwise conduct themselves well in public and obey the law?

That’s where Dennis Hastert and some others run aground. So vital are their kept secrets to their public persona they cannot afford to let those secrets out. So they move money around and make payments to risky past relationships to keep them quiet.

In Hastert’s case there is the double Republican indemnity of having possibly engaged in a same-sex relationship. That’s considered a political liability among social conservatives, who would rather deny the fact of homosexuality as a normal state of human consciousness than accept the social change of same-sex marriage and other equal rights for gay people. So it wasn’t just that Hastert had a sex scandal in his past. It was allegedly a gay sex scandal, quite possibly with a minor, that made vital for him to obscure his past and maintain his image as a devout Republican.

And how sad yet necessary it all is because people cannot understand, accept or be accepted for who they are. So they create this fashioned image of who they think they have to be. Then they engage in every possible ruse to protect that fake reality.

How liberating it will be one day when the stigmas attached to homosexuality are removed. Then people can live without being restricted by their sexual orientation. It still would not excuse the potential actions of pedophiles who take advantage of minors for sexual purposes, for that is a distinct and separate issue from homosexuality. The two are not necessarily linked.

Key learnings

It seems in the end they all have their secrets, these politicians. So what can we learn from how they conduct themselves? And how can America protect itself from the hypocrisy evident in the conduct of men and women of power who claim to represent the best of America and morality while carrying out thefts of public trust and treasure?

The answer is that we should never accept the public face of politics. Ever. Even the so-called Great Communicator Ronald Reagan, who presented himself as the affable father of morality and American virtue, let his administration’s actions spin out of control with the Iran-Contra affair. At least Reagan stepped forward to confess, which is more than men like George W. Bush have had the courage to do even though his minions led a military extortion and torture regime in Iraq.

Just remember that even when you ask relevant questions of individuals like these, they may still be laughing at you.  They may appear smug and proficient in the ways of politics, but we continue to learn that so many of these people are hiding dark secrets in their past and present. They laugh at you because they don’t want you to know these secrets, and don’t believe you have a right to do so. So they laugh it off, as if you’re the stupid one. And if they get enough power and media on their side, they indeed appear to be in control of everything they do. But dark secrets have a way or emerging in ways that the most protective over souls cannot imagine.

It is often the case that the repressed choose to persecute and prosecute the things they hate most in themselves. That’s why we find religious zealots hollering from the pulpit about sex while they conduct illicit sexual affairs with their own parishioners. It’s why we find hardline politicians passing anti-gay legislation even as they engage in sex with secretly gay lovers or prostitutes.

All these ruses are an elaborate attempt at self-denial and protection. It is the also the most common ruse of power that those who want to play along should always be in on the joke. So there are even secret societies that create these dark secrets and hold people hostage their whole lives on threat that they will be exposed if they ever tell on another person. It’s a sick, dark world that exists apart from the honest way you and I want to live.

Jokesters and justice

We’ve seen what happens in history when the jokesters are exposed as frauds. They grow angry and seek to punish. That’s why Herod called for Jesus. He wanted to either witness the real secret of power or else make a mockery of that which threatened him.

Often this pattern of hypocritical rage gets carried to its illogical conclusion. People cry out to the Lord, “Where is they justice?” But God sees the spectrum of human foible in a fuller context. He expects us to be wiser than to trust angry fools so long, and to let them rule over us.

That is the weary world God wants us to overcome. Men like Dennis Hastert start out by laughing in our faces as if our questions were all a joke, and as if accountability were a humorous fiction.

It can be tiring to be vigilant toward such dismissive leaders who lie to us and laugh in our faces. They keep coming at us, and with increasingly powerful fervor driven by media that echo and amplify their voices. The laughter of their ideology drowns out the earnest inquiries of the curious and sincere. A certain madness takes over, and people begin siding with the madness because it seems like the only sane thing to do given its popularity and its promises.

But you should know that this madness is not the righteous way. These were the same voices that yelled “Crucify Him!” and laughed and scowled at a man nailed to the cross, whose sacrifice was intended to instruct on the ways of truth in the face of power and mockery.

The weary world accepts that such ends are inevitable, that no matter what we do, tomorrow is the another day for crucifixion of hope, love and political honesty. We see it every day, and the weary world and Dennis Hastert are illustrating the dangers of blind trust and mockery of those who are not in on the secret, which is that all human beings are flawed, and no amount of cynical laughter and power-brokering politics can hide that fact.