Posts Tagged “argentina”

Mark Sanford, the moralistic crusading governor of South Carolina who this summer skipped his state — in fact, he skipped the country! — in order to visit with his Argentine mistress, may finally have to face the consequences of his sneaky behavior. I’ve already blogged about this sniveling, contemptible characterwhose backers have claimed that everyone else in the universe but him was responsible for what he did — and even went so far as to compare himself with the Biblical hero King David. But at long last he faces a number of specific ethics charges, as reported by the New York Times:

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina will face formal ethics charges on 37 counts of using his office for personal financial gain, according to a list of allegations issued by the state ethics commission on Monday.

The charges on the list include spending state money on business-class plane tickets, instead of flying coach; using state aircraft to attend political and personal events, like the birthday party of a campaign contributor; and using his campaign fund for non-campaign expenses like a ticket to President Obama’s inauguration.

The idiot triggered this ethics probe, as well as a separate impeachment investigation in the SC legislature, by conspicuously disappearing this summer:

A separate impeachment resolution has been filed in the state legislature, but the ethics commission and the legislative action so far have dealt with different accusations. The ethics commission reviewed charges of misuse of public resources, while the impeachment resolution deals with the governor’s secret trip to Argentina in June to visit a woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

A legislative committee will take up the impeachment resolution on Tuesday.

It turns out that Sanford has flown high, on SC tax dollars, for a very long time … although only a few times while making booty-calls to his mistress:

The 17-page document released Monday, which is similar to an indictment, lists 18 occasions when Mr. Sanford flew business class or first class when, it alleges, “no exigencies existed to justify an upgrade from coach,” as required by state law. All but two were international flights, but in one instance Mr. Sanford flew first class from Columbia, S.C., to nearby Atlanta.

That’s just the start of it, of course. By contrast to his own behavior, Sanford has acted the role of a conscientious steward of public money, going so far as to fight off federal stimulus money offered his state, earlier this year (as reported at the time by The State):

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday became the first governor to reject some of his state’s share of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus money, spurning $700 million that he said would harm his state’s residents in the long run. …

Sanford turned down the federal money despite new data showing that his state’s unemployment rate had risen to 10.4 percent, the second highest in the country.

“We don’t think it’s a good idea to spend money that you don’t have,” Sanford said in Columbia.

Yeah yeah, governor, as though anyone believes you … because at the same time you were professing to protect the wallets of South Carolinians, you were upgrading from coach to first- and business-class, on their dimes. How nice — and hypocritical — of you.

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Folks in the Religious Right love to trumpet “morality” as a reason why everyone must be religious — i.e. adherents of their own religion of course. They consider non-belief to be unacceptable because — in their minds — non-belief is amoral. This is, of course, very wrong, as I explain in my Agnosticism FAQ. Nonetheless they love to claim to be the sole arbiters of morality in the world.

An interesting phenomenon, then, is when one of them stumbles along the the path of morality. The most recent example of this is the furiously conservative governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, who disappeared for a week, and returned today to hold a press conference (reported by the AP, via Yahoo News):

After going AWOL for seven days, Gov. Mark Sanford admitted Wednesday that he had secretly flown to Argentina to visit a woman with whom he was having an affair. …

“I’ve been unfaithful to my wife,” he said in a bombshell news conference in which the 49-year-old governor ruminated aloud with remarkable frankness on God’s law, moral absolutes and following one’s heart. He said he spent the last five days “crying in Argentina.”

The governor’s disappearance had been a mystery even to many of his own friends in government, and had become a rather serious matter (see this timeline for more information, courtesy of the Columbia (SC) State). Sanford, you may recall — as this AP (Yahoo News) report explains — had once been a vocal proponent of marital fidelity:

As a congressman, Sanford voted in favor of three of four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton, citing the need for “moral legitimacy.”

Hmm. “Moral legitimacy”? I guess when you’re a card-carrying member of the Religious Right, you can be as hypocritical as you want … even though Jesus Christ himself explicitly and unambiguously ordered his followers never, ever to be hypocritical.

The AP (Yahoo News) report also mentions that U.S. Senator John Ensign, R-NV, had also recently revealed an affair of his own:

Sanford’s announcement came a day after another prominent Republican, Sen. John Ensign of Nevada, apologized to his GOP Senate colleagues after revealing last week that he had an affair with a campaign staffer and was resigning from the GOP leadership.

The question is, are folks in the Religious Right going to rethink their support for Sanford or Ensign — or will they ignore these massive moralistic failures and let them get away with them?

More to the point, it’s examples such as this that fly in the face of the Religious Right’s basic position that Christianity makes people more moral. It turns out that this is not actually the case. Now … the R.R. can certainly argue that “people will still be people, Christianity or no,” and that “we’re all sinners anyway,” and all of that. But these are just excuses for why Christianity is not capable of actually making its own followers into upstanding, moral people. That it does not do so, is nonetheless significant. If Christianity is “right” because it makes people moral, how, exactly, do events such as these not contradict that?

Don’t worry, I don’t expect anyone will answer that question. No one has yet, so I’m not expecting they ever will.

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The government of Argentina has looked into the raving lunatic Bishop Richard Williamson, and decided he no longer should be in their country, as CNN reports:

Bishop Richard Williamson, who last month denied the existence of the Holocaust in an interview with Swedish television, was ordered Thursday to leave Argentina within 10 days, the Ministry of Interior said.

“The bishop has repeatedly forged the true motive for his stay in the country, having declared that he is an employee of ‘La Tradicion’ Civil Society when, in reality, his true activity was as priest and seminary director of the Society of Saint Pius X in the neighborhood of Moreno,” Interior Minister Florencio Randazzo said in a written statement. …

“Williamson has had public notoriety following his anti-Semitic statements to Swedish media in which he questioned whether Jewish people were victims of the Holocaust,” Randazzo continued.

“For these reasons, along with the strong condemnation from the Argentine government of how statements like these harm Argentine society, the Jewish community, and all of humanity by trying to deny a historic truth, the national government has decided to demand that the Bishop leave the country or be expelled.”

Please note the initial reason given for Williamson’s expulsion: that he had come to Argentina under false pretenses. How nice of a Catholic bishop — someone whose morals, ethics and conduct should be above reproach — to have defrauded a country in his immigration papers. I’m not quite sure why a Catholic cleric, even an excommunicated one, would have needed to conceal his affiliation in a Latin American country, since the Roman Catholic Church has a massive presence in that part of the world, and lots of controversial clerics live there. It might have made more sense, had he done so in a country hostile to the Catholic church or to religious folks generally, such as China.

Given no apparent reason for his dishonesty, one must again wonder what it is that the Vatican sees in Williamson.

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