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Friday, September 30, 2016

Crooked Hillary? Crooked Donald?

I keep running into people who tell me that they won’t vote for Hillary because she’s so “crooked” or “dishonest” or “corrupt.”  My handyman told me this, and so did a nurse during a medical procedure I was recently enduring.  To both of them I replied that I’m a Hillary supporter, but I’d never vote for someone who fit any of those descriptions.  What exactly did she do to earn these labels?  Hey, I’m a lawyer—I want facts before I make up my mind.

My questions produced puzzled silence.  “Well, everyone says that” was more or less the reply I always get.  “Do you believe everything you hear without checking?” is mine. 

Hillary has flaws, of course, as any candidate would.  She mishandled her emails badly, but the intensive investigations of this brouhaha concluded that she did nothing criminally wrong and was only guilty of bad judgment.  If you don’t vote for her for that reason, okay.  But if bad judgment on one occasion is enough, then don’t vote for Donald Trump, who is the epitome of bad judgment more or less daily throughout his life (see below). 

What about the Clinton Foundation that Hilary and Bill (and others) use so successfully to raise money?  Didn’t Hillary’s staff, when she was Secretary of State, arrange special favors for some foreign donors?  Well, not really.  Her staff frequently arranged meetings for all sorts of people making these requests if the meetings were also important for the United States government, and some of these people were donors to the Clinton Foundation.  But there’s no evidence of quid pro quo here.  In fact the Clinton Foundation is one of the most successful and highly rated charitable enterprises in the world, and 80 to 90% of the money donated to the charity is in fact used for charitable purposes (not overhead).  The Clintons certainly don’t profit from the charity—they work for free.

Trump and Bondi at Mar-a-Lago
Compare Donald Trump’s charity, which he uses as if it were his personal bank.  He’s dipped into the charity for $20,000 to buy a portrait of himself which now hangs in Trump Tower, and another $12,000 from the charity to buy an autographed football helmet.  He used charity money to make a $25,000 contribution to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s re-election campaign just when her office was considering whether to prosecute Trump University for fraud (as many other AGs were doing across the country), at which point she dropped the investigation; see  It’s illegal to use charity money for non-charitable purposes, but The Donald has played fast and loose with this idea.  Indeed there’s a current outcry for a bribery indictment against Trump in the Bondi case, and the IRS has fined Trump for this misuse of his charity's money.  Trump and Attorney General Bondi are buddies, witness the above photo of them taken last March at Trump’s part-time home, Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, where the Trumps held a fundraiser for Bondi, reportedly writing her another check for $135,000.  She has, of course, endorsed him for president.

The Republican majority in Congress has investigated Hillary over and over, tediously, for years on many topics: Benghazi, emails, Libya, etc., and every time has come up empty-handed.  It must be frustrating for them, but there it is.  Trump, on the other hand, when investigated for things like taking millions from his loyal followers who paid to go to Trump University and lost everything, is in deep trouble over that scam and others.

Trump’s life is filled with ugly incidents.  He is well-known for not paying workers and contractors on his various projects, and when they protest he offers a partial payment and tells them they can sue if they like, but attorney’s fees will make that a losing choice even if they ultimately prevail, so take it or leave it—see, for example,

In a recent book called “The Making of Donald Trump” by an investigative reporter named David Cay Johnston who has tracked him for years, the author details one slimy Trump activity after another, from the many lawsuits brought against him for things like racial discrimination and casino scams, to involvement with the mob, to working hard to make sure his three-year old nephew lost his medical coverage just when he was seriously ill, and, more . . . much more.  The book, a bestseller, is not long, and is a terrifying read when you consider that this venal man might soon become president.  For another similar account, going into great detail, see

John Oliver

HBO’s John Oliver presented a program he labeled “Scandals” in which, over a twenty minute period, he carefully (and with much humor) traces both the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump scandals and compares them, reaching a hysterical result in which Clinton’s misdeeds are overwhelmed by Trump’s.  See the video at

Donald Trump doesn’t understand basic morality, nor the rules as to what is acceptable conduct and what is not.  A major worry, not much considered by the voting public, is what is going to happen to the running of the humongous Trump Organization if Donald were elected president.  That organization has influence in many a foreign country, where it profits from deals with those countries and with major players who are foreign nationals.  Newsweek published a major article about this; see  If Donald (or his family) is still in charge of the Trump Organization when he’s president, conflicts of interest will occur daily.  Trump has said he would put his holdings into a “blind trust,” but seemed to think it would be okay that his family ran the blind trust.  That is a misunderstanding of what a blind trust is like; for the rules see  Certainly it is impossible to imagine President Donald Trump ignoring his company’s ongoing business dealings—matters he has handled up close and personal all his life—and letting his finances be in the hands of a stranger.  Even if he promises to follow the rules, his past history makes such a promise laughable.  If Trump promised to stop attending to his business interests, one doubts he could do it.  If he were caught looking into things or making business decisions (which sounds very likely to me—how about you?), he’d probably just say “To hell with it,” resigning in frustration and going back to doing what he most likes to do: making deals.  In that case enter President Mike Pence.

President Pence

The comparison of Hillary’s ethical problems and Donald’s, done without bias, is the comparison of minor faults with major ones.  Donald Trump running for office with his over-the-top campaign would be funny if the stakes weren’t so serious.

Faced with the facts concerning Hillary (including her splendid resume), people resort to saying, “Well, I just don’t like her.”  That’s a legitimate reason for not voting for her, and no one can quibble with it.  But can the person who says this really believe that Donald Trump—DONALD TRUMP!!!—is the answer?  Hmm.  Maybe so, but any investigation of him (see above) makes that a suspicious conclusion.  It leads one to suspect that what’s really happening is something more obvious, uglier: we have a black president and many people are uncomfortable with that.  Now they certainly don’t want a woman!  What would be next?  A gay?  An atheist?  A muslim? To many people a bad white male president is a better choice than heading down that road.  For more on this issue see

Related Posts:
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

“Comparing Donald Trump to a Badly Infected Big Toe,” August 3, 2016,

“Trump University: A Fraudster for President”? March 10, 2016;]

“Why Hillary Will Stomp Trump In November,” June 30, 2016;

“Trump’s VP Choice:  Introducing Sarah Palin . . . Mike Pence!” July 18, 2016;

Saturday, September 24, 2016

A Married Gay Couple Attends a German Catholic Family Reunion

As I’ve explained before, my father’s side of the family were English/Scottish, and my ancestry-minded sister, Mary Beth Colpitts, has traced the Whaleys back to the Battle of Hastings and before; see “A Whaley at the Battle of Hastings: The Fun of Genealogy,” February 22, 2016;].

My mother’s side of the family, the Kunkels, were pure Germans, coming to this country from Bavaria in the 1840s and settling in the City of Jasper in southern Indiana.  They were devout Catholics, and many of their descendants still are, producing very large families.  Here is a picture of my mother, Lenore Kunkel Whaley, with me and my great grandparents, Philip and Matilda Kunkel.  I vaguely remember them because they had a large parrot who screamed “Pa, Phone!” whenever the telephone rang.

Their son Jerome Kunkel, who, later in life (when he decided to run for mayor of Jasper and won) changed his first name to Roman, was my grandfather, and he married Caroline Hoffman.  Together they had nine children: eight girls and one boy.  Eventually their offspring produced 37 children, giving Mary Beth and me dozens of Kunkel cousins (with none at all on the Whaley side).  My father started dating my mother when they both attended Jasper High School in late 1930’s, and the first time he came over to the Kunkel household filled with all these girls running around, he thought there was a party going on!

The Kunkel Children (the oldest, Maxine is missing), my mother is at the far right

This summer the Kunkel clan decided to have a family reunion in Jasper, and my husband, David Vargo, bravely consented to go with me and meet all these relatives.  The year before he’d met some of them when my cousin Jane turned 70 and she was surprised by a visit to her home in Beaumont, Texas, by David and me, her daughter, and four of her eight siblings.  On Friday, August 5th, David and I hopped in the car for the four hour drive to Jasper.  David was most impressed by how beautiful southern Indiana is.

I was a bit worried how a gay married couple would fit into the very heterosexual and Catholic group that was gathering in Jasper.  When I attended the 1988 Kunkel reunion I’d had some trouble with one of my uncles who I’d always had a great relationship with in the past, but who was suddenly sneering at me and unwilling to talk once he discovered I was gay.  However that generation had passed, and the current crop of Kunkels was very welcoming to both David and me.  The reunion was ably put together by my cousin Marsha Tellstrom and her crew, and they did a terrific job.   In the photo at the top of this post, David (far right) and I are having a great time with my cousins Phil Rohleder (far left) and Brenda Seybold.  Various family members took me aside to mention that there were other gays in the family who were not in attendance, some of whom I knew to be gay, and others not.  There is a large difference between attitudes towards gays in 2016 and 1988, for which hallelujah!

The reunion was timed to coincide with the Jasper Strassenfest, an annual festival celebrating German heritage and culture, and featuring much beer, polkas, and happy crowds in the downtown square.  The Kunkel clan had a dinner gathering Friday night, which was good fun,  and then most of us repaired to the festival, but the big event for our weekend happened the next day when everyone gathered for the Kunkel Reunion Dinner.  Since the older Kunkels were mostly gone, the first photo lineup was the gathering of the 37 first cousins, in order of age, and I was distressingly near the top (seventh in line if all had been there). 

This was followed by the next generation and then the next, all lining up in increasing numbers.  Finally the first cousins posed with their spouses, and, as you can see in the photo below, I (accidentally I assure you—because I’m usually such a shy retiring type) happened to be seated in a bright light, and David (in the orange shirt) proudly took his place behind me.

Earlier that day David and I had ventured into the wilds of southern Indiana to find the tiny little Cox Cemetery where my parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents are buried at the top of a hill overlooking a peaceful woods (“Where I can hear the foxhounds run,” my grandfather, John Whaley, a hunter, had predicted).  It was moving to stand next to my parents’ graves and remember these wonderful people (about whom I’ve written so many blog posts).

The picture below was taken in 1922 at the 50th wedding anniversary celebration of my great-grandfather, Irvin Whaley and his wife Nancy Cox.  Irvin is the old man circled in the second row (Nancy is to his right), and my grandfather, John Whaley (a widower in 1922) is circled at the far left of the row (hat in hand).  My father, Robert Whaley, is the cute, curly-headed boy circled in the front row.  John’s wife (my father’s mother) Mary had died earlier that same year (see “My Missing Grandmother,” below).

[Click to enlarge]

On Sunday David and I drove home.  He had met an overwhelming number of my Kunkel relatives, and they all had treated us both with affection and much good humor.  That side trip to the Whaley side of the family in the Cox Cemetery tied both of my family trees together in a way that I will think about in a deep and satisfying way for a long time.

It was a great trip, and I’ll close this post with a picture of my Kunkel grandparents, Carrie and Roman Kunkel, clowning with each other in their youth.  They always knew how to have a good time.

Related Posts:

A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013;

“My Competitive Parents,” January 20, 2010,

“My Mother's Sense of Humor,” April 4, 2010;

“Bob and Kink Get Married,” June 2, 2010;

“Bob Whaley, Boy Lawyer,” March 28, 2010;

“My Missing Grandmother,” December 26 2012;