When Did Honor Die? Does Anyone Care Anymore?

CORRUPTION WATCH-Death is often seen as having a particular date, and in TV crime stories, the coroner often fixes the time of day as well as the cause of death. The death of American honor was so slow that we did not see it occurring. 

The Perfidy of Those Who Do Nothing 

Edmund Burke is most famous for his saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Less famous but perhaps more important is his other saying: “Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” 

Our Decline into Corruptionism 

In 1982, George C.S. Benson published the book, “Amoral America,”where he was among the first conservative political writers to admit that America was the most corrupt advanced modern democracy. Benson pointed out: “If the police will not arrest the malefactor, the district attorneys not prosecute him, or the courts not convict him, there is not much use having laws...” (page 95) 

Let’s be clear. Benson was addressing corruption in big business and government. He was not launching the punitive and discriminatory Law and Order campaigns which gave us the Three Strikes era. Benson was focused on society’s leaders: “Government is at the center of our ethical problem.” 

Counting from the Equity Funding Scandal of the early 1970s until today, close to a half century of increasing corruptionism has been decimating our society. The perpetrators of the Equity Funding Scandal went to prison, but that did not stop the Savings & Loan scandal of the 1980s where the first response of the courts was to attack the whistleblowers. Nonetheless, the nation had enough honor to investigate and prosecute the owners of the savings and loans who had financially raped the public. Perhaps the greatest villain was California’s Charles Keating and his Lincoln Savings. The Keating Five was named after him. 

Five U.S. Senators including California’s Senator Alan Cranston and Arizona John McCain were accused of interfering with the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB) investigation into Keating’s Lincoln Savings.  

On the good side, back in the 1980s we had investigations of the S & Ls and of their political enablers. On the down side, we had sunk so low that we needed investigations. Worse yet, none of the Keating Five Senators were of the Joe McCarthy ilk. Covering up for white collar criminals was becoming a respectable part of the portfolio of U.S. Senators. Is anyone surprised that hordes of lesser politicos jumped onto the pro-corruption bandwagon? 

The premier S & L investigator, whom we need to now heed, is William K. Black and his explanation of Accounting Control Fraud. Black details how entire businesses such as Enron and cities like Los Angeles use Lies and Myths to loot the treasuries of corporations and the city. 

The history of Charles Keating’s legal problems after the collapse of his corrupt empire reveals how the American courts became increasingly protective of corruption. In 1992, when state court Judge Lance Ito sentenced Keating to the maximum of 40 months in prison, Judge Ito quoted Woody Guthrie, "More people have suffered from the point of a fountain pen than from a gun." 

In 1996 the federal appeals court threw out the state court conviction and a subsequent federal court conviction on the grounds that knowledge of Keating’s bad behavior had tainted his trials. Gee, maybe Charlie Manson should have tried that defense. 

California Judiciary, Leader of the Pack in a Bad Way 

After the judicial retention elections in 1986 when the public voted to kill more people, California lost its preeminent position as one of the nation’s leading judicial systems and devolved into the mess of corruptionism which besets us all today. The public was upset that not enough death sentences were being implemented and the subtext of the judicial election was to remove the female Chief Justice Rose Bird, the Jew Justice Grodin and the Mexican Justice Reynoso.  But as California soon saw, voting for judges to kill more people had adverse consequences. 

Three Notable Cases Followed 

Foley v. Interactive Data Corp. (1988) 47 Cal.3d 65 where the Supreme Court held that CEO’s who wanted to embezzle money from the companies could fire employees who objected to their criminal conduct. 

Moradi-Shalal v Firemans’ Fund (1988) 46 Cal.3d 287 where the Supreme Court gave insurance companies the green light to cheat claimants. 

Moncharsh v. Heily & Blase (1992) 3 Cal.4th 1 where the Supreme Court held that arbitrators’ decision which were obviously wrong and worked a substantial injustice had to be enforced. Soon thereafter the chief justice resigned to become an arbitrator to award clearly wrong decisions which seriously injured the losing party. 

California has many people who know about the advance of corruptionism in the California judiciary from the insider perspective, yet they are cowardly men and women who remain silent. They tell themselves excuses such as “Not my fault. I was just following orders of the presiding judge.” (Hmm, that sounds familiar.) 

There’s the Quisling Excuse, “I am just one person and I cannot make a difference.” Their motto is “It’s better to deny the darkness than to light one candle.”  

As these altacockers enter their golden years and beyond, they keep up the Omerta of the corrupt judiciary. The judicial corruptionism is general knowledge; even the court’s personnel know who’s schtupping whom, both figuratively and literally.   

As one victim of judicial corruptionism explained, when going to the Los Angeles County District Attorney with the evidence of corruption involving banks and judges, the Assistant DA had the decency to tell the truth rather than lie. He said, “Yes, but no one cares.”  

No one cares because basically no one knows, and no one knows due to the retired judges who remain silent. What sort of legacy is death with the dishonor of silence?


(Richard Lee Abrams is a Los Angeles attorney and a CityWatch contributor. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Abrams views are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CityWatch.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.