My tenuous and ugly connection to our new Miss America

    The other day, I caught part of an interview with our recently crowned Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler. I wouldn’t normally watch something like that, but she was talking about how she wanted to use her new celebrity to draw attention to the plight of children with incarcerated parents, and I guess I found that compelling. It seems her dad (seen here with her) did a year and a half in federal prison a few years back, and, since then, she’s been working through an organization that she started, called Circles of Support, to mentor the kids of inmates, and encourage them not to follow in their parents’ footsteps… Being suspicious, I, of course, questioned her sincerity, thinking that she’d probably just started the organization in order to have something interesting to talk about about on the beauty pageant circuit, but, as it still seemed like a good cause, that doesn’t get enough attention, I made a note to myself to mention it here someday… I didn’t, however, realize until this weekend that Ms. Kaeppeler and I had a bit of a connection.

    I was sitting on a couch, next to my grandmother, when she asked me if I’d seen the Miss America competition. I told her I hadn’t, but that I’d seen the winner interviewed. My grandmother then asked if I knew where she was from. I told her that I didn’t. “She’s from Kenosha,” she said. “Her family went to church with Aunt Marilyn.” (Aunt Marilyn is my grandmother’s sister — my great-aunt.) Then, after a bit of a pause, she offered the following… “Her dad’s the one that stole Marilyn’s savings.”

    So, yeah, it turns out that the new Miss America is the daughter of the man who offered to help my lovely and sweet aunt invest her money after the death of my uncle Frank, only to end up stealing a good portion of it. She wasn’t alone, either. Jeff Kaeppeler, along with his partners, are thought to have taken in over $6 million for real estate investments which, contrary to what they told people, didn’t really exist.

    Kaeppeler was apparently on-hand in Las Vegas to see his daughter receive the Miss America crown, and announce to the world her desire to use the title to help kids of incarcerated parents. Here, with more on that, is a clip from an article about Jeff Kaeppeler’s past.

    …Jeff Kaeppeler said in an interview with the AP that he and his family supported Laura’s decision to make this very personal subject matter her platform, even though they knew it would bring a lot of media attention. “We’ve seen this come full circle,” he said.

    After his daughter’s win in Las Vegas last night, at which Jeff was present, wearing a tuxedo and beaming in the role of proud father, he said of Laura’s choice, “It taught us that God can turn everything into good if you let him”…

    It’s probably worth noting at this point that, to my knowledge, my aunt has yet to be repaid what the proud, tuxedo-wearing Kaeppeler stole from her. I guess that’s my aunt’s fault, though. She must not have “let God in” so that he could turn everything around for the better.

    And, yes, that was sarcasm.

    Not only did this evil man take advantage of his role in the church to steal my aunt’s retirement savings, but, now, it seems, he’s back in God’s good graces, and reaping the benefits. Everything that was bad has been magically turned to good. That’s how powerful his connection to God is, you see… It’s so powerful that he doesn’t even have to pay back my aunt. All he had to do was “let God into his life.”

    I’m sorry, but nothing pisses me off more than men like this — sanctimonious pieces of shit that like to wrap themselves up in the cloak of religious piety, and pass themselves off as upstanding pillars of the community, only to use that false perception to their advantge.

    It’s like our old friend Newt, going out on the floor of the House and giving speeches about the importance of “family values” just minutes after having felt the forked, flicking tongue of his psycho reptilian lover make its way across his bloated body, behind the back of the wife, who had herself, at one time, been “the other woman” he’d carried on with behind the back of his first wife, as she was suffering with cancer.

    Speaking of Newt, here’s my favorite quote:

    “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.”

    Apparently that kind of stuff really resonates with the people of South Carolina. (Speaking of which, did I read somewhere today that 20% of South Carolinians believe that mixed race marriages should be illegal? Could that be true?)

    Anyway, back to the subject of this post, it’s conceivable that, had my aunt not been ripped off by this man, his daughter never would have found her platform, and someone else would have won Miss America. Fortunately for us all, though, God had a plan.

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      28 Comments

      1. james
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:14 am | Permalink

        “(Speaking of which, did I read somewhere today that 20% of South Carolinians believe that mixed race marriages should be illegal? Could that be true?)”

        Mark, I would not be surprised if close to that percent in Michigan believe the same thing.

      2. Van
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:12 am | Permalink

        Having lived in SC, I would say that number is really low. They must have only surveyed people visiting from other places.

      3. Edward
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:59 am | Permalink

        On her website, our new Miss America makes it a point to stress that her father was a “white collar” criminal. The distinction, it would seem, is important.

        She didn’t have to spell it out. I could have guessed it from the sentence that he received. If he’d been caught selling a handful of rock cocaine, he’d still be in prison. Stealing the life savings of dozens, though, gets you 18 months. What is that, about 2 weeks for every life he destroyed?

      4. Eel
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

        Speaking of these modern Christians that would rather support the thrice-married Newt “I want an open marriage” Gingrich than the likes of Ron Paul, who has been married to the same woman for the past 54 years, have you seen this new animated video of Jesus addressing Republicans at a political rally?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7ocdAIXrUU

      5. Meta
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:44 am | Permalink

        From Ezra Klein:

        Newt Gingrich served in Congress from 1979 to 1999. After he resigned his seat, he settled down in McLean, VA and sought to forge a new career as one of Washington’s highly paid, widely respected, wise men. He began his Center for Health Transformation and consulted for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. He filmed anti-global warming commercials with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and co-authored New York Times op-eds with Sen. John Kerry. He served on the bipartisan U.S. Commission on National Security and as co-chair of a task force on UN reform. Newt Gingrich has, in other words, been a key player in Washington since Jimmy Carter was president. Yet in his victory speech in South Carolina, he blasted “the elites in Washington and New York.” If Newt Gingrich is not a Washington elite, no one is.

        And yet, after three decades among them, Gingrich certainly is not the candidate of Washington elites. Quite the opposite, actually. “It may be implausible that Gingrich can pose as anti-establishment,” wrote the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney. “But the establishment is certainly anti-Newt.” Well, the party establishment, anyway. For all Gingrich’s attacks on the media, the media rather loves Gingrich, as he makes for good television, and gives good quotes.

        More:
        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/wonkbook-newt-gingrichs-elite-anti-elitism/2012/01/23/gIQADQglKQ_blog.html

      6. Meta
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

        Fox News on why Gingrich’s infidelity would make him a good president:

        I will tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s personal history actually means for those of us who want to right the economy, see our neighbors and friends go back to work, promote freedom here and abroad and defeat the growing threat posed by Iran and other evil regimes.

        First, one note on what Mr. Gingrich’s married life, including his history of infidelity does not mean: It does not mean that Mr. Gingrich would be unfaithful to the United States of America or the Constitution of the United States.

        You can take any moral position you like about men and women who cheat while married, but there simply is no correlation, whatsoever—from a psychological perspective—between whether they can remain true to their wedding vows and whether they can remain true to the Oath of Office.

        I want to be coldly analytical, not moralize, here. I want to tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s behavior could mean for the country, not for the future of his current marriage. So, here’s what one interested in making America stronger can reasonably conclude—psychologically—from Mr. Gingrich’s behavior during his three marriages:

        1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him.

        2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married.

        3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible.

        Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one.

        4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.

        More:
        http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/01/20/newt-gingrichs-three-marriages-mean-might-make-strong-president-really/#ixzz1kHyZyuem

      7. Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:16 am | Permalink

        I enjoyed reading your piece. I don’t watch beauty pageants, and frankly, the Miss America pageant seems like a pointless relic of a “competition.” The only reason I had known this woman existed was because the sports websites (which I do read, daily) made a big deal out of her trying to get the Packers QB to ask her out (maybe her dad wants to get his hands on that nice, big bank account). I guess it’s OK if she still loves her dad, but I see no reason why this man should not pay back the money he stole. Maybe his daughter’s prize money and endorsements could go to pay back these victims. He is a sanctimonious shit, indeed. People can do their time for their crimes, but it’s ridiculous that this man is living a comfy life when he needs to be paying back those victims. I guess “Miss America” can comfort herself that her dad, Mini Madoff, is just a “white collar” criminal, so he’s not actually a bad guy like a filthy thief and liar and con man.

      8. gina
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

        Everyone that reads this article on this situation: Please let it be clear that going to a church, no matter how involved, does not make you a Christian. Your actions do. God is very clear in the Bible that using His words as a ‘platform’ for wrong doing is punishable by eternal death. In 2012, I would think educated people (like the writer) would be less than impressed by anyone ‘winning’ the Miss America title. This is just another nail in the coffin of this antiquated tradition (something else the Bible warns against) This man’s crime is beyond appalling. Just last night I read of God’s expectations in this type of situation. Double repayment. Mr. Kaeppler has some work to do. After all, he wants to count himself a Christian.

      9. K2
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        I don’t know about recent polling, but I found this.

        In November 1998, South Carolina finally removed its constitutional ban on interracial marriage, which was added to the state constitution in 1895. Although the prohibition had not been recently enforced, the clause prohibited “marriage of a white person with a Negro or mulatto or a person who shall have one-eighth or more of Negro blood.” A Mason-Dixon poll conducted in August 1998 showed two-thirds of voters favored removing the ban, 22 percent opposed it and 11 percent remained undecided. The sample of 806 registered voters contained about twice as many whites as blacks.

      10. K2
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

        If I’m not mistaken, SC is also home to Bob Jones University, which didn’t allow interracial dating until recently, and wouldn’t even allow unmarried blacks to enroll until the 1980s. If you’ll recall, this is also the state where Karl Rove started the rumor that John McCain had fathered a black child, which led to Bush’s defeat of him in the primary. (McCain has an adopted child from Bangladesh.)

      11. Meta
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

        Speaking of difference in sentences, did you know that Newt advocated for giving the death penalty for pot dealering?

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/what-are-newt-gingrichs-big-ideas/2011/08/25/gIQApk8pIQ_blog.html?hpid=z1

      12. 'Ff'lo
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

        A friend blogged today about feeling bad for the Penn State people who’ve lost the illusion of upstandingness/honor/integrity they’d associated with the school’s football program, and somehow thus the school at large. I haven’t figured out yet how to say what I feel in response to that notion, but it’s connected to what happened to your aunt. Maybe if we cut back on how much we culturally bolster supposed bastions of whatever moral superiority is at hand, we might have fewer of these disillusionous disasters.

        Less illusion leading to less disillusion.

        How we collectively go about broad calm eye opening and debunking of imagining the sacrosanct, I dunno.

      13. Mr. X
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Has religion given us more good than bad, historically speaking? I’d like to say that it was a positive force for many years, as mankind made the transition to civil society, and that makes all the shit since then worth it, but I’m beginning to think that it’s shifting toward a net negative. I mean, the golden rule was awesome, and revolutionary, but does that counterbalance the religious wars, the stoning of rape victims, the pedophilia of priests, the greed and cruelty of the mega-church crowd who would rather see the poor starve in the streets than pay more in taxes, the historic theft of the Catholic church, the denying of birth control to people who can’t feed the children that they already have, and all the rest?

      14. gina
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

        Amen Susan!

      15. Anonymatt
        Posted January 23, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

        I’m trying to figure out why you asked this:

        “(Speaking of which, did I read somewhere today that 20% of South Carolinians believe that mixed race marriages should be illegal? Could that be true?)”

        Why would anyone in your blog audience know whether you read some factoid? Are you trying to flush out a stalker?

      16. Mr. Y
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 12:44 am | Permalink

        Mr. X,

        It’s a question well worth asking, but the term “religion” is so broad to be meaningless. It’s like asking has “science” or “technology” given us more good than bad. The wheel was pretty cool. So were sharp tools and fire. But then came tanks, swords and nuclear bombs. So is science good or bad?

        Of course, you can’t easily escape that your very question is grounded on religious notions of good and bad, as defined by our dominant religious history. Some religions are based on caste, rulers as unquestionable deity, raping children to attain purity and so on…

        So no, religion is not a pure good (i.e., “good” as defined by Christian religion). But I think what you recoil against isn’t religion, but hypocrisy (as defined by Christian religion).

        In pre-Christian Rome, raping kids wasn’t considered pedophilia (at least not in a bad way). It was more akin to getting a free cup of coffee on the way to work. The Romans, of course, were quite religious. They thought they were good. We don’t, since we’re in the lineage of their replacement religion that thought sexing most anything was bad.

        I do think the past century has given us a glimpse at non-religious States moral aptitude. It’s also worth noting that the States that have made the most progress in a spectrum human rights still carry a loud echo of the golden rule in their collective unconsciousness. (I still think the Golden Rule is awesome.)

        The Golden Rule (do unto others) does (on face value) stand in pretty starkly naive contrast to “survival of the fittest.” Which party platform would you vote for? Do unto others or survival of the fittest? (Fits nicely, eh?)

        If I may get religious, Jesus used the term hypocrite more than once. I think he knew it’d be a useful term. It recognizes and anticipates the inevitability of fakes. Opportunist fakes are inevitable. Hypocrisy is not religion.

        As an aside, since all your negative references to “religion” were of Christian hypocrisy, is it fair to ask that you’re real question was “is Christianity useful?”

        My answer is to look around the world for the past century or so. Is there a place you can find where human dignity (with its slow moving imperfections) is as fully realized as in nation’s with a Christian lineage? What system (religious or otherwise) would you prefer raise your children in?

        As right as it is to rail against hypocrisy, we need to give props to the source of our indignancy. The most irreligious among us, are, on the moral scale of defining “right” and “wrong,” deeply, deeply Christian.

        If, in our current age of science, you even think in terms of right and wrong, you are hopelessly religious.

        The rest of you read Ayn Rand.

      17. Lulu
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        Jeff Kaeppeler kind of looks like a swinger, doesn’t he?
        He needs a mustache, though.

      18. DC's Extended Taint
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

        Mark, you were surfing the net on Saturday night and at 10:52:46 PM EST you clicked here: http://abaldwin360.tumblr.com/post/16348779893/20-of-those-polled-in-south-carolina-think-that

        Not sure why you asked either, but I hope this helps.

      19. Mr. X
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        Mr. Taint, if you could provide Mark’s internet logs for Sunday morning at 2:07 AM, I would appreciate it. The team I had surveilling his home at the time have reason to believe, given a certain series of movements they observed, that he could have been dancing along to this video.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XiOVdilKMrE&feature=fvwrel

      20. Mr. X
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

        And thank you, Mr. Y, for your comments. They have brightened my day, like a burning cigarette ash brightens the inside of a locked trunk.

      21. Viktor Zulu
        Posted January 24, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Permalink

        It’s good to hear that Laura is such a “good” christian that she will be comforting and consoling the children of all those detainees in Guantanamo. She’s just another phony sack of shit.

      22. anthony anonymous
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        out of curiosity, could your aunt file a civil suit against this guy and get some of her money back if not all? if he was convicted in criminal court for stealing money from her and others, it would seem that suit would be easy to win. either way though, that sucks and the hypocrisy and classism is disgusting.

        whether you steal by the pen or the sword, you are still a thief.

      23. kat
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

        http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2012/01/romney-maintains-south-carolina-lead.html#more

        this may be the link to the source…not sure if anyone else found it

      24. System Admin
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Get ready for the flood of crazy emails. This post just went up on Jezebel.

        http://jezebel.com/5879233/did-her-dads-ponzi-scheme-help-miss-america-win

      25. Bob Krzewinski
        Posted January 25, 2012 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        I miss the Miss America protests from the 60′s (i.e. “Ain’t she sweet; making profits off her meat”). http://www.jofreeman.com/photos/MissAm1969.html

      26. LAKE
        Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:02 am | Permalink

        That lady looks like a reptile for sure!

      27. sunbeam
        Posted May 16, 2013 at 2:39 am | Permalink

        You should try to interview her dad. I wonder if he’d talk.

      28. anonymous
        Posted December 20, 2013 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        If you all did some more research he only got 18 months in federal prison because he was not aware of the situation he was involved in. It was ran by much more devious people that drew him into it. He paid his dues, and please understand taht he is NOT by any means living a comfortable life….and those more involved are still serving their time.

      4 Trackbacks

      1. By Religion, a net positive? on January 24, 2012 at 11:22 pm

        [...] a net positive?By Mark | January 24, 2012A few days ago, in response to a post about my aunt, who had been swindled by a member of her church in Wisconsin, a reader by the name of Mr. X left the following comment. Has religion given us more good than [...]

      2. [...] Anyway, Baise wrote to me last night, to express his outrage, after having read the post about my aunt in Kenosha, Wisconsin getting ripped off our new Miss America’s father. (That story, by they way, got picked up by the popular site Jezebel yesterday, resulting in about [...]

      3. By Reflecting on Pure Michigan on January 14, 2013 at 10:19 am

        [...] at the time, out for a drink. And it happened, not too long ago, when I mentioned the fact that my great-aunt had her savings stolen by the father of Miss America. “Breaking through” can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it means huge readership [...]

      4. […] I’m just sensitive to this kind of bullshit because, as I’ve mentioned before, my grandmother’s sister had a good portion of her savings stolen by a “financial advisor…. But I really despise men like this who wrap themselves in religion and use is as a way to advance […]

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