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May 13, 2007

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Is it really either/or? The belief that "government is the problem" is, I believe, a huge part of this as well, since it provides philosophical cover for what would otherwise be just a criminal conspiracy.

Crikey EW, I already had an, um, "headache" from last night; and now I have to see that list of scalawags? Now my head really hurts. Have mercy Miss Marcy.

"Even the Democrats are reluctant to dismantle." GMAFB. Lyndon Johnson -- way back when he was a congressional aide -- helped develop this approach to politics. Willie Brown perfected it in the California Legislature. As Big Daddy Jesse Unruh (a Democrat) once said, "Money is the mothers milk of politics."

In many ways, the Republican ascendence circa 1980 came because Republicans had learned the lessons Democrats had taught them -- grassroots politics, collecting small donations. When Republicans finally got power in 1980, further Democratic lessons were learned -- trading legislative and regulatory favors for donations, using government to fund activist groups that are foundations of the ruling coalition. For Democrats it was unions; for Republicans it was the churches. For both parties it was defense contractors, companies that made money through resource extraction, and companies that wanted a race to the bottom via international free-trade (but who wanted (and got) restrictions on trade in intellectual property).

Let's give credit where it's due. Democrats oversaw development of the modern adaptive capitalist state. And the corrupt ways the oligarchy managed to keep and increase its power were developed while Roosevelt and Truman were in office.

This give us an understanding of how difficult it will be to actually reform American politics to make it more democratic and less oligarchic.

Simply electing more Democrats will only usher in the Night of the Living Gray Davises. That may be a first step toward a less corrupt progressive politics, or maybe not. In California it certainly wasn't. Somehow we need to drive a stake through the heart of our corrupt bi-partisan corrupt zombie politics. Social revolution is not a hot topic in the "left" blogosphere these days, but there you have it. David Sirota harps on this all the time.

hey, somebody's been "Getting Small" around here in the middle of the night

whoever it was, they got that stuff all over the links column

everything in the right side column is REALLY SMALL

is there anything that somebody wants to tell us ???

This type of behavior trickles down from the top and pervades all of society. We are becoming a rude, cheating nation because the bully pulpit is a rude, cheating asshole.

We are our leaders. Shame. Let's change that before it is too late.

Kaleidoscope

Brilliant comment, capped by this neat phrase:

Night of the Living Gray Davises

As I said above, I left the energy and resource companies off this list (they haven't been indicted yet, except for Lay's crowd). But as I was reading through, I was conscious of the fact that many of the TX oil companies would have been on LBJ's list of top donors, back in the day.

I had hoped we might be able to insitute lobbying reform before our guys got back on the gravy train, but I fear we've lost that opportunity.

Fine post, EW. It always comes back to legal corruption, whichever party. That is, corruption is the system. (Modern Republicans are, as is their wont, simply more matter of fact about it, freeing them to be as systemic as they are.) I don't take a (dem) pres. candidate seriously unless they grasp the centrality of this problem, which is one reason -a big one - I support Edwards, despite finding Obama very appealing. As several states have demonstrated, it is possible to really reform political finance, notwithstanding Buckley v Valejo, etc. I'm disgusted, but not surprised, by the House dems on this. Sniff around the career of, for example, Rahm E. if you have illusions about dems.

Indeed jonnybutter, that is good advice. Howie Klein, Jane and all are sniffing around Rahm right now over at FDL; discussing a new book about him.

Kaleidescope is right, this is totally embedded in the system. That is one of the things that makes sites like the BlueAmerica ActBlue bloggers so important. They help raise money from people who don't want favors, for candidates who we hope will be free to support good policies just on the merits. If we want change, we have to be ready to pay for it on the front end, in the hopes that we can in the medium term change the system.

Bmaz, I made an inquiry into the matter we e-mailed about, and I didn't get much useful. I will continue to look.

masaccio

Were you the one looking into the Trust stuff?

masaccio - Good to see you; tried to catch you on an FDL thread a few days back, but I think you had already left by the time I got there. Your findings mirror mine for the most part and, you know, that is actually a good thing. I am sure there is probably a little gaming of the Trustee stuff going on, but there probably always is. As long as it hasn't been turned into a new full scale front of attack by the Administration, I am pleasantly surprised. When I first saw that stuff here in the comment thread, a pain in my gut appeared because that is exactly the insidious type of thing these guys would implement. Again, thanks much for your input.

excellent -- excellent -- excellent.

my head hurts, from just scanning
down the check-list of pioneers and
rangers with "lawfulness-impairments". . .

for my money, though, our good friend
rep. linda sanchez summed up, almost in
one paragraph -- the incredulity of most
americans exhibit when hearing of all this. . .

in a two minute clip, she left
alberto gonzales stammering -- simply
stammering -- to put any plausible
face on why this should be
accepted "as the way it
always works
. . .
"

i need to go take a few vanquishes, and
come back later to read, and offer something
more coherent on yours, EW. . . my head is
literally spinning, now. . . so, so much
c o r r u p t i o n. . .

okay -- if the governing thesis of
this administration is "take whatever
you can -- give nuthin' back
" [apologies
for insulting pirates the world over, with this
reference, CAPTAIN jack, commadore barbosa, and
tia dalma most definitely included. . .], then
i do think it differs from watergate.

i agree, EW, watergate was a unified, mostly
organized, conspiracy. . . while this adminis-
tration's philosophy was unitentionally summed
up by dick cheney on friday, when he said in
a pre-canned 'press-interview', posted on the
whitehouse.gov site that he and george bush
"did not run for these offices to be popular. . ."

while i think he meant to infer that they
were doing the hard things. . . it does strike me
that when almost three-quarters of the nation
decides their policies are failing us -- "unpopular"
isn't what the polls are about, at all. it
doesn't begin to cover it. . .

he and bush govern by our consent only.

if only 28 percent of us are presently
consenting to their brand of governance. . .

what ought we now do?

i am just wondering, here -- cheney seems
to fundamentally believe the will of the
people is something to blithely ignore. . .

okay -- need to lie down again. . .

Excellent post. One of the top things Bush sells to his backers is legal immunity.

He sells outright immunity by product, by industry, by contributor. He sells reduced access to the courts for litigants; sometimes by encouraging changes in statutes of limitations that preclude access altogether. He limits class action suits, another way to preclude access, and tries to limit actual and punitive damage awards. He guts the audit systems that ought to cry foul. He dismantles the prosecutorial service who should respond to their cries, and appoints an extraordinarily narrow set of judges, who say, "OK by me, Mr. President, whatever you say."

His subsidies are another matter, as are his no-bid contracts.

If the Democrats don't disavow the Bush style of corruption and non-disclosure, they can forget '08.

But let's tell remind 'em, anyway.

My biggest insight into the failures of the GWB WH is that they just cannot, ever, communicate honestly (they just seem incapable of this) - maybe that would qualify as a faulty governing philosophy.

We have a much larger goal ahead because of the inability of the established Democratic leadership -- those that have been in office for more than two terms -- to use the bully pulpit of their newly regained majority to demand the removal of money from politics.

Once the current administration and all its potential heirs and assigns have been removed in January 2009, we need to set about redeveloping a third party that will serve to dilute the power of the other two. There must be room for a fiscally conservative, socially liberal party that can peel away voters from both Repugs and Dems alike. That third party must promote as a fundamental portion of its platform public funding of elections and a rejection of the premise that money is equal to speech. These Pioneers were able to buy access, which in turn entitled them to "indulgences"; we must find a way to rouse the lower deciles against this violation of their rights, even if it means setting them on both parties at a point in the not-too-distant future.

Perhaps what we are looking at is not so much a quasi-monarchy and corrupt duchies, but a new Church of Bush and all the wealthy sinners who have so far been able to buy forgiveness by way of a corrupted Justice Department and judiciary. Too bad for those whose grasp exceeded the ability of a purchased indulgence to ensure their continued success...

earlofhuffington's observation make this published snippet all the more relevant:

http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/connelly/315257_joel11.html
"...When making the claim they can't recall key events, targets in federal investigations can now argue that their memory lapses are no different from those of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, [David Iglesias] the fired U.S. attorney from New Mexico reflected yesterday. .... "If Attorney General Gonzales stays there, almost any action taken by the U.S. government in a corruption case is subject to question," [fired USAG] McKay argued...."

You grab the resource wealth, then control all regulatory mechanisms, then control the judgeships, as well as the ability to investigate and prosecute. Then, for added insurance, you send out Abu Gonzo, plus your DoJ zombies to drag out long Congressional hearings, in which each appearance continually 'lowers the bar'. Another Congressional appearance or two, and Gonzo will serve his Bu$hCo masters by ensuring that no one can ever be prosecuted for corruption. (Unless they're Democrats.)

Game, set, match.

EW, too much is probably made of a Bu$hCo governing philosophy.

Review those Bu$hCo Pioneers; those funders IIRC are primarily from extractive industries whose main financial incentive is to control regulatory mechanisms within industries that rely on natural resources (think Enron). Their thought process is constrained by assumptions that all key resources are limited. (I've been in long, long meetings with people of this ilk and for them 'politics' is primarily an ECONOMIC activity. They have almost no mental constructs for concepts like 'the public good'. They view their 'public service' as doling out paychecks.)

I've seen them buy Democrats as cheaply as they buy Republicans. They keep their names out of the news, and they contribute scads of money via PACs.

In their worldview, 'politics' is primarily about controlling politicians, regulations, laws, accounting rules, and limited resources in their own hands.

The right wing Repubs and the Blue Dog/Corporatist wing of the Dems sell the concept of govt is incompetent and inefficient, so there is a need to "downsize" govt. But what they really mean is that taxpayer expenditures must increase (yes increased govt spending) and that the Pioneers and Rangers are the only ones that must feed off that trough in the name of privatization, outsourcing, increasing efficiency and let the "market" provide the answer.

I am waiting for the sista souljah moment on all this "welfare" - probably for a very, very long time.

Just to state what I hope is the obvious: it's a mistake to equate what 20th century dems and repubs have done in terms of corruption. Democratic corruption has tended to be more petty, or at the very least, more benign. LBJ was stupendously corrupt, but he got the Voting Rights Act, and Medicare, and Head Start, etc. If 'corruption' is defined strictly as what happens to be illegal at any particular time, then we have a very shallow - and ultimately meaningless - definition. The Bush 'administration' is corrupt in a more fundamental sense of the word. It's certainly true that dem corruption can be seen as having enabled the gop type, but it must be admitted that our corporate overlords would use some other excuse if this one were not available. That is: if every past Democrat in history were absolutely goo-goo clean, the current GOP would still do, or try to do, exactly what they're doing now. So I guess I part with Marcy (and maybe myself earlier) to some extent: the grotesque and shameful role cold cash plays in our politics - grandfathered in, ridiculously unworthy of a great, modern country - is a central problem which urgently needs to be addressed, and the rules have to change for everyone. But it's a seperate issue from outright fascism, which always has its own reasons. Or rather, 'reason' is beside the point.

It's obvious that the 21st century Republican Party sees nothing wrong with what 19th century NY State Senator Plunkitt (D-Tammany Hall) described as honest graft:

Just let me explain by examples. My party's in power in the city, and it's goin' to undertake a lot of public improvements. Well, I'm tipped off, say, that they're going to layout a new park at a certain place. I see my opportunity and I take it. I go to that place and I buy up all the land I can in the neighborhood. Then the board of this or that makes its plan public, and there is a rush to get my land, which nobody cared particular for before.
Ain't it perfectly honest to charge a good price and make a profit on my investment and foresight? of course, it is. Well, that's honest graft.

Of course, there is nothing honest about that, but at least Tammany Hall provided some level of constituent services. The current gang wants to recreate Tammany Hall politics on a national scale and all we get for it are body bags from Iraq and Afghanistan.

we know it is no accident.

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