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January 8, 2006

DOES Everybody Do It?

-- by Dave Johnson

You're reading a lot about a corruption scandal in Washington. Some people are trying to tell you that "everybody does it" and that both parties are involved and that whenever you try to take the money out of politics it finds another way in. These are smokescreens designed to make you think this is not as bad as it sounds. These are smokescreens designed to make you think there is nothing you can do about things like that, that you have no power, and that you should just let the politicians take care of these things for you.

Don't be fooled. See the forest, not the trees. This corruption scandal is about people breaking existing laws. This is about Republican Congressmen and White House officials indicted for illegally taking bribes. They took payments in exchange for abusing their power, providing favors to cronies, and for using their power to block investigations and oversight.

Just like with New Orleans and FEMA, this is just one more example of Republicans in Congress not doing their job. This is what always happens when so-called "conservatives" gain power, because Republicans do not believe that people can work together and help each other so they do not believe in government and law. Instead they believe in a dog-eat-dog, everyone on-their-own and out-for-themselves society where the strongest survive and it doesn't matter what happens to everyone else. So whenever conservatives gain power they abuse it and use it to get money for themselves and their friends. Just look at what has happened to pensions, health insurance and wages since the conservatives took office -- everything is going the wrong way. The rich are getting vastly richer and the corporations don't have to follow any rules, while the rest of us are getting squeezed harder and harder.

Government can work, laws can work and society can work for all of us, but only when everybody plays by the rules, and the system's checks and balances are enforced. Government is supposed to be about "us" working together for the betterment of everybody - don't ever let Republicans tell you that government is a "them."

Progressives believe that the ideals of community and democracy CAN work -- that people CAN work together to help each other out -- that businesses CAN make money while following the rules, serving their customers and bettering the community as a whole.

Posted by Dave Johnson at January 8, 2006 11:45 AM

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Comments

Laws aren't worth anything unless they're enforced. Both the House and the Senate have ethics committees. Seems to me they've been peculiarly silent about these issues. I'm sure, however, that if they'd found evidence of any Democratic ethics violations, they'd have been leaping all over them.

Bunch of crooks.

Posted by: MJ at January 8, 2006 2:28 PM

people CAN work together to help each other out -- that businesses CAN make money while following the rules

Not only can they, over the longer term, this is the ONLY way things work. The dog-eat-dog way ends in nothing but a pile of putrid dogs.

Posted by: quixote at January 8, 2006 6:18 PM

Sorry, I can't go for the idea that corruption is particularly a vice of conservatives in power. I've seen a fair number of lefties go rotten the same way: unhappily, think Ortega in Nicaragua or Mugabe in Zimbabwe.

What matters here is that, at the moment, it isn't both parties doing it: it is the party in power and that means Republicans. If the Dems get in, an aroused people will be needed to keep an eye on them.

Posted by: janinsanfran at January 9, 2006 12:12 AM

If the Dems get in, an aroused people will be needed to keep an eye on them.
Bears repeating. The need to limit government has never been more pressing, and a new label won't
help.

Posted by: SourDove at January 9, 2006 5:22 AM

Absolute power corrupts absolutely. It's the Republicans who now are awfully close to having absolute power. Ironic that one of the ways they got into this position was by being so corrupt in the first place.

Posted by: MJ at January 9, 2006 5:46 AM

Actually, conservatives do believe in law. It's just that they believe in it in a very old-fashioned way, going back to the time when it was all top-down, a way of simply codifying how the king or emperor wanted things done. In short, in a way that has nothing to do with justice, and everything to do with power.

This is why they have such contempt for our laws, and our system of government, based on consent of the governed, protected by separation of power, and explicitly underscored by the Bill of Rights. It is why Bush makes the Nixonian claim that whatever the President does is legal, and he doesn't have to listen to anyone else.

While it's certainly true that one can find individual examples of corruption on the left, it's a big mistake to think that this simple fact negates a deeper pattern. This sort of argument is a perfect example of not seeing the forrest for the trees.

Separation of power is a liberal idea. OTOH, conservatives traditionally argued for consentrating all power in the person of the King, "God's representative on Earth." This is just the most striking structural example of how liberals and conservatives differ in their conception of how government should work.

Conservatives believe they have a moral right to rule over others, and that those who object are "traitors." Liberals believe that no one has a right to rule over anyone, but that governing is a privilege which all who are elected share--including those in the minority. (See, for example, Madison's writing warning against the "tyranny of the majority.")

Posted by: Paul Rosenberg at January 9, 2006 8:45 AM

Yes, I know exactly what you mean! Democrats had power, and one of them got stamps for free from the Congress Post Office, and sold them!!!!!! Anoter one sold copies of a book and make a few thousand dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Republicans got power and looted the entire treasury, burying us in debt for generations.

Same thing.

Posted by: Dave Johnson [TypeKey Profile Page] at January 9, 2006 9:27 AM

Go To It!
(Sung to a recognizable tune by
Mr. Cole Porter.)

When Republicans galore
Who knew Abramoff before
Know he'll sing, sing, sing;
and it's crystal clear
there's an awful stench of fear
'cross the whole right wing;

Then they'll find help and distractions
from their flacks in Mainstream news;
to obfuscate their actions
before one more indictment
ensues...

And that's why
Diebold will do it, the rich do it,
Heiresses in semi-public trysts do it
So go to it,
buy some media whores!

Andy Sullivan, in a permanent snit, will do it;
Staffers, scared enough to s***
wish they could do it
Well -- get to it,
buy some media whores

I've heard our best blue-blooded families do it
though they may die from the shock;
They prefer to stay in the shadow
that's cast by old Plymouth Rock

Peruvian guerillas, with cocaine, do it
Parliamentary benchers with champagne, do it
So do it to it,
buy some media whores!

It's clear that rabid
Michael Savage does it,
(the exposure gives him a thrill)
Lit-tle Judy Miller,
of her profession was a 'Pillar',
Now she needs a PR shill.

Our Re-publicans
think it'll save them to do it,
(But self-respecting
bouncy kangaroos eschew it)
You ought to need a permit
to buy some media whores!

All kinds of
night-crawling things
do it,
But caught out in the total light of day,
they'll rue it;
Yeah, you do it;
buy some media whores!

Posted by: Nominal Chtulu at January 9, 2006 2:48 PM

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