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  1. #1
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    Default Is Washington Politics A Criminal Enterprise?

    Is Washington Politics A Criminal Enterprise? from http://swampland.blogs.time.com/2010...al-enterprise/

    A Texas jury effectively answered that question in the affirmative last week, when it convicted former majority whip Tom DeLay for money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. DeLay's defense, aside from his personal attacks against the Democratic-leaning prosecutor who brought charges against him, has always been: What's the big deal? Everybody does this stuff.

    But as John Feehery, a former DeLay aide and a registered lobbyist, explained on his blog Monday, business as usual looks like a criminal conspiracy to folk in the hinterlands.

    DeLay was right to say that this prosecution was a blatant example of the criminalization of politics. But he shouldn't be shocked by it. Politics is increasingly becoming a blood sport where the end game often means somebody goes to jail.

    Of course, any time you take a case like this to a jury outside in the real world, you run some risks. I bet you that if somebody were indicted for giving campaign contributions to a political candidate with the expectation that that candidate would vote a certain way, another very common practice here in the Beltway, that a jury would convict that campaign contributor for bribery. Common practice here in DC looks an awful lot like plain old corruption everywhere else in the country.

    As Jeffrey Smith explains in today's Washington Post, the DeLay trial focused heavily on the transactional nature of political campaign contributions, not just the specific charge of improperly moving money from one account to another. DeLay's own attorneys think this larger context led to the conviction.

    "The jury was just sending a message saying it did not like money in politics," Houston lawyer Dick DeGuerin said in an interview. "We tried a logical, intellectual case to show that there was no crime," he said, but the jurors rebelled against what they regarded as a sea of corporate dollars enveloping DeLay and his bid to elect enough Republicans to take over the state legislature.

    So what does that mean for the rest of Washington: Watch out. Despite the promises of Nancy Pelosi and the claims of John Boehner, the swamp has never been drained. And the sort of unethical behavior that sent Charlie Rangel down the road of self-immolation by extended monologue differs from normal congressional behavior only in the fine print. My favorite examples of the behavior that is probably technically legal though plainly noxious are the fat checks that cable giant Comcast has been writing to the Elijah Cummings Youth Program In Israel, even as Congressman Elijah Cummings supports Comcast's policy positions on Capitol Hill.

    In Washington, it is widely assumed that the difference between bribery and proper business practices is not being stupid: Don't write down any evidence of a quid pro quo. Always maintain plausible deniability. Always maintain that financial backscratching is a result of deep respect, mutual admiration and altruism, not transactional value. Every day, this city's most powerful people tell themselves lies. As DeLay's Texas jury shows, the American people know this, they are mad, and if given a chance, they will do something about it.

  2. #2
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Common practice here in DC looks an awful lot like plain old corruption everywhere else in the country.
    That's because corruption is "business as usual" in DC. "Hey they're not really bribes. That's just normal practice." No, it's that normal practice is taking bribes. Making something commonplace does not suddenly make something either moral or legal.
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  3. #3
    Oberon
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    Any time an elected official engages in a transaction in which funds are exchanged for a policy position, that official has been bribed. Period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon View Post
    Any time an elected official engages in a transaction in which funds are exchanged for a policy position, that official has been bribed. Period.
    Which is really cool, because I haven't been elected.

    Which means that, if you have any policies you'd like to see implemented, I'll give you my PayPal account address!
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #5
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Which is really cool, because I haven't been elected.

    Which means that, if you have any policies you'd like to see implemented, I'll give you my PayPal account address!
    I don't have any policies for you to enact, but I may have a few positions...

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    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon View Post
    I don't have any policies for you to enact, but I may have a few positions...
    I'll try to stay on top of this for you, as long as you agree (at least sometimes) to stand behind my presentation on your behalf.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #7
    Oberon
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    Well, I'm not going to ask you to bend over backwards for me... though anything else is still on the table.

  8. #8
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Just brace yourself, it could be a wild ride.
    (Are you pumped? I am!)


    Quote Originally Posted by Ajblaise
    That's because corruption is "business as usual" in DC. "Hey they're not really bribes. That's just normal practice." No, it's that normal practice is taking bribes. Making something commonplace does not suddenly make something either moral or legal.
    So is the practice of equitable exchange (money for power) something that can removed from the politics of a capitalist society and still have a politican be successful? One man's pork is another man's steak and potatoes; and if one person restrains the application of available resources, their opponent likely won't be that gracious.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  9. #9
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Just brace yourself, it could be a wild ride.
    (Are you pumped? I am!)
    Tease!

  10. #10
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    So is the practice of equitable exchange (money for power) something that can removed from the politics of a capitalist society and still have a politican be successful? One man's pork is another man's steak and potatoes; and if one person restrains the application of available resources, their opponent likely won't be that gracious.
    This may be splitting hairs but I think it has more to do with the role of corporations in society rather than capitalism itself. These corporations can bribe officials anywhere in the world, not just in a capitalist country. The vast ability to raise funds also gives corporations the vast ability to influence governments. I don't think there is an easy fix to the problem, only that it has gradually gotten worse over the years.

    (Also when did I become Ajblaise? I just don't know who I am anymore! )
    My wife and I made a game to teach kids about nutrition. Please try our game and vote for us to win. (Voting period: July 14 - August 14)
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