Wednesday, November 30, 2005

"The Duke" Cunningham leads other scandals, for now

So another Republican bites the dust. Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham who represented San Diego in The House of Representatives has tearfully resigned after admitting to taking massive bribes. The loot he was found to have amassed from these bribes included a mansion, silver candelabras, a Rolls Royce, $1.8 million in cash and a yacht he named "Duke-Stir."

He took his rewards from the defense industry businesses in return for steering defense contracts toward them. The Duke has agreed to cooperate as the investigation continues into the web of bribery. He faces 10 years in jail.

By the way, what the heck is going on in San Diego politics? It wasn't that long ago that an underfunded city pension scandal resulted in two consecutive mayors losing their jobs as well as accusations against six former board members. Must be that warm Pacific water that causes Republicans out there to become scam artists.

Back to the Duke. It's funny how back in July, Cunningham claimed he was innocent and earlier in June, Representative Tom Delay (of all people) called him an honorable man. It's becoming a given in Washington politics that when someone claims innocence, you might as well think the opposite, particularily Republicans.

Tom Delay is fighting an illegal campaign money indictment in Texas and had to resign his leadership role. Senate majority leader Bill Frist is now being investigated by the SEC for insider stock sales. Lewis "Scooter" Libby is of course fighting several indictments for being a liar. And if you aren't up on the confusing Jack Abramoff scandal, you will be sooner or later as it is growing to include several Washington lawmakers.

But if you like your money scandals at the state level, try Ohio and their "coingate." The Republican Governor Bob Taft has single digit approval ratings after being involved in coin dealer Tom Noe's bribery.

Now I may smile a bit at the fact that it's Republicans front and center in these scandals, but truthfully I understand that this is our corrupt political system. The money flows to those in power. The evidence has always been there and is gaining national attention once again that an election system that relies on so much money being given to politicians who then vote for things that will benefit others is so obviously open to corruption. Quid pro quo with dollar signs is our election system.

Only drastic campaign finance reform will ever cure our election ills. The answer is a system called "clean campaigns" in which campaign dollars are funneled into a blind fund where candidates don't know who made the contributions. Our current system is frought with bribery and only a portion ever rises to the surface to be known by the public. So much of the "bribery" is actually legal.

Obvious as well is that those of us that make small campaign contributions never get our voices heard, it's those that gather the big money that get the ear of the politician. You know in your heart that it is the "pioneers" that helped raise large sums for George Bush that get to chat with the president and upper reaches of the Republican Party, not those of us with a few bucks to donate. The same goes for big donors in the Democratic Party.
And you know full well that somehow your tax dollars are going to pay for something the rich donors want. The moneyed political system we've evolved is corrupt and heavily weighed to those with money. Elites electing elites, what a country!

Oh, sure, you might say that the rest of us actually do the voting, but with the knowledge of so many cases of election fraud in the last decade or so, do you really believe your vote counts? Do you really believe that the CEO of a voting machine company (Diebold) that states that he will deliver the state of Ohio to George Bush is really playing honest?

Those of you that are Republican may think, "so what, my party won." But is that really the way you want to win, by cheating? And did you ever wonder how you will feel when some day the shoe is on the other foot? Pendulums swing back and forth and if we continue with a corrupt election campaign and voting system, that shoe will eventually be on the other foot.

I have to laugh when we are in two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) trying to build democracies, and here at home our democracy is absolutely corrupt. I have to wonder if our nation builders are over there explaining democracy as we play it. "See, first you collect as much money from the voting dupes as you can, it won't be much from each individual of the masses. Then you promise them things you won't deliver on. If you win election you only listen to those that payed in plenty to your campaign and do their bidding. You follow that up in about four years and do it all over again. Oh, and be sure to use lots of words like "freedom" or "man of the people" and the word "we" is important because you want to make the masses think you are just like them."

A warning to the Iraqis: Watch out for your politicians since they are being taught democracy by Americans. Don't trust them, they are being told how to pick your pocket.


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