Decadence, Waste, Corruption in the New American Empire [Part II]

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

"The abuse of buying and selling votes crept in and
money began to play an important part in determining
elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread
to the law courts. And then to the army, and finally
the Republic was subjected to the rule of emperors."

Plutarch (c. 46 A.D.-127 A.D.)
"An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and
most fatal ailment of all republics."

Plutarch (c. 46 A.D.-127 A.D.)
"It should be no surprise that when rich men take
control of the government, they pass laws that are
favorable to themselves. The surprise is that those
who are not rich vote for such people, even though
they should know from bitter experience that the rich
will continue to rip off the rest of us. Perhaps the
reason is that rich men are very clever at covering up
what they do."

Andrew Greeley
Corruption and moral bankruptcy take many forms. They
are usually the end results of an insatiable lust for
money, power and privilege, above and beyond any
common decency. And money in politics is at the nexus
of nearly all forms of corruption.
In the United States, for example, big money is so
central to politics and to the functioning of
political parties that anybody running for high
office, even if he or she is personally a millionaire,
is obliged to court those who have the big cash.
Many good candidates thus refuse to enter into, or
soon bow out of presidential races, because they do
not want to submit to this kind of prostitution. As a
consequence of the deals that must be made to raise
the huge amounts of money required to be successful,
it is difficult for any administration, once elected,
not to get entangled in a web of scandals. Indeed, big
cash is the key to influence in Washington D.C., and
cash used to bribe politicians ultimately leads to
greed and scandals. It happened to the Nixon
administration (Watergate scandal), the Carter
administration (Lance scandal), the Reagan
administration (Iran-Contra-cocaine scandal), the
Clinton administration (Whitewater scandal) and now,
to the Bush administration.
There was the Enron scandal,
the Abramoff scandal, and the [Tom Delay
In the aftermath of the Enron scandal, for example, it
was made public that Enron spent a total of $5.8m on
American federal elections, over a period of 12 years,
with 73 percent of the money going to Republicans.
Globally, 71 out of 100 senators and 188 out of 435
House members benefited from the company's largesse.
President George W. Bush himself, a staunch opponent
of any campaign finance reform,
received $826,000 from this single Texas company
over a period of eight years, since he first ran for
governor of that state. —This seems to be all part of
a pervasive culture of corruption.
The revelation that super lobbyist Jack Abramoff
offered $100,000 to meet President George W. Bush and
top adviser Karl Rove to push for legislation of his
liking is an indication how things can degenerate
quickly, even in the most solid democracy. Super
lobbyist Abramoff was one of George W. Bush's
principal fundraisers, earning the honorary title of
"pioneer" in his fund-raising organization. And, in what is typically
American, both Abramoff and Delay said that 'God' was
somewhat behind their actions. –For one, Abramoff
confessed that "I felt that the resources coming into
my hands were the consequence of God putting them
there. " –And, in Delay's words, "I firmly believe I'm
innocent of the charges against me. We believe that
God in fact is in control and indeed he does work all
things for good for those who love the Lord." This is
an indication that for some, [religion and political
corruption do mix.->]
In fact, what money buys in Washington D.C. is access
to those in positions of power, direct influence on
the framing of public policies and preferential
allotment of jobs and juicy contracts. [Corruption of
civil servants and Congress by lobbyists->,8816,1549069,00.html]
follows. Political corruption quickly becomes a
vicious cycle: The corrupters select the politicians
they want to see in office by dumping tons of money in
their campaigns, while the politicians thus selected
are anxious to pay back their benefactors by opening
jobs of influence and by dishing out rewarding
contracts to them. —And the wheel turns. In
particular, why do you think all leading [Democratic
presidential hopefuls->] this
year are calling for an unprovoked American attack
against Iran? It is because the big money contributors
they are soliciting are pro-Israel hard-liners. [Those
who pay make the policy.->]
—That may be the overriding reason why 60 percent of
Americans do not bother to vote, come election time.
They are not apathetic; they only know that plutocracy
is not democracy and that there is not a chance in
hell that the system can reform itself. Plutocracy is
the government of the rich, by the rich and for the
rich. This is a far cry from the Lincolnian view of
democracy of "a government of the people, by the
people and for the people."
When Paul Wolfowitz, the
principal technical architect of the war against Iraq,
went from the U.S. Defense department to [preside the
World Bank, ->]
the world had a vivid demonstration how corrupt the
American political system could be. Wolfowitz had no
formation (political science) or experience in
finance, but was nevertheless named to be president of
the important World Bank for services rendered.
Another example is the [curious spectacle of Dick
Cheney, ->] a
member of the American Enterprise Institute
and a former CEO of Halliburton Energy Services,
who, in 2001, chose himself to be George W. Bush's
vice-president (he was Bush's Vice-Presidential search
committee) and as chairman of the president elect's
transition team found himself in charge of naming most
of the high officials in the new Bush administration.
How could he manage to do that, one may legitimately
ask? Also, why did [George W. Bush, on March 25, 2003,
sign executive order 13292,->]
giving Cheney the power to declassify intelligence and
granting the greatest expansion of the power of the
vice-president in US history? Why did Dick Cheney end
up having so much power within the Bush administration
that George W. Bush once even joked about ['President
No political scientist that we know of has found
satisfactory answers to these questions.
Another form of corruption in America may be derived
from the first type. It comes from the fact that while
the super rich gorge themselves on [cost-plus military
contracts and tax cuts,->] the
poorest Americans are becoming relatively poorer.
Indeed, economic inequality
in the U.S. has increased markedly between 1979 and
2006: During this time, more than a quarter century,
incomes adjusted for inflation of those at the top
increased 34 percent, incomes of those at the median
increased by 11.5 percent and incomes of those at the
bottom have remained about stagnant, increasing a
meager 4 percent over 27 years. —Recent reports have
also shown that the percentage of poor Americans who
are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year
high as the gulf between the [nation's "haves" and
"have-nots" has continued to widen.->]
In 2005, for example, 35 million Americans
went without enough to eat. This is due to the fact
that [13 million American children, or 17.8 percent,
were living in severe poverty.->]
And, with the cost of health care increasing each year
in the two digits, some 47 million Americans find
themselves in the precarious situation of not being
covered by any health insurance, all the while their
government is wasting billions and billions around the
But perhaps the most insidious corruption in a
democracy occurs when [elected officials are not
truthful->] with
the people and rely on lies and propaganda rather than
truth in the public discourse. Then confidence and
trust are destroyed, and so is the moral fiber of the
Such public corruption is often accompanied by the
corruption that feeds political corruption, the
corruption of the media. When the government and the
media are both corrupted, all the other forms of
corruption follow. [The increasingly incestuous
that exists between large segments of American media
and the government is harbinger of things to come.
Indeed, propaganda machines seem to have replaced
genuine investigative journalism in many media
organizations where a cohort of "useful idiots" and yelling
village idiots feel free to engage in public campaigns
of disinformation and of outright lies.
When this happens, confusion and disarray result, and
this is when the worst mistakes are made. The
2001-2007 episode will go down in history as such an
instance when the American people were lied to, both
by the Bush-Cheney administration and by the major
American media.
This has led, indeed, to a show of [massive
and to the [monstrous American moral and financial
which has been observed in Iraq, where the
Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Feith-Bremer wrecking
crew went on a rampage that did great and irreparable
harm, not only to Iraq, its economy and its people,
but also to the United States, to Americans and to the
international system of law and justice. The gross
misuse of money, the suspension of the right of
"Habeas Corpus" and the reliance on torture techniques
in occupied Iraq (Abu Ghraib) are only the tip of the
iceberg of what has the potential to be one of the
biggest corruption scandals in American history.
Rodrigue Tremblay lives in Montreal and can be reached

Visit his blog site.
Author's Website
Check Dr. Tremblay's coming book ["The Code for Global

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