"The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant." ~ John Stuart Mill
It's the System, Stupid
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Happy New Year!
The year 2006 is already getting off to a grand start for us fans of the sort of tasteless low-brow comedy that only the U.S. Federal Megastate, its dissembling managerial class and sycophants, the U.S. news medieaucracy and the American booboisie can provide. Pop that popcorn, grab a soda or a beer and pull up a chair for what promises to be the funniest, wackiest, most entertaining laugh riot since Richard Nixon's Laugh-In, The Washington Hillbillies, or Dubya's Heroes.
Enter one Jack Abramoff, star player in the new beltway version of television's old favorite stand-by, What's My Line?
Who is Jack Abramoff, you ask? Why, he is a man who has worn many faces and labored in many occupations'a restaurateur, a casino tycoon, even a Hollywood mogul. But as of late, he is best known for his stellar and trailblazing career as a 'lobbyist.' For those few of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, no, a lobbyist is not a fancy name for a hotel doorman, but is rather a breed of political entrepreneur who helps various federal gubmint jobholders and elected officials'mainly members of the nation's only legalized extortion ring, the U.S. Congress'shake down various business firms and other entities inhabiting America's so-called 'private sector' (and yes, I am aware that I am using that term loosely) for loads of cash. The lobbyist thus receives a cut of the action in exchange for his services as a blackmail artiste extraordinaire.
In other words, if we may be allowed to actually state the obvious and say that 'A is A,' and call the federal gubmint what it really is, which would be to say that it is a superficially legitimized organized crime operation much like the Mafia (only unlike the mob, it prosecutes rather than furnishes the services of hookers, drugs and other cool things that I like'er, I mean, uh'that many people demand), the lobbyist is the gubmint's 'goombah', making ominously vague warnings to this or that party that they'd better pony up a big fat wad of cold, hard cash, because golly, it sure does sound like the Congress is grumbling an awful lot these days that the particular sector of the marketplace in which the party competes may not be in proper compliance with some of their 75,000 pages of rules and regulations dictating how business transactions are to be conducted in the United State of Amerika, the greatest and most freedom-lovingest country on Earth, praise Jeebus. The goombah lobbyist assures his client that just so long as he's kept flush with cash, he can sufficiently bribe members of Congress to leave the client alone.
You could also think of it as a sort of 'protection from politicians tax,' I suppose, but you get the idea. Of course, the goombah's client is not always necessarily a blackmail victim per se, for if he has the right political connections, he can hire the goombah to get him welfare handouts (euphemistically referred to as 'grants' or 'low interest loans'), or secure for him government's police powers to protect him from more efficient competitors with monopolistic subsidy schemes, such as artificial price supports, or quotas and tariffs on imported goods, all very much to the detriment of the consumer. There are now over 34,750 such legal criminal outfits on K Street, which is twice as many as there were just five years ago.
There seems to be so many layers and twists and turns to the Abramoff saga'Ya know, lotta ins, lotta outs, lotta what-have-yous, as The Dude might say'that there isn't sufficient space here to fully recount his many exploits that have attracted so much attention of late. Suffice to say that among his most eyebrow-raising schemes involved the Tigua Indian tribe in Texas. It is alleged that during the period his services were being retained by several other Indian tribes, he secretly helped to finance former Christian Coalition lord high poobah Ralph Reed's moralistic public crusade against the Tiguas' gambling casino. Once the Texas attorney general successfully shut the casino down, Abramoff subsequently offered his services to the Tiguas, promising them that he could get the U.S. Congress to essentially legislate the casino's reopening, provided that they would generously donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to the PACs of several congressmen, such as that of the already embattled Tom DeLay and several others, including Ohio Congressman Bob Ney, who ultimately agreed to be the deal maker in the House of Representatives. Ney's agreement to get the deal done in that august body prompted Abramoff to ask the Tiguas for another $32,000 for the congressman, which they went ahead and forked over. It also appears that the tribe provided at least partial payment for a $100,000 golfing trip to Scotland for Ney, Abramoff, his partner Michael Scanlon, and Reed.
Unfortunately for the Tiguas, however, somebody dropped the ball and failed to secure a deal maker in the Senate, and Abramoff never delivered the goods for his clients.
Talk about a bum investment.
As predictably as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, the many Congressfolks on whose behalf Abramoff extorted so much money kicked into weasel-apology mode almost immediately after he pled guilty to charges of wire and mail fraud, bribery of public officials and that old stand-by, 'income tax evasion,' returning large bundles of the cash they'd received from Abramoff's clients so quickly, it was as if they were struck with an epiphany and suddenly realized that those Federal Reserve Notes really aren't worth the paper they're printed on after all. Illinois' own Denny Hastert, along with several other beneficiaries of Abramoff's activities, including our Great Supreme Leader, at least demonstrated their profound sense of compassion by donating the money to charity. Just thinking about how those mighty and powerful rulers of ours gave all that money they didn't earn to the needy and downtrodden sure warms the heart and brings a tear to the eye. Why, it's enough to make you forget about the whole rotten, corrupt system, ain't it?
But wait, what's wrong with me? How could our system of government possibly be corrupt when it's about to investigate itself and punish the few bad apples responsible for these 'crimes'? For surely, knowing that the appropriate congressional oversight committees and the United State's Department of Just Us is on the job gives us all hope that maybe, just maybe, our historic great social experiment in dumbocracy may finally, after more than 200 years and umpteen million incidents of corruption, abuse of power and criminal malfeasance, maybe, just maybe, finally, in this umpteen millionth crisis of confidence, finally, perhaps, just perhaps, may justify its existence after all. I suspect we'll soon find out that the real reason Dubya unilaterally authorized domestic spying was to bring those few bad Congressapples to justice. For if George W. Bush can't clean up the filth and corruption in Warshington, then who can?
I just love the whole promise of the sheer spectacle'the indignant editorials, the solemn hearings in the hallowed halls of Congress, the self-righteous moralizing in defense of our Holy Secular God Dumbocracy that we will most assuredly hear from those good, uncorrupted Congressfolks who are always and forever looking out for us little people, thank Jeebus.
Oh, the glorious comedy of hypocrisy! Is there anything more knee-slappingly hilarious? I think not. I'm stocking up on the popcorn, as I suspect I'll be going through a hell of a lot of it in the months to come. Forget going to the movies! Forget Will and Grace and all those other metrosexual sitcoms! The Jack Abramoff Show is gonna be a gut-buster, and I for one can't wait!
Man, just imagine some of the brilliant comic dialogue that's bound to come from crooks investigating their fellow crooks. Here we have a criminal syndicate, the U.S. Federal Megastate, that operates according to the principle of monopolizing force and coercion, that plunders the wealth of today's population as well as that of generations yet unborn to the tune of more than $2 trillion annually, and its kleptocrats are going to take to task a dozen or so fellow kleptocrats for accepting money that was voluntarily given to them???
Many of those who willingly handed Abramoff and his associates thick wads of cash did so to either a.) defend themselves from the myriad thousands upon thousands of pages of laws, rules and regulations that can essentially criminalize damn near anyone for damn near anything, or b.) to buy privileges and favors from the Federal Megastate that only it can grant, such as $3 million for a school owned and operated by the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, thanks to Abramoff greasing the palms of Montana Sen. Conrad Burns. The gist of the moral outrage expressed by the news medieaucracy is that Americans' forcibly expropriated money was intended only for impoverished Indian schools, but because of Abramoff's efforts, the money instead went to 'one of the richest tribes in the country.'
Now, I'm not quite sure I follow this particular train of logic, but apparently it is perfectly fine for the Congress to steal from the citizenry and transfer the loot to some favored group for the purpose of financing 'education,' but when another group naturally competes for the 'free' money and willingly donates their own funds to a Congressman's PAC in order to get their hands on that loot, then suddenly there's a major crisis.
My point here is not to excuse Abramoff, who is most definitely a scumbag, but he and the tens of thousands of other scumbag lobbyist goombahs are not in and of themselves the tumor on our precious dumbocracy as so many of the chattering classes would have it. Rather, the goombahs are symptoms of a much larger parasitic tumor, which is the dumbocratic system itself, that is, the U.S. federal gubmint and its near limitless claim to monopolize the use of force and to dip its grubby little tentacles as deeply into our pockets as it wishes and pass out the loot to anyone falling all over themselves to suck at its teats.
The reason Congress regulates, legislates, taxes and redistributes is supposedly to effect a 'level playing field,' or to give 'a hand up' to those who are 'disadvantaged,' or to 'save the children,' or 'save the environment' . . . or . . . or . . . insert your favorite sentimental horse crap here. But what the many and varied government lovers fail to understand, the neoliberals and neoconservatives alike, is that a system based on force and theft will always ensure that the worst among us will profit at everyone else's expense. Rather than the natural material inequalities that would result from competition in a free market, determined by competence, intelligence, ambition, personal tastes, and the freely made choices of consumers within the context of a consistent rule of law, we instead have under the current statist system material inequalities determined by willingness to completely disregard all morality and ethics, laziness, dishonesty and sycophancy, thus ensuring that the lowliest, most repugnant parasitic characters will live high on the hog by exploiting the rest of us for as long as they can get away with it. The moral rot engulfs Washington and seeps out into the rest of the culture not in spite of our sacred dumbocratic system's many virtues, but because of them, as genuine virtue and honesty are sneered at and derided while acts of duplicity are enshrined as virtues. For Abramoff and his ilk to come out of such a system is every bit as natural as puss oozing from an infected wound, but it's important to understand that the oozing puss is a symptom, not a cause of the actual problem.
All of this seems glaringly obvious to those of us who naturally hold a mistrust and antipathy toward government, as we are fully aware that this country has previously witnessed many similar scenarios throughout its history: Teapot Dome, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the Clinton scandals, the many and varied lies that were told in order to justify so many wars, such as the war in Kosovo and the current quagmire in Iraq, not to mention President Bush's recent claims to nearly limitless unilateral authority to spy on anyone and everyone he personally deems a threat to 'national security.'
And yet, the American booboisie laughably insists that each of these many incidents of abuse are unique aberrations rather than an inherently natural feature of the system. They either fail to see or willfully ignore the fact that such 'crises' are not signs of its breaking down, but that it's working exactly as intended, which is as a massive machine designed to subjugate and enslave you so that its managerial operators and assorted butt-kissing leeches may be aggrandized with power and riches. The entire system itself has to go, but I fear that the many moral reprobates and intellectual morons in our midst who insist on rationalizing this aggression-based dictatorship of the majority make it all but impossible, at least until the whole corrupt system inevitably collapses on itself, as it always goes with empires.
A recent CNN poll conducted among a thousand American adults showed that half of them believe that the Congress is corrupt, and that the corruption is pretty evenly spread between both major parties. You may think that this could give one reason for hope, until you read the article and come across this passage: 'Congress' image could emerge as an election topic, with 55 percent of respondents saying corruption will be 'the most important' or a 'very important' issue to consider when voting in November . . . .'
When voting in November??? Why certainly, they could vote in a whole new cabal of scoundrels, but is that going to magically transform the whole rotten enterprise into one that is virtuous and just more often than not? I don't think so.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to make a beer run, microwave some popcorn and plop my butt down in front of C- SPAN . In the months to come, it's going to be a hell of lot funnier than even Comedy Central.