Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Conservative Viewpoint
- Politics: America’s Cesspool

Article by Bob Steinburg
- Edenton, North Carolina: Cradle of the Colony

Recently federal authorities arrested Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois on charges that he shamelessly conspired to sell or trade to the highest bidder the open Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. He was seeking personal benefits for himself and his wife. Blagojevich was overheard on court-authorized wiretaps saying, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.” He added that the seat was “a valuable thing-you just don’t give it away for nothing.”

The governor joins a growing list of politicians and lobbyists who abuse their power and influence in exchange for money, merchandise, services, privilege and sex.

Democratic Mayor Larry Langford of Birmingham, Ala. was arrested on Dec. 1 by the FBI in an indictment alleging conspiracy, fraud, bribery and money laundering.

Alaskan Republican Ted Stevens who has served in the U. S. Senate since 1968, barely lost his bid for reelection in November, in spite of being found guilty 10 days earlier on seven felony counts of failing to properly report gifts.

Earlier this year former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a Democrat, had to step down because he lied under oath during questioning in a whistle blower case about a romantic affair with his chief of staff. He was charged with obstructing justice by perjury. Kilpatrick is serving jail time for his offense. His chief of staff will begin serving her time in January.

On May 2, Democratic Ohio Attorney General Mark Dann admitted he had an extra-marital affair with an employee and stepped down 12 days later. Three of his aides were earlier forced out of their jobs because of sexual harassment and other misconduct.

In March, New York’s Democratic Governor Eliott Spitzer resigned after admitting to patronizing prostitutes. And Republican U. S. Rep. David Vitter’s name showed up on the client records of a D. C. Madam’s outcall service.

And it’s not just politicians. In September, disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff was sentenced to four years in prison after admitting giving favors to politicians and others of influence to gain access and action on behalf of clients.

Dishonesty is no stranger in Raleigh either. Last year former Democratic House Speaker Jim Black pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge of public corruption and currently is serving a prison sentence for his misdeeds. And in March of this year, Democrat Rep. Thomas Wright became the first member ever to be expelled from the state House of Representatives for allegedly failing to report campaign donations in addition to other purported misappropriations of money.

Malfeasance exists at the local levels of government as well. Cronyism is one example. This is where folks who are ill-qualified receive an appointment. These merit-less selections insure that those who placed them in these jobs will have their absolute loyalty.

In Chowan County, a sitting board of county commissioners allowed their county manager of 29 years to do virtually whatever he pleased when it came to managing the taxpayer’s money. By not properly overseeing the county’s finances, a once fiscally sound county is now among North Carolina’s most financially distressed.

In a collaborative effort between Chowan County and the town of Edenton to bring economic development to the area, the Edenton Chowan Development Commission was formed. Incredulously, not one of its members recalls approving the hiring of a lobbyist that over a three year period cost the taxpayers of Chowan $260,000. The lobbyist was seeking federal government grant money. The commission should have been lobbying for these funds themselves.

Ignorance or laziness on the part of any elected or appointed officials is inexcusable. But what makes the situation worse is the apparent naiveté of the folks. The public is either terribly uninformed or simply doesn’t give a damn. Even when we’re fortunate enough to be armed with the facts, we choose to either “forgive or forget,” or accept the unacceptable as “business as usual.”

Consequently it should come as no surprise that our nation, states and communities are struggling to keep their heads above water. Deluding ourselves into believing every problem our nation has incurred since January of 2000 is the fault of George W. Bush, as many suggest, is not only disingenuous but a significant part of the problem. President Bush made plenty of mistakes, but making him the only scapegoat for all our woes will do little to reverse our economic and moral decline.

Many believe President-elect Barack Obama is going to step into office in January and immediately fix all that ails us. That thought process is as equally flawed as the one that blames President Bush for all of our current problems. No president can accomplish any meaningful change without the full support and participation of the American people.

Much of America is broken. Repairing it starts with each individual. It begins on Main Street and then works its way up the ladder. Whether it’s education, repairing our infrastructure, taking pride in our homes and communities, getting involved in local government or mending the fences that divide us, it all begins right here.

Each of us must assume some responsibility for having helped create this political environment, rife with corruption and scandal. Our lack of citizen participation and oversight played a significant role. Changing that behavior by becoming more involved in the process, will go a long way toward changing the behavior of those who govern us.

The only caveat that I suggest Bob add is that before getting involved, more people need to come up to speed with an understanding of what our nation is and how it works. It depresses me that the Republican Party allows Wall Street, an evil power that has little regard for free enterprise, so much say in Republican politics. That is because few have yet caught on to the way Wall Street has rigged the system so that they get huge rewards for people committing the kind of duplicitous fraud found in the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

We also have a majority of the Republican Party who are perfectly fine with the socialism of “compassionate conservative” ideology even though it is merely big government socialism under a different name.

What good does it do for more people who don’t have a clue about what is happening in our world to get involved? Will they reduce the corruption? Or is misunderstanding the very nature of today’s political issues the more serious problem?


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home