Until Midterm Elections...

Scott versus Scott

Welcome to our blog. Here we will debate the days most serious topics and allow users the chance to discuss the topics as well. The range of topics will vary, but one thing will remain certain, the debate will rage on. Scott Lesinski is a proud conservative and Scott Jones is a proud liberal. However, the roles will switch on some topics. Stay tuned.

Scott Lesinski is currently an actuarial associate for a large human resources and insurance consulting firm in Saint Louis. He is also an avid student of US history and enjoys following current events, with an eye to their contextual relationship to the past. He is also, in fact, a former student of Mr. Scott Jones. Scott is working toward his FSA credentials, which is akin to earning a PHD in Actuarial Science.

Scott Jones is currently a high school social studies teacher at a high school in suburban St. Louis, MO. He teaches World History, AP American Government and Senior American Foreign Policy. He has a BS. Ed. (Secondary Social Studies) from the University of Missouri - Columbia and a M.A. (History) from Southeast Missouri State University. He is currently working on a dissertation in character education to earn a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Culture of Corruption in Washington...Who is guilty and what must we do?

Allow me to begin this post by first mentioning that I am not going to get on this blog and strictly demonize democrats. Corruption in government is prevalent on both sides of the aisle. Its just that typically, the party in power gets the focus since the minority can do little to effect any major change. Corruption in government also has many faces; it can mean "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours"-type special interest legislation. It can mean politicians who don't follow the laws they themselves write for us. It can mean unchecked, unconstitutional power-grabbing.

What I intend to do is to expose some examples of corruption in our government. There are no doubt countless others. Glenn Beck said it great today (yes, THAT Glenn Beck, and before you stop reading for irrational hatred of the man, please at least hear him out) when he said that it doesn't matter that Americans come in all different ideologies. We can disagree on matters of policy and vigorously debate those ideas. But right and wrong exist and where there is corruption, we as Americans must stand up against it. Too long have we been slaves to a corrupt electoral system that is designed to protect incumbency at taxpayer expense. Too long have we allowed a shadowy Federal Reserve complete control of our money supply with no oversight or investigation. Too long have our politicians promised us many things and then delivered the opposite because of the stink of Washington politics.

As Beck pointed out, corruption exists in the Republican party. It exists in the Democrat party. GREAT! Lets stop trying to find out who is "most corrupt" and instead, clean our own houses and then return to the political table with morality intact.

I'd like to begin with the electoral system in this country. My beef is the gerrymandering that has taken place in the electoral map of this country, which guarantees reelection for 80% of incumbents. The US Congress has something like a 17% approval rating. Yet we keep sending back the same dunces we all seem to detest. Why? It couldn't be because the politicians have picked and chosen which voters they serve instead of the voters picking and choosing which politicians to send, could it? Check out this slideshow from Slate.com. Click through it a few times and you will be amazed at the ludicrous nature of many congressional districts. Of special note are
Illinois 4th, Luis Gutierrez, D
Illinois 17th, Phil Hare, D
Massachusets 4th, Barney Frank, D
Maryland 2nd, Dutch Ruppersberger, D
Maryland 3rd, John Sarbanes, D
North Carolina 3rd, Walter Jones, R
Pennsylvania 12th, John Murtha, D
Pennsylvania 18th, Tim Murphy, R

http://www.slate.com/id/2208216/slideshow/2208554/entry/2208575/fs/0//

We need to remap the US for Congressional Representation. I propose an algorithm that would be fairly easy to write. Take the population of the state and divide by the number of reps. That will be each representative's population of voters, so each voter in a state has equal power. Then, you simple divide up the state into blocks of voters that are the same population. If you have several key population centers, such as St. Louis and Kansas City, begin in the dead center of that city and split it up. The key is to avoid all the crazy pockets of voters scattered all over the place. Those representatives ought to have to work for us and be accountable, and this will largely start when we have fair electoral mapping.

Also, take away all the benefits of incumbency. No franking privileges, etc. Level the playing field. I don't want to subsidize the reelection campaign of someone against whom I will be voting in November, neither should you.

About the Fed, I'll say this. We still don't know where two trillion dollars went right at the end of 2008. There has been a call to audit the Fed and I say, go for it. We need transparency in our government, as much as possible.

Our elected representatives have been in the pockets of special interests for ages, from trial lawyers to ACORN to unions like the AFL-CIO and the SEIU. Its time our government broke away from such ties. For example, unless you listen to talk radio or read the drudge report, you probably don't know this, but there have been three different cases of ACORN community advisers caught on video explaining to a man and woman, posing as a pimp and prostitute, how to lie to the government and obtain a loan to open up a brothel. Not only that, but they are told that the plan is to import 13-14 year old girls from El Salvador to turn tricks in the brothel, and instead of reacting in a disgusted and appalled manner, the ACORN workers all happily advised the man and woman how to claim these children as dependents on their taxes to receive a tax benefit!

Several ACORN workers have been fired, but it can hardly be said that this was an isolated incident. Over the course of at least a week, ACORN workers in Washington, Baltimore, and New York were all caught on "candid camera" by James O'Keefe, a conservative activist, who posed as the pimp. ACORN is threatening to sue, but over what? They've fired the perps, but they owe us an explanation. The Senate voted today to stop the funding that ACORN was allotted in the stimulus bill...$4 billion dollars...but that is not enough. They deserve an investigation. Last week, something like 8 ACORN workers were found guilty of voter fraud in Florida, and during the election of 2008, ACORN workers were indicted in 15-16 states on charges of voter fraud.

It is clear that something sinister is lurking beneath the shadows at ACORN, and our government must not have ANY involvement with this organization until they can absolutely prove that they have cleaned up their act. Somehow, I think this is highly unlikely.

When it comes to opacity in government, look no further than the administration of Barack Obama. He has appointed 40 something "czars" to supercede the vetting and confirmation process that under our Constitution, must take place in the Senate. We recently learned of Van Jones, an avowed communist, a racist, and a 9/11 truther who in 2004, signed a statement claiming that the terror attacks on 9/11 were an inside job. It took ONE WEEK of people like Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, Fox News, Matt Drudge, the Gateway Pundit and others to bring enough of this man's statements to light to force his resignation from the administration. Its great that he's gone, but the real question is, how in the hell did he get appointed by Obama in the first place? Why not use the Cabinet, which has Senatorial oversight? Why not vet these people before giving them jobs for which we don't know what they are paid or what they actually do?

Why is our Treasury Secretary, Tim Geihtner, a known tax cheat and fraud, still serving?
Why is Charles Rangel, another known tax cheat and fraud, and chairman of the ways and means committee!, still in the Senate?
Why was so little concern shown when it was discovered that William Jefferson, D Louisiana, was in possession of $90K that he had stashed in his freezer?

Look, I'm not angry because these people support policies I do not, I'm angry because if I failed to report a vacation house in the Bahamas on my taxes, as Rangel did, I WOULD BE IN JAIL.
If I hadn't paid over $35K worth of taxes over several years, as Geihtner did, I WOULD BE IN JAIL. There is a double standard in Washington and the corruption has to stop.

What can..no...what must we do if we want to stop this corruption and take back our country, for Democrats and Republicans alike?

We must become informed of the corruption, first of all. Read http://www.drudgereport.com/
and www.thegatewaypundit.blogspot.com daily. Watch Fox News (CNN, MSNBC, CBS all failed to report on Van Jones, and they are utterly ignoring the ACORN fiasco, which is one of the biggest corruption stories of the year). I'm not saying stop watching the news you like, but branch out. Pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes in Washington. And most of all, spread the word to others. Call your senators and representatives to let them know to get out of the pockets of special interest. Demand accountability. We need to champion an electoral map makeover. This country is ours, not theirs. This is not a republican or democrat issue...it is the people vs the elites in Washington. We need to restore common sense and transparency to government. If we fail at this cause, our country will fail as well.

16 comments:

  1. Please feel free to comment with other examples of corruption that I have missed. I know there are many.

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  2. Okay, Scott - I agree with the general nature of this post. However, it is interesting that all of your examples are mainly Democrat examples. You seem to miss the Scooter Libby scandal, the Jack Abramoff scandal, Haliburton scandals, Blackwater scandals, the Energy special interests, the Gulf Coast missing money, etc.

    If you want to make a bipartisan post, make it fair. Where are your examples of Democratic organizations pointing out the fraud of Republicans? You can't claim that it is both liberals and conservatives and then only attack the corruption of one side.

    Otherwise, you make a good point. However, it is interesting that you are proposing taking away a state right (elections) and Federalizing it. That isn't very conservative of you.

    Also, a point of clarification. You mention the Fed. Generally, that word is used when we are talking about the Federal Reserve. Is that what you are referring to? If so, I am not familiar with the Federal Reserve losing $2 trillion. I think I would've noticed that. Or, are you talking about the Federal Government in DC?

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  3. Your post also reminded of something George Washington said concerning political parties and how they would destroy the new government because special interests would trump national interest.

    Yet, isn't this an example of competition bringing out the worst in us? Washington thought so and so do I.

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  4. One other thing, please be fair to all sides. You mention that President Obama has all of these Czars (44 to count them). This is the same position as "Special Advisor to the President," which is part of the Executive Office of the President. Here's a list of numbers of special advisors since the word Czar was first used by Ronald Reagan

    Barack Obama - 44
    George W. Bush - 63
    Bill Clinton - 37
    George H.W. Bush - 57
    Ronald Reagan - 47

    Doesn't matter if the President uses the word "czar" as Obama does or "special advisor" the position is the same.

    In order to change this, we would have to have Congress repeal the 1939 law that created the Executive Office of the President and return to the Cabinet as being the only official advisors of the President. Of course, that would bring back the beloved "Kitchen Cabinet"

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  5. "You seem to miss the Scooter Libby scandal, the Jack Abramoff scandal, Haliburton scandals, Blackwater scandals, the Energy special interests, the Gulf Coast missing money"

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/31/AR2006083101460.html

    I know how you love me posting links, but I wanted to start by refuting a few of your evidences of corruption before continuing. Scooter Libby had his sentence commuted because he was innocent. Richard Armitage outed Valerie Plame in 2003, its right here in the Washington Post. So strike one, no corruption with Libby.

    Abrahamoff was indeed corrupt, and he was a republican. His clients were both Democratic and Republicans, but since he has an R, I'll claim that. Corruption. No good.

    http://www.factcheck.org/kerry_ad_falsely_accuses_cheney_on_halliburton.html

    I'm not totally sure as to what exactly you are charging as corruption when it comes to Halliburton, but if it has to do with Cheney allegedly giving no bid contracts to Halliburton as VP and then profiting by that...its just plain wrong. Its true that Halliburton got no bid contracts, that has been going on since Clinton. They have capabilities no other multinational firm has and can do things more cheaply than our government. Charge the government with poorly managing our taxes dollars, maybe, but corruption? No. Strike Two.

    Could you please explain the republican scandal surrounding Blackwater? From what I could find (in an albeit brief search) it looks like they were an independent contracting security firm accused of murdering 17 Iraqi civilians. They were then later hired by the CIA to kill Al Qaida operatives. If they screwed up, isn't that on them? And if they're so bad, why did we hire them again? Just curious.

    I'm also not real sure what you mean by corruption involving the "energy special interests" or the coast guard losing money. I would be interested to get your take on what exactly was corrupt involving those things.

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  6. We can disagree on Libby. He was found guilty.

    The Gulf Coast corruption refers to the billions of dollars lost by the Bush Administration during the Katrina rebuilding efforts.

    Allegations (I know unproven, but if something smells, it is because it does) on Blackwater providing kickback money to the Pentagon to keep their private contract. President Obama has hushed the investigation - maybe to just move forward.

    We do agree on everything else.

    However, I would like to offer a question (it might be a pessimistic view, but on this topic I can not help it)...

    If we elected brand new legislators, would we solve the corruption?

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  7. The energy policy corruption refers to Cheney refusing to make public energy policy meetings notes despite clear Federal law demanding such notes be made public six months later. It just smells like a cover up.

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  8. "Otherwise, you make a good point. However, it is interesting that you are proposing taking away a state right (elections) and Federalizing it. That isn't very conservative of you."

    Okay, I should have qualified my remarks here. It would be my preference if each state were to do something about the gerrymandered-to-hell state that their congressional districts are in. But as citizens, we can only try to bring about some reform in this regard if we first expose and accept the corrupt nature of the districts in each state. Do you really think its fair to the voters as it is currently constituted? I'm merely pointing out the strangle-hold our representatives have on us when it comes to their reelection. As for the other financial perks of incumbency, I stand by my comments.

    Look it, sorry I didn't put more corruption examples, but my mind is spilling over from examples from the last month! It may be unfair in an academic argument but timeliness is everything.

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  9. And what is the kitchen cabinet?

    As to your posited question on new legislators, I think that would certainly help. I like the idea of term limits.

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  10. Ok, SJ, you've said that you like ACORN in the past. I have to ask you if you still stand by that remark.

    I've pointed out the dynamic duo, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles, posing as pimp and prostitute in various cities across this nation. They've been taking a hidden camera to ACORN offices around the country and asking for advice on how best to lie to the government to obtain funding for a loan for a house in which to operate a brothel. Not only that, but their story is that they are importing 13 and 14 year old girls from El Salvador to turn tricks. Well, they've struck again, this time in San Bernadino, CA, where they struck real gold.

    http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2009/09/big-government-posts-latest-acorn.html

    This ACORN worker admits to having killed her husband on tape. She threatens another ACORN worker who told the duo how to lie about the "business". She admits to having been a prostitute in the past and talks about how she frequently lobbies congressmen and politicians "everyday". This is the 4th city to be snookered by O'Keefe and Giles. Yet our media completely ignores the story. We have heard no condemnation from Obama, who grew up in ACORN. We have no calls from Congress on the Democrat side to investigate ACORN. Charles Gibson admitted yesterday that he hasn't even heard of this story. Do you still stand by this obviously corrupt organization?

    The senate voted to pull ACORN's funding. They will no longer be running the 2010 census, those are great first steps, but this is a seriously corrupt organization. Where's the outrage? Where's the curiosity from our media? We had more media hubbub over Joe Wilson's outburst during Obama's speech last Wednesday than we've had over the biggest corruption scandal of the 2000s. What gives?


    Surely its not because our media is in the tank for Obama?

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  11. Scott - don't you see that you are guilty of the same thing that has gotten us into this mess. As you see the world, Conservatives are hardly ever corrupt, but liberals are always corrupt.

    You claim you want to make a bipartisan post, but all you do is bash Democrats and liberals while defending everything the Republicans and
    conservatives do as necessary and proper.

    It is this mindset that has gotten us into this mess. You ask how Congress has a 17% approval rating but a 90% reelection rate. Why is this true? Because people believe their guy is good and it is the other Congressmen that are corrupt.

    You are guilty of the same thing. ACORN is terrible (I never said I like the organization. I said there was too much right-wing hatred of the group because it is liberal group. If they are guilty of the things you claim, then they must be stopped) for doing the things you claim, but where is the outrage of the voter fraud done by the Ohio GOP that rigged the 2004 election in Ohio.

    You hate ACORN - fine - but please be fair. I would be shocked to come to the blog later and find that you've listed as many conservative corruption examples as you have liberal examples so far.

    Why would I be shocked? Because you don't see anyting the conservatives do as corrupt.

    And you thought Sotomayor was biased. Look in the mirror Scott. You are too.

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  12. By the way, here is the link to the Ohio story.

    http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/10432334/was_the_2004_election_stolen

    Sure it is in a politically liberal magazine, but Scott likes to post links only to conservative news organizations.

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  13. The kitchen cabinet is the group of informal advisors to the President that he meets with. This was most famously used by Andrew Jackson, but all Presidents before FDR used it exclusively to make policy decisions.

    Congress decided this was a bad system since none of the informal advisors were accountable to anyone. Congress create the Executive Office of the President so that these informal advisors would be part of the Federal payroll and could be held accountable for their advice to the President.

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  14. "It is this mindset that has gotten us into this mess. You ask how Congress has a 17% approval rating but a 90% reelection rate. Why is this true? Because people believe their guy is good and it is the other Congressmen that are corrupt."

    This may be true to some extent, but I believe the winds are changing in this regard. The problem remains that, especially in the House, many of the hard left or right seats are so gerrymandered that they are not responsive to the people, only to a chosen few of their staunchest supporters.

    I need to make something clear. I am not unbiased. I have never claimed to be unbiased. In my opening paragraph, I claim to be a staunch conservative. I believe in free markets, the private sector, the power of individuals, the goodness of the nuclear family, and God.

    My aim in this post was to clean house on BOTH SIDES. Of course I'm not going to sit here and list off event after event of conservative corruption because that is not my world view. I don't dwell constantly on that. I asked you at the beginning to bring up those examples. You and the other liberals here need to expose corruption in among conservatives and republicans and myself along with my fellow conservatives will highlight examples of liberal and democratic corruption. Then we get to vet each other and debate those examples. The point is to get to the bottom of the corruption. You don't think I'm upset with the Republicans who get elected to do one thing and then go and behave in another completely different way in office? You think I like Mark Sanford, cheating on his wife with that chick from Argentina? NO! I am against corruption, in all forms. That is the point of this post, to expose it as much as possible from all sides.

    I agreed with at least one of your examples of corruption on my side and I pointed out where I have evidence to the contrary on a couple other of your examples. You do the same for me! I'm glad we can agree on ACORN. Perhaps you see now its not just that they are a liberal group that upsets conservatives (and common sense people all around)...they really are an evil, corrupt organization. I'm not saying there aren't some good people involved there, but when 4 different offices in 4 different states all have the same problem...seems to be an uglier problem than we might have thought.

    Maybe special advisors to the president are okay, but I can still demand accountability for their words and actions. Van Jones is but one example of the corrupt worldviews now infiltrating the White House. He and the others represent Obama's views on these issues or else they wouldn't be where they are. I am pointing out the obvious link between them. Just as before the election, people were making a mad rush to connect Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers with Obama...these contacts mean something, they tell us who the man is.

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  15. "You think I like Mark Sanford, cheating on his wife with that chick from Argentina? NO! I am against corruption, in all forms."

    Funny you think this is an example of corruption on the conservative side...I don't. He was guilty of an indiscretion between he, his wife and the other lady. For me, this has nothing to do with politics. Just as I thought President Clinton shouldn't have been hung out to dry on the Lewinski thing, I think the same of Sanford.

    Also, look at John Shimkus' (R- Ill.) district. A great example of what you are saying.

    Actually, I think it would be beneficial to not just bring up examples of each side's corruption (it would bring the debate down to a lower level, which I am already guilty of in this post). Let's fix the system here.

    You point out a couple of things like Congressional term limits, which I agree with, and some type of system that avoids the gerrymandering, which I also agree with.

    Other things...
    Senators get two terms and Reps get four terms.

    Federal judges, including justices on the SCOTUS, get fifteen years.

    A Constitutional Amendment mandating a balanced budget unless Congress declares war (a power that Congress currently has forfeited).

    Real campaign finance reform - this is a sticky issue between conservatives and liberals, but there is probably some good common ground - i.e. all money donated to campaign must come from private individuals - no corporate giving.

    The FEC oversees district lines for the House and insures that they are fairly and reasonably drawn.

    A simplification of the tax code. While I still believe in the graduated income tax, I think the corporate tax rate should be set at 0%. Tax income of workers, but not the income of the employer's business. Talk about real wage increases, investment, employment, etc... Would also end the constant corporate special interest influence. They already get everything they want and the special interests of the actual people would have more voice.

    This is just a start...Other ideas?

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  16. By the way, the no corporate giving to campaigns is a give-and-take proposal with the 0% corporate income tax. This is because of current Constitutional intepretation concerning corporations.

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