Tuesday, May 22, 2018

When It Comes To Corruption, Is There Really A Lesser Of Two Evils?


Schumer has accepted more in Wall St. bribes ($26.7 million) than McConnell and Ryan combined ($24.7 million)

Michael Tomasky predicted at the Daily Beast Monday that if the Democrats focus exclusively on policy rather than Trump's scandals, failing to hold Trump accountable, it will cost them the midterms. He reminded his readers that on Sunday Trump "tweeted that he is ordering an investigation of the investigation into him. His campaign, okay; but him"... and implored his reader to "Think about that... [T]his president-- who, it is documented, has spent 40 years lying to and defrauding people in business, and who lies nearly every time he speaks-- and his apologists have so corrupted our system that some people are discussing Trump’s move as if it’s legitimate. Just another interesting twist and turn in Donald Trump’s Washington, ha ha.
No. It’s not. It’s a scandal. It’s the biggest sign yet that Trump knows and respects no law and will use every tool he can to thwart an investigation that is obviously legitimate. We learned over the weekend from the Times that Russia may not be the half of it, a Gulf emissary reportedly offered to help Trump win the election. Again, the August 2016 meeting involving Donald Trump Jr., Erik Prince, and people from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Israel (what a troika!) is not denied by Trump spokespeople; nor, so far, is the fact that Don Jr. “responded approvingly” to their offers of help. Boom. That alone is collusion and is illegal. As even Steve Bannon knows, if you’re part of a presidential campaign, you call the FBI the moment you even receive such an offer.

With each revelation, Trump becomes more unhinged and more accusatory and thinks up new ways to try to discredit the FBI and entire principle of independent investigations of the executive branch. He and his campaign almost certainly cheated, and all he does-- this is the president of the United States-- is lie and turn the tables, trying to delegitimize the entire Department of Justice.

...Lately there’s been some chatter about whether Democrats want to talk about Trump heading into the midterms. My colleagues Sam Stein and Gideon Resnick reported that congressional Democrats were refusing to go on cable shows because they want to talk about prescription drug prices but cable wants to talk about Trump. Then I reported that four leading Democratic presidential hopefuls seemed to go out of their way at a major liberal conference to avoid mentioning the president.

This is a guaranteed losing strategy. Candidates campaigning in districts can talk about prescription drugs and other matters all they want. This will happen well below the radar of cable news shows, but voters will hear them. Meanwhile, the national party has to talk about Trump. If a narrative develops between now and November that the Democrats want to be “careful” about how they speak of Trump, core Democratic voters will be demoralized and disgusted.

I can hear the answer back: We’re letting Mueller take care of that. If and when he issues a report before Election Day, we’ll pounce. That’s too cautious. It depends on the actions of someone else. It’s not enough. I’m sure they’d also say we don’t want to get sucked into the impeachment trap, seem like we’re too eager to impeach Trump. But that’s easily enough avoided. All they need to say is we’ll follow the evidence and see where it leads.

But the point they need to emphasize is that unlike the Republicans, they’ll look for the evidence. They’ll look into the Trump Hotel. They’ll haul Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke and Ben Carson up before Congress to explain things. They’ll focus on what’s been happening at the Veterans’ Administration. They’ll investigate policies and outcomes, from the environment to the tax bill (oversight can be “substantive” too, and thus seen as not just “political”). They’ll investigate this Jakarta thing, which has barely been discussed in the media but which alone would have floored this city in normal times. And yes, you bet they’ll investigate the campaign.

The president is lawless. His lawyer is lawless. Both of his lawyers. All they know is to lie, deny, distort, extort, and bully. The country is being governed by Mafiosi values. If the Democrats are unwilling to say that, they’ll let down millions of Americans who are counting on them to defend the law, and they’ll lose, and deserve to. History sometimes presents moments when caution is called for. This isn’t one of them.
It will be hard for the House Democrats to find anyone in Congress more overtly corrupt that their next party leader, Queens Democratic Machine boss and Wall Street whore, Joe Crowley. And what about Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Last time I looked she was still a Democrat in Congress. But they may need to look for someone more corrupt that those two after releasing another plank in their 2018 platform yesterday: "A Better Deal for Our Democracy."

Writing for the Washington Post Mike DeBonis reported at 5AM that the Democrats’ newest midterm pitch is a crackdown on corruption. Oh God! The Republicans may be are certainly grotesquely corrupt, with Trump in our outside the equation, but is anyone supposed to think the Democrats are a scintilla better? Did they for example move against Tony Cárdenas yet? At least Ryan forced Blake Farenthold to resign-- and his victims weren't even underage!
Democrats are preparing to highlight allegations of corruption surrounding the Trump administration-- and a legislative agenda to prevent future abuses-- as they continue rolling out their party platform ahead of November’s midterm elections.

The first planks of the “A Better Deal” platform, released last year, focused on the party’s economic agenda. Now, with questions about pay-to-play politics swirling around President Trump and his current and former aides, Democrats are set to introduce anti-corruption proposals Monday billed as “A Better Deal for Our Democracy.”

According to a senior Democratic official familiar with the announcement, the new agenda will include proposals that would eliminate loopholes that allow lobbyists and lawmakers to buy and sell influence without the public’s knowledge. The message: Elect Democrats in November to “clean up the chaos and corruption in Washington.”

One proposal-- which would tighten the federal laws governing lobbying disclosures and foreign-agent registration-- responds to the apparent sale of influence by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer. According to recently disclosed financial records, Cohen earned millions of dollars from companies that wanted to secure access to Trump’s inner circle in the early days after his 2016 win.

But Cohen never registered as a lobbyist or otherwise disclosed the payments-- possibly because, under federal law, only those who spend more than 20 percent of their time on lobbying on behalf of a client must register as a lobbyist. Democrats will propose to change the law so any lobbying contact would have to be publicly reported.

Another proposal could rewrite federal statutes that might have allowed lawmakers of both parties to skirt convictions on bribery and pay-to-play allegations-- including former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell (R), former senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) and  Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ.). All were charged with fraud violations but were then acquitted or had their convictions overturned after courts found that their actions were not criminal under the current letter of federal law.

“This administration is failing to police itself, to set moral standards, to clean up its messes, to shun corrupt behavior, and to drain the swamp,” the Democratic official said. “It’s the American people who are getting stuck with a raw deal. That has to change.”

The proposals are set to be rolled out Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) and several other congressional Democrats who have been engaged in anti-corruption issues, including Rep. John Sarbanes (MD) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI).

The new Democratic focus on corruption as a campaign message marks a return to a formula that helped put Democrats into the House majority in the 2006 midterm elections-- after numerous scandals including the Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham revelations put pay-to-play politics on the public’s political radar in a big way. Polling done after the election showed that the tide of corruption helped swing votes to Democrats, and the party’s official now sees signs of similar concerns among voters.

Democrats, the official said, will make the case that they are best equipped to rein in what they are calling “the most corrupt administration in modern times” and are prepared to connect the corruption allegations to a Republican governing agenda that has delivered outsize tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and dismantled financial and environmental regulations that aimed to protect average taxpayers.

Democrats are also preparing to highlight an apparent atmosphere of rule-bending, if not rule-breaking, in the Trump administration. Several Trump Cabinet members-- including Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, as well as former Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price and former Veterans Affairs secretary David Shulkin-- have been subject to official investigations of questionable spending on travel and other expenses.

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At 6:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, there is. This is determined by the nature of the evils each choice represents.

For example, if a pol is on the take to overlook certain licensing and regulatory evasions, is he as bad as one who lies his nation into an illegal war and kills millions in the process?

At 6:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

epiphany yet?

At 6:26 PM, Blogger JCC said...


Bush or Obama who both lied us into wars that killed hundreds of thousands or...
Bush or Obama who both chose to to overlook certain licensing and regulatory evasions.

Epiphanies are tough when the question doesn't lead anywhere satisfying.

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's acidic!!!


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