Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Top Senate Republican Indicted for Lying

A leading Republican senator was indicted in Washington today, new evidence of the "culture of corruption" in GOP circles.

Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska has been charged "with lying about receiving gifts worth more than $250,000 from Veco, an Alaska-based energy company on whose behalf he intervened in Washington," according to CNN.

Here's the CNN summary of the charges against Stevens, one of the longest-serving men in the Senate:

The indictment, returned Tuesday by a federal grand jury in Washington, says the veteran lawmaker "schemed to conceal" the fact that Veco paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work on his home.


Dan Paden said...

Y'know, I wasn't exactly fond of Mr. Bridge-to-Nowhere myself, but it still just gobsmacks me that you note every instance of GOP corruption that makes the news, and never seem to notice instances like that of William "Cold Cash" Jefferson, or Gene Stipe's decades-long activity, or Jeff McMahan and his wife. One could easily get the impression that you honestly think that corruption is confined to the Republican Party, but such is manifestly not the case, and this sort of thing just ends up making you look as though you've got blinders on.

Tulsan said...

Looking at the big picture, the quantity and "quality" of corruption, it practically IS confined to the GOP in this decade.

You could somewhat reasonably argue that this is due to the GOP having control of both the White House and Congress up until 2006, but to imply that there is an equivalence in numbers is clearly mistaken.

Furthermore, the examples you cite, U.S. Rep. Jefferson and State Senator Stipe, represent "traditional" pocket-lining corruption, not dissimilar to the GOP's U.S. Senator Ted Stevens, now in the news.

DeLay and Abramoff and their confederates not only operated on a scale orders of magnitude greater, but their activities were embraced by elected GOP officials at the highest level, many of whom are now in jail or on their way there.

The systematic and deliberate nature of their corruption is only one reason the GOP deserves to go down in flames this year.

Who else can you cite at the national level besides Jefferson? I bet I can give you at least 10 Republicans at the same or higher level of office for every Democrat you can name.

Dan Paden said...

I have to admit, Tulsan, that I don't actually keep a count of such things. You may well be right as to relative numbers, though I wouldn't concede it outright until after looking into it.

Personally, my favorite three corrupt Democrats are Ted Kennedy, whom I regard as the nation's highest-ranking murderer in office, and Mr. and Mrs. Clinton, for reasons that I'm sure you've heard a thousand times over and formed your own opinion on. If you feel compelled to name thirty corrupt Republicans of like magnitude, feel free.

It seems to me that the core of your argument is that Republican corruption is organized and directed, which I regard as yet to be proven (and highly unlikely in any event, as I have yet to see any evidence that the Republican Party in general has been organized and directed for the last several years), and that corrupt Democrats manage to stumble into trouble all on their own initiative. I'm not at all sure that even if true, it argues for a difference in character. To my mind, corrupt is corrupt.

Perhaps I can put it most succinctly by saying that politics involves the direction of enormous sums of money, and a great deal of power and influence, and that where money, power, and influence are, there the vultures will gather. To my mind, political corruption is exactly what one would expect under the circumstances, and I am always surprised when someone gives me the impression that they consider their party members above such things.

Tulsan said...

"I am always surprised when someone gives me the impression that they consider their party members above such things."

I don't think anyone is saying that.

I do say that the GOP has been responsible for a preponderance of the corruption on a national level this decade. Apparently you don't really dispute that, if a weak name check of Chappaquiddick and Clinton is all you can muster.

The Republican Party, Rove, Drudge, the right-wing "think tanks", their media networks and pundits, work hand in glove. They really have their internals together (though they do seem to be slipping lately). If only they could do a tenth as well governing once they get into office. Kind of hurts their cause when people actually experience the fruit of their "philosophy."

I want to see that machine broken into pieces and discredited. Not because I am a true-blue Democrat (I'm not) but because its existence is hurting the country. People do seem to be figuring this out.

I was pleased to see that the Republican anti-gay cartoon writer/incumbent OKC commissioner, Brent Rinehart, took a Randi Miller-sized kick in the teeth. Maybe there is hope for Oklahoma yet.

Dan Paden said...

The Republican Party, Rove, Drudge, the right-wing "think tanks", their media networks and pundits, work hand in glove.

It's almost funny, Tulsan. I would have written that as "The Democratic Party, Soros, Kos, the left-wing academics, the mainstream media and pundits, work hand in glove."

It all depends on whose ox is gored, I suppose.

Tulsan said...

Markos ("Kos") was one of the first to really understand how the modern GOP works and begin to intelligently combat it.

The GOP puts their message of the day into play with entities like Drudge. It is then picked up by GOP puppets like Fox News, and also by well-conditioned corporate "mainstream" media outlets, owned by huge conglomerates looking to play ball.

You often hear the same words recurring throughout the 24-hour news cycle (today's dog whistle code word to the racist base is "presumptuous," a cute way to say Obama is "uppity".)

The messages strategically reinforce larger narratives (e.g., the GOP is the "daddy" or responsible party.) People like Rove shepherd this bigger picture strategy.

I saw that Ernest Istook, after his loss in the previous election cycle, went to work for the Heritage Foundation. He is now a "Distinguished Fellow at The Heritage Foundation – and host of the think tank's satellite radio show."

Many of these "think tanks" were seeded by right-wing billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife in the years after Nixon was forced to resign. One of their functions is "wing-nut welfare," a way to keep "right-thinking" politicians and bureaucrats able to do their part after they get shot down. They also nurture the next generation of GOP functionaries.

Another function is to produce theoretical and academic papers. Think tanks like the Rand Corporation in the past did research, and presented "executive level" summaries for leaders. The new right-wing tanks often skip the pesky research and produce only the summary. They collectively are something of a Potemkin village from the academic perspective.

The left is only beginning to effectively counter this structure, which has been building up for several decades.

Thus it would hardly be accurate to simply project the workings of the GOP machine onto the Democratic side and say, Soviet-style, that there is parity. There is not... yet.

But you would hardly want to mirror the bogus, Potemkin village aspects of it. The netroots movement is proving to be one effective counter in fundraising, thinking about strategy and tactics, and communication. The right has not been at all as successful in this domain, probably due to their more established, top-down structure.

Dan Paden said...

I have to admit, that is really amazingly detailed. I haven't seen anything quite like that since the heyday of the John Birch Society.

Tulsan said...