Archive for Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Corruption stalks Congress

September 5, 2007


"Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue." - Francois duc de la Rochefoucauld, French epigrammatist (1613-1680)

Oh for the good old days when Jimmy Carter lusted only in his heart. Now deviancy's downward spiral has reached the level where a United States senator pleads guilty to cruising an airport men's room in search of an anonymous "quickie" and is forced to resign.

Sen. (until Sept. 30) Larry Craig of Idaho labored as a second-tier Republican member of Congress until news that he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct became public. He then rocketed to first-tier status, though not for the reason any politician would wish. His sins, not his legislative skills, had found him out. He became fodder for late-night comedians and a problem for the self-righteous community, which hoped that Senate voters would not penalize Republicans come election time, if they expunged Craig from the Senate.

During the last election campaign, now-Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that a "culture of corruption" exists in Washington. She was right. The political culture is corrupt and that corruption is not the exclusive property of Republicans, as anyone with a sense of even recent history knows.

Like a virus that does not discriminate among those it seeks to infect, the culture of corruption threatens almost everyone who comes in contact with it. Even the most noble of freshmen members of Congress must eventually compromise when it comes to fund raising and pork barrel projects, if they want to remain in office. Sex gets our attention; waste, fraud and abuse of our tax dollars less so. That says something about us and about our scandalous priorities, even more than it does about those we elect to office.

When the goal of a "public servant" is a never-ending political career and not doing what's best for the country, that is when whatever immune system he might have brought to Washington begins to break down. It is extremely difficult for a senator or House member to remain in Congress 20, 30 or more years and either not be corrupted or become separated from the real world.

Politicians can quickly get out of touch and embrace an entitlement mentality that, at the extreme, results in Oval Office shenanigans (Bill Clinton), or its trailer trash equivalent (Larry Craig and Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, whose name showed up on the D.C. Madam's client phone list), or fundraisers who break the law (fugitive Norman Hsu, who raised lots of cash for Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and others.)

There is something else about the sexcapades - whether heterosexual or homosexual. The media bombard us with images of Hollywood tarts and other "alternative lifestyle" practitioners, who behave not only badly, but also recklessly. Every move they make; every breath they take, we are watching them. Virtue, like virginity, seems to be a relic of an ancient past, but these traits are, in fact, a rebuke to our corrupt present. The very condemnation that fell upon Larry Craig - from fellow senators to the most liberal editorial pages - affirms a standard that may no longer be practiced sufficiently in the public square, but still resonates in our private hearts.

That great theological nag named Paul speaks to this in his letter to the Romans when he writes of those who ignore God's requirements for humankind: "Although they know God's righteous decrees that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them." (Romans 1:32)

Does that not fit our present state of mind and cultural condition? Don't liberal activists and their judicial enablers regularly tell us that to affirm an immutable standard, especially if it comes from God, violates church-state separation? But then we quickly hark back to the standard to hold even United States senators accountable.

In our reaction to Larry Craig's misdeeds, we affirm the standard. We also seek to be quickly rid of him because he serves as a reminder that the standard still exists and who among us does not fall short of it at some level?

Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services.


Richard Heckler 10 years, 9 months ago

Hey Cal sex may be a problem for those who publicly condemn then go on and participate. The bigger problem Cal is money. Corporate welfare and special interest funding of our campaigns is far and away the larger issue of which many of your pals Falwell and Robertson play that game.

Why is it Americans cannot elect a representative instead of a name from corporate america? What is the romance? Why do americans fall over themselves for political media stars and fat cats? Have we not learned that these people NEVER make things better they just continue the corporate welfare and watch american jobs go abroad. It really stinks!

The news media and corporate america do NOT need to decide who OUR candidates should be for local,state or federal level representation.

The media takes in a ton of cash during our election periods and play a huge role in selecting candidates for all sides of the aisle. Then THEY decide who should participate in televised debates as if no one else matters to the voters. Yes they also seem to decide which issues are important to voters and many times miss the mark. The media has become a large part of the special interest takeover of our process as if they know what is best for all of us. Voters support this takeover by voting for those candidates who also spend the most money and the question is why?

Campaigns go too long,spend way too much money and do not necessarily provide the best available. It is up to us to stop the nonsense at the voting booths on the 2008 ballot. Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing.

Lets's demand a new system and vote in Fair Vote America : Demand a change on the 2008 ballot.

The big money candidates are more beholden than ever to corporate special interests due to the very long nature of campaigns. How do they have time to do the job they were elected to do? We need public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out.

Who would be against Public Funding? The special interest money providers and their bought and paid for politicians!

jmadison 10 years, 9 months ago

The New York Times, Washington Post, and LA Times have all covered the Norman Hsu scandal but this is the first mention in the Journal World, and indeed it is not in a news report but rather an opinion column.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 9 months ago

"Sex gets our attention; waste, fraud and abuse of our tax dollars less so."

Add to the "less so" list lying about and concealing evidence from Congress and the American people about entering a war of choice, subversion of the Constitutional separation of powers and Bill of Rights, state-sponsored torture, and electoral fraud.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 9 months ago

"If a Republican had received money from Hsu, it would have been on the front page."

If, if, if. Such a focus on theoretical and unproveable conspiracy fantasies. If a frog had wings, it wouldn't bump its arse when it jumps.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 9 months ago

"Unproveable? Do a search for "Jack Abramoff" in the J-W archives and see how many entries you find. Compare that to the single story (i.e., Cal Thomas' column) that mentions Norman Hsu."

This would prove that the LJW ran more stories about Jack Abramoff than Norman Hsu. So what? This does not prove liberal bias. Your claims of bias are anecdotal at best, and I am sure that liberals have just as many anecdotes of a conservative bias in the media.

Your paranoid childishness is very unbecoming.

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 9 months ago

But back to the point of Cal's article. The undermining of America and the Constitution by Bushco has been largely ignored as a scandal as opposed to sexual or personal morality issues.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

The Hsu story is out there. You don't have to look very hard to find it. Stop whining about "liberal" media, get off your arses, and stop looking in one source for stories you want to see. LJW runs Cal's column, and if I wanted to whine about media's conservative bias, that would give me plenty of reason to do so. Babies.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

Thomas' article made sense until the paragraph about "liberal activists and their judicial enablers". It completely discredits the actual relevant points he was making, which is why he's little more than a hack.

mick 10 years, 9 months ago

You have to go to to get an inkling of what the White House has been doing to the Constitution. It's NOT a liberal website.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

"Not really. Thomas and George Will are the only two conservative columnists the J-W runs on a regular basis. They are outnumbered at least 6-1 by liberal columnists. And the J-W runs no conservative counterparts to cartoonists Trudeau, Luckovich, Oliphant, and Wright."

Whine, whine, whine. LJW is not the only paper around.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

Funny post, Ag!

-- "Thomas and George Will are the only two conservative columnists the J-W runs on a regular basis. They are outnumbered at least 6-1 by liberal columnists."

I guess you're right if anyone to the left of Cal is considered a "liberal". What a joke. But it's not surprising, your posts give you away every time you change screennames.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

Dennis Miller's hilarious, admittedly. However, Limbaugh's a joke, and we obviously know who would think he's funny as well as defend his comments about Michael J Fox... the same guy who's on his, let's see, it's gotta be what, 20th, screenname?

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

"A member, one of those afflicted with the morbid rage of debate, of an ardent mind, prompt imagination, and copious flow of words, who heard with impatience any logic which was not his own, sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, asked me how I could sit in silence, hearing so much false reasoning, which a word should refute? I observed to him, that to refute indeed was easy, but to silence was impossible; that in measures brought forward by me, I took the laboring oar... but that in general, I was willing to listen; that if every sound argument or objection was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it was enough; if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without going into repetition of what had already been said by others... I served with General Washington in the legislature of Virginia, before the revolution, and during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point, which is to decide the question."

packrat 10 years, 9 months ago

I truly believe that all members of Congress are corrupt.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

"If more people listened to Rush Limbaugh, Americans would be much more knowledgeable."

Wishful thinking.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

That's like me saying "If more people watched The Daily Show, Americans would be much more knowledgeable." Nice try, Ferd, oops, "devildog".

evergreen 10 years, 9 months ago


It is worth noting that the Pew Center's category of "high knowledge" is based only on responses to questions regarding knowledge of current events, specifically "which party has a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives (Republicans); the name of the current U.S. Secretary of State (Condoleezza Rice); the name of the current president of Russia (Vladimir Putin)."

Apparently the "high knowledge" label provides no indication of an individual's intelligence quotient or ability to process rational thought, only their ability to regurgitate trivial information.

Hmmm. Limbaugh and O'Reilly viewers are among the best at regurgitating trivial information. Surprising.

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Evergreen, for stating what D-dog forgot to mention, although it can be found rather easily. Apparently Limbaugh and O'Reilly aren't the only ones who rely on their minions' willingness to take their drivel at face value.

evergreen 10 years, 9 months ago

D-dog: "Funny, you liberals made a big deal in 2000 when Bush didn't know the name of Pakistan's leader."

Perhaps it is trivial for media consumers to know the name of Pakistan's leader. Perhaps it is not so unreasonable to expect our nation's President to know some trivial information as it relates to his job.

D-dog: "Nice spin. If Limbaugh listeners were rated in the "low knowledge" category, you know the liberals would no longer argue that the knowledge was trivial."

No spin required. The questions are trivial with respect to determining one's knowledge of anything other than the answers to those three specific questions asked. Though they offer some indication of an individual's knowledge of broader current events, they are very limited in that respect and remain trivial (to me anyway) even for the 52% of Limbaugh listeners who also couldn't answer all three correctly.

I was merely trying to point out that the "high knowledge" label was slightly misleading. I'm not saying that a high educational acheivement is a requisite for intelligence, but it seems to be a more accurate measure of an individual's knowledge than responses to three isolated questions.

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 9 months ago

"Corruption Stalks Congress"........."Prostitutes Stalk Johns"......"Bees Stalk Honey"....."Bears Stalk Salmon"......"Your Left Hand Stalks Your Right Hand". No stalking here, Corruption & Congress just go together, no surprise. What's the big deal?

kneejerkreaction 10 years, 9 months ago

devildog (Anonymous) says: evergreen: Explain to us how a group can be in the high knowledge category and simutaneously without knowledge (i.e., ignorant).

High knowledge and ignorance can cohabit harmoniously. Many examples out there if you ponder for a sec.

evergreen 10 years, 9 months ago

True. There are a lot of intelligent fools out there--regardless of political persuasion. I just think it is interesting that the Pew researchers felt confident in awarding the label of "high knowledge" to individuals who were merely able to correctly answer the three specified questions. That is a lot of puffing.

It is also interesting that the Pew research indicates that, although over half of Limbaugh listeners are over the age of 50, only 37% graduated from college. Compare this to the same percentage of viewers who graduated from college and regularly watch the Daily Show--a show whose target audience is individuals currently in college (who may or may not graduate).

chet_larock 10 years, 9 months ago


Are you surprised? We all know who D-dog really is. Par for the course, really.

staff04 10 years, 9 months ago

man, it's been weeks since we've seen devildog's owner kicked off of the LJW forums under his umpteenth screenname...

Oracle_of_Rhode 10 years, 9 months ago

"Actually ...Rush Limbaugh listeners placed second in the category of "high knowledge." -- You must mean "knowledge" of how to get "high" by forging scripts for pharmaceutical heroin? Limbaugh's just another right wing freak, but his is a fetish for Dominicans instead of guys in airport bathrooms or Congressional page boys. Here are the sordid details from the Department of Homeland Security report...

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