A corrupt Washington is paying us hush money

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Corruption is an elusive bird with a siren's song.

It's often hard to recognize corruption because its tools are suits and handshakes and fancy titles and serpent smiles, not guns or knives. But robbery is robbery.

It's difficult to acknowledge or confront corruption, because its victims are often paid off and made to be happy of it.

Corruption is all the more insidious because it's easier to spot from a great distance; it's hard to see it when it's right in front of you. It's more difficult to admit that friends or acquaintances might be corrupt.

Nor does corruption always have to be criminal. Corruption is always corrosive, frequently seductive, and sometimes addictive -- but often quite legal.

By almost every measure, Washington is hopelessly corrupt.

And we are at once victims and accomplices.

Career politicians are spending the country to near-bankruptcy as they feather their own nests, tighten their leash on our necks and pat us on the head. They take our money, bend it to their will, then return small portions of it at their discretion to make us feel it has all been worth it.

Washington is to the taxpayer as the drug cartels are to the addict.

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina did his best to wean his state off the cocaine of federal money. He knows it's corrupting. He knows it will mask the state's needs rather than fill them. He knows we are stealing from our children.

Washington is over $10 trillion in debt already. The Obama budget blueprint calls for adding another $9 trillion to that debt in the next 10 years. And the country is already facing untold trillions -- $60 trillion or more -- in Medicare and Social Security promises we've made to future retirees, money for which we have no identifiable source.

Meanwhile, with the power to give out our money as they wish, congressmen take campaign money from lobbyists and industries they regulate. Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., is only the latest poster boy for that, but boy is he a good one. There may be no one who better represents all that is wrong with Washington. The powerful Senate Banking Committee chairman got a sweetheart mortgage from Countrywide; he has received $280,000 in campaign contributions from troubled insurer AIG; and he made sure that AIG executive bonuses were untouched by Congress -- then claimed for 24 hours that he knew nothing about it, before reporters forced him to admit the truth.

Polls show Dodd is in re-election trouble. But don't hold your breath: Despite record-low approval ratings for Congress last year, we continued sending our congressmen back at about a 90 percent retention rate.

We have, sadly, been corrupted.

Gov. Mark Sanford stood nearly alone in trying to break this cycle of co-dependency. He never stood a chance.

Only the people of America can do it.

We hope the "tea party" movement that is now taking shape -- rallies are planned across the country April 15, including one on the Riverwalk in Augusta from 5 to 10 p.m. that day -- will become the foundation for taking our country back. From both parties.

We have very specific ideas about what needs to be done and how to do it. We'll be sharing those at the tea party April 15.

The term "Washington corruption" may bring to mind the fuzzy video of a congressman taking blatant bribes and such. But that's the least of the problem. The bigger problem is out in the open, but perhaps harder to see: A corrupt Washington is bleeding us dry and paying us to be quiet.

It may work for a while. But there are enough of us who are on to this corruption. And we won't be silenced.

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GGpap
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GGpap 04/05/09 - 01:33 am
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Yes, indeed-ee, let us all

Yes, indeed-ee, let us all gather at the river as we symbolically throw our wet tea bags at the corrupted law makers in Washington, D.C. I can see the carnage now, the streets in our nation's capital strewn with wet and molding tea bags while our congressmen and women sip their margaritas and martinis as they gaze out the windows of the plush cafes they patronize and guffaw with great gusto as the lowly street cleaners labor at the task of removing those piddling tea bags that are polluting the pathways to the garbage bin we call congress. Tea bags won't do it folks. Need I remind you that throwing tea in the bay at Boston didn't really work either; it took braver men, and leaden "tea bags" to make the changes that were desired back then. GGpap

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 04/05/09 - 02:31 am
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Does anyone think that

Does anyone think that political corruption is unique to The District of Columbia? When's the last time smart. hard-hitting investigative reporters took looks at ATL/COL, our respective county governments, our school boards, court systems, etc? GGpap's allusion is correct: we'll again become the land of the free when we again become the home of the brave.

Craig Spinks
817
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Craig Spinks 04/05/09 - 02:32 am
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Jack Long is also correct

Jack Long is also correct when he opines, "More money's been stolen with the stroke of a pen than has ever been stolen with a gun."

cajunnana2000
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cajunnana2000 04/05/09 - 03:03 am
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Well if you feel that its

Well if you feel that its hush money and you have something valuable or worthwhile to say, don't take the money,talk talk talk until someone listens.

JENASIX
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JENASIX 04/05/09 - 04:58 am
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What drug you say Gov. Mark

What drug you say Gov. Mark Sanford is on "cocaine".

Ga Values
27
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Ga Values 04/05/09 - 05:41 am
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It's good to see you finally

It's good to see you finally write bout our 2 Sociallist Senators Johnny and Saxby. Let's all pray a real Conservative decides to run against Johnny.

willistontownsc
55
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willistontownsc 04/05/09 - 07:19 am
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Washington is NOT the only

Washington is NOT the only corrupt place. Atlanta and Columbia are also all corrupt. And Mark Sanford is the most corrupt person I've come to known.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 04/05/09 - 07:41 am
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That was pretty good, GGap.

That was pretty good, GGap. The problem is that the federal government can print more money to keep going while the states can't. States have to do those distasteful things called balancing budgets. The administration justifies being in debt as the American way to sove our problems, yet the feds are the only ones who can delay paying their bills.

shamrock
518
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shamrock 04/05/09 - 07:51 am
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Mark Sanford: "Who is

Mark Sanford: "Who is willlistownsc?"

CH
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CH 04/05/09 - 08:21 am
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WILLISTON, you're kidding,

WILLISTON, you're kidding, right? Mark Sanford? How about bad boy Rod Blageovich, or is corruption just a Republican vice? And GGap, you're right. It took throwing the powers that be out in 1776, and it will take that, including throwing out this corrupt congress, to make any real "change" now. Is that what you're proposing? If not, it should be.

Niko Mahs
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Niko Mahs 04/05/09 - 09:10 am
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Most of the corrupt

Most of the corrupt politicians are starting to be exposed now that the administration has changed and declared more openness in the process. When the GOP was in power you did not hear anything and the corruption was much worse. The system needs to be changed and the dirt bags exposed so that they will either be punished immediately or at worst not re-elected.

Hoss4
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Hoss4 04/05/09 - 09:29 am
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Yeah, the tax cheats in the

Yeah, the tax cheats in the white house, Chris "Country Wide and AIG" Dodd, Barney Frank are being exposed. Dont be too sure about mid terms, boys and girls.

JohnRandolphHardisonCain
576
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JohnRandolphHardisonCain 04/05/09 - 09:30 am
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Waste is corruption. Greed is

Waste is corruption. Greed is corruption. Fraud is corruption. Waging unnecessary wars of choice is corruption. War profiteering is corruption. Many say that capitalism is corrupt, but certainly cutthroat capitalism is corruption. Corporations are corrupt when their bottom line is short term profits at the expense of long term sustainability. Technology that is unsustainable is corruption. Speculation is corruption. Misleading lending practices is corruption. Usury and exploitation is corruption. Building an economy that is a house of cards is corruption. When the house of cards collapses it is no accident. Playing the media to cynically and calculatedly manipulate public opinion is corruption. Playing the race card is corruption. Playing the public on manufactured issues like class envy while failing to recognize the reality and validity of class struggle is corruption. The American Establishment is corrupt. Ignorance and arrogance especially when it is planned, preached, reinforced, and institutionalized is corruption. Failure to honestly analyze and engage in constructive, self-criticism is corruption. Setting up straw men is corruption. Worshiping power and money is corruption.

convertedsoutherner
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convertedsoutherner 04/05/09 - 09:33 am
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niko please tell us about

niko please tell us about 'when the GOP was in power you did not hear anything and the corruption was much worse'. We have more crooks, tax cheats, liars, in this supposedly 'transparent' administration; than ever before. Yes we also agree that 'the system needs to be changed and the dirt bags exposed'. yes, we need to see some of that transparency from prezbho and this crooked administration.

sjgraci
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sjgraci 04/05/09 - 10:33 am
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Conservatives tea baggin',

Conservatives tea baggin', who would have thunk it?

robaroo
779
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robaroo 04/05/09 - 10:55 am
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Excellent editorial AC. We

Excellent editorial AC. We definitely need somebody to stand up and force Washington to clean house.

But, I don't think the Republicans (or Democrats) are the right group to lead it. They have been right in the middle of all the deficit spending for years. I'm all for tax cuts, but only after the deficit is eliminated. In other words, not in my lifetime. Democrats: same story. You have some wonder social programs. Let's implement them after we've eliminated the deficit.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 10:58 am
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Dick Cheney once observed

Dick Cheney once observed that "deficits don't matter," which may well have been the most honest phrase he ever uttered. His words were at least partly true, which is more than can be said for the great majority of the vice president's remarks -- and they certainly expressed the candid attitude of Republicans whenever they attain power. His pithy fiscal slogan should remind us that much of the current political furor over deficit spending in the Obama budget is wrong, hypocritical, and worthy of the deepest skepticism.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 10:58 am
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In our time, the Republican

In our time, the Republican Party has compiled an impressive history of talking about fiscal responsibility while running up unrivaled deficits and debt. Of the roughly $11 trillion in federal debt accumulated to date, more than 90 percent can be attributed to the tenure of three presidents: Ronald Reagan, who used to complain constantly about runaway spending; George Herbert Walker Bush, reputed to be one of those old-fashioned green-eyeshade Republicans; and his spendthrift son George "Dubya" Bush, whose trillion-dollar war and irresponsible tax cuts accounted for nearly half the entire burden. Only Bill Clinton temporarily reversed the trend with surpluses and started to pay down the debt (by raising rates on the wealthiest taxpayers).

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 10:59 am
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Republicans in Congress

Republicans in Congress likewise demanded balanced budgets in their propaganda (as featured in the 1993 Contract with America), but then proceeded to despoil the Treasury with useless spending and tax cuts for those who needed them least. Even John McCain, once a principled critic of those tax cuts, turned hypocrite when he endorsed them while continuing to denounce the deficits they had caused.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 10:59 am
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But was Cheney wrong when he

But was Cheney wrong when he airily dismissed the importance of deficits? In the full quotation, as first recounted by Paul O'Neill, Bush's fired Treasury Secretary, he said, "You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don't matter. We won the [Congressional] midterms [in November 2002]. This is our due." What he evidently meant -- aside from claiming the spoils -- was that the effects of deficit spending tend to be less dire than predicted. And that insight deserves to be considered if only because all the partisan barking over the projected deficits in the Obama budget is so hysterical -- as if nothing could be worse than more federal spending.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:00 am
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Such is the institutional

Such is the institutional bias of the Washington press corps, which habitually refers to deficits "exploding" and to the nation "engulfed in red ink," and so on. But in fact the United States has recovered from considerably deeper indebtedness than that now on the horizon. Besides, as history warns, there are things much worse than deficits and debt. One such thing was the Great Depression, prolonged when Franklin Roosevelt decided to curb the deficits that had revived the economy, and ended only when he raised spending even higher in wartime. Another was worldwide fascist domination, a threat defeated by expanding America's public debt to unprecedented levels during World War II. No sane person cared then that public debt had risen well above gross domestic product.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:00 am
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Those scary charts and graphs

Those scary charts and graphs often deployed to illustrate our perilous state of indebtedness rarely date back as far as the Forties and Fifties -- and the reason is simple. The massive deficits incurred during the war didn't matter, as Cheney might say, because the wartime national investments in industry, technology and science undergirded a postwar boom that lasted for nearly three decades, creating the largest and most prosperous middle class in human history.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:00 am
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The average annual growth

The average annual growth rate remained close to four percent for that entire period -- and over time the combination of constant growth and smaller deficits reduced the ratio of debt to a fraction of its postwar dimension. What mattered more than the size of the deficits was whether they were spent on things that enabled consistent growth.

Today, President Obama is more troubled by the enormous threats to the nation's future than by deficits, even if they are projected in trillions of dollars. Clearly he believes that there are still some things worse than debt.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:01 am
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One such thing would be a

One such thing would be a global depression that drags on for several years. Another would be the catastrophic consequences of unchecked climate change, potentially more devastating than a world war; deteriorating public schools that will undermine democracy and demote us to secondary status; and a national health system that costs too much, provides too little care, and burdens enterprise. By investing now, he hopes to prevent disaster and create the conditions for sustainable expansion.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:01 am
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Not all of the warnings about

Not all of the warnings about deficit spending are false. Wasteful federal spending can eventually lead to inflation; excessive deficits can cause interest rates to rise, although that doesn't always occur. But as Clinton proved in confronting the huge legacy of debt left over from the Reagan era, it is possible to raise taxes and slow spending without damage to the broader economy.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:12 am
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As for the republicans, it is

As for the republicans, it is difficult to listen to their doom saying predictions without laughing. They want us to worry about the evils of deficit spending when they obviously don't worry about that at all. Just last week, the House republican leadership distributed what they called an alternative budget. Missing from that thin sheaf of papers was any estimate of what their plan would cost and how much it would increase the deficit. Their ironic ignorance of history was illustrated by their single concrete proposal. They insist that we must cut the maximum tax rate from 36 to 25 percent, or the same as the top rate in 1929 on the eve of the great depression.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 04/05/09 - 11:15 am
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Nice, now do you have any

Nice, now do you have any original thoughts? http://www.salon.com/opinion/conason/2009/03/27/deficits/ as well as several other sites ran that exact crap, word for word. P-a-r-a-p-h-r-a-s-e. Look it up.

Niko Mahs
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Niko Mahs 04/05/09 - 11:19 am
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You're right Hossy, these

You're right Hossy, these Dems who made mistakes are being exposed and it is up to their constituents to get them out of office if that is what they decide in the next elections. I don't care if you're Dem or GOP. If you are a crook then your misdeeeds should be exposed. This society is full of citizens who spent beyond their means and now the piper is here to be paid. This is not a Dem vs. GOP. This is who are the greedy and the crooks and who are wasting the resources of this country for their own gain. My point was that was hidden for the last 8 years and now things are out in the open and up for review, discussion, and alteration - but the stimulus is the right thing to do. The wrong thing to do is to cut taxes and increase spending that was done in the last administration.

rcs2749
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rcs2749 04/05/09 - 11:20 am
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All we need to stop most of

All we need to stop most of the curruption is term limits. No more that 2 or 3 terms for particular seat in Congress. If we can't get it into law then the public needs to wake up and NOT reelect these career polticians...Republican or Democrat.

joe hill
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joe hill 04/05/09 - 11:21 am
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Yes, "Albert" (that's a good

Yes, "Albert" (that's a good one, genius, I suspect, you are not), you are correct, it is an article on salon. However it is not crap. It is well reasoned analysis of our current state of affairs. Republicans are hypocrites and Obama is doing his honest best to dig us out of the hole that the republicans have steadily dug us into since Reagan was in office. Is there anything specifically that you disagree with, or are you one of those like so many on this site who prefer to make general and partisan broadside attacks on anything to do with Obama or the democrat party?

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