The daily news is filled with accounts of politicians or business owners who are on trial after ‘magically’ getting rich. And we have to tell the truth: Corruption is precisely the sin that is at your fingertips. We are all tempted by corruption. It is a sin that is close at hand and easy to succumb to, because when one has authority, one feels powerful, one feels almost like God.
“The corrupt live a life enveloped in a sense of security, with a sense of well-being, money, and then power, vanity and pride.
“And who pays the price? The poor pay it.”
— Pope Francis in his June 16, 2014 homily
“Do you not know that God entrusted you with that money (all above what buys necessities for your families) to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to help the stranger, the widow, the fatherless; and, indeed, as far as it will go, to relieve the wants of all mankind?
“How can you, how dare you, defraud the Lord, by applying it to any other purpose?”
― John Wesley
Whenever my beloved mother, God rest her soul, was feeling weary or put out by something she would give this shout-out to God:
“Lord have mercy on my soul.”
Lord have mercy on my soul, I’ve tried to quit following the news, and following the money in politics, but I’m a hopeless news and political junkie. I can fast from it for a day or a few days or even a week, but I always go back to see what’s happening in a world where most days it just seems there just ain’t no justice.
Or, as they used to say when I was growing up in Texas, “There oughta be a law.”
I’ve been monitoring FOX news lately, which I don’t recommend for cultivating peace of mind, but somebody’s gotta do it.
While Sean Hannity and the other G.O.P. propagandists at FOX won’t let us forget for a minute that the clearly ethically challenged Hillary Clinton once parlayed a $1,000 investment into a $100,000 payday, the Foxers guarding the hen house are conspicuously silent in denouncing the common kind of corruption practiced every day in Congress in the form of insider trading.
And the poor–even the working poor–continue to get hammered and scapegoated and “martyred.”
Look, do able-bodied poor people “play the system” in order to get government handouts?
A lot of them do–of course! And always will!
Are they all a bunch of shiftless drug users? That’s a reckless generalization.
Of course not!
Are all those in politics–which is fueled by cocktail parties and two-martini lunches and dinners–are they all alcoholics?
Uh, I’m not so sure anymore.
Seriously, do rich and powerful people–the Clintons and Pelosis and Reids as well as the Boehners and McConnells and the Hatfields and McCoys in Congress and the entire political arena–are they “gaming the system” in order to get richer and more powerful?
Some politicians have and always will play the system and we know this because history, if it shows anything, shows that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
But I submit that never in my lifetime have our leaders gamed us so blatantly as they do now. And they are really skilled at misdirection–pointing us in the direction of the poor and homeless and marginalized with accusatory fingers.
As long as they leave our right to own weapons that were made for war alone, and as long as they give the poor and homeless among us the kicks in the pants that they (allegedly) deserve, we’ll let them take us all the way to the brink of another Depression as sure as they took us there in 2008.
Politics is the gateway drug to more power and riches for those who lust for the “high” of power and riches–and like any other addict a politician (and the lobbyists for the real powers that control America now)–will lie, cheat and steal to keep the power and money coming.
Click here for the interesting links included in the original on-line story, re-printed below, by the superb young investigative reporter Lee Fang. It brought to mind that old saying from my Texas youth:
“There oughta be a law!”
In a little-noticed brief filed last summer, lawyers for the House of Representatives claimed that an SEC investigation of congressional insider trading should be blocked on principle, because lawmakers and their staff are constitutionally protected from such inquiries given the nature of their work.
The legal team led by Kerry W. Kircher, who was appointed House General Counsel by Speaker John Boehner in 2011, claimed that the insider trading probe violated the separation of powers between the legislative and executive branch.
In 2012, members of Congress patted themselves on the back for passing the STOCK Act, a bill meant to curb insider trading for lawmakers and their staff. “We all know that Washington is broken and today members of both parties took a big step forward to fix it,” said Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, upon passage of the law.
But as the Securities and Exchange Commission made news with the first major investigation of political insider trading, Congress moved to block the inquiry.
The SEC investigation focused on how Brian Sutter, then a staffer for the House Ways and Means Committee, allegedly passed along information about an upcoming Medicare decision to a lobbyist, who then shared the tip with other firms. Leading hedge funds used the insider tip to trade on health insurance stocks that were affected by the soon-to-be announced Medicare decision.
Calling the SEC’s inquiry a “remarkable fishing expedition for congressional records,” Kircher and his team claimed that the SEC had no business issuing a subpoena to Sutter. “Communications with lobbyists, of course, are a normal and routine part of Committee information-gathering,” the brief continued, arguing that there “is no room for the SEC to inquire into the Committee’s or Mr. Sutter’s purpose or motives.”
Wall Street investors routinely hire specialized “political intelligence” lobbyists in Washington to get insider knowledge of major government decisions so that they may make trades using the information. But little is known about the mechanics of political intelligence lobbying, which falls outside the scope of traditional lobbying law, and therefore does not show up in mandatory lobbying disclosure reports.
There are occasional hints, though.
Personal finance forms reveal that from July of 2011 through May of 2013, David Berteau served as a consultant to Height Analytics, the political intelligence firm at the center of the SEC’s current probe. At the time of his work for Height Analytics, Berteau simultaneously worked as a vice president at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent think tank in Washington. Berteau is now the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Logistics and Materiel Readiness.
Congressional travel forms show that on December 12, 2012, Emily Porter, at the time an employee of Boehner’s office, traveled to New York on a sponsored trip to meet with JNK Securities for a group lunch with business clients. According to the Wall Street Journal, JNK “has emerged as one of the most aggressive” political intelligence firms on Capitol Hill.
This is hardly the first time Congress has moved to undermine its own ethics rules. In 2011, congressional Republicans quickly abandoned their promise to post the text of bills online “for at least three days” before voting on them.