Corruption Everywhere

Talk about the “times that try men’s (and women’s) souls.”

I am not naive; I know the dark side of America’s history. I know we have repeatedly failed to live up to our professed values. But there has also always been a bright side– a reason this country has been a beacon of hope for so many oppressed people, a reason idealistic citizens have dedicated themselves to public service, a reason millions of  individuals have been proud to be Americans.

It is no longer possible to ignore the degree to which those values and ideals are being trashed by the gangsters in this administration and the self-serving GOP cowards in the Senate. Washington lawmakers are no longer engaged in disagreements about policy. Instead, the government has been paralyzed by an administration that is a criminal enterprise–a criminal enterprise abetted by Republicans in the Senate, most prominently Mitch McConnell.

The corruption is breathtaking, and Trump is only one manifestation of the rot.

The Campaign Legal Center recently filed an FEC complaint detailing the NRA’s coordination with Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in the 2016 campaign. It used a shell corporation through which it illegally funneled millions in in-kind contributions– unlawfully coordinating with Johnson and other candidates it was backing.

Last August, Jonathan Chait had an article in New York Magazine titled “The Whole Republican Party Seems to be Going to Jail Now,” in which he ticked off the operatives who were then behind bars (and those who belonged there).

There was Paul Manafort, who embezzled funds, failed to report income, and falsified documents, and his partner and fellow Trump campaign aide, Rick Gates, who confessed to participating in all these crimes.

There was (and is) Wilbur Ross.

Forbes reported that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross may have stolen $120 million from his partners and customers. Meanwhile Ross has maintained foreign holdings in his investment portfolio that present a major conflict of interest with his public office.

There were the three Trump cronies running the Department of Veterans Affairs, despite lacking  any official government title or public accountability. According to Pro Publica, all three “used their influence in ways that could benefit their private interests.”

Chait concluded that

Trump appears to select for greed and dishonesty in his cronies…. The sorts of people Trump admires are rich and brash and disdainful of professional norms, and seem unlikely to rat on him. The sorts of people who are apt to work for Trump seem to be those who lack much in the way of scruples.

The administration is understaffed and disorganized to the point of virtual anarchy, opening up promising avenues for insiders to escape accountability. Trump’s public ethos, despite his professions during the campaign that he could “drain the swamp” and impose a series of stringent ethics reforms, runs toward relativism — he famously tolerates anybody who supports him, regardless of criminal history or other disqualifications, defining their goodness entirely in terms of personal loyalty. And above all there is the simple fact that Trump himself is a wildly unethical businessman who has stiffed his counterparties and contractors, and worked closely with mobsters, his entire career. A president who is continuing to profit personally from his office is hardly in any position to demand his subordinates refrain from following suit.

Chait’s article was written in August of 2018. Since then, among other scandals, we have seen William Barr besmirch the reputation of the Department of Justice by mischaracterizing the Mueller Report and refusing to follow clear laws requiring him to inform Congress about the whistleblower complaint.  We have seen Mike Pompeo turn the State Department into a tool of Trump’s ego. (A Washington Post article reported a growing belief among State Department officials that Pompeo has subordinated the Department’s mission and abandoned colleagues in the service of President Trump’s political aims.)

It is highly likely that Mike Pence was involved in the effort to blackmail Ukraine’s President into manufacturing dirt on Biden’s son.

Even administration officials unconnected to the events that triggered the Impeachment inquiry are conspicuously corrupt and incompetent. Betsy DeVos, anyone? Elaine Chao? Rick Perry? (Whoops–evidently Perry is involved in the Ukraine cesspool.)

Political scientists are busy trying to explain how we got here, and–assuming we can turn things around, which is by no means a given–we’ll need to know how and why and what to do to avoid a repeat. But all I can focus on is the need to clean house.

Whatever happens with Impeachment, in 2020 we need massive turnout and an overwhelming rejection of both the criminals who currently control our federal government, and their enablers in the Senate.

We can argue about policy later.


  1. And where are those members of the Republican Party who make up the state organizations? Where are those rank and file members who “go along to get along” with the local versions of corruption? Why no out cry from Indiana’s state representatives, mayors, councilors?
    Their silence is complicity!

  2. I have already voted via Absentee Ballot; only two names to vote for, Mayor Joe Hogsett and City Councilor David Ray. It is vital to this entire state to keep Senator Merritt out of our Mayor’s Office and vital to this city to maintain the Democratic majority in our City-County Council. I say again; this 2019 November election is the first stepping stone to winning the 2020 November presidential election. Early voting has started here in Indiana.

    And at the federal level; the FOURTH Acting Secretary of Homeland Security has resigned that position, how deep does the corruption go within that vital department that a long time trusted employee within DHS resigns after only a few months? The battle at and about our southern border could become akin to the Turkish attacks on the Kurds in Syria which has already endangered American lives there and killed private citizens. Did Trump remove our military from the Kurd area to provide troops to send to Saudi Arabia to protect his family and the U.S. financial investments there? Why is the President of Turkey coming here? All of this could have been prevented had not the corrupt Republican Electoral College appointed Trump to the presidency. The one time Rudy Giuliani told the truth; voters in this country ignored him. Two weeks before the 2016 election he sat grinning, on more than one occasion, as he told us “The Republicans have something up their sleeves; they have the election sewn up in the Electoral College.

    I support and repeat Theresa’s question; “Why no out cry from Indiana’s state representatives, mayors, councilors?” Electoral College is controlled at state level; placing responsibility for our current conditions at national and international levels direction on our representatives, mayors and councilors. It is only 3 1/2 weeks till the 2019 November 5th election here; get off your asses and vote, your inaction will support the “Corruption Everywhere”.

    Their silence is complicity!”

  3. And now these crooks tell us that the founding fathers meant to establish a dictatorship in Article II of the Constitution whereby the executive is to do a replay of King George; that the impeachment language in the Constitution is unconstitutional, that the executive cannot even be investigated for wrongdoing etc. etc. etc.; and all this pretense of what the founding fathers had just had a revolution about to end the royal tyranny of the English king – not to reestablish it.

    Barr has given vent to the current corruption of government Sheila sets forth with his “unitary executive” theory of government (aka dictatorship)), the very system the founding fathers intended to reverse. I think it’s all a front and a cover for further corruption and plunder of our treasury and (now we learn) of international assets as well. Impeachment and removal of Trump are not enough; Trump and such as Barr and their cronies must stand trial for varying conspiracies in order to send a message to future brigands who would destroy our most precious asset held in common – our democracy.

  4. I will say again and again: I am no fan of Pence, but remember, next in line is Moscow Mitch

  5. We really need to counter the “both sided are just as corrupt” bullshit that is bound to arise the closer we get to November 2020. It should be clear by now that that equivalence is existentialist false. (I’ll be asking Republican and independent friends who couldn’t stomach the short-fingered vulgarian but “just couldn’t vote for Clinton because she’s so corrupt” how they feel about that now. They had no idea what real corruption looks like, even though the vulgarian’s was apparent to anyone. They should now.).

    And let us not forget that Wilbur Ross was Vice chair of Bank of Cyprus when it was caught along with Deutsche Bank laundering Russian mob money. Bet there’s a hefty job for forensic accountants there.

  6. “Next in line is Nancy Pelosi” presents an enormous political problem for the Democrats. But, you know what? I somehow believe that Nancy is up to the task of getting the country through it all.

  7. GOP has decided Bread and Circuses will buy them more votes. Sadly the lack of teaching citizenship and American Government, both of which help people understand that selfishness is not what the founders envisioned for a good citizen., are coming back to hurt us.

  8. Yes, in addition to all of the above (Gerald’s chilling analysis stands above…) the presidency has become a vulgar expression of that abject corruption. Why even the intellectual dwarf Kevin McCarthy is caught up in this swampiness.

    Oh, and don’t forget that Trump’s campaign hasn’t paid its bills for his Nazi rallies in various cities, stiffing them as well. The hits just keep coming. Trump, his “administration” and most Republicans remind me of SCOTUS’ definition of pornography: Something with no socially redeeming qualities.

  9. Sheila: “Political scientists are busy trying to explain how we got here, and–assuming we can turn things around, which is by no means a given–we’ll need to know how and why and what to do to avoid a repeat”

    We got here by FEAR of the DEVIANT ELITE. That’s been the central problem and still is. They wanted the democracy destroyed and that’s what we, pretty much, have. The problem is much deeper than the Koch family.

    I highly recommend: “Fear: The History of a Political Idea” by Corey Robin (Oxford University Press, New York, 2004).

  10. The title should read that “blatant corruption” persists within the GOP. The Democratic Party is no less corrupt. Wikileaks has already proven that over and over again. Hundreds of corrupt bankers escaped jail during the financial scam; they ran on the world but escaped with trillions in bailouts. Obama handed the keys of the country over to the corrupt Wall Streeters who fixed the mess they created.

    We can’t have half an Oligarchy in this country. I don’t see Democrats pushing to eliminate Citizens United or refusing corporate donations, which come with corporate lawyers attached.

    Inequality even worsened under Obama, and his supposed gift to the Middle Class turned out to be a gift to the insurance companies who retagged RomneyCare, a Heritage Foundation brainchild.

    You have the neoliberalists/capitalism on Wall Street versus a mish-mash of capitalists/libertarianism — our two political parties.

    Bernie Sanders just released a proposal to get rid of the corporate corruption in our country, and it was met with crickets on both sides of the political aisle and their respective media. The people are forced to choose from two corrupted entities, neither of which represents the people who vote for them. It’s embarrassing to watch.

    It’s a class struggle, and unless you are dictating policy to a suit with a check attached, you are losing the class struggle in this country. You’re either steering a large corporation, a billionaire, or you’re not.

    If you work for a living, you’re losing ground because of our corrupted institutions at the top in this country. And it’s been this way for a very long time.

    Watch the corrupt UAW executives screw over workers at GM. Do you think these execs represent the workers? LOL

    They are 100% controlled by GM execs, or the union wouldn’t employ them. Their dealings take place behind closed doors. Who can live on $250.00 in strike pay per week? Why haven’t they expanded the strike to other automakers?

    As for the whistleblower yesterday, blowing a whistle on the corrupted system makes you a whistleblower. The reason we’ve heard about Manning and Snowden is they both refused to take their findings to the corrupt systems where they could be silenced and repressed. It’s why we’ve heard of them and not heard of you. 😉

    Snowden correctly worked with an independent journalist abroad because he knew the state-backed newspapers/media would turn them into the state. The media’s role is to manufacture consent from their viewers — not convey to their viewers how corrupt the system is in this country. This is why Trump is half right about our propaganda media. He thinks the right-wing media’s propaganda is the truth. 😉

    The only time in the last twenty years both media sources agreed were believing WMD’s existed even though it was a 100% fabricated story. Neither side did their jobs to refute the State’s propaganda, so they tipped their hats to the public. They also believed Assad gassed his people, but that was quickly denied for lack of evidence and that two planes caused three towers to collapse in the same way in New York. 😉

    When our media agrees on something…beware.

  11. The Guardian Newspaper covered President Agent Orange’s rally in Minneapolis. The comments by his supporters run the gamut of what you would expect and maybe encountered.

    Here are some of them:
    Robert Leonard, a radio news director in Iowa, told CNN many conservatives are “standing strong behind President Trump because he is a kind of a golden hammer” that they believe is “needed to break what they see as the liberal stranglehold on America”.

    “We think the United States is under attack by the liberals and it’s really changing our culture, pushing us towards socialism,” he said. “We are so grateful for a president like him putting the American people first. Yes, he has faults, but don’t we all?” “There’s no doubt in my mind that Trump, despite all his shortcomings, was the right person at the right time ordained by God. I truly believe that.”

    “This country is full of Trump supporters. I’m not a fan of him as a person – he’s a pig – but he doesn’t sugar-coat anything. He says what he thinks and that’s what I like.”

    “Biden’s son is in the pocket of Ukraine. If someone has been eating cookies and there’s chocolate around my mouth, it’s probably me. If there’s chocolate around someone’s mouth here, it’s probably Joe Biden.”

    “He was our last-ditch effort to save America from socialist Democrats and the Hillary Clinton establishment. It was like the revolutionary war, as far as I’m concerned.”

    These comments are totally predictable by the supporters of President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence.

    Lincoln was right:

    “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
    Abraham Lincoln

  12. Snowden simply dumped thousands of E-mails only because HE COULD! He had no point to make; he had no target for American people to use the information he dumped to resolve any issues. He simply used his computer hacking ability for no discernible reason other than showing off. Look where he is now; the last report I saw he was cowering somewhere in Russia trying to find someone in another country, other than the United States of America, to help him escape the “sanctuary” he believed he had found under Putin. He outsmarted no one but himself.

  13. What Agent Orange has infected those closest to him with is dishonor which, because of his position, now has spread to all of us. It’s what the rest of the world now correctly views us as the source of.

    I can’t describe how that makes me feel because it’s totally different than it’s been for the rest of my life. I never viewed us and myself as perfect, in fact far from it, but I did view us as having honor, respect, fundamental if imperfect goodness. We were a standard that the rest of the world could, and the good people out there did, aspire to.

    Is there any return from that? Can we ever think of ourselves as honorable again? Is Lady Liberty now a fallen angel?

    That has to have permanent consequences.

  14. Without the “media” we would never know about a lot of the corruption. Folks saying “when our media agrees on something….beware” have crawled into the same gutter with The Duck and his cohorts. So now freedom of the press is un-American??

  15. Lester,

    I would suggest that you think twice before you speak. Todd used the word: BEWARE. You sound a lot like Senator Joseph McCarthy and his “un-American” utterances.

    You’re a bright guy. Try to take a step or two out of your “dream world” for a change.

  16. Marv,

    Sometimes YOUR dreamworld infects your commentary too. Things are often not as sinister as you make them out to be, but, rather, are simple expressions of the primitive aspects of the human psyche. We still harbor a caveman’s mind, and it doesn’t always do that well in complex societies. All the rest are details.

  17. Vernon,

    “Marv, Sometimes YOUR dreamworld infects your commentary too.”

    It does. But mostly for the better. Am I dreaming just because you just don’t have the depth of my experience?

  18. Most all of you are scared to go as deep as I have been. And what are you’re going to get from that is probably the following.

    From Newsweek an hour ago:

    “As House Democrats ponder the politics of impeaching Donald J. Trump, they are weighing the possible outcomes. An impeachment inquiry could weaken the president before next year’s election and give the White House back to the Democrats, or it could backfire, the way the GOP’s effort to oust Bill Clinton did in 1998. But there’s a third option: impeachment could succeed. As a senior staffer on the House Judiciary Committee framed the dilemma, “What if we’re left with President Pence?”

    There’s also the strong possibility of Trump being forced to drop out of the race in favor of Pence & Jesus.

    And then we will all be “Up shits Creek without a paddle.”

  19. Sheila,

    I apologize. But what about: “Folks saying, “when our media agrees on something….beware” have crawled into the same gutter with The Duck and his cohorts. So now freedom of the press is un-American?

    Is “crawling into the same gutter with the Duck and his cohorts” directed at Todd and me o.k.?
    Plus the words: “So now freedom of the press is un-American.”

    Believe me, I get your message to me: “There’s always an exception to free speech.”

  20. Marv,

    That’s Shit’s Creek. You must capitalize proper nouns. Oh, and your experience is grand, but it doesn’t always reflect the realities that us mere mortals have to endure.

  21. Quick comment to Todd –
    Remember the bad, good, bad good about Obamacare, with its irony
    Bad – Obama, as was his way, made many concessions before he began to negotiate, dooming any public option
    Good- Obama was the only President that was able to pass a massive healthcare plan since FDR began trying in the 1930s
    Bad – Obama used a Heritage Foundation model that enshrined healthcare as a commodity to be profited from
    Good (with the irony) – this somehow led to the popular acceptance by most Americans that healthcare is a right and NOT a commodity

    Just saying

  22. I get the impression that the deep state, or Americans that make up the vast majority of the Government’s jobs, are hard working and law abiding. I can’t imagine what it would be like to serve under one of tRump’s appointees, with instructions to dis-mantle by havoc. US is in a constitutional war, and we need to stay close to the facts. The stalling for time under the obstructionist(republican) party must be monetarily lucrative for them, or why the effort? The free objective press has been doing a tremendous job of exposing facts, and exhausting the corrupt by having to defend themselves. The House of Representatives under Pelosi, Nadler & Schiff are pacing the impeachment investigation to enlighten Americans to build pressure on the obstructionists. This is a critical time for Americans, I think a lot of us know we have to unite to get rid of current administration, and make sure to replace it with a law-abiding just one.

  23. Whoa Marv and folks…had no intent to send a wind through dry brush and high-voltage wires. Back in the day I was an English teacher. To my knowledge “beware” connotes a definite warning of something that cannot be trusted – that was my concern. Had Todd said, “think twice” or “check it out” – no problem. As someone who has wearily pushed critical thinking in this blog, I have never suggested taking anything at face value….

    Dialogue is good and (sometimes) fun…let’s just keep it civil guys!

  24. If I were Mitch McConnell, I’d seriously consider impeaching both Trump and Pence. Then I could mount a campaign against Nancy Pelosi in the White House rather than having to defend Trump or Pence. For all we know, Mitch may be considering it.

  25. Nancy, fortunately Mitch McConnell cannot impeach both Trump and Pence. Only the House of Representatives can impeach. McConnell can bring about the trial, but Nancy is the one who can lead the impeachment thus setting the process in motion. But, I agree with you on this note; old Mitch is plotting and scheming as we communicate.

  26. What we need is a complete revolt to reclaim our democracy. There is a long-shot that Trump gets removed, but even if Pence is also impeached, the Senate wouldn’t convict him too and let Pelosi take over,

    The incoming (presumably Democratic) administration needs to vigorously pursue and prosecute all of the wrong-doers. They should be jailed (if convicted) and fined into the poor house (as money is all that matters to them). Trump appointments to the courts should be highly scrutinized and if (many being unqualified, even by ABA standards) impeachable, should be removed.

    Alas, the spineless Democrats who will probably take over won’t do anything. The narrative will be (1) we don’t want to seem political and (2) if we just set the clock back by four years, everything will be fine — we don’t want to seem too radical — we must appeal to the “center”, i.e. former Republicans who are just a shade left of Trump and to the right of Reagan. Democrats always seem to listen to Republican pundits who tell them to become Republican lite because all of America is far right of center in their views.

    However, one can hope.

  27. “Whatever happens with Impeachment, in 2020 we need massive turnout and an overwhelming rejection of both the criminals who currently control our federal government, and their enablers in the Senate. We can argue about policy later.”

    Thanks Sheila – short, to the point and bittersweet. This is exactly what this is and also exactly what we MUST do in regard to it. Blatant criminality and malfeasance right in our faces each and every day. The very future of this country and everything that is connected with that future is totally at stake. As it has been all along whether the bulk of our body politic realize it or not we have to act. We have no choice.

  28. Yes, the corruption is truly breath-taking. A constant source of consternation remains that it is almost possible to hold discussions with people who do not know anything. So many of the rank-and-file of the GOP are abysmally ignorant. They are completely oblivious to what they do not know. At some point, one just gets exhausted with having to explain, over and over again, some really basic stuff. Ignorance, the dumbing down of America….a Conservative target over the course of decades, and it worked.

  29. Tom,

    “As it has been all along whether the bulk of our body politic realize it or not we have to act. We have no choice.”

    99.9% of the body politic is frozen with fear. They will finally act when it is too late, just like the Germans of Nazi Germany.

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