Wednesday, December 14, 2011
People are often drawn to others who share the same values, interests, and passion--often referred to metaphorically as a fire in the belly. I am not surprised, therefore, that Governor Palin employs Peter Schweizer as her foreign-policy adviser. His commitment to exposing corruption in government mirrors her own. She, of course, determined years ago that something must be done about it. She took action, even to her own detriment, stating often, "In politics, you're either eating well or sleeping well." She continues to choose a good night's sleep--and apparently so does Peter Schweizer. His new book, Throw Them All Out, outs corruption in Congress that ought to outrage every honest American.
Having just finished the book myself, I encourage everyone to do what Governor Palin asked of us: read the book. On every page, I was doing exactly what Governor Palin is doing in this video from 15:17 - 15:24 as Eric Bolling discusses the issue with her. The unethical behavior these politicians so arrogantly engage in leaves one shaking her head--again and again. I do not consider myself naive, certainly not a utopianist. Nor do I believe that to be the case for most of my fellow Americans, as evidenced by Congress's dismal (dis)approval rating. However, I was indeed both shocked and appalled as I read. I do expect more from our elected officials. The insider trading and crony capitalism running rampant highlights the key word in the title: they all need to go. There's a stench emanating from Washington, and it's not confined to any particular side of the aisle. The Permanent Political Class is not partisan, just pathetic.
Throw Them All Out will educate and irritate, fascinate and frustrate, enlighten and yes, frighten. The idea that those who hoist themselves as representatives of the American people are more committed to enriching themselves than to exemplifying ethical behavior is disheartening at best. Schweizer takes no prisoners, withholds no names, and throws these people under the bus--where they belong.
He is careful to state that the insider trading they participate in is not illegal--for members of Congress, that is. Anyone else who would dare trade on information obtained in private would go to jail, and rightly so. These people, with access to taxpayers' money, get away with it, however. They benefit personally from it. They very often come to Congress as average, everyday Americans. They leave rich, and they have us and the laws they exempt themselves from to thank for it. Now that a bright light is being shone on it, we must do more than just hope that something will be done. To borrow--and slightly alter--a phrase, we need more than hope; we need change. On page 137 of Throw Them All Out, Schweizer quotes Federalist No. 57:
If this spirit is ever corrupted to the point that it will tolerate a law which does not apply to both the legislature and the people, then the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.
Governor Palin has been studying this corruption for years, is drawing attention to it, and says it must end. In a Wall Street Journal article that was published on November 18, she states in no uncertain terms:
No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors. No gifts of IPO shares. No trading of stocks related to committee assignments. No earmarks where the congressman receives a direct benefit. No accepting campaign contributions while Congress is in session. No lobbyists as family members, and no transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.
What part of "no" do we not understand? I think it's safe to say she's prepared to fight.
Furthermore, in USA Today this week, she writes:
Our permanent political class relies on an apathetic and uninformed public to get away with this stuff. But if there is one issue that unites Americans across the political spectrum, it's absolute disgust with the corruption of our elected leaders. Congress and the White House need to earn the American people's trust again. We the people are not going to give up until we get the sudden and relentless reform we deserve or, as the book says, "we throw them all out" in 2012.
Governor Palin, of course, knows a thing or two about throwing people out. In Alaska, as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she faced the decision of whether to eat well or sleep well when the blatant corruption of Randy Ruedrich, an AOGCC commissioner, led her to make a career-changing choice. On page 96 of Going Rogue, she details the situation:
When [Governor] Murkowski tapped me for the commission, he quickly named me chairman. That meant I also became the ethics supervisor of the staff, a job that turned out to be more than just a compliance title. When a staffer hinted that Ruedrich seemed to spend a lot of time running the Republican Party from his new AOGCC office, plus dealing with GOP operatives as a National Republican Committeeman, I mentioned it to the party boss-slash-commissioner.
Then another problem cropped up: Reudrich involved himself in adjudicating two cases that were closely intertwined with his old Doyon illegal dumping case. Commissioner Seamount and I urged Ruedrich to recuse himself, but he refused. An administrative assistant took me aside to say she suspected Ruedrich of sharing confidential commission information with a coal bed methane company we were supposed to be regulating. She was right: he was passing agency information to the company's lobbyist.
When Governor Palin's attempts to handle things quietly didn't yield results, she did what she had to do to eradicate the corruption. The Going Rogue account continues on page 99:
So I had to make something happen. I prayed long and hard. I loved the job. And I had to consider that by making any drastic moves I would be crossing swords with the most powerful men in my own party. My political career would be over. My whole future was before me. But I also knew I couldn't sit there and be a party to all of this.
I knew what I had to do, so I resigned--stepping away from the ethical lapses and hierarchical blinders to effect change where I could--on the outside.
Out of a job but sleeping well again, I knew that any shot I might have had to become a GOP insider was gone, which was fine, but I wanted Alaskans to be able to believe in the party ideals again. I knew the GOP planks made the strongest foundation upon which to build a strong state and country.
With this type of record, I have every confidence that what Peter Schweizer's research has uncovered has placed an even hotter fire in the Governor's belly. Reading the book should spark one in each of ours as well. From Nancy Pelosi to John Kerry to Dick Durbin to Judd Gregg to John Boehner, Ben Bernanke, Warren Buffett, and on and on, the "honest graft" is dishonorable. The corruption involves various industries, including--but not limited to--energy companies, credit card companies, railroad companies, and banking companies.
And perhaps the most deplorable of all is the involvement of President Obama and his administration. The big favors enjoyed by those who donated big bucks to his campaign speaks volumes and again leaves the reader shaking her head. Meanwhile, he continues with his class warfare campaign and demonization of job creators. Could this be part of the reason Governor Palin called him a "phony"?
Schweizer, on page 150, writes:
In our system of government, the legislative branch polices itself and the President is allowed to skirt conflict of interest laws because, well, he's the president. It is time for that to change.
I'm looking for the sudden and relentless reform Governor Palin so often talks about. Many of us have been so focused on the 2012 presidential election, but it's going to take more than that. Replacing President Obama with just another crony capitalist won't do. What difference does it make whether there's a 'D' or an 'R' behind a name if the game remains the same? After reading this book, I appreciate more what Governor Palin said about changing the entire team, not just the uniform.
Speaking of teams, there seems to be more outrage at unethical behavior in sports than in government. Why isn't every media outlet incessantly focused on what's going on, encouraging the passage of these bills Governor Palin wrote about in her USA Today article, and demanding responses from members of Congress? Why do we spend more time discussing betting on games by professional baseball or basketball athletes? Shouldn't members of Congress be held to an even higher standard? Shouldn't the money that really belongs to we the people and the integrity of elected office matter? Indeed it should, and it must.
Again, I encourage each person to read Schweizer's book. Read it, share it, and embrace the anger derived from it. But don't just get angry. Sudden and relentless reform is needed. I did a lot of shaking of the head and rolling of the eyes as I read, but that simply isn't enough. The question I'm asking myself now is: "What can you help do about it?" I agree with Peter Schweizer's words on page 165-66:
If we accept crony capitalism with a shrug and an eye roll, we might as well accept a world of bribery and out-and-out vote buying. Crony capitalism has a corrosive effect on our politics, our economy, and our character. And we don't have to accept it.