Saturday, September 16, 2006

THE 14 CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM: Part 13

THE 14 CHARACTERISTICS OF FASCISM
PART 13:
RAMPANT CRONYISM AND CORRUPTION
 
ESSAY ONE
A Brief History of Cronyism
By Halcyon 67


The term crony capitalism is attributed to Ferdinand Marcos. Marcos reserved the term for corrupt economic systems and developing or formerly Communist Nations. Since then, the term has been applied to any government who awards friends with cushy jobs in exchange for money. Just like the Republican Administrations before, the Bush Administration of today has engaged in such practices. Mostly in the form of lobbying and campaign front groups and just groups in general, the Bush Administration has turned the concept of crony capitalism into an art form and has made it part of everyday government protocol. For many crony capitalism is part of a bigger puzzle: FASCISM: A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of the sate and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism.

Nationalism is all around us, so are corporate pigs and greedy business men. These greedy business men, and their political cohorts have repeatedly exchanged money for favors and campaign donations for ambassadorships. Already 24 campaigning pioneers (100K+ fundraisers) or their spouses and have been given ambassadorships. One man who was ascending the ladder of right wing fundraising was Acklie, who never received his ambassadorship. Acklie, a "super ranger" helped organize a 400K fundraiser in Omaha for now Vice President Dick Cheney. A week after the Omaha event, Bush nominated Acklie to the Student Loan Marketing Association's Board of Directors as its designated chairman. Acklie did not want the B of D chairmanship, he wanted the damn ambassadorship. He didn't receive it. I guess he did not funnel enough money to the RNC headquarters.

Crony Capitalism within in the Bush Administration goes beyond foreign relations, it passes over to taxes. As well all know, the Bush Administration is for fiscal responsibility, the free market enterprise and low taxes. Low taxes, not so much when it comes to the oligarchy, try no taxes or the more consumer friendly "pretax." After President Bush fired Sec of Treasury Paul O'Neill, he appointed former CEO of CSX John Snow to fill the vacancy. Under Snow, CSX never paid federal income taxes in the last three of four years. What is even more impressive is that CSX with the aid of tax shelters was able to score 164 million in tax rebates at the time, when the paid no taxes at all. Bush still appointed Snow to oversee the very same Treasury he (Snow) looted. Tax evasion and related covert activities. These heinous acts of screwing the American people go to the Dept. of Interior. Sec. of Interior, Gale Norton. Norton, a former mining industry lobbyist is a proponent of "self audit" laws which gives the option to corporations and mining/logging industries if they want to follow regulations or not. In her writings, Norton indicated that there is a "homesteading right to pollute." Norton was also a lobbyist for NL industries. While at NL industries she lobbied for a group that is associated with waste disposal sites, mining locations and facilities. Speaking of disposals, one of Bush's architects of "new environmentalism" Lynn Scarlett, CEO of Libertarian Reason Foundation. Scarlett says that disposals are a good thing and that we are not running out of resources. She was also a member of the Thoreau Institute which seeks to keep the environment healthy without bureaucracies, regulations or central control ( i.e. No Government Intervention).

It is quite obvious that the Republicans and the Bush Administration and its lobbyists are in an oblivion when it comes to the environment, meaning they hate it. However, they are not in an oblivion when it comes to war. If there is anything more shameful than war profiteering, I would like to know what it is. As well all know, Halliburton and KBR (Kellogg Brown & Root) were given some of the most no-bid contracts to rebuild in Iraq. And Dick Cheney former CEO of the company who still receives an abundant pension plan over 300K per month is now Vice President. There is also another company who lacks the clout of Halliburton. Bechtel incorporated was granted the second One Billion capital construction involving Iraq's utilities, telecommunications, railroads, ports and health care facilities. Riley Bechtel was named to the President's Export Coucil which advises the president on programs on a variety of issues. Bechtal also paid more than 110, 000 to the EPA and the Energy Department in 2000 and 2001 to settle safety and environmental violations. Bechtel has prime construction contracts in Iraq worth more than two billion dollars. The company also hired three subcontractors for work in Iraq that have been fined more than $86 million in the last four years. Bechtel on their website states: "We do not expect or receive political favors or government contracts as a result of those contributions."

The top ten contractors present in Iraq contributed 11 million to national political parties, candidates and PACs since 1990. Fourteen companies won contracts in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The total campaign contribution of these groups since 1990 has been 23 million. In the same time period contract contributions to the Republican Party have surpassed those to the Democratic Party, 12.7 to 7.1 in millions. *

As one would expect many of the companies with large contractors have important political connections that now occupy prominent positions with in our Defense and State Departments. Jack Sheenan, Senior Vice President in Bechtel's Petroleum and Chemical Business, served on the Defense Policy Board, which gives advice to the Secretary of State. Also, Christopher "Ryan" Henry left SAEC in 2003 as the V.P. He to become the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy. As well as, Scott Spangler, principal owner of Chemonics International, was a Sr. US Agency for International Development official during the first Bush Administration. Company receives 90 of funding from USAID. Last by not least,Carol Haave, the Deputy Asst. Sec. of Def. for Security and Info. Operations.

It is quite evident that the corporate-government job relationship exists. Such relationships continue to reinforce the concept of crony capitalism that the Bush Administration so shamelessly flaunts in the open. I highly doubt that the vast majority of Americans would disaprove of former CEOs of corporations (some collapsed, some stable) would be advising people who hold their lives in our hands and advise the President's most prominent and influential confidantes.


*The information was collected by Center for Public Integrity from 73 requests made possible by the Freedom of Information Act
 
For additional reading please see the following related sources
 
When Advocates Become Regulators
By Ann C. Mulkern
May 23, 2004
Common Dreams News Center
 
The Ten Most Brazen War Profiteers
By Charlie Cray
September 5, 2006
AlterNet/The Ground Truth
 
Corporate Freeloader Chief is Bush' s Choice to Head Treasury
Citizens for tax Justice
 
The Road to Riches is Called K Street
By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum
Washington Post Staff Writer
 June 22, 2005
Online edition of The Washington Post
 
Dick Cheney's Hallibutron Connections
Links to two artlcies from The Nation
*Cheney's  Grimey Trail in Business"
by Robert Scheer
July 16, 2002
*Tricky Dick II
by Nate Blakeslee
February 8, 2002
 
The Student Loan Blues
February 27, 2004
The Bush Beat at The Village Voice
online version March 2004
 
Chemonics International
The Center for Public integrity
March 31, 2004
 
 
 
ESSAY TWO--A PARODY
A SATIRICAL LOOK AT CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM AND OVERALL CORRUPTION
By Jeffrey and Brandon
 
As the campaign coffers swell to record levels we can hear the socialistic liberals are complaining about the manner in which campaign contributions are corrupting our system of legalized bribery, but in a sane world it seems to us that the best way to both, run an election and to guarantee that only the right kinds of people are represented in Washington, we should abolish the vast majority of laws which govern campaign system and switch over to a system of privatized elections in which those who have the most and who are the least willing to share enjoy a disproportionate amount of the power and financial resources.
 
First and foremost we need to dispense with the idea that Election Day should be a legal event.   Instead we should grant employers the right to either allow or disallow their employees the time to vote.   Giving people time off to elect the people who they believe will best serve them at various levels of government will only result in a decrease in production that corporate America can hardly afford and should in no way tolerate.   Indeed, if we must give employees the right to vote we should at least be granted either the right to dictate for whom they may vote or limit their time away from the work place to a half hour maximum.   Those employees who return after the prescribed period of time or who fail to vote for the recommended candidate would be immediately terminated and have their names placed on a computerized employee black list.
 
Next we need to dispense with the hackneyed idea of one man one vote.   This would eventually result in the abolition of the secret ballot, but in the long run it would create a libertarian system of voting in which all voters would be free to vote against their own interests while supporting the power base of the rich and powerful who know how to run the lives of average Americans better than average Americans themselves.   To that end we need to dismantle all forms of voting machines and go to a system of electoral laissez- faire.   Instead of voting booths, punch card machines, and black box computers, voters would enter their local polling places to see large photographs of the individual candidates.   Below each candidate their would be a large metal lock box with a narrow slot on the top.   The keys to these boxes would be placed in the care of the local or County Republican Party for safe keeping.  Instead of casting ballots, the citizens--who henceforth shall be referred to as "consumers"  would insert any amount of cash that they see fit or can afford.   In local elections the winner would be that candidate who acquires the largest dollar amount in votes, which henceforth shall be referred to as "electoral contributions."   In County elections the candidate who received the largest mount in electoral commissions on a countywide basis would be (s)elected, while state and national elections would be selected by the candidate which received the largest dollar amounts in electoral contributions on the state or national level.   The winner, in addition to winning the election, would also collect the sum totals of Electoral Contributions collected by all of the other candidates, essentially winning in a "winner take all system."
 
With the confusing morass of Election delegated to the ash can of history, the new system would operate under a few, very simple laws.
 
1.  All voters would be encouraged to vote as often as they see fit.
 
2.  To avoid the inconvenience of the over-touted paper trail, voters would be required to vote in cold hard cash and/or currency.  Credit cards, checks, money orders, or any form of payment leaving such a paper trail being explicitly forbidden.
 
3.  Electoral Contributions would be limited to a minimum of five hundred dollars with no maximum limit as to how much a consumer may contribute in a given race.
 
4 .Those individuals who can prove that they own and operate their own corporation and can demonstrate through the production of a previous year's tax bill, that their corporation earned a NET profit of at least $2.5 million would be moved to the front of the line.
 
5.  Only those Republicans who have been convicted of voter fraud or of a corporate crime under the previous system would be allowed to serve as polling place officials.  
 
6.  In the event of a tie the volunteers would be required to cast tie-breaking electoral contributions for the Republican candidate.   In nonpartisan races the tie breaking electoral contributions would be offered to the candidate who the volunteers deem the most conservative.   In primaries, the volunteers would, as in the case of nonpartisan elections, be required to cast electoral contributions for the most conservative candidate.
 
7.  In the event of a close election, the above rules would again be in play with the exception that the polling place volunteers would be required to contribute enough to either the Republican candidate or the most conservative candidate until such time as a tie-breaking dollar amount has been achieved for the above-mentioned candidate.   
 
8.  Approriately, the law which would bring this new method of (s)electing our leaders into power would be refered to as the "Enlightened Voter Independence Legislation" or EVIL. 
 
In recognition of the fact that all consumers are equal but that some consumers are more equal than others, we must switch from a system of "one man one vote" and adopt a a streamlined system of "caveat emptor." 
 
Once our new officials take office it would be foolish in the extreme to hinder them with foolish, antiquated laws that were designed to hamper the efficient transfer of wealth from the lower to the upper class, and by extension, from the consumer to the (s)elected official.    To that end, any and all laws which might be employed to prosecute so called crimes such as "bribery" and "corruption" would ignored or abolished.   Instead of grading (s)elected officials according to "conservative," "liberal" "environmental," "prolife" or other archaic values, (selected officials would only be graded upon the amount of hard cold cash that they can extract from their corporate allies.   The higher the amount they can extract, the higher grade they would receive, with A+ being excellent and F standing for Failure
 
At the State level, the three richest corporations in that state would have the power to dissolve the State Legislature.  To facilitate speed and efficiency, the decision would be placed squarely in the hands of the current CEOs, a majority of which would be enough to demand a new election.   At the national level, the three richest corporations, those which had the largest net incomes in the previous year, would be endowed with the authority to dissolve the House and/or Senate.   The only qualification being that the above mentioned CEOs would actually have top prove that the proposed and/or passed policies of the State Legislature and/or Congress had actually harmed the elite ruling class by:
 
1. Creating a viable middle class
 
2.  Narrowing the gap between the rich and poor
 
3.  Failing to extract additional wealth from the gullible consumers who vote for them
 
4. Enacting laws which either recognized the constitutional rights of individual consumers or failed to grant corporations constitutional liberties without liberating said corporations of any and all responsibility for their actions.
 
5.  Promoting democracy over plutocracy
 
Note that under the current system, governors and the President of the United States (i.e. executive branches) would assume the combined powers of the state and/or federal legislative, executive, and judicial branches; the theory being that so called corruption can better be covered without legal oversight and investigative bodies in the legislative branches.
 
Sadly the current system of allowing corporations to write self-sering legislation for its Congressional finger puppets, has become a study in the efficient.   We must strive to create a situation in which people will gladly vote against their own interests while they convince themselves that what they are doing is in the best interests of their family:  We must create a climate in which bribery and open corruption are seen as the proper moral paradigm while decency and honesty, and even Social Darwinism are looked upon as patriotic, indeed, American values.  The ultimate goal is to reduce legislative and judicial branches to mere puppets of Corporate America while members of the various executives are chosen directly from or proven subservient to the corporate elite which values the order and stability of a permanent economic  caste system over freedom, the constitution, and social mobility.
 
Editor's Note by Brandon
Initially, this post had been intended as a second essay for Part Fourteen, but then we decided to use different essays and I decided that this little gem had no place in the series.  Much to my surprise, my team mate thought differently, suggested that we rewrite the material together, and the end result was the second essay in Part Thirteen.
 
Looking back I now understand why Jeff insisted that we include the piece.  For all intents and purposes the corporate stranglehold on America stems from corporate America's strangle hold on our politicians.   For all intents and purposes the only real way to get these non-individuals out of the picture is to reformthe current system and get corporate money (read bribery) out of our elections.
 
This is not an unreasonable suggestion.   The last I knew, the United States Constitution grants civil liberties to individuals, not anti-democratic institutions such as corporations.   And for a good reason.   Unlike an individual, a corporation cannot be held responsible in the same way that an individual can be held responsible.   If a human being goes on a killing spree and murders seven people in a convenience store, that individual can be charged, tried, convicted and either locked away or executed.   When that happens every part of the individual is either incarcerated or killed.   When a corporation produces and sells a product the kills X number of people you cannot possibly hold the entire corporation responsible--unless you are perfectly willing to create a system in which every employee, manager, and owner is held responsible and then either fined, incarcerated, or executed.  And that isn't going to happen.   So if a corporation cannot be held responsible then why, in the name of everything we hold sacred, would we want to look upon it, and grant it, the same liberties that we grant an individual human being?
 
Returning to my main point, it seems to me that in a sane society--and I no longer work under the assumption that anything in this society is sane under George W. Bush and his corporate cronies--we would do the following things:
 
1.  Demand that the media provide free coverage to candidates' political ads.   At some point the media whores in this country discovered that they can make a profit by charging astronomical prices to run campaign ads.   Never mind the fact that this practice is little more than political prostitution; it also creates a slanted system in which those who have the money are able to get their message out, while those with limited resources are effectively silenced.  
 
2.  Limit the right to make campaign contributions to individual citizens.
 
3.  Limit the amount that each individual can contribute to X amount of dollars.
 
4.  And, of course, a adopt a system of public financing.
 
All right.   I can already hear some of you screaming that the right to spend money on political campaigns is a form of political speech; but a I suggested in the above essay, what those individuals really want is an Orwellian system in which "all Americans have freedom of speech but some Americans have more freedom of speech than others."   It seems to me that we need a system in which individual human beings are represented by the people they elect.   Instead we have a system in which those with the most money, the most power, have the ears of our leaders.   The individual doesn't stand a chance in hell in a system like that and the quicker we recognize that as a fact of life, the quicker we will be able to take back our country from the corporataists ( i.e. fascists) who are currently running this country into the ground as they widen the gap between rich and poor and destroy this country from the top down and the inside out. 
 
GENERAL SOURCES
WEBSITES:
 
How Corporations Influence the Government
By Mark A. Triebwasser
1998
From American Government
 
Welcome to the Machine:
How the GOP Disciplined K Street and Made Bush Supreme
by Nicholas Confgessore
Washington Monthly
July/August 2003
 
 
SPECIFIC SOURCES
WBSITES
 
Money Troubles
 By Dan Froomkin
Washingtonpost.com Staff
Updated September 4, 1998
 
 
Going Backwards:
Early Wins Embolden Lobbyists for Business
By Dan Morgan and Kathleen Day
Published March 11, 2001 in the Washington Post
 
Civil Rights and Campaign Finance:
Summaries of Key Law Review Articles
by Susan K. Serrano, Rsearch Director
 
National Holiday for Election Day Proposed
April 16, 2003
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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