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Thomas Frank: Worshipping Money in D.C.
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I’m no stranger to shakedowns. I’ve experienced them, in one form or another, from Asia to Africa.

Sometimes the corruption is subtle. Sometimes it’s naked. Sometimes you press folded currency into someone’s palm. Sometimes there’s a more official procedure. Sometimes a payment is demanded outright. (A weapon might even be involved.) Other times, it’s up to you to suggest that we somehow work things out privately.

Luckily, I live in the United States, and if the 2016 presidential campaign has reminded me of anything, it’s that America is, by definition (and unlike so many of the other countries on the planet), a corruption-free zone. Mind you, no one would claim that the race for the Oval Office is free of unethical behavior. It’s just that the actions and efforts involved aren’t considered “corrupt” here.

Take an Associated Press (AP) exposé last week. It revealed that the campaign of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump had “plowed about $6 million” — roughly 10% of his expenditures — “back into Trump corporate products and services.” The campaign paid, for instance, about $520,000 in rent and utilities for its headquarters at Manhattan’s Trump Tower and an astounding $4.6 million to TAG Air, the holding company for the billionaire candidate’s airplanes.

The AP investigation found that the Trump campaign was “unafraid to co-mingle political and business endeavors in an unprecedented way,” while noting that there is, in fact, “nothing illegal about it.” In other words, while it may seem shady, feel fraudulent, and — to steal a Trumpism — sound crooked, it’s all on the up and up according to our unique American system.

Today, Thomas Frank, author most recently of Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People?, takes us on a tour of another dimly lit corner of corruption-free America, a completely legal and remarkably unethical world that comes with its own guidebook: a newsletter chronicling daily dalliances involving money, alcohol, and political influence. Though it may seem like a foreign world to those of us outside the Beltway bubble, it influences our daily lives in myriad ways. Think of it as a circuit of cocktail hours and cocktail parties linked by a well-greased set of revolving doors; an endless series of social events attended by the influential, the influencers, and those looking — for the right price — to be influenced. If it seems like I’m using that word — influence — a little too much, it isn’t by chance. Let the influential Thomas Frank explain how influence and Influence have warped Washington and the rest of our world.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Ideology • Tags: 2016 Election, Donald Trump 
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  1. Rehmat says:

    “America is a corruption free state”.

    What a self-denial BS.

    Professor Juan Cole, a consultant to CIA said in 2013: “American politicians don’t represent “the people.” With a few honorable exceptions, they represent the 1%. American democracy is being corrupted out of existence.

    In the US, no political leader can dream of working for the interests of his own country. They all compete with each other to prove to the Israel lobby groups (AIPAC, ADL, AJC, etc.) that he/she can look after the interests of a foreign country (Israel) better than his/her opponents. Former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has pulled the mask from the US democratic charade: “There are many Members of Congress who wants to be free. I am one of them. I wanted to be free to vote according to my conscience, but I had been told that if I did not sign a pledge supporting the military superiority of Israel, no support would come my way. And sure enough, I did not sign the pledge and no support came my way. I suffered silently year in and year out, because I refused to sign the pledge. An then like a slave that found a way to buy his freedom – I went to work – I wanted to be free – Free to cast the vote in US Congress as I saw fit and not as I was dictated to…..” – Cynthia McKinney.

    https://rehmat1.com/2010/01/16/it-is-not-a-democracy-stupid/

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  2. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    “the must-read crib sheet for Washington’s influence class,”

    The Influentsia.

    • Agree: gruff
  3. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website

    Sounds like the creeps in Mamet’s STATE AND MAIN.

    There are only winners and losers. Moralists are merely envious losers who can be bought for a price.

  4. Speaking of corruption, wonder what Slick Willie had to say to AG Lynch in that hangar at Sky Harbor yesterday. Any connection with the announcement today that the D.O.S won’t release Clinton Foundation emails ’till 2018? Stay tuned.

  5. Luckily, I live in the United States, and if the 2016 presidential campaign has reminded me of anything, it’s that America is, by definition (and unlike so many of the other countries on the planet), a corruption-free zone.

    Uh, hello? You are addressing 21st century Amerikans, mostly. Do you even do history? Please provide evidence to support your pathetically laughable claim.

    Good grief.

    • Replies: @another fred
    , @landlubber
  6. @Jacques Sheete

    I think your sarcasm detector needs adjusting.

    • Replies: @gruff
  7. @Jacques Sheete

    As usual, Tom’s bad writing is unworthy of his contributors. I think he’s attempting to be sarcastic, but who knows?

  8. “… America is, by definition (and unlike so many of the other countries on the planet), a corruption-free zone. “

    Would have been useful for him to insert sarc tags or say just kidding.

    And I would have thought the Clintons offered a lot more low-hanging fruit to open a discussion of corruption.

  9. @Rehmat

    Cynthia McKinney is right about Israel’s sickening dominance of US politics and politicians, but she is also a mentally unbalanced, white-hating bitch. Not the right person to cite to appeal to normal Americans, especially those of us who she would target.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  10. Priss Factor [AKA "Anonymny"] says: • Website
    @RadicalCenter

    “McKinney is right about Israel’s sickening dominance of US politics and politicians, but she is also a mentally unbalanced, white-hating bitch.”

    She is a nut.

  11. gruff says:
    @another fred

    Irony. Not sarcasm. Irony.

    In American usage the meanings of “irony” and “sarcasm” have been exactly exchanged, so that now “irony” means “biting comment” and “sarcasm” means “untrue statement meant to be perceived as untrue by the audience”.

    Nevertheless I hold to the old definitions.

  12. El Dato says:

    Those were the days when the nation was learning that George W. Bush’s Washington was, essentially, just a big playground for those lobbyists and that every government operation had been opened to the power of money.

    “Money” would be more properly described as “Present buying power borrowed off future taxpayers”

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