a.k.a The God Syndrome

Scandal, corruption, bribery, treason are all adjectives that are used in respect to many third-world countries and their associated governments.  They are also used in reference to some of the upheaval in the Middle East that we see today. In these nations the people are speaking out against this and want to put a stop to leadership that is sullied by it corrupted deeds.

The reality is these adjectives are also the same words to describe activities that happen within our own American government. Greed and corruption are rampant.  This is nothing new, and has been going on in the United State’s even in its infant days of  democracy.

It seems that not a day goes by these days that we don’t see headlines of an elected official involved in  infidelity, tax evasion, bribery, power scandals, and corruption.  These are supposed to be the leaders of our nation.  These individuals were elected to stand for the people.  Do they stand for you?  Not me.

I don’t understand what happens to politicians when they get power.  All common sense seems to leave their heads.  They work in their sheltered worlds, unconnected with the people, which gives them a sense of empowerment and invincibility.  I call it the God Syndrome.  Nothing can touch them.  No power is greater.  Some of these activities are blatant and common – having affairs has become a norm in Washington D.C.  Other corruption is being done under the guise of governing for the people, including:  the rigged system of redistricting, misappropriation of public funds (case in point, the Iraq War), earmarks for pet projects (also called Government Pork), bending the rules for campaign contributions, and consorting with lobbyists.  Sometimes I wonder if these politicians think the American people are stupid.  Listen to some of these “Pork” projects:

  • $50,000 for helicopter improvements at a small-town sheriff’s office – Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.)
  • $200,000 for a tattoo removal program in California – Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.)
  • $300,000 to preserve the ‘final resting place for Hawaiian royalty’ – Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
  • $1.24 million for tree snake control in Guam – Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam)
  • $1.9 million for water taxi service at Pleasure Beach, CT – Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.)
  • $3 million for a project to distribute NASA images – Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)
  • $3.8 million to save part of a baseball stadium from demolition… for the memories – Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.)

I don’t understand how these types of activities go on and on, year after year.  Are Americans too caught up in their daily lives to pay attention?  If someone steals from me, I don’t forget it and I am probably going to do something about it.  I am sure that is probably true for every American.  Then why doesn’t this same behavior occur with our elected officials  Americans need to be come enraged.  Americans need to speak out.  Americans need to take a stand.  Americans have the ultimate power to put an end to these activities. They don’t need to take it to the streets, such as what is happening in Syria or Iran or Egypt.  Instead all we need to do is exercise our right to vote.  We need to keep in mind that not only do these politicians represent us in our government but they are also a demonstration of what type of people we are.  Is this the reputation that you want?  If not why are we putting up with this.  Vote.  Use its power.  It is an age where “career” politicians should be no more.  Term limits are sound like a better idea every day I hear these headlines.  Robert F. Kennedy’s statement that “politics should be the most honorable profession” seems increasingly like a bitter joke.

In the last few years we have seen headlines of politicians ignoring all consequences for their behavior.  Most recently we have Anthony Weiner (D-NY) sending lewd photos to women on Twitter, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) having an affair with his maid.  Scandal is nothing new in this country.  Take a look at the following financial, sexual misconduct, and political suicide events that have occurred over our American history.  More importantly, be angry, and remember these activities the next time you go into a voting booth.

Financial “Misdeeds”

2010 Charles Rangel (D-NY) multiple ethic violations for financial misdeeds

2010 Tom DeLay (R-TX) convicted of money laundering

2008 William J. Jefferson (D-LA) in August 2005 the FBI seized $90,000 in cash from Jefferson’s home freezer and convicted of 11 counts of bribery

2003 Janet Rehnquist (R) appointed Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services by George W. Bush. In 2002, Governor Jeb Bush’s (R-FL) Chief of Staff Kathleen Shanahan asked Rehnquist to delay auditing a $571 million federal overpayment to the State of Florida. Rehnquist ordered her staff to delay the investigation for five months until after the Florida elections.

2002 Sen Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) accused of taking illegal contributions from Korean businessman David Chang.

1997 Newt Gingrich (R-GA), the Speaker of the House, was accused of financial improprieties leading to House reprimand and $300,000 in sanctions  leading to his resignation

1989 Albert Hakim A businessman, he pleaded guilty in November 1989 to supplementing the salary of Oliver North by buying a $13,800 fence for Oliver North with money from “the Enterprise”, which was a set of foreign companies Hakim used in Iran-Contra. In addition, Swiss company Lake Resources Inc., used for storing money from arms sales to Iran to give to the Contras, plead guilty to stealing government property. Hakim was given two years of probation and a $5,000 fine, while Lake Resources Inc. was ordered to dissolve

Sexual Escapades

Christopher Lee, (R-NY) emailed a shirtless picture of himself to a woman he met through the website Craigslist.

Gov. Mark Sanford (R-SC) ethics violation when he had an affair

Gov. Eliot Spitzer, (D-NY)a Democrat, resigned after his dealings with prostitutes were exposed

1999 Henry Cisneros (D) Secretary of Housing. Resigned and plead guilty (1999) to a misdemeanor charge of lying to the FBI about the amount of money he paid his former mistress, Linda Medlar

1987 Barney Frank Congressman (D-MA), Lived with convicted felon Steve Gobie who ran a gay prostitution operation from Frank’s apartment without his knowledge.

1859 Daniel Sickles (D-NY) shot and killed the district attorney of the District of Columbia  Philip Barton Key II, son of Francis Scott Key, whom Sickles had discovered was having an affair with Sickles’s young wife, Teresa. He was tried and acquitted in the first use of the temporary insanity plea.

1835 Robert Potter: Congressman from North Carolina who resigned from Congress after castrating two men he believed were having an affair with his wife. (1831) Later, in North Carolina, he was expelled from its legislature for cheating at cards or for pulling a gun and a knife during a card game

 Obstruction of Justice, Bribery, Fraud, Corruption, Treason

2008 Alphonso Jackson (R) The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development resigned while under investigation by the FBI for revoking the contract of a vendor who told Jackson he did not like President George W. Bush (R)

2007 Karl Rove (R) Senior Adviser to President George W. Bush was investigated by the Office of Special Counsel for “improper political influence over government decision-making”, as well as for his involvement in several other scandals such as Lawyergate, Bush White House e-mail controversy and Plame affair.

2007  Lewis Libby (R) Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney (R), was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the Plame Affair

2006 Jack Abramoff,  Republican, offered bribes as part of his lobbying efforts, involved several White House representatives

1992 Caspar Weinberger (R) Secretary of Defense, was indicted on two counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice on June 16, 1992.. Weinberger received a pardon from George H. W. Bush on December 24, 1992 before he was tried

1991 Clarence Thomas (R) Supreme Court nominee accused of sexual harassment by former employee Anita Hill. He was approved anyway.

1991 Elliott Abrams (R) Asst Sec of State, convicted of withholding evidence, but after a plea bargain was given only 2 years probation. Later pardoned by President George H. W. Bush

1990 Austin Murphy (D-PA) convicted of engaging in voter fraud for filling out absentee ballots for members of a nursing home and had a child from an affair

1990 Jesse Helms Senator (R-NC), His campaign was found guilty of “voter caging” when 125,000 postcards were sent to mainly black neighborhoods and the results used to challenge their residency and therefore their right to vote. (1990)

1978 Joshua Eilberg (D-PA) pleaded guilty to conflict-of-interest charges. In addition, he convinced president Carter to fire the U.S. Attorney investigating his case.

1977 Richard Helms, Head of the CIA, denied his role in the overthrow of Chilean President Salvador Allende and was convicted of perjury. He also destroyed all record of over 150 CIA mind control experiments of the MKULTRA project for which he was not prosecuted.

1973 Spiro Agnew (R-MD), Richard Nixon’s Vice President, convicted of tax fraud stemming from bribery charges in Maryland and forced to resign.

1970 Harold Carswell (R): Was not nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court (1970) after publication of a 20-year-old speech: “I yield to no man… in the firm, vigorous belief in the principles of white supremacy.” Was also alleged to be hostile to women’s rights.  Later arrested in (1976) for homosexual advances in a men’s washroom.

1862 Simon Cameron (R): Lincoln’s Secretary of War resigned in 1862 due to corruption charges.

1807 Aaron Burr: New Empire (Southwest) Burr conspiracy (1804–1807) In which Burr allegedly tried to seize a large part of the Louisiana Purchase and establish his own country. He was arrested for treason, but was acquitted for lack of evidence

1797 William Blount Senator (Democratic-Republican-TN) Expelled from the Senate for trying to aid the British in a takeover of West Florida.

1787 General James Wilkinson: was appointed to be Governor of the upper Louisiana Purchase. He then conspired with Spain to get Kentucky to secede from the Union in order to be allowed shipping on the Mississippi. (1787–1811)

1778 Conway Cabal: movement or conspiracy to remove George Washington as commander of the Continental Army by Thomas Conway and Horatio Gates (1777–1778)

1778 Silas Deane: accused of mismanagement and treason while ambassador to France.

Intoxication, Misconduct, Drunkenness, Use of Profanity

1873 Mark Delahay U.S. District impeached for misconduct in office and unsuitable personal habits, including intoxication. Resigned before his Senate trial.

1856 Preston Brooks (D) Congressman from South Carolina burst onto the floor of the US Senate and beat Senator Charles Sumner (D) with a cane until he was bleeding and unconscious while two others held the Senate off at gun point.

1804 John Pickering, Federal Judge appointed by George Washington was impeached and convicted in absentia by the U.S. Senate for drunkenness and use of profanity on the bench in spite of the fact neither act was a high crime or misdemeanor.

Corruption At Its Worst

2007 “Lawyergate:”  The Dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy where  President Bush fired, without explanation, eleven Republican federal prosecutors whom he himself had appointed. It is alleged they were fired for prosecuting Republicans and not prosecuting Democrats.  When Congressional hearings were called, a number of senior Justice Department officials cited executive privilege and refused to testify under oath.

2007 Bush White House e-mail controversy – During the Lawyergate investigation it was discovered that the Bush administration used Republican National Committee (RNC) web servers for millions of emails which were then destroyed, lost or deleted in possible violation of the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act. George W. Bush,Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andrew Card, Sara Taylor and Scott Jennings all used RNC web servers for the majority of their emails. Of 88 officials, no emails at all were discovered for 51 of them.  As many as 5 million e-mails requested by Congressional investigators of other Bush administration scandals were therefore unavailable, lost, or deleted.

2003 Invasion of Iraq depended on intelligence that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) meaning nuclear, chemical and/or biological weapons for offensive use. The Downing Street memo were minutes of a British secret meeting with the US (dated 23 July 2002, leaked 2005) which include a summary of MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove’s report that “Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy” This was called the ‘smoking gun’ concerning W. Bush’s run up to war with Iraq.(2005)

2004 Payoff to Journalists:  Bush administration paid columnists with federal funds to say nice things about Republican policies. Illegal payments were made to journalists Armstrong Williams (R), Maggie Gallagher (R) and Michael McManus (R) (2004–2005)

2004 Torture: Top US officials including George W. Bush  and Dick Cheney authorized enhanced interrogation techniques of prisoners, including waterboarding (called torture by many) by US troops and the CIA in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. In 2010 Bush stated “He’d do it again…” and Cheney stated on ABC’s This Week, “I was a big supporter of waterboarding.”

2004 Plame affair:  ,CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name was leaked to the press in retaliation for her husband’s criticism of the reports used by George W. Bush to legitimize the Iraq war.

2002 NSA warrantless surveillance:   Shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush (R) implemented a secret program by the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on domestic telephone calls by American citizens without warrants, thus by-passing the FISA court which must approve all such actions.   In 2010, Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled this practice to be illegal.

2003 Yellowcake forgery: Just before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration presented evidence to the UN that Iraq was seeking material (yellowcake uranium) in Africa for making nuclear weapons. Though presented as true, it was later found to be not only dubious, but outright false.

2002 Enron:   The collapse of Enron led to the investigation of its CEO Kenneth Lay (R), a former member of the Republican National Committee and once considered a possible pick for Secretary of the Treasury, was a top political ally and financial donor to President George W. Bush. Lay was found guilty of 10 counts of securities fraud, but died before sentencing.

1992 House banking scandal:  The House of Representatives Bank found that 450 members had overdrawn their checking accounts, but had not been penalized. Six were convicted of charges, most only tangentially related to the House Bank itself. Twenty two more of the most prolific over-drafters were singled out by the House Ethics Committee.

1992 Iran-Contra Affair pardons:  On December 24, 1992, George H. W. Bush (R) granted clemency to five convicted government officials and Caspar Weinberger, whose trial had not yet begun. This action prevented any further investigation into the affair.

1991 Congressional Post Office scandall (1991–1995) A conspiracy to embezzle House Post Office money through stamps and postal vouchers to congressmen.

1989 Housing and Urban Development Scandal:   A scandal concerning bribery by selected contractors for low-income housing projects.

1986 Savings and loan scandal:  747 institutions failed and had to be rescued with $160,000,000,000 of taxpayer monies in connection with the Keating Five.

1985 Iran-Contra Affair (1985–1986); A plan conceived by CIA head William Casey (R) and Oliver North (R) of the National Security Counsel to sell TOW missiles to Iran for the return of US hostages and then use part of the money received to fund Contra rebels trying to overthrow the left-wing government of Nicaragua, which was in direct violation of Congress’ Boland Amendment.[144] Ronald Reagan appeared on TV stating there was no “arms for hostages” deal, but was later forced to admit, also on TV, that yes, there indeed had been:

1980 Keating Five (1980–1989) The failure of Lincoln Savings and Loan led to Charles Keating (R) donating to the campaigns of five Senators for help. Keating served 42 months in prison.   The five were investigated by the Senate Ethics Committee which found that:

  1. Alan Cranston Senator (D-CA) reprimanded 
  2. Dennis DeConcini Senator (D-AZ) acted improperly 
  3. Don Riegle Senator (D-MI) acted improperly 
  4. John Glenn Senator (D-OH) used poor judgment 
  5. John McCain Senator (R-AZ) used poor judgment 

1980 Abscam:  FBI sting involving fake ‘Arabs’ trying to bribe 31 congressmen.(1980)  The following six Congressmen were convicted:

1980 Debategate: briefing book of President Jimmy Carter stolen and given to Ronald Reagan before U.S. presidential election 

1976 Koreagate scandal:  Involved alleged bribery of more than 30 members of Congress by the South Korean government represented by Tongsun Park. Several other Koreans and Congressmen were allegedly involved, but not charged or reprimanded

1974 Nixon pardon: The pardon by President Gerald Ford (R) of former President Richard Nixon (R), (who had appointed Ford his vice-president), just before Nixon could be tried by the Congress for conspiracy and impeached for his role in the Watergate scandal. 

1972 Watergate (1972–1973) Republican ‘bugging’ of the Democratic Party National Headquarters at the Watergate Hotel led to a burglary which was discovered. The cover up of the affair by President Richard Nixon (R) and his staff resulted in 69 government officials being charged and 48 pleading guilty. Eventually, Nixon resigned his position.

1964 Pentagon Papers:   Exposed unconstitutional actions and coverup by Presidents Lyndon B. Johnson (D) and Richard Nixon (R) in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos from 1964 through 1971. 

1920 President Warren G. Harding Administration (R-OH)  1920–1923. His administration was marred by scandals stemming from men in his administration who followed him from Ohio who came to be known as the Ohio Gang.

1875  Whiskey Ring: Massive corruption of Ulysses S. Grant’s (R) administration involving whiskey taxes, bribery and kickbacks ending with 110 convictions. 

1869  Black Friday: When financiers Jay Gould and James Fisk tried to corner the gold market by getting Ulysses S. Grant’s brother-in-law Abel Corbin to convince Grant to appoint General Daniel Butterfield as Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury where he could then give them insider information.

1798 XYZ Affair: French seizure of over 300 US ships and demands for bribes and apologies, led to a Quasi-War causing the US Congress to issue the famous phrase, “Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute!” Real war was averted by treaty. (1798–1800)  

Information provided by:

List of federal political scandals in the United States
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_federal_political_scandals_in_the_United_States

The World’s Most Corrupt Countries
David A. Andelman 04.03.07, 6:00 PM ET

http://www.forbes.com/2007/04/03/corruption-countries-nations-biz-07caphosp-cx_da_0403corrupt.html

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