LeRoy Collins Commentary 248

Commentary #248
10 December 2008

Fact is, America's political culture is in deep crisis

This article describes a sorry state of affairs in America...BESIDES THE DECREPIT ECONOMY. If you are part of the "so what is new?" crowd, you are probably more pessimistic than I am. The outcome of the vote in Louisiana which elected our first Vietnamese-American to the U.S. Congress, Mr. Cao, is encouraging,...I hope.


/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.

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Absolutely Corrupt
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Leadership: The media had a frenzy Tuesday with the "stunning" news that Illinois Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich had been arrested on corruption charges. The only thing stunning is it doesn't happen more often.

Blagojevich and his top aide, John Harris, were both arrested early Tuesday by the FBI on federal corruption charges. Among the more serious allegations is that Blagojevich tried to put Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat up for sale.

Blagojevich was reportedly caught on a wiretap explaining that a Senate seat "is a f***ing valuable thing, you just don't give it away for nothing."

The Illinois governor also reportedly tried to get the Chicago Tribune editorial board to tone down its criticism of him in exchange for state help with selling Wrigley Field, which is owned by the newspaper's parent, Tribune Co.

The mind boggles at such cupidity and outright criminality. Yet this wasn't the only news having to do with political corruption in recent days and weeks. Indeed, our political system is brimming with scandals, large and small.

Take last week, when a virtually unknown GOP challenger, Anh Cao, upset Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson in an election. Jefferson held a safe, gerrymandered district. Yet his constituents threw him out. Why? He'd been accused of accepting bribes, and federal agents later found thousands of dollars of suspicious cash stashed in his home freezer.

Fact is, America's political culture is in deep crisis. Hardly a day goes by without hearing about someone at the state or local level implicated in some sort of corrupt behavior. Literally dozens of our nation's 535 congressmen and women have been accused or found guilty of misconduct or misdeeds of various stripes.

Examples abound: Rep. Charles Rangel (taxes). Sen. Larry Craig ("wide stance" in a public bathroom). Sen. Chris Dodd (sweetheart mortgage deal, contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac). Rep. Alcee Hastings (impeached as a judge for corruption and perjury and since elected to the House in Florida).

And these just scratch the surface.

What does all this have to do with Blagojevich? Plenty. Blagojevich's case goes far beyond Illinois borders in its implications for the American political system.

For years, Illinois' state legislature has been controlled by one party, the Democrats just as Washington will be in January. As Lord Acton said, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. We hope one-party control of Washington won't bring a new wave of political crimes and corruption.

President-elect Obama emerged from the rough-and-tumble Illinois and Chicago political milieus. He knew Blagojevich well. He also knew convicted felon and political fixer Tony Rezko. So he no doubt knows too how corrosive this kind of malfeasance can be to a democratic system such as ours.

We hope he'll set an example and show zero tolerance for this kind of corruption in his new administration. Because people are fallible, corruption is perhaps inevitable. But that's no reason to tolerate it.

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/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.


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