By Timothy V. Gatto
December 22, 2008 “Information Clearinghouse”
I lost my broadband connection a few weeks ago and my life has been pure hell. One of the reasons that I haven’t been writing as much lately is because I just don’t have the patience to wait five minutes for a page to load on a dial-up connection. Therefore I’m probably as uninformed as many other Americans. Don’t get me wrong, I still bite my lower lip and tap my fingers as my dial-up connection does the best that it can, after all, I can’t afford to be totally ignorant.
At the same time I lost my broadband I also lost my cable. Losing cable TV isn’t nearly as bad as being cut off from the internet. It does however; relegate me to watching Katie Couric for news. You can imagine my consternation living like this. I feel like I’m in the backwoods of Canada, near the Arctic Circle, hunting Elk or whatever it is they hunt there. Every time I tried to write an article I immediately felt as if I had morphed into Andy Rooney. He’s great at what he does, which is talking about the things he wonders about, but his style just doesn’t fit my personality.
One good thing that has come out of being basically out of the loop is that I’ve had loads of time to think independently. I have been looking at the appointments that Obama is making while I watch the economy meltdown. I’ve come to the conclusion that these two events are inter-related. It seems as if the same people that presided over the dismantling of the American economy are being rewarded for their work with powerful jobs in the Obama administration. Of course I’m not the only one that has noticed this, many other left leaning writers and quite a few of the right leaning ones have brought this up. Not only are the banks and investment houses being rewarded for their malfeasance, but the individuals that navigated America into this perfect economic storm are being given the chance to do it again.
I believe that the next two months will be the most telling period in American history when it comes to exposing the flaws in our system of government. There are two very important issues that face Obama, and the tenor of his Presidency will be decided by how he handles these issues. Obama has to hit the ground running, he has no choice.
The most important issue that the President-Elect has to resolve is the crimes that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, along with others in the outgoing administration, have committed. There is no justification for any type of “amnesty” for these crimes. Letting those individuals that authorized torture, as well as those that deliberately lied to the American people about Iraq, walk away from prosecution will set a very dangerous precedent. Rachel Maddow recently wrote an article that expressed an opinion that Cheney should be hanged for authorizing the water-boarding of prisoners. Since I don’t believe in capital punishment I can’t agree, but a life sentence without the possibility of parole would suit me just fine. I can only hope that there are other Americans that believe this is a vitally important issue.
I can go on for hours writing about high crimes and misdemeanors that the Executive Branch has committed over the last eight years, but I don’t want to bore you with the particulars. Most of us know what laws were broken. Turning a blind eye to all that has gone on will set a dangerous precedent. It will effectively declare that Bush and Cheney are above the law. Once that understanding is established, so too will Obama and Biden be above the law. Ignoring laws that were broken unmistakably sends a message to the rest of the world that the United States does not operate under the rule of law. It will effectively telegraph the fact that the United States of America is a rogue state, no different than any other sponsor of terrorism. This will unequivocally proclaim that the government of this country is above the law, both domestic and international. The American people must realize that politics has nothing to do with prosecuting those that have chosen to break the law. Realistically, these actions will put us into the same category as Hitler’s Germany or Stalin’s Soviet Union. We will be no different than any other despotic regime that has ever existed.
If people took the time to look at the broader picture of laws that are actively enforced, and actually noted who gets prosecuted for breaking the law and who doesn’t, a disturbing picture emerges. The facts are that ordinary citizen’s are being incarcerated at a rate that has never been seen in the entire history of this nation. New prisons are being built and corporations have cashed in on this booming trend. Privately run prisons are the big new trend. The United States now leads the world when it comes to the percentage of its population that is incarcerated.
Most people understand that ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. This concept seems to be lost on the Speaker of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, who stated that if President Bush “knowingly” broke the law he may be subject to prosecution. The President of all people should know what is legal and what is not. There are different interpretations of the law in this nation lately. There are laws for the ordinary folk and laws that don’t seem apply to the rich and powerful. Individuals who have flaunted breaking domestic and international law will only be brought to justice if the American people demand it. It is very disturbing that those coming into power are not calling for investigations and criminal charges for those that have literally been getting away with murder for the last eight years.
Although I have been writing about the crimes committed by the outgoing administration, there is another issue that is just as important as adhering to the rule of law. I never cease to be amazed at politicians and the people that vote for them when they completely side-step the issue of political campaign financing. I’m sure that most politically astute people understand how deeply entrenched many corporations are. Investment bankers, defense contractors, insurance companies and other industries make up the majority of funding for political campaigns. The truth that Americans need to understand is that money from private industry actually determines who gets elected to public office in this country. It isn’t campaign donations from individuals that determine the winners, it is the corporate donations. Citizens are outspent by business interests. This puts citizens in last place. Government by the people and for the people no longer exists.
Political fundraising also has a direct connection to the policies enacted by those that are elected. When corporations donate millions to political campaigns, it is expected that services will be rendered by the office-seekers that took the campaign funds. It is absolutely fascinating how so many investment bankers, brokerage houses and hedge fund operators have paid into Senator Barack Obama’s campaign. For the first time in a decade, the Democrats actually received more corporate donations’ than the Republicans. Obama was the heavy favorite of campaign fund donations. It is readily apparent that the financial institutions with their heavy donations fared much better in the recent bailout than the Big Three automakers. The Big Three were actually very conservative with their campaign funding. I believe that the automakers would have already had the 50 billion dollar bailout that they originally asked for if they would have stepped up to the plate with more cash for the election.
What I’m trying to say here is that these two issues; the breaking of domestic and international law by the Bush Administration, and the corporate money in political campaigns are the most important issues that the American people should be thinking about. Letting people in the highest elected offices in the land get away with murder, and the selling of the American Federal Government to the highest bidder has got to end.
We really have no choice but to insist that these two issues be resolved, for unless they are, nothing else will be possible. Bush may have had shoes thrown at him by an Iraqi, the fact is that Americans should throw the book at him.
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