Foul Systemic Corruption -- a bipartisan love story

Foul Systemic Corruption

by digby

I know that it's impolite to point fingers and all, but this piece at Down with Tyranny about the systemic corruption of our political system, in this case involving the Democraqtic Party, is just astonishing. The problem isn't that what he describes is unusually bad -- it's that it's so common that people inside the beltway don't even see anything wrong with it. No matter how strong a person's convictions and sense of integrity may be there is no way to do this kind of thing without being tainted.

He opens by talking about the depressing news that Pelosi chose Steve Israel to head the DCCC:

Until 2 years ago the conservative Suffolk County congressman was a member of the Blue Dog Caucus. He's the epitome of the DLC/Third Way hack. The Washington Post describes him as someone who "joined the Blue Dog Democrats in the House and crossed party lines to support President George W. Bush on a number of key issues, most notably Bush’s 2001 tax cut package [one of only 28 mostly right wing Democrats who did] and the GOP prescription drug bill the following year. He has also espoused more hawkish views on foreign policy, voting to authorize military force in Iraq."

I've been working on a DCCC investigation since September and, just by coincidence I ran across an interesting relationship I wasn't aware of-- or looking for-- one between top DCCC operatives John Lapp, Jon Vogel and... Steve Israel. And now they'll all be together again, just like they were when they all worked on Israel's first congressional campaign in 2000 to win the seat being vacated by hapless Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio. Although I tried contacting every DCCC source I know for my story-- from out-going chair Chris Van Hollen and incoming chair Steve Israel to Lapp and Vogel, the only person who would speak to me on the record-- and only partially on the record as a matter of fact-- was Jon Vogel. Vogel played the role of DCCC Executive Director this year. He assured me that "all our decisions were based on polling with the strategy of winning a Democratic Majority... We were working off a poll that gave us an instrument that tested different ways that we could move numbers in a district.” I kind of wish I could have gotten Lapp on the phone instead (or at least as well)-- a mere senior advisor to the I.E. committee-- but he didn't want to talk. I can understand why.

First off, I need to say that I don't really care that what I've found is standard operating procedure for the NRCC, the DSCC and the NRSC and that "this is the way it's always done Inside the Beltway." I sincerely hope Republicans and like-minded insiders choke on their own corruption, and I'll leave it to right-wing bloggers, who are already onto the trail, to work it out for themselves. This is about the DCCC. More specifically, it's about the systemic corruption inside the committee and how they allocate money and where that money goes. Maybe "corruption" is too strong of a word. Maybe. "Devoid of ethics" might be a fairer description.

Insiders who work both sides of the system may not be strong arming candidates to buy particular services. Indeed, they may not even mention it. But then anyone who wasn't born yesterday knows that you don't have to. Any savvy politician will figure that it's a good idea to suck up to the people who allocate the money, right? Nobody has to say a word.

And now they are going to try to do a repeat of 2006 with a Blue Dog conservative chairing the congressional campaign committee. And people will make a lot of money doing it. A win's a win, and the best bet is to pick a wealthy, corporate friendly Democrat who travels in the right circles and can guarantee that the system keeps rolling.

This is the stuff that just makes me want to give up. It's one thing to fight the good fight against the authoritarians and the theocrats and the warmongers. But when you think about the vast sums of money that are corrupting the system at every single opening and choke point, it becomes very difficult to keep up any kind of hope that this isn't going to just go from very bad to unthinkable.

Read the whole post. It's a great piece of investigative work by Howie Klein. As he notes, Republican activists are on the same story implicating their political operations. It's not a partisan problem and the Democrats are probably less corrupt than the GOP --- after all, they are the ones who openly insist that money equals God, mother and apple pie. But with a system dependent on huge, smothering piles of cash it's inevitable that this sort of thing will corrupt everyone eventually. And so it has.