From Larry Klayman’s recently published book, “Whores” we get some insight into the ugly political maneuvers that politicians routinely use to provide themselves with loot and political advantages at public expense. We also learn how the political realm includes not only elective office holders, but also the corruption of the judiciary and the bureaucracy at the highest levels of our government.
Until reading this book I could not have believed that the self-dealing corruption, ass kissing, and outright criminality was so prevalent and vile as it is. The corruption of the judiciary was nearly unbelievable. I could not have believed, until recent years, with the advent of the internet as an alternative news outlet, that the press was as blatantly complicit in this corruption as it is.
After reading the book some thoughts and reminiscences come to mind:
In high school I used to always walk around with a smile on my face, which attracted the attention of bullies. And each year I’d have to have it out with a bully to establish a reputation and preserve the peace for the rest of the term. It never took more than one fist fight, and being a geek not a jock, I always lost. But it didn’t matter. My ‘rep’ as someone not to fool with, my legend so to speak, was established. From then on I could go around with a grin all I wanted — after the shiner healed.
Why the smile? Well, I always thought of people as basically good and honest, even if occasionally wrong when they disagreed with me. The conspiracy theorists and cynics never impressed me, because conspiracy takes too much discipline to maintain secrecy, and cynics denied the fundamental incentives most people have to do the right thing. And further, as essentially a loner, I never believed or understood how people could so completely ignore their better instincts to behave as members of a gang, covering for and protecting their cohorts with artful lies and deceptions.
During my career as a market research consultant and entrepreneur I was privileged to meet and provide services to a fair number of senior executives, most from small to medium size high-tech firms. All that I met were honest people dedicated to building successful companies. I never met a crook, a cheat, or an illegal schemer among them. Maybe I was just naive or lucky, but that’s my experience and observation.
Although I did some work for large companies my observation of these firms revolved around their bureaucratic aspects, but I suppose I was never entwined in their politics enough to become cynical or suspicious. Big company bureaucracy was enough anthropology for me. And whether private or public, I firmly believe that bureaucracy contains the seeds of evil, the potential for its use to create great harm, but to use it for evil requires evil political leadership.
All of which leads to politics. Whether in government or in large organizations, politics involves the trading of favors to create and perpetuate a hierarchy. This commonly also involves the promulgation of a mythology and an ideology. These justify and support the political hierarchy, often at the expense of the greater public. The mythology evolves to reassure the public that the politicians and the institutions they occupy are honest, well intentioned and disciplined. The ideology is spun to corral a particular constituency’s support for the politician and his party.
The most misleading aspect of politics, in my opinion, is the degree to which we citizens rely on the myths and ideology to guide us in selecting and supporting our politicians and, indeed, our political system. In doing so, and by involving ourselves in earnest disagreements over ideology and mythology, we are distracted from the power games that are being played behind our backs by the politicians, senior bureaucrats, the judiciary and the mainstream news sources.
We have essentially allowed a gang to be created within our political system. It is a voluntary association of political players who mutually support, discipline and reward one-another by preying on their constituents, the citizens, you and me. This gang does not recognize any limitation of law or morality with regard to its activities. Its leaders do what they please, The gang members kiss ass to rise in the political hierarchy, all the while proclaiming their good intentions and support for the constituents. Loyalty runs up and rewards and discipline run down the hierarchy. What rankles most about this situation is the difficulty of dislodging the gang from institutions we, ourselves, should own.
Curiously, preservation of a corrupt political system relies on its ability to corrupt the citizens, themselves. A citizenry that recognizes no need for self-discipline, thrift, sacrifice, or duty in its own behavior, favoring only its own apparent comfort and advantage over everything else — such a constituency will not question the gang’s behaviors. The gang bestows favors, it’s constituency consumes them, and the gang’s secure future is assured.
Evidence of this corruption of the citizenry is evident in blindness to the looming disastrous fiscal consequences of entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It is apparent in the willingness of citizens to ignore the economy crippling results of high taxes, heavy handed regulation, environmental and energy manias and government nanyism. And the willingness of citizens to let the defense of the country, once a duty of every male citizen, to be born by a professional military force, even if this requires recruitment of females, this is evidence of moral corruption. Oh, well, we rationalize, we’ll muddle through and I’ll get mine before it all comes crashing down.
If, on the other hand, the constituency actually holds true to its political mythology, such as American exceptionalism, duty, honesty, peace through strength, personal freedom and justice for all; and insists on its ideology, such as limited government, budget discipline and transparency, then the gang can be driven out, broken up and banished until next time we get lazy, selfish and complacent.
Given all of this, it is difficult not to become a complete cynic. But I still believe most people are well intentioned and good. So I’ll keep my smile and stand up to the bullies when necessary. And I’ll do whatever I can to fight back against the gang, whether locally or in Washington, D.C.