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Mick Mulvaney delivers the chilling truth

Bless your soul, Mick Mulvaney, for spelling out so clearly and succinctly the evil that drives Washington. As the f...

Posted: Apr 26, 2018 11:04 AM
Updated: Apr 26, 2018 11:04 AM

Bless your soul, Mick Mulvaney, for spelling out so clearly and succinctly the evil that drives Washington. As the former congressman and now interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau explained to bankers on Tuesday, "We had a hierarchy in my office in Congress. If you're a lobbyist who never gave us money, I didn't talk to you. If you're a lobbyist who gave us money, I might talk to you." Yes, Mulvaney would also meet his constituents from back home, whom he insists were at the top of the hierarchy.

America is a pay-to-play political system. When the lobbyists pay up, they're at the table. And to be sure, the big boys now run the show. The result is a political system among the most corrupt in the world, but with a twist of genius: the US Supreme Court has for all intents and purposes legalized the corruption and thereby put American democracy on a downward death spiral. The system works like this.

America's business interests, upper classes and white population have long made it hard for the poor and working class to register to vote. In most other democracies, voter registration is not the responsibility of individual voters, but is more or less automatic. Unlike these other democracies, US elections are a game of voter turnout, not of substance.

And voter turnout efforts are based heavily on money -- big money -- to run ads on TV and other media, buy voter data, manage expensive targeting of households, and other big-ticket strategies. The 2016 federal election cycle saw at least $6.4 billion spent on federal campaigns, and that's not counting the anonymous corporate sums that are not reported.

Congressmen live and breathe for campaign funds, and also to avoid crossing the interests of powerful corporate lobbies that might fund a primary challenger. The result is that billionaires and powerful companies own and operate the US political system. The vulgarity of the US situation would shock Karl Marx, who famously described 19th century democracy as a system in which "the oppressed are allowed every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them."

The results are astounding. Public policy in America has almost nothing to do with broad public opinion, a point that America's leading political scientists such as Benjamin Page and Martin Gilens have been making for years in sophisticated research in top, peer-reviewed journals and in their recent book "Democracy in America? What Has Gone Wrong and What Can We Do About It."

Jane Mayer brought this home with flair in her account in "Dark Money," focusing especially on mega-billionaires David and Charles Koch, as well as the detailed account of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer of Cambridge Analytica notoriety.

So, the public wants gun control, but Washington delivers guns and mass shooting instead. The public wants renewable energy, but Washington delivers EPA Chief Scott Pruitt and fossil fuels instead. The public wants taxes on the rich, but Washington delivers massive tax cuts for the rich instead. The public wants peace, but Washington and the military-industrial lobby deliver perpetual war instead. The American people are not the problem; the billionaires and their greedy agenda are at the heart of the crisis.

During the Obamacare debates a few years ago, when I asked a congresswoman why there was so little attempt by Congress to control soaring medical care prices, she buried her head in her hands and murmured "the lobbies! the lobbies!" It was like Kurtz in "The Heart of Darkness" murmuring "The horror! the horror!"

The Supreme Court's infamous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will go down in US history alongside Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) and Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) as among the worst moments in US jurisprudence. In Citizens United, the Supreme Court basically gutted any control over corruption by eliminating nearly all restrictions on independent campaign spending by corporations, on the grounds that such restrictions violate the "free speech" guarantee of the First Amendment.

A system that was already corrupt up to the gills suddenly was essentially told, officially and at the highest level, that American democracy was hereafter being turned over to the highest bidder. Evidently, Mulvaney knew well how to play the game, as he was showered with largesse from the financial industry.

The Roberts Court is certainly one of the shoddiest in American history. It followed up the Citizens United decision with McDonnell v. United States, declaring, in effect, that the blatant corruption of former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell and his wife could be seen merely as a politician interacting normally with his constituents. McDonnell, duly convicted of bribery earlier by a jury of his peers, walked free after the Supreme Court ruling.

In Citizens United, the court offered the following stunning claims: "We now conclude that independent expenditures, including those made by corporations, do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption. ... The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy."

It would be hard to find a more inaccurate statement. The public's confidence in American democracy has plummeted. In a January 2018 survey, just 8% of Americans expressed "a great deal of confidence" in the Congress. According to Gallup, the proportion of Americans expressing "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in Congress has declined from 30% in 2004 to just 12% in 2017.

You have done your duty, Mulvaney, and now you and your ilk should resign in peace. It is also urgent to challenge again in the courts the absurd claims of Citizens United before the confidence in our political institutions falls to zero.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 752108

Reported Deaths: 13816
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1033831790
Lake558431013
Allen41736693
St. Joseph37007565
Hamilton36617417
Elkhart29425461
Tippecanoe22938228
Vanderburgh22565400
Porter19369327
Johnson18486389
Hendricks17696317
Clark13233195
Madison13176344
Vigo12631253
LaPorte12429221
Monroe12226176
Delaware10970198
Howard10349224
Kosciusko9643121
Hancock8578147
Bartholomew8174157
Warrick7864156
Floyd7815180
Grant7248179
Wayne7164201
Boone6979103
Morgan6768141
Dubois6224118
Marshall6214116
Cass6024110
Henry5903110
Dearborn589878
Noble581688
Jackson509476
Shelby502396
Lawrence4753122
Gibson445595
Clinton443555
Harrison441775
DeKalb440385
Montgomery439890
Whitley406744
Huntington403381
Steuben400859
Miami395769
Jasper389155
Knox377691
Putnam373461
Wabash362383
Ripley347370
Adams345555
Jefferson336186
White332753
Daviess3035100
Wells295481
Decatur289892
Greene286885
Fayette284864
Posey274335
LaGrange273272
Scott270356
Clay267148
Washington246336
Randolph245183
Jennings235349
Spencer234531
Starke228159
Fountain222048
Sullivan214843
Owen212358
Fulton204043
Jay201032
Carroll193820
Orange188255
Perry187237
Rush175926
Vermillion175344
Franklin170435
Tipton166646
Parke149616
Pike138334
Blackford136232
Pulaski120847
Newton114936
Brown104443
Benton102614
Crawford102516
Martin91815
Warren84115
Switzerland8158
Union72810
Ohio57911
Unassigned0424

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1109697

Reported Deaths: 20213
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1289521469
Cuyahoga1158802216
Hamilton814201251
Montgomery525861049
Summit484551006
Lucas43384824
Butler39098606
Stark33355930
Lorain25689506
Warren24612305
Mahoning22388602
Lake21219389
Clermont20138253
Delaware18892136
Licking16671225
Fairfield16589204
Trumbull16560483
Medina15618273
Greene15292248
Clark14244306
Wood13296200
Portage13254216
Allen11919239
Richland11611211
Miami10857225
Wayne9153225
Columbiana9039230
Muskingum8909135
Pickaway8664122
Tuscarawas8654251
Marion8649139
Erie8058165
Ashtabula7171179
Hancock6999133
Ross6948163
Geauga6850151
Scioto6540106
Belmont6159174
Union585049
Lawrence5741102
Jefferson5683159
Huron5554122
Sandusky5444126
Darke5420129
Seneca5350128
Washington5321109
Athens524460
Auglaize502487
Mercer487785
Shelby477095
Knox4573112
Madison444566
Ashland435997
Putnam4336104
Defiance432399
Fulton432274
Crawford4046110
Brown402761
Logan387678
Preble3859105
Clinton379266
Ottawa373581
Highland360266
Williams348578
Champaign344959
Guernsey325254
Jackson318454
Perry297350
Morrow291940
Fayette285750
Hardin275765
Henry273867
Holmes2703101
Coshocton269360
Van Wert247264
Adams243156
Pike242835
Gallia240850
Wyandot234756
Hocking220663
Carroll197548
Paulding176642
Meigs148540
Monroe136345
Noble136239
Harrison114138
Morgan110124
Vinton85717
Unassigned03
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