Politicians For Sale: All Bidders Welcome

áFor Sale: All levels of American Government. Cost depends on what buyer wants.

Protect your interests even at otherÆs expense by spending money where it counts. On politicians! With a big election coming up nowÆs the time to be thinking about protecting that pile of gold, and thereÆs no better way than favorable treatment from your very own politician. Just consider some recent successes:

HMO reform died on the table after insurance companies flexed their money muscle.

Gun reform got so many holes shot in it by the NRA and gun manufacturers, you’d think it was some new kind of cheese.

The estate tax is on the way to being repealed even though it mainly benefits the richest two percent of estates. Talk about buying influence!

These are just a few recent examples at the national level. Everyday Big Money compromises public interest in states and towns like yours. All it takes is a few checks sent to the right places, bundled together with a few of your friends. You might even get your picture taken with someone famous!

But why think small when you could buy a stay in the beautiful Lincoln Bedroom in the very heart of Washington D.C.? Or imagine a local congressman, even a senator, taking your call on the spot — what a story for the golfing buddies!

Got a corporate interest to protect? Just look at how Big Money protected computer companies from costly class-action lawsuits stemming from Y2K. Angry consumers have no choice but to go along, even though the problem easily could have been corrected years ago!

No guarantees of course, but corporate interests are well protected with the Republicans controlling Congress and Big Bill in the White House. Washington has a big For Sale sign hung over it.

Big Money has ways of twisting legislation to protect its interests — your interests! If an unfavorable bill is introduced in Congress or a statehouse, it can be “killed in committee.” This aptly named figure of speech refers to the practice of stalling or changing legislation so that it dies behind the scenes.

If that doesnÆt work, Big Money politicians will use tactics like holding up debate and adding senseless amendments. If the legislation gets to a full vote in an unfavorable form, Big Money spreads around a bunch of cash to buy votes. If the legislation passes anyway, thereÆs always the governor or president to stop it from becoming law.

And if needed, Big Money will turn to the airwaves, like those “Harry and Louise” commercials bought by HMOs — who turned healthcare into the same scary vision that was used in the commercials to scare the public. Now instead of Clintoncare thereÆs Corporate care!

But Big Money doesnÆt just stop legislation, it makes legislation. Big Money sits in when politicians get together to write laws, and sometimes Big Money even writes laws for the politicians, saving them the burden of doing their jobs.

There are so many ways to buy influence and favoritism from politicians: give candidates (preferably safe incumbents) campaign money hire their friends and relatives: fly them around on private jets and ride them around in limousines: get your friends, neighbors and employees to give them money: give money to PAC organizations, who give it to politicians: give money to the political parties: give hard-money, soft-money, drug money, any money. Just keep giving.

In return you get a government that protects your interests. And donÆt worry about the system changing anytime soon. Even though voters say they want campaign finance reform, they have no idea what that means. And the politicians arenÆt likely to agree on anything; almost all of them feed at the money trough. The ones who donÆt are pushed aside by the stampeding herd.

So donÆt miss out on this sale. ThereÆs a big election coming up and Big Money just hollered, “Here piggies!””

The terrorists are coming and we aren’t prepared

Originally published in The Citizen, Cincinnati, OH, July 1999

Recently a government commission on terrorism revealed a little known secret that raises goose bumps: The threat of a major terrorist strike against America is probable enough to take seriously. Very seriously.

What the bipartisan Commission to Assess the Organization of the Federal Government to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction actually said is that America is not ready if Washington D.C. or New York City disappear in a fiery cloud. The commission based the report on the fact that nuclear, biological and/or chemical weapons have gotten out into the hands of groups who will use those weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. America is not ready.

It’s not a crazy scenario, but one that government planners have accepted as probable enough to react with haste, at least, that what the commission recommends. The threat is real, and we need to get prepared for it like we’re waitin’ on the return of Jesus.

The government is starting to take the threat seriously, but will they react in time to prevent catastrophe. It’s no longer a question of if weapons of mass destruction are in the hands of terrorists, but how many and what kind. Case in point: Russia’s former Defense Minister and 1996 presidential candidate Aleksandr Leded claimed that several dozen suitcase-size nuclear bombs that any idiot can set off are missing, as well as other weapons of mass destruction. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what happened to those bombs.

There’s a way to inflict major pain on America, but is there a will? Could some terrorist group actually pull off a major attack? The answer: Yes, it’s possible. Is anyone planning on doing it? There are people who hate the U.S. enough. Other societies feel threatened by America raining missiles around the globe and spreading its culture like a cancer (how they view our culture). Yes, someone could be planning a major attack.

Destroy most of the federal government by taking out D.C. when the president and congress are in town and you’ve cut off the governmental head. Destroy the financial centers of New York City and you’ve cut off the financial head. Then what’s left of the three-headed “beast” is the military-which is too diffuse to destroy-but most of those soldiers would have a reason to stay at home. You want to change the world, start with two or three nuclear bombs.

The chances of this terrible scenario happening are significant. There’s the will and the way; it’s no longer a Hollywood plot. Someone in the government worked out the odds and raised the alarm, leading to the commission’s report. A ranking military officer said privately that the talk around the Pentagon has changed from if a major terrorist attack could happen to when it will happen. It’s not inevitable, but there’s an old rule of statistics that applies: if there’s any probability of an event, eventually the event will occur.

The probability is much greater than most people realize. There are plenty of financed, organized and armed terrorists out there who want to cripple America’s ability to project its power around the world, and now some have the weapons to do it. And those weapons aren’t going to sit around like fine art.

So ask yourself what you would do if you woke up one morning and the world was changed: if you picked up the phone and there was no dial tone: if you turned on the faucet and there was no water: if you looked out the window and there was no country.

Readiness is the best deterrent. If America is prepared for the threat of little people with big bombs, the terrorists might decide they could inflict more damage elsewhere. Thus a new commission is being formed to work out contingency plans. But the average person should be prepared too, like the old drills in school when everyone went to the bomb shelter. Only we aren’t looking to the sky for missiles, it’s rented trucks, suspicious packages and concentrations of radioactivity. We’re looking for something that will be awfully hard to spot ahead of time. It’s no secret anymore, no longer whispers among intelligence analysts. The threat is serious and we’re only beginning to face it.