[News] Most Corrupt Congress Ever - including elements of the Black Caucus

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Fri Dec 23 11:25:26 EST 2005

The Most Corrupt Congress Ever - including elements of the Black Caucus
by Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

It is not often that we whole-heartedly agree with a "centrist," 
white Democratic political leader, but these are disturbing times. 
Harry Reid (NV), leader of U.S. Senate Democrats, recently 
the current Congress as "the most corrupt in history." Based on the 
sheer, gross volume of billions diverted to congressional friends and 
benefactors during this and previous sessions of the Bush Republican 
Congress, Reid was undoubtedly correct. The fact that Reid made his 
outburst in response to allegations that he might also be involved in 
the mighty tide of corruption, does not mitigate the fact of 
wholesale auctioneering of the public treasure. Rather, the damnation 
is made more powerful.

But the term "corruption" is vague, as is "theft" and "fraud" and 
other crimes. The "pork" that seems to be the princely meal savored 
by American legislative gluttons, is but one aspect of corruption. 
Putting aside the bid to fund "bridges to nowhere" in Alaska, the 
most gruesome (and lucrative) manifestation of endemic corruption is 
the Iraq war and occupation - a cash cow for favored corporations, 
and even companies that did not exist previous to the war and the 
promise of "reconstruction" of Iraq. However, even the rip-off of 
billions in this scam (and the theft of billions in Iraqi oil 
revenues) does not come close to describing the enormity of the 
crime: an attempt to steal the resources of a vast swath of the 
Earth, far beyond the boundaries of Iraq, and to transfer the 
proceeds to private hands, all the while billing the American public 
for the military muscle required.

Now, that's corruption, by anybody's definition.


To measure the scale of corruption in the current congressional and 
executive branches, and to put the "most corrupt Congress in history" 
in perspective, we must take at least a glancing look at history.

Following the American Civil War - which saw such profiteering, fraud 
and faulty weapons production by military contractors that it may 
have prolonged the conflict by months or years - financial 
speculators in the North set their eyes on the West, to build a 
continental railroad. They became known as the "Robber Barons," 
because they built enormous fortunes by billing the federal 
government for every mile of transcontinental railroad laid and 
demanded ownership of millions of acres on both sides of the tracks, 
as well.  Cities sprang up, which filled the coffers of the "Robber 
Barons" and others who flocked to the new developments. (The Native 
Americans were erased from this equation, literally.) Thus, the 
development of the West was accomplished.

Most school history books mark this period as rife with corruption - 
as it was. But they did build a railroad, and commerce commenced, and 
cities sprang up.

In other words, the "Robber Barons" stole a lot, killed a lot, and 
built a lot. The same can be said for their corporate contemporaries 
in manufacturing, and those who followed. They committed vast crimes 
against working people - and excluded and exploited Black workers to 
their own advantage - but jobs appeared, and smokestacks rose, like a 
pain against the sky. Lives and families became rooted. Detroit was 
born. American manufacturing was king of the world, and a portion of 
the trinkets trickled down - even to some Black folks.

The manufacturing "Barons" had contributed something to society. Or, 
at least, the society had become richer, in gross terms, as a 
by-product of their insatiable self-aggrandizement, which involved 
real enterprise as well as fraud, extortion, subornation of public 
officials, and manifold corruption. People got jobs, and the prospect 
of fighting for better working conditions and remuneration.


They were "Robber Barons," too. But at least they built something. 
(Or rather, caused things to be built by their workers.)

This class no longer exists. They have been supplanted for at least 
the last three decades by finance capital, which moves money around, 
and commands manufacturers to do their . They pick and choose the 
manufacturers, and countries, that are most hospitable to their 
monetary needs of the moment - to get a higher return on their 
capital, which is the only asset they have.  They decided that the 
United States was not a good investment for manufacturing, and 
demanded that it be emptied of its factories. Dream lost.

We at BC call them the Pirate Class. They sail the world, looking for 
raiding targets of opportunity, and acknowledging no law. However, 
this class cannot operate without the backing of the U.S. military - 
the ultimate force of coercion, which can impose the terms of the 
conversation. Big fat bankers with Hawkeye missiles backing them up, 
and unlimited U.S. funding for death squads in the targeted country, 
waiting for contracts on those who disagree.


The Pirates climbed to the cockpit of power with the election of 
George W. Bush, although they had been in ascendance for decades. 
They were now in full flower. A class that produces nothing, except 
through plunder, would demand that the Middle East be transformed 
into a market they could exploit to the fullest - which is why they 
have failed so badly in Iraq. It was too complicated for big fat 
white bankers to deal with.

However, in the United States, the hegemony of the Pirates is all but 
complete - as was necessary in order to harness the American military 
machine to their specific projects, and to otherwise loot the U.S. 
treasury to fund themselves and their class. The conquest of U.S. 
society was the first priority, and they have achieved it: big 
capital owns all the corporate media, and thereby controls the 
national conversation. Their think tanks set the agenda for the 
discourse, mega-phoned by the monopoly media.

It is in this context that we should discuss the issue of "corruption."

The Depths of Corruption

One definition of "corruption" is the stealing of the people's 
resources for private gain. The Bush regime - and its Congress - is 
certainly guilty of that on a monumental scale.


However, there is another version of "corruption" - just as lethal 
and ugly: the theft of a people's trust, and vested interest. In this 
regard, the infestation of corruption has spread into the 
Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). For example, ten members of the CBC 
voted for the Republican bankruptcy bill that was passed in April of 
2005. In doing so, they violated their own constituent's trust and 
vote. As the most targeted consumers of predatory lenders, and as the 
group that has the least employment security, African Americans are 
the most likely to face financial crisis. These are the aspiring 
Black middle class: the same people that form the backbone of Black 
elected officials' support. Yet, ten Black congresspersons 
them, by voting for the Republican bankruptcy bill. Here are the 
perpetrators' names:

William Jefferson (LA)

Artur Davis (AL)

Sanford Bishop (GA)

Kendrick Meek (FL)

Al Green (TX)

David Scott (GA)

Gregory Meeks (NY)

Harold Ford, Jr. (TN)

Albert Wynn (MD)

Emanuel Cleaver (MO)

Corruption comes in many forms. However, the main root of the current 
corruption is corporate money, which has subverted the entire 
politics and culture of the United States. It is not necessary to 
trace every noxious vote to a specific payoff. Television, radio and 
print media also reward politicians with favorable coverage - and 
nearly all of these outlets are components of corporate mega-media, 
all of them Wall Street denizens answerable to finance capital. There 
dwell the Pirates.

The Pirates have found that it is efficacious to enlist Black 
lieutenants in their predatory ventures. Some - too many - are 
signing on aboard ship. The names cited above are among the Black 
buccaneers, who have made common cause with the same people who are 
exporting the jobs of their own constituents, making them more 
vulnerable to predatory lenders, and waging endless war across the 
globe. These Black opportunists seek a good life for themselves, 
while the life of the community is being sucked out.

It is a deep corruption. They must be expelled.

Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are writing a book, entitled "Barack Obama 
and the Crisis in Black Political Leadership."

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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