on Mon, 21 Oct 2013
America is suffering from an epic case of Armageddon fatigue.
Budget showdown, government shutdown, debt ceiling debacle—the stakes are real but the establishment seems to feed off the chaos they create as a means to foment fear and outrage and translate it into campaign donations for themselves.
Look closely and you’ll see that something seismic is going on under the surface of the manufactured chaos in D.C.
Washington has morphed into an extortion racket, a place where members of the permanent political class threaten to inflict legislative and regulatory pain to extract campaign donations that they can then siphon into the pockets of themselves and their family members.
In a new book featured this Sunday on 60 Minutes titled Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets, Peter Schweizer explains how Washington politicians use a set of mafia-style legislative tactics to extort people and industries into donating to them out of fear of political and legal reprisals.
Schweizer interviewed former Chairman of Apache Corporation Ray Plank. Plank said campaign cash and lobbying contracts now function as “protection money” to keep lawmakers and regulators from going after you.
“It’s what you expect from the mafia,” said Plank. “They basically come to you and say, ‘We are going to shove this bat up your ass and give you an enema. You better play ball.’ We saw a great deal of it. It’s an insidious blight.”
There are left-wing progressives on Wall Street and in the high-tech world who bankrolled President Obama’s campaign because they love his radical agenda. But as Schweizer points out, many gave because they know they have to; if they don’t, Obama will come after them.
That’s a lesson the Tea Party knows all too well. After the Tea Party’s historic 2010 midterm victory, Obama unleashed Attorney General Eric Holder to go after the oil and gas sector, which had given four times as much to Republicans as to Democrats. As Obama said in October 2010, “We are going to punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”
Of course, not everyone gets subjected to these Godfather-style shakedowns. Case in point: Obama bundler and former New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine of MF Global shame. After "losing" $1.6 billion of MF Global customer money, Corzine walked away without a scratch. In Extortion, Schweizer publishes a devastating quote from Lisa Timmerman, a 17-year MF Global employee who served as the firm’s assistant comptroller for five years, saying: “Corzine is a major Obama fundraiser [which] is keeping prosecutors from bringing criminal charges against him.”
But what about the rest of us? What about the average American mom and dad just trying to stay afloat in the disastrous Obama economy? We don’t have the funds to throw “protection money” at the political extortionists in Washington who are eager to foist things like Obamacare on us. Only Obama’s union cronies and members of the permanent political class are given Obamacare waivers and spared the pain of the policies D.C. inflicts on the rest of us. Big business got an Obamacare exemption that Obama refuses to give ordinary individuals who can’t even sign up for Obamacare on the broken exchange websites, but they’ll still be fined for not doing so!
And what about the GOP establishment? Why haven’t they been able to clean up the extortion racket in Washington? You have to ask yourself, has the party machine fought this corruption or does it participate in it? As a senior House Republican told Fox News on Thursday, it’s “highly unlikely” Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) will be challenged because few have the muscle to match his ability to “raise money.”
In fact, the ability to raise money is apparently key to all the power in Washington. Here’s how bad it’s gotten: the Democratic and Republican Parties actually have a secret price list—officially known as “party dues”—that tells members of Congress how much money they must extract from donors in order to win a chairmanship or a top slot on a powerful Congressional committee. Schweizer somehow obtained the top-secret lists and included the never-before-published documents in Extortion.
But fundraising isn’t the only thing D.C. employs to keep people in line. Over in the Senate, Democrats like Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) use thug tactics on Tea Party members and activists who stand in their way. In a devastating chapter on Harry Reid, Schweizer includes a quote from Reid’s former chief of staff Susan McCue, who in 2005 said Reid seizes on a person’s weaknesses to “disarm, to endear, to threaten, but most of all to instill fear.”
The fact that these strong-arm tactics take place in Washington doesn’t surprise me at all. I’ve fought this type of corruption my entire political career. And those who disagreed with me politically used thug-like tactics to try to bankrupt my family with frivolous lawsuits in Alaska, and it hasn’t stopped to this day.
It’s time for Washington to stop threatening citizens and scaring up dollars through an endless extortion scheme of manufactured crises. It’s time for leaders to lead. That means doing right by voters without requiring them to pay protection money in advance.
You have to wonder whether Constitutional rule of law even exists when separate rules apply for powerful and well-connected men like Jon Corzine. And you have to wonder whether we really have government of the people, by the people, and for the people when the only way We the People can be heard is if we grease the palms of the ruling class.
Enough is enough. If the permanent political class won’t drain the swamp, we will. We should follow the advice in the title of Schweizer’s last book and “Throw Them All Out.” 2014 is just around the corner.