Tag Archives | Corruption

Our Pay to Play System, Embodied by Beanie Babies

By Dominique Godbout (CC by 2.0)

By Dominique Godbout (CC by 2.0)

Disinfo’s newest film, Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes will be available this Saturday (11/1) on our site. Join us for Pay 2 Play’s worldwide digital release. You’ll be able to stream the film for $4 or download for $10.

There was a political scandal I heard about that changed the way I looked at corruption and helped me understand the larger mechanisms at work in government and society. It rocked the swing state of Ohio right after a disputed election, toppled the state’s one-party rule and ended the Taft legacy that included a President, a U.S. Senator, a Supreme Court Justice. And it started with Beanie Babies.

In Toledo, Ohio, Tom Noe was a small-time rare coin dealer who sought to raise his business prospects by getting involved in politics. He would later testify under oath that giving money to politicians “kept my business alive.” Noe elevated his status as a political player by bundling contributors together in North East Ohio in order to get more attention from statewide candidates.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Protests in Pakistan: Curiously Underreported by International News

Thanks to a Facebook commenter on this post, the underreporting of the protests in Pakistan has been brought to my attention. While some of the mainstream media has covered these protests, their narrative has been dwarfed by other, more popular stories. Here’s a short recap from different sources.

551px-Konferenz_Pakistan_und_der_Westen_-_Imran_Khan_(4155877864)_cropped

Imran Khan, Pakistani politician and former cricketer.

“Imran Khan vows to carry on protest till Pakistan PM resigns” via Arab News:
(September 28)

LAHORE: Opposition politician Imran Khan has vowed to continue his protest against Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until the leader resigns over allegations of election rigging.

Khan, along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, has been staging a sit-in in capital Islamabad since August 15.

Last week he took his protest to Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and on Sunday he addressed thousands of people in his home town and Pakistan’s second largest city — Lahore, which is also the home town of Sharif.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

When Humans Lose Control of Government

By Sheila in Moonducks via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Sheila in Moonducks via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via The Atlantic:

The Veterans Affairs scandal of falsified waiting lists is the latest of a never-ending stream of government ineptitude. Every season brings a new headline of failures: the botched roll-out of Obamacare involved 55 uncoordinated IT vendors; a White House report in February found that barely 3 percent of the $800 billion stimulus plan went to rebuild transportation infrastructure; and a March Washington Post report describes how federal pensions are processed by hand in a deep cave in Pennsylvania.

The reflexive reaction is to demand detailed laws and rules to make sure things don’t go wrong again. But shackling public choices with ironclad rules, ironically, is a main cause of the problems. Dictating correctness in advance supplants the one factor that is indispensable to all successful endeavors—human responsibility. “Nothing that’s good works by itself,” as Thomas Edison put it.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

We Can Put An End to Pay to Play

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

What is Pay to Play? Commonly held, pay to play is a form of getting a special deal because you paid someone off. Usually this is an indirect transaction, because of clear legal guidelines, and so creative ways are devised around long-standing common-sense laws prohibiting politicians from taking bribes. For instance, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked to testify in his corruption trial as to who gave him a lavish Rolex watch, the governor artfully suggested, “from Santa.”

But while the McDonnell tragicomedy may be the stuff of Lifetime movies, the reality is, there is not much difference from a first family taking goods to endorse a company than when a candidate for office takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those who expect a personal return. And since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision removed limits to outside spending in elections, the TV ads that dominate political campaigns are basically unregulated as far as spending or disclosing who is paying for them.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Cornel West on Obama and the Democrats

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaCornel West laments the betrayal of the disenfranchised by Obama and the Democrats at large. He advocates for support of third party candidates in order to move our government away from its current state of corruption.

Gaius Publius writes at AMERICAblog:

As you may know, there’s a war going on in the black community, and Barack Obama is at the center of it. We’ve done some reporting on it ourselves. For example:

Cornel West on Obama — “Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic”

Eddie Glaude on Cornel West and “The Obama Deception”

Ed Schultz interviews Cornel West & Melissa Harris-Perry on the criticism of Obama from the black community

Weekend thoughts: Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Obama 2013

From the outside the gist is this (written in mid-2011):

A number of communities have felt betrayed lately by Obama and the Democrats in general — it’s foolish not to admit that.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Rethinking Democracy

rubio_jeffersonA pretty compelling read introducing the radical idea that maybe Democracy needs to be reconsidered. Old hat to postmodernism, of course, but maybe it’s time for some mainstream exposure for these notions.

via Salon:

This is what democracy looks like: grotesque inequality, delusional Tea Party obstructionism, a vast secret national-security state, overseas wars we’re never even told about and a total inability to address the global climate crisis, a failure for which our descendants will never forgive us, and never should. Maybe I’ll take the turtle costumes after all. The aura of democratic legitimacy is fading fast in an era when financial and political capital are increasingly consolidated in a few thousand people, a fact we already knew but whose implications French insta-celebrity Thomas Piketty and the political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page (of the “oligarchy study”) have forcefully driven home. Libertarian thinker Bryan Caplan sees the same pattern, as Michael Lind recently wrote in Salon, but thinks it’s a good thing.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Protest with Witchcraft!

alienlightbuddhasigil1Ahhh, the manner by which synchronicity manifests itself into your life when you intentionally tread the path of a sorcerer. You toss around the idea of writing a think piece called “Protest with Witchcraft” for over a year, then finally decide to tackle it and just after you do an article appears on the site you’re writing it for about how street protests don’t work anymore. Then the day before you toss it up another appears about a new wave of witch hunters rising around the world. Of course, I write about this sychromystic high strangeness all the time on Facebook (friend me), and I haven’t even gotten to the oddest part yet. A week or so earlier I out of nowhere decided I needed to re-read A Separate Reality by Carlos Casteneda. I do have the cover tattooed on my right bicep, so I figured I might re-familiarize with what exactly that implies in a magickal context.… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Would Bankruptcy Protect You from Being Prosecuted for Murder? Then Why Are GM and Its Officers Getting Immunity?

PIC: US GOVT (PD)

PIC: US GOVT (PD)

via chycho

It should be obvious by now that corporations have more rights than humans in the United States, but GM’s corporate and executive immunity from civil and criminal liability and prosecution for putting shareholder value ahead of safety is mind boggling; that there is even a debate about this is insane:

“GM is a different legal entity than the one that filed the 2009 bankruptcy that shook the U.S. economy. The so-called new GM is not responsible under the terms of its bankruptcy exit for legal claims relating to incidents that took place before July 2009. Those claims must be brought against what remains of the ‘old’ or pre-bankruptcy GM.

“But the proposed class action, filed in federal court in California, said plaintiffs should be allowed to sue over the pre-bankruptcy actions, ‘because of the active concealment by Old GM and GM.’”

If GM is allowed to buy their way out of this mess by settling out of court and taking no responsibility for the death and misery that they caused, then we know that the status quo of protecting the rich is intact (2).… Read the rest

Continue Reading

Douchebag Megachurch Pastor Pays Over 200 Grand to Get His Book on the NYT Bestseller List For One Week

markdriscollIf you live in Seattle, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with the antics of uber-douche “spiritual leader” Mark Driscoll, as his over the top douchebaggery is pretty much impossible to ignore around here. For those not in the know, he’s become rather famous by marketing a supposedly hip brand of Christianity (Christian rock can totally be a part of a church service dude!) to a younger demographic.

The problem is that his hip new faith embraces the same misogynist homophobia that most other conservative parishes in the Bible Belt embrace wholeheartedly. Women are not allowed to be a part of the clergy and are continually lectured in regards to the importance of submitting to their husband’s will. Being gay or getting an abortion will land you in hell. In fact, one of the weird things about Driscoll is that he somehow claims to know EXACTLY what God allows and doesn’t allow sexually.… Read the rest

Continue Reading