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Was John McCain an Enemy Collaborator?

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As the political campaign intensifies, we're beginning to see a lot of very harsh accusations directed at the candidates from radical groups acting as surrogates for the two presidential candidates. Typically, these accusations originate in a blog post or an article on one of the more politically radical activist websites, or even as a viral email sent from person to person and reposted on newsgroups and in online discussions. It's often hard to track down their origins or who is specifically responsible for them, but the ultimate result is that their largely unsubstantiated claims eventually get picked up and widely repeated in some form on more legitimate news-oriented websites or even in the mainstream media.

Perhaps at least partially in retaliation for the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks on John Kerry's military record, the attacks from the political left include many alarming allegations about John McCain's war record. One of these is that while John McCain was a prisoner of war he became a 'songbird' and violated the military code of conduct by informing on other prisoners, providing the enemy with information about US troop deployments, participating in enemy propaganda campaigns and even engaging in 30 or more radio broadcasts favorable to the North Vietnamese and designed to demoralize US troops. These accusations have become increasingly widespread and have appeared on relatively legitimate sites like Politico.com as well as on left-leaning talk radio.

As was the case with the Swift Boat Veterans' attacks on John Kerry, these allegations about McCain contain elements of truth, plus a great deal of misinformation and pure misrepresentation and distortion of his actions and their significance.

McCain was a prisoner of war for over five years and during that time he was subjected to successive rounds of just about every kind of torture imaginable, made worse by the injuries he sustained when he crashed his plane, and which never properly healed. The North Vietnamese violated every rule of the Geneva Convention in their treatment of prisoners and put a very high emphasis on getting what they could out of prisoners for propaganda purposes, such as confessions of war crimes or statements opposing the war. McCain was a particular target for these efforts because he father was commanding Admiral of the Pacific Fleet at the time. Under those conditions many prisoners cooperated to some extent with their captors. Some engaged in propaganda, most notably the eight prisoners famous for their meetings with US war protesters at the Hanoi Hilton. Others were less cooperative, and were punished for it. Some tried to escape and in many cases were killed for it as object lessons to the other prisoners.

Under the military Code of Conduct established after World War II, prisoners were only supposed to provide their name, rank and service number. Almost no prisoners in Vietnam observed that requirement to the letter. Yet after the war, the military ended up making the decision not to prosecute any of the Vietnam era prisoners of war, even those who had collaborated extensively or who had informed on other prisoners, on the basis that the level and duration of the torture to which they had been exposed rendered the code of conduct impractical to enforce. The code of conduct was effectively suspended retroactively for Vietnam POWs.

Despite the recent accusations that he was a collaborator, most of the evidence suggests that McCain's cooperation with the North Vietnamese was very limited, which likely resulted in considerable additional hardship for him. Although McCain has himself admitted to signing some statements which were apparently never used as actual propaganda and to participating in the recording of a propaganda tape, indications are that he was not sufficiently forthcoming in these statements and that the North Vietnamese propaganda ministry found him troublesome and unhelpful, limiting his participation to general and ambiguous statements.

Claims that McCain made over 30 propaganda recordings appear to be exaggerated and the evidence to support these claims is very sketchy and almost entirely anecdotal. McCain admits to having made a tape, but there is little evidence that it was ever used and in it he may not have been forthcoming enough for the tape to be useful as propaganda. Evidence of more recordings cannot be substantiated because no one has actually gone through the hundreds of hours of poor recordings of North Vietnamese propaganda broadcasts which have been archived to catalog what is actually in them. So those who claim that McCain was actively involved in propagandizing for his captors are mostly just guessing or making it up based on very little real evidence.

Claims that McCain collaborated in other meaningful ways are also very questionable. McCain was noted for not participating in many of the staged events where his captors put cooperative prisoners on display, and perhaps most significantly, when repeatedly offered the opportunity to be sent home by his captors — which would have had substantial propaganda value — he refused to be released, unless other prisoners who had been held longer were released first. McCain's willingness to endure several extra years of torture when signing a few simple statements and cooperating would have gotten him sent home quickly, contrasts with many who others signed statements against the war, and were sent home, suffering no real consequences for their actions, while McCain insisted on staying almost to the end of the war.

Allegations that McCain was given special privileged treatment by his captors do have some basis in fact, but don't have the significance that some have tried to assign to them. Because McCain was the son of a prominent Admiral he was a very high value prisoner. As a result he did get more attention from the North Vietnamese as a potential propaganda tool, which meant putting him in nicer facilities from time to time to try to win his cooperation. Clearly these brief offers of special treatment didn't buy him off, because he kept getting sent back to the nastiest of the camps and ended up spending much of his last two years in captivity in a 2ft by 6ft hole delirious with starvation and heat exhaustion.  McCain never spent significant time out of the worst camps as some have alleged.  As demonstrated in his various memoirs, he can account for his time in considerable detail, always with other prisoners as corroborating witnesses to where he was and how he was treated. Among those supporting McCain's account of his experiences is Colonel Bud Day who has campaigned with McCain and is the most highly decorated living US serviceman and a Medal of Honor winner.

Suggestions that McCain informed on other prisoners also seem to have no merit to them. McCain has never been mentioned among those who other prisoners noted as informers or significant collaborators. In fact, when McCain returned from captivity he identified several other prisoners who were informants and initially wanted to charge them but was ultimately persuaded to go along with the unofficial policy of not pursuing any punishment for Vietnam POWs.

Other more outlandish accusations, like the claim that he is some sort of 'Manchurian Candidate' programmed by his captors as a weapon against America are so bizarre and speculative and completely lacking in evidence that there's no way to even respond to them intelligently.

Taken in context, McCain's level of cooperation with his North Vietnamese captors appears to have been at the low-middle range compared to other prisoners. While McCain did participate in some activities, sign statements and make at least one tape, he appears to have never really made the kinds of strongly anti-American statements which his captors wanted, rendering his contributions fairly worthless as propaganda material. In fact, his unwillingness to be forthcoming and fully participate is likely to have earned him substantial additional torture and punishment during his lengthy captivity. What's more, since no Vietnam POWs have been held accountable for their actions or violations of the code of conduct while in captivity, and since McCain wasn't even one of the dozen or so who were ever even considered for prosecution, trying to single him out as a notable collaborator makes no sense at all.

The attempt to use these elements of McCain's record as a POW against  him seems like a particularly vicious and unjustified smear which reflects poorly on those who originated and have perpetuated these accusations.

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About Dave Nalle

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com/user/39420/joanne_huspek.html Joanne Huspek

    Interesting article, and I hadn’t thought of the possibility before.

  • bliffle

    No citations.

    I don’t have any citations, either. At least none at hand. But in years past I have seen reports from POWs that had no tinge of political animus, that described quite bitterly McCains cooperation with his captors. Affidavits of POWs and transcripts of radio broadcasts, etc. Allegations of Very Special treatment, including a special apartment which was alleged to be his real habitat when he was supposed to be in solitary. Complete with comfort women, according to some POWs. Allegations that he gave detailed personal information about other pilots on his carrier that was used to threaten pilots and their families in back channels.

    I don’t know how much, if any, is true. I discarded it since I don’t like such stuff, true or not. I disregarded the pro and con in 2000 when I supported McCain.

    But since Dave brought it up, perhaps as a preemptive assertion, the contrary ought to be mentioned. I suspect that this will get more attention in October.

    I recommend that people ignore it all, just as they should discount McCains war record and stop boasting about assumed heroism. Pride goes before a fall. Or as another sage warrior said “things go wrong in time of war”. That was John McCain.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Bliffle, there are multiple links in the article to relevant source material, including a link to McCain’s personal account, to a scholarly article on the military code of conduct and treatment of prisoners in Vietnam, and to a neutral source assessment of McCain’s actions.

    I looked for the reports from other POWs which you mentioned and couldn’t find anyone who had gone on the record publicly to make those accusations. All I could find was unsupported assertions coming from politically opposed sources, none of it first-hand.

    Plus, you miss two of the main points of the article. First, that McCain can effectively account for his time in Vietnam with references to others who can corroborate where he was – and it wasn’t in some luxury apartment. Second, that the military took the conditions prisoners faced into account and effectively absolved them of any wrong they may have done on that basis.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    Dave,

    As we have seen in the past 2 or 3 elections, and now the current campaign, these kinds of things have and will likely continue to make their way through the internet.

    I haven’t personally seen anything put out there about McCain. I did receive the email recounting all of the crap about Obama – his being a muslim, his having attended a medrasa, etc.

    I figure, that as we go along, these kinds of things will continue to pop up. There will always be those who buy into them hook, line and sinker. Hopefully, the majority of people will at least take all that kind of crap with a grain of salt.

    Sadly, though, sometimes, especially in a close election, all it takes is something like these postings to push the vote just enough to make the difference.

    Looking back to the 2000 election, and discounting the Florida fiasco, look at the effect of Clinton’s sexual and other escapades that likely caused Gore to lose both Arkansas and his own home state, Tennessee. Florida was just the icing on the cake.

    As we saw, the Swift Boat accusations took a toll on Kerry’s campaign. I think Bush would have won without that, but it would probably have been a much tighter race.

    In the coming years, perhaps the voting public will become at least somewhat more circumspect regarding these kinds of accusations on the internet. Probably not, though.

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I suspect it will only get worse, Baritone. You should see some of the ridiculous crap that’s out there. One article on McCain which I didn’t even bother to reference claimed that he was a sado-masochistic cross-dresser who stayed in Vietnam for 5+ years because he enjoyed the gay sex and abuse.

    Dave

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    I guess it amounts to a trade off. The internet is a fabulous, and totally unprededented source of information and means of communication on a global scale.

    The down side is that the bottom dwellers have the same access. It is up to most of us to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    B

  • Baronius

    Funny, Baritone, I remember the 2000 election as being adversely affected by the last-minute release of information about Bush’s drunk driving arrest.

  • Arch Conservative

    God I can’t waint until November when the Osama Obama travelling freak show is finally over.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    That will be when it settles into the WH for the better part of the next decade.

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Part of the problem is that the internet has powered the crazies and the bottom-dwellers and given them a wider audience than they ever had when they were mimeographing their leaflets in their mothers’ basements.

    Dave

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    I remember the 2000 election as being adversely affected by the last-minute release of information about Bush’s drunk driving arrest.

    That would explain the polls that said Bush was the candidate most people would feel comfortable having a beer with… but not getting a ride home with afterwards.

  • Arch Conservative

    Keep dreaming Baritone. It’s not happeneing.

    America is not going to an elect a sociliast as it’s president.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    What’s a sociliast? Someone who likes to screw Sicilians?

  • Clavos

    One of the earliest and funniest political smear stories involves Florida Democratic Senator George Smathers who, in his first campaign for the Semate against Claude Pepper, was reported by one reporter to have given the following speech to rural Crackers in the Florida Panhandle, fondly known to this day as the Redneck Riviera:

    “”Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that, but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in wicked New York. Worst of all, it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper before his marriage habitually practiced celibacy.”

    The story, unfortunately, is apocryphal. Smathers went on to serve 18 years in the Senate.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    #10 – “Part of the problem…”

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, Dave.

  • http://rapturenutballs.blogspot.com Baritone

    No, voters will not put a socialist in the WH. They will vote for Obama.

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    And by doing so he will lose and we’ll be spared somehow? I don’t follow…

    Dave

  • Arch Conservative

    Obama’s latest capaign promise is to take away profits from the oil companies and give that money to people he thinks should have it.

    The guy’s a socialist.

    You gonna tell me the sky’s not blue as your encore Baritone?

  • Condor

    There ain’t nothin’ better’n a Florida Cracker….

    Someone ought to take offense to that statement, along with redneck… I mean, just to be equal and balanced.

    And perhaps we should now re-visit windfall distribution. It didn’t work for Carter, and it won’t work now. Corporations have buildings full of lawyers, and MBA’s along with a myriad of other capable suits…. with lots of experience in business. After all, America’s business IS business.

    So, windfall distributions get enacted by B.O. and guess what happens. The oil stays put, in the ground, not pumped, at least enough oil to not subject the companies to the windfall tax… That oil ain’t going nowhere, and prices (not just oil) go through the roof. Oh yeah!!!

    Same thing happened to Carter; great idea? I think not.

    Now back to McCain, I need to see all these reports of McCain, this or that. I’m not a McCain supporter, nor do I play chess with my vote… B.O.seems like a great guy, and he probably is a real likeable fellow, but I get the impression he’s a feather in the wind and unless he takes a good sweat bath and passes a sun vow, I don’t think we’ll ever get to the meat of B.O., I just don’t get the sense of a completed or finished candidate in either of these two. America has been hyped again.

    I believe that we should start paying Chief executives a much higher wage that is currently offered and get some REAL talent in the running. This is ridiculous… hey… we should use the windfall tax to accomplish that!

    All that said and I still have to admit, that a bumbling president stays out of the citizens knickers…. they’re two busy fending off or trying to demonstrate their value. In that sense, perhaps we should elect more bumbling idiots or more fools lacking common sense… like the last two.

  • Clavos

    Someone ought to take offense to that statement, along with redneck… I mean, just to be equal and balanced.

    Neither are smart enough…

  • bliffle

    Archie is confused again: “Obama’s latest capaign promise is to take away profits from the oil companies and give that money to people he thinks should have it.”

    But a large part of the profits are from the 1998-99 oil leases in which an “oversight” (read: corruption) resulted in US taxpayers not getting royalties they are entitled to get. To the tune of $1.3billion this year and a projected overall cost (according to the GAO) of some $60billion.

    So it’s thieving from the thieves, as near as I can see.

    What does Archie think: that it’s OK for an oil company to steal from the USA but it’s not OK for the USA to steal back?

    Oh yeah, the guy who promoted that “oversight was Newt Gingrich.

    Rather like the famous “Enron loophole” that is largely responsible for the Enron fiasco as well as the subprime fiasco.

    Anyone smell corruption? If you do you better tell Archie because his smeller isn’t working.

  • Arch Conservative

    Entitled to….that phrase is a red flag and too casually bandied about by people claiming to be traditional Americans harboring the most nasty un-American ulterior motives. I don’t recall the constitution, declaration of independence or any of the other documents created by our founding fathers saying that we are “entitled to” most of the things modern day liberals say we are “entitled to.”

    First of all Barry said nothing of such an oversight in his explanation of how he was going to seize profits from private business. He merely pointed out that it was unacceptable that the oil companies are making record profits and he is going to take that profit and give it to others. Now I know it’s a feel good Robin Hood type concept for a politician to demonize a business that’s doing well and saying he’s going to take from them to give to American citizens. That sentiment is especially appealing at a time like this when so many are experiencing economic hardship. But is it right. What’s the difference between taking profits from big oil or a small business? it’s the same concept…the government arbitrarily cherry picking private businesses and saying hey you you’re making too much and we’re gonna take some of that. The logical extrapolation from that is that one day the government that does that may also decide to do that to the income of private citizens. Again Obama said absolutely nothing about any oversight.

    Second…can you please explain how the American public is “entitled to” royalties that are generated by the profit of oil companies or any other private business for that matter?

    Third…..The federal government, which does not spend one red cent bringing the oil/gas we consume to the marketplace, makes more of a profit through taxes on each gallon of gas purchased than the oil companies do. Yeah the oil companies are making record profits in the billions but they’re also spending billions each year in r & d, exploration, processing and all the other processes to get the product to market. The billions that oil companies are investing in their operations is something that people like you conveintly ignore when demonizing the oil companies. The average profit margin for an oil company is 9.7%. While this is decent I can point out countless examples of businesses in other industries not currently being demonized by the left which have much better profit margins.

    Given that all businesses pass any higher taxes that they must pay onto the customer in the price of their product.service I don’t understand the left’s obsession with raising taxes on oil companies. The effect would be that the oil companies would just gradually increase the price at the pump. Who is that helping?

    Until the anti-business fanatics on the left actually develop a rudimentary understanding of how businesses operate there can be no rational discussion of the situation. I won’t be holding my breath though.

    I guess I’ll just have to ignore the “11 billion dollars!!!!!….let’s get those corrupt oil companies….they’re stealing form us dude!”

  • Lee Richards

    “…a rudimentary understanding of how businesses operate…”:

    Some businesses innovate, R&D, share profits, produce quality products at reasonable prices, value employees, compete fairly for markets, are environment-friendly, practice corporate oversight, and look to the future responsibly.

    Some businesses lie, cheat, and steal, gouge customers, pay off politicians, screw employees, pollute, corrupt the marketplace, destroy communities, and will do anything to anybody for a dollar right now.

    Sometimes it seems the pro-business fanatics on the right don’t have a rudimentary grasp of any differences in business models.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Lee,

    We agree. However, I wonder whether you might consider amending your last paragraph to include those on the left as well. I really think you should consider it.

    Dan

  • Lee Richards

    Dan, thanks.

    I was writing in response to the claim by an earlier commenter that “anti-business fanatics on the left” don’t have a rudimentary understanding of how businesses operate, without any differentiation or discernment on his part.

    So, I really don’t understand what you’re suggesting I do to amend my comments.

    I’m certainly to the left of Arch, but am no anti-business fanatic as he seems to feel such as I must be, because I perceive some things to be true that he conveniently sweeps away by applying labels such as “fanatic” and “irrational” to those who differ.

    A large percentage of my annual income is from stock investments in businesses; I’m a confirmed capitalist who nevertheless doesn’t think all business is sainted, and all who examine and question it, ignorant fanatics.

  • bliffle

    The oil companies are NOT private business. They are so entangled in the publics business through subsidies, tax benefits,and indirect subsidies that Archie can no longer claim that the public is trying to “…seize profits from private business.”

    It is upon the initiative of the oil companies that we have arrived at the point where oil companies are no longer independent operators. The oil companies are now joint operations between the private and public sides of the economy.

    So, if it’s fair for the oil companies to wriggle out of royalties they are contractually obligated to the Federal government for, then it is fair for the public to lay some obligations back on the oil companies.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Well, Bliffle. Let’s take away the subsidies, cut back on the regulations, cut the oil companies loose to do business on their own merits, and see how things go.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    If I were an oil company CEO, I would be willing to do what Dave suggests, but only in exchange for the quid pro quo that the government would stay the hell out of my way and out of the oil business altogether, including keeping its hands off my profits, except for the normal rates of taxation charged all businesses on their profits.

    BTW, Exxon (or rather, we, its customers) paid $66 billion in taxes last year.

  • Clavos

    Forgot one important point: The government would also have to get out of the business of prohibiting offshore drilling outside the three mile territorial US waters limit, and on all land not directly owned by the government.

  • Clavos

    Correction to #29: US territorial waters claimed limit is 12 miles (extended by Reagan), but since the limit for dumping sewage is only three miles, and since the concern about offshore oil drilling is in reference to potential pollution, I used the closer limit.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    One of the initial reasons for government intervention in private business – mainly large industry – was the abuse of its employees and the production of products which proved to be dangerous and/or poorly designed and built, often inadequate to the task for which they were designed.

    The notion that the market place would ultimately force industries to correct these abuses and failures has repeatedly proven false.

    Left to its own devices private industry would quickly move away from established standards for the well being and protections of its work force and revert to cutting corners in production leading to the aforementioned dangerous or inadequately performing products.

    Government oversight may in some instances be excessive, but without it, life would be far more precarious and as much crap – outright junk – as there is out here in the market place, it would likely be far worse than it is.

    I was interested to see Clav’s contention that government is, in its very conception, evil curious. Perhaps the need for government is unfortunate owing to the inability of humans to behave. But, beyond that the “evils” of government are a product of the measure of our interpersonal failures. The penchant for industry to fail its employees and its customers in the name of the bottom line renders the need for something or someone to provide protections that industry is not willing to enforce on itself.

    B

  • http://blogcritics.org/writer/dan_miller Dan Miller

    Lee,

    Re Comment #25. Here is my suggestion.

    Sometimes it seems the pro-business fanatics on the right and the anti-business fanatics on the left don’t have a rudimentary grasp of any differences in business models.

    My suggested amendment is in bold face type. There are plenty of rightist pro- and leftist anti- business folks around, and my perception is that due to ideological fantasies, neither group has a realistic grasp of how business actually works.

    Dan

  • bliffle

    It is the oil companies that initiated the intermingling of public and private affairs by bribing and suborning public officials, rather flagrantly, going back over a hundred years. Don’t you guys remember Rockefeller, Standard Oil, you know, the whole gang of thieves? Remember the oil trusts?

    All of that interference and domination of the government by oil companies was begun long before any of the taxes and business constraints that we have in the modern era were even thought of.

    It was the oil companies that started the intermingling of public and private affairs in order to dominate the public while pursuing their private interests.

    And they had their way, bribing government officials and judges, hiring hoodlums to beat up employees, journalists, etc., forming combines and monopolies to destroy competitors and extort their customers.

    The oil companies have used their government influence to crush competitive fuels throughout their history. They’re still doing it. They used their government power to crush competitive technologies that developed in the 70s after the OPEC embargo.

    They’ve consistently used government power to suppress improved gas mileage for cars, wind energy, solar energy, etc.

    If the oil companies need a trillion dollar war in the mideast to defend their oil interests they simply call upon their toadies Bush and Cheney, oilmen of note, to tell appropriate lies to the public and send in the army.

    Actually, the oil companies are one of the most prominent examples of corporate welfare and business socialism in the world. They are in no way functionally different from the most vicious operations under the soviet communists.

    And they have the same effects: concentrating power in a few, crushing innovation, destroying small competitors, extorting unreasonable prices from customers.

    If the oil companies had to give up their control over governments and really compete they would fail.

  • Clavos

    If the oil companies had to give up their control over governments and really compete they would fail.

    Now there’s a preposterous statement.

    Even you could make a fortune selling oil in today’s market…

  • bliffle

    If oil companies could effectively compete then why would they suborn government officials? Why would they send Abdullah to hold Bushes hand to make sure he gets his marching orders right?

    If it weren’t for oil company power over the US government they would have been out-competed in the 70s and 80s after alternative energy was developed and deployed by US technolgy.

    Instead, it was easier to tell Reagan to take the solar panels off the Whitehouse.

  • Clavos

    If oil companies could effectively compete then why would they suborn government officials?

    Because they are subornable.

    The opprobrium belongs to the crooked government hacks, not the oil companies; they’re merely exploiting an opportunity made available to them.

    The US federal government puts even the Mexican government to shame in the size and scope of its corruption.

  • Cannonshop

    I believe you hit it square, there, Clavos, though I’d contend that American Pols at least have enough residual shame to try and conceal it in “Campaign Finance” laws designed to shut out people with too little money, and the backhanders by writing regulatory statutes that insure that only the largest, most internationalized, entities can compete.

    Big, Idealistic regulations help Big Business by creating a monopoly or limited-monopoly situation where the biggest outfits can charge what the market will bear without fear of having to compete. During the nineties, antitrust regulators obsessed on Microsoft while Oil and gas companies merged into super-multinationals only answerable to OPEC.

    this process is ABETTED by things like the Kyoto carbon-trading scheme (WHich, mechanically, looks a lot like EnRON on a larger scale, only nobody involved in THAT is going to face trials or jail-time when, not if, the corruption comes to light) a scheme unlikely to do either of its stated goals, but very likely to result in ripping off BILLIONS of people, instead of thousands or millions.

    Concentrate Power, you will attract the Corrupt.

  • http://www.indyboomer46.blogspot.com Baritone

    How does one excuse the flagrant opportunism of one party while judging another for the same? What’s good for the goose…

    B

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    Baritone, you skate right by the secret truth which Bliffle is missing.

    If the oil companies are buying off politicians, they can buy Democrats just as easily as Republicans. They’re for sale too.

    If you think that Democrat policies can save us from the oil companies, then you are operating from the assumption that the oil companies influence is NOT in fact as pervasive as some here have suggested.

    And the truth is that most of what bliffle has spouted here is rumor and alarmism and has very little basis in fact. The oil companies are no worse and no more corrupting than any other interests. They also aren’t as single minded as people suggest. Most of them have evolved beyond just being oil companies to being energy companies. They’re the leading producers of solar panels and of most alternative fuels. Exxon is the number one producer of geothermal power. They just aren’t the bad guys they’re made out to be.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Clavos: “Because they are subornable.”. Copout!

  • Clavos

    Clavos: “Because they are subornable.”. Copout!

    Not at all. If the people know that their government is corruptible and corrupted, they will take advantage of that fact.

    And the US government is as corrupt as any in the world, and has been for most of the past fifty years. Read the newspapers.

  • Pablo

    Clavy,

    Thank you for substantiating the fact that those in power are criminals, I love hearing it come from the horses mouth. :)

  • Cannonshop

    the question is not “Who is corrupt” because the answer is “They all are”. Democrats AND Republicans. and it’s been that way a lot longer than fifty years. (teapot dome anyone? how ’bout the Sherman Antitrust act? anyone remember a little ring often referred to as Tammany Hall?)

    The question is more “Who’s paying them off with enough cash to retain some, if not most, of their actual loyalty?”

    Pick two: Money, Ideology, Conscience, or Ego. each in its turn can be used to corrupt. The worst of the two are Conscience and Ideology-an Idealogue is that Puritan that’ll burn witches, and then burn MOOORE witches, and feel absolutely free of guilt, because he’s doing “God’s Work”-and that feeling is just as powerful if he’s an Atheist making a “Better World NOW”, or “Saving you all from yourselves”. The Ideologue is marked by his sincerity, and his belief that his cause is most just, most righteous, and that his opponents are not just opponents, they are EVIL, STUPID, and (yup) CORRUPT, that they must be PURGED… In modern terms, these are the Fallwellites, the Pat Robertsons. On the left, they’re the Pelosis, the Schumers, and the Chavez/Castro believers. They’re also the guys most likely to push regulations using bunked science “Just in case it’s right, but you all should be doing it anyway.” at the Extremes, you get your “EARTH FIRST”, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and various shade and stripe of neo-nazi. Ideologues will adjust data to fit their hypothesis, instead of adapting their hypothesis to fit the data.

    A guilty man will project his faults on others and, to make himself feel morally superior, indulge his worst paranoias. People with the Guilts often say one thing, but have done or will do the opposite.
    Examples here: T-Boone Pickens, George Soros, and John Kerry (but not for what he says he’s got the guilts for), possibly Hillary Clinton, definitely a certain republican who went looking for anonymous sex in a men’s bathroom (can’t recall his name) and Pat “I’ve Sinned” Robertson.

    I’m torn as to whether Algore is more Ideologue or Guilt-ridden, given that he’s preaching to impose a spartan lifestyle on others, while burning as much energy as a small town all by his lonesome.

    The toxic portion of both types is that they project “Sincerity” so completely that it bypasses a lot of people’s “Bullshit” filter, garnering them support that the Money-corrupted or the Ego-Corrupted really can’t match-after all “His heart’s in the right place and he says things I want to agree with” is really, really, effective in a culture where logic is disencouraged in favour of self-esteem not only in entertainment, but also in the schools.

  • Clavos

    Pablo,

    Thank you for substantiating the fact that those in power are criminals…

    I didn’t say that; I said the government is corrupt. “The government” includes the non-elected and not necessarily powerful people working in it, as well as the pols.

    These days, a substantial number of even such little people as beat cops on the street, or clerks in Social Security and the DMV, are corrupt.

  • Pablo

    Clavy,

    As the saying goes bubba, the buck stope here. Corruption is criminal, and it starts at the top and works its way down, you know that Clavy. Cmon.

  • Clavos

    You’re still missing it.

    My point is that the very essence of government, any government, is corruption. Even honest people are corrupted by it when they become a part of it, as either elected or career workers.

    The corruption doesn’t come from the top down; it’s inherent in the organization.

  • Doug Hunter

    “The corruption doesn’t come from the top down; it’s inherent in the organization.”

    Yes, whether it’s the DMV clerk ushering her son-in-law to the front of the queue, or the mid level employee using his pull to get the the son-in-law the cush job, or the state official slashing red tape ahead of his developer son-in-laws building projects, or the high powered congressman handing out hundred million dollar contracts to his son-in-law’s company the corruption is always the same.

    The root of corruption is the human instinct to favor friends and family over strangers. This is not so much inherent in the system as it is inherent in humanity itself.

  • Clavos

    Point taken, Doug, although I think the nature of government lends itself to bring out the worst in human nature, as well.

  • Clavos

    Doug,

    An important corruption-breeding element of the organization of our government is the lack of accountability enjoyed by the bureaucrats. Government workers are nearly impossible to fire, so their supervisors don’t bother to hold them accountable.

    Thus, government jobs become lifetime sinecures, with lots of unintended perquisites, such as the nepotism you mention.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    I’m not sure that corruption is inherently criminal. There are plenty of corrupt acts which may not, in fact, be illegal. The law does allow a certain amount of latitude in personal corruption, even for government employees.

    Dave

  • bliffle

    Companies are corrupt to the same degree as agencies.

    They are both administered by mere people and people are susceptible to corruption.

  • Cannonshop

    As you concentrate power, Blittle, you concentrate and amplify Corruption. Power attracts the Corrupt, and Power Corrupts. One of the most obvious reasons for “Terms” that aren’t “Lifetime” in the Legislative and Executive branch, was that the founders understood this-this is also WHY there were attempts at checks-and-balances that would prevent any single grouping within government (hypothetically-it didn’t actually work as well as intended) from accumulating too much power-it’s why a serving Military Officer can’t hold Political Office, for instance, and why some of the founders intended to prevent officers-of-the-court from holding posts outside the Judiciary (this idea was, incidentally, killed in debate. Hamilton was, after all, a Lawyer.)

    The Corrupt want power, and Power tends to Corrupt those that are given it-whether it’s Janie at the DMV/Welfare Office/Licensing Bureau, or Senator Jonny Doe, or the President Hisowndamnself, the excercise of power is corruptive-look at how many non-millionaires, once elected to high office, have turned into multimillionaires in a short time, how many Congresscritters not only can’t balance the Nation’s books (part of their job description), but can’t even handle their OWN checkbooks without kiting bad cheques (House Bank scandal, House Post-office scandal, etc), The arrogance of power is seriously corruptive. (anyone involved in ’94 at the grass-roots level can testify to that-once in power, the reasons for that election were as forgotten by the GOP as they were by the Democrats-carrying it through would have gored too many oxen, ground up too much sacred beef.)

    But Corruption is, thanks to our system, entirely the fault of the Public at Large-unlike a dedicated Oligarchy or Tyranny, the PEOPLE are, in the end, responsible for the Leaders they entrust with authority-shirking that responsibility (like shirking Jury duty and cheating on taxes) has become ingrained with the majority. Most people don’t want the responsibility that comes with Liberties, and the ones that do just don’t have the numbers to make it stick. The Patriot Act’s renewal in a DEMOCRATICALLY CONTROLLED Congress demonstrates this rather well- it’s a writ-of-imperium and we’re fortunate that the guy in the white-house doesn’t have the imagination to use it to the full extent of powers granted or we wouldn’t even be HAVING elections this year.

    Historically, such a writ of imperium is the big signal that a Republic really IS turning into an Empire. You should be rather relieved that Shrub is “Money corrupt” instead of “Ideology” Corrupt, “Ego” corrupt, or “Guilt Complex” corrupt. any one of those three, and a “Patriot Act” becomes the end of the Republic entirely- Money-Corrupt usually have limits to what they’re willing to do, Ideologues with an axe to grind, Egotists, and “Conscience” men will do anything, violate any scruple, perform any fraud, and employ any level of force, to force the Nation to bend to their vision of a “better future”.