Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Quid Pro Quo

To understand what is at the heart of the Washington lobbying scandal you don't even need to know Latin to discern the meaning of "Quid Pro Quo." Quid is English slang for what used to be the British Pound Sterling, as in, "Hey mate, how 'bout half a quid for an old soldier?" Pro is who you give the quid to in Washington in order to spread it around to all the crooked legislators willing to accept cash to vote a certain way, as in, "that Jack Abramoff is a real Pro at stealing from the Native Americans." The quo is a little more difficult to understand. We're still looking for the "quo" because it's hard to prove whether a Congressman is stealing or if he just votes that way anyway. "Quo" could be the quorum you need to pass earmarks and pork barrel projects. Or it could be the mathematical quotient to figure which Congressman, plus how much laundered cash, equals a vote. Or it could reference the novel, "Quo Vadis," in which Nero fiddles while Rome burns. If whatever is on the wire that former Representative "Duke" Cunningham was wearing for the FBI can prove which other representatives gave up the "quo," there's going to be hell to pay.

I understand that Democrats are implicated in this potential bribery scandal as well as Republicans. Just not as many. Because only the Republicans could self immolate in such a spectacular way. They have control of both houses of Congress, the executive branch, and the judiciary, including the Supreme Court, and they turn it into a food fight. This is positive proof about absolute power corrupting absolutely. Here they were with no one to monitor their bad behavior, intoxicated with the perks of office, and puffed up with power. They put their wives and their staffers on the lobbyist's teat with no qualms at all. They took and took until there was no more to take and then they started devouring each other like cannibals. Wave some cash around and the vaunted Republican discipline comes tumbling down and it's every man for himself. They are reminiscent of the ruthless, shipwrecked schoolboys in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies" who reward the strong and punish the weak. And if you recall the mid-sixties, black and white film of that novel, Karl Rove looks exactly like "Piggy." You can almost hear them screaming, "kill the pig," bash it's head." Only the Republicans self destruct in this way. Ask John Dean or Ollie North.

It's good for the party that was elected by promising to protect our "morals and values" to show themselves as so utterly valueless. It helps to keep in mind between election cycles that we vote for individuals to represent us and not some monolithic party philosophy. If someone is elected because they tow the party line, then you can expect them to behave like the party leadership. And Tom DeLay still doesn't know what he did wrong. He thinks all those rounds of golf are his reward for putting his friends in positions of power in Texas while serving as the Majority Leader in Washington.

And this cash cow that once was Jack Abramoff has been turned into a pinata at a children's party. Everyone is trying to throw away the goodies he gave out to children's charities as if that will cleanse the giver. It's great to have a second Christmas in January, especially since the one in December had a war waged upon it, but it won't protect all the little cash receiving elves, or Santa Claus either, from investigations of bribery and special favors. Instead of "quid pro quo," these dirty legislators should consider another Latin phrase; "ex post facto." Giving their ill gotten gains to charity after the fact will not help anything but their mortal souls and the charity of choice.

There is nothing more to do but wait and watch. Abramoff, who likes to quote "The Godfather," ends up like Sammy the Bull, first facilitating and then ratting out his mentors. This will be great entertainment, except for there's a war going on and the distraction could prolong it. But it's necessary to root out the corrupt and contemptible members of the Republican juggernaught before the mid-term elections in order to sod the political ground for new leadership. Peter Clemenza said, "You need to have a war every ten years or so to get rid of all the bad blood." If this bribery/lobbying scandal can be used as a stepping stone in replacing the Republican majorities in Congress, then the legislative branch can begin some real investigations into the Bush doctrine of preemption and whether this administration intentionally misled this nation into war. Perhaps then we may see the return of checks and balances, and not the bankbook kind that this Congress is obsessed with.
With a few honest legislators leading some genuine reforms, this administration may see a little "quid pro quo" of it's own.


Anonymous said...

This is the best yet.Power to the Hippies!! Choppy

Anonymous said...

Randy, you are a brilliant writer and a testimony to the quality of education that was available in the low-tech old days with its pitifully underpaid, but effective teachers. I have little faith in politics, though I watch the process from a distance. As Leary urged, I have'dropped out'. There are better things to turn on and tune in to. Like Thoreau, I advocate each person to be the leader of a cult of one...create your own world. You'll like it better than the one that the politicians live in and you'll occasionally meet more interesting and authentic people. The crowd is always wrong...Flower Child

Rocky said...

RJ---Your fourish is like that of the great bull fighter gently pulling his cape as the bull, phlegm dripping from its overgrown nose and sweat pouring off of its out of proportion mass, flails past never even close to striking its target. You are the target, poet.....and the bull so much the giant stumbling stupidity of the abuse of power. I love watching you. My favorite part is the moan from the bull as you thrust with a few of those remarkably sharp phrases. Slice em into steaks, Randolph. We'll feed them to the sharks.

Anonymous said...

It's time for you to get a new radio show: a TALK radio show.

Please check into it. IIRC a person can bid for time and recoup and even turn a profit with spots.

At least a podcast is in order, with interviews.

It's time to mobilize again; and I note we have a new rallying point....

Anonymous said...

Diana said....
Well, we don't even have to just look at Washington for corruption. Unfortunately, and I'm president of the Shelby County Democratic Women's Club (wowee...) we have some corrupt politicians right here in Memphis and they took cash for votes, and THEY were Democrats, or at least they were alleged to have done this. And what's with Herenton calling himself a Democrat and not even mowing the medians when he gets pissed off at the City Council? Corruuption and politicians are a redundancy to use in the same breath. You have to look carefully for the good ones. Like a needle in a haystack.

Alan said...

It is both parties. Do you know that the top lobbyist for the Airline Industry is the wife of Tom Daschle. She was this during Daschle's terms as Senate Majority and Minority leader. I am sure she is qualified for this position and it had nothing to do with her husband! I had the fortune or misfortune to work with our trade assosciation's lobbyist for about 8 years. We had both a Democratic and Republican Lobbyist on staff. Our Democratic Lobbyist spent a lot more money lobbying than our Republican Lobbyist. Both are equally corrupt and nothing will change as long as politics is a career and not public service.

TotallyFixed said...

I like your Pinata reference.

I used it myself in my article "Whacking the Pinata: A Citizen's Response to Bush's Escalation Speech".

Read for yourself if you're interested.

From one hippie to another, keep up the good work.

Be well,

David Caputo