Danielle Brian on Legalized Corruption

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Credit: Dale Robbins
Forget about the Machiavellian drama that plays out in the hit series The House of Cards, if you really want to be educated (or frightened) about what goes on in the nation’s capital, just let everything you read in Mike Lofgren’s essay sink in.

We don’t need fictional Frank Underwoods to tell us that Washington is rotten at its core. That’s because, as is often the case, the truth is much scarier than fiction.

With the skill of a prosecutor, Lofgren shines a light on the secret web of influence-peddling that spreads far and wide beneath the surface of our democracy.

The really creepy part is that a lot of this corruption (the revolving doors, lobbying activities and campaign contributions, for instance) is legal.

The ideological gridlock that grips Congress might make you angry. But as Lofgren points in his professorial manner, what should really get your blood pumping are the strings being pulled by the real decision makers: the executives on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in the military-intelligence industrial complex surrounding the Beltway.

The really creepy part is that a lot of this corruption (the revolving doors, lobbying activities and campaign contributions, for instance) is legal. Mull that over: We’ve passed laws allowing the “Deep State” to not only exist, but also to flourish.

Watch: Sheila Krumholz and Danielle Brian on How Money Rules Washington

For many of the 300-plus million people who live outside of the Beltway, their view of Washington is likely colored by the endless bickering between our political leaders.

Sadly, focusing on the sound bites and talking points conveniently distracts us from focusing on the biggest threat to our democracy and civil liberties — the Deep State and all its terrible tentacles.

Danielle Brian is the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), a nonpartisan independent watchdog group that works to ensure a more effective, accountable and transparent government. Brian frequently testifies before Congress, and meets regularly with legislators, White House officials and federal agencies to encourage a more open and ethical government. government.
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  • Gill Hummel

    I have spent the last 18 years sailing around the world and lived in many countries…I think we all have to take a world view.The British spread a legal Industry not a legal system!! Until we the people of the world have a real legal system nothing will change..The turmoil in every place I have been is .manufactured through the use of this system. Undrstand its foundation adversarial!!!!

  • Mary Arnold
  • Anonymous

    “We” didn’t pass these laws, the ethically rotted congress did. Given their horrendously low approval rating, I would think Ms. Brian would’ve/should’ve noticed the public is not “distracted” with the Washington theatrics.

  • user xyyyz

    meet the unelected rulers of America….

  • MartyBob47

    I wonder, as I wander … howcome I can’t seem to get to the link to Mike Lofgren’s essay – even after I verified my email address? Perhaps the corruption is spreading … But I digress. The article from Bill Moyers will suffice … for now.

  • moderator

    Checking on it now. Thanks!

    Sean @ Moyers

  • MartyBob47

    Hi – I was able to access the Lofgren essay. Thanks!! MRF

  • http://nomoredst.blogspot.com Henry Hertz Hobbit

    Mike Lofgren, welcome to the Unaffilated club.

    “‘Humans are mighty spiritual beings. All they need to realize is that love is treating others the way they themselves want to be treated.’” This was conveyed by the Thirteenth Being of Light to Dannion Brinkley. You can read about it in Saved By the Light.

    It is behavior like this observed by Mike Lofgren that is going in the opposite direction of where we need to go.. It is so bad at the FBI that a born again agnostic I know declared what the FBI does is “Satanic as hell!” shaking madly as he said it. That was thirty years ago. Where does it all end if we keep going the same way we have been going? Armageddon.

  • Anonymous

    Funny you should bring that up, yes, media is dropping the ball on “what they’re doing”, I suspect mega-corp masters reign in any investigative stories, too revealing, and anything to save a buck.
    You are genericizing the problem and the response. “We” don’t continuously send the same people to congress, some states do. For the first time in recent history, everyone agrees that not only is congress a problem, so is their own congressional representatives.
    I see absolutely no qualifications for running for office, it’s a popularity contest, based to who is most compelling and/or believable. And credentials aren’t the problem, integrity is.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly correct. The simplest solution is CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM. This would protect our government offices from being filled with bag men for any rich money power and restore our government. It is the only solution to put real lawmakers in power again.

  • jofa407

    Who’s to be held accountable and how will justice ever be served when those guilty of corruption hold power?

  • Anonymous

    I’d prefer pitch forks and torches!

  • Anonymous

    The lobbyists are exactly what has allowed the CAI to keep legislators at bay and voting for laws that make the lives of homeowners in HOAs miserable. They have made sure any law that gives the homeowners rights has been shot down. Finally, we are starting to see the tides turn just a tiny bit on that front. Still their are now 350,000 HOAs in America. 1 in 5 people live inside of one. There is no oversight over them or the property managers that conveniently step in at a very high price to run them. If Americans don’t wake up and put a stop to this insanity we are going to have a housing crisis like no other. Why? Because people are so fed up they are moving out and letting the banks and mortgage companies take the properties back. If you live in an HOA or know somebody who does….or thinking of buying in one or a condo association don’t miss checking out this website and book first. I’m not trying to sell anything, I’m simply offering a location for priceless information. http://www.neighborsatwar dot com

  • Anonymous

    From all observations, it seems the person you are describing that we need running this country is Trey Gowdy. And I agree, he’s the one that can/will get this country back on track but Obama has run it so far in the ditch it’s not going to happen overnight. It’s a long hard road back from this mess we are now in.

  • Anonymous

    Well said, Matt T. If the citizens of the United States started paying attention this would not be going on. It’s because nobody is watching that we have gotten into this mess. Stop 100 people on the street five blocks from you house and ask them who they Representative and Senators are in the State. Now, ask them who they are in Congress. Ask the who the Governor of their state is. You’ll find people that haven’t got a clue. They can tell you everything going on with a reality show but have no clue who is making decisions on their behalf in the government.

    And some listen to what the media says and they are still convinced that Obama is a great president and all the problems he’s having were caused by Bush. Insane. He was never qualified to be the POTUS and that’s the whole truth in a nutshell. It has absolutely nothing to do with the color of his skin, but the media wants to keep pushing that button. Probably because it’s the one that keeps the America people divided.

  • Christopher Michael Ripple

    HOAs are a travesty and fly against all American ideals of freedom. They have strength almost impossible to go against. I happens to have a home in Galveston under a piss poor hoa called CKM…. We have tried to get rid of them on several occasions and they use our money against us, even increase rates to pay their lawyer expenses! We had a lawyer, a Texas A&M professor, and many other intelligent people but could not get them out. We are not the only one with just this company either, all neighborhoods under these asses hate them and want them out. I am so glad Democracy works so well!

  • Christopher Michael Ripple

    But another to your point, with the massive most highly regarded surveillance state we have become, it seems a little like how J Edgar abused what he collected, but on a much worse, scarier scale…. One none of the parties nor companies involved need access to, it could mean eternal serfdom

  • woodguy11

    What would you suggest? Voting doesn’t seem to do the job. So to me the only way to fix it is from the outside

  • Anonymous

    Christopher, I feel your pain. HOA members all across America are suffering, not just a few, massive numbers of people. The CAI has written bills that legislators have passed not understanding what they are signing the homeowners up for. Now, after 50 years of HOAs….we have gone from a few to 350,000 of these nightmare communities with 1 in 5 Americans living inside of one. People have become violent and killed board members, foreclosures have caused people to be homeless over total nonsense because of the non-judicial foreclosures, and your home and bank account are held hostage in every way possible. Nobody made it clear to buyers that you are signing away your US Constitutional Rights, becoming business partners in a non-profit corporation with all of your neighbors, and putting your financial well-being up for grabs in the event the board takes out loans, gets involved in lawsuits that have massive settlements (Trayvon Martin’s parents sued the HOA in Florida and we given over one million dollars) and any other crazy thing you HOA does you are personally guaranteeing the expense of it all. It’s just crazy. And yes, they use your dues to pay for attorneys to sue you…or your neighbor who paints their front door one shade off color. I hope you will check out the website http://www.neighborsatwar dot com and join us on the Facebook page: Neighbors At War. Hopefully, you will learn enough from the HOA experts to get yourself out of the mess in Texas. I have a feeling Associa just might be involved in your case and it’s owned by your ex-Senator Carona. Best of luck. Join us and let’s see if we can put you in a more powerful position. Knowledge gives you power and it costs not one penny to learn from those who have walked in your shoes. We are gladly willing to share what has taken thousands and thousands of hours and years to learn. Not to mention massive amounts of money we’ve spent on legal fees. Thank you for writing about your HOA nightmare.