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Posts Tagged ‘Throw Them All Out’

Mr. Smith Goes to the Same Old Washington to Throw Them All Out

Posted by Adrienne Ross on December 20, 2011

By Adrienne Ross – http://www.motivationtruth.com

In America By Heart, Governor Palin retells the story of the classic movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. I ran across that account again recently when doing research for my review of Peter Schweizer’s Throw Them All Out. Her second book is filled with substantive, complicated issues, including our Founders, the Constitution, American exceptionalism, common sense conservatism, feminism, family, and faith, among other important topics. Nonethless, in the midst of all these issues of incredible import to our culture as Americans, it is most notable that she would begin this book with a synopsis of a Hollywood movie.

The Governor writes on page 2:

In case you’ve forgotten, Mr. Smith is about an American Everyman, Jefferson Smith, who goes to Washington to fill the Senate seat of a corrupt senator who died in office. The political machine chooses Smith because he is an ordinary man, a nonpolitician, and they think they can control him. But he holds fast to his ideals–the ideals of the American founding–and eventually defeats the machine. The movie was made in 1939, but its message is timeless: there may be corruption in politics, but it can be overcome by decent men and women who honor America’s founding principles, the way the American people do.

[…]

Jefferson Smith loves the words of the Declaration of Independence, not because he’s mindlessly pro-American, but because, as he says, “behind them, they…have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little lookin’ out for the other fella, too.” He understands that those words are a gift, not just to Americans, but to all humanity. But that gift is being corrupted by special interests and forgotten by Washington.

[…]

Americans love Mr. Smith Goes to Washington because it’s about an ordinary man who stands up to power and says, We’re taking our country back.

Having never seen the movie, her words, combined with Schweizer’s book, which uncovers the corruption so prevalent in Washington today, sparked a desire to see it for the first time, and so I did. It could have easily been a book set in 2011. The graft we see today in Congress–the so-called honest graft that Governor Palin has been highlighting and railing against recently–was as real and tangible at that time as it is today. Corruption is nothing new, and it’s not confined to one particular side of the aisle.

On page 261 of America By Heart, the Governor writes:

There’s plenty of blame to go around for how we got here. Americans know in their hearts that both political parties are at fault. Both parties contributed to the overspending and government growth that is robbing our children of their future. Worst of all, both parties are part of the Washington culture of entitlement. This is the corrupt mind-set that has members of Congress writing tax laws for the rest of us, but failing to pay their own taxes, and crooked legislators being caught with their fingers in the till, refusing to live by the same laws and standards as the people who pay their salaries.

For those who know the movie, Mr. Smith, played by James Stewart, managed to win a battle on the floor of the Senate; however, the battle for ethics in government continues to this day. If it were just a movie showing good triumphing over evil, that would be inspirational, but knowing the movie is just as relevant over 70 years later makes it a resounding call to action, and makes it all the more clear why Governor Palin is committed to helping usher in the “sudden and relentless reform” for all of America that she helped bring to Alaska.

To summarize, Jefferson Smith writes a bill for a government loan to build a national boys’ camp. The loan will be paid back through donations, and is highly popular. The problem is his plan steps on the graft scheme of corrupt politicians, which he soon discovers. He quickly becomes the enemy of what they assumed would be an easy opportunity to line their own pockets, and they will stop at nothing to remove this threat and destroy his credibility. He responds:

Mr. President, I stand guilty as framed because section 40 is graft! And I was ready to say so. I was ready to tell you that a certain man in my state, a Mr. James Taylor, wanted to put through this dam for his own profit, a man who controls a political machine, and controls everything else worth controlling in my state. Yes, and a man even powerful enough to control Congressmen–and I saw three of them in his room the day I went up to see him.

Though not the same scenario, the scheme in Jefferson Smith’s day to capitalize personally off land brings to mind what Peter Schweizer discusses in his chapter, “This Land is My Land.” He writes on pages 54-55:

Members of Congress have used federal earmarks to enhance the value of their own real estate holdings in several ways: by extending a light rail mass transit line near their property, by expanding an airport, or by cleaning up a nearby shoreline. Federal funds have been used to build roads, beautify land, and upgrade neighborhoods near commercial and residential real estate owned by legislators, substantially increasing values and the net worth of elected officials, courtesy of taxpayer money. Not only is this legal–by the bizarre standards of the Permanent Political Class–it’s also deemed “ethical.”

He names Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Bennie Thompson, Senator Charles Schumer, and (then) Senator Hillary Clinton, among many others, who have used earmarks to profit personally, and on pages 68-69, he writes:

Leveraging your power for a land deal is one of the best paths to honest graft.

[…]

But there can be little doubt that the political class is the only group of people in America who can get away with using taxpayer money to increase the value of their real estate, while declaring they are doing it in the public’s interest.

Again, different set of circumstances, but definitely the same spirit.

Even in 1939, the media played a large role in setting the narrative against the anti-establishment. Jefferson Smith’s good name was smeared through the help of the lamestream media, though, of course, that term wasn’t used. The media refused to report the truth or simply made things up. To boot, efforts to spread the truth by his young supporters resulted in vicious attacks upon the children. It sounds all too familiar, doesn’t it?

Mr. Smith went to Washington to make a difference, but the people weren’t ready for the “sudden and relentless reform” he embraced. They deemed him unsophisticated, unqualified, and unimpressive. No doubt, he would have embraced the words Governor Palin so passionately spoke during her RNC speech:

I’m not going to Washington to seek their good opinion. I’m going to Washington to serve the people of this country. Americans expect us to go to Washington for the right reasons, and not just to mingle with the right people.

The same need exists in 2011. Crony capitalism, insider stock tips, land deals, and corruption of every kind must continue to be highlighted, and it needs to be stopped in its tracks.

America needs more people like Jefferson Smith, in whatever capacity they chose to effectively lead, who are willing to lay themselves down, to spend themselves, to be the voice crying in the wilderness–not for personal aggrandizement, but for a pure respect for what’s right. America needs more people like Mr. Smith who love the history of our country, who stare in awe at the Capitol Dome every time they see it, and who feel like ants when standing before the Lincoln Monument. In other words, America needs more people who choose to operate from a servant’s heart. In addition, America needs more people like Mr. Smith who, when faced with a threat to American decency and truth, aren’t afraid to call it like they see it, take on the establishment, and fight to the end to make sure corruption and greed don’t succeed in destroying the future we desire for our progeny.

Now that I have read Throw Them All Out and watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, I’m not at all surprised that Governor Palin has asked us all to read the book and has named the film one of her favorites. Together, they shine a light on the ongoing battle for the moral, fiscal, and constitutional soul of America. It will, no doubt, be a tough challenge, but it’s one that’s worth it. The Governor is much like Mr. Smith in many ways, and like him, she loves this country, our history, and our potential–and she has given more than most to preserve its greatness for those yet to be born.

As Jefferson Smith states:

I want to make that come to life for every boy in this land. Yes, and all lighted up like that, too! You see, you see, boys forget what their country means by just reading “the land of the free” in history books. And they get to be men – they forget even more. Liberty’s too precious a thing to be buried in books, Miss Saunders. Men should hold it up in front of them every single day of their lives and say, “I’m free to think and to speak. My ancestors couldn’t. I can. And my children will.” Boys [and girls] want to grow up remembering that.

(Cross-posted at MotivationTruth)

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Outing and Throwing Out the Permanent Political Class

Posted by Adrienne Ross on December 14, 2011

By Adrienne Ross – http://www.motivationtruth.com

People are often drawn to others who share the same values, interests, and passion–often referred to metaphorically as a fire in the belly. I am not surprised, therefore, that Governor Palin employs Peter Schweizer as her foreign-policy adviser. His commitment to exposing corruption in government mirrors her own. She, of course, determined years ago that something must be done about it. She took action, even to her own detriment, stating often, “In politics, you’re either eating well or sleeping well.” She continues to choose a good night’s sleep–and apparently so does Peter Schweizer. His new book, Throw Them All Out, outs corruption in Congress that ought to outrage every honest American.

Having just finished the book myself, I encourage everyone to do what Governor Palin asked of us: read the book. On every page, I was doing exactly what Governor Palin is doing in this video from 15:17 – 15:24 as Eric Bolling discusses the issue with her. The unethical behavior these politicians so arrogantly engage in leaves one shaking her head–again and again. I do not consider myself naive, certainly not a utopianist. Nor do I believe that to be the case for most of my fellow Americans, as evidenced by Congress’s dismal (dis)approval rating. However, I was indeed both shocked and appalled as I read. I do expect more from our elected officials. The insider trading and crony capitalism running rampant highlights the key word in the title: they all need to go. There’s a stench emanating from Washington, and it’s not confined to any particular side of the aisle. The Permanent Political Class is not partisan, just pathetic.

Throw Them All Out will educate and irritate, fascinate and frustrate, enlighten and yes, frighten. The idea that those who hoist themselves as representatives of the American people are more committed to enriching themselves than to exemplifying ethical behavior is disheartening at best. Schweizer takes no prisoners, withholds no names, and throws these people under the bus–where they belong.

He is careful to state that the insider trading they participate in is not illegal–for members of Congress, that is. Anyone else who would dare trade on information obtained in private would go to jail, and rightly so. These people, with access to taxpayers’ money, get away with it, however. They benefit personally from it. They very often come to Congress as average, everyday Americans. They leave rich, and they have us and the laws they exempt themselves from to thank for it. Now that a bright light is being shone on it, we must do more than just hope that something will be done. To borrow–and slightly alter–a phrase, we need more than hope; we need change. On page 137 of Throw Them All Out, Schweizer quotes Federalist No. 57:

If this spirit is ever corrupted to the point that it will tolerate a law which does not apply to both the legislature and the people, then the people will be prepared to tolerate anything but liberty.

Governor Palin has been studying this corruption for years, is drawing attention to it, and says it must end. In a Wall Street Journal article that was published on November 18, she states in no uncertain terms:

No more sweetheart land deals with campaign contributors. No gifts of IPO shares. No trading of stocks related to committee assignments. No earmarks where the congressman receives a direct benefit. No accepting campaign contributions while Congress is in session. No lobbyists as family members, and no transitioning into a lobbying career after leaving office. No more revolving door, ever.

What part of “no” do we not understand? I think it’s safe to say she’s prepared to fight.

Furthermore, in USA Today this week, she writes:

Our permanent political class relies on an apathetic and uninformed public to get away with this stuff. But if there is one issue that unites Americans across the political spectrum, it’s absolute disgust with the corruption of our elected leaders. Congress and the White House need to earn the American people’s trust again. We the people are not going to give up until we get the sudden and relentless reform we deserve or, as the book says, “we throw them all out” in 2012.

Governor Palin, of course, knows a thing or two about throwing people out. In Alaska, as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she faced the decision of whether to eat well or sleep well when the blatant corruption of Randy Ruedrich, an AOGCC commissioner, led her to make a career-changing choice. On page 96 of Going Rogue, she details the situation:

When [Governor] Murkowski tapped me for the commission, he quickly named me chairman. That meant I also became the ethics supervisor of the staff, a job that turned out to be more than just a compliance title. When a staffer hinted that Ruedrich seemed to spend a lot of time running the Republican Party from his new AOGCC office, plus dealing with GOP operatives as a National Republican Committeeman, I mentioned it to the party boss-slash-commissioner.

Then another problem cropped up: Reudrich involved himself in adjudicating two cases that were closely intertwined with his old Doyon illegal dumping case. Commissioner Seamount and I urged Ruedrich to recuse himself, but he refused. An administrative assistant took me aside to say she suspected Ruedrich of sharing confidential commission information with a coal bed methane company we were supposed to be regulating. She was right: he was passing agency information to the company’s lobbyist.

When Governor Palin’s attempts to handle things quietly didn’t yield results, she did what she had to do to eradicate the corruption. The Going Rogue account continues on page 99:

Nothing happened.

So I had to make something happen. I prayed long and hard. I loved the job. And I had to consider that by making any drastic moves I would be crossing swords with the most powerful men in my own party. My political career would be over. My whole future was before me. But I also knew I couldn’t sit there and be a party to all of this.

I knew what I had to do, so I resigned–stepping away from the ethical lapses and hierarchical blinders to effect change where I could–on the outside.

[…]

Out of a job but sleeping well again, I knew that any shot I might have had to become a GOP insider was gone, which was fine, but I wanted Alaskans to be able to believe in the party ideals again. I knew the GOP planks made the strongest foundation upon which to build a strong state and country.

With this type of record, I have every confidence that what Peter Schweizer’s research has uncovered has placed an even hotter fire in the Governor’s belly. Reading the book should spark one in each of ours as well. From Nancy Pelosi to John Kerry to Dick Durbin to Judd Gregg to John Boehner, Ben Bernanke, Warren Buffett, and on and on, the “honest graft” is dishonorable. The corruption involves various industries, including–but not limited to–energy companies, credit card companies, railroad companies, and banking companies.

And perhaps the most deplorable of all is the involvement of President Obama and his administration. The big favors enjoyed by those who donated big bucks to his campaign speaks volumes and again leaves the reader shaking her head. Meanwhile, he continues with his class warfare campaign and demonization of job creators. Could this be part of the reason Governor Palin called him a “phony”?

Schweizer, on page 150, writes:

In our system of government, the legislative branch polices itself and the President is allowed to skirt conflict of interest laws because, well, he’s the president. It is time for that to change.

I’m looking for the sudden and relentless reform Governor Palin so often talks about. Many of us have been so focused on the 2012 presidential election, but it’s going to take more than that. Replacing President Obama with just another crony capitalist won’t do. What difference does it make whether there’s a ‘D’ or an ‘R’ behind a name, if the game remains the same? After reading this book, I appreciate more what Governor Palin said about changing the entire team, not just the uniform.

Speaking of teams, there seems to be more outrage at unethical behavior in sports than in government. Why isn’t every media outlet incessantly focused on what’s going on, encouraging the passage of these bills Governor Palin wrote about in her USA Today article, and demanding responses from members of Congress? Why do we spend more time discussing betting on games by professional baseball or basketball athletes? Shouldn’t members of Congress be held to an even higher standard? Shouldn’t the money that really belongs to we the people and the integrity of elected office matter? Indeed it should, and it must.

Again, I encourage each person to read Schweizer’s book. Read it, share it, and embrace the anger derived from it. But don’t just get angry. Sudden and relentless reform is needed. I did a lot of shaking of the head and rolling of the eyes as I read, but that simply isn’t enough. The question I’m asking myself now is: “What can you help do about it?” I agree with Peter Schweizer’s words on page 165-66:

If we accept crony capitalism with a shrug and an eye roll, we might as well accept a world of bribery and out-and-out vote buying. Crony capitalism has a corrosive effect on our politics, our economy, and our character. And we don’t have to accept it.

Cross-posted at MotivationTruth

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