(As always this appears here,nthanks to the syndication agreement, a week after its newspaper release)
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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2012
THE EDWARDS AND CLEMENS DECEPTION BY BOB FRANKEN
Even if Roger Clemens is a coddled athlete-narcissist who cheated by taking performance-enhancing drugs (which he denies), I personally am glad that the jury acquitted him of all his lying-to-Congress charges. Why is lying to Congress even a crime? Isn’t turnabout fair play? Remember all those campaign promises? I rest my case.
Besides, why in the world do they hold showboat hearings on whatever is the sensational scandal of the day -- like, say, steroids in baseball? Well, we know the reason: It’s to get on TV as the members glower behind their microphones on the dais, their wattles flopping in outrage as they hammer at the accused malefactor sitting at the witness table and sweating bullets.
I had a similar gloaty reaction to John Edwards beating the rap of misusing money while trying to hide his affair with Rielle Hunter and deny fathering a love child, while his wife was dying of cancer and he was still trying to foist his lying self into the top levels of U.S. government. Sleazy though all that may be, what was the Justice Department smoking when it decided to spend millions of dollars to prosecute Edwards for violating campaign-finance laws? It was shaky at best, an opportunistic political vendetta at worst, particularly since the really odious campaign-finance crime is entirely legal.,
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision made it possible for the nation’s wealthiest few to buy a United States government that is not supposed to be for sale. They can bury regulation that would prevent what reasonably ought to be considered stealing. They are able to dictate a labyrinthine Internal Revenue Service code that effectively allows them to evade taxes without violating any statutes. All they have to do is lavish funding on pliant politicians. When the candidates become officeholders, they take care of their benefactors by making sure the normal standards of right and wrong don’t apply to the favored super-rich few. Not only that, but the rules they have bought and paid for allow this decriminalized bribery-by-another-name to be perpetrated in secrecy.
What little transparency there is reveals contributions that easily have crossed the billion-dollar threshold -- that’s with a “B.” Still, it’s chicken feed to the megawealthy, who want to solidify their ownership of the country. That doesn’t count the anonymous millions upon millions of dollars that are showered onto the 501-C4 groups that don’t have to report the identity of their contributors. They are so called because of the section of the IRS code that allows these tax-free entities to organize and “promote the common good.” They can participate in politics, but it is not supposed to be their primary activity. So far, they have fended off legal efforts to make public their donors, who prefer the shadows.
We are all paying the price. We are forced to watch the deluge of TV ads placed by highly paid campaign consultants, the ones who routinely distort the records of the opposing candidates.
By the way, the big reason that Edwards and Clemens were able to afford the legal teams that got them off the hook is because they’re loaded. But imagine the poor schlub who isn’t rolling in dough; he gets in trouble.
Even so, let’s celebrate the fact that Edwards and Clemens were allowed to slink away. At least until the real culprits are stopped. But it won’t happen as long as they control the laws that protect them from having to abide by the same standards as everyone. In the meantime, we will have to content ourselves with the occasional titillating show trials that really are just masquerading as true justice and democracy.
© 2012 Bob Franken Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc