University of Michigan lefty professor Juan Cole, who also runs the curiously-named blog, "Informed Comment", has a habit of speaking in absolute statements-usually about Israel or those who criticize Islam and such. This time he has gone really overboard. Cole has now declared the United States of America, our country, his country, as "The Most Corrupt Country in the Wooooorld." (to borrow a line from Keith Olbermann).
But Cole backs up his statement by carefully explaining ten reasons why this is so.
Apparently, Cole has never heard of countries like Nigeria, Indonesia, Mexico, Sudan, North Korea, Honduras,..........................
Must I continue?
I would never deny that there is corruption in America, especially in politics. But that doesn't put us ahead of the above countries or about another 160 I could list.
I won't try to delve into all of Cole's reasons, but I did get a laugh out of some of them.
"1. The US is so corrupt that our ruling, Republican Party, would even deny human-made climate change and adopt pro-carbon policies destined inexorably to wreck the planet earth, all to ensure a few extra years of profits for dirty coal companies and oil giants like Exxon-Mobil."
Yes, of course, climate change (whose predecessor term was global warming until the warming turned into bitter cold as it tends to do between the months of December to February). Cole thinks we are corrupt because Trump et al are not willing to turn our economy upside down and transfer vast sums of wealth to the Third World, so their corrupt leaders can put it in Swiss bank accounts rather than fight climate change.
"2. Our government is so corrupt that the Environmental Protection Agency has not only ceased actually protecting the environment but it has become a cheerleader for polluting industries, gutting any regulation that might stand in the way of making a little extra money at the expense of, like, killing people. Its current head is a former coal industry lobbyist! The EPA has decided to back coal plants and to remove the annoyance of government regulations interfering with their spewing mercury into the air. Mercury is a nerve poison, and it concentrates at the top of the food chain (i.e. in us). The Mad Hatter in 'Alice in Wonderland' was driven crazy by using his hands to put mercury on the brim of felt hats so as to straighten them. Continual exposure to mercury damages your neural system."
Under Obama, the coal industry was being shut down. Even Hillary Clinton told an audience once when she thought she was going to be president that coal workers were going to have to be re-trained to find other jobs. But, hey! Who is going to argue with the Mad Hatter? (a character from Alice in Juanderland).
"3. The US government is so corrupt that it is winking at the brutal murder by Saudi authorities of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, almost certainly at the order of crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman. And the grounds which the president of the United States gave for his insouciance at the deployment of a bone saw on the hapless scribbler were that he did not want to endanger Saudi arms purchases from and investments in the United States. This response is the very definition of corruption. Saudi Arabia is bribing the US government to ignore a vicious murder of a high profile journalist whose children are American citizens and who wrote for the Washington paper of record. You can tell all this is corrupt by just imagining what the response would be in Washington if Iran were discovered carving up a dissident in a consulate with a bone saw."
I make no excuses for Saudi Arabia, which I consider an evil regime. Nor am I comfortable with our geo-political alliance with them. However, has Cole ever criticized Saudi Arabia for funneling millions of petro-dollars back into the US to fund Wahhabist mosques, radical imams, and Middle East studies departments at universities that are nothing more than pan-Arab, anti-Israel, anti-West centers of indoctrination? Cole should know. He swims in that ocean.
"4. The US is so corrupt ... (audience: 'How corrupt is it?") — it is so corrupt that the US Senate has allowed a bill to come to the floor, introduced by Mario "Benedict Arnold" Rubio, which approves of individual states excluding vendors and contractors who boycott Israel. Although Rubio, Gary Peterson, Ron Wyden and other backers of the bill maintain that it does not affect freedom of speech, it actually guts freedom of speech. We university lecturers who speak on other campuses are considered contractors, and people will be prevented from giving talks at the University of Texas, e.g., by such laws. The law is unconstitutional and will be struck down if the US judiciary still has a modicum of integrity. But the law was passed in order to uphold the Israeli colonization of the Palestinian West Bank and the sentencing of Palestinians to being stateless and helpless and without rights. And it was worked up in the shadows in coordination with the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs (i.e. of propaganda), with the backing of pro-squatter fanatics such as sleazy casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, who has been accused of making his pile in part by bribing members of the Chinese Communist Party to let him open a lucrative casino in Macau. The senators have brought this bill to the floor despite its being a poison pill for the US constitution because they are in the back pocket of the Israel lobbies, which help fund their political campaigns. (I hasten to add that most American Jews do not approve of these shenanigans and Jewish Millennials in particular are done out by Netanyahu).
In other words, the senators are acting this way because they are being bribed by a sliver of corrupt American business people who in turn are virulent partisans of a foreign state, or by US Evangelicals who have an irrational hope that the Final Solution of the Palestinian problem will provoke the return of Christ. The important thing is that US electoral politics is an elaborate system of bribery, for which even the constitution itself is not sacrosanct."
So from Benedict Arnold's bill, we go to the Israeli "colonization" of the West Bank (Judia and Samaria) to the "sleazy" Sheldon Adelson, to the Chicoms (I didn't know Cole was a red-baiter), to Macau casinos, to US Evangelicals who want to see a Holocaust of the Palestinians so Christ can return. Do I have that right, Juano? This guy is teaching our kids, Folks.
"5. A sure sign of corruption is an electoral outcome like 2016. An addled nonentity like Donald Trump got filthy rich via tax loopholes, a predatory behavior in his casinos and other businesses, and then was permitted to buy the presidency with his own money. He was given billions of dollars in free campaign time every evening on CNN, MSNBC, Fox and other channels that should have been more even-handed, because they were in search of advertising dollars and Trump was a good draw. Then, too, the way the Supreme Court got rid of campaign finance reform and allowed open, unlimited secret buying of elections is the height of corruption. The permitting of massive black money in our elections was taken advantage of by the Russian Federation, which, having hopelessly corrupted its own presidential elections, managed to further corrupt the American ones, as well. Once ensconced in power, Trump Inc. has taken advantage of the power of White House to engage in a wide range of corrupt practices, including an attempt to sell visas to wealthy Chinese and the promotion of the Trump brand as part of diplomacy."
The corruption is something called the electoral college, Juan. Trump was elected fair and square in spite of an FBI whitewash of an open and shut case of Hillary Clinton mismanaging classified communication while secretary of state, and building a phony case against Trump based on a discredited Steele dossier that the FBI used as a basis to get a wiretap on Carter Page. That dossier was paid for by the DNC and the Clinton campaign, the same two entities that collaborated to ensure Clinton won the primary over Bernie Sanders.Cole makes no mention of that corruption. To this date, no evidence has been found by the Special Prosecutor (that we know of ) to prove Trump had any involvement in Russian collusion. Cole is very selective in identifying electoral corruption.
"9. The US has a vast gulag of 2.2 million prisoners in jail and penitentiary. There is an increasing tendency for prisons to be privatized, and this tendency is corrupting the system. It is wrong for people to profit from putting and keeping human beings behind bars. This troubling trend is made all the more troubling by the move to give extra-long sentences for minor crimes, to deny parole and to imprison people for life for e,g, three small thefts."
Gulag? The US has a lot of criminals, Juan, in case you didn't know. Take it from me; I was in law enforcement for almost 30 years. We have common street criminals, drug traffickers, street gangs, and just plain bad hombres. With few exceptions the people that are in prison are there because they belong there. If Cole would climb down from his ivory tower, he might see that.
" 10. Asset forfeiture in the 'drug war' is corrupting police departments and the judiciary. Although some state legislatures are dialing this corrupt practice back, it is widespread and a danger to the constitution."
As a retired DEA agent, I had some experience in this. Seizing the ill-gotten proceeds and conveyances (vehicles used to transport drugs) of drug traffickers is legitimate. Seized assets were adjudicated civilly if the owner(s) petitioned to have said assets returned. If local police departments were involved in the case, we utilized a procedure called Asset Sharing, whereby a portion of the seizures would be given to the department to utilize for their drug enforcement operations. If the department made the seizure independent of DEA, they could, under certain conditions, request the seized assets be processed federally. In that case, if the federal agency agreed, the department would get all of the assets once adjudicated minus a certain percentage kept by the federal agency for administrative costs. That was the proceduere when I was working. I retired in 1995. I will concede here that this system did create an incentive for some police depratments to more aggressively seize assets, and I believe that is why some courts have ruled against the practice. Done properly, it is a valuable tool in drug enforcement. It is a legitimate goal to remove ill-gotten assets from drug traffickers. One of the rules of the program was that we could not seize assets not connected to the illicit activity. We had to show that the asset was either the proceeds of the drug traffic or instrument of the traffic. That would include money used in the purchase of large commercial quantities of drugs. It would include vehicles, boats, or planes used to carry the drugs as long as the trafficker was the sole owner of the conveyances. I will be the first to agree that the program requires safeguards. Agencies like DEA have to carefully evaluate seizures brought to them by local agencies who request federal asset forfeiture.
This column is long enough, so I will stop here except to say that Cole's arguments about taxing the rich ignore the fact that the rich already pay a very large percentage of federal income tax. Contrary to liberal dogma, they pay their fair share. Cole is concerned with how much they have and wants to take it away. He even gives a shout out to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Good grief.
But the thesis of Cole's article is that we are the most corrupt country in the world. Maybe that's why so many millions of people are trying to come here, so they can be poor in this country and watch all those billionaires sail by on their yachts. Cole has his right to think what he wants about his own country and say it publicly. There is corruption to be sure, and I think it is increasing. But to put the US ahead of Nigeria (the Kings of Corruption in Africa)??
Mamas, don't send your kids to the University of Michigan.