I'm not one to think that everything was better in the old days.
These days we've gotten way better at corruption.
Example: For decades,
Teapot Dome was at the top of the list of Really Bad Political Scandals of America, if only because it's easier to spell than
Crédit Mobilier. Finally it was knocked out of its Number One spot by Watergate. But Watergate was primarily a scandal of misuse of
power, whereas Teapot Dome remained on top of the list of scandals about pure avarice.
Get a load of what amounted to a Really Bad Political Scandal in 1922:
Before World War I, two valuable oil fields, one in California and one in Wyoming, were designated federal reserves to provide
for the future oil needs of the United States Navy. Naturally the heads of the oil industry and conservative politicians of
the day were bitterly opposed to this policy, because it interfered with business and, heck, there'd always be plenty of oil
for the Navy.
Warren Harding's secretary of the interior, Albert Fall, was one of the guys
who didn't like the federal oil reserve policy, and he decided to take matters into his own hands. Fall persuaded the Secretary
of the Navy to turn control of these oil fields over to the Department of the Interior. Then, Fall secretly leased the Wyoming
reserve, called Teapot Dome, to Harry F. Sinclair's Mammoth Oil Company. Elk Hills, the California reserve, was leased to
Edward L. Doheny's Pan-American Petroleum and Transport Company. For his cooperation Fall received gifts and "loans" amounting
to about $400,000 from Doheny and Sinclair.
A constituent tipped off Wyoming's Senator that Mammoth Oil was drilling on
the Teapot Dome reserve, which inspired the Senator to call for an investigation. Eventually the leases were cancelled
and Fall and Sinclair were sent to jail (Sinclair served only a short sentence for contempt of court; Fall was fined $100,000
and sentenced to a year), and the Secretary of the Navy resigned.
The investigations uncovered more corruption in the Harding Administration.
The director of the veteran's bureau, Charles R. Forbes (I'm still trying to find out if this guy was related to the
Forbeses) spent time in a federal penitentiary for corrupt sale of government property, liquor, and narcotics. The Attorney
General, Harry Daugherty, was found guilty by a Senate Committee of defrauding the government but escaped criminal charges.
For the record, most historians believe Warren Harding himself was not involved
in these financial shenanigans, being too busy hiding mistresses in White House closets to notice what was going on.
So that was the infamous Teapot Dome. Now, let's take a look at our new,
improved 21st-century style corruption!
and Better Than Ever!
The Bush Administration got off to a blazing start by allowing campaign contributors
in the oil and coal industries to meet with the Vice President and write energy policies in their own favor. With the right
judges in their pockets, the Bushies dodged subpoenas from the General Accounting Office to reveal the list of the Vice President's
Then the Bushies reversed a Clinton Administration crackdown on offshore tax havens, enabling business contributors
like Enron to shield its assets from federal taxes. The Bushies' recommended repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax would have given
Enron a $254 million windfall.
In 2002, after a series of corporate scandals, Bush promised to clean up corporate America. He's done
nothing about this since, of course, since these same people are his political base.
But what struck me as I was researching for today's blog were the number of articles written in the summer
of 2002 that exposed the Bushies for the crime family they are (a few are linked below) It was about
this time that talk of invading Iraq went from being a side issue of the War on Terror to the centerpiece.
Coincidence? I think not. None of Bush's "reasons" for invading Iraq hold water. Iraq was not a threat to
the U.S., and it's pretty obvious by now Saddam did not have weapons of mass destruction. Nor was Saddam ever connected
to the September 11 attacks, a fact that would surprise supporters of the war, if they would only wake up.
But now we're just about done "liberating" Iraq, and -- surprise -- all of the lucrative contracts for rebuilding
the country we just broke are going to U.S. companies with ties to the GOP! (See the April 19 Mahablog for details.)
Dick Cheney's secret energy deal would, by itself, rival Teapot Dome. But since then the Bush II Administration
has taken corruption to levels unimaginable to Albert Falls or anyone else in Harding's time. The entire Administration, from
the top down, is dedicated to plundering the country to enrich its rich friends. The non-newspaper-reading public is
not told by cable or broadcast news media that any of this is going on. Indeed, were it not for the web and the ability
to surf non-U.S. news sources, few of us would know what is going on.
This week the Bushies will hit the road to sell its tax breaks, and many Americans will support it, even
though the tax breaks will hurt them personally by killing the economy and losing them their jobs (see Mahaeconomics 101). Bush will tell them sincerely that the tax breaks will give them "relief," and they'll buy it, and the rest of us will
despair. We'll beat on our pots and pans and holler and try to get the public's attention, and we'll be ignored. It's going
to have to get a lot worse before it can get better, I'm afraid.
The Bush scandals are out there in plain view, and yet people don't see them.
Yes, this has got the Harding Administration beat all to hell. The Bushies don't even have to hide their scandals in