Thursday, November 17, 2011

How Congress Occupied Wall Street

Sarah Palin has penned an Op-ed calling for reform of Congressional privileges, and exemptions from the law, that enable politicians to arrive in DC as people of modest means and leave--assuming they ever do--as millionaires.

Palin is following up on the release of Peter Schweizer's new book, "Throw Them All Out: How Politicians and Their Friends Get Rich Off Insider Stock Tips, Land Deals, and Cronyism That Would Send the Rest of Us to Prison."

If it's anything like his last one, "Architects of Ruin: How Big Government Liberals Wrecked the Global Economy--And How They Will Do It Again If No One Stops Them," it promises to be a very good read.

In her piece, Palin refers to one of many things that Noman liked about her from reading her first biography, "Going Rogue: An American Life."  

Specifically, she was never embraced by Alaska's Republican Party establishment, and protested its cozy arrangements with the big oil companies--the corporations that play the dominant role in Alaska that financial corporations play nationally.  She won the nomination and governorship despite the Party's resistance, and punished it for its corruption when she got the chance.

Not bad for a politician.  Pity that there aren't more like her.
None of this surprises me. I've been fighting this type of corruption and cronyism my entire political career. For years Alaskans suspected that our lawmakers and state administrators were in the pockets of the big oil companies to the detriment of ordinary Alaskans. We knew we were being taken for a ride, but it took FBI wiretaps to finally capture lawmakers in the act of selling their votes. In the wake of politicos being carted off to prison, my administration enacted reforms based on transparency and accountability to prevent this from happening again.
Perhaps Occupy Wall Street has more in common with the Tea Party than it realizes.  That assumes, however, that one can take the movement at its word, and believe its purported raison d'etre--to bring Wall Street to heel.

Naturally, if its true purpose is simply to give Democrats the appearance of popular, grass-roots support for its spend-borrow-and-tax governance, and an antidote to the Tea Parties, we can forget such hopes for common ground, or change towards that which unites rather than separates us.
We were successful because we had the righteous indignation of Alaskan citizens on our side. Our good ol' boy political class in Juneau was definitely not with us. Business was good for them, so why would they want to end "business as usual"?
The moment you threaten to strip politicians of their legal graft, they'll moan that they can't govern effectively without it. Perhaps they'll gravitate toward reform, but often their idea of reform is to limit the right of "We the people" to exercise our freedom of speech in the political process.
I've learned from local, state and national political experience that the only solution to entrenched corruption is sudden and relentless reform. Sudden because our permanent political class is adept at changing the subject to divert the public's attention—and we can no longer afford to be indifferent to this system of graft when our country is going bankrupt. Reform must be relentless because fighting corruption is like a game of whack-a-mole. You knock it down in one area only to see it pop up in another.
To the best of Noman's knowledge, her pejorative reference to reform that limits the right of the people to speak is her first open criticism of the man who brought her to national attention: 2008 Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain, co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill.

Noman's personal opinion is that she'd be a good person for the incoming Republican Administration to appoint to an investigative committee reviewing the previous six years of government transactions (including the Federal Reserve's) with banks, Wall Street firms, venture capitalists (especially green ones) and Fortune 500 corporations.

With respect to the subject of her piece and Schweizer's book, Noman thinks that there is plenty to be upset about these days, and that ire over government would be better focused on governance than on politicians.

For instance, he'd like a complete accounting of where the first trillion dollars of stimulus was spent by the organizations receiving it; and official actions taken by the President's unofficial Czar's, e.g., Kevin Jennings at Education.

He'd also like a thorough public airing of all the opportunistic legislation and regulation that Democrats unilaterally imposed on the country when its hegemony was unchecked by opposition votes.

In any event, Noman is happy to see that Sarah Palin has not left the public square.  She strikes him as an honorable and decent woman whose convictions are genuine rather than expedient, and whose love for her country is palpable rather than affected.

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