Belmont Club

Chump Change

John Podhoretz has a column of real national security importance. In it he wonders why American politicians can be bribed for so little.  “This country is an embarrassment.”

Look, when Venezuela’s populist demagogue Hugo Chavez died, word was he’d somehow accumulated an estate worth $2 billion. In the old days when the PRI party ruled Mexico uninterruptedly, every president got a single six-year term — and promptly retired at its close as a billionaire.

And that was when a billion was real money.

By contrast American politicians can be had for comparatively next to nothing.

Richard Kelly, a Republican representative from Florida, was videotaped stuffing $25,000 into his pockets. “Does it show?” he asked the fake sheik.

Granted, that $25K would be $77,000 today, but seriously? The man was a congressman, for Pete’s sake. Surely he could have held out for more from people he thought were oil-rich billionaires.

What about William Jefferson, the congressman from Louisiana who went to jail in 2009 after he was caught with his hands in the cookie jar? They found $90,000 in a refrigerator.

Ninety thou? Surely a close vote on a weapons system is worth far more than that! …

And it just keeps on coming. Now we have two Democratic assemblymen in The Bronx getting nailed on a different corruption matter by US Attorney Preet Bhahara — one, Eric Stevenson, indicted, and the other, Nelson Castro, not indicted because he dropped the dirty dime on Stevenson.

And what did Stevenson allegedly get? Twenty-two grand. Twenty-two lousy grand. That’s what one of the real-estate developers who are accused of trying to buy him off might spend on the kiddush at the family bar mitzvah.

I mean, can’t anybody here play this game?

Back in the old days, before they figured out how things worked, drug dealers from Mexico, sheiks from the Gulf, tinpot dictators from Africa used to come to America to shop for electronics, clothes and luxury goods. America was a wow place. A place where you gawked on Fifth Avenue while your retainers came up behind you carrying bags of money to buy baubles.

Today you can get the baubles on Amazon. Or you can order them  the online sites of stores that I can’t afford which deliver to your door. But some things never change. The mustache Petes still come to America to shop. Except they come to buy politicians. They’re a real steal.

This is how China does it’s research and development.

And as for the sheiks — they learned a long time ago that ten billion dollars spent on weapons didn’t buy them much protection from the US military. It just meant target practice for the 101st Airborne.

But ten billion dollars spread around Washington bought plenty. It bought so much that they couldn’t believe themselves.

A hotel ticket and a tour in the private jet now buy opinion. It’s called access journalism; the eBay of influence peddling.

And what about prestige? How much do you think that costs? Chairs at exalted institutions of learning cost are dime a dozen. Chairs which produce convincing studies showing certain belief systems are religions of peace while others are fonts of bigotry. You can prove anything by buying expertise; even that  mass shootings are really just workplace violence or ascribe it to the sad fact that Americans tend to buy magazines that can hold more than seven bullets.

A billion is still a lot of money, John, when politicians cost twenty-two grand.

Fortunately we have patriots, real patriots, who know what the solution to the problem is.

We’re going to produce our own oligarchs. We’re going to be like China where the elites talk in billions, not peanuts. When we create our own sheiks, our own nomenklatura then the playing field will be level.  We can look them in the eye. America will be great again, at least in the sense that Venezuela was.  In the manner that Mexico is. It’s little wonder that our leaders, even the great papers of the Republic, have expressed such admiration for China.

It’s a shame John, a real shame, when politicians cost twenty-two grand.

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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