Saturday, January 2, 2010

#190 Biggest Shock of 2009--Graft in Congress II

This is another of Gustave Dore's etchings from the 8th Circle of Dante's Inferno, FRAUD, depicting the punishment of the simoniacs (after Simon Magus in Acts)--those in the ecclesiastical hierarchy who accept BRIBES for favors in awarding offices and benefices. Because of the Roman Church's exalted influence on the secular world of its time, these crimes for Dante would be as much a betrayal of the public trust as those of the bad civilian politicians in their Lake of Pitch. Here, standing next to his guide, Virgil, Dante bends to get a closer look, obviously satisfied with their suffering. Since they have abused their spiritual offices, turned them upside-down for monetary gain, they are treated to an inverted baptism--head buried in a fiery font-- for eternity. You might say (pace Tarentino) the poet "gets medieval on their ass."

For Dante, these crimes inflicted by folks in positions of public trust are just one circle less nefarious than those of personal betrayal. He puts the likes of Judas and Brutus in the lowest, ice-bound 9th Circle. (But even Brutus' private treachery, we recall, threw Re-public-an Rome into bloody civil war.) We can, I think, be instructed by Dante's moral metrics here. Fuggedabout your sins of passion or self-indulgence--Gluttony and Anger, for example, occupy upper circles of lesser punishments, and Lust gets off easy--the worst crimes are those against humanity, those which threaten society as a whole. You can look to Dante's 8th Circle of FRAUD (fueled by greed) for the cause of the downfall of the American economy in 2008. Fiduciary responsibility gone bad.

As for Congress ... they're on the take. Riddled with GRAFT. Pimped by Lobbyists. Put simply, How can these Republicans and "Blue Dog" Democrats in good conscience VOTE on a Health-Care bill in the public interest when they've been paid-off lavishly by private interests? Well, they can't. And ergo they shouldn't. They should at very least recuse themselves. Judges do it, in cases of conflict of interest. Again, call me naive, but from a moral/ethical standpoint, it all seems so obvious.

To quote myself from last July, here's what they're getting away with:

Big-Med gave nearly $170 million to Congressmen in 2007-2008, and the money keeps flowing to, in particular, those federal lawmakers on key committees who can pull strings on the heath-care debate. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the powerful SENATE Finance Committee, has received $2 million from the health and insurance sectors (since 2003). But since the the Democrats took over in 2006, the majority of Big-Med money has shifted to moderate key Democrats (Republicans can be counted on to vote NO on anything Obama, anyway) like HOUSE Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel, who's received $1.6 million over the last two years. Big winner: Democrat Max Baucus, CHAIRMAN of the SENATE Finance Committee. This guy has received over $3 million from such corporate contributors as New York Life, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Schering-Plough and Merck. (Daily Mosteller #133, 7/24/09)
Sure enough, Baucus/Grassley killed the Public Option in the Senate, and it passed only by the tiniest of margins in the House. May the miscreants all be consigned, metaphorically, to the lowest circles of Dante's Hell. They can take their pick of the Fiery Font or the Lake of Pitch. Or ... bring out the tar and feathers, and run 'em outta town.

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