Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats. –H.L. Mencken
Yesterday I bought a copy of the local propaganda paper, The News Journal, only so we could get the coupons inside. I rarely buy it or read the articles. Aside from the awful content, most of which is Associated Press articles, like the New York Times, the Journal has put itself behind a paywall.
My wife noted that it now costs $3.00 for the Sunday edition of this rag, twice the price since since the last time we bought one, which could not have been more than five years ago.
But my $3.00 was not wasted. Despite there being virtually no coupons for any food we actually eat, there was a totally unexpected article explaining how to use the state’s corruption to advance its own decline. I’m sure the writer did not mean it that way, but that’s what I read. You’ll see what I mean.
The article by Maureen Milford is titled “Mistrust validated by report” with the subtitle “‘Pay to play’ a real fear for residents”. You may or may not be able to view it here.
The article centers on the contents of a “101-page report on state campaign finance practices by special prosecutor E. Norman Veasey” and the fight by residents of the affluent Greenville community (Joe Biden’s house is in Greenville) against real estate developers who may or may not have paid off governor Jack Markell and/or his administration not to require a traffic study about the impact of said real estate development.
I say “may or may not” because the details of this are really meaningless to me. I already know that the state is corrupt and evil, I don’t need to read a 101-page report to figure it out.
But the best parts of the article are the incredulous quotes and one-liners which only bolster my position and show those of us who are liberty-minded one more way we can fight the state.
The fact that an organ of the state like the News Journal would even publish this just shows how out of touch the editors must be. I can only assume they think their own readers are too stupid to see through the propaganda.
Take for instance:
Many say the conclusion from Veasey’s report is obvious: Money buys access and influence.
That conclusion is obvious. But it is also independent of time, place, or political party. This is not a problem with the state of Delaware in 2013 with a Democratic governor. It is the nature of the state, where power is concentrated in the hands of a very few.
“This just further erodes our faith in the democratic process,” said Tom Dewson, one of the leaders of the citizens group Save Our County, which continues to fight the Stoltz project in court.
Good, we’re continuing to make headway against the delusion that democracy is a good thing.
For some in Delaware, the Veasey report’s depiction of Delaware’s “pay-to-play” culture – where public officials get free cases of beer, tickets to seats in the Club Suites level of a [sic] Philadelphia Eagles football games and turn a blind eye to improper contributions – has only further diminished their trust in government.
If we are to take a lesson from this it could be: Don’t worry too much about fighting government corruption, it will always be there as long as the state is. It’s better to spend time exposing it so the public continues to lose faith in the state.
And average citizens watching these developments say they reinforce the perception that “there is a definite double standard of justice here,” said John Flaherty, president of the Delaware Coalition for Open Government.
Really? You mean the state prosecutes itself differently than its tax subjects? Shocking.
This next one is by far my favorite, emphasis mine:
Sam Hoff, a professor of history and political science at Delaware State University, said the Markell administration and General Assembly need to take measures to regain the public trust.
“The whole thing just stinks to a lot of people,” Hoff said. “When stuff like this happens it sort of chips at the shine of government – the idea that government is trustworthy. The perpetual question people will always have is: Does money buy influence? The most destructive thing to democracy is when trust is diminished and the legitimacy of the entire government is questioned.”
It’s like a late Christmas present from professor Hoff to me. I literally laughed out loud when I read that. The “shine of government”? What is that? I guess if you’re a poli-sci professor you have to keep up the charade that the state is actually trustworthy.
But Hoff has a point and says it better than anyone else in this article. The key to destroying democracy is getting people to question the legitimacy of the state in the first place.
After a back and forth between Markell and one of his detractors we get the following:
Countered Markell spokeswoman Rossi: “Anyone losing faith in government should know that these issues have been investigated exhaustively and professionally, the few contributors were held accountable, and that his [Veasey’s] recommendations for further improvements in our laws will be the subject of many discussions in the coming months.”
Translation: The state investigated itself and declared this to be just a problem with a few “bad apples”, nothing inherent in the system. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
The rest of the article deals with complaints that the special prosecutor, Veasey, is not prosecuting anyone for anything in this matter, citing lack of evidence, expiring statutes of limitations, and costs to the taxpayers.
But there’s one final quote worth repeating from Bennett Gershman, a professor at Pace Law School, who is seemingly defending Veasey, but inadvertently speaks the truth:
“Prosecutors have incredible power. They have weapons like no other. It can be abused. It’s the most dangerous power of any public official,” he said.
It does my heart good to hear the state’s power called what it is: a weapon – something used to injure, defeat, or destroy. Of course Gershman is exactly right.
And more so than just being capable of abusing their positions, prosecutors often do abuse their positions, either by choosing not to prosecute government employees for real crimes (think cops who murder people and get paid vacation*) or viciously prosecuting “mundanes” for non-violent victimless crimes (think smoking marijuana) merely to make a name for themselves.
So thanks, News Journal, for pointing all this out to your readers. Maybe some of them are not as dumb as you think and will begin to question the legitimacy of the state.
* For more on this see Will Grigg’s excellent blog, Pro Libertate.