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Corruption as Government


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Thursday, January 10, 2008


I think my favorite political quote from the last year was uttered by North Carolina State Senator Steve Goss (D-Boone), in a battle over public campaign financing. One of the bill’s opponents said that public financing would encourage mediocre candidates, and Senator Goss proudly rejoined, “'There's some pretty good mediocre people out in this world, and I'm glad to be a representative of these people.” It makes your proud of our democracy “…of the people and for the people”, doesn’t it? Meanwhile, up in the Massachusetts, State Rep. Michael Kane (D-Holyoke) has introduced legislation to make it a crime, punishable by a $1,000 fine and a year in jail, for anyone who steals “…a plastic bulk merchandise container that is used by a product producer, distributor, or retailer or agent thereof which is used for the bulk transportation, storage, or carrying of retail containers of milk…”. Oh, great; first we clog the jails with casual pot smokers and now we pile in millions of college students with milk case bookcases. If Mike Huckabee was a real “libertarian” and not a “media libertarian”, he would be opposing stuff like this. And I just might be voting for him. But he isn’t and he won’t and there is not the slightest chance in hell that I would.
The greatest current political dustup in Idaho is not over men with wide stances but over people with no stances at all, anymore. The residents of the Lake City Senior Center have gathered petition signatures to stop the opening of the Aspen Funeral Home, directly across the street from their gathering place. 65 year old Marg Dunkle complains, “It kind of gives you an uncomfortable feeling”. I guess for and old geezer, looking across the street and seeing a funeral home is like most people looking in the rearview mirror and seeing a cop…or a hearse. Meanwhile, in Malaysia, 60 year old Health Minister, Mr. Chua Soi Lek, has resigned after a DVD surfaced showing him in a hotel room doing to a woman who was not his wife what politicians usually only do to voters. Minister Lek, who angered many Malaysian religious groups with his active promotion of free condoms for everybody, was forced to apologize to his wife and children before resigning. There was no word if Mr. Lek was seen on the video using a condom.
And yet again an Australian lawmaker says he has learned his lesson about strip clubs. In August of this year newly elected Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was forced to apologize for a 2003 drunken binge at a New York City strip club. And now Senator Nigel Scullion has apologized for a 1998 drunken outing at a Russian strip club during an international fishing conference that left him wearing only his tidy whities and handcuffed to a dance pole. “It was a terrific night,” said the Senator. “If you ever get an offer to go drinking with Icelandic whalers and Canadian crab fishermen, take them up on it.” But, he added, “…don’t let anyone handcuff you to a post and make sure you always wear clean underwear.” And the apology…? Well, I lied. Scullion didn’t apologize. He’s Australian.
But my favorite political maneuver from the entire of last year must be the one detailed by the simple headline, CHINA OFFICIAL GETS DEATH FOR BLOWING UP MISSTRESS. You’ve got to admit it is an attention grabber of a headline. It seems that sixty-one year old Duan Yihe, a one time local Communist Party secretary and general big mucky-muck in the city of Jinan, had been trying for months to break up with his mistress, thirty-one year old Liu Haiping. As she had asked, he had already bought her a house and a car and found jobs for her relatives, but Liu kept asking for more. Poor Duan was beginning to feel as if he were being blackmailed, especially after Liu suggested that she might turn him in if he didn’t divorce his wife. So with a little help from his niece’s husband, Chen Zhi, who happed to be a cop, Duan decided to let Liu down gently by blowing her up. And after the first two remote control bombs failed to explode, he also sought the help of an auto mechanic, Mr. Chen Changbing.
Well, they say third time is the charm, and on July 9th 2007 both Liu and her car went up in smoke and a big bang, and two innocent people walking by were wounded. Problem solved, apparently, least it seemed so until a week later when, tre surprise, all three men were arrested and charged with murder. Duan was also charged with bribery and embezzlement of public funds. But the big one was the murder charge.

Poor Duan; how could he have anticipated that the police would be interested in something as mundane as an exploding car? Sure, Chinese cars blow up all the time. You try to put your Gleem in drive without letting the oil warm up and BOOM! It’s a common, everyday occurrence. Why would the police bother to investigate something little like a car blowing up in the middle of a busy street? What, Peking isn’t Bagdad?
Duan and Chen Zhi were found guilty and executed in August. The mechanic, Chen Changbing was given life in prison. And presumably that was the end of corruption in the Chinese Communist Party.
Except,….on the same day that Duan and Chen were executed, 63 year old Pang Jiayu, deputy to the political advisory council in Shaaxi province, was fired after eleven of his mistresses turned him in to authorities. As they say, hell hath no fury like a woman whose husband has been convicted of bribery, unless its 11 women whose husbands have all been convicted of bribery. And that is just plain hell.

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