Is America Corrupt?

Is America corrupt? Are our government leaders concerned about the well being of the country over and above their own self-interests? How many citizens cheat in business, and personally? How many taxpayers fudge their returns? Do many people pad their medical insurance reimbursements?

The college application scandal has been a real shocker. Well-to-do parents gamed the system to insure that their undeserving children obtained coveted acceptances from elite colleges. In some situations the children received help taking standardized tests, and bribes were paid to school administrators and sports coaches. The parents are not the type of people you would expect to actually commit felonies, even to benefit their children.

The scandal makes those of us who follow the rules wonder whether we are in the minority. Do most people cheat in everyday life?

Cutting corners starts early in life. If your parents didn’t take the time to tell you to respect others, then you probably don’t care about anyone but yourself. And, if you have opportunities to cheat playing basketball or monopoly as a child to increase the odds of winning, you took them. Even though no money was involved, you needed the self-satisfaction of winning.

And what about those of us who attend church, temple or mosque and pray to God? How many walk out of houses of worship and cheat on their taxes, abuse family members and steal from others? God does not bar anyone from visiting his house even if they are sinners because He has faith that we can behave better. In today’s environment this perspective may not be reality.

Whenever I listen to politicians and world leaders I feel like I’m being treated like a fool. Do these people really believe that I’m so stupid that I can’t recognize lies and twisted logic? Frankly many voters are fools if they rely on political claptrap to make their decisions.

Voters should spend time preparing for Election Day. Don’t vote exclusively on one issue. Consider the totality of a candidate’s principles and beliefs. Depending upon FOX News or the NY Times exclusively is a recipe for disaster. Good citizens learn about both sides of issues before they pull a lever at a polling place.

For so long I relied upon written news for my information. Sure, reporters are biased like anybody else. But newspapers, good newspapers, should ensure that reported news is factual and not tainted by opinions of the authors.

Today both sides of the political spectrum politicize every occurrence. To make matters more complex, those reporting the news offer their perspectives even as we assume they are unbiased. The feelings of the press towards our current president are deeply seeded with hatred and scorn (this is not to say the bad feelings are not justified by our leader’s demeanor). The facts in the newspapers and on TV are peppered with contempt.

If market or public sentiment changes from world events, everyone wants to know if it will impact their lives. Very little empathy is generated by the aftermath of certain events if they do not have an effect on one’s life. Things like famine, disease, war, oppression and abuse are other people’s problems. This perspective is inappropriate because events that do not seem to have any relevance can change how people act towards America.

And then there is our current president, the all-time master of misinformation and self-aggrandizement. To his credit Trump is transparent. He has not hidden facts from us except those that are related to his personal life (like his tax returns and his relationships with women). The man is not concerned about details. Rather, he cares only whether an event will benefit his ego and reputation. All the while his sycophants are telling him he is great every day.

Frankly I don’t believe Trump’s behavior will influence today’s young people. He is not and does not want to be a role model. Trump is so far off the grid that his behavior will be denigrated long after he leaves office. He will be rated as one of the worst presidents ever regardless of his accomplishments because he represents the worst of the way a leader should act.

My concern is whether I can believe anything said by my leaders, candidates for office and the media. Every time they step in front of a camera, it’s an effort to pump up their reputation or sell a political perspective as opposed to giving us germane things to think about. Americans are shielded from bad things like children not old enough to process negativity.

Honesty, integrity, empathy, generosity and courage along with creativity, innovation and risk-taking are what make a person great. When you add in concern for family, friends and country, you have a complete individual.

Why Do Americans Contimue To Elect Candidates Who Lie And Distort The Truth?

By Sal Bommarito

ISIS has won a major victory in Ramadi, the largest city in the Anbar Province. This should be a rude awakening for President Obama pertaining to his failed strategy in Iraq. For Americans, the action is thousands of miles away and none of our soldiers were killed or injured, so too few are challenging the administration about its misrepresentation of the war.

The U.S. government has continuously fed bad information to the public about the progress of the hostilities. The New York Times reported that Josh Ernest, Obama’s press secretary said, “We have seen a lot of success, but we’ve also seen significant periods of setback” (an understatement). He then asked, “Are we going to light our hair on fire every time that there is a setback in the campaign against ISIL?” The hair of the entire administration should be ablaze based upon the direction of the ISIS war. The only success in recent days was the alleged killing of a top leader of ISIS, who very few people even have heard of.

I began to consider whether all presidents lie and distort exploits for political purposes. Shouldn’t our leaders be honest all the time? Non-transparency is bad enough, but sometimes necessary in diplomacy. But, outright misrepresentation is another thing. Even Congress seems to be in the dark based upon criticisms by its members about the direction of the conflicts in both Iraq and Syria.

If the current U.S. plan in the region is faulty (and many believe it is), why doesn’t the administration change course. The American strategy of minimal intervention and training Iraqi troops to defend their own country are flops. Eschewing ground force employment will make progress difficult as ISIS embeds itself deeper into populated areas. Moreover, Iraqi government forces, once again, ran from the fight. This has resulted in yet another change in direction for Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi who is likely to “re-invite” Shiite militias that are loyal to Iran back into the fray. The U.S. response to this could be cessation of bombing sorties.

In the meantime, ISIS is recruiting more soldiers and culling the favor of Sunni tribesmen who feel disenfranchised by the Iraqi government. The sectarian schism is growing every day to the dismay of Sunnis, who are the principal recipient of ISIS cruelty even though the latter has sworn to kill Shiites and other ethnic minorities. The Times also indicated “ISIS Finances Are Strong.” Extortion, taxation, oil theft, investment in soldiers and cost control serve the insurgents well.

The ISIS imbroglio is only one situation where the flow of information is too often faulty. Although progressives may disagree, many Americans believe that the president’s strategy to solve income inequality is naïve. Even worse, it has stirred class warfare in America.

Obamacare is another example of the administration misleading the public about every aspect of the program (I do think universal health care is a noble objective). Everything from implementation to ultimate costs to the true beneficiaries has been twisted so ordinary Americans throw up their hands. Some benefit, but many have not to the extent advertised.

There are many examples of politicians spewing lies; the practice goes back to the beginning of the Republic. In recent years, Lyndon Johnson secretly bombed Cambodia and Laos. Ronald Reagan covertly provided arms to Nicaraguan “contras.” Politicians live high on the hog with donor support, don’t pay taxes and violate the law while criticizing hard working Americans for being too successful and too wealthy, neither one of which is a crime.

The biggest lies are told during political campaigns. Candidates exaggerate their credentials and make up false stories about their opponents. They make secret deals with wealthy supporters for cash and other favors. Our leaders have actually distorted our Constitution so that political donations are defined as a form of free speech. This effectively makes campaign finance reform impossible. Big money will influence elections for the foreseeable future.

In 2016, Americans need to find a man or a woman to be president who will be honest all the time and transparent. No more lies and distortions. I recommend voters not support those who lie about their opponents, their resumes or their campaign objectives.