Haley's Barbour-ism

At a time when we've become so desensitized to the high level corruption and bribery through super Pacs and lobbyists, it's refreshing to see local level corruption get some national attention.

The New York Times on Friday ran an article about pardons that Haley Barbour, the former governor of Mississippi had given out in his last days in office.

The governor pardoned over 200 people, with roughly 40 of the pardons for people convicted of violent crimes that included murder, rape and assault. The common element most of these pardons had in common were that the convict had a connection, familial or otherwise, to the powerful Republican political class or Haley Barbour himself.

One of those pardoned was a man convicted of a DUI related death of an 8 year old boy who happened to be a member of the Hill Brothers Construction Company, big campaign donors for conservative causes. The article also mentioned that another member of that same family was pardoned for Federal Tax Evasion by George W. Bush.

It's amazing what money can buy you. To think that you can refuse to pay your taxes and LITERALLY get away with murder. All this time, I was thinking that political contributions could only get you financial gain and the ability to write laws. The fact that lobbyists not only tell politicians what laws they want but also actually write the verbiage that the politicians then cut and paste into their bills was as far as I thought the culture of corruption would ever go.

It's not like Southern politics have ever been clean, but this should raise the eyebrows of anyone that thinks no one is above the law. At a time when we have unlimited money and corporations are people, this seems only like the logical outgrown. After all, corporations are people and can only be expected to ask for favors for their no good nephew.


#23: Benjamin Harrison

Benjamin Harrison defeated Grover Cleveland in 1888, after he served one presidential term. Cleveland then defeated him in 1892 when he ran again on the Democratic ticket. This makes him the only presidential candidate I know of to both win and lose a presidential election to the same person.

Presidential power at this time was not quite as concentrated as it is today, so it wasn't unusual to see ex- presidents jump back and forth between private life and politics. Today, it seems that if you've served as president, you can only go on speaking tours or make ceremonial appearances at public events as though you're American royalty.

Cleveland largely disappeared from the limelight after Harrison defeated him during the term that Harrison served and took a regular job at a law firm in New York for a couple years until he played the old "I have no choice but to run again" card when he saw what he felt were the ruinous effects on the economy of Harrison's policies. Harrison worked for a law firm as well after he was defeated by Cleveland. Today they would have certainly made a good living as professional pundits on Fox News or MSNBC, but at this time it seems they had to support themselves like regular people.

Politics at the upper levels didn't pay quite as well in the late 1800's as it does today. There was probably more graft and money changing hands at the lower/local levels, but the higher offices of president, senators and congressmen were expected to take a pay cut to serve in politics.

The millions of dollars that presidential candidates now have funneled to them both before and after presidential elections from super pacs and lobbyists make me almost nostalgic for the days when you had to buy your way into city council.