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Do corrupt people go to Washington or does Washington corrupt good people?

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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:18 PM
Original message
Do corrupt people go to Washington or does Washington corrupt good people?
Edited on Wed Nov-25-09 10:17 PM by Bonn1997
Ive heard on liberal radio talk shows many times that we need to start a grassroots movement to get people in politics who will serve the interests of the majority rather than special interests. We should startthe argument goesby getting good people to hold local public offices and work their way up. Many people hate that their Senators can be bought out by lobbyists and argue that if they had such power, they would do the right thing and never yield to special interest groups. Im highly skeptical of all of the above claims and I believe they demonstrate what psychologists refer to as the fundamental attribution error (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_attribution_error)

The FAE refers to our tendency to attribute others behavior to internal, personality characteristics (that driver cut me off because hes a JERK!) while understanding the influence of external, situational factors on our own behavior (I cut off that driver because I was late for work. I normally dont do that. Im not a jerk!).

Back to politics. My suspicion is that people vastly underestimate the influence of situational factors in their politicians decisions and that attempts to get good people into the corruptive environment of Washington wont work out as planned (however well intended). I suspect the life of Washington politicians is a lot more privileged and wonderful than any of us realize. They have tons of staffers serving their needs and tons of power. As soon as they enter Washington, they realize how great this life is and are no longer so willing to stand on principle and lose elections if that means giving up all this awesome privilege.

But you still believe you wouldnt be bought out by lobbyists if you were elected to serve as your states Senator. You may be right but I do not think you can possibly know. For example, I felt that I would always stand on principle if I were elected to such a position. That said, animal rights and welfare are especially important causes to me. Also, my dad suffers from a very rare genetic disorder called spinocerebellar ataxia type 15 (which Im at a slightly elevated risk for) that severely impairs all his motor skills. He had to retire early and routinely falls and injures himself and will likely die prematurely due to the condition. What if a smart insurance lobbyist finds this information out and discusses the millions theyd give me that I could donate to the Humane Society and to research on the disorder my father has? And he or she adds that I dont really have to fundamentally change my beliefs. I can just support a very strong public option that will benefit millions of people instead of a single-payer system. Ill still be doing a lot of good for the country!

Then after a few months the lobbyists have gotten several politicians to abandon single-payer. Theyve also funded many ads directly attacking a government takeover of our healthcare and our lives. With the help of the corporate media, theyve managed to substantially reduce public support for any public option. Now I find myself struggling just to stop the Republicans from raising lots of money to oppose me because I support a government takeover. The environment has completely changed from the time when I was convinced Id never abandoned my principles. I see support dwindling in the Senate and suddenly feel lucky if I can get any public option in a bill that passes.

Now Im not implying that the above sequence of events is *exactly* what happens. And the question in my title is clearly an oversimplification because both internal personality and external environmental forces clearly do impact behavior. My purpose in writing this post is to demonstrate that I think were vastly underestimating how much the environment influences our politicians behavior and underestimating how likely we would be to make the exact same decisions we criticize our elected representatives for making.
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Barack_America Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:19 PM
Response to Original message
1. Both.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:21 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Yeah, that's clearly correct. My point was to emphasize how much we underestimate the latter
influence and underestimate how likely we--you and I--would be to become "corrupt" politicians.
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Barack_America Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:23 PM
Original message
I wouldn't become a politician.
I'm not narcissistic enough to deal with the bullshit.

Working behind the scenes is fine by me.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 07:16 AM
Response to Original message
48. At the same time, you can accomplish a lot of good as a politician if you're willing to compromise
your principles *less* than the politician you're replacing
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Go2Peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #2
20. I think we also have to recognize that our own values have changed
Reagan did a good job of changing our middle class ideology from "living a good life" to "living the rich life". We all are far greedier than we were in the past.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:10 PM
Response to Reply #20
31. That's a very good point. The last 30 years have really damaged our country.
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liberal N proud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:28 PM
Response to Reply #1
11. I must agree
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Barack_America Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #11
15. Good people may go there, but sooner or later ethics breaches are bound to occur...
...in the interests of self-preservation, if nothing else.

There are only so many reliably blue districts and states.
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dmr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 11:39 AM
Response to Reply #15
68. Ever see the Eddie Murphy movie, "The Distinguished Gentleman"?
A con artist wanting to get in on the action. Gets elected, and finds Congress more corrupt than he is - which in the end, rehabilitates him to do good.



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BrklynLiberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:43 PM
Response to Reply #1
17. EXACTLY!!!
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:23 PM
Response to Original message
3. I don't mind corrupt politicians.
As long as they fight for the common man they are good. I don't care what they do to consolidate their power.
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Go2Peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:49 PM
Response to Reply #3
19. With that you end up with what is in Ukraine and Russia. I'll skip that thanks
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cowcommander Donating Member (679 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. I've always believed it takes a certain shady mindset to become a politician
Dem or Repub, doesn't matter. To be successful, you need to play dirty, it's just part of the game.
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sudopod Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
5. 1) ?????
2) PROFIT
3) Buy our own senators
4) PROFIT
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juno jones Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
38. LOL! n/t
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HughMoran Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:26 PM
Response to Original message
6. yes n/t
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RufusTFirefly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
7. The system as it's presently set up tends to reward corruption. But...
Edited on Wed Nov-25-09 09:38 PM by RufusTFirefly
.. if enough good and decent people can go to Washington and remain uncorrupted (realistically, not all will succeed), then ultimately we will reach a kind of critical mass and will be able to change the system so it rewards integrity and honesty instead.

It's so ironic that he is marginalized and ridiculed (but that's the system at work) because I think Dennis Kucinich provides a wonderful model for integrity in Washington. So did the late Paul Wellstone, alas.

"It always seemed strange to me that the things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first, they love the produce of the second." -- John Steinbeck
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Joe the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 02:53 AM
Response to Reply #7
46. Good quote. n/t
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endless october Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
8. good people go to Washington sometimes.
and then they are forced to sell out their core principles to "play ball" and compromise. if they hold firm, everyone else punishes them for it later.

it happens that way because we let it happen.
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tblue37 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 12:52 AM
Response to Reply #8
41. If they don't, they get marginalized as "kooky" and "unelectable,"
like Kucinich, or they end up in a small plane accident, like Wellstone.
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me b zola Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
9. Both. n/t
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Sarah Ibarruri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:27 PM
Response to Original message
10. To become a politician, and stay one, you have to kiss a lot of @$$...
You also need (in this country) a lot of money to run for office. That requires even more @$$-kissing, and lots of ugly promises.
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imdjh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:28 PM
Original message
it is human nature to seek advantage. It's noble to not take advantage. So why are our nobles not?
Perhaps because it's bullshit. "The meek shall inherit the Earth" is librium, to convince the workers of the greater reward. Fuck that.
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rwheeler31 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:28 PM
Response to Original message
12. Why do we pay for this?
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RKP5637 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:30 PM
Response to Original message
13. I've felt this way for a long time, that Washington often corrupts good people. The
temptations are enormous, I think, and the rationalizations great...
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varelse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:31 PM
Response to Original message
14. Look at the millions of dollars it takes to put a person in Washington
it's likely that most of our elected representatives there are compromised, if not outright corrupt, before they ever take office.
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:39 PM
Response to Original message
16. Unlike the chicken or the egg likeness of your question, the answer is both
It's all about money and power, and their corrupting influences.

Secondly, a major part of the government's attention is dedicated to satisfying the needs of corporate interests. Between the federal government and the corporations, that's where you will find THE MONEY.

The needs of the people come second.

The reason for this is both simple and insidious; the corporations realized a long time ago that DEMOCRACY was too much of a problem for their bottom line. Thus was born the modern Public Relations industry from the work of Edward Bernays. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays

The ultimate goal of Corporatism was to convince the American people to work against Democracy and their own best interests for the sake of the corporations. By following suit, the American people continues to send people to Washington to further this goal.

Every progressive advance, that we've had in America, was because Democracy triumphed over Corporatism, in spite of itself. That's because Corporatism's sins were so egregious that they have to be pushed aside.

I truly believe that, if i wasn't for Democracy's few triumphs over Corporatism, we'd be a thoroughly Fascist country,



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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #16
32. I agree 100% about corporatism. If it weren't for the internet and progressive talk radio, I'd have
virtually no exposure to liberal ideas.

(My title was an intentional, but maybe dumb in retrospect, oversimplification. I thought it sounded "catchy" and would grab people's attention.)
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RufusTFirefly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:46 PM
Response to Original message
18. Checks and balances and the genius of our system
Edited on Wed Nov-25-09 09:50 PM by RufusTFirefly
I think the Founding Fathers recognized the susceptibility of any government to corruption (or worse) and designed an ingenious system, where the three branches of government were tasked with keeping each other in line, where the people had unprecedented influence, and where a vibrant press provided a vital means of keeping the people informed and exposing any wrong doing.

Alas, the system has been outsmarted to a great extent. Both the press and the political system have been polluted primarily by corporations, whose motivations are explicitly at odds with the Fathers' noble goals.

That said, I think there's still hope. The basic infrastructure is still well designed. If only we can stop corporations from eating away at the framework of democracy like an army of avaricious termites.
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Raine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
21. Both, if they aren't already corrupt
they soon become that way. :-(
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bdamomma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:54 PM
Response to Original message
22. both.
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AdHocSolver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 09:55 PM
Response to Original message
23. For corruption to succeed, you need a gullible, stupid, and passive electorate. n/t
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:02 PM
Response to Reply #23
26. Passive? Yes. But is it stupidity or ignorance?...
I live in the deep south and am a college professor. I think there are many very smart people who consider themselves middle of the road or even conservative--This includes some of my colleagues with PhD degrees who I suspect would score well above average (maybe way above you and I) on a valid intelligence test. I know it's probably not popular to express this belief here but I don't think you have to be stupid to be a conservative and I don't think being a liberal means you're smart. I think it has much more to do with ignorance.
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RufusTFirefly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:16 PM
Response to Reply #26
33. Totally agree: Ignorance, not stupidity
The press has essentially been hollowed out and rendered ineffectual. What passes for news is appalling. It's all bread and circuses these days.

Also, I think there are a lot of smart people who don't realize just how susceptible they are to a constant barrage of corporatist propaganda. They think they are strong enough to resist its pernicious influence, but most of them aren't.
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AdHocSolver Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #26
39. Interesting that you assume that "gullible" and "stupid" refers just to conservatives.
If it were only conservatives who were clueless, we wouldn't be in the predicament in which we find ourselves. It required the collusion of a lot of clueless "liberals" to bring us to the sorry state this country is in.

How many "liberals" voted for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, MFN status for China, repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, et al.

I put little credence into IQ tests as a measure of intelligence. I worked for three universities and I saw plenty of incompetence and vicious politicking among the professors. An IQ test is no predictor of either competence or wisdom. Neither is the possession of a PhD.

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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 02:15 AM
Response to Reply #39
42. OK, well it depends on how you're defining stupid then.
A more politically correct term like "low intelligence" would normally be defined as deviating substantially from the mean of the species, but I don't think that's how you're using the term. I think you're saying that we humans are a stupid species. Stupid compared to what, though? Note also that I said "a valid measure of intelligence"; I did not refer to any specific IQ test.
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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:00 PM
Response to Original message
24. Aren't most of them Lawyers?
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. I don't know the exact percentage but would be curious. I wouldn't stereotype all lawyers as immoral
though. I'm sure some are and they get a lot of public attention though.
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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:22 PM
Response to Reply #27
34. I've dealt with a few of them in my life time, and they were all snakes. Of course I was..
Edited on Wed Nov-25-09 10:25 PM by demosincebirth
paying them. Most of them, just, don't return your calls after you hire 'em.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:27 PM
Response to Reply #34
73. How many times did you call?
I always return client calls, but it gets unfair when you get one who expects to talk an hour a day. The others' cases would get no attention.

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demosincebirth Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #73
78. Not like that. I had one handling a probate case for my wife. It took over
a year and a half of calls, maybe one call a month for an update, never returned any calls. I reported him to the Ca. State Bar. then I changed attorneys and finally got it settled. He kept sending me bills, but when I called him about the bills he never returned my calls. The last time I called and left a message on his answering machine was for him to sue me...he never did. Haven't heard from him since. We are not unreasnable people, but when they charge 350 bucks an hour some seem to drag things on and on...you feel like they have you by the "short hairs" and feel helpless. I know that in probate there is a set fee for the attorney, but you get my general feeling.

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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:26 PM
Response to Reply #27
72. Jefferson and Adams were lawyers
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cherokeeprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:02 PM
Response to Original message
25. 80/20 - Corrupt before/Corrupted by n/t
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Liberal_in_LA Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #25
28. 75/25 n/t
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:04 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. based on what?
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cherokeeprogressive Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:09 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. Gut feeling
and net worth before vs net worth after.
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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:22 PM
Response to Original message
35. They ain't all Jimmy Stewart. Some are born corrupt, like DeLay, Dick Armey, etc, the list goes on
Edited on Wed Nov-25-09 10:25 PM by bridgit
They hit the ground running, start flapping their gums in fact too many have never *stopped* flapping their gums to this day. But then I think some people think that they're corrupt - then they go to DC, and DC instructs them just what being corrupt is all about
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 02:18 AM
Response to Reply #35
43. Born corrupt? What did Dick Armey do at the moment of birth that indicated he was corrupt? :-)
Or if we take your comment a little less literally, what did he do before his political career that indicated that he was corrupt first and a politician second? I'm not saying he wasn't corrupt. The issue is what factors caused his corrupt behavior.
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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:20 AM
Response to Reply #43
58. Awww, a 'potential' Dick Armey apologist? Well I think that's sweet...
You just won't be hearing it from me :hi: Maybe it's Texas http://cupofjoepowell.blogspot.com/2009/11/dick-armey-model-corruption-for-cash.html Or maybe some display such a natural inclination for corruption they are considered *as having been born* with such nasty, usury traits

Just please don't suggest to me now that Michelle Bachmann is one foxy momma or I'm sure I'll vomit in my own mouth :puke:
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #58
62. Please clarify whether you're joking or not. I have trouble sometimes detecting jokes on the
internet. However, if you were being serious, I do not see how anything I said could construed as in any way supporting Dick Armey.
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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 11:08 AM
Response to Reply #62
65. I'm sorry, but you'll need to reconcile these positions first:
"Clearly behavior is the result of internal, personality factors" http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=389&topic_id=7090890&mesg_id=7092666

And...

"What did Dick Armey do at the moment of birth that indicated he was corrupt?" http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=389&topic_id=7090890&mesg_id=7092094

Cause it is my sense that it is difficult to have it both ways with respect to Dick Armey. It is specious-at-best to sit as 'the cyber-contrarian understudy' and flick-out like a booger that poor Dick Armey couldn't possibly have been born corrupt - all but demanding justification for the mere thought; while suggesting at the top of your next breath that such 'behaviors' are "the result of internal, personality factors"...

...

...

How would you suggest further that such corrupt behaviors *did* become the resultants of "internal, personality factors"? What? Dick Armey was born clean and pure as the driven snow and his mom bought a bad brush from the door-to-door Fuller brush man *and that only then* little Dick went all nutty for bad Fuller brushes I mean come on

Dick Armey's was the face that you chose - defending Dick Armey, even in the abstract, is a lose/lose proposition imo, but have at it :kick:

"the often ignored social or environmental set of factors that partly influence human behavior" indeed

If, however, you actually think that bad seeds are *not* out there then there really isn't all that much to discuss
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 05:09 PM
Response to Reply #65
69. We know from research that behavior is almost always the result of internal characteristics of the
person interacting with the external environment. (Internal characteristics says nothing about them being present at birth, though.) I discuss things from a social science perspective where claims require evidence. So I react harshly when a claim that can't be backed up is made--even if it's a negative statement about someone I dislike.
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bridgit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 02:17 AM
Response to Reply #69
75. Mm-hm, then why didn't you mention 'DeLay'? Why just Armey?
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 06:53 AM
Response to Reply #75
76. Because I must have read your initial post too quickly and not noticed that you mentioned both of
them! (Oops!)
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Hippo_Tron Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:25 PM
Response to Original message
36. Campaigns are expensive, lobbyists provide money to fund them
It's not corruption so much as it is political survival and pretty much anybody in politics no matter how good of a person they are primarily wants to stay in power.
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RufusTFirefly Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 12:15 AM
Response to Reply #36
40. Yes, but why are campaigns expensive?
Much of the money goes to TV advertising.

FCC approval of TV stations is just a rubber stamp these days.
When I was a kid and my father worked for a TV station, his station actually had to prove that it operated in the public interest in order to get its license renewed.

If TV stations granted free air time to local candidates, the cost of campaigns would drop dramatically and the benefit to the public would skyrocket.

As it stands right now, TV stations make a fortune from slanted campaign ads. What incentive do they have to grant free air time when they can make money from ads instead? The answer is: no incentive. That's why the FCC needs to flex its muscles.
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debbierlus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-25-09 10:40 PM
Response to Original message
37. I think we are sending the wrong people

You need real fighters. You can recognize them when you see them.

I do think that people are easily corrupted. That is why you need to send people with deep burning passion about the issues and representing the people. But, somehow, we bought into the myth that you can only get milquetoast middle candidates in office, so don't even BOTHER to vote for a Kucinich.

It is the fear that ruins them. They are afraid to fight because they are afraid to lose their positions. But, not fighting makes them utterly worthless.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 02:20 AM
Response to Reply #37
44. How do you know that the people currently in Washington did not at some point have that same burning
desire? Or how do you know that all the people who currently do have that burning desire won't become corrupted very gradually through experience like I wrote about in my simplified example?
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 02:33 AM
Response to Original message
45. There is a Frank Herbert quote which speaks to this..
All governments suffer a recurring problem: Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 07:13 AM
Response to Reply #45
47. That's a very interesting quote. It may sound less eloquent but I'd add the following:
Power brings out the worst of human nature, including behaviors we call "pathologies." Giving the behavior this label provides us with a sense of moral superiority--it enables us to feel that we would not engage in the same pathological behavior were we in the same situation.

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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 07:40 AM
Response to Reply #47
50. So you think that everyone is the same basically, that no one is any more moral than anyone else?
I don't believe that.

Clearly there are some people who lack any sort of moral compass, conscience, call it what you will. These people are known as sociopaths these days and the former name was psychopaths.

Keep in mind that psychopaths are often very attractive people in some ways, Ted Bundy could be extremely charming, a natural born politician if you will. It's not commonly known but I have heard that Bundy was studying law at the time of his arrest.

I don't think that psychopathy is an all or nothing condition, it is my considered opinion that psychopathy lies on a spectrum of human behavioral types and some of those who fit that label are more extreme than others.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 07:52 AM
Response to Reply #50
51. Not entirely the same. Clearly behavior is the result of internal, personality factors and external,
environmental factors as well. By saying that "I'd *add* the following" when I replied to your previous post, I meant that I wasn't disagreeing with the notion that power can attract people more *prone* to bad behavior but that's only a small part of the picture. (I could have actually spelled that out more clearly though.)

Technically, the people you describe are known as antisocial and in the extreme cases can be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Sociopath is a term some have used but it has no formal or legal bearing, whereas antisocial personality disorder is the term used by the DSM-IV and the term that would be used in any treatment or legal setting.

Also, the people you cite clearly are antisocial but their behavior hypothetically could be due 100% to external, environmental factors like A) extremely, unimaginably bad circumstances in their current lives at the time of their criminal behavior or B) the accumulation of many years of extremely bad environmental factors. Now I'm not endorsing this view either. My goal in this thread was to highlight the often ignored social or environmental set of factors that partly influence human behavior.
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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 08:03 AM
Response to Reply #51
52. Just because someone is "antisocial" does not mean they are not good at dealing with people.
That's why I think that "antisocial" is a poor choice of terminology and to some extent confuses people as to the social skills or lack of such of those who bear that term. Those who are "antisocial" are sometimes very good indeed in social situations, manipulating others for their own benefit.

Agreed that social environment can make a difference but I personally don't think that very many highly moral people seek power over others.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 08:27 AM
Response to Reply #52
53. I think like most of the public, you are confusing the terms "asocial" and "antisocial"...
"a" usually refers to absence--asocial is the lack of interest in social arrangements
"anti" usually means against--antisocial is literally fighting against and exploiting society

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Fumesucker Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 08:35 AM
Response to Reply #53
54. That was basically my point..
To the adept professional antisocial means one thing, to the layman entirely another.

Which is why it is confusing to the layman.

If the professional terminology is confusing to most of the public then professionals will have a difficult time clearly and effectively communicating with the public.

There are enough misconceptions about mental illness without such unnecessary miscommunications.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 07:17 AM
Response to Reply #45
49. The first thing I thought of was Herbert
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 08:46 AM
Response to Original message
55. Both, although strongly leaning toward the former; predators are opportunists
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:08 PM
Response to Reply #55
71. "Predators"?
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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 09:15 AM
Response to Reply #71
77. Yes, predators, as in, those who seek to benefit at the expense of others
Especially the less fortunate
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 09:01 AM
Response to Original message
56. Have you ever met politicians - they are incredible jerks
An unfortunate part of my job is I have to be active in politics. Not so much active but I have to donate a lot of money to ensure I can continue to do my job and my profession is not ledgislated out of existence.

Anyway I have attended hundreds of political fundraisers and events. I have met these people. They almost always give me the creeps. Certainly not the kind of person I would have over to my house.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #56
57. That may be true but it says nothing about the internal vs. environmental debate here. That is,
unless you have compelling evidence that they were indeed jerks well before entering politics.
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:23 AM
Response to Reply #57
59. You are correct. I lean toward being jerks/crooks before politics
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:25 AM
Response to Reply #59
60. Why?
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AngryAmish Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #60
61. The personality type that politicians are
They are basically creeps.
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Bonn1997 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #61
63. This looks to me like the FAE. You're observing others' behavior and infering internal causes
without any justification. They could be creeps entirely because Washington brings out not only the greed but also creepiness in ordinary people. (We'd obviously need a concrete definition of creepiness too.)
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 11:07 AM
Response to Original message
64. If people think all politicians are scoundrels then only scoundrels become politicians.
Because "good" people refuse to "dirty" themselves in politics. Self-fulfilling prophesy.
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newportdadde Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 11:25 AM
Response to Original message
66. Not sure about corruption but there is certainly a barrier of entry. We need term limits.
For example my state senator is in his 30s around my age. He is a lawyer at law firm when he is not in session, I'd say most of us do not have this kind of flexibility in our employment.



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Vidar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 11:30 AM
Response to Original message
67. Both.
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phasma ex machina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Nov-26-09 05:18 PM
Response to Original message
70. (Steve Jobs' Reality Distortion Field)^2 nt
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amborin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 01:00 AM
Response to Original message
74. 2 classics address this: "Capitalism & Soc Democry," by Adam Pzerworski; & Michel's "Oligarchy"
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CTyankee Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-27-09 06:11 PM
Response to Original message
79. For a lot, not all it is: Honor, Power, Riches, Fame, and the Love of Women
It's the title of a book by Ward Just about a politician, based on some thoughts in a lecture by Freud on the motivation of politicians.

While I think this assessment is largely true, I also know that many politicians have also contributed highly to our polity. Motivation for office, then, can be only one series of factors. We can also have altruists who are realistic enough to know how to get things done...
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