Bipartisan Sleaze Report

posted in: public affairs | 0

Regular readers of this blog know that I don’t much like the Republican government that’s currently in charge of ruining this country. But today I want to cast aspersions fairly and in a bipartisan manner.

Let’s start, for a change, with stupidity, greed, and ethical blindness on the part of a leading Democrat. Yes, I’m talking about Senator Harry Reid, who “accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.” (Washington Post) Yes, this leading Democrat who has been assailing the Republicans for ethical lapses thought it was A-OK to take these tickets as a gift, even while working on legislation that could affect the givers. I mean, how stupid can you be? Even if you, personally, thought there was nothing unethical about taking the tickets, wouldn’t you think—just for a moment—that maybe it would look bad for yourself, and especially for the political party you represent? Jeez.

Of course, that’s not as bad as the Congress rolling over and playing dead yet again for Mr. Bush, by confirming Gen. Michael V. Hayden to lead the C.I.A.—yes, the man who as head of the National Security Agency oversaw the illegal, warrantless wiretapping of the phone calls of American citizens. One just has to wonder, will the Congress ever show any spine in defending the rule of constitutional law?

And finally, there’s the new U.S. Embassy going up in
Baghdad, the mother of all embassies. According to MSNBC, “The embassy complex — 21 buildings on 104 acres, according to a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee report —” will occupy six times the acreage of the UN compound in New York, and will be self-supporting, with a pool and a food court and all the luxuries of home. Now, it’s not that I begrudge U.S. diplomatic officials a decent place to live, but given that most of Iraq is still in shambles, and reconstruction of hospitals and basic infrastructure is way behind schedule, doesn’t it seem just a little off that the one project that’s rumbling along hugely and on-time is the building that will symbolize U.S. presence and influence in Iraq? Of course, we’re not occupiers anymore, so there’s no reason that Iraqis might resent this presence in their country…no no, that would just be paranoia.

Well, one final bit of paranoia-feeding-news comes with the word that Budweiser is buying the Rolling Rock beer company. Man, can’t anything be left alone anymore? Not that Rolling Rock is great beer—it’s decent, a good light summer beer, but hardly a craft beer as this article calls it—but still, I hate it when little brands disappear into the maw of big brands. Don’t even get me started about how the Hershey company bought out Switzer’s Licorice only to put it out of business.

(But…I just learned that heirs to the Switzer company have relaunched the Switzer Licorice company, and made the original Switzer Licorice available again! Hallelujah! Now, if I can just find a store that sells it….)

0 Responses

  1. Anonymous
    | Reply

    You state that the wiretaps are illegal. When was that decided in a court of law? It hasn’t. Who has had their “personal liberties” violated? You guys amaze me. We could be attacked everyday and you lefties wouldn’t want us to do anything.

  2. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Ah yes, we “lefties” are such a happy-go-lucky, terrorist-loving bunch. (Refresh my memory: when did caring about the Constitution make one a “leftie”?)

    To answer your question: the wiretaps were illegal because Congress passed a law making them illegal. It even created a special court to rule quickly on requests for warrants because of the national-security needs. And that court approved just about every request put before it. And then Bush came along and said, we don’t need no stinkin’ court warrants, because we the chief. Just like he said, sure I’ll sign your new law prohibiting torture, but I don’t have to obey it if I don’t want to. Just like the 100 or so other laws he said he didn’t have to obey.

    Constitution 101: the Congress passes laws, the executive branch carries them out, the courts decide (rarely, only at need) if the law is unconstitutional. It really isn’t rocket science; it’s separation of powers.

    The thing is, we are under attack every day, and the attack is coming from our own government–from the man who would be king.

  3. substandardTim
    | Reply

    As someone who lives within minutes from Hershey, I can say that I very much dislike the town. The traffic is horrible, the intersections terribly designed, the theme park is overpriced and the town is full of rich snobs. That being said though I do love when the wind is blowing just right and the air is filled with the smell of chocolate.

    As for the whole Bush hating thing….to quote Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Bush has chosen to take a hard line with the despots and dictator’s of the world. For 8 years Clinton turned a blind eye to most of the growing threats in the world, and we paid for it on Sept 11th. And we continue to pay for it. The economical fallout from that day will be felt for generations. Now you might not agree with Bush’s methods of dealing with the rotten people of the world and that’s fine, but I wince everytime I think about what this country would be like if Al Gore were running things right now, or in 2008 if Hillary Clinton runs. In fact you probably see that Edmund Burke quote and when it comes to the part about evil triumphing you think of Bush. I certainly don’t agree with Bush on everything but I do believe he is the right man to be in that position for dealing with the current challenges our country faces. When it comes to choosing sides, I choose the moral high road. I’d rather have a president who takes a stand for what he believes to be morally right than a sexual deviant like Clinton.

    You know for how much you are into politics, im surprised that none of your books have had some sort of
    political sci-fi storyline.

  4. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    As always, I appreciate your willingness to represent the conservative view here in civil conversation, Tim. But having said that, I disagree almost completely. The part I do agree with is: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Because that is exactly what Congress has been doing in the face of lies and appalling foreign policy decisions emanating from the White House.

    You say: “I choose the moral high road.” And knowing that you mean that in support of Bush, I can only say, “You’ve got to be kidding.” Moral high ground?

    He lied to get us into an unprovoked war, a war that devastated a nation and has caused tens of thousands of deaths (at least). When it turned out there were no WMDs, it became freeing the country from Saddam. Then it became retribution for 9/11, even though there was no evidence of a connection.

    He asserts his right to use torture, even while signing into law a bill prohibiting torture. Moral high ground?

    He gives zillions in tax breaks and government contracts to his wealthy buddies, while cutting funding for education and social services. Moral high ground?

    He rolls back practically every policy designed to protect the environment. Moral what?

    He runs the most secretive government since Nixon and willfully refuses to consider dissenting views. Moral?

    I think it’s terrible not just that these things are being done to the world, and that Congress hasn’t stopped him, but that he’s doing all this in the name of Christian moral values. It’s not Christian values, it’s willful deceit. I think Jesus is weeping to see what these people are doing in his name.

    Tim, I had to chuckle when you said, “You know for how much you are into politics,” because truthfully I really am not very political except at need. I have been this politically active during only two periods in my life. The first was during the Vietnam War, an immoral debacle for which both Democrats and Republicans were culpable. The second is now–to try to do some small thing to help turn the country from the terrible path I see it on–and locally, to try to help save my town and schools from devastating funding cuts. My natural tendency is much more to vote on election day and stay out of it the rest of the time.

    In short, I seem to be political now only because I take so much to heart that quote that you started this discussion with.

  5. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    P.S. I didn’t know Hershey had a theme park. Is it a chocolate theme park? (Ride through the liquid-chocolate waterfall?)

  6. Jack Strauss
    | Reply

    It’s not just the federal republicans that are trying to roll back society to the victorian age:

    “The South Dakota legislature recently approved a bill to prohibit abortions in that state. Nebraska legislators passed laws segregating Omaha schools into black, Hispanic and white districts. Black Jack, Missouri city council members rejected a measure allowing unmarried couples with multiple children to live together, resulting in the possible eviction of such families from their homes.”

  7. tsmacro
    | Reply

    Boy I was really going to leave this one alone, because I can really get going when it comes to politics and usually once I have everyone ends up looking at me like I’m some kind of nutcase, but here we go. To start out let’s just say I’m not a big fan of the way the United States’ political process has evolved. Somehow we’ve been duped into believing that we’re only supposed have two choices, Republican and Democrat. Yet as far as I can tell at any given time these two political parties might each only represent 20% to 30% of the population at any given time. Don’t believe me? You do the math. What percentage of adults actually vote during an election? Then divide that number by the number of choices we’re given on election day. I also think that we’ve doing this whole thing backwards. In the sense that we allow the political parties to define who we are. Ya know if you’re a republican you believe in x,y & z because that’s what they’re telling you the issues are this year. Wait a minute shouldn’t we the people be telling the politicians what the issues are not the other way around? I mean sure occasionally some issue comes up from the masses that the politicians can’t ignore and they all scramble to make it part of their platform. However when this does happen I generally get the impression that the politicians and their staffs of spin doctors are quite annoyed and ruffled because it wasn’t in their original script. So what we get are two very well rehearsed scripts that we all get to listen to in the months leading up to an election. What’s the problem with this? Well obviously these scripts alienate a lot of people , to the extent that 40 to 50 percent of the people don’t vote on a regular basis. When in the neighborhood of half your population is saying ya know I really can’t identify with that neat little political package you’ve put together there there’s a problem. When there’s that many people just disillusioned with the whole process because there’s no one speaking to them there’s a problem. What ends up happening is we end up with leaders that only represent the most extreme in their “base” because the message gets more and more focused to speak to the people who the party knows they can count on 100% to come out and vote for them. Of course as these messages do become more focused more people get left out. Is it any wonder we have such polarity in Washington? We have only two groups in power, most of whom have been elected by the most extreme people in their base and they’re all blind to the fact that most of the people in the country actually fall somewhere in between their two positions most the time. Of course when one of the two powers gains an upper hand it gets even worse because then you just have the most extreme 20 or 30 percent from one side deciding what ought to be right for everyone else. How do we fix this? Well I’m not sure we can because first of all it calls for making the majority of people care again about politics. I’ve had some people suggest that we need more political parties so more people’s views can be heard. Interesting thought but we already have more political parties and it doesn’t work because the two big ones are so entrenched they can use their massive resources to swat away any that might start gaining any real momentum. I say the way to go is to banish political parties all together. Get rid of the easy labels and colors that make it so easy for people to vote without even thinking. Make the candidates stand on their own merits. No more standing behind the big shield of your political party that says “vote for me because of the animal on my crest”. Oh and another one of my pet peeves; get rid of the electoral college! Sorry there’s no reason for it! It should be one person, one vote, with no middleman in between! Like I said usually when I do voice my opinions regarding politics people end up looking at me like I’m some kind of radical! *L* Oh well, since we all love our labels so much these days if you must, label me radically independent!

  8. tsmacro
    | Reply

    Oh and on a lighter note…*L*….yes Hershey has a theme park! I remember going there as a kid once. Rode on some roller coaster called a “Super Duper Looper” and bought a T-shirt to let everyone I had ridden on it! *L* I don’t remember any rides that included riding through waterfalls of chocolate, but you could take a tour of the factory and watch candy bars being made. No Oompa Loompas were involved as far as I can remember! *L*

  9. Rich Bowker
    | Reply

    Hey Jeff,

    Just a little background on the Reid story:

    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/000791.php

    Seems to me there’s a lot less there than appears to meet the eye.

    –Rich

  10. substandardTim
    | Reply

    tsmacro – i agree with most of what you said about political parties except that I think you give the american people too much credit when you assert that 40-50% don’t vote because the parties dont connect with them. I believe that a large percentage of those people don’t vote because they are lazy.

    Jeff – hershey actually does have a pretty good theme park, i just think $40 a ticket is too high. Bring the family to hershey for a couple days this summer and my wife and i will take you guys out to dinner.

  11. tsmacro
    | Reply

    Tim – I guess i’d like to believe there’s some kind of real reason that 40 to 50% of the people don’t vote beyond laziness. Yeah sure I know that’s the case for some people but i’d hate to think it was that many. People I know who don’t vote (including my fiance, despite my pestering) tell me they don’t vote because they think all poitician’s are the same, that they don’t care about the people they’re supposed to represent but only themselves and the lobbyists who show up with bags of cash. So yeah sure there are some people out there who are too lazy to care, but there also a lot of people who are just so jaded with the way politics are they’ve given up. I contend that maybe if there was someone who actually spoke to their concerns that maybe they’d be willing to rejoin the process.

  12. substandardTim
    | Reply

    im sure you are right for a portion of the population but the stand point of “i don’t vote because they all suck” doesn’t really count for much because whether YOU vote for them or not doesn’t matter because some sleazeball is still going to get elected and make decisions that affect your life.

    You know anarchy would be great if people were actually good but one look at our society is enough to show that people are inherently evil.

  13. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Jack — I had not read about those other bills. More warning signs.

    Rich — That muckraker thing was interesting, if hard to follow. It may be less of a story than it appeared. But I still think Reid was an idiot for even allowing the appearance of inappropriate influence-mongering, at a time when this is a big issue with respect to the other party.

    Tim — Thanks for the invitation to Hershey. May take you up on it someday. (Though probably not this year.) Actually, one of our family decisions this summer is whether we can make it to Ohio to visit my relatives and go to our favorite theme park, Cedar Point, in Sandusky.

  14. tsmacro
    | Reply

    Jeff if you go to Cedar Point, let me know when, my fiance keeps saying we should go there, says it’s a lot of fun and i’ve never been. It’s about 3 hours or so for us to drive there. Maybe we could all see who can scream the loudest on one those monster coasters they have there! *L*

  15. Jeffrey A. Carver
    | Reply

    Cedar Point is a great park, with several of the world’s tallest and fastest roller coasters. (A few years ago, I rode the Millennium Force, which at the time was the reigning champ. Whoa, what a great ride!) I grew up a few miles away, and when I was a kid, we used to avoid car traffic and putter over to the park in our little outboard motor boat. (Now it seems to be all yachts.)

    A trip this year is looking increasingly less likely, though. Not enough vacation time (my wife) and a book due (me).

Post your comment before you lose your train of thought. (Mine already left the station.)