Today's Note From a Madman
Thursday, January 19, 2006
"G"reed "O"ver "P"eople Party Quotes
Trent Lott's Up First
"Now they're going to say you can't have a meal for more than 50 dollars? Where you gonna go, McDonalds?"
-Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), regarding a dollar limit proposed on meals which lobbyists could "treat" our elected officials to
Let's see... If you
buy on the McDonald's Value Menu (that's the menu where you can buy some
high-bread content - low meat content "entrees" for one dollar), you can eat
like a KING! (as long as your dog's name is King - "Here King... Here King!")
However, most people who choose to eat in McDonalds as an "entertainment
expense" are only entertaining thoughts of getting a quick bite and getting back
Senator Lott's making fun of those of US who eat in McDonald's is akin to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake." Poor little rich kid Lott can't go out to eat on the Lobbyist dime (of is that c-note) and have a nice steak or lobster or rack of lamb. And what about the WHINE? (intentionally misspelled)
I wonder how much the
average American family of four, who earn roughly $43,000 per year, spend on
their dinners each night?
Maybe when Lott's mansion on the Gulf is rebuilt and he and "G"lobal "W"arming Bush are smoking Cubans and sipping mint juleps on the porch, Jack Abramoff will slither by in his "slither-mobile" and a striped shirt with numbers on the pocket to deliver a few lobsters and steaks.
I hope running the country isn't getting in the way of Senator Lott's taste for a good steak, a smoke and a drink.
Just think for a moment if Hillary Clinton, John Kerry of Ted Kennedy had said something as thoughtless and selfish as Senator Lott's comments. What would Fox News have to say then?
A better question would be: Could you ever imagine Bill Clinton thinking, let alone saying, those same things that Lott said?
"G"lobal "W"arming Bush Up Second
"The American taxpayer can't afford it."
- Bush's answer to congress when they asked for another $6M to track down Al Qaeda's financial dealings around the world
We can afford trillions for tax cuts for the super-rich but we can't afford another $6M to track down Osama?
Bush doesn't want Osama caught.
Christopher Hitchens Up Third
"a power or a right, once relinquished to one administration for one reason, will unfailingly be exploited by successor administrations, for quite other reasons."
-Christopher Hitchens, a right-wing Bushie who disagrees with the Bush/ NSA spying on Americans scheme
So, if I get this straight, Hitchens feels that he does actually trust GW and his gang of merry spies, but he might not trust ensuing presidents. So, using Hitchens' logic, it's okay to spy, as long as it's YOUR spy.
Christopher Hitchens, one of biggest defenders of the illegal Bush administration, is complaining that Bush is listening to his phone calls and that his overseas sources have been compromised.
Hey Hitchens, your hero is betraying you like he betrayed the Constitution.
Suck on that, Chris.
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), the Cleanup Batter
"The K Street project is purely to make sure we have qualified applicants for positions that are in town. From my perspective, it's a good government thing."
"Well, I don't know what you mean by Senate liaison to the, quote, 'K Street Project.' I'm not aware of any Senate liaison job that I do for the K Street Project."
This clown is suppose to drive lobby reform in the Senate?
A Court Supreme
Throughout my lifetime Americans have become civically lazy, reflected in our appallingly low voter turnouts, the scorn in which politics is held, and disrespect for government and politicians. Unfortunately, some of that has been deserved. The sloth of legislators has resulted in "passing the buck." Over the years the buck for social justice reforms gradually ended up in the Supreme Court. Here's how I believe it came about. In response to generations of reactionary Republican courts working in conjunction with Southern Democrat NeoCon(federate)s in Congress, frustrated liberals began to reason: "the legislatures are full of do-nothings who refuse to pass reform legislation, but we need reforms so let them be made by our courts." Even so, for a long while, because of the Supreme Court's conservative bias that wasn't possible at the highest federal level. At most, the Supreme Court could validate reforms passed by Congress or in the states. Sometimes it did; often it didn't.
After Earl Warren became Chief Justice in 1955, by means of lawsuits usually challenging state laws, the Supreme Court began an era of interpreting the Constitution in ways that hastened needed reforms. The decisions were based on the Constitution and existing statutes, but sometimes these were stretched in disconcerting ways. Many of the Court's decisions benefited the underrepresented--like African Americans, women and the handicapped--but the federal government ended up having to override states' rights and provide enforcement. In the South state law had long been used for repression, but elsewhere (in the Midwest, far West and New England) states had pioneered social advancements--sometimes a hundred years before the national government made them law. Women's suffrage is only one example of many.
The tension between national and regional law is, of course, a perennial problem. Trying to fit popular localized democracy into the legislative structure of a geographically vast republic never works perfectly and never will. Every legal judgment is a trade-off between two not quite compatible ideals. It's an ancient problem, and because the problem is real, not every law will rise to the highest ideal in Juliane of Norwich's 14th century definition of judgment, "Man's judgment is confused and inconsistent. Sometimes it is good and tolerant, sometimes it is harsh and difficult. When it is good and tolerant, it is part of Godís righteousness."
I agreed with most of the reforms made by the Warren Court and still do--but reforms made by a federal court created a powerful imbalance toward centralized federalism that undermined the Constitutional power reserved to the states and to the people. Conservatives, both real and spurious, and a growing group calling themselves "libertarians", quickly protested. However, because so many Americans enjoyed a better life because of the Court's interpretations there were few strong protests by liberals, and in contemporary polls nearly all of these reforms remain popular even with many conservatives.
But the Warren Court was a real anomaly. It may be the only Supreme Court ever led by someone who had not only never served as a judge but who was also performing lifelong penance for committing reactionary sins. Earl Warren was taking pains never again to commit "harsh and difficult" injustices. As the wartime law and order Attorney General and Governor of California Warren was no liberal, although he made public statements and a few minor reforms that led many to think he was at least a moderate. However, while Attorney General he sometimes ignored legal protections, causing liberal criticism, and he became the Republican Governor through the support of the wealthy propertied class. One of his final actions as Attorney General was the incarceration of the California Japanese Americans, and it was his blueprint that created the concentration camps. He was playing on popular jingoist fears in order to get elected Governor--and to serve the men who wanted to confiscate wealth, properties and businesses developed by the industrious Japanese, which they did.
After WWII Warren became uneasy over the unfairness of the Japanese internments. I applaud him for being able to mature, and to repent one of the most blatant government crimes in U.S. history. Hugo Black, the Alabama justice who had been a young KKK member and racist, yet became one of the court's most consistently pro-civil rights justices, endured a similar life struggle. But when we look at the entirety of U.S. history, the chances of a Warren-type Supreme Court ever happening again are not all that likely. By and large, the Supreme Court has been a conservative brake on legislation, and that is what it was intended to be. Ideally it was envisioned as independent of politics, combining the legal force of the supreme judiciary of England with the moral force of Bishops' Convocation. In America, of course, the moral force must be without any religious bias--except that of the Constitution as a secular faith. A top-notch justice needs to know the Constitution and its interpretative law in detail and should hold in awe everything that aids in making judgments based on Constitutionality. He or she should assume the traditional mantle of adjudicating fairly, impartially and in as nonpartisan a manner as a human can ever do, based on the supremacy of the Constitution. Whatever one thinks of Bill Clinton, his federal court nominees were chosen for their knowledge of the Constitution and its law, and were more impartial and nonpartisan than any others I can recall.
As justices and federal judges, we need men and women better than the ones Reagan and the Bushes have nominated. Their choices, partisan and based on little but cronyism and religious fanaticism, have with a few exceptions been the worst in U.S. history (at least since the Roger Taney Court of pre-Civil War notoriety). Several have lied to Congress, committing perjury, including the late Chief Justice Rehnquist. Justices Scalia and Thomas publicly disdain the Constitution they are sworn to defend and judge by, and therefore are committing an impeachable offense. We can impeach Supreme Court justices because we don't elect them, a price our society pays in an attempt to keep our highest judges non-political--something that has failed miserably since the election of 2000. At nomination time, all we can do is exert pressure to stop fanatic or unworthy nominees. It can work. Robert Bork was denied, so was Harriet Miers. Alito can still be stopped.
Votes elect legislators, and as campaigners and voters, most of our energy should be directed to ousting the former fanatical Young Republicans who have become the fanatically corrupt NeoCons who infest Washington. Our highest legislators need to care more about America than about grabbing what they can, lining their pockets, and wrecking the nation. We must elect those who promise to turn their attention to doing a thorough internal house-cleaning, then hold them to it. We desperately need legislators who love the American people and see public service as an honorable duty, bringing back respect for government at all levels. There have been quite a few memorably fine members of Congress, and the Senate and House needs to be repopulated with their kind, not the current self-serving fanatics. Congress should be making the "good and tolerant" laws that benefit the people. Whatever the purpose of the laws, the Constitution flatly does not permit the President to make law by illegal fiat, which is clearly an impeachable high crime. The Supreme Court can interpret the law in a way that approaches legislation, but it should stay within its role of judging the Constitutionality of a law, not filling neglected holes, however benignly intended.
Because a liberal Supreme Court felt obliged forty years ago to push the limits of the Constitution and establish law on its own, the NeoCons are itching to do the same. If they are able to do so, this country will pay a terrible price and may never be able to recover its integrity, honor, and moral compass.
Paying the Media
Audry Lewis is a writer of sorts. She writes for The Birmingham Times, the city's oldest black newspaper. But Ms. Lewis has other avenues of income as well. Like a Wal-Mart version of Armstrong Williams (who earned in excess of $241,000 from the US Department of Education in Real US taxpayer dollars), Ms. Lewis put herself up for sale. It seems that while HealthSouth's Richard Scrushy was being tried (and acquitted) on fraud charges, Audry was writing glowing articles and editorials about the man and company. For her efforts, she was paid about $11,000 through her "beard", a Public Relations firm.
Now for the kicker... Ms. Lewis wants the other $150,000 that she says Scrushy owes her for the articles. I say she ought to get it. After all, eventually she's going to have to pay the ferryman.
I "hit the ceiling,"
-Scrushy, describing his reaction when he found out about the payments from the The Lewis Group, a PR firm, to Ms. Lewis
Then why did you hire the PR firm in the first place, Richard?
''If you want to pay someone to write favorable stories and can get a paper to print them, I don't know of any law it violates,''
-Prosecutor and U.S. Attorney Alice Martin
Maybe it doesn't break a law, but the press is supposed to be free, isn't it? The press is supposed to be our Fourth Estate. The press is supposed to be "fair and balanced" not "bought and paid for" (He... maybe Fox News could use that for their slogan - "Fox News - Bought and Paid For" - I'd love to hear Brit Hume say that, just once).
I do believe that a law was broken, and here is why: When someone takes out an ad in the newspaper and makes it look like an editorial or news story, they always seem to put the word "Advertisement" around the fake story so that people know that it was "bought and paid for". When someone buys (or is it rents?) a journalist, they should come with the same warning label.
A Real New York Times Headline
Pace of New Home Construction Fell Sharply in December
(And now for the made-up stuff)
In response to the above headline, an anonymous White House spokesman replied, "Hey it's cold out there!" while another stated, "Well, what did you expect? There's just no more room."
In response to "Lobbying is just legal bribery. It puts all of US regular people at a disadvantage while catering to ultra-rich elitists, global corporations who have no national allegiance and other self-promoting special interests who only have contempt for the US regular Americans," Robert Scardapane writes:
In spirit, I would love to say kick all of the lobbyists out. However, when a citizen comes to the Capital to see their Congressional Reprehensive to urge withdrawal from Iraq, that's lobbying! I think what bothers us is when Congressional Representatives receive favors (money, gifts, junkets) for consideration of a lobbyist request - that's bribery! The citizen merely came to urge their Congressional Reps to follow a course of action but didn't pay them off. The Abramoff's of the world pay them off in one form or the other.
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