Monday, February 15, 2010

Say it ain't so....

Say it ain't so, Joe! Joe the Plumber is back. You know, Samuel "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher. I didn't miss him. So now that he's back, I'd like to not miss him again.

I'm guessing he's back because he'd like to expand his 15 minutes of fame. Joe knows he can restart the clock each time he reinvents himself.

This time he's doing it by trashing John McCain (That John McCain that gave Joe a political spotlight, and future paychecks.). Without McCain, he'd just be Joe the Plumber without a book deal, and not being invited to all the big political bashes. He's learned well. If you have nothing but being famous to sell, like Paris Hilton ("famous for being famous"), you have to keep the shelves well-stocked.

I believe, too, Joe is positioning himself to be a bigger player in the Tebagger Movement. And since John McCain is out of favor with the Republican Party, and the Teabaggers (They're supporting a candidate to run against him.), Joe's exploiting McCain just as McCain exploited him. Yet, he needs to tread softly with his criticisms of Sarah Palin: Sarah Palin appears to be, for the moment, a darling of the movement. And he can't speak too nicely of the president, even if he means it:

"Wurzelbacher also reportedly said that while he believes Obama's 'ideology' to be 'un-American,' he credits the president for being 'one of the more honest politicians.'"

He needs to stick with the following lines, or find himself fighting off the wolves of disfavor:

"I don't owe John McCain shit," he said, according to reporter Scott Detrow. "He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it."

"McCain was trying to use me. I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy."

"Wurzelbacher says it's his duty to take advantage of the platform he's been given," Detrow wrote. "He wants to talk up the issues he cares about, and encourage the grassroots tea party movement."

Say it ain't so, Senator Evan Bayh! Why would Bayh announce his retirement from the Senate within days of a deadline looming for new candidates to file their intention, with requisite signatures? His retirement announcement makes it now 5 incumbent Democrats, and 6 incumbent Republicans looking for greener pastures, or to be put out to pasture. The number keeps changing from one site to another.

"Bayh is the fifth Democratic Senator not seeking re-election. He joins Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.), Byron Dorgan (N.D.), Ted Kaufman (Del.) and Roland Burris (Ill.) on the sidelines. Six Republicans are retiring: Sens. Kit Bond (Mo.), George Lemieux (Fla.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), George Voinovich (Ohio), Sam Brownback (Kans.) and Jim Bunning (Ky.)"

Bayh give these reasons for his sudden announcement to retire:

"My decision was not motivated by political concern," he added. "Even in the current challenging environment, I am confident in my prospects for re-election."

"But running for the sake of winning an election, just to remain in public office, is not good enough," Bayh said. "And it has never been what motivates me. At this time I simply believe I can best contribute to society in another way: creating jobs by helping grow a business, helping guide an institution of higher learning or helping run a worthy charitable endeavor."

"Two weeks ago, the Senate voted down a bipartisan commission to deal with one of the greatest threats facing our nation: our exploding deficits and debt. The measure would have passed, but seven members who had endorsed the idea instead voted 'no' for short-term political reasons," he said. "Just last week, a major piece of legislation to create jobs -- the public's top priority -- fell apart amid complaints from both the left and right. All of this and much more has led me to believe that there are better ways to serve my fellow citizens, my beloved state4 and our nation than continued service in Congress."

Is Bayh leaving because he's a moderate feeling the squeeze from extremists on both the Left and the Right? He says Congress is dysfunctional, and blames both sides for contributing to this dysfunction. Is he doing this to blunt the criticism on both sides, and to pacify those voters that sent him to Washington?

Some have speculated that Bayh's positioning himself to run for governor of Indiana, perhaps for president in the future, or perhaps to change parties, and become a Republican. He, himself, hasn't ruled out becoming a lobbyist (Good God, all we need is another legislator turn lobbyist!).

I don't think he's looking to change his party. His actions are those of a man angry with his party. I'm not an insider, with insider knowledge of the Beltway, but Bayh's actions are consistent with someone who feels betrayed, and wishes to hit back. You don't leave your party, a party struggling for every vote possible to pass filibuster proof bills, in a lurch, deciding just days before a filing deadline that you're not going to run again, especially when you're a shoo-in, if you do.

Again, in politics, you can't take anything for granted. Not even the loyalty of members of your own party. Especially members of your own party. Perhaps in the days ahead, we'll learn if there's more to the Bayh story, or we'll learn that he left for the reasons he stated.

Say it ain't so, Harold Ford! Harold Ford has unabashedly declared himself a strong supporter of Wall Street. You could say that he's Wall Street's candidate for the Senate, as he will be working largely on their behalf, as a Senator from New York. This declaration comes at a time when the reputations of corporations--those from the financial and health insurance sectors, in particular--are in disrepute, and the recent Supreme Court decision on behalf of corporate free-speech rights, threatens the integrity of our democracy.

Ford also rolled out a couple of new ideas for dealing with the still-shaky economy. For the first time, he proposed cutting the payroll tax for all businesses for six months as a way to "put more money in people's pockets."

And in a proposal sure to play well on Wall Street - where Ford is taking a leave of absence from his job as vice chairman of Merrill Lynch - Ford said the federal corporate tax should be reduced to 25% from 35%.

The latter drew a biting response from Team Gillibrand.

"Harold Ford is clearly running as Wall Street's guy," said Gillibrand adviser Jefrey Pollock. "While Kirsten is working to cut taxes on small businesses that create jobs, Harold is advocating for more Bush economics - giveaways to big corporations with no strings attached."

Wall Street Corporations need an "inside guy" like they need regulatory reform to force them to play fairly within a "free-market" structure. Practically every senator in the Senate are their "inside guy." In 2008, health interest alone spent more than $478.5 million dollars to influence Congress.

Well, read it for yourself:

According to a study by The Center for Responsive Politics, special interests paid Washington lobbyists $3.2 billion in 2008—more than any other year on record. This was a 13.7 percent increase from 2007 (which broke the record by 7.7 percent over 2006).

The Center calculates that interest groups spent $17.4 million on lobbying for every day Congress was in session in 2008, or $32,523 per legislator per day. Center director Sheila Krumholz says, “The federal government is handing out billions of dollars by the day, and that translates into job security for lobbyists who can help companies and industries get a piece of the payout.”

Health interests spent more on Federal lobbying than any other economic sector. Their $478.5 million guaranteed the crown for the third year, with the finance, insurance, real estate sector a runner up, spending $453.5 million. The pharmaceutical/health products industry contributed $230.9 million, raising their last eleven-year total to over $1.6 billion. The second-biggest spender among industries in 2008 was electric utilities, which spent $156.7 million on lobbying, followed by insurance, which spent $153.2 million, and oil and gas, which paid lobbyists $133.2 million. Pro-Israel groups, food processing companies, and the oil and gas industry increased their lobbying expenditures the most (as a percentage) between 2007 and 2008.

Now, this was just for 2008. Can you imagine what the outlay was for 2009? If we the people aren't getting enough democracy, and not enough representation from those we send to Washington, it's because we stop governing, and stop protecting, our own interests when we send someone to Washington. Until we put an end to lobbying abuse, and wring the money out of the system, it will always be business as usual on the Hill. But will we? The Tea Party movement seems more interested in curtailing government spending, than in curtailing special interest spending, more interested in turning the clock back, than in taking their country back. We can never expect Washington to be fiscally responsible, as long as we allow special interests to call the shots.

Their interest doesn't always clash with that of the people, but who's going to step in when it does? The Courts? The people? Our Representatives? Anybody?

Say it ain't so!


Ernesto said...

Evan Bayh was on Hardball the other night and Chris Matthews made a point of holding him up as some paragon of virtue. I wanted to throw up. This guy has 13 million dollars in the bank. Where did the money come from? If Chris Matthews was an actual journalist that is the first question he would have asked. Bayh will likely cash in as a lobbyist as the revolving door keeps spinning. Harold Ford, along with Rahm Emanuel, are the poster boys for this disgusting state of affairs. And that's just the Democrats. the Republicans, the only viable alternative presented to the voter in 2010, are one thousand times worse!

Black Diaspora said...

@Ernesto: "the Republicans, the only viable alternative presented to the voter in 2010, are one thousand times worse!"

They are a sad bunch. CPAC kicked off today, and their propaganda machine was working overtime.

Several of the speakers were caught lying, but then the people don't want the truth: The lie is far more palatable.

c.c. said...

Joe the plumber! I almost forgot about that rascal. Interesting that he says he thinks President Obama is honest, though.
Evan Bayh's departure sounds a lot like Palin's reasons for stepping down as governor. Scary.
Harold Ford, now that is an interesting subject. Well, I don't know that much about him yet, but he isn't probably any worse or better than Gillibrand, who he calls a parrot for Schumer. For some reason, the whole thing reminds me of the primary, Gillibrand assumes that it's her turn, sort of like Clinton did. Being your turn doesn't mean much to me. Being a Democrat, and, a friend of Wall Street, not a bad combination for New York. I have read that Ford changes his position a lot though.

Black Diaspora said...

@C.c.: "Being a Democrat, and, a friend of Wall Street, not a bad combination for New York. I have read that Ford changes his position a lot though."

I wonder, sometimes, c.c.: Is it possible for a politician to be an honest politician? Is it contradictory to say, "an honest politician?"

I know it's not just politicians that are "honesty challenged." There're many in our society who are: used car salesmen are probably at the top of the list.

Yet, politicians are caught all the time behaving fast and loose with the facts, yet suffer very little for the indiscretion.

Perhaps we've come to expect that.

What we don't expect is this: Just don't lie about an affair, if you're married. Spying on the opposition, and lying, and getting caught.

So when we hear about someone truly being honest, returning hundreds of dollars found in a McDonald's parking lot to the rightful owner, we're stunned.

But should we be?

Shouldn't honesty be expected with the same regularity as dishonesty?

I admit. I'm cynical. Human nature can be fickle, and, if we cut a broad swath across the demographic landscape, we're going to net a cross section of various human behavior: human failings as well as human successes.

Thanks for this opportunity to rant. I was responding to Ford's waffling, and position changing, as well as that of other politicians. I may blog about this one day.

c.c. said...

Thanks for the link about lying. It was interesting that the article mentioned Immanuel Kant, too. I try very hard not to lie, what's the point? I think we are getting more and more immune to lying politicians, though, as the article points out, and that carries over into all of our lives.

As to Harold Ford, he isn't any bigger of a liar than Gillibrand, she only moved to Hudson, NY to get elected, pretended to represent those people in that district, until she got this appointment. Let's switch it around, if Gillibrand was a Black woman who switched and waffled, and she had a contender, a white man from Wall Street, wouldn't the focus be on her and her lying and such? You mentioned used car salesmen, but I think that stock brokers are even worse, at least with a used car salesmen, you probably drive home with something:)

Hey, glad to hear you rant, it makes life fun!

Black Diaspora said...

@c.c.: "if Gillibrand was a Black woman who switched and waffled, and she had a contender, a white man from Wall Street, wouldn't the focus be on her and her lying and such? You mentioned used car salesmen, but I think that stock brokers are even worse, at least with a used car salesmen, you probably drive home with something:)"

A big Sarah Palin "You betcha!" she would. As a black woman she would get more focus.

Stock brokers' reputations have to be lower than used-car salesmen.

The whole financial sector, these days, enjoy less prestige.

When you get zero percent interest on loans of millions of dollars from the Feds for the purpose of lending, and you safely invest that money in government instruments, and then reap millions more, and then give yourself handsome bonuses with the earnings, in my book, that puts you in the scum-of-the-earth category.

Greed trumps honesty, patriotism, party affiliation, and family ties, more often than not.

c.c. said...

Yes, I think Gillibrand would get a lot more negative focus if she were Black, and Ford was white, instead, she is seen as a great candidate, and he is the evil Wall Streeter. To me, she is just as big a phoney waffler as Ford, but she doesn't get that kind of coverage, he does.

Stock brokers are in the scum-of the earth category, I agree!