Thursday, September 15, 2011

Change for the worse

By Don Klein

I find it difficult to recognize my country these days. I grew up in an America that honored the elderly and respected the law. Now there are those in power who want to cut benefits for seniors and legally manhandle people because they “look different.”

As a child I was taught that the US mainland has never been attacked by foreign forces since the British in 1812 and that we never had lost a war. In the 60 years since then we suffered crippling assaults in Hawaii, New York and Washington and were run out of Vietnam by local insurgents and are on the way to a stalemate in Afghanistan.

I lived through the exhilarating period when America showed the world how racial wrongs could be corrected and how cruel punishment of prisoners would not be abided, but now we have a substantial portion of the population that hates the president because he is not white and others who openly applaud the death penalty and shout “yes” when asked if the uninsured should be left to die instead of getting treatment when sick..

There was a time we built railroads into every nook and cranny of the country and cris-crossed the nation with highways the envy of the world. Today the railroads are a shadow of what they once were and our motor-ways are crumpling with age yet we have a Congress more concerned with austerity than with reality.

We are wracked with fear where we once gloried in our boldness and enterprise. We are becoming more like a banana republic every day as the rich are protected and get richer and the rest of us come closer to poverty. Already one in six America families are at the poverty level. But worse than poverty is the dearth of hope and the increase in fear.

The people have been so conditioned to fear that some passengers on a Denver to Detroit airline flight singled out a woman with Semitic features sitting in the same row with two men of Indian origin as surely up to no good. They reported their suspicions, and the flight crew radioed ahead and the plane was greeted by heavily armed police and the FBI. It was the day of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

The woman, who was half Arab and half Jewish, was an American mother of twins and lived in Ohio. She was dragged off the plane, handcuffed, held incommunicado for hours and strip searched, before the FBI accepted the fact there was no reason to arrest her. She had done nothing wrong other than appear to others as “suspicious/” Fear claimed another victim. She never conversed with the men seated next to her at any time during the flight.

The entire incident which took many hours to resolve and involved the deployment of dozens of police and FBI agents was all for naught because of fear among certain passengers. This is not my America where police are supposed to have reasonable cause to take someone into custody.

This are the ugly faces of Americans seen almost everywhere. Many were appalled at the open verbal support demonstrated at the first Republican Presidential debate when Gov. Rick Perry of Texas was asked about the more than 230 prisoners executed in his state during his governorship.

I still shudder at the small-minded behavior of a surly bunch of men berating a crippled man sitting on the ground demonstrating at a government rally. One particularly insensitive cretin took a roll of bills out of his pocket and peeled off a single bill and threw it at the invalid as he shouted some inane remarks. This is not the compassionate America I knew.

The country has been corrupted by a corrupt government. First we had eight years of governance by fear as the former president and his cohorts made one exorbitant mistake after another. Now we have a Congress that has been purchased like puppies in a pet store and trained to do everything that must be done to protect their masters – the very rich..

The ghosts of great presidents of the past are covering their eyes not to see what has happened to their prodigious dream of a great nation inhabited by a great people. To a large degree it is the people who bought the lurid Ronald Reagan line about government being the problem, not the solution, that started it all 31 years ago.

Now it has reached to point that some want to dismantle government altogether and allow the robber barons of the 21st century to take charge. The one percent at the economic top will get richer and the rest will face falling below the poverty line,

This is a complete reversal of all that government stood for when I was growing up. At present it is the Republican hardliners who hold the reins that are pulling the nation down and if they win the presidency next November it is hard to imagine what rollicking price the poor and middle class will pay to enhance the lives of the top one percent.

The way this nation is going at present makes it all the more a contrast with the way things used to be when people were willing to work together for the good of all. Back then the Republicans and Democrats competed with each other, today it is all out warfare with the public being damned.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wanted: a third party?

By Don Klein

I was never an advocate of a third party in the United States. I remember the hopeless attempts of Strom Thurmond’s Dixiecrats and Henry Wallace’s Progressive parties during the Harry Truman days. I also recall vividly the failed attempt of Ross Perot’s third party just two decades ago. None were very appealing, but all resulted in a Democrat winning the presidency.

I am beginning to wonder if it is time for another third party endeavor given the dysfunction we labor under in today’s Washington. If nutty Perot could corral about 20 percent of the vote in the last decade of the 20th Century would it be possible for a viable third party candidate to do much better today? I would guess maybe 30 percent of the vote or more – or is that just wishful thinking?

Today’s political affiliations are miserable. The country used to be divided between Republicans and Democrats and the two parties worked together for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Today neither combative party seems to hold more than 30 percent support of the body politic and the largest growing group of voters are in the independent category.

Independents seem to be multiplying like rabbits in heat as disenchanted members of both parties are finding no satisfaction among their political leaders. Grass roots Republicans do not like the fact that their traditional party has been hijacked by a bunch of ne’er do well dilettantes carrying the stubborn banner of the Tea Party.

The Democrats are not happy either. They elected Barack Obama to make changes in the disastrous policies born during two terms of the Bush presidency and discovered that he was mostly talk and not a very effective doer. He compromised away much of the good he managed to accomplish in health reform and new financial regulations and to the dismay of his adherents, extended too much of the bad from the previous administration.

The latest disheartening effect was his capitulation to the GOP on raising  the debt ceiling almost entirely under their terms. “We got 98 percent of what we wanted,” said a victorious Speaker of the House John Boehner after the debacle. Obama’s strategy of harmony does not work in Washington and he seems to be the only Democrat who doesn’t recognize that brutal fact.

If a third party can draw at least 30 percent of the vote in 2012 it could possibly win the White House. If not, it would certainly scare the pants off the other two parties that the public is ready to take drastic steps if they don’t start considering the needs of ordinary people over the greed of the wealthy.

At present Washington is inhabited by G-men – and I don’t mean agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. When I say G-Men I mean the “greedy” Republicans personified by Boehner and Eric Cantor and the “gutless” Democrats embodied by Obama and Harry Reid.

The result of this dichotomy of power is that the little guys and gals of the country are not being served. Or to put it succinctly, they are being screwed. The wealthy are being cared for, so are the poor, but the middle class is being hung out to dry by a callous Congress and a gun shy president. Many Americans have had it. Democrats no longer have any faith in Obama’s ability to lead and many others have given up on the GOP as well.

A third party could be the answer. The question arises though, who will lead this new crusade to take back the country from such absurd political wannabies as Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry or the punchless Democrats. My personal favorites are Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. But neither of them would abandon the Democrats.

Perhaps an independent like New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg could be convinced to make the run. Historically he has been a Republican and a Democrat during different points in his career. He is a smart man and could prove to be a national asset.

He has a number of serious shortcomings, though. Besides being short in stature and having a squeaky voice (important elements in modern day television candidacies)
he is a New Yorker, which will not go well in parts of the heartland, and he is Jewish, which could be a negative factor in a country that has never  nominated a non-Christian for president.

There must be others that are not well known and that, too, can be a problem. One thing is certain, however, if there is to be a third party challenge next year there is no time to loose. There must be action soon, very soon. Actually a third party is likely a dead issue for the next election, but the country cannot continue along current lines.

I’d hate to experience the troubles the Brits are having these days with a very unhappy constituency. I fear such a violent outbreak could occur here if the government doesn’t act for the people soon. We cannot continue to giveaway the country to the wealthy. We cannot continue as a corporatocracy.

We fought fascism and won. Later we fought communism and won. Now we have to fight corporate gluttony or the US goes down the drain. No one in Washington is willing to take on that battle today, so maybe a new force in the form of a third party will be the answer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Are we our brother's keeper?

By Don Klein

I am not what some people would describe as a “Bible freak.” You know, those people who attribute all that happens to mankind being the result of God”s displeasure with the human race for not obeying every word in the scriptures.

I recall some religious kook proclaiming that the reason for the disaster of September 11, 2001 was God’s way of punishing us for tolerating homosexuality in this country. Similar absurdities were floated into the ether by fundamentalists after Katrina, the bombing in Oklahoma City, the Gulf oil spill and virtually every major natural or manmade disaster in recent years.

Just because these weirdoes use what they call the holy book as the grounds for their idiotic pronouncements it doesn’t negate everything we find in the bible. The most casual reader will find considerable wisdom in the book if he looks at it as a source of ancient sensibility.

Forbiding murder, theft and covetous behavior for example, are just a handful of biblical prohibitions that make civilized life a bit more civilized in enlightened societies around the world.

To me, probably the most universally ignored words among the thousands of biblical passages is the one Cain uttered after he slew his brother, Abel. According to the bible he asked God “Am I my brother's keeper?" That was a weighty question in ancient times and it still is today, maybe even more so than ever.

The evidence of self-centered irresponsible conduct, often purely criminal, is mountainous across every border of the globe. In Norway we have a young man driven by fear and hatred demonstrating his ire by blowing up government buildings in Oslo followed by mowing down youngsters at an island summer camp not too distant. Total dead: more than 70.

In Iraq and Afghanistan we read news reports of hundreds dying almost weekly by militants who blow up victims without so much of a second thought about the consequences or the impact this has on families and without apparent penalty to themselves if they manage to escape their suicidal designs.

In London we have Murdoch’s news minions digging into the private affairs of private citizens in search of juicy knick-knacks to be included in Sunday newspaper features. When exposed Rupert, the grand sultan of the gigantic media corporation, and his son, James, the grand vizier, rejected responsible for the breaches of morality and law and not only claimed innocence, but worse, claimed they are victims of their own manipulations.

Then don’t forget the Wall Street moguls who discovered a sleazy way to make tons of money by packaging and selling faulty real estate stock to gluttonous “get rich quick” buyers then purchasing insurance to cover their losses so when the stock crashed they make their money and others go down the toilet.

In Washington we have the living hell of a government that cannot govern in the United States because politicians are more interested in their temporary political survival than the good of millions of non-politicians who will suffer dearly if the country defaults on its debts.

The most ironic twist of all is that the Republicans refusal to permit closing of tax loopholes and elimination of tax cuts for the wealthy because they claim it is wrong to raise personal costs (taxes) in a recession could be causing everyone to incur higher expenses when interest rates balloon after the country fails to pay its creditors.

Are they saying keep taxes low, but disregard the higher cost of living that will accompany default? I have to say they are not thinking of anything but their own reelection and their wealthy backers.

As the unprincipled successors to the biblical Abel, they have every right to ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” with a straight face. So are the Wall Street moguls and Rupert and James Murdoch. The only thing they keep close to their hearts is their wallets.

Whether you attain power threw the use of a gun aimed at unarmed individuals as in Norway or a bomb surreptitiously placed in front of a government building, like in Oklahoma City or because you own a large media conglomerate or you are just a thoughtless, closed-minded politician, you are dangerous to mankind. Your goal is to destroy others for you own purposes and to hell with the consequences.

So the ancient men who wrote the bible might have had the right idea. They called out many of the bad guys of religion and myths for all to note through eternity or for as long as people read the bible. In a sense they were the journalists of their archaic eras, and it is interesting that the journalists of today are kept busy reporting stories of people who still believe they are not their brother’s keeper.

Despite all the scientiific and technical progress of mankind through the ages, some things never change.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Whose ox is being gored?

By Don Klein

Ever since the Tea Party has emerged as a potent force on the American political scene the focus of their attention has been to reduce governmental spending. This has led to a Republican willingness to cripple important programs to attain these goals.

Reducing government spending is an honorable goal. The United States is the world's largest debtor nation and it spends much more than it can afford. Its debt payments alone are close to half of the funds it needs to operate.

In reducing expenditures the problem arises in determining what should be cut from a budget that runs along a varied path from important humane safety net costs to immense national defense outlays.

In addition to budget cuts, the Tea Party argues against new expenditures that are not accompanied by equivalent other budget cuts. On the face of it that is not such a bad idea but when you include the demands by Republican partisans, of which most Tea Party adherents are apart, the country faces a serious dilemma.

The Republican-Tea Party position evolves into a crisis mode for the middle class taxpayer. The RTP coalition wants to cut what they call “entitlements” and refuses to consider increases in corporate or personal income taxes even when exclusively directed to the wealthy class.

They would rather load the financial burden of recovery on the backs of the lowest economic element in society by chipping away at Medicare and Social Security while shielding the most affluent in our society from any additional tax costs. It should be noted that most senators and a large number of House members are in the higher income category.

There are tons of money the government can save if they really wanted to. First of all, you might ask why we are still in Iraq. The war is over but the Iraqi government still wants our troops there as a stabilizing force.

The solution: Since they need a reliable force to ballast their shaky democracy shouldn’t the Iraq government pay the cost of US troops on their territory. Bodyguards don’t come cheaply.

Also, we are spending tons of money to defend the corrupt government of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan. The US had three goals in Afghanistan. 1, to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Done. He is dead, 2, to support the Afghans against the Taliban. The Afghan government is discussing an accord with the Taliban surreptitiously. Why should the US. stay?, and 3, to support the so-called next door ally, Pakistan. Since Pakistan is unreliable and untrustworthy as a ally, we have no need to support them any further.

The solution: Get out of Afghanistan.

The US maintains a force of 50,000 troops in Germany 66 years after the end of World War II, thousands more in Japan, Korea and many other locales around the globe. These countries have built up their own military and can take care of their own needs.

The solution: Close these garrisons and bring the troops home and then reduce the size of the military to a smaller but more efficient and deadly force, highly skilled in the task of defending the homeland.

There are scores of other vestigial projects left over from previous generations that cost billions despite no longer making sense or remaining viable. Let’s look at these residual federal fund guzzlers, identify them and ax them before we draw the curtains at the heart of current human needs like Medicare.

At the same time we should increase the salaries of members of Congress to at least a million dollars each to eliminate the chances they will be influenced by bribes and as a lure to get better people to run for office. It will also make the penalty for losing a seat in Congress of such financial magnitude that it could eliminate corruption in office.

The salary increase would cost the country about $450 million more than presently, but could save hundreds of billions in wasted funding of projects pushed by influential lobbyists.

Other cutbacks should be made in subsidies to profitable organizations, also ending individual tax shelters and eliminating earmarks as a device for congresspersons to enhance their districts as the costs to the rest of us.

Talking about earmarks, there is an interesting development among the Tea Party members. They have clearly stated publicly that they will not approve any government expenditures, that is, except those earmarks they want for their own districts.

They are willing to cut into Medicare funds which help millions of seniors at the same time they are trying to collect federal dollars for pet projects that favor their constituents. Another case of political hypocrisy.

The New York Times reports that Tea Partyers “have pushed for projects in their districts, including military projects opposed by the president,, replenishing beach sand lost to erosion, a $700 million bridge in Minnesota and a harbor dredging project in Charleston, S.C.”

The information was uncovered by an examination of spending bills, new releases and communications with federal agencies and from information gained through the Freedom of Information Act.

“...Nearly two dozen (Tea Party) freshmen have sought money for projects that could ultimately cost billions of dollars, while calling for less spending and banning pork projects” for others. The Times reported.

As an old friend of mind used to say, the budget cutting process depends on whose ox is being gored. If it affects the other guy it is all right. He also said we are all hypocrites to a certain degree but politicians make a career of it as they seek quick (usually poor) solutions to solve complicated problems.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Caylee's legacy

By Don Klein

To most of us it is inconceivable that a parent would not report the missing child for 31 days. It is unimaginable that during those 31 days that the parent would go out dancing and revel with friends and never saying anything about the child.

It certainly is the behavior of a irresponsible, self-centered and immature mother to act that way. But that does not prove her guilty of murder as so many sidewalk busybodies have concluded.

The Casey Anthony case is a sad one no matter how you look at it. To begin with it is the lose of the life of the sweet-faced, playful little two year old Caylee who deserved a lot better than she got. Looking at that pixilated little victim on TV screens is enough to break your heart.

It is also sad that the Florida prosecutor, who leveled serious capital charges against this foolish 25-year-old mother, apparently saw an opportunity to make a name for himself by setting in motion a trial that had no real evidence. He clearly was not seeking justice for Caylee he was seeking headlines for himself, which he got.

And finally it is sad to observe on cable television a street full of gabby gossipers crying their eyes out as they shouted their disapproval of the jury’s verdict in this case. Not only did they demonstrate the worst understanding of the American judicial system, they helped create a lynch mob atmosphere by their rage.

The blabbermouths who screamed into the microphones held by cable TV minions decided with outlandish conviction that the defendant was guilty without ever hearing a word of testimony in the courtroom. They completely disregarded the basic rule of criminal justice in this county – the presumption of innocence.

Listen to any judge as he charges any jury saying that just because the prosecutor brings charges against a defendant that does not mean the defendant is guilty. The case has to be proven by the evidence presented in court and not whatever is seen or heard anyway else.

The founding fathers knew that when they included due process in the nation’s basic law, the Constitution.

In this country you are innocent until proven guilty, yet to those meddlers outside the courthouse, Casey Anthony was guilty no matter how wanting was the case against her. They wrongly compared the verdict to the infamous Los Angeles trial of O.J. Simpson in 1995.

Admittedly I did not follow the Anthony trial during its lengthy and sordid telling on television but of course I could not avoid learning of the verdict and all the hubbub that followed. The recapitulations I heard and read left me with the feeling that the case against the errant mother was never proved.

Inasmuch as there was no cogent evidence of her guilt the jury did the right thing in finding her not guilty. This is a mystery which will never be solved. It could have been a case of getting away with murder, or a foolish attempt to coverup an accident, or possibly some other explanation. The only important issue here is that the prosecutors failed to prove murder and the jury knew that better than anyone else.

This trial, and others, have sharpened my feeling that journalists have to be restrained in their handling of capital cases. Pretrial publicity often is horrendous and nourished by devious attorneys eager to make their case before the public.

Although I believe strongly that trials should be open to the public and fully reported in the press I do not favor televising trials. That often leads lawyers and judges to showboating and leaves commentators like Nancy Grace, of HLN channel, and others to prejudge the case before thousands of viewers.

Although it is far from perfect, I like the jury system and rarely dispute its decisions. As far as I am concerned the key to any case is what motivates the prosecutor, not what motivates the defendant. District attorneys who take their oaths to represent the interests of all the people, which includes those accused of crimes, are unique in America. Most seek justice often in “hot” cases to enhance their ambitions.

In that regard I take my hat off to Cyrus Vance, Jr., the New York D.A., who handled the ticklish rape charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn as well as he could. He looked at the evidence against the Frenchman and found it weak and possibly unsubstantiated. He is considering decreasing the charges.

The foreign accusations of some branding the US judicial system as “rushing to judgment” in the Strauss-Kahn case are ridiculous. The man was on a Paris-bound flight and had to be arrested before the victim’s claims could be fully verified and he fled the country’s jurisdiction. Once investigation proved the alleged victim was not credible, the charges were lowered.

In both cases, Anthony and Strauss-Kahn, I think Americans can be proud of the action in its courts. More importantly, the Anthony case has spurred more than a dozen states to propose laws which in the past I think were never necessary. These laws would make it a crime for a parent not to report a missing or dead child within a brief time period.

That, sadly for poor Caylee Anthony, would be her only legacy to the rest of us.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Let's talk about duopoly

By Don Klein

Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for The New York Times, refers to the current political condition of the United States as a duopoly. He says he is in favor of a third party in the country.

I don’t know about the viability of a third party in America so I’ll put that subject aside for the moment, but he certainly is right on target with his duopoly label. The dictionary describes duopoly as “an oligopoly limited to two sides or the preponderant influence or control by two political powers.”

That aptly describes this country for the last several decades. It is a wonder anything gets done, and little has. As we look to the immediate future it appears less likely there will be much accomplished in the next 18 months unless the public acts up and demands a change.

It is a simple circumstance – or a deadly situation which could spell doom for the American era – on the one side we have a party dedicated to protecting the rich and powerful and the giant corporations that breast-feed them.

On the other side we have a political party that caters to the needs of the middle class, supports social relief programs, sees value in ordinary people, but like the proverbial Ferdinand the Bull is timid beyond belief about taking forceful action.

The Republicans are obstinate in their belief in small government with limited spending and the lowest possible taxes on people and businesses while the Democrats believe that only through energetic government programs can the masses be helped. They feel the well-to-do and corporations should pay more taxes to meet those needs because they have more to start with.

They are both stubborn in their beliefs and hypocritical in their actions. The Republicans like to label the Democrats as Socialists yet they support massive government giveaways to agricultural giants, oil companies and multi-billion dollar industrial combines. And, of course, they love tax loopholes and tax cuts for the rich. They’ll never admit it but that is their form of socialism.

The Democrats like to present themselves as the party of the people but lack any sense of urgency or stomach to fight to prove it. When they held a majority in both houses of Congress after the 2008 election they twiddled away the time until the death of a member deprived them of a cloture protection in the Senate and rendered the party helpless.

Whether they purposefully allowed the opportunity to escape them or really didn’t want to deliver on their promises to the little guy is not clear, but the Democratic Party cannot escape the charge of being incompetent and dysfunctional.

So here we have two parties which through the years allowed the government to tight walk at the edge of disaster inviting a financial catastrophe to finally turn the country into a debtor nation of extreme proportions three years ago without resolving even a portion of their differences.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats seem to realize that the current state of affairs does not allow them to continue in partisan upmanship. The nation is crying for leadership, needs hard decisions and all it gets is drivel.

President Obama, the ostensible leader of the country, seems to spend most of his time sitting on the sidelines like a sagacious Guru seeking consensus which never comes while the Republicans shuffle the deck of the most illogical backwater assortment of has-beens and unknowns to lead the party into the 2012 presidential elections.

The people are left to wonder if this is the end of the American dream?

Maybe it’s too much to hope for an Abraham Lincoln or a Franklin Roosevelt to come to our rescue in these dire times, but most voters will settle for at least someone who acts appropriately in their behalf. But none seem to exist in today’s world.

As much as many hoped Obama to be our national savior, he is no FDR. He doesn’t have the fight in him, nor the willingness to act, and seems to squander every political advantage at hand. His courageous approval of the Navy Seals attack on Osama bin Laden his sole achievement worthy of great leadership. Elsewhere he continues too many Bush programs he once abhorred as a candidate and otherwise fails the people who supported him.

On the other side, the Republicans have offered the public a bland salad of leftover hacks and dim-witted hopefuls as a counterbalance to the president. The traditional centrist Rockefeller Republican no longer exists and all that remains is Right Wing ideologues and fat cats trying to outdo each other for the minuscule Tea Party support by holding the budget hostage to their simplistic views.

The nation is stuck in neutral. We are going nowhere while living in the worst hard times in memory of most of us. Duopoly is the right word all right. Both sides are thinking of themselves and neither side is thinking of the people – and the people remain silent. That makes no sense.

We cannot depend on the current flock of politicians. It is up to the people to find representatives in both houses of Congress and in the White House who have more than good ideas, but also have the courage of their convictions and the boldness needed to push through legislation that is needed for the common good.

It is time for Republicans voters to throw out of office those party members who embrace Tea Party ideals and look for true conservatives and its time for Democrats to turn their backs on the wishy-washy types who only want to be re-elected and seek real progressives who want to serve the people.

The best results in American history was when reasonable conservatives and true progressives fought it out in the political arena. We have to get back to that. Then maybe we will know where the country is going?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Circus ludicrous

By Don Klein

David Vitter is a United States senator and a habitue of brothels in Washington and Louisiana. The Republicans think so highly of him that they ran a special get-together in a lobbyist’s fancy D.C. home recently to raise funds for his political future. The well-attended affair raised a minimum of $2,500 per guest.

At the same time this was happening Republican House Leader Eric Cantor and Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus declared that Representative Anthony Weiner, a Democrat, was unfit for service in the Congress because of his propensity to send lewd pictures of himself to women via Twitter.

This is not just the height of hypocrisy, it is circus ludicrous. I compare this to a visit to the zoo where irate monkeys fling defecation at visitors after a session with keepers discussing how best to behave in mixed company. You just cannot talk to primates and expect them to understand English. The same is true of Republicans.

That is only one aspect of the tragedy involved in the Weiner case. Congressional hypocrisy is no more shocking than waking up in the morning and discovering yourself in a bed. The other, and more important calamity here is the loss of another intoxicating voice in support of liberal causes.

We have all the fools any unsophisticated society would want on the Republican side. We have Sarah Palin, whose latest retelling of American history sounds more like an Abbott and Costello routine. They were hilarious, she is incredulous. When she talks about history – or anything significant – it reminds me of the “Who’s on First” skit.

I was going to start a litany of all the Republican scoundrels who made it to Congress, starting with those brazen-faced adulterers Newt Gingrich, currently running for president, and John Ensign who resigned minutes before be was to be expelled from the Senate for circumstances related to his unabashed and unethical relationship with a married woman who worked for him.

But I’d rather stick with Weiner because his aberration seems to be more of a loss to the country. We can do without Palin, Gingrich, Vitter and Ensign. Their value to the country, other than as comic relief, is at the bottom of the laugh meter. Not so with Weiner, a politician who seemed to have much to offer the country.

He was an outspoken champion of the little guy. He supported medical health for everyone, battled hardheaded opponents who tried to drown out liberal thought in the country. He was a bright man with a bright future. Now, thanks to his sophomoric need to expose himself to unknown women, he will never again be taken seriously, even if he decides not to resign from Congress.

Here was what seemed to be a brilliant political force who turned out to be just one more of the guys who used celebrity for no good. The public Hall of Shame is long and will get longer as the years go by. The result is the country will suffer for it. Just look at a quick list of public figures who talk like ethereal messengers of good but behave like dogs in heat with total lack of respect for themselves, their families and the public.

You have to lead every list of this sort with former President Bill Clinton and former Senator John Edwards, If only it could end there. Then there is Rep. Mark Foley, Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, Gov. Mark Sanford, Gov. James McGreevey, Rep. Bob Livingston, Sen. Larry Craig, Gov. Eliot Spitzer and if we really want to dig deep into the past, there was JFK and FDR.

None of these men would ever be voted husband of the year, yet they were all elected by a gullible public that believed in great men, or in some cases, just men of stature. I have not listed here the public figures who went to jail for non-sexual crimes against the people. Power often leads to shame. Man is an eternal enigma.

Back to the current circumstances. For one we have a whoremonger being feted by his Republican colleagues while at the same time we have a Democrat unable to get anyone on either side of the Congressional aisle to speak up for him. And he, in most people’s minds, was the perpetrator of the lesser evil.

I don’t excuse Weiner for his outlandish behavior. He is a sick man and should get treatment, but I feel he fits in perfectly with the reprobates of Congress. In our democracy we leave it to the electorate to decide who they want to represent them and if they choose to reelect Weiner because of his faithfulness to liberal cause, that is their choice.

If the people of Louisiana can burden the nation for another six years with a man of Vitter’s low motivations by reelecting him despite his proclivities for prostitutes, so be it. But the damage is done. No one will take Vitter seriously in the future, as if there was much of a chance for that anyway, and no one in the future will take Weiner seriously either. His personal compulsion has muted his strident political voice.

That’s what you harvest once you have lost credibility and respect. It is a lesson for all of us, especially those who intend to seek public office in the future.