Monday, July 13, 2009

It takes all kinds

By Don Klein

Cheney told us that torturing prisoners was necessary in order to protect Americans from more al Qaeda attacks. Today there is evidence that proves little valuable information was gathered and that normal non-debasing intelligence methods served the country best.

He also is identified by the current head of the CIA as the man who ordered the intelligence agency to not inform Congress of pertinent national security information that was normally due them.

Bush told us that warrant less eavesdropping of international telephone calls to and from the United States would keep us safe from future terrorist attacks. Now the CIA admits that little value was extracted from such methods.

Torture, wiretapping without judicial approval and withholding appropriate information from Congress violated American law, but the so-called, law-abiding Bush-Cheney gang didn’t give a hoot. They even got their flunky lawyers to legally approve many of these procedures.

In the 1980s, the GOP's much acclaimed Ronald Reagan told us that government was the problem and not the solution as he convinced Congress to weaken the ability of government regulators to protect the public served in various capacities by unscrupulous big businesses and greedy stock market manipulators.

Twenty-five years later we are experiencing the nearest thing to a full-fledged depression in our lifetime – worse than any economic downturn experienced since Herbert Hoover’s time. Lack of governmental regulatory control was a major factor. We certainly have much unsound behavior to attribute to the Republican Party.

But wait, we are not through. Today we have what might turn into almost unanimous Republican opposition to a universal health care plan for all citizens, including the 45-50 million uninsured Americans.

We have a heavy presence of Republicans among those who opposed any steps to combat global warming and the greening of America.

We have members of the GOP who vehemently oppose deficit spending --only when a Democrat is in office. These same conservative camp followers never made a peep when Bush turned an inherited Democratic surplus to a massive GOP deficit.

There are Republicans who love to accused the Democrats of being "tax and spend" activists when for eight years under Bush they were "tax cut and spend" twiddlers.

Then we have Governors Palin and Sanford. One quits when she has no reason to leave office and the other remains in office when he should quit. Palin abandons Alaska in mid-term so she can cash-in on her celebrity before it fades and Sanford keeps his adulterous behavior on the front pages by continuously explaining he love for a South American soul mate to the humiliation of his wife, four sons, and the people of South Carolina.

Then there is Sen. John Ensign of Nevada who kept a female underling as his private sex mate for more than a half year, even though the woman was married to another member of his staff. Having an illicit sexual relationship with an employee who happens to be married to another employee of yours is unmitigated depravity.

Then he decides to make things right by having both, the kept woman and her cuckolded husband, forced off his staff. Both out of work, the senator’s parents come to his rescue by giving the woman $96,000 as a "gift" – otherwise known as hush money. This is beginning to sound like a Giuseppe Verdi opera.

Ensign refuses to resign, too. Is it no wonder the Republicans are a minority party in the United States.

Of course, the difficulty is the Democrats are not much better. They watched as former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer squandered great political careers by slipping into acts of scandalous adultery. Then there was the impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich, of Illinois, and his curious Senate appointee, Roland Burris, who thankfully already took himself out of the 2010 elections.

The grotesque thing is that self-important, supercilious, pompous misfits similar to those I have mentioned will be on display this week and you would think these are people of the purest of standards. They will spend days exploring the judicial qualifications of New York Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

I always look at these Supreme Court confirmation hearings as if the inmates were in charge of the institution.

These same senators, who wallow in government provided privileges but cannot do the people's business most of the time, sit perched high on the rostrum like ancient inquisitors. Their judgments will count.

Just tell me this: Can anyone trust the perspicacity of a predecessor body like this which once approved Clarence Thomas for the highest court in the land? Can anyone trust a collection of people like this which not too long ago approved the outrageous congressional action in the Terri Schiavo case?

It can drive a commonsense person daft to realize who represents them in Washington.

So here we have it. A democracy, which American’s like to say is the best in the world. And yet we have deceivers like Reagan, Bush, Cheney, Sanford, Palin, Ensign, Blagojevich, Edwards and Spitzer running things. Like the onetime television comedian Marvin Stang used to say, "The world is made up of all kinds of strange people. I thank God I am not one of them."

But sadly we are one of them. There is no way of getting away from it. Power breeds abuse and contempt for others. In America, power is more potent than it has ever been anywhere, so we have to expect the worst from people in high positions.

Winston Churchill once remarked, "It’s been said democracy is the worst form of government except for all the other that have been tried." About this country, he also observed: "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else."

We have our work cut out for us.

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