Jan 11 2009

What Price Victory #2

Category: corruption,election 2008,politicsamuzikman @ 10:06 am

Or perhaps this blog could be more accurately entitled, “To The Victor Goes The Spoils’.  In either case there are immediate and profound consequences of this last election, and in my opinion troubling consequences as well.

As a result of the recent election three U.S. Senate seats are now vacant; one each in Delaware, New York and Illinois. Current law allows for the governors of those states to appoint individuals who will fill the seats being vacated by Obama, Clinton, and Biden.  For a moment, if you can, set aside your political affiliation and think about this. This means that 32,578,952 citizens of the United States are about to be represented by individuals who were not elected but rather selected for them by one person.

I seem to remember a lot of people were very upset after the 2000 presidential race when the Supreme Court had to intervene in the tallying of election results in Florida.  Even today you can find many of the liberal persuasion who claim President Bush was “selected, not elected”.  This has been one of the cornerstones of the “Hate Bush” crowd for eight years.  While the circumstances of 2000 are clearly subject to interpretation depending on your political leaning, this current situation is not.  Yet the silence is deafening.  Why don’t those same accusers raise their voices of protest in this case when “selection” is indisputable?  The answer, of course, is obvious.

What’s tragic for our country is that the selection process in each of the 3 current cases has shown itself to be entirely corrupt.  Apparently the seat in Illinois was up for the highest bidder, The Delaware selection process seems to be nepotism at it’s best and the New York seat is about to become a coronation more reminiscent of the British House of Lords than anything resembling our democratic process.  And in all three cases the issue of qualification is given little more than lip service.  Does ANYONE want to try and make the case that Carolyn Kennedy Schlossberg is actually qualified to be a U.S. senator?

Watching the way theses 3 senate seats are being filled should make us all demand a change in the law requiring a special election to fill all vacated seats.  Instead watching the news recently has made me feel like I’m watching “The Fall Of The Roman Empire“.  In case you are unfamiliar with the admittedly mediocre 1964 film, it ends with the hero, Livius, (Stephen Boyd), besting the evil Caesar Commodus in gladiator combat.  Immediately afterward he is offered the throne by the recently-deceased leader’s hirelings.  His (excellent) reply is, “You would not find me very suitable, because my first official act would be to have you all crucified.”  He then walks away with his true love on his arm while in the background a spontaneous auction begins for the throne of Rome.

I hope it does not need to be said that I do not advocate for crucifixion of political enemies.  But I do think there are many qualified men and women who simply refuse to participate in our political process either as candidates or even voters because they see the degree to which our political process has become corrupted.  Much of the corruption, not surprisingly, is tied to money.  Influence and access to political office has become the domain of the wealthy.  As more highly qualified, moral, intelligent, and knowledgeable individuals abdicate the election process, and as more political positions are gained by means other than that process, more of us will continue to ask:

Why bother to vote?

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Jan 11 2009

Mistaken identity

Category: humor,societyharmonicminer @ 9:17 am

So, a couple of weeks ago I was trying to sell my car.  I had arranged to meet with a potential buyer in a local shopping center, in front of an auto parts store.  The buyer never showed, though I stood around for about an hour waiting.

It was cold.  So I was really bundled up, walking around in front of the store, waiting for my no show buyer.  I am not a snappy dresser, and doubtless looked a bit mismatched.  I was listening to a book on my iPod (earbuds hidden under my aged stocking cap).  The book was “Orthodoxy” by G.K.Chesterton, a gem if there ever was one, and as is my wont when listening to books on audio, I stopped the iPod now and then and thought to myself a bit about what I’d heard.  And since Chesterton is often so pithy, sometimes I stopped and repeated the sentence I had just heard, for the sheer enjoyment of it.

Walking back and forth rather aimlessly, I wasn’t really watching all the people come and go, I just kept on eye on my car, figuring that if the buyer showed up, that’s where he’d go first.

A nice gentleman came up and said something I didn’t hear, what with the audio in my earbuds.  I didn’t even know he’d spoken to me at first.  I silenced the iPod, and looked at him, and he said, “Are you OK, sir?”, and then offered me a ten-dollar bill.  At first, I had the brief, crazy notion that he was my buyer, hoping I’d sell the car for a ten-spot.

Then it dawned on me that he thought I was a homeless person, and was offering me money.  I began to realize that he’d been watching me from inside the store, and probably saw me talking to myself, pace Chesterton.  Briefly, I was tempted to take the money, thank the man, and buy some hot chocolate.  I suspect I looked like an unemployed former Santa Claus imposter.

Better angels won the day, and I explained that I was trying to sell my car, pointed at the ancient Volvo wagon, and asked if he was interested, since my putative buyer never appeared.  The man’s expression became even more sympathetic (verging on pitying), and I realized he thought I was making it up, and didn’t really own the car.  I walked over and unlocked it, and the man’s face fell even further; he actually seemed to believe I was selling my home!

It took some time for me to convince him that I was not one of those well-spoken, educated homeless people, but was exactly what I said I was.  I’m not convinced now that I was totally successful.

We introduced ourselves, and it turns out he is a retired Marine officer teaching special ed in a local high school.  I expect I looked just about nothing like a music professor.  I’m still not sure he believed me.

While I do speak well and sound educated (no snickers, please), I’ve heard several homeless people who sound as good…  and he probably had, too.

He should have bought the car…  it was a good deal.

I really like hot chocolate.

I think I’ll see if I can use this whole narrative as a way to wangle a new jacket from my wife.

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