I was stuck in the car yesterday, and decided to go flicking through the radio stations. One station (which I have preset as it’s my local station for the Braves) had on the Rush Limbaugh show. I’ve heard a lot about him but never actually listened to his station raw. After 2 minutes, I had to turn it off, as I was tired of all the lies and basic errors he was passing off as ‘fact’. The specific segment of the show was about the Deepwater Horizons incident, and oil. He’s really living up to his (unofficial) sales patter, of Lies for Dumb People.
Few things caught my eye, which are fairly noteworthy, but which don’t need more than a few words.
First, the UK Pirate Party have launched their list of Candidates for the 2010 UK General election. The ten candidates cover a fairly straight line from London to Glasgow, with the exception of the party leader, standing in Worcester. Most are, as expected, in the 18-21 age range, but three are actually around 40 years old, so not just kids, as some talentless hacks might suggest. I’ll be supporting them, as always, by doing any odd-jobs (like working on press releases etc)
Next, an interesting quote from a US Republican. Over comments about misuse of party funds by GOP chairman Michael Steele, one republican was quoted in the Huffington Post as saying “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you are giving a political party your hard-earned money, you should have no doubts that it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled, egocentric, out-of-touch chairman with frivolous luxuries which are out of reach of the vast majority of the American people. Michael Steele needs to resign and let the RNC vote in a man or woman who understands that his or her needs do not come before the needs of the nation or the party.” (Douglas MacKinnon, former press secretary to Majority Leader Robert Dole.)
The funny thing? changing a very few words, you get the general impression people have about politicians in general, becoming (additions in bold, removals struck out) “No matter which side of the aisle you find yourself, if you are giving a political party POLITICAL CAPITAL your hard-earned money, you should have no doubts that it is going to be spent as advertised and not to provide a spoiled, egocentric, out-of-touch chairman FEW with frivolous luxuries which are out of reach of the vast majority of the American people.”
That’s lobbying for you, lobbyists can’t vote anyone in any more than anyone else, but they’re the ones that the politicians listen to. We need lobbying reform (or at least a transparent and accountable government)
53 cars were towed away from a frat house parking lot, after people parked there to listen to Glenn Beck sing. The people at the even at the university of Central Florida, in Orlando, said there were signs up, when they went to park, claiming the Kappa Sigma frat ‘set them up’. Did they? Possibly, but it would have been nice of them to check signs first. Then again, checking facts, (or knowing the law) is a very un-Glenn Beck thing to do.
Finally, some common sense it seems on patents. A New York judge ruled two DNA patents invalid, causing a small but measurable dip in the Biotech market. The patents, which relate to Breast Cancer genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, were hindering screenings, and tests. Naturally, there were some critics (biotech firms worried about the loss of genetic patents, for one, which is why their stocks dipped) while lawyers questioned the legal reasoning. Personally, I give a big hand to Judge Robert W Sweet for recognising that it’s pretty hard to patent a DNA sequence that occurs naturally, unless someone can point out how the patent holder, Myriad Genetics, invented these gene sequences (and thus, it seems, developed breast cancer…) As I remember the US Constitution, “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” patents on naturally existing DNA aren’t discoveries, nor was Myriad an inventor (they didn’t invent this DNA). The people who have these genes, they’re pretty darned strong ‘prior art’ (especially if they’re over 20).
Regardless, 2 patents down, thousands to go…
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Watching Brewsters Millions for the first time in years, a line in it exemplified perfectly what is wrong with “democracy” in the US, or rather why elected officials ignore common sense and the good of the people.
Heller and Salvino are both just a couple of overgrown Wharf Rats. Why else would anybody spend $10Million to get a $60,000/year job, unless he planned to steal it back with interest.
The ‘job’ (for those that haven’t seen the film recently) is Mayor of New York City. Heller and Salvino are the two candidates running for it seriously, before Brewster starts a campaign of “vote None of the Above”.
Money is a serious problem in US politics. If you don’t have any, you won’t get elected. If you’re the incumbent, it’s much easier to get money, to get you re-elected. Many people just don’t realise how much getting elected costs either. In the 2008 Senate race here in Georgia (which went to a December runoff):
Saxby Chambliss (R) $15,692,294 (FEC data)
Jim Martin (D) $7,508,505 (FEC data)
Allen Buckley (L) $28,666 (FEC data)
No surprises who won. Even less surprisingly, is that the salary is significantly less than this, $174,000 per annum. (as a side note, when the flm Brewsers Millions was made, in 1985, the Senate salary was $75,100). That’s for a 6 year seat, but what about the House, where it’s a 2 year seat? Again, my local race, for Georgia’s 8th district,
Jim Marshal (D) $1,736,540 (FEC data)
Rick Goddard (R) $1,192,303 (FEC data)
No surprises, but Jim won. the Salary is $174,000/year.
Many people weren’t aware of this HUGE money requirement in US politics. When this was pointed out on the Pirate Party International list, one Finn replied “My jaw just hit the floor and did not stop falling until it hit the basement.” It’s pretty damned crazy.
Also, at the same time you’re raising funds, you’re being paid for your job. Only in politics, are you paid by your job, while actively seeking another. Last year, both Obama and McCain deprived their states of half their senatorial representation, because they were busy campaigning for president, and not doing their job. That’s $87,000 in taxpayers money paid to them to do a job they’re not doing (assuming they spent half their time campaigning). both were elected in the November 04 elections, for a seat that expires in January 2011 (the 2010 elections)
Personally, I’d love to be busy applying for a job, for a year, ignoring any job I may have right now, and still be paid for it. For a public servant though, it’s just wrong. If you’re an elected representative, and you seek a different office, you should resign from your current one. Doesn’t matter if you’re Mayor and want to run for Governor, a governor and want to run for President, or a member of the House or Senate (state or Federal) If your current job isn’t what you want, let someone else have it, and actually do the job. It also means you’re not breaking your oath of office
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
Running for another position, when you’re supposed to be doing your job doesn’t seem like following your oath to me.
As we come up on the 8th anniversary of the 9/11 attack, there is a clear need to reflect on those past 8 years, and the effect that one event has had on not just the US, but on the greater world.
Certainly, as an attack, it was devastating. 3000 dead in a single multi-faceted attack (19 hijackers, 2,974 killed, and 24 still missing). However, those 3000 have shaped foreign policy around the world, has spawned several wars, shaped governments, and in many cases massively changed countries.