Thursday, March 27, 2008

after the music stops

The best way to see what a politican is all about is to see what they do when there is they are lame ducks or out of office. Some, like Al Gore (D-TN) and Jimmy Carter (D-GA), go on to do meaningful things about stuff they care about. Others, like Trent Lott (R-MS) and Al Wynn (D-MD), take the money and run.

Roll Call, one of the two big Capitol Hill Newspapers, is reporting that Wynn will announce today that is will "leave the House in June to join a Washington, D.C., law firm" aka become a lobbyist and make millions. Lott already did the same thing, going even the extra step of registering the domain name of his super lobbying firm before resigning from the Senate. Which, by the way, is illegal. Wynn's retirement is a forced one, having been trounced last month by Donna Edwards by over 20 points thanks to new Obama voters (both candidates endorsed Obama in this middle-class majority minority district).

It used to be that people sought elective office because they wanted to do great things and make their country/state/county/town better. Then it used to be that they wanted power and priviledge. Now many politicans just use decades in Congress as a stepping stone to a much more lucrative career in lobbying their former collegues about stuff they don't know (or care) a thing about.

So the real question about Utah's elected officials is, if they had their druthers, what would they do after being what they are right now? Gov. Huntsman clearly would rather be in the executive branch in a cabinet post; he seems to find dealing with the legislature annoying and the topics of dispute petty. Speaker Curtis seems to be trying to hang on to his seat so that he can run for Rep. Matheson's when he expects Matheson to run for governor. Senator Valentine, I have no clue.

Sen. Hatch would rather be a music/movie/tv star, as witnessed by his many albums, fighting for copyright changes, and cameos on movies like Traffic. Sen. Bennett also seems to be more comfortable as a technocrat than as a senator. Although he does love bringing home the bacon, whereas Hatch again just wants to be famous.

The House side is tougher to call. Rep. Matheson seems to have a distaste for lobbying and lobbyists, even if his friends and former collegues coming knocking. So I doubt he will go that route. Rep. Bishop likes to do a couple of pieces of serious legislation here and there, and doesn't need a high profile. So I think Bishop is happy as is. Rep. Cannon on the other hand loves to go on TV and say ridiculous stuff that I can't imagine he actually believes. I think he wants to be a TV pundit.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

When did baseball become partisan?

Remember that terrible hearing that Roger Clemens demanded in front of the House Oversight Committee? It was terrible because Republicans were attacking Brian McNamee while Democrats were attacking Roger Clemens.
The top Republican on the congressional committee investigating whether Roger Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs released a report Tuesday questioning whether Clemens lied in his testimony before the panel last month.
The 109-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, contains details Rep. Tom Davis believes could challenge the credibility of Brian McNamee, the personal trainer who testified under oath he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone.
Republican staff from the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform say they will pass along additional information to the Justice Department. The FBI is investigating whether Clemens lied to Congress.
''It's a far more complicated picture than some may want to believe," Davis said.
But the reason Democrats attacked Clemens was not because they thought McNamee was an alter boy, but because Clemens' own friend and teammate, Andy Petitte gave a sworn deposition [warning PDF] that confirmed the main thrust of McNamee's allegations--that Clemens used HGH.

A sports columnist asked the same question I am, and came to this conclusion:
When did this thing get so partisan?

There are plenty of folks who would agree that Congress should stop meddling with baseball (and now, the NFL) and really do the work of the people. On its surface, [Rep. Patrick] McHenry [(R-NC)]'s point certainly has merit.

But here’s what McHenry told The Gazette in 2005 on the afternoon after he’d just grilled Mark McGwire [...]
What happened between then and now to change his mind? Plenty.
For starters, his party was in the majority in 2005 and was actually the body that called for the hearings in the first place. Now that the Dems are calling the plays, McHenry wants to stay on the sidelines.
Another, perhaps more conspiratorial view, is that Clemens was embraced by the Republicans at the behest of George H.W. Bush, who served one term as president beginning in January 1989 and is the father of current president George W. Bush. Like Clemens, Bush is a longtime resident of the Houston area. The elder Bush routinely attends Astros games every season, and during Clemens’ three years with the team (2004-06) the two forged a reportedly strong relationship and attended social functions and fundraisers together.

Their friendship goes all the way back to 1991...
An even more cynical fan might take the view that the Republicans simply despise the Mitchell Report itself, the investigation by former Sen. George Mitchell into baseball’s steroids problem.

Mitchell is a prominent figure within the Democratic Party, after all.
Clemens is pathetic. To defend him is a losing proposition.
But then again, Republicans are going down with plenty of sinking ships these days.
So is the Bush family really going to bat, so to speak, for Roger Clemens, and lobbying Republican Congressmen? Who knows, but either way, it doesn't make sense for these Congressmen to go along with Bush on this one.

I mean, in retrospect, doesn't it seem obvious that a guy this old couldn't suddenly step up his game to untold hights (and be able to play on the same rest schedule as he did in the 1980s) without the assistance of illegal injections?

Of course, I am partisan too....I am a Boston Red Sox fan.

Monday, March 24, 2008

necessary evil

CNN analyst and Hillary Clinton advisor James "the ragin' Cajun" Carville had this to say about Bill Clinton's Super Bowl watching buddy. (Doesn't he look pissed that he has to watch the game with Richardson?) "Mr. Richardson's endorsement came right around the anniversary of the day when Judas sold out for 30 pieces of silver, so I think the timing is appropriate, if ironic," he said, calling it "[a]n act of betrayal."

Now Carville is known for his crazy commentary that is some times apt--"it's the economy, stupid"--some times outrageous and some times light heartedly funny. And I could get into the Godfather-esque ways Clintonistas (and not the Clintons themselves) talk about Richardson ["How many times did [Clinton] appoint him?" McAuliffe marveled {after Richardson's strategy to tell his supporters to go to Obama if they didn't meet 15% "caused" Hillary to get 3rd place in Iowa}. "Two? U.N. Ambassador and Energy Secretary?" He looked at me, half-glaring, awaiting confirmation. "I don't know," I joked, "but who's counting?" "I am," McAuliffe said firmly."] But I would rather focus on the Easter message that is being distorted.

The more I think about it, the more I don't get why people "blame the Jews" or "Judas" for "killing Jesus." In case you forgot, Jesus wanted to be killed. He knew that one of his disciples was going to point him out to the authorities, and since it was Jesus, he probably knew it was Judas but just didn't want the other 11 to attack him before Judas did the deed. Assuming Carville is a Christian, which I believe he is (a Catholic, I think), then he knows that it was necessary for Jesus to be crucified for our sins. Without Judas or the Jewish authorities turning him over to the Romans, how would Jesus have died, and would Christianity have got on the way it did? What symbol would one use to connote one's belief in Jesus? Not a cross.

Unless you assume that the same or similar thing would have happened anyway. Really, the whole thing gets one into one of those debates involving any piece of fiction that involves time travel or engaging in hypothetical situations where history is altered. Would Lincoln or Kennedy be considered great presidents if they hadn't been assassinated? Would the Reconstruction or Vietnam occurred? Would Marty McFly have made his parent fall in love? As much as I like to debate topics like this with friends--I do love pointless arguments about silly topics like Back to the Future parts I-III--I think the whole "blame Judas" or "blame the Jews" thing is stupid and counterfactual.

To be clear I am not saying that Clinton is Jesus or that she needs Richardson to endorse Obama in order to win. Who knows how that will all play out. What I am saying is that Judas--and the nominal authorities of Jeruslem in 33 CE--played a critical role in creating Christianity as a world religion and was a necessary act for Jesus to be the redeemer of sinners under that same faith. Anyway, Happy Easter Monday.