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Civic Lessons Gone Awry

Story ID:7617
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Washington. District of Columbia usa
Year:2011
Person:various
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I am really very glad that 60 Minutes of late is devoting their time and energies to
exposing so many shameful practices of Congress. Last week they told us that
Congressional members are privy to inside trading with impunity. This is disgraceful.
One set of laws for us and yet another set for them? It seems we need a second
legislative body to undue their selfish, greedy ways which do not hold them
accountable for infractions such as this one.

Two weeks ago, convicted lobbyist Abramoff told 60 Minutes how he was able to
get the votes of hundreds of congressmen with promises of jobs, money, and gifts.
How could we let this happen? Sadly, the lobbyists are still probably plying their
trade with impunity.

This week 60 Minutes exposed the shameful pledge of 270 Republican members
of Congress to never vote for an increase in taxes. Grover Norquist who runs the
group- Americans for Tax Reform was profiled and according to Andy Kroll "He has
done more than any one man to ensure that Congress' budget-slashing supercommittee
goes down in flames."

Norquist even vilified Ronald Reagan by calling him a "Rat Head in a Coke Bottle" -
his horrible and mean-spirited description of any Republican who doesn't adhere to his
no-tax policy. I am so glad though that I finally learned something favorable about the
former president in regard to taxes. Per Kroll, he closed business tax loopholes in 1984,
raised corporate taxes in 1986, hiked capital gains taxes by 40 percent and in all raised
taxes 11 times in 8 years."

I am hard on President Reagon for allowing the factory farms from hell become a part
of our culture. At least now, I can remember something positive re him as well. Sadly
though I don't think it is enough to take away the responsibility for allowing big
corporations to take over small farms and ranches so that they could build huge, airless
buildings for our farm animals to live in. If this is true, then in my opinion, his legacy
is indeed greatly tarnished as a result.

I can tell you truthfully that I am dumbfounded by all of the hyprocisy in Congress.
We no longer have the calibre of leadership that we had with the early founding fathers.
How disappointed they must be -wherever they are -in seeing that their carefully
crafted plan of a check and balance three branch type of government-the executive,
the legislative, and the judicial, supposedly fool proof, is not.

In the case of the insider trading, I doubt that the present Supreme Court would even
see anything wrong -should they be asked to look into it. Why this court even ruled that
corporations which were buying Congressional votes with their money contributions
could continue to do so because they are considered "persons." This from the supposed
best lawyer brains of the nation?

And when the shameful "crush videos" where women in high heels would crush little
animals under their heels was brought before the court, it ruled that they would be allowed
as an expression of free speech! Unbelievable, but a much wiser and compassionate
Congress made a law prohibiting them.

And then there is the disgraceful neglect of Chief Justice Clarence Thomas to pay
income tax on his wife's earnings for the last several years. Hope the movement afoot
to call him on this and prosecute him takes place. No one should be above the law.

So far the legislative branch with its propensity to be bought with bribes, allowing
its members to deal in inside trading "legitimately," and a whole slew of Republican
members pledging they would not allow increased taxation has shown us that there
is a need for a wholesale revamping in these legislative halls. Ditto the judicial branch
whose recent judgments have only been questionable and unworthy.

Thus far we have seen references re the ineptitude of the legislative and judicial
branches of government. What about the executive branch?

We need not go much further back than the presidency of George Bush to find poor
judgment calls, and sadly Congress went along with his costly call to the war in Iraq-
supposedly for our nation's safety. Yes, sadly, I was convinced too. But now in hindsight,
we see how terribly misguided was this war effort as well as the war in Afghanistan
which caused so many of our soldiers to lose their lives and many more to come home
without limbs or horribly disfigured. Pres. Obama can also share in this very sad state
of affairs by continuing the war in Afghanistan.

I thought Bush was Right to Life - but certainly soldiers deserve their right to life as
well as do babies and yet he took us into this cruel, needless war. There are no kind
wars. He convinced many of us that for the safety of our country this was important.
I'm glad that at least people like Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio didn't buy it, and of
course, he was right. At least I hope history will prove him so.

I recently saw a picture of one soldier who had his arms and legs blown off. His father
carried him to an excursion on the rapids where his torso and his artificial arms were tied
to the canoe so that he could experience the thrill of the closest thing to approximating
the navigation of the rapids in his condition. What courage and what joy for something
he should have had the experience to enjoy whole in body, but for this war.

I remember learning about the three branches of government many, many years ago and
I applauded the founding fathers for their wisdom. How sad that somehow they didn't
realize that even their sound check and balance idea seems not to work in an age which
I have come to see as incredibly selfish and greedy.

A last thought re the Republican-controlled House of Representatives who voted
to cut Medicare and Medicaid. Michael Morrill of MoveOn wrote so well, so clearly, and
so simply of how we should respond to these self-serving members of Congress:

"Essentially Republicans in Congress are telling senior citizens and the poor that tax
cuts for billionaires and millionaires are more important than providing a health care
safety net for our most vulnerable.

But did you know that members of Congress get taxpayer-funded health care? In fact,
they have one of the best health care plans in the world.

It strikes us as the height of hypocrisy to be accepting government-provided, taxpayer-
subsidized health insurance while denying seniors, the disabled, and the poor the basic
coverage that Medicare and Medicaid provide."

Well said, Michael Morrill. Every Republican who wants to cut our benefits should start
with cutting his. It ain't gonna happen. Yes, I signed Morrill's petition which basically
told those members of Congress who are so selfish and uncaring - "If you voted to cut
Medicare and Medicaid, you must stop accepting taxpayer-funded health care for yourself
and your family."

Thanx so much for putting our self-serving Congress in perspective. Somehow we may need
a whole new Congress with built-in measures to curb the power of lobbyists and self-serving
individuals who have let America down.