Monday, November 26, 2007


Trent Lott has announced his intention to resign from the Senate, and every blog I've tuned into agrees his decision is timed to avoid new ethics laws which would keep him from becoming a lobbyist for two years after resignation instead of one.

Nobody seems to be surprised by this. It is cynically assumed that the only reason a current Republican seeks political office is to further the advent of a theocracy, make a ton of money, or, preferably, both -- you don't find evangelical conservatives ever discussing the meaning of Christ's admonition to render under Caesar that which is Caesar's or "Verily I say unto you that a rich man shall with difficulty enter into the kingdom of heaven". Instead, they promote the Gospel of Prosperity, and those in the public eye tithe meticulously to the penny.

Check out Bush and Cheney's tax returns: They are ten-percenters in more than just the humanity content of their hearts. Except, of course, for windfalls -- the year that Cheney had to sell his shares in Halliburton so he could award the Vice Presidency to himself, their adjusted gross income was $36,086,635. Of this amount, their direct charitable contributions were $41,646. In addition, they "gifted the benefit of all their remaining stock options" through a gift administration agreement, which had to pay all the taxes that would have been connected with this income. The Cheneys got a valuation of $7,800,000 on these options, which could then be credited as a deduction for them. It doesn't smell on paper, but when has a Vice President come into office on an income of $36 million?

So, Lott is following the money and/or the influence to be had from lobbying. On the face of it, this must be a victory for ethics reform: The path to riches no longer lies in a Republican-controlled Congress. And perhaps Lott is making the best of a bad situation, or perhaps his assessment of where the wind will blow is off. But, I think we should be asking ourselves: Why does he still see a golden highway available to him even with an ostensibly Democratic-controlled legislature?

You know, throwing da bums out is only the first step. We have to scrub down the mess they've left behind, which is so catastrophic (post Bush) that I think most ordinary people who are not the delusional 28%-ers are somewhat hopeless about it being accomplished.

I think it's critical that we do what we can to contradict this hopelessness. As a blogger, tone will be important. I'd like to suggest that we, as framers of discourse, commit to:

(1) Tell the truth, the whole truth, about what is happening but avoid the indulgence of wallowing in the evil they are leaving behind. Declaring it once is enough. Expressing our anger and disappointment should not occupy the core of a post. Research what went wrong, give us the facts, tell us how you feel about it (succinctly), and then suggest a course of action: Where are the mops stored, and who has the sign-up sheets?

(2) Reclaim liberal. Instead of progressive or moderate or centrist, if you mean liberal, use the damned word. It's a GOOD thing.

(3) Insist on our team behaving ethically and rationally. The move to censure Feinstein was long overdue (I'll be writing more about her career soon). One example of clearly saying "Whoa, hang on there, pardner" is Jesse Wendel's post at Group News Blog Not Everything Is A Republican Conspiracy. (Plus, it's a good example of being a proud liberal.)

(4) We're about to inherit a Presidency that has been obscenely gorged with anti-Constitutional powers. We need to be demanding from our candidates how they intend to roll back this power immediately after taking office. If you don't trust a candidate to be that high-minded, then for fuck's sake don't campaign for them.

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