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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Kapact's Rant:: The War on Arrogance

One of the greatest threats facing our country comes not from without but from within. I'm not talking about people deliberately trying to bring about the downfall of the government. I'm talking about people who have been blinded by their lust for power and money. This has been highlighted by the stunning return to democracy in Massachusetts with the election to the people's senate seat that was held for too long by Ted Kennedy. Martha Coakley assumed that the seat would go to her, not because she had earned it, or because she best represented the wants and needs and philosophy of the people represented by the seat. She assumed that she would win because she was a democrat. Nobody has denied that, not even her. And of course, the campaign she ran clearly demonstrates that. She might well as well have phoned the campaign in. But Martha Coakley is just a small, single example of the new war on arrogance.

We see Mr Obama back in campaign mode, putting on his common, populist suit, standing in front of a group of handpicked supporters with prescreened questions, railing against all the bad guys who are responsible for all the evils we are suffering from. And even with prescreened questions, he still struggled. But that's Mister Obama. He cannot speak without a teleprompter. As a student of history, I have learned that when an unpopular leader (and Mister Obama has the lowest approval ratiings in history for a president at this point in his term) starts to appoint a new villain at every corner, it is usually because they have nothing of real substance to offer. It is an attempt to distract you from the real problem. During the presidential election, it was "they're going to tell you, don't vote for him, because he's got a funny name, or he doesn't look like the guy on the dollar bill". You see, suddenly it wasn't why you should vote for him, it was about 'they'. About why you should look at 'them', because they're out to get you. Then it was 'the people who made this mess'. Don't look at Obama's record. Don't look at the record of his cohorts. Of course if you did look too closely at Mister Obama and his cohorts, you'd see that they are some of the 'people who made this mess'. Along with Mister Clinton and Mister Bush. Even now, it's the evil bankers. It isn't that Mister Obama has spent us into record deficits and unemployent with no end in sight. Come next year, when his cohorts in Congress are running for reelection, it won't be about the attempts to usurp the constitution, or the secret meetings or broken campaign promises, or the arrogance. It'll be about 'the people who want us to fail', or 'the people who want to take us back, rather than forward'. It will never be about their wrongs or their failures or their arrogance. And that, again, is the warning sign. If all you ever hear from a failing, desperate leader is how it's all about some nameless, faceless villain, then odds are its just an attempt to divert your attention.

Mister Obama and his liberal cohorts have been frightened by this second shot heard 'round the world' (coincidentally, both came from Massachusetts), and they have their idea-starved liberal playbook out. It is a book filled with the same old tricks and distractions and smoke and mirrors, and it didn't save Martha Coakley. This election in Massachusetts, this second shot heard 'round the world, wasn't about local issues, as they would like you to believe, or about 'those people' trying to stop so-called health care reform. It was really about arrogance. Entrenched, corrupt, out of touch arrogance. And next year, and hopefully 2012 will also be about arrogance.

I said entrenched, and that speaks to another fundamental, clear and present danger facing us. That is the legislators who are elected on promises and then dig themselves in to power that they never have to surrender. It is a tried and true process. Make promises to labor unions, corporations, and other special interests, to essentially buy elections, then spend their terms paying those bills, ignoring the needs and wishes of their constituents, and always looking to the next election. All the while, they do favors and exchange political markers, putting people in their debt and engaging in brinkmanship that would give the greatest thriller writer a headache. And in the end, they have more and more power, and less and less interest in actually serving the people that they got elected to serve. These virtual lifetime appointments guarantee nothing but an entrenched and essentially out of touch aristocracy that we cannot afford and cannot allow. What we need to truly make the legislature work for WE THE PEOPLE is a constitutional amendment mandating term limits for every elected official in the federal government. Make it impossible for any legislator to amass so much power that they are no longer answerable to the people. We also need to take money out of politics. Write a law that says that any political advertising of any kind, in any form of media, can only be paid by the government Require any aspiring candidate to obtain a certain number of petition signatures in order to qualify for funding, and then use taxpayer dollars to pay for that. I don't necessarily love the idea of more taxpayer dollars going out, but if it takes the unions and corporations and other special interests out of elections, I say it's worth it. If politicians are only going to serve the people who fund their campaigns, then lets make sure we control who does that funding. If it's going to cost me another bite out of my check to actually be represented, well, so be it.

On another note...

One thing that I've been struck by for the past week that my wife and I have watched the nightmare in Haiti unfold, is not just the outporing of generosity by common people who can barely make ends meet (including my household). That gives me hope for the country and the world. It isn't even the CNN correspondents who have shown the courage to not just report the news, but to intervene on behalf of the helpless, I don't normally like the idea of the crusading reporter more intent on making news than reporting it. But in this case, they've chosen principles over objectivity, and courage over manners. I like that. Anyone who pulls a bleeding child away from the thugs who attacked him has got it right. Sometimes you have to do the right thing, no matter why you're supposed to be there, or who's corporate logo is on your paycheck.

But what I'm really struck by is the huge number of celebrities giving their time during telethons for Haiti. That isn't a new thing, but what I note is the fact that they are giving their time, speaking very naturally and easily with people who are phoning in donations. I'm not a starstruck person. I've met enough celebrities to not be overcome by the very sight of them. But what struck me is that they are giving their time, willingly. They may be rich, and the small donation that my wife and I made would be nothing in their weekly budget. But their time is just as valuable and irreplacable to them as mine is to me. Time is important to everyone, and I appreciate them giving it. I saw Steven Speilberg and Julia Roberts among others take the time to talk to people who had called in. They didn't hurry the call, they took the time to get the callers' names and they took the time to actually talk with them. I am truly impressed by anyone giving their time, because, as I said, time is irreplacable for everyone. Well done.

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