Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here's a couple of quotes that struck me recently:

"Between 1998 and 2004, half the senators who left office became lobbyists. In 2007, Trent Lott, a Republican leader in the Senate less than a year into his fourth term, abruptly resigned and formed a lobbying firm with former Senator John Breaux, just a few weeks before a new law took effect requiring a two-year waiting period between serving and lobbying."

That's from a great article on The Senate in the August 9th issue of THE NEW YORKER by George Packer titled "The Empty Chamber."

And this:

"Freedom may well be 'God's gift to humanity,' as Bush insisted, radiating a simpleminded piety that never reflected another of God's great gifts—the ability to doubt, to think difficult thoughts and weigh conflicting options with clarity and subtlety. But I'm pretty sure God never designated the U.S. to impose that freedom violently upon others."

That's from the August 16th issue of TIME and an editorial by Joe Klein about the cost of the Iraq War and Obama's less triumphant marking of the drawdown compared to Bush's swaggering "Mission Accomplished" etc..


Butch in Waukegan said...

“Inside the beltway” is not just a geographical location. They are not like the rest of us.

From Project Censored:

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics has calculated that more than 151 members of Congress have up to $195 million invested in major defense contractors that are earning profits from the US military occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When General David Petraeus, the top US military officer in Iraq, went to Capitol Hill to brief Congress in April of 2008, he was addressing lawmakers who had a lot more than just a political stake in the Iraq occupation. Along with their colleagues in the House and Senate, the politicians who got a status report from the general and the US ambassador to Iraq had millions of dollars of their own money invested in companies doing business with the Department of Defense (DoD).

In 2006, the investment portfolios of 151 current members—more than a quarter of Congress—had between $78.7 million and $195.5 million invested in companies that received major defense contracts (over $5 million). The portfolios include holdings in companies paid billions of dollars each month to support America’s military. These companies provided almost everything the military uses, from aircraft and weapons to medical supplies and soft drinks.

-K- said...

The Packard article was a tough and depressing piece to get through. Most depressing for me was the last paragraph with its long list of urgent matters to be dealt with - immigration, job creation, veterans care, campaign finance and much more that they are simply not acting on. The Senate may have been deliberately set up to be ineffienct but the current problems seem to be rooted in ego and not instituon itself.

The Senators might be addicted to money and power but it was also depressing to read Alec Wilkinson's article about Gil Scott-Heron and his addiction to drugs. Yikes.

Lally said...

Yeah, the Gil Scott-Heron article is heartbreaking and the Packer Senate article is disappointing, but still, this Senate has accomplished more than the last few, and that's something to be grateful for. But it is the lobbying and campaign financing that has to better regulated.