Tossing the Political Football for Personal Gain

January 14, 2010

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I used to live in New York City, Court Street in Brooklyn to be exact.  One fine Tuesday morning I woke up late and decided to take the subway in, rather than riding my bike.  It was a pretty typical, boring subway ride.  I came up out of the subway to a big booming sound followed by thousands of people screaming.  While I had been underground a group of fanatical extremists decided to murder thousands by crashing an airplane into World Trade Center 1, more commonly known as the North Tower.  I had come up the subway station stairs just after 9:03, right as another airliner was flown into World Trade Center 2.  We all have our own stories for that day, but I’d like to talk about the thing that makes me almost as angry as the attacks themselves that followed in the weeks and months after; the political football that was played.

A lot of us were swept up with the emotions following 9/11 – even I found my self not completely disagreeing with the angry mobs and their internet toughguy cries of “glass parking lot!” – a reference to using nuclear weapons on those responsible.  After the initial anger passed I realized how stupid I was, since the likelihood of any single nation perpetrating attacks of that magnitude was slim to none.  I calmed down and went on with my life, but there was an agenda to be pushed and fear is a powerful tool.  The Cheney administration deceitfully guided the United States into a war in Iraq under the guise of pre-emptively stopping Saddam Hussein’s completion or acquisition of weapons of mass destruction.  It has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt that no such weapons were found in Iraq and proven with modest doubt that Dick Cheney deliberately moved us toward war using fear to complete the stated goals of his neoconservative think-tank Project for a New American Century.  The extreme left-wing blogosphere also speculates that Cheney and his friends at Haliburton had a lot to gain financially from such a war, speculations that I certainly don’t disagree with.

Let me sum up that previous paragraph, TL:DR it for you internet meme fans:  Dick Cheney lied to get us into war in Iraq.  I won’t deny that Saddam Hussein was a disgusting man and overthrowing him – in and of itself – isn’t a bad thing, but at what cost?  Over 4000 Americans have lost their lives in combat operations in Iraq.  Over 30,000 have been wounded.  One trillion dollars has been spent on war since 2001.  Trillion.  1,000,000,000,000.00.  Figures like that should be pretty sobering, yet we continue to allow politicians play political football so that they can gain at our expense.

There is a growing trend in US politics to sensationalize a contrary position simply to oppose the other party even if it’s on a subject you agree with them on.  While that is disgusting in and of itself, playing politics for your own benefit is far worse.  A perfect current example:  Joe Lieberman.  Here’s a quote from the Connecticut senator from 2006:

“My proposals were to basically expand the existing successful public health insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid…. When it came to Medicare I was very focused on a group — post 50, maybe more like post 55. People who have retired early, or unfortunately have been laid off early, who lose their health insurance and they’re too young to qualify for Medicare. What I was proposing was that they have an option to buy into Medicare early and again on the premise that that would be less expensive than the enormous cost. If you’re 55 or 60 and you’re without health insurance and you go in to try to buy it, because you’re older … you’re rated as a risk so you pay a lot of money…”

Yet as was reported in the past few months, he has vocally and almost singularly derailed any expansion of Medicare or Medicaid.  The health care industry sees Medicare or Medicaid expansion as a bad thing, a threat to their profits.  Joe Lieberman has received almost two and a half million dollars in campaign contributions from the health care sector and his wife is a lobbyist specializing helping health care companies make more money at your expense.  A majority of Connecticut residents have said they want not only a public option but a single-payer system.  Do the math in your head:  Joe Lieberman, elected to represent Connecticut is playing political football, and he’s doing it for personal gain.

Both these examples, Lieberman and Cheney, show people’s willing to put other’s lives on the line so they can get more money.  This is the political environment we live in today:  your votes are bought by advertising paid for by corporations that care more about making money than about your well being.  The dystopian future presented in the cyberpunk genre of corporations running the world with a monolithic, uncaring, capitalistic face is not so far off, we merely have puppets named Lieberman, Cheney, or Gingrich as a pretty public face to make the hard pill of political football easier to swallow.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peter Rabbit
    Jan 14, 2010 @ 08:43:45

    I am not much for conspiracy theories but this is probably a pretty good play back of these two situations.

    But anyone thinking they have politicians representing them that think everything done is just for their interest or even the best thing for the populace is misguided.

    Politics is a game of favors, this is how it is played and some politicians play it in a manner that actually ends up creating good and some are only skilled enough to be able to help themselves.

    As for Iraq, I think what you wrote is correct but the bottom line is America needed an enemy right away that we could blame. As we learned in many other conflicts picking an enemy that is not a country but rather a group using guerilla warfare is very difficult and can take a long time to fight so Iraq became the target by default.


  2. Tom
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 01:03:23

    I think this is a pathetic example of a leftist trying to paint with an overly broad brush. Does such leftist not OBVIOUSLY see that both sides play loose with facts?

    So much for transparency in government and allowing the public to see the inner-workings of the health care debate there, President Obama. As you royally screw America in secret.

    Quit throwing stones (footballs?) when your side plays the game just as well.


  3. kosmo
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 08:30:40

    I wonder what our founding fathers would think about professional politicians? My gut feeling (which might be wrong) is that many of them would have considered serving in congress to be somewhat like jury duty – something that someone would be happy to do if called upon, but not something that would be actively sought out.

    While I don’t favor term limits, it would be nice to see the electorate rotate their members of congress a bit more. Of course, with so much emphasis on seniority, this is unlikely to happen.


  4. Peter Rabbit
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 11:21:38

    I am only president of a very small condo (11 units) so I can tell you that nobody would run this country just as civic duty. However I wish that the people that joined congress were a bit more for the country and the voters they represented and less for themselves.

    I think the fact we only have 2 viable parties is terrible and it creates situations like the current one when so many votes are based on party lines and not anything else. If we had 5-10 parties things would get done slower but maybe better.

    The other thing I hate is how they can tack on things to bills that have nothing to do with it. This backdoor negotiating tactic is destroying the country.


  5. Tiberius Kane
    Jan 15, 2010 @ 23:21:33

    I wonder how it is the author could go on with his life simply because he felt that more than one country attacked the USA? I suspect that he concluded we deserved it.

    President Bush and Vice President Cheney made a connection between Operation Iraqi Freedom and The War on Terror. I would think the capture of Abu Abbas fleeing Bahgdad was a good start on justifying that connection. If you recall, Abu was the leader of the hijackers who took control of a cruise ship. They murdered innocent people including a man in the wheelchair they threw overboard. Abu found safe haven in Iraq and continued to direct terrorist activities.

    I could go on justifying Operation Iraqi Freedom and The War On Terror but it’s obvious we didn’t go to war on fear alone. We went to war due to sensibility.


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