Tuesday, August 08, 2006

VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS

I've beaten the drum lately regarding entrenched, out-of-touch incumbents, more interested in securing their own fortunes & legacies than in working for their constituents, so it's only fair that I draw some attention to a couple of Representatives actually doing something.

I've also written a few times about Ron Paul, the only politician in Washington who seems completely outside the standard influences. Paul's an odd collection of characteristics: a libertarian who holds to a very archaic notion of governance that many of us wouldn't like, but also a degree of honestly & consistency I admire very much. For instance, his opposition to the Iraq War is coupled with a genuine repulsion towards large, federal programs for . . . well, just about everything.

Anyhow, here's an excerpt from a speech Paul gave, as cited in a Whiskey & Gunpowder piece dealing with oil prices & the situation in Iraq:
We must reassess our foreign policy and announce some changes. One of the reasons we went into Iraq was to secure oil. Before the Iraq war, oil was less than $30 per barrel; today, it is over $70. The sooner we get out of Iraq and allow the Iraqis to solve their own problems, the better . . . We must end our obsession for a military confrontation with Iran. Iran does not have a nuclear weapon, and, according to our own CIA, is nowhere near getting one. Yet the drumbeat grows louder for attacking certain sites in Iran, either by conventional or even nuclear means. An attack on Iran, coupled with our continued presence in Iraq, could hike gas prices to $5 or $6 per gallon here at home . . . We must remember that prices of all things go up because of inflation. Inflation by definition is an increase in the money supply . . . the Fed creates new dollars out of thin air to buy Treasury bills and keep interest rates artificially low. But when new money is created out of nothing, the money already in circulation loses value. Once this is recognized, prices rise . . . this contributes greatly to the higher prices we're all paying at the pump.
(Emphasis added). The piece also goes on to include a letter that Representative John Murtha wrote to President Bush. You may remember that Murtha, who served as a Marine in Vietnam, has spoken out rather vehemently, demanding that we withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. In the letter to the President, he states:
Despite the latest evidence that your administration lacks a coherent strategy to stabilize Iraq and achieve victory, there has been virtually no diplomatic effort to resolve sectarian differences, no regional effort to establish a broader security framework, and no attempt to revive a struggling reconstruction effort. Instead, we learned of your plans to redeploy an additional 5,000 U.S. troops into an urban war zone in Baghdad. Far from implementing a comprehensive 'Strategy for Victory,' as you promised months ago, your administration's strategy appears to be one of trying to avoid defeat. Meanwhile, U.S. troops and taxpayers continue to pay a high price as your administration searches for a policy. Over 2,500 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice, and over 18,000 others have been wounded . . . American taxpayers have already contributed over $300 billion, and each week we stay in Iraq adds nearly $3 billion more to our record budget deficit . . . We believe that a phased redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq should begin before the end of 2006. U.S. forces in Iraq should transition to a more limited mission focused on counterterrorism, training and logistical support of Iraqi security forces, and force protection of U.S. personnel . . . Mr. President, simply staying the course in Iraq is not working. We need to take a new direction. We believe these recommendations comprise an effective alternative to the current open-ended commitment, which is not producing the progress in Iraq we would all like to see.
Now my point here isn't whether I do or don't agree with both Paul & Murtha, though I think they're both on to something.

No. My point is they're doing something: speaking out, addressing problems, challenging executive power, looking out for their fellow citizens. And, at least superficially, these ideas seem based on something other than pleasing their "patrons" or looking for the next round of campaign dollars. I'm not denying that Murtha's riding the wave of anti-Bush sentiment. He is. But a look at the issues he supports (and doesn't) indicates a man with at least a shred of integrity. Not sure how many in the big building he works in can say the same.

As I (hopefully) read tonight that the voters of Connecticut said No to Joe, I'll remember what I've been saying and hopefully will say until November: unless our elected officials come out explicitly and demonstrate that they're looking out for their country or their constituency, we need to kick them out. If I lived in Texas or Pennsylvania, Paul & Murtha would've just gotten their stays of execution.

* * *

This piece is cross-posted on The Baseball Crank.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Jorge said...

Well said, Mike, very well said.

Just to belabor the old phrase, we have met the enemy and he is us. As I posted yesterday at CFN there is a great hurting in the land but very few people are demanding that our elected representatives and governmental institutions do something about it.

On the contrary, a pernicious ideological twist has developed across the country, most notably after Katrina: don't expect anything from the government, the government will not be there for you, you are on your own.

Now let's get this straight: I for one believe that the extension of the federal government is too great, and I'd pull the government down to size, especially by redesigning entitlement programs deeply (national healthcare insurance, anyone?) and detangling from foreign endeavors (and finally realize the peace dividend that the end of the Cold War was supposed to bring). Pork-control approaches would also eliminate stupid pet projects that are no more than vote-buying vehicles saving billions and billions of dollars at the same time.

But that's where I start to brake. The function of government is to preserve public order, defend the national territory and inhabitants from threats internal and external, promote the common weal, and provide for the rational and free discourse of humans in all areas of commerce, labor, education, leisure and art. In not demanding that our government discharge its explicit obligations we are perverting the meaning of government and setting the stage for increased anomie and lawlessness.

Curiously, very few people see this clearly. They allow the sphere of public goods provided by the government to become smaller and smaller releasing their elected officials from their duty to look after the common good. That, in my estimation, is a recipe for long-term disaster.

Good for Paul and Murtha. We need more, many more of those. And we, the People, must shake off the millenial ennui that's allowed the corrupt rich elites to run away with this country by exerting our power and making our voice heard.

Cheers,

9:29 AM  
Blogger DED said...

Did you hear about Bob Ney (R-OH)? He decided not to run for re-election citing stress on his family. Of course, he failed to mention the source of that stress: being implicated in the Abramoff scandal. So now that's three guys in Congress who've dropped out, or were arrested, because of this: Cunningham (The Dukester), Tom Delay, and Ney.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

. . . and three fine fellows they are!

3:01 PM  
Anonymous Chubwaybway said...

Delay will be back and if there were no presidential term limits George Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld would be back in 2008.

It seems we would rather trust the devil we know or are Washington politics becoming like Louisiana politics? The only way to lose is to get cought with a live boy or a dead girl?

6:58 PM  

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