Welcome to U.S.A. Inc., and…South Carolina

I’m going to start by telling you the good thing about the Supreme Court ruling that corporations can dump unlimited money on political campaigns: it will finally bring out into the open, via disclosure laws*, which politicians are owned by which corporations.  What has been happening somewhat surreptitiously all along (unless one wanted to take the time to dig a bit) will suddenly become crystal clear to even the most blinkered teabagger and the haziest left-winger: This obese candidate brought to you by the multinational Extreme Sugar and Fat Food Company!  This “jobs American’s won’t do” President bought and paid for by the Flimsy Excuse Corporation that shipped the most U.S. jobs abroad!  And lookit that piece of really sucky legislation that lets Kill-it Inc. cut down a few million acres of a national park forest, pave it over, and build an amusement park/condo development — you know, half of Congress literally owed them that!

The other piece of good news is that we can do something about it.  Corporations keep forgetting that they exist, usually, because people buy the things they sell.  Refusing to buy the things they sell kinda sucks from their viewpoint.  And so they can dump all the millions into the campaigns they want, and rig the voting machines and even threaten workers who do not vote the “right” way, but if we decide their government sucks, all we need to do is stop buying the wares of whatever corporation dumped the most money into the most sucky politicians.  It’s a whole new way to vote.

Other than that, though, the ruling just plain sucks.  I don’t even have to detail why.  It’s like a train wreck.  You can glance at it, or even just hear about it, and you know it sucks.  Some things suck like that.

Take South Carolina, for instance.

Now, I admit that a year ago I was embarrassed to be living in Illinois — but that was only because of Rod Blagojevich and Roland Burris.  Big deal.  One is on his way to trial now, having been impeached and removed from office.  The other is disgraced, his political career at an end as of the next election.

Oh, pity.  Too bad for both of them that they are not South Carolina Republicans.  Neither would feel the sting of disgrace, let alone be forced from office and into a courtroom.

The latest from this political dirt pit of the South, of course, is the theory of their lieutenant governor that if you stop feeding the poor (stray animals) they will stop reproducing.  Of course his defense (and it seems to be enough for a Republican) is to claim that he did not say that — just before he says it again.

Ah, the joys of being a Republican in Wingnutland.  You become the public-servant equivalent of Rush Limbaugh: you can say or do whatever you goddamn well please and no one can touch you!

Just like, come to think of it, the Supreme Court!

So to both entities, I give an entire week’s worth of Stupid of the Day awards.  Take a bow, jerk-offs.

*Later update: I have learned since that there are no applicable disclosure laws.

Here and (maybe) gone: Roland Burris

Things are going from bad to worse for Illinois Senator Roland Burris faster than anyone expected.  In fact, it’s going so fast now that he’s almost catching up with the speed of Rod Blagojevich’s lickety-split pratfall. 

At first all the jabs were coming from the Illinois Republicans, which mean almost no one but the media really gave a damn.  But now the latest news is that Black pastors in Chicago are actually asking Burris to step aside.  Considering the united face this group usually shows the rest of us, that’s truly remarkable.

Of course, the revelations from Burris’s own affidavit are also truly remarkable.  It turns out that not only did he talk to members of Blagojevich’s camp on several occasions, but actually offered to raise money for Blag’s campaign fund.

On the short list of things that are not cool, that has to be near the top.  Burris has also chosen to mince and dissect words rather than speak in plain English.  That’s another thing that has irritated a lot of people.  He’s sounding more and more like Blagojevich; any day now I expect him to hit the late-night talk-show circuit.  David Letterman must be salivating.

I wondered in an earlier post how desperate Burris had to be to accept Blag’s nomination.  Now I know.  In the old days, one sold one’s soul to the devil to get what one wanted.  Nowadays in Illinois politics, it must be true that one sells one’s soul to Blagojevich — or at least, that was true until a few weeks ago.

Again, there’s nothing here that you could put the guy in jail for; it’s simply a matter of ethics.  In Illinois politics, it seems that the ethics well ran dry a long time ago.  In the politicians’ minds, doing what one has to do to survive is all that matters.

The rest of us still expect more than that, however.  And again, we have been disappointed.

Black-Hole Blagojevich

Ah, so it turns out that Roland Burris did have contact with Rod Blagojevich’s brother prior to Blags appointing Burris to the Senate seat vacated by the President.

At the time, although I believed Burris to be qualified, I said the appointment was nothing more than a desperate and cynical play of the race card on the part of Blags. I was right about that, and Bobby Rush proved it by getting sucked into Blags’ scheme, screaming “racism” where the word simply did not apply. And then the U.S. Senate got sucked in, partially because of Rush’s yammering (he was right about one thing: there were at the time no Blacks in the Senate), and partially because no one seemed sure of what the rules actually were, either Constiutionally or socially.

In the end, Blags snookered everybody and got his way.  He got his revenge on Obama, who had the temerity to streak past Blags to the White House (the White House once was Blagojevich’s ultimate dream), by sullying his Senate seat with a question-mark placeholder.  Nice parting shot if you can pull it off, and he did.

And now it turns out that Burris may have perjured himself. It may be a minor matter; he’s claiming it was an oversight and nothing illegal transpired. But it may also be something  major because I seem remember him saying previously that he’d had no contact whatsoever with anyone in Blags’ circle regarding the appointment. Then again, this would seem to be mainly an ethical matter, not a legal one. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know.

But I do know that the center of all this is ethics: Blags’ ethics in playing the race card with Burris, Burris apparently being so eager to go to the Senate that he was willing to go along with it, and now this revelation. Just because it may be legal doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong.

I’ve noticed this about Blags: it seems that his lack of ethics, coupled with his sly ruthlessness, seems to suck almost everyone around him into a sort of black hole. I’m not happy that the black hole is drawing in Burris, but blind ambition can sometimes do that to you.  That’s what Blagojevich preys on.  He seems to have a gift for finding out the one thing a person really wants or fears, and then using the information for his own advantage.

I guess there’s nothing left to do but watch and see what happens, and find out how many more people got sucked in. There’s reason to believe that the Pied Piper of Illinois lured many into the same black hole. 

The one thing that’s already clear is that whoever gets caught in the black hole, did something to get there.  I haven’t seen an innocent bystander yet.

Somebody’s that stupid, after all

I blundered when I said that nobody would accept a Senate appointment from Gov. Blags. Turns out somebody was stupid enough to accept Blagojevich’s Senate appointment: Roland Burris. Now, don’t get me wrong. Burris has been in public office in Illinois for a long time and has managed to avoid scandal. Based on that remarkable achievement, he should receive an honorary nomination for President, were there such a thing. He’s done the impossible, after all.

But for Blags to play the race card — which he has done here — and for Burris to accept, is just plain…well, somebody else already has a famous non-blog with the title You Are Dumb (http://www.youaredumb.net/). Of course, Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL) is proving the truth of the old saw “fools rush in,” by declaring this a racial issue. Burris is trying to avoid that, but there’s no doubt that Blags appointed him for shield the color of his skin would create more than for his qualifications — which, for the record, I am not questioning; this is definitely not another Caroline Kennedy situation. Burris has more than enough qualifications to run for the office on his own. He certainly doesn’t need this appointment; then again, nobody does.

That Blags’ actions have gone so far as to interfere with the functioning of a President-elect (who also just happens to be black), is immaterial here; all that matters to Rush is that Burris is black and the Senate currently is not. It’s nothing but a desperate and cynical bid on Blagojevich’s part to retain some shred of control, and Rush should know better than to fall for it and become Blagojevich’s unwitting champion. But then again, Chip Saltsman should have known better than to send a CD of “Barack the Magic Negro” to his RNC buddies. Racists are incurable, I guess, and some things are just too much to hope for.

I don’t know enough about the legal end of it to know if Burris will be seated in the Senate. It seems like no one does. I do know there are some possible roadblocks in his way, starting with the fact that the Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White (who, for the record, is also black), is refusing to certify the appointment.

The question is, why would anyone accept this appointment? Even if Burris is seated, there’s still an election just a few years away, and it will likely happen around the same time that any trial Blagojevich ultimately may have is finally underway. This means the fact that the appointment is tainted, even if Burris himself isn’t, will be very fresh in people’s minds. It also seems the surest way for a Republican to win the Illinois senate seat next time around. You can bet they will hammer the point home to the exclusion of any other matter (because they don’t know much about any other matter), and there are enough really stupid people in this state who will not look at Burris, but only at the taint on his appointment.

It’s a disservice to Burris and the people of Illinois. Then again, disservice is all Blags has ever done.

Burris needs to back off from accepting this appointment to avoid doing a disservice to himself. If he won’t, that tells me all I need to know. It will drag him down with Blagojevich, who is going down, either in a courtroom or just by losing an election and his career. Why anyone would be that desperate to be a Senator is beyond me.

But maybe Burris can’t see the consequences. And if he can’t, maybe he doesn’t belong in the Senate, tainted appointment or not. We’ve already spent 8 years with too many people in Washington, from the White House on down, who can’t see past the tips of their own noses. One more may be one too many.