Posts Tagged ‘Newt Gingrich’

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WHERE HAVE ALL THE STATESMEN GONE?

July 1, 2011

“So are you going to do a ‘Rants and Observations’ post on the Anthony Weiner scandal?”

“I’m still too pissed off about it to write anything, but a post will be coming soon. I want to look at the larger picture, not just this one incident.”

“The larger picture?”

“Yeah. We have very few true statesmen left in congress. Most of these guys now act like spoiled rock stars.”

As I left my friend Geoff’s home, I thought about all the scandals that have plagued our government, keeping our elected officials from doing the work we sent them to do.

When I started digging, I found that no administration is free of scandals, and in the last 30 years, two administrations – Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s – were at the top of the list with Clinton’s coming in third. Obviously, one-term administrations had fewer, but as you go back before Reagan, you’ll find that even two-term (and three-term) administrations had far fewer scandals than we have today.

So this begs the question: Why? 

The answer?

Money.

In much the same way rock stars have their “groupies,” so do politicians.  Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Politicians have been playing to the cameras for decades and, if you look at the number of congressional members that are multi-millionaires, you begin to understand how these scandals originate.

As we continue down the path of larger and larger monetary contributions to campaigns with a reluctance to reveal sources and amounts, this issue will only get worse. Add to that the Supreme Court ruling that large (and often multi-national) corporations can now donate unlimited funds to campaigns as long as they are not directly tied to them, and you now have politicians working primarily on behalf of these constituents. If their efforts are successful, they are rewarded by being well-funded and most often re-elected time and again, thus exposing themselves to even more money and giving them even more power, all of which are aphrodisiacs for some women. Good looks, personality and character have nothing to do with this “attraction.” As a politician’s career continues to rise (no pun intended), so does his list of groupies. If he is younger than most of his peers, and he is outspoken enough to draw even more attention to himself, his groupie list grows exponentially.

It does not appear that the reverse is true. We seldom, if ever, hear of sexual scandals involving congressional women.

Sadly, money and power seem to be the over-arching motivator once our officials are elected to office. While their intentions may be sincere at the outset of their initial campaign, they learn very quickly, if elected, that the game is not played that way on the inside. From the time they take office, they are fundraising for their next election. In addition, they are also fundraising for others and expected to raise funds for their party as well. They must meet certain monetary goals on a regular basis. If they fall short, they will not get a seat on this or that committee or be invited to certain functions. And in the next election, they may not have the support of their party leaders. Add to this the reciprocation that must take place to the people who put them in office (large donors taking priority) by voting on their behalf and you realize the pressure is always on.

It is not surprising that under this pressure, some politicians often resort to un-statesmen like conduct (to say the least) to relieve their “stress.” This does not justify their actions by any means. It simply explains them for those of us who do not live that lifestyle. And as much as we’d like to say we would never do these things if we were in their situations, we can’t.

But we can be thankful that in the 1990’s, Bill Clinton didn’t have the ability to “tweet.” 🙂

Whew. You dodged a bullet there, didn’t you Bill?

Sincerely,

www.MichaelKontras.com

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REMOVE ALL DOUBT

April 20, 2009

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Some of us are old enough to remember when the Lipton Tea Company introduced the “FLO-THRU” tea bag. It was unique because it had four sides instead of two and you could see through it.

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Much like that tea bag, it was easy to see through these “Tea Parties” on April 15th.

These events were neither spontaneous nor created at the grassroots as was reported on FOX News. They were sponsored by very wealthy people like Former House Speaker Dick Army (R-MS) and his organization, www.FreedomWorks.com

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and by Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and his organization, www.AmericanSolutions.com.

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In Dick Army’s case, he was serving his corporate clients.

They were also sponsored by FOX News – regardless of what they said – under the guise of “news coverage” with extensive interviewing of Gingrich, Army and many others who were scheduled to speak on April 15th. It was wall-to-wall coverage on all of their shows.

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They used advertising time to promote these events. Some of their commentators spoke at these “Tea Parties.” In other words, they were funded, in part, by FOX News. THAT is sponsorship.

People at the gatherings looked foolish trying to tell reporters what the “Tea Parties” were about. “It’s about our taxes going higher!” “It’s about the bailouts!” “It’s about big government!” “It’s about our country becoming a fascist country!” “It’s about the government spending our money!” “It’s about maybe seceding from the union because we don’t like the government telling us what to do!” “It’s about what he just said!”

If any of these statements were true, these events would have taken place when George Bush handed out what he clearly stated was “…700 billion dollars in taxpayer money…” in September, 2008.

There were others that thought it was about abortion,

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immigration,

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Christianity,

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ACORN,

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and even the American Revolution of the late 1700s.

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Apparently, many did not get the memo.

This was not about big government, higher taxes or bailouts. Taxes under Ronald Reagan were higher than they are now – for everyone. Obama’s tax plan reduces taxes on those earning $250,000 or less. My guess – and I’m being generous – is that 99% of the attendees have annual incomes that are far less than $250,000.

It was not about socialism, communism or fascism. It’s doubtful that anyone in the crowd could give you a clear definition of any of these terms. I hesitate to think how much more foolish they would have appeared had they tried.

Nor was it about a growing debt or deficit spending. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who attended, that understands the complexities of our government’s financial system.

No, this was about something very different and no one told the truth.

Instead, they hid behind their statements of “coded” rhetoric like the ones above and those that I wrote about in The Ostrich Syndrome and in my pre-R&O entry, Faith Trumps Fear.

Take a look at some pictures that you probably didn’t see in the mainstream media:

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The man in the above video does not know the definition of fascism.

Let’s be honest: he and everyone else using this rhetoric didn’t have the courage to say what they really meant: “I’m here because I hate the fact that a BLACK man and his BLACK family are living in the WHITE House!”

Here’s a Glen Beck Tea Party organizer in a bar, talking about the communist infiltration that’s been going on for years in our country and telling people to take their kids out of college. This is exactly what we don’t need in this country: more uneducated people. I’d bet dollars to doughnuts he barely finished high school.

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Take a close look at the signs in the pictures. Listen to the rhetoric in the videos. The truth always reveals itself, no matter how hard people try to hide it. Do you see any people of color? No. Not even the head of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele, was invited to speak. Plenty of other elected Republicans and Republican commentators spoke. Why not Steele?

Those who attended these events were duped into believing that these demonstrations were about “…the high taxes under the Obama Administration.” The truth is the only taxes that are going up – and not until 2011 – are the taxes on very wealthy people, some of whom help to orchestrate these events. This “hoax” was propagated through fear, to manipulate the Low Information Voter into doing the dirty work so that the “organizers” could maintain their distance from the hate-filled signage and foolish statements.

This was vintage FOX News. It scared people into thinking that they are going to lose their “freedoms” or their “money.” They baited the very same people they misinform everyday into gathering with insulting signs and incendiary words about the President of the United States and then exploited them on their network. These folks couldn’t articulate – with any semblance of cognition – a cohesive reason for their presence. They couldn’t discuss policy – they don’t know enough about it. They don’t even know the meaning of some of the terms they used. They were just regurgitating what they heard on FOX News. It’s sad to know that in the 21st century, there is still 1/10 of 1% of the population that can be drawn in to this idiocy like moths to a flame.

Mark Twain once said, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

Too late.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com

 

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THE OSTRICH SYNDROME

April 11, 2009

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As we embrace the ninth year of the new millennium, we are experiencing inevitable and necessary shifts in our social, economic and cultural infrastructures. Many of us are thinking “out of the box” while others are trying to keep us in it. We are seeking new ideas that go beyond ideology and what’s been the norm in the past. We are questioning, and rightly so, our business and elected leaders and their collective authority. More importantly, we are not influenced nearly as much by the blather coming from some portions of the media. In other words: we’re waking up.

Some of us have been here before. As a musician and a teenager of the 1960s, I grew up during a time of significant societal changes. There were big changes in music: Elvis Presley’s restricted “moves” in his performance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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The “British Invasion” spearheaded by The Beatles.

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The anti-war protest songs of Buffalo Springfield and Sgt. Barry McGuire.

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The American auto manufacturers made big changes with a new generation of automobiles that revolutionzied the industry. Up until then, the family sedan dominated sales.

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Then, by simply changing the body styles of their mid-sized coupes, they introduced a never-before-seen style of American automobiles that took the country by storm.

Ford took their Falcon and turned it into the Mustang in 1964-65.

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A year later, Chevy followed suit with the Nova and created the Camaro.
Sales skyrocketed for both companies.

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Also, for the first time in my life, we as citizens started to really question our leaders, especially after the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The complacent living of the 1950s was quickly ending. We became more aware and less gullible. We began understanding how federal policies affected all of our lives – in this country and around the world. It was, to say the least, a monumental shift in this nation’s history.

There were those who said that because we were questioning “authority” our country was (to quote one of my relatives) “…going to hell in a hand basket!” They were happy with the status quo. I remember hearing “What’s wrong with the way things were when I was growing up?” They wanted America to be as it was portrayed on TV shows like Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver and The Andy Griffith Show.

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But the reality of America was far different. Once many of us became aware that there were aspects of American life that were not so pleasant for many of our citizens, we started re-thinking much of what we had been raised to believe. Leadership that opposed this new-found awareness stuck their “heads in the sand” when it came to addressing the large issues around our changing social environment. As far as they were concerned, the way things “used to be” is the way things should be – there’s no reason to change. Call it the The Ostrich Syndrome.

Since then, many of this country’s leaders have intentionally divided us along social, economic and cultural lines. Much of this division has been perpetuated by politicians, using variations of this “used to be” theme to get elected. It’s also been used by religious leaders to draw the line between “right and wrong.” This is why we often hear statements like “We’re losing the moral foundation this country was built on!” and “We need to get back to what made this country great!”

I’ve yet to hear anyone give a clear explanation for what is meant by these statements. For me, they have the sound of “coded” rhetoric. (Note to self: Make this a future rant.)

When I hear these and similar statements, it’s obvious that those who would lead us back are actually fearful of moving forward – a symptom of The Ostrich Syndrome. Their fears become religious mantras and campaign slogans, tapping into a narrow segment of our population. This segment doesn’t care about what is occurring beyond their personal lives. They don’t want to be bothered. If someone or something threatens to “disrupt” their tiny part of the world with the introduction of new social concepts, they become fearful, angry and defensive. Politicians, religious leaders and portions of the media have tapped into this fear with great success.

Yet, as I write this R&O, I see positive signs that we are finally starting to move away from The Ostrich Syndrome.

There is an interesting phenomenon occurring among those who want us “back in the box.” They are starting to say and do the most ridiculous and outrageous things imaginable to garner attention. In the past I’ve talked about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, so we won’t go there.

But how about a new concoction of “crazies?”

Allow me to introduce you to the insanity that is Glen Beck.

Throw in a layer of Dick Cheney.

Add another one of Newt Gingrich.

And top off with Michelle Bachman.

Add sprinkles of your other radical “favorites” as desired. Allow FOX News to serve it and violá – a new “crazies” masterpiece that is guaranteed to satisfy even the most extreme elements in the Republican Party.

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Why all this angry, fear-mongering, attention-seeking behavior? They’re losing ground! Most Americans have moved beyond this lunacy. The “crazies” are pulling out all of the stops in a last-ditch effort to remain relevant. It’s the fourth quarter, only a few seconds left on the clock, they’re on their own 5 yard line and they’re down by 8. What’s left? The “Hail Mary” pass. That’s it! Rather than get their heads out of the sand and do the hard work of re-educating themselves to new plays, they keep saying and doing variations of the same things over and over again – only louder, in more venues, more often, and with bigger props.

Much like a child throwing a temper tantrum, these acts of desperation seldom affect the rational observer. They do, however, have the possibility of inciting the non-rational, fringe elements of our society into a fear-based anger – which could result in violent behavior – all under the banner of Patriotism. For now though, they’re just making some noise. As far as I’m concerned, they are as worrisome as a cloudy day.

America, we’re starting to “get it.” Those that have been here before know there is pain in the process. We also know that we’ll be stronger and wiser as the pain subsides.

Change is inevitable, often difficult, and always for the better.

Sincerely,

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www.MichaelKontras.com