Former Sen. Simpson Under Attack for Criticism of Vietnam Veterans For Agent Orange Claims

The Republican co-chair of President Obama’s Deficit Commission, former Sen. Alan Simpson, has a certain knack for controversy. Recently he described the Social Security system as a “milk cow with 310 million tits.” Now, Simpson has taken on Vietnam veterans claiming Agent Orange injuries as people who are “not helping us to save the country.”

Simpson objects that the Agent Orange claims are paid out too freely and run “contrary to efforts to control federal spending.” He said the “irony” is that “the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”

Simpson found a particularly bad way to express concerns that have been spoken by others. For example, diabetes has become the most frequently compensated ailment among Vietnam veterans — despite a lack of research connecting Agent Orange and diabetes.

This is a case of a legitimate concern being expressed in the worse possible way. In defense of Simpson, he is an Army veteran who has historically supported military spending and support.

Source: Think Progress

77 thoughts on “Former Sen. Simpson Under Attack for Criticism of Vietnam Veterans For Agent Orange Claims

  1. Conservative and Republicans are not helping to save the country. They have and they are, in fact, doing everything possible to make the US a third world country saddled with debt, depleted by senseless expensive wars and enslaved to their corporate masters. Simpson’s brain’s expiration date is obviously long passed.

  2. “not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”

    That’s pretty funny considering the same – but valid – criticism could be made of all the graft swilling Constitutional sell outs in Congress who are putting corporate interests above those of citizens.


  3. That a**hole. Agent Orange wasn’t even recognized as a compensable illness/syndrome by the VA for a couple of decades, the government fought tooth and nail to avoid recognizing that chemical warfare had the unintended consequence of sickening and killing our own troops. Of course there were good political reasons for doing so: if you admit that your ‘herbicide’, which was dumped on untold numbers of Vietnamese civilians, actually harms and kills people then you might have to own up to waging a chemical war. [The war criminals that sanctioned that nastiness got away scott-free also BTW.]

    How about this Mr. Simpson, we just balance he number of veterans that lived with Agent Orange poisoning or died from it (numbers unknown but arguably a bunch if not a mega-bunch) without receiving any treatment or compensation from the VA/govt. against the current claims and call it a wash. I’m sure the money saved by ignoring the problem for about 20 years offsets or entirely cancels out the current expenditures. Hell, in an actual cost analysis the govt. may still be coming out ahead.

    And Simpson-The-Callous has the confidence of the President to be making decisions about the future of Social Security. It’s outrageous.

  4. “September 2, 2010

    President Barack Obama
    The White House
    1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
    Washington, DC
    Story continues below

    Dear Mr. President,

    I write to you as the chairman of VoteVets, a pro-military organization comprised of over 50,000 veterans and military families and another 50,000 civilian supporters, about the head of your Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, former Senator Alan Simpson.

    We have long been concerned about Senator Simpson’s troubling pattern of denigrating those who rely on Social Security. As you are aware, of the more than 23 million veterans, almost half–approximately 10 million–collect Social Security benefits. And that number has quadrupled since the 1960s.

    So you can see why Senator Simpson’s comments referring to people on Social Security as “greedy geezers” and “lesser people” were so troubling. And his recent email to the Older Women’s League where he accused the executive director of “babbling into the vapors” in her work to protect the vital program while referring to it as “a milk cow with 310 million tits” has only deepened our concern.

    We were also troubled when reports surfaced in August that Senator Simpson was interested in using the commission as a means to freeze military pay and raise the amounts that service members pay for their healthcare.

    But then on Tuesday, Senator Simpson actually put veteran’s benefits on the chopping block, too, blaming disabled veterans for the country’s fiscal situation. And for us, that is the final straw.

    President Obama, this week you called for all Americans to honor and thank our troops. I know you agree that honoring our troops can’t just be lip service. And the best way to honor those who serve our country is to make sure that we take care of them once they return home. That means strengthening the vital programs we rely on, including Social Security and veterans’ health care, not undermining them as Senator Simpson seems intent on doing.

    It has become all too clear that Senator Simpson cannot be trusted to objectively review the budget and make impartial recommendations about our nation’s economic priorities. We ask that you remove him from his current position so that the commission can continue its work in a way that will give the military community–and all Americans–confidence in the conclusions it reaches.


    Jon Soltz
    Iraq War Veteran
    Chairman,” [emphasis added]

  5. Mr. Simpson was not of much use when he sat in the senate. He still is not of much use. However, he is continuing to draw his lifetime government pension and medical benefits, which means that he is not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.

  6. QUOTE “the veterans who saved this country are now, in a way, not helping us to save the country in this fiscal mess.”

    A long time friend of mine did….he’s dead….cancer from agent orange…

  7. Can I say what I really want to on here and hopefully not offend anyone…..don’t look….BUT FUCK YOU BUDDY AND the horse you rode in on.

  8. I never bought all that Wyoming corn pone Simpson was dishing. Just a dyed in the wool conservative with a Will Rogers demeanor and teeth like a piranha. In ioco, veritas.

    “You tell me whar a man gits his corn pone, en I’ll tell you what his ‘pinions is.”
    ~ Mark Twain (from the essay, “Corn-Pone Opinions,” 1901)

    Right you are, Mr. Twain!

  9. Agent Orange by Kate Wolf

    I was seventeen when I quit school, the year that I enlisted
    I don’t recall just why I did, my Mom says I insisted
    I had some strange idea then, that Uncle Sam was right
    My Mama cried, she signed the card, and I went off to fight.
    But I just found out this morning, the Doctor told me so,
    They killed me in Vietnam and I didn’t even know.

    Got off the plane in Vietnam, it didn’t look like war
    With all I saw, I started wondering, just what we came here for.
    Some Officers got drunk at night and cheated on their wives
    While those peasants on the other side, were fighting for their lives.
    You know the army tried some fancy stuff, to bring them to their knees
    Like Agent Orange defoliant, to clear the brush and trees
    We’d fly all day above the trails, through clouds of poison spray
    But they never said that chemical, would hurt our health today.
    But I got the news this morning, the Doctor told me so,
    They killed me in Vietnam and I didn’t even know.

    Well I tried hard to forget that war, like everybody else did
    I settled down, got married and I even had some kids
    Our children both had birth defects, the Doctors had their doubts
    They never said what caused it, but I think I just found out.
    Because I just found out this morning, the Doctor told me so,
    They killed me in Vietnam and I didn’t even know.

    The Doctor says I have some time, he was trying to be kind
    You know, I’ve never been a radical, but this has changed my mind
    I’d be so proud to hear my sons say “Hell no, we won’t go!”
    “Because you killed our Dad in Vietnam, and he didn’t even know.”
    This Agent Orange from Vietnam, we carry with us still
    It stays inside for years and years, and does its best to kill
    You might get cancer of the liver, you might get cancer of the skin
    You might get a VA Disability, you might not live to win.
    Because I got the news this morning, the Doctor told me so
    They killed me in Vietnam and I didn’t even know.
    They killed me in Vietnam and I didn’t even know.

  10. Simpson is a buffoon that has got to go. President Obama, it is way past time to forget this bipartisan crap. If you haven’t noticed, the Republicans have been giving you the back of their hand every time you have reached out. First it was the seniors who built this nation and now the vets who saved our democracy more than once. Send Simpson on his way and make him pay his own ticket. We wouldn’t want a senior like him draining our treasury.

  11. Buddah.

    That’s pretty funny considering the same – but valid – criticism could be made of all the graft swilling Constitutional sell outs in Congress who are putting corporate interests above those of citizens.

    The Democrats in Congress are not sellouts as their true masters are elites of the kleptarchy not those silly enough to vote for them. It may be that Democrats are slightly less vicious in attacking the interests of the working and middle classes than are the Republicans but that is only because they are trying to make it appear that there is a difference between them and the Republicans apart from the lack of overt support for the fetus obsessed misogynists of the Chritian Taliban, but they are going to dismantle social security, force all Americans to pay through the nose for useless health insurance and protect the prison industrial complex and the war machine.

    You poor yanks are stuffed either way. Vote Republican and you will be S****ed by the Republicans, vote democrat and you will be s****ed by the Democrats unless you are at least a hectamillionare.

  12. Rafflaw.

    President Obama, it is way past time to forget this bipartisan crap. If you haven’t noticed, the Republicans have been giving you the back of their hand every time you have reached out.

    Everything I said about Democrats in the post above addressed to Buddah also applies to President Obama. He is a loyal servant of the overclass and his reaching for nonexistent bipartisanship is his way of cooperating with the Republicans to serve his and their common masters. RIABN for Republicans In All But Name, that is what the Democrats really are.

  13. CM You will see some real changes when John Boehner takes over as speaker. He and Pelosi have very different opinions on almost everything. The republicans will try to eliminate most entitlement programs including the extension of unemployment benefits. Many liberals that say there are no differences are not dependent on the government for social services and don’t seem concerned about those who will suffer when the programs are cut or eliminated. Also John Boehner’s views on issues that effect women and children are totally different than Pelosi’s.

  14. If the period of total Republican domination of the Federal government from 2000 – 2006 sandwiched between the years of mere Republican direction have not given the American voters a clear picture of what is to come when they put more Republicans into office this fall then we are well and truly screwed.

    It’s too late for me but I have encouraged my kids to get out of this festering hell hole before that becomes impossible. Things are going to get a whole lot worse before they even stand a chance of getting better.

  15. Swarthmore mom.

    I am going by what Obama has said compared with what he has actually done. There are more than enough reports pointing out that the Deficit Cutting Commission is stacked with appointees who are known for their hatred of Social Security. Obama would not have done this if he did not intend to wreck SS. I don’t think he will axe it rather he will mandate that citizens set up individual social security funds the management of which will be handed over to the same banks and insurance companies whose incompetence caused the global financial crisis. They will be allowed to charge exorbitant fees and to gamble the money in trust on whatever bubble/casino is the madness of the moment, and when a retiree finds that his retirement funds have been embezzled, that will just be two bad and his/her own fault for choosing the wrong band of thieves to manage his fund.

    I read so many American blogs where people who voted Obama and the Democrats are whining plaintively that the Democrats are not being Democrats. However they are missing the essential truth that a choice between Democrats and Republicans is no choice at all. They are simply failing to see the evidence already piled up by the behaviour of Obama and his Congress colleagues since the 2008 election. US politics is broken beyond any possibility of repair. Things must get extremely much worse before there is any possibility of reform. The empire is well into the process of collapse but the proportion of people who realize this is yet too low to force corrective action.

    I am an Australian and in our last election 2 weeks ago we voted to have a hung parliament. Neither of our major parties has enough seats to govern and negotiations are going on between both major parties and a gaggle of greens and independents to see which one gets to form minority government. Tonight I was listening to Lateline where both party leaders were spouting what a disaster it will be if the other party takes government. I smile when I hear this because it is hyperbole, I like neither party but I don’t see either one as the forces of Sauron. But I look at the US and I see two parties that both are really evil, however many are so entranced wit the vileness of the Republicans that they fall into the error of failing to see that the Democrats as they are now are just as much the problem.

  16. Elaine M.

    “The Democrats are a bunch of wimps–and the Republicans are despicable.”

    You are one of the people who don’t get it. The Democrats are not actually wimps they are just pretending to be, the reason that they do not implement what they promised to do is because they do not want to, it would displease their masters. They use Republican opposition as cover but in fact Democrats and Republicans are cooperating to serve their common masters. The Republicans act obstructionist and the Democrats pretend that they are helpless to overcome the obstruction but in fact they don’t want to overcome it.

    Democrats are not wimps when it comes to punching the dirty hippies who voted for them.

  17. CM Some democrats are part of the problem, and some aren’t. The ones that are tend to come from conservative districts where an even more conservative republican would have been elected. Many of these conservatives will be replaced by tea party republicans so the democrats that are left will be more liberal ones in safe districts. More women in the US vote for the democrats. We see the difference in the parties opinions on reproductive freedom. Also the republicans are the party of the white evangelicals. Look for the congress to turn far right. How about those “evil” mining companies in Australia trying to take over the world?

  18. Frank.

    I think you are wise, get your kids to try Australia. The UK has already gone but Australian democracy yet appears healthy.

    During the Clinton years, Clinton pushed drug policies that resulted in an increased rate at which Democratic leaning black people were locked up and disenfranchised. What kind of political party implements policies that strip the electorate of people who vote for it? The answer is a party that does not care about the interests of those who vote for it. The Democrats want to remove towards the right and if people who support left policies cease to vote for them that is an excuse to move rightward to appeal to “moderate” Republicans

  19. Carlyle,

    You see it your way; I’ll see it my way. Obama and his administration are afraid of FOX News and cretins like Andrew Breitbart.

    I agree that many Democrats and Republicans are cooperating to serve their common masters.

    Here’s a link to an August Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi in which he writes about the collusion between the two parties to kill major parts of the financial reform bill.

    From Rolling Stone (August 6,2010)
    Wall Street’s Big Win
    by Matt Taibbi

    Cue the credits: the era of financial thuggery is officially over. Three hellish years of panic, all done and gone – the mass bankruptcies, midnight bailouts, shotgun mergers of dying megabanks, high-stakes SEC investigations, all capped by a legislative orgy in which industry lobbyists hurled more than $600 million at Congress. It all supposedly came to an end one Wednesday morning a few weeks back, when President Obama, flanked by hundreds of party flacks and congressional bigwigs, stepped up to the lectern at an extravagant ceremony to sign into law his sweeping new bill to clean up Wall Street.

    Obama’s speech introducing the massive law brimmed with celebratory finality. He threw around lofty phrases like “never again” and “no more.” He proclaimed the end of unfair credit-card-rate hikes and issued a fatwa on abusive mortgage practices and the shady loans that helped fuel the debt bubble. The message was clear: The sheriff was padlocking the Wall Street casino, and the government was taking decisive steps to unfuck our hopelessly broken economy.

    But is the nightmare really over, or is this just another Inception-style trick ending? It’s hard to figure, given all the absurd rhetoric emanating from the leadership of both parties. Obama and the Democrats boasted that the bill is the “toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression” – a claim that would maybe be more impressive if Congress had passed any financial reforms since the Great Depression, or at least any that didn’t specifically involve radically undoing the Depression-era laws.

    The Republicans, meanwhile, were predictably hysterical. They described the new law – officially known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act – as something not far from a full-blown Marxist seizure of the means of production. House ¬Minority Leader John Boehner shrieked that it was like “killing an ant with a nuclear weapon,” apparently forgetting that the ant crisis in question wiped out about 40 percent of the world’s wealth in a little over a year, making its smallness highly debatable.

    But Dodd-Frank was neither an FDR-style, paradigm-shifting reform, nor a historic assault on free enterprise. What it was, ultimately, was a cop-out, a Band-Aid on a severed artery. If it marks the end of anything at all, it represents the end of the best opportunity we had to do something real about the criminal hijacking of America’s financial-services industry. During the yearlong legislative battle that forged this bill, Congress took a long, hard look at the shape of the modern American economy – and then decided that it didn’t have the stones to wipe out our country’s one ¬dependably thriving profit center: theft.

  20. Swarthmore Mum.

    “CM Some democrats are part of the problem, and some aren’t.”

    I think you are overestimating the numbers of democrats who are not part of the problem.

    I thought Canada had the evil mining companies but we Aussies do have some. Tonight the premier of Western Australia announced that he is going to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land because the Aborigines have not agreed to sell it cheaply enough for an LNG plant.

  21. CM Obama is in the difficult position of being considered by many in the US to be a marxist muslim and by a few others including some on this blog to be a member of the “family” and a fascist. No wonder he treads the middle ground. He is afraid. Why did Australia cave to the mining companies and get rid of the tax?

  22. Swarthmore mom.

    “We see the difference in the parties opinions on reproductive freedom.”.

    I think you are misinterpreting the differences over reproductive freedom. Reproductive freedom does not affect the oligarchy economically therefore they allow their Democratic servants to differ from their Republican servants on this, in fact most of the overclass probably don’t care one way or the other on this issue. However a major function of government is to set the terms of trade between different sectors of society and in this the Democrats are as eager as the Republicans to tilt them in favour of the kleptocratic elite.

    I am sad when I see so many people failing to see how damaging to their interests is the Democratic party. The Republicans use culture war issues to appeal to racists and other bigots and have gone beyond insanity, but it is a mistake to in recoiling in horror from the Republicans to fail to realize how toxic are the Democrats.

    We agree to disagree, have a good day. It is after midnight here and I must stop blogging now.

  23. Swarthmore mom–

    I think Obama is more afraid of Conservatives, Fox News, and Wall Street bigwigs than he is of the wrath of the people who were responsible for helping to get him elected. He has let liberals/progressives down big time. He promised change–he shouldn’t be treading the middle ground. If you can’t stand the heat in the kitchen, you shouldn’t apply for the job of chef.

  24. Swathmore Mom.

    I just saw your most recent post. The people who believe Obama is a Muslim, a socialist, a communist or the Antichrist are never going to vote for him whatever he does or says, appeasing them is a waste of time. If Obama officials say that he is trying to walk a fine line this is just an excuse. He is doing what he is doing because he wants to protect elite interests. Obama is cooperating with the Republicans as much as any other Democrat. He is probably hoping for a Republican takeover of both houses as it will give him more cover to move rightward. I did not realize how thoroughly evil the Clinton regime was until I read Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”.

  25. Elaine He should have known what a tough place Washington is. I think he was naive in thinking he could get cooperation from the republicans. He also knows we have no where to go. I will not vote for a third party candidate and turn this country over to Palin and Bolton and the ultra right. Some here will.

  26. Elaine M, Swahthmore Mom

    Apologies I addressed a reply to Swathmore mom but it was actually a response at least partly one of Elaine M’s posts.

    About the mining tax. There was skulduggery in the governing Labour party, some of the machine men got freaked out by unfavourable focus group studies and engineered the axing of a reasonably good Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in favour of Julia Gillard. The backtracking on the mining tax was by Gillard after she had knifed Kevin. Then six weeks later we had an election. Labour lost a lot of support and we are getting a minority government. As yet we do not know whether it will a Labour or a Liberal/National party minority government, this depends on negotiations both majors are holding with cross bench MPs.

    If the Liberal/national Party forms the government the mining tax is dead, if it is Labour it is just less than was originally proposed.

    The reason Labour lost so much support were in my opinion:-

    1/ The failure to propose a robust climate change policy after they had promised to do so;

    2/ The backflipping on the wishy washy climate policy they did try to implement when it became impossible to get it past the Senate;

    3/ The assassination of Kevin Rudd. A government can hardly claim the actions of a Prime Minister that it has deposed as reasons to reelect it.

    4/ Polls predicted a Labour win and I think a lot of voters took this as meaning that it was safe to register a protest vote even though they did not want the Liberal/National Party coalition to win.

  27. Swarthmore mom,

    In my opinion, after all is said and done, the country is far better off when being led by democrats than by republicans. Third party candidates of any stripe are unproven and the risk is too great on the national front. I would only start with a third party on the local level where I have more control and input.

    We misjudged Obama and should have gone with Hillary. She had the proven track record and, in my opinion, the proven work ethic. She would have hit the ground running. There would have been no Nobel prize but in all honesty, did we really need that … or deserve it?

    Obama has demoralized a large number of the liberal base … the ones with money to contribute to the democratic party … and the party is going to have to fix that in the years ahead. It’s their own fault for getting swept up in the charismatic rhetoric that had no demonstrative substance. But in that they were not alone, once again, look at the Peace Prize.

  28. CM,

    I have no issue with your take on that comment. It is in line with what I think of when I think of fascists in general. Sold out is sold out, no matter who the purchaser is or if the whole cow was sold or just parts of it. Our public servants from both major parties have totally disregarded their duties to the public over their self-interests in graft, er, campaign finance, er, graft. And the emergent Tea Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

  29. Swarthmore mom,

    I all honesty, Kucinich was the preferable candidate … but Hillary was the closest in the running … if we really wanted change Dennis is the guy and his years in Washington give him the leg up that Carter never had and so badly needed.

    If I thought the party was actually going to give him a chance I’d not only start contributing again, I’d triple the amount.

  30. Bloiuse The liberal base would not have gone with Hillary because of her views on the mideast Remember when Samantha Power took out after Hillary. I was not a strong Obama supporter in the primaries and took a lot of heat from my family. I literally stood in the voting booth on primary day and could not decide what to do. I ended up voting for him. Hillary is not more liberal than Obama. I think they are about the same. She might be the VP pick. Once McCain picked Palin, I never looked back and have continued to support Obama. The republicans are too scary at this point in time to let them gain power. No matter what I think or say the tea party republicans are going gain power. You will have a new speaker from the state of Ohio.

  31. Swarthmore mom et al,

    As I said … Kucinich was the best of the bunch but I really like Hillary. What I find most interesting are the number of men (democrats) who favored her from the get-go … before Obama started making a showing. My husband and all his friends were big Hillary fans and started contributing to her long before the actual run began. They liked her over Kucinich and continue to do so.

    The orange dude is a huge joke in this state. The people in his district keep electing him because of his seniority but he has absolutely no drawing power outside of his district … and very little influence, considering his national position, at the state level.

    I am a huge Pelosi fan and will even consider fisticuffs in her defense!

  32. I’ll have to say you ladies impression of Nancy “Ms. Impeachment is off the table” Pelosi is much higher than mine.

    She’s as big a part of the problem as any GOP obstructionist.

    I say this based on her actions.

  33. Buddha,

    Put ’em up, bud …

    Impeachment was off the table because it never got anywhere close to being served and never would … that’s reality and she’s a realist. Without the backing of the party it would go no where and waste valuable time and resources.

    The number of “right-minded” bills that woman has guided through the House are numerous thus always presenting all those bought and paid for Senators with a real problem … and demonstrates to the entire country what, exactly, they are.

    I have much more to say but have to get to the dentist for an appointment … plus I’m going to send you a punch-o-gram!

  34. Blouise,

    The reality is that removing even the threat of impeachment was a green light for the Neocons that no matter how severe their crimes, they would face no punishment.

  35. Buddha,

    Agreed, but that was a party decision and Pelosi didn’t, then or now, have the numbers to thwart the party.

    In my opinion, watch the Speaker rather than the President to gauge the actual direction of the party. The party wanted a better healthcare package. The Speaker delivered … the President didn’t. Etc. …

  36. Sorry.

    You’ll never be able to sell me on Pelosi as effective. She is weak and capitulating, just like Obama. The rule of law is the rule of law. Either it’s upheld or it isn’t. And if it isn’t? Then it’s game on because the law either applies to all or it applies to none. That isn’t a legislative issue. It’s a Constitutional issue. She and the rest of Congress and the administration have not just failed on that issue, they have failed to uphold their oaths of office.

  37. Buddha,

    “The rule of law is the rule of law. Either it’s upheld or it isn’t. And if it isn’t? Then it’s game on because the law either applies to all or it applies to none. That isn’t a legislative issue. It’s a Constitutional issue. She and the rest of Congress and the administration have not just failed on that issue, they have failed to uphold their oaths of office.”

    I’m with you on this one. I’m sick of politicians failing to do the right thing because it may not be popular with their parties or with certain segments of the population or they fear it will cost them at election time. Someone has got to start standing up for what is right. We should be prosecuting those in prior administrations who committed war crimes. It’s either a country that adheres to the rule of law–or it isn’t.

  38. Excerpt from Neo-Progressives by Lawrence Lessig

    “It seems that just about every hundred years (or so, I’m a lawyer; cut me some slack; numbers aren’t my thing), the body politic we call America swells with fever as it fights off a democracy-destroying disease. That disease is “Special Interest Government,” a government captured by the economically powerful in society, as they find a way to convert economic into political power; the fever comes from the reform movement, keen to kill that disease and restore an ideal of government of, by, and for “the People.”

    The rise of Andrew Jackson was the first of these cycles. His fight with the Second Bank of the United States and with the “monied interests” as he called them was the romantic political struggle for most Americans for much of the 19th Century — far more important than anything Washington or Hamilton had done.

    The rise of the Progressive Movement in the late 19th, and early 20th Century was the second of these cycles. Reformer after reformer focused the American democracy on the deep corruption that had captured government. The first round of “robber barons” had completed their theft. Smart and courageous souls fought on every front to end the threat of more robber barons, and reclaim the democracy that Jackson had promised.

    We have now entered the third of these cycles. The anger that has broken out across America is rightly targeted at the captured and incompetent institution that our government has become. That capture, most Americans believe, is a kind of corruption. But not the corruption of bribery, or brown paper bags of cash hidden and traded among congressmen.

    Instead the corruption of today is in plain sight. The mechanism of its reach is displayed to everyone. It is the simple and pervasive economy of influence that buys access and more through campaign cash. And then without explicit recognition, the actions of our government are guided by the understanding of how those acts will affect the opportunity to raise money.

    I’m sure no one in the White House had a second thought about how bizarre it was that the first deals the administration struck to get health care reform was with the insurance lobby and the pharmaceutical companies. Yet how many of the 69,456,987 votes that Obama received came from them? And so why is it so obvious that they get the first seats in the negotiation of what could be Obama’s most important (and only?) significant legislative victory?

    As with each of these cycles of reform, when the fever gets hot there arises a political movement to fight the infection. Sometimes that movement has a leader. Some of us thought Obama was our Jackson, a thought that feels embarrassingly naive today.

    Sometimes, however, it has no single leader. The resistance instead grows in a wide range of affected contexts, and an almost magical coordination among these disparate interests has an effect.

    That was the story of the 20th Century’s Progressive Movement. It had no single leader. It had no single plan. Woodrow Wilson and Teddy Roosevelt were both leading progressives. But the two were as different as Jefferson and Hamilton. They shared a common ideal — to defeat the power of “the Trusts” to control government — but they had very different ideas about how that should be done.” [emphasis added]

  39. Buddha,

    However, isn’t that a general malaise within the country itself? Demand for the rule of law is weak within the populace. We see it in almost every institution, public and private, across the board … from the New York headquarters of Goldman Sachs to small town police forces in Texas. Pelosi’s job is to accomplish the possible and she succeeds brilliantly at that. Compare her job performance to Obama’s … compare the Bills her House has set forth to the Bills that came out of Hastert’s House … the difference is stark.

    Furthermore, the Speaker’s office is no longer chaotic for Pelosi knows how to organize and how to delegate effectively. Hastert’s office was a dysfunctional mess because the man had no real administrative abilities and the House as a whole suffered due to his lack of expertise. I can guarantee that the Orangeman has even less administrative ability than Hastert and should the republicans gain control of the House (something I don’t really think will happen) we will once again find ourselves immersed in an institution run like a college frat house.

    The failure to bring Articles of Impeachment was a failure that should fall squarely on the shoulders of the Democratic Party. I no more fault Pelosi for that than I fault my senator, Sherrod Brown, for failing to produce a Healthcare Bill that really made a difference. Both failures are the fault of the party and its refusal to fight for what so many of its members know is right.

  40. Buddha,

    I wrote the last post while sitting in the dentist’s office … had no internet access but it grabbed a WYFI as I was driving home and posted itself … now I’ll read your latest post

  41. Blouise,

    A malaise in a political party doesn’t equate to a malaise in the general populace. Where exactly does the rising anger come from? It comes from the perception of the general populace that those in government or the wealthy are making themselves above the law. In the less thoughtful, this anger is being exploited by bad actors like the Koch brothers to further their desire for a feudal police state by manipulating those unable to articulate the root of their displeasure beyond a simple “government bad” trope. In the more thoughtful, as exemplified by many of the visitors and contributors to this blog, it results in an analysis that is ever increasingly pointing to a solution the requires the dismantling of both the GOP and the DNC. The rule of law only works when it is equally applied to all, otherwise it’s just another form of oppression. Hold a party responsible? Bullshit. I hold the individuals who took the oath of office to protect the Constitution from enemies both foreign and domestic accountable. Why? Because they are the constituent parts that determine the action of the whole. And it is their individual weakness that combines to create the stratified and compound injustices we see play out every day in our graft corrupted government. Passing the buck on to the party is still passing the buck.

    And the kind of two-tiered corporate feudalism that fascist Washington is pushing ends in one place based on historical evidence: blood in the streets.

  42. Buddha,

    Yes, yes, and yes but I hesitate to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    A little while ago I agreed to accept an appointment to a local government position … there was a certain amount of constitutionally unfretted (music term) power associated with that position and I swore a double oath … one public and one private … to make certain that I did not abuse the power but also that my sense of integrity would not be compromised by political “necessities”.

    I put up a good fight and accomplished some very real reform and it was not a walk in the park. But then I ran into a “confidential” situation that could only be handled one way. Clean it up … get the law rewritten so that it could never happen again and accept the fact that some of the players would remain. I did all that but could not remain and maintain my own sense of integrity. I resigned after the mess was cleaned up. It was a tough decision and a wholly private one … if I stayed I would be violating the private oath I made with myself not to compromise with political necessities.

    But I can understand how others would decide differently … opt for continuing the reform and accept the political comprises required.

    Perhaps I am being naive and too “small townish” in applying my small experience to the larger picture …

  43. Buddha,

    “A malaise in a political party doesn’t equate to a malaise in the general populace.”

    But I think it does. Let’s take impeachment … the Clinton impeachment hearings resulted in an exhaustion within the public that I believe was mirrored or recognized within the parties. The public was tired of it all and this was a boon for Bush and Cheney.

    At the local level it goes like this … As long as the garbage is picked up on time and the snow is plowed, the citizenry doesn’t really care what the politicians do as long as there are no scandals that cause a drop in property values.

    And the rising anger generally comes from the bad economy. But even that is not as deep within the populace as portrayed which is why the republicans have to whip it up with anchor babies and phony tax claims in order to spin it away from the banks and wall street.

    It is people like me and thee and others who read and post here who actually care what is going on behind the curtain. The general public does not until the garbage isn’t collected and the snow remains unplowed.

  44. “The general public does not until the garbage isn’t collected and the snow remains unplowed.”

    As I recall there have been many recent stories about government cut backs in services, including this one:

    and this one

    I’m looking ahead of the curve, Blouise. This wall falls a brick at a time until critical failure is achieved.

  45. Buddha,

    “As I recall there have been many recent stories about government cut backs in services, including this one:”

    Yes and that is a direct result of our economic situation and something which angers the populace but it runs no deeper than that … they do not want to hear about the real problems … and never have … and the parties reflect that view.

    Please understand that I am not defending such glorification of ignorance but could I have a political discussion every day with the general members of my local society? Good god Buddha … if I tried I would soon see the glazed over look in my friends’ eyes and eventually they would be avoiding me like the neighbors of Hyacinth Bucket.

    So I come here and post away aware that the wall is crumbling brick by brick but not willing to toss the ones that are still able to hold the mortar.

  46. Blouise Toss Nancy Pelosi for John Boehner. That is what is happening. Mr. raise the retire age to 70 and take away the unemployment compensation extension will be the new speaker. After all he has promised to shut government down and make sure the poor kids get no medicaid. Keep the dividend checks coming but no government monies.

  47. One will keep a safety net in place for the unemployed and uninsured and one won’t. So to me Buddah there is a choice.

  48. Or neither will.

    Which is what will happen.

    Your choice might be valid if the DNC had showed even an ounce of spine up this point. But they’ll do what they’ve done all along: throw the American public under the bus to either 1) appease their Wall St. banker buddies or 2) in the name of bi-partisanship with a GOP that has no interest in compromise.

    Lesser of two evils? Yeah, Nancy may be that. She still sucks though and in the end the net result is the same.

  49. Buddha,

    As Sw mom pointed out there is one good reason (safety net)but many others also. A well ordered House under Pelosi or a chaotic frat party under the Orangeman … the list goes on

    For those in need, Pelosi is a real choice.

  50. Buddha,

    “Your choice might be valid if the DNC had showed even an ounce of spine up this point. But they’ll do what they’ve done all along: throw the American public under the bus to either 1) appease their Wall St. banker buddies or 2) in the name of bi-partisanship with a GOP that has no interest in compromise.”

    On that point (the DNC) you will get no argument from me.

  51. Swarthmore mom, Blouise, & Buddha,

    I’m not happy with the Democrats. Still, the last thing I want to see is Republicans taking control of the House or the Senate.

  52. While recognizing your reasons and right to support her, I still retain the right to think she’s an oath breaking scumbag who has done as much to damage the rule of law (our only hope for long term survival as a species by the way) as anyone short of the Neocons proper and ergo abstain from endorsing her.

    Consider my vote for her one of no confidence.

  53. Elaine,

    As a practical matter so would I but I’d prefer she be replaced by reason of being displaced in her home district by a Democratic challenger who can actually spell “rule of law”.

  54. Buddha,

    “Consider my vote for her one of no confidence.”

    Accepted as your right.

    Scenario: If you and I were voters in her district, in the general (not the primary)election, I would vote for her and you would:

    A. vote for her
    B. vote for her opponent
    C. refrain from marking your ballot
    D. refuse to answer ’cause it’s none of your business, Blouise

  55. I should answer D.

    However, since you’ve constrained my answer to general and not primary voting, my hands are tied to C. I really feel that strongly about her. By not upholding her oath of office, she’s as complicit in Cheney’s treason as Bush is complicit. I truly do despise her only marginally less than the Orange Boner. To use a WWII analogy, they represent the difference between Vichy France and Bavaria.

  56. I saw an interesting montage of clips of Rep. John Boner(Sorry, spelling error….tee hee) on TV the other night. In one clip he was wearing a bright orange tie which coordinated beautifully with his bright orange face. I laughed so hard that I never did hear what he was saying. Too bad- It was probably one of his usual gems of misinformation.

  57. Buddha,

    Ok …

    If the contest is between her and the Orangeman (and in the end that is how it lines up)… and since you ” … truly do despise her only marginally less than the Orange Boner.” … does that mean a vote for her?

    As a lawyer, don’t you appreciate the spin I just accomplished!?

  58. Blouise,

    I will give you an A on your spin skills.

    But first, a stipulation. I will stipulate I’m a strange man.
    I often think sideways. If you don’t know what I mean by that, I hope the following will clarify.

    Your spin is quite good and I’m not handing out an idyll complement. I am, however, very difficult to spin to. I’ve dissected so much propaganda in my day that spin sticks to me just about as well as insults do.

    I still wouldn’t vote for her. But luckily for you, I’m not most voters. Your spin will surely reach another pragmatist out there to take my place. I’d probably even encourage others to vote for her although I would still personally abstain for reasons that are quite personal, related to my ability to sleep at night and to look in a mirror long enough to shave.

    If my choices are “Hell with the lid on” or “Hell with the lid off”, I’ll take, “Hell doesn’t exist except for what we make for each other. This is a bad game you monkeys are playing so I’m going to sit back and watch the poo fly without helping either side. Any monkeys wishing to clean up, I have a roll of paper towels I’m willing to share.”

    It has been noted before I can take unusual stands (my leaning skeptic stance on the WTC issue for example), but I try to always make them principled in accord to the dictates of my conscience. No matter how odd they may seem to the observer. I will seek a third way whenever politics – but especially bad politics – forces a false dichotomy upon my choices. It is simply my nature.

    To put it another way, someone is trying to decide on their method of suicide and they ask my help in choosing. “Gun or Rope”. Unless they have an ethically compelling argument as to why I should assist their suicide instead of leaving that karma to them (such as a quality of life issue or something similarly dire), I’m going to tell them “Door”. As in walk out of the door and start over on a new path.

    Abstention is merely choosing to vote against both evils instead of choosing a lesser in a contest of fake choices. It doesn’t mean I’ll cease to work towards goals that best benefit as many as possible. I’ll just go about it a different way. As I as said, I think this is one of those situations where Pelosi or Boner makes no difference as the end result will be the same: the interests of citizens thrown under the bus for the love of corporatist money and the weakness in politicians created by their own over inflated egos. Orangina results in a bad outcome because he’s directly and without question venal and egoistically evil, Pelosi results in a similar if not identical outcome because she’s weak in the face of evil and an oath breaker for the sake of political expedience (and more than a bit of a scumbag herself).


    I’ll choose other ways to help my fellow being throw off the yoke of tyranny, but I won’t directly help Nancy Pelosi after her bad acts of record regarding the rule of law. Unless by “help” you mean “tell her to kiss my loyal to the Constitution ass” in which case I’d consider it.

    Because I’m just that kind of guy.

  59. Buddha,

    Sad to say my spin was purely unintentional … it was just the way the tread of our conversation went and at the last moment I saw the possibility… I’m not all that clever so I thank you for the graciousness of the grade.

    I understand what you are saying completely for, as I posted earlier, having to remain in a position where I knew my personal promise of integrity to myself was compromised, I chose to leave. I could not give the real reason without violating the confidence of the situation. However … had you been one of the parties with whom I had dealt, I think it is possible that I could have been honest with you. Politics seems to create these convoluted situations.

    So, if I may, to repeat back to you what it is I think you are saying … your own personal sense of integrity would not permit you to vote for her even in the privacy of the booth. If I have got it right then my prevailing upon you to change your mind would be like asking you to set aside your integrity simply for political gain of another.

    If this is so then I apologize for not seeing it sooner.

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