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Legislative airheads

October 19, 2006

Every once in a while politicians pass legislation on a subject on which I happen to have done some personal study, and I find myself clucking in disapproval at how they could be so stupid.  Their choices seem inexplicable other than by special interest.

Turns out that feeling is probably about right.  Ed Brayton of Dispatches talks to his good friend, the corporate lobbyist:

What he found out was that the legislators, with only rare exceptions, are pretty much completely clueless about most issues. Sure, you might get someone on an education committee that was a school administrator, or an attorney on the judiciary committee, but for the most part the legislators are constantly voting for, and even writing, legislation on subjects they know virtually nothing about. They are given their positions by lobbyists and are in no position to evaluate the accuracy of what they’re told.
- Dispatches From The Culture Wars: The danger of ignorant legislators

There’s more, and it ain’t pretty…

Take Representative Terry Everett, a seven-term Alabama Republican who is vice chairman of the House intelligence subcommittee on technical and tactical intelligence.

“Do you know the difference between a Sunni and a Shiite?” I asked him a few weeks ago.

Mr. Everett responded with a low chuckle. He thought for a moment: “One’s in one location, another’s in another location. No, to be honest with you, I don’t know. I thought it was differences in their religion, different families or something.”

It cuts across every issue, from counterterrorism to science standards for schools.  Go read the rest of it – it won’t make you feel any better but at least we can share the misery.

Categories: Politics
  1. October 19, 2006 at 15:23 | #1

    I read about the article on Hahmed Blog.  It really is a shame.  Americans are voting for politicians.  When we instead be voting for someone that understand this government and the issues that are important to America.  I have said it before and I say it again, we need to have a rapid sweeping change in our government before things get drastically worse.

  2. October 19, 2006 at 19:05 | #2

    So far, I’ve read part of the article … and the lack of knowledge is absolutely, supremely breathtaking.  It really begs the question:

    How did this country’s government come to this point?  When and how did it get so broken?

  3. October 20, 2006 at 06:13 | #3

    I am not really surprised. The whole system is corrupt. As long as we don’t have term limits we will always have professional do nothings, also known as politicians.

  4. October 20, 2006 at 18:32 | #4

    James:  In one respect I agree with you, in another not.  My first response in reading your comment was to completely agree, but the more I got thinking about it, I cannot completely agree regarding term limits.

    Though there is something to be said for term limits, and it certainly deserves debate, that is not a solution to the corruption issue.  Corruption is, IMO , the most pressing problem in the US political and governmental systems.  Simple term limits cannot possibly stamp out corruption.

    Secondly, the term “professional politican” has gained a perjorative connotation which, while justified in many situations, is not entirely fair.  I would say FDR was a professional politician, but to associate that corruption as the inevitable result is, IMO, nonsense.  How about Everett Dirksen?  There are others, of course.  A politician whose actual goal is public service should be a professional in order to serve the common good.

    What the current ruling crowd has done is to associate themselves with an image that is seen as incorruptible; i.e. family values, freedom, democracy and righteousness.  But the real power behind the puppets has been monied, corrupt corporate forces, in concert with corrupt religious zealots who no less evil than radical terrorists of any strip, be they Muslim, Sikh, etc.  (So far I haven’t found any Buddhist terrorists, but someone may be able to give reference. ;-) )

  5. October 20, 2006 at 19:39 | #5

    True, there are some public servants whom we’d hate to lose because of a rule written for the dimwits.  It has occurred to me that a mandated term break might be a good idea.  Serve two or three terms, then you have to step down (or do some other job in government perhaps).  Two terms later, if the voters still will still have you, you could come back. 

    Incumbency is apparently too much protection even for malice or stupidity.  BTW for your entertainment, here are some lists I found on ***Dave’s blog…
    10 worst congressmen, and
    10 dumbest congressmen

  6. October 20, 2006 at 23:59 | #6

    I have to agree with Wee Dram here.  Term limits would not have, and won’t fix K Street.  You wanna fix corruption I have an easy and simple solution.  Are you guys ready for this… here it is… SEND THE A**HOLE TO JAIL AFTER HE/SHE DOES ONE CORRUPT THING.  It’s really simple. 

    The only reason why corruption still exists is because people can get away with it.  The only reason why there are lobbyists in Washington is because they can get away with it and they make a butt load of money.  There are congressmen who have resigned to become a lobbyist because it’s a simple way to become a millionaire.

    To me term limits is a cop-out for finding a real solution.  Bollocks I say!

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