Friday, July 3, 2009

Hooray, New York is Number 1

A hasty fill-in for Eliot Spitzer (aka "The Luv Guv), David Patterson and the posse of selfish politicians on both sides of the aisle now gives New York State the dubious distinction of having the worst government in the United States. Actually, we have no government since that fateful day when the State's Republicans, led and funded by Tom Golisano (the disgruntled millionaire who supplied the bribe money) staged a coup. They "convinced" ($) two unprincipled Democrats (is that a redundancy), Pedro Espada of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens, to sell out to the the enemy and switch sides. A week later, Monserrate (who is under indictment for domestic violence) switched back to the Democrats. This guy changes parties like most people change underwear!

This move effectively deadlocked New York's State Senate at 31 senators on each side, and left a leadership vacuum since both parties claim to be in charge, but neither side is doing any of the State's business because of the confusion. Governor Patterson, a weak, party-operated hack, has shown absolutely no leadership qualities. He keeps making ineffectual threats, but hasn't got the stones to back them up. Ronald Reagan would have found a way to throw all the bums out and hold a special election to fill their vacant seats. If any other New York State employees like cops or firefighters go on strike, the Taylor Law demands they lose pay and their unions receive substantial fines. This action by our lowlife senators is an undeclared strike and they should be treated comparably.

Remember the great movies like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" with James Stewart (View Trailer...) Stewart plays Jefferson Smith, a young political novice appointed by the governor to fill a vacant senate seat on the assumption that he can be manipulated for the benefit of crooked political insiders. To keep him busy, the Governor suggests that Smith propose a bill. Smith comes up with legislation that would authorize a federal government loan to buy some land in his home state for a national boys' camp, to be paid back by youngsters across America. Donations pour in immediately. However, the proposed campsite is already part of a dam-building graft scheme included in a Public Works bill framed by the incumbent political machine.

Against staggering political opposition, character assassination, and dirty tricks Mr. Smith prevails. He harangues his fellow senators on the merits of his bill to the point of physical exhaustion, refusing to yield the floor. His powers of persuasion and earnest manner slowly begin to win converts to the legislation, and in the end, his enemies dramatically confess that all the charges against Mr. Smith are trumped up, and the film ends in triumph. Director Frank Capra loved happy endings. The victory of honest men plying the democratic process over backdoor, dirty-dealing crooks is a nice idea; sadly it is a fairy tale.

At the risk of sounding even more cynical than usual, I hereby declare that all politicians, regardless of affiliation, are out strictly for themselves. Money and power are what they seek, and the people's wishes be damned. They say all the right things to get elected, and then promptly forget their promises and adopt a self-serving agenda. OK, I'll admit that somewhere out there could be an erstwhile Mr. Smith, incorruptible and unswerving in his/her determination to faithfully represent the constituents that elected him/her, but I doubt it. Every day the papers are full of scandals involving cheating, stealing or plain unethical politicians. The ones still in office just haven't been caught yet.

I think two of America's greatest presidents of the modern era were Harry Truman and Ronald Reagan. I like to believe that unlike so many people, I would have the sense to cross party lines in an election to vote for the person I thought would do the best job. Sadly, the choices we get usually means voting for the lesser of two evils. Where's Jimmy Stewart when we need him?


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Joseph Del Broccolo said...

As far as the politicians changing parties as often as they change their underware: Why do they still stink?
Happy Fourth!

Jim Pantaleno said...

Same to you Joe. I'll call later to set up our birthday dinner arrangements. Now I'm off to the Disneyworld of furniture...IKEA, which in Sweedish means "bad assembly instructions". (That might be a blogworthy topic.)