Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

The elephant in the closet

September 15, 2007

(From The Spin)

In the midst of the Larry Craig scandal, I never anticipated Arlen Specter coming out of the closet.

The Democratic Party’s closet, that is.

To recap: in June, Larry Craig, the Republican senior senator from Idaho, plays footsie in a Minnesota bathroom with the man in the adjacent stall. That man is an undercover police officer. Craig pleads guilty to disorderly conduct and vehemently denies being gay. No one believes him and his Republican colleagues call for his resignation, which he turns in September 1.

Case closed, right? Not quite. Just as it’s dying down, Arlen Specter rekindles the scandal by publicly encouraging Craig to fight the case and reconsider his resignation. To the dismay of his Republican colleagues, Craig listens and files to withdraw his guilty plea, ensuring that the controversy will remain in the headlines for months to come. Democrats and the media rejoice.

It’s a move so damaging to the Republican Party that there’s only one possible explanation:

Arlen Specter is not a Republican at all.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that Specter isn’t right. He was a prosecutor, and he knows the law as well as anyone. You can definitely claim that Craig didn’t actually do anything illegal. You can posit that Craig’s arrest was unconstitutional. You can say that Craig’s guilty plea is invalid because it was made under extreme emotional duress. All these arguments are legitimate, but they’re all tangential to the key issue.

By defending Craig, Specter has betrayed his party. And by encouraging Craig to withdraw his resignation, Specter has initiated a process that will haunt the GOP when elections come a year from now. Along with the presidential race, 34 Senate seats are up for grabs. 22 of those are currently held by Republicans.

If Larry Craig has found a friend in Arlen Specter, so too has the Democratic Party.

Just come out of the closet, Arlen. We know.

Animal Cruelty vs. Gambling: Which Do I Give Less of a Shit About?

August 15, 2007

Professional sports are going through a rough patch. Tim Donaghy, an NBA referee, just pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy and gambling. He gave inside information to bettors and went so far as to bet on games he was reffing. Donaghy faces up to 25 years in prison. Meanwhile, Michael Vick, the immensely talented but underperforming quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, has been charged with sponsoring dog fights. He’s currently working on a plea bargain that will land him no more than a year in jail, but if it falls through he could face up to 6 years. We’ll see what kind of punishment Barry Bonds gets for using HGH and then lying to a jury about it.

Pumping steroids, dogfighting, illegal gambling — these sound like the national pastimes of most countries in the EU. So I don’t get why the US is so infatuated with dishing out immensely harsh penalties for them.

Let’s be honest: our government is hypocritical when it comes to gambling. It’s illegal, unless you’re an American Indian. Or you’re on a boat. Or you live in any of 15 states that allow it. Or, as is the case with the Lotto, the government is taking advantage of you directly. Then it’s fine.

As for dogfighting, it’s like the poor black urban version of Dungeons & Dragons. You give your dog all sorts of potions (read: cocaine) to enhance its performance. If you win, your dog gets (along with crazy XP) to rape the other dog’s bitches. If you lose, you have to drown your dog or something. I dunno, maybe it’s nothing like D&D. But I bet it’s pretty sweet. Besides, there’s no scientific literature showing that dogs are happier sitting around getting obese than they are tearing the shit out of each other.

But in the end, it’s not about condoning gambling or dogfighting. It’s not about showing how ridiculous the national attitude toward gambling is (really ridiculous) or about how lame groups like PETA are (really lame). It’s about looking at those crimes and realizing they’re way too petty to get the jail sentences — and the media coverage — that they do.

Sure, these guys have damaged the reputation of the NBA and the NFL, so if you want them out of those sports, fine. But sports should exist outside and beneath the “real world.” The fact that even now the Senate is conducting an investigation on steroids in baseball is the perfect symbol for our distorted national priorites are.

As a side note, when is this guy going to die?: