THE LAST DITCH -- Douglas Olson — FREAK SHOW #15 -- POLITICS 101


Freak show #15
Politics 101:
The Three Branches of Government



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Please open your civics textbook to Chapter 15.

The Legislative Branch  is made up of politicians elected by the people to do the bidding of Big Business, ethnic minorities, and other powerful special interests. This branch, which manufactures the laws, is primarily concerned with feathering its own nest and passing legislation (generally inane, when not absolutely idiotic) that makes its members feel good while solving no problems — and generally either exacerbating existing difficulties or creating brand new ones.

      A totally undebated provision, carefully hidden in this past December's intelligence-reform bill (!), reversed part of the notorious "campaign finance reform" law of 2002, to allow politicians once more to divert money donated for a federal campaign to a race for state or local office. It was passed solely because several politicians — Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), and others — were considering runs for governor and didn't want their plans hampered by an inconvenient law.

      The European Parliament has signed off on a plan to require both fingerprints and a "facial scan" before passports will be issued. Under the program, those who object to providing such documentation will have to give it before they can get the documents needed to flee the oppressive regime! The EU also now requires passports for dogs, cats, and ferrets moving from one member nation to another. The measure is only temporary, however — by 2012, owners must have microchips containing identification and vaccination data implanted in their pets. How long before citizens will be held to the same requirement?

      Following the defeat of minority leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) in November, the Senate unanimously agreed to give his staffers two months' pay and benefits — a nicer slice of welfare than is provided to those working for senators who die in office. What's more, this is now on the books to benefit employees of any senator who is defeated in the future. As Elizabeth Howard of Middle American News notes, it is against the law to pay any federal employee for work not actually done — but the Senate, which approved that law, is allowed to violate it with impunity.

      In late 2003, BBC Radio 4 invited its six million British listeners to propose new national legislation, and Labour MP Stephen Pound agreed to draft and introduce the winning submission in the House of Commons the following year. More than 26,000 people responded, offering more than 10,000 new laws. As might be expected from such a sadly degenerate nation, proposals included banning smoking in every business establishment, term limits for the prime minister, compulsory voting (Last Ditchers will really like that one!), establishing the legal assumption that the state has a right to one's organs for transplant in the absence of the individual's opt-out declaration, and even a ban on all advertising for Christmas prior to December 1.

Five of the most popular notions were submitted for a vote, and the surprise winner — actually, it was a surprise only to the fatheads in charge — with 37 percent was a measure permitting Brits to use "any means" to defend their homes from intruders. (Not so long before, a Norfolk farmer had been sentenced to four years in prison for killing a 16-year-old burglar in his home. He was also sued for lost wages by a surviving accomplice whom he had merely wounded.)

MP Pound immediately welshed on his promise to submit the legislation. "This bill is unworkable," he moaned, because it "endorses the slaughter of 16-year-old kids." The media were positively apoplectic: The Daily Telegraph predicted mass murder of juveniles. A Times writer asserted that allowing the people a voice in making laws made "a mockery of the democratic process." The Guardian called it "embarrassing," and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott pronounced the exercise in democracy "amusing."

One angry BBC listener summarized the situation best: "Is it surprising that the public is disenchanted with politicians when they patronizingly treat clearly expressed majority democratic wishes like this?"

The Judicial Branch's  members are nominated by the Executive Branch and confirmed by the Legislative — these government employees getting their jobs only because of whom they know. Literally impossible to dislodge, people in this branch hear and decide civil and criminal cases, and continually define and re-define the Constitution and other allegedly fundamental pillars of the nation. The Judicial Branch is a lifetime sinecure for many senile, lazy, or corrupt attorneys with delusions of grandeur — or delusions of adequacy.

      After agreeing unanimously that a trial judge was correct to dismiss a black juror who refused to vote guilty because the defendant was black, the New Jersey Supreme Court then ordered a new trial because the judge did not declare a mistrial but instead allowed an alternate to take the juror's place — resulting in a guilty verdict in just 23 minutes.

      A federal judge in California has found a retired Salvadoran air force captain liable for the 1980 killing of a priest in El Salvador, ordering him to pay $10 million in damages. Apart from the obvious question of jurisdiction, the proceeding was positively Kafkaesque: the defendant was not present and had no representation in court — and El Salvador had already passed an amnesty law protecting him from prosecution in the nation where the killing took place. A self-proclaimed "human rights" group, the Center for Justice and Accountability, filed the suit on behalf of a relative of the victim, and was apparently well pleased with the court's numerous and blatant violations of the defendant's basic human rights.

      A sheriff's deputy having fallen to his death from a motel balcony after a night of heavy drinking (his blood-alcohol count was 0.20 percent), the Montana Supreme Court recently ruled that his widow is entitled to workman's compensation death benefits. A 4-3 majority asserted that the man's post-midnight drinking with colleagues at a law-enforcement conference was essentially a work-related activity.

The Executive Branch  is made up of a chief executive, a vice executive, and an unelected army of nameless, faceless, and unaccountable bureaucrats who hold vast power over every facet of the citizens' lives. This branch, charged with carrying out laws passed by the legislature and enforcing decisions of the courts, consistently ignores mandates that it dislikes and goes far beyond the bounds of sanity in enforcing those with which it is obsessed.

      The New York State Department of Health, in an effort to reduce smoking by teenagers, has helped create a well-funded group called Reality Check. The group isn't just pressuring Hollywood to exclude smoking scenes from new movies; it is actually demanding that such scenes be censored from classic films such as "Casablanca," "Breakfast at Tiffany's," and "Rebel without a Cause."

      Connecticut Governor John Rowland (R) was forced to resign over a "corruption scandal" in 2004, and he pleaded guilty in December to accepting $107,000 worth of vacations, maintenance, and repair work on property he owned, as well as airplane flights from state contractors and other entities. He may go to prison for taking those "gratuities."

In the same week, Franklin Raines was ousted as chief executive officer of Fannie Mae (Federal National Mortgage Corporation), the publicly traded, government-backed firm that buys and holds trillions of dollars worth of mortgages under a mandate to keep housing "affordable" — with a special emphasis on ensuring that "minority homebuyers" can get funding. Raines, director of the federal Office of Management and Budget under Bill Clinton, presided over Fannie's deliberate concealment of as much as $9 billion in losses between 2001 and 2004. Unlike Ken Lay, chairman of the notorious Enron, who today faces jail for similarly hiding $1 billion in losses, Raines is leaving with $9 million in deferred compensation, over $5 million in stock options, free health care, and a multimillion-dollar life insurance policy, not to mention a pension of more than $114,000 a month for life.

While regulators say they want to review this platinum-and-diamond-encrusted golden parachute, they are unlikely to force significant changes — so clever black Democrat Raines will receive more each month in pension money than dumb white Republican Rowland was able to amass in bribes during his entire nine and a half years as governor.

Any student  whose faith in Our Democracy has been shaken by today's lesson should immediately report to the School Nurse.

March 8, 2005

© 2005 Douglas Olson. All rights reserved.
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