Power corrupts

And for the record, Lehmbergs arrest for drink driving was shameful, and yes she should of resigned. But because she didn’t doesn’t make it OK for the Governor to abuse his power to try to remove her. Don’t let the Lehmberg arrest though distract from the real issue, abuse of power and term limits.

Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely

Famously said by John Dalberg-Acton, the historian and moralist, first expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887. I was reminded of it on Friday when it was announced that Governor Rick Perry of Texas had been indicted.

Abbott and PerryAlthough I’m clearly more of a social activist than Republican, Conservative, this post isn’t really about politics. It may or may not be that Perry has a case to answer. What is clear is that the lack of a term limit for the Governor of Texas has, as always, allowed the Governor to focus more on his succession, more on his politics, than the people that elected him and their needs.

I’m personally reminded of Margaret Thatcher, who enacted swathing changes in her time, but in her 3rd term, spent more time inward looking, in-fighting, that outward looking. More focused on those that would succeed her than what the country needed to succeed. Major, Howe, Heseltine, Lawson. et al.

jmmtThatcher these days is remembered mostly for consolidating her own power and the debacle that ended her reign rather than her true legacy, creating the housing crisis; and the banking crisis. Thatchers government started moving people to incapacity benefit rather than unemployment to hide the true state of the economy from the people. Blair, Brown, mostly the same, after a couple of years of shifting emphasis and politics it became the same farcical self protection.

And so it has become the same with Perry and his legacy. Irrespective of the merit of this indictment, what’s clear is that Perrys normal has changed to defending his legacy and Abbott. Abbott meanwhile moves to make as much as possible secret about Perrys activities. This includes the detail of Governor Perrys’ expense claims, sensitive, secret but not limited to that. Abbot also feels the location of chemical storage is also a threat to our liberty, and not to be easily publicly accessible. Redaction it would appear, is a lost art.

For the layman it is impossible to understand how/who/what of CPRIT affair is real. Was Abotts oversight of CPRIT politically motivated? Did Abbott really turn a blind eye to the goings on at CPRIT and did Perry and his staff know about and approve this?

British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) anIf they did, then their pursuit of Lehmberg is bogus, their attempts to stop the Public Integrity Unit(PIU), self serving, And there is the rub, it really doesn’t matter if it was legal or not. Perry needs to go, term limits should mandate not more than two sessions, and Abbott should be seriously questioned about his motivation, otherwise as Thatcher goes, Major goes; as Blair goes, so Brown goes; As Perry goes, so Abbott goes, and the result of too much power be shared out as a grace and favor does no one, not least the local tax payers any good at all.

And for the record, Lehmbergs arrest for drink driving was shameful, and yes she should of resigned. But because she didn’t doesn’t make it OK for the Governor to abuse his power to try to remove her. Don’t let the Lehmberg arrest though distract from the real issue, abuse of power and term limits.

What did Abbott do and when did he do it?

While the water story of Texas Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott is really little more than a “storm in  private well”,  the news that former CPRIT Executive Jerry Cobb was indicted by a grand jury for first-degree felony indictment of securing execution of a document by deception, has the potential to be pretty serious for Abbott.

At stake is the awarding of an $11 million grant to a Dallas company without the required scientific and business reviews.  During this and other high value contract awards,  Attorney General Abbott was either absent or missing in action as a board member of CPRIT, and as is often the case,  in Texas, the suggestion is the awarding of these contracts is no more than chronism or the Texas ole boy network in action.

While Governor Perry has been more of  Teflon man than  superman,  it will be interesting to see what sticks to Abbott. Texas needs to move into the sunshine.


For Groundwater, Political Boundaries Trump Natural Ones

For Groundwater, Political Boundaries Trump Natural Ones

The Tribune just published an interesting insight into the politics behind groundwater in Texas and how it is managed.

It includes this helpful summary of how things got the way they are “When most GCDs [Groundwater Conservation Districts] were created, they focused on making sure current and historic water pumpers wouldn’t need to change their habits, he said. Instead, they should have encouraged them to limit their pumping as much as they could, knowing that new users would be entering the picture and competing for dwindling resources. “

Exploitation of the poor

The Moocher Class via the Daily Show

A great example. If you are poor, you’re condemned for needing help, and, if you are poor you are ripe to be exploited. Lewis Black makes in easy to understand why…

The fading power of politics

The fading power of politics

This is a really good article on the politics of power, and how quickly the power of politics fades. The fact that former VP Cheney was the most senior US rep. is telling both from a perspective of Thatcher as it is for Cheney.

It is perhaps important for these politicians to remember, unlike the businesses and doctrines they politic for, when the politician goes, neither the business, nor the doctrine will step forward to defend them. The only people there will be those whose own legacy depends on the continuation of a line of deceit.

The 1% Olympics

I’m over in the UK for the Olympics and to see my family, there is a definite undercurrent about the overbearing regulations and heavy handed implementation and complaints about LOCOG.

The Independent has a great article: Father of Olympic branding: my rules are being abused

DJT1million • 3 days ago • parent −
I’m not sure that the Olympics are widely loathed to be honest. I think that there is, instead, massive indifference with occasional outbreaks of justifiable fury when the G4S scandal came out or when the money lavished on the Games is set against massive and punitive cuts to the lives of ordinary people and their services.

Locog have also been their own worst enemy with their arrogant and patronising attitude along with the heavy handed treatment of anyone daring to refer to The Games without paying the appropriate fee. Even here in the heart of London there’s barely a reference to the Olympics. I did expect people to get the bunting out, have little shop window displays supporting our athletes, schools having Olympic themed summer fetes before they break up for the holidays but there’s nothing. Locog have scared everyone into ignoring the whole party unless they’re a sponsor forgetting (or ignoring) that 95% +++ of the cost has been paid for by UK taxpayers, London council tax payers and National Lottery players. We all have a stake too.

Unintended consequences – these Games highlight just how dysfunctional our society currently is. They’re a perfect illustration that can be understood by everyone of just how far our nation has been handed over to big business at the expense of our wider society and values as a whole. Everything, the control freakery, the needs of the corporate sponsors, the ZIL lanes, the tax avoiding, the lavish (mis)use of public funds to benefit the very few and so on and on and on is the high water mark of 30 years of increasing inequality and the dysfunction inherent in the prevailing economic and political orthodoxy that is currently running out of steam.

Money and Politics

Comedians Steven Colbert and Bill Maher have made much recently about the Super PACs which are dominating this years presidential elections, Maher going so far as to donate $1-million dollars to President Obama’s PAC for reelection.

And ever since I’ve lived in the US, I’ve been astounded at the amount of time and effort that seems to go into raising money for elections. Especially since a large amount of it seems to be used to support activities which really don’t represent anything that most people would attribute as American values and strengths, optimism, the ability to achieve anything you put your mind to etc. Money in politics seems to generate activities more associated with Mob style tactics, money laundering and extortion.

I listened to this weeks “This American Life” (TAL) while doing laundry and tidying up last night, and it’s shocking. Seriously, Act One covers the amount of time that the elected politicians actually spend fundraising, which seems to be most of it. There is admission that lobbyists are a vital source of information, “they know the most about a subject”. Well perhaps if you didn’t waste so much time fundraising, you’d have time to get educated just enough to be able to grasp the issues and make an intelligent decision about how to support it. Then they wouldn’t feel the need to have all those lobbyists around as a  crutch.

John McCain is interviewed in Act Three. He makes some very interesting points, not least about the Supremem Court hearings that gave us “Citizens United” aka the Super PACs.

John Mccain

At first, I was outraged. The day that Russ and I went over and observed the arguments, the questions that were asked, the naivety of the questions that were asked and the arrogance of some of the questioners, it was just stunning. Particularly Scalia with his sarcasm. Why shouldn’t these people be able to engage in this process? Why do you want to restrict them from their rights of free speech? And the questions they asked showed they had not the slightest clue as to what a political campaign is all about and the role of money that it plays in political campaigns. And I remember when Russ and I walked out of there, I said, Russ, we’re going to lose and it’s because they are clueless

Which is just depressing. I wouldn’t have voted for McCain in the McCain/Obama Presidential campaign, even if I could. I can’t vote even in local elections. I’m wondering though what it is that stops good, principled men and women from speaking out about the men in politics? McCain/Feinberg was a start, America should be going forwards, not backwards.

You can listen to the whole episode of TAL here in their archives.

[Update: 4/6/12 2:50pm] TAL has just released the McCain/Feinberg interview, uncut here. Brilliant, McCain makes another telling point when he says:

It’s, it’s beyond belief. And, you know, and, and to ss,
sum up in one respect, what does it do to the view of young
Americans that Russ is talking to every day out there at Stanford? It makes ’em cynical.
It makes’ em cynical, and therefore demotivating; therefore it’s harder to get highly qualified men and women to seek public office, if they think we’re all a bunch of crooks.