Sunday, September 02, 2007

Campaign Finance Reform was supposed to, I think, end this sort of thing, but it hasn't.

Some dude named Hsu (already a fugitive from justice, no less!) has found himself, through his own actions, in a firestorm of controversy over political donations. This is not the first time Mr. Hsu has run into problems with the legal system; he had been indicted and convicted three years ago in an investment scam that bilked folks out of their savings. Mr. Hsu promptly disappeared, many believing he fled back to his native Hong Kong, to avoid his jail sentence.

Now it turns out that Mr. Hsu, far from 'laying low' while 'on the lam' has instead been writing checks. And he's been writing them to the likes of Hilary Clinton, Barak Obama, Gavin Newsome, Barabara Boxer, et. al.

I want to know this; how is it that a convicted felon is able to write checks to a political campaign or party, and no contrivance apparently exists to ensure that those checks are rejected? Secondly, I wish to know how it is that a convicted felon on the run from Federal law enforcement can write checks and no one follows those checks back to their source and thus finds the guy?

Clinton, Obama, etc., have all made great shows of 'giving the money back' --- although I'm not sure who they give it back to. Certainly not Mr. Hsu, and so far as I know, it wasn't even his money to begin with. When they aren't doing that they're making a great show of donating the ill-gotten gains to charity. As if that erases the fact that the money found it's way to them from a criminal in the first place.

For some candidates, like Mrs. Clinton, a little circumspection and perhaps a less-lax attitude towards fundraising and identifying the sources of those funds is in order; her husband has a long history of questionable (and illegal) contributions on his record, and she has had questions raised about her own campaign finances in the past, as well. When you couple this proximity to 'dirty money' to the Clinton Presidential Library's refusal to release thousands of pages of legal documents relating to Mrs Clinton herself, it's almost impossible not to believe that all of this is simply symptomatic of any Clinton's apparent predelection for subterfuge and dishonesty. It certainly makes her less attractive (as if that were possible?) as a candidate for any public office, up to and including dog catcher, anywhere in this country. Let alone as President of the United States.
Of Restrooms and Politics...
RE: The recent scandal involving one Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and his coulda-been-mighta-been-smells-like-alleged- homosexual antics in a Minneapolis airport men's room:

First; why is it that homosexuals (allegedly) seek sex in bathrooms? Is it because in the process of doing one's business one might be expected to be partially disrobed already? Is there some sort of cheap thrill to be derived from doing the nasty in an unusually nasty place (i.e. a place where scores, if not hundreds, of other men, most with notoriously poor aim and a great many with no sense of decency, make an unsanitary mess upon the floor, fixtures and whatnot)? Is this some sort of sick mental disorder that makes people seek out sex in public place, where the threat of being caught (not to mention catching something other than a quickie) adds to the experience?

Secondly, what does this say about a great number of men who profess themselves to be 'conservative'? In the last year, Ted Haggard (evangelical icon, advocate for all but stoning homosexuals, afficianado of gay escorts), Mark Foley (republican congresscritter, alleged pedophile) and now Craig (famous gay marriage opponent) have all been caught, more or less, doing unto others (or trying to do it)what they all say is sickening, disgusting and immoral. It's quite fair, in light of these incidents, when critics of 'conservatives' point out the glaring hypocrisy. But I think it all says something more about 'conservatives' as a whole.

You see, people like Haggard and Foley and Craig ride the 'conservative' movement to power; taking money, votes, and moral support for mouthing the proper platitudes about our decadent society and declining moral values, all the while indulging in the guilty pleasures of the flesh and denuding the value of character in secret. And after they're caught, they typically spout a stream of nonsense, always invoking the words 'sin', 'forgiveness', 'God', 'repentence' and 'rehab' --- all the while denying their guilt, and simultaneously asking for absolution. "Do as I say, not as I do" aside, it's hardly credible that all these men were victims of an organized campaign to sully their characters and erode at the foundations of their crusades. If that were the case there would be evidence that they were unfairly targeted and the claims could, often I would assume, be easily dismissed.

These situations, in effect, prove something I've said about 'conservatives' for a very long time; they'll buy anything --- so long as you mention God a few times and harangue gays and harken back to a supposed "Golden Age" of American life that was supposedly morally superior to that which reigns now. All the while some, like these three examples, reap the rewards heaped upon them by the gullible; the money, the votes, a measure of fame, and the acquisition of political power. They never achieve even a modicum of what they advocate, and then are typically leading secret lives in public lavatories, but they still always manage to gain support.

As Orwell once wrote (paraphrasing), "the greatest danger to a civilized society is a political movement led by privileged hypocrites preaching the Sermon on the Mount."

When men like Haggard, Foley and Craig are dragged into our consciousness, hoisted upon their own petards by their hypocrisy and stupidity, that axiom becomes clearer to even the sleepiest minds amongst us. Once again, I implore 'conservatives'; drop the religion, or at least temper it with reason, and apply the lessons of Haggard/Foley/Craig when you next select a candidate for office. Neither Craig nor Foley would have had a very long shelf-life in republican politics but for the support of conservatives enraptured by their words and hypocritical facades, not to mention the (dubious) moral support (and the ability to gather resources and votes) of men like Haggard.

If character counts, then make sure character exists. Regardless of whether or not it's couched in Christian dogma and the 'right' (defined in narrow, mentally-constipated concepts) point of view.