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Embarrassing

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For those of you that hate political posts on this site, feel free to move forward. For those of you who like to think or discuss issues besides sports, feel free to read and rant in the comments section. There is something for all political parties and philosophies in the following diatribe

Over the last 24 hours, I have found myself reinjected into the national and political news, a movement that is good for the mind, but bad for the soul. Over the course of those 24 hours, I have found two stories that reaffirm my consistent disappointment in our political leaders and more specifically, their complete inability to be up front and truthful in their actions.

(1): If you are at all a serious person (this does not mean you Hubby) and care about the status of the country as a whole (we just eliminated the Tomlin), then you have to be concerned about the current financial crisis. With the Federal Government now proposing a $700 billion bailout and the potential for even more intervention down the road, the decisions that Congress and the Treasury Department make in the next week will literally have ramifications for the rest of our lifetimes. The amount of the potential bailout is staggering. It would pay for three Iraq wars, is the greatest government expenditure since the New Deal and just the bailout itself would be the 21st largest national economy in the world. And over the course of the next week, our leaders will determine the specifics of this unbelievable intrusion of government into the financial markets.

I freely admit to not having the insight into whether the bailout is a positive event or not. I would assume some sort of government intervention is necessary when 3 of the 5 largest financial firms in the nation go belly up, but as for what needs to be done and why, I will leave it to the experts…..except the experts arent making the decisions. Essentially we have our Congressional and executive leaders bringing intellectual slingshots to an atomic economic war. Does anyone really believe that George W Bush or Henry Reid completely understands the world financial markets and the basis for the crisis? In Kentucky, do you really feel that Jim Bunning and John Yarmuth will pour over every detail of the plan and use their economic “insight” to determine if it is best for America? Well if you do, I dont. The most important financial and economic decision of my lifetime will be determined by those who spent most of the last few years debating Terry Schiavo and steroids in baseball. Forgive me if I dont have confidence.

But even if I had confidence, the hypocricy and inconsistency of our leaders knows no bounds. Whether you are for John McCain or Barack Obama, I dont think anyone can deny that it will be a glorious day when the current administration is no longer in charge. Over the last eight years, this administration has presided over the initiation of a preventive war, the expansion of the Patriot Act and now a 700 billion dollar bailout, arguably three of the largest expansions of federal government power since the New Deal. And all the while, they have claimed to be “free market” Republicans who oppose government intervention in its citizens’ lives. How can an administration that VETOED a 7 billion dollar child healthcare plan because it was “too much of a government strain on the free market”, have no qualms about a 700 billion dollar financial bailout of bad mortgages and sub-prime lenders? The answer may exist in some form, but it doesnt exist in a belief as to the “sanctity of small government.” Yet our President says that these are simply “market adjustments” and that he is still a “small market guy.” It is that type of “truth manipulation” that makes individuals hate politics and stay away from it unless forced to read about it (on blogs such as these).

Whether one is for this economic bailout or its specific provisions is really irrelevant to me. What is however relevant is that we continue to have leaders with no connection to the realities of America. One would think that requiring these financial institutions that are being bailed out to take away 40+ million dollar compensation packages to their failing CEOs would be common sense. Heck if Johnny Bruce and I run our law firm into the ground, I dont expect the government to pay for Johnny’s gold-plated grills. But such a common-sense idea is controversial in Washington. Why? Because they dont live in the real world that you and I inhabit. None will feel the hit of a foreclosed home, a lost job due to the inability of the business owner to find credit or the whittling away of a retirement. They will thus continue to excuse their actions citing inconsistent views about capitalism and the role of markets. Whatever happens over the next week, watch it closely. Some individuals involved take their roles seriously and stand for principles, even those that with which I dont agree (Richard Shelby, Chuck Hegel and Chris Dodd come to mind). But others simply whistle away lingo while they watch those they “represent” fall (I am looking at you Mitch and Nancy). Now is the time for true leaders….but sadly I see very few.

(2): On a much less important, but equally as hypocritical issue, I got sent this Forbes.com article about Steve Beshear’s attempt to ban internet gambling sites throughout the state of Kentucky. Governor Beshear says that he wants to restrict Kentuckian’s access to foreign gambling sites because they are “leeches on our communities.” Why are they leaches? Well because apparently, they dont pay taxes on their revenue and dont provide Kentuckians jobs. As to the first point, Beshear has not expressed any difficulties with other non-American websites that sell goods (no banning of the internet purchase of Swiss chocolates for instance) and as to the second, he as of yet has not attempted to ban Kentuckians from buying products of those companies located outside of the state. However for gambling, Kentuckians apparently cannot have the ability to even ACCESS these sites.

Now the hypocrisy of this knows no bounds. If Beshear were against all gambling, I would understand. Many years ago, when the lottery was started in Kentucky, church members in my hometown tried to rally against it, as they believed all gambling was immoral. I disagree with that….but at least it is consistent. But that is not why Beshear wants to do this, for Kentucky is a gambling haven at this point. The state’s most famous industry is horse racing, a sport that might not even EXIST if not for gambling. Every time you go place 2 bucks on the #5 horse, you are gambling….whether your minister does it or not. Even worse, Kentucky operates the worst form of gambling of all, the ultra-regressive, poverty-inducing lottery system, that has no effect but to take money out of the hands of those who can afford to lose it the least. According to Beshear, internet sites “siphon off money from regulated and legal games such as Kentucky’s thoroughbred racing industry, our lottery and charitable gaming activities.” That is true….but so does all competition and we dont ban the importing of Tennessee bourbon, simply because we like the bourbon produced in Kentucky.

I freely admit that I like to play poker and will occasionally put a few bucks on a football or basketball game. That most certainly is gambling. But it is not ethically or morally different than horse racing. Allowing one and banning the other is simply taking away competition, for no other reason than to protect a state industry…..the very antithesis of capitalism. Similarly to take away sports betting or poker, where skill is involved to some degree and allow the lottery, which is simply luck and a regressive tax on the poor, is not only hypocritical, it is greedy. The state can take your money in the least fair game around, but if you want to play a fair game on your own, sorry…..I am Beshear and I know best.

When I read a few weeks ago that Sarah Palin attempted to have some books banned while mayor in Alaska, I rolled my eyes at the absurdity of such a solution. And now, just a few weeks later, my own governor wants to ban the domain names for certain websites. In so doing, he isnt taking a moral position which I dont also subscribe to, but rather he is taking a hypocritical, cynical and absolutely inconsistent position that has no justification in anything besides sheer political favoritism. How is one supposed to look at that and find anything in which to admire about his or her elected leaders?

Glad I got all that out. And oh yeah, Patterson is leaning towards Centre…..

Article written by Matt Jones