Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sic semper parasitus.

In comments at Breda's, Mike made a point about Ted Stevens' recent departure from this vale of sorrows:
"[I]t's a way out I would pick for myself: quick crash at 86 years old after getting filthy rich sucking at the public teat for decades - not bad."
I understand the sentiment. There's been an all-too-minor uptick recently in these professional parasites (from the Greek παράσιτος, meaning "to eat on my tab,") kicking the bucket and, Miss Manners be damned, all I can think nowadays when one goes away is "It's a shame he died outside of prison."

22 comments:

kahr40 said...

A Statesman is a dead politician. Lord knows we need more Statesmen - Opus

Lots more.

JeanC said...

Yup.

Borepatch said...

From the Devil's Dictionary:

SENATE, n. A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.

Anonymous said...

show me a politicianwho isn.t a crook and i will show you a dead politician.

Bubblehead Les. said...

So does this mean the "Bridge to my Rich Cronies Hunting Lodge...errrr...To Nowhere" is finally dead? Or will some Alaska Politician put in an earmark for "The Ted Stevens Memorial Viaduct"?

Nathan said...

Well, Tam, he may have died out of prison, but I'm betting he died screaming like a little girl.

Which suits me just fine.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone old enough to remember him being a watchdog for gun owners?
Jabba the Kennedy tacked antigun bills to even the school lunch programs.
Sen. Stevens was on him like a hobo on a hot dog.
He was not ALL bad.
R.I.P.
Gunsmoke

Matthew said...

There was far more to Senator Stevens' career then accepting a few gifts and not reporting them. There wouldn't BE a state of Alaska if not for his efforts. Regardless of the shallowness of your collective opinions about the man I'm appalled at the crassness on display.

Nathan, the man was a decorated wartime pilot, he certainly didn't die screaming. Hell, it wasn't even the first time he was in a plane crash up here. In fact he lost his wife in a crash.

Does it "suit you fine" that other people died in the crash? The pilot of the plane, for instance, was the father-in-law of an Air Nat'l Guard pilot who died less than a month ago in a C-17 crash practicing for an air show.

Screw it, enjoy dancing in the blood.

Tam said...

"Nathan, the man was a decorated wartime pilot..."

Not to go the full Godwin, but so was Herman Goering.

I'm sorry if it offends anybody, but I've pretty much lost all respect for professional politicians.

Matthew said...

Tam,

My point was that he wasn't a coward who would "die screaming like a little girl".

Stevens stayed in office because we wanted him there. The man's focus was always "Alaska first" and he never let us down.

I try to not swing the broad brush and in this case I'm not sure "professional politician" as a pejorative really applies.

WV: ecoed - What you date at an online University

Anonymous said...

Rostenkowski joins the ranks of those eating their salads from the roots up....

Rauðbjorn said...

I too am sick with loathing for politicians Tam, but Ted Stevens did a lot of good things for Alaska, and if nothing else proved himself to be a good politician (one that when bought stays bought) for Alaskans.

You know, for as much crap as you people give those that levy disrespect towards our fighting men and women (your "Lies and the lying liars who tell them" post and the related georgiapacking.org thread for example) I find it interesting that you display such disdain for one now.

No Uncle Ted wasn't perfect (that "internet is a series of tubes" thing will follow us around forever), but he generally did what we asked, and responded well to professional criticism.

I'd like to echo Matthew's question;
"Does it "suit you fine" that other people died in the crash? The pilot of the plane, for instance, was the father-in-law of an Air Nat'l Guard pilot who died less than a month ago in a C-17 crash practicing for an air show."

Understand, Alaska is small enough that we KNOW these people. It's not like Indiana with six and a half million of people packed into an area 1/20 the size of my state. There's less than 3/4 of a million Alaskans. If we had thought Ted Stevens a parasite, we'd have kicked him out.

Hell even when he finally did lose an election it was by less than 2%, and he lost due to malfeasance on the part of not one, but two agencies of the federal government.

I'd like to see you find as good a representative, that enjoyed that good a level of support. Anywhere

Roberta X said...

So, if everyone votes for him, he must be good?

C'mon; Stalin dropkicked the Russians outta the 19th Century, too. That doesn't mean he was a good guy.

In the case of Ted Stevens, he describes the usual parabola: they do good, they get in, they do more good, they stay in and they start playing it as a game: how much tax money can I send home?

I'm glad he was an effective warrior for us gunnies. But he could have been more, and wasn't.

Matthew said...

Roberta,

Most of the money he sent home was actually Constitutionally-based. By pushing military projects, on American soil, in a genuinely strategic location he enabled civilian infrastructure to grow to support it.

He fought to open Federal lands (which lock up 66% of Alaska) and resources to private development.

He fought to fulfill Federal obligations to the Native peoples which, whether you like it or not, is also an enumerated power of the Feds.

He certainly brought home the bacon, but it's hard to call most of it really "pork".

Anonymous said...

There was no one more adept at looting the US Treasury. Citizens Against Government Waste lays out the sordid details of Ted Stevens' political career.

http://councilfor.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=PorkerProfile_Stevens

To add insult to injury, the lout also voted "Not guilty" during Clinton's impeachment trial.

If "Uncle Ted" had not succeeded being elected as a US Senator, he would likely have made good as mayor of Chicago.

MALTHUS

Matthew said...

Just calling it "pork" doesn't make it so and "per capita" comparisons are BS for a host of reasons.

Regardless, he did his job for Alaskans.

Tam said...

I'm glad for you that your favorite looter figured out a way to give you my money.

Matthew said...

Again, just citing to a list of "pork" doesn't make all, or even most, of the dollars sent to Alaska unConstitutional or unnecessary expenditures.

The Federal government is responsible for its possessions and lands. Such lands constitute 69% of Alaska but only 2% of Indiana (as an example). I'd certainly rather the Feds simply give us the 67% difference, keeping only the Post Roads and military reservations, we wouldn't need one dime of tax money at that point, but that's hardly within the power of any Senator of any seniority to accomplish.

So there's a bit of a reason Fed spending is disproportionate per capita and it has nothing to do with the citizenry of Alaska "getting your money".

Add in the logistical issues of doing anything at those distances and condiitons and the lack of economies of scale and things get worse, even for expenditures Patrick Henry would support.

On a practical basis, we might also consider that Alaska as a state is only a few decades old. To be just in one's comparison we need to compare not how much long-established Eastern states get now but rather how much they got historically at similar levels of development.

Uncle Ted certainly did send back some money that wasn't necessary or Constitutional, but it's bullshit and puerile to label him as merely yet another career politician.

Tam said...

Matthew,

"The Federal government is responsible for its possessions and lands. Such lands constitute 69% of Alaska but only 2% of Indiana (as an example). I'd certainly rather the Feds simply give us the 67% difference..."

If you can't see the logical fallacy in those sentences, then there's not much point in hashing this out, but I'll try...

"To be just in one's comparison we need to compare not how much long-established Eastern states get now but rather how much they got historically..."

Considering that most other states were established before the modern era or the 16th Amendment, they got squat from FedGov. No highway funds or education funds or DOE funds or Park Service payola or any of that stuff, because it didn't exist, and yet we still somehow managed to build this nation.

Matthew said...

True enough, but that also supports my point. Indiana didn't have 69% of its land, much of it incredibly valuble and productive, locked up and unavailable for boot-strapping and rugged individualism from day one.

There's a lot more nuance here then simply "Federal teat-sucking". At any rate, that whole issue is a digression and I'm sorry I started down the road.

My reason for posting, before I got caught up in trying to change minds on the internet, is that callous indifference to the loss of life is disturbing to me.

At what point does cynicism about the political process start harming basic human decency? We can disagree with someone's politics without transferring that to their humanity itself. Even if nothing more than a "career politician" Stevens was not in any way a bad person. Certainly not deserving people feeling any sort of satisfaction at his death.

Nathan's comment flat out offended me. It was what was in my head when puerile leapt to mind. Indifference is one thing but ad hominem expressions of glee at the death of another person, who wasn't a monster, are crass at best and certainly appear immature.

Given how it was directed at you it also smacks of sycophancy or plain old kiss-assing.

Moriarty said...

Even if nothing more than a "career politician" Stevens was not in any way a bad person.

Full stop, right there, for anyone even marginally capable of reason.

Ian Argent said...

RIP Sen. Stevens. Regardless of his alleged naughtiness, his judgement is out of our hands now. (We can judge his legacy, but that's something else).

And I can't see any way that he deserved to be on anyone's "better dead" list - much less the rest of the passengers. Out of office (arguably - see above), sure. He was investigated for ethics trangressions. But none of that deserved a death. Damn few people do.