U.S. Government . . . of kings, dynasties, dictators and legacies

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. We keep electing the same old bimbos, hangers-on, has-beens, retreads, and political family stiffs, who promise everything to everybody and never deliver a damned thing except more of the same.

The remarkable experiment in government called the United States, had its beginning on July 4, 1776, when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, and has lasted some 238 years. We will celebrate its 239th birthday this coming July 4th. The U.S. Constitution was adopted and ratified becoming the Supreme Law of the Land on September 17, 1787, making it the oldest and most effective governing instrument in the world according to Dr. Steven Frank, the Constitution Center’s chief historian.Imagine what the Founding Fathers would think about the country they created were they to drop-in andFounding father today pay us a visit. Does anyone in their right mind believe they would approve of the way the government has managed things in their absence? Have we adhered to the governing principles established within the framework of the Constitution and as they vehemently debated and discussed in the Federalist Papers? I think the answer to that question would most probably be a resounding “no”!

Have the voters for all these years sent our best and brightest to Washington to govern as they swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States? There would be a great deal of debate on that subject when one recalls the many idiotic things that have come from the mouths of the fools to which we entrusted our country’s future. To refresh your recent memories, here’s just a sampling from those representing We the People:

From the Daily Caller – Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, “During a speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Wednesday, the Texas Democrat referenced the beginning of the country and said: ‘We have lasted some 400 years, operating under a constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what is not’.”

From  Snopes.com: President Barack Obama, “… it is just wonderful to be back in Oregon, and over the last 15 months we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in fifty . . . seven states? I think one left to go. One left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit but my staff would not justify it.”

According to CBS News: “My fear is that the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize,” Representative Hank Johnson said in reference to the island of Guam.

From the Matador Network: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, as a reason to pass Obamacare, “Butpelosi. we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy.”

President Richard Nixon from an interview with David frost 1977: “Oh, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal”

Sen. Barbara Boxer about those who survived the San Francisco earthquake said, “Thank God, I’m still alive. But, of course, those who died, their lives will never be the same again.”

From Jake Brennan, words of wisdom from Vice President Dan Quayle “it isn’t pollution that is hurting the environment; it’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.”

As we look forward to the Presidential Elections of 2016, the “horses” are already jockeying for position. On the Republican side there seems to be no end to the number wanting to throw their hat in the ring. On the Democrat side the pickins’ are pretty slim. As one who follows such events, I eagerly await an opportunity to find someone capable of fixing the chaotic mess that Washington has become, but sadly it looks to be the same-o, same-o crowd of has-beens, wannabes, and retreaded stiffs, who don’t have a clue as to the damage they have already done to the country – with very rare exception.

Our great nation, which boasts the greatest governing document ever conceived by man, probably second only to the Ten Commandments, has yet to find 435 individuals to put in the House of Representatives, 100 individuals to place in the Senate, and a single leader to act as President, with the honesty, integrity, intelligence, and common sense, to effectively run the government as the Founding Fathers envisioned.

A quick peek at the Legislative Branch of government gives us a clue as to why things go so errant with most politicians, and why we get what we seemingly always have gotten in most cases. . .a gaggle of self-serving, arrogant, and self-indulgent office-seekers of dubious distinction, who become determined to make a career in political office. They may not start out that way, but shortly after moving into their offices, they begin to plot every course necessary, tell every tale needed (truthful or not), to insure their tenure in office is as close to “life” and humanly possible.

In all honesty, I am sure most run for office with noble intentions, truly wanting to represent their constituency back home. I am also quite sure that when they arrive in Washington, they do so with every intent to do the best job they can, but I guess things just deteriorate from there. The average Congressional office is served by a staff of 15 and commands an annual budget which average about $1.4 million. The Senate Offices’ budgets range from $3 million to $4.7 million, and depend on state population, distance from Washington, DC, and the number of postal addresses in the state. This is POWER; not with their own money, but with taxpayer funds . . . and they love wielding it.

The Office of President is a much grander feast to set before the king, as the saying goes. According to an article from the Daily Caller, and one which is probably as accurate as the government is willing to disclose, “Taxpayers spent $1.4 billion dollars on everything from staffing, housing, flying and entertaining President Obama and his family last year, according to the author of a new book on taxpayer-funded presidential perks.” The report went on to say, “In comparison, British taxpayers spent just $57.8 million on the royal family.”

Robert Keith Gray, author of Presidential Perks Gone Royal, states that, “Obama isn’t the only president to have taken advantage of the expensive trappings of his office. The amount of money spent on the first family, he argues, has risen tremendously under the Obama administration and needs to be reined in . . . and that the $1.4 billion spent on the Obama family last year is the “total cost of the presidency,” factoring the cost of the “biggest staff in history at the highest wages ever,” a 50 percent increase in the numbers of appointed czars and an Air Force One “running with the frequency of a scheduled air line.”

All this will go down in history as a sick joke on the American public that got the kind of government they voted for, and which is in the process of creating the worst legacy left behind by any U.S. President. We shouldn’t be surprised. The President actually told us all in his election campaigChangen that, “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek”; and then right before the 2008 election, he said he would “fundamentally transform American”, and my friend, he certainly has done that. . . The king has spoken! Talk about arrogance.

It wasn’t always like this in politics and most definitely not for the office of the presidency. Where did we go wrong?

Going back to the 33rd. president of the U.S., Harry S. Truman, we saw the end of innocence if one could call it that. Truman was a man of principle, honor, integrity, and plain old common sense, who knew his value as a man. While, like all politicians, he had his fair share of detractors, but the country knew where it stood when he told the people, “The buck stops here”, meaning he wasn’t playing the blame-game, and that if things went wrong, he was the man to bear the burden. If for no other reason, historians today recognize Truman as one of the great presidents in history as I wrote about earlier this year. What made Truman so unique?

According to an article I read on Boston.com news prior to writing my assessment of the ten best presidents, when Truman left the White House in 1953, historian David McCullough records, “he had no income or support of any kind from the federal government other than his Army pension of $112.56 a month. He was provided with no government funds for secretarial help or office space, not a penny of expense money.” Truman had to borrow money from the bank to tide him over for the transition back to private life. There was no grand exit from Washington; Harry and Bess simply piled all their belongings in their car and hit the highway to make the drive back to their home in Independence, Missouri.

Historian McCullough went on to say that, unlike the presidents since the Truman years, all of whom have left far richer than when they became president, “Truman refused to cash in on his celebrity and influence. He turned down lucrative offers, one from a Florida real estate developer inviting him to become “chairman, officer, or stockholder, at a figure of not less than $100,000; and he refused to make commercial endorsements, accept consulting fees, or engage in lobbying. He wouldn’t even take the free car that Toyota offered him as a gesture of improved Japanese-American relations”. Presidents since Truman went out and capitalized on being president, doing speaking engagements and personal appearances, lending their names to events, and providing consultancies or building foundations to amass far more wealth than the average citizen.

From an article written in the New York Times, we learned that in the six years after leaving office, Bill Clinton pocketed a staggering $40 million in speaking fees. tirelessly working the lecture circuit, delivering hundreds of speeches, often at a price of $150,000 and more with two-thirds of his speaking money coming from foreign sources, as reported in the Washington Post. Dabbagh investment firm of Saudi Arabia alone, paid Clinton $600,000 for two speeches, and China’s JingJi Real Estate Development Group, run by a local Communist Party official, which paid $200,000 for a speech.

The sleaze doesn’t stop with the Clintons. Other Presidents were quick to pick-up the road map to super wealth. “President Gerald Ford, accepted high-paying board memberships at companies like 20th Century-Fox, Primerica, and American Express. Ronald Reagan accepted $2 million to deliver two 20-minute speeches in Japan shortly after leaving the White House in 1989, and both George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have traveled widely to lecture for pay”, according to the same Boston.com article.

The passage of the Former Presidents Act in 1958, was supposed to solve the problem of presidents becoming impoverished upon leaving office. But that didn’t even seem to be a speed bump in the road for the charlatans of Capitol Hill. Bush was already a wealthy man, yet he became the poster boy for the speaking fee frenzy that businesses and groups are willing to pay for the “unbridled wisdom” these so-called statesmen can dish out, as they garner $80,000-$100,000, for thirty minutes of yapping . . . more money than 90% of what average Americans make in a year!

The elder Bush in particular seems to be Clinton’s model. The Wall Street Journal reported a decade ago that “in the four years since he left office, Mr. Bush, already a wealthy man, has earned millions of dollars speaking publicly.” Charging $80,000 to $100,000 per appearance, “Bush generally restricts himself to giving speeches and rubbing shoulders with corporate executives and high-level government officials.”

Such post-presidential avarice might be more understandable if presidents were still leaving office the way Truman did, with nothing from the taxpayers but a fond farewell. But that hasn’t been the case since the passage of the Former Presidents Act in 1958.

Today former presidents receive a lavish pension — $186,000, increased yearly — payable as soon as they depart the White House, regardless of their age. In addition, former chief executives are granted hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual staff, office, and travel allowances. For fiscal year 2007, Clinton will receive approximately $1.16 million from the US Treasury — his telephone stipend alone will come to $77,000. All former presidents are also entitled to free, round-the-clock Secret Service protection for themselves and their families. The cost of providing security for previous “first families” is estimated at $20 million a year.

According to the National Taxpayers Union, Clinton will reap a lifetime pension payout of more than $7 million, assuming a normal lifespan. The senior George Bush can expect to bank more than $3 million; for Carter, the total will likely top $4 million. Clearly the age when former presidents could find themselves in dire financial straits is long gone. Sadly, so is the sense of integrity and propriety that once kept men like Truman from devoting their post-presidency to money-grubbing. While the buck might have stopped with Harry Truman, leaving office gave birth to a greediness that was matched only by the thirst for political power of the presidency.

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