Thursday, June 21, 2012

Am I Too Cynical?

My sister forwarded me the information : Norman F. Lent, 11 term Congressman from G'ma's Long Island district, died at the age of 81.  He considered himself a moderate conservative, an extinct species as far as I can determine.  He opposed integration in a local school district, co-sponsored the Superfund legislation, worked to liberalize New York's abortion laws, and was prone to such utterances as these:

“We continue to play a game of chemical roulette with man’s biological future. We’ve got to stop this.”
My memory of his terms in office reflect none of the nuance that was obviously part and parcel of the man.  Instead, I remember sitting at G'ma's kitchen table, red pencil in one hand, Congressman Lent's quarterly newsletter in the other.  G'ma saved them for me.  Together, she at the sink, cutting veggies for the salad she created every single night, I reading aloud and groaning over misspellings and poor punctuation and rhetorical inconsistencies.  I marked up the paper and mailed it back to the Congressman.  No one ever contacted us about it, nor did the grammar improve.

I was blinded to the substance of his work in Congress by the insult to my intelligence that was his newsletter.  His newsletter, which was franked and therefore paid for by my tax dollars, which was to represent my Representative in my home, which was to deliver information, his newsletter was the butt of our jokes and nothing more.

And yet he kept getting elected.  G'ma and I must've been the only ones who cared.

TBG and I had Dylan Ratigan on the television as we were changing to go to the gym.  His interviewees were two educators who are obviously quite talented.  They were able to understand Ratigan's questions.  TBG and I were hard pressed to come up with the topic, let alone where his interest lay.  One question..... two questions.... the third time came and I still had no idea what he was talking about so I changed the channel to an oldies-on-the-cable-tv-station and we boogied away our irritation.

The man was hired to speak.  He's not an ex-jock who can be forgiven for slipping up every once in a while if the rest of the time his patter is listen-worthy.  He is nothing but a mouth.... we saw no evidence of a brain behind it. 

And yet, there he is, every afternoon.  Are TBG and I the only ones listening?

Rio Nuevo is the redevelopment district from hell here in Tucson.  Funded with sales tax revenues, this District within a district has all kinds of powers and, apparently, a total inability to account for all those millions of pesky dollars that flowed into and out of their coffers.  Thus far there are a few rehabilitated storefronts downtown and a nicely bladed and dusty acreage on the south side which has a nice sign and nothing else going on.... and that's just on the east side of I-10.  The Arizona Star is reporting an audit questioning $33.8million of questionable spending on the west side of I-10. In all, between $200 and $300 million dollars have been spent with nothing to show for it.

And yet, no one is in jail.  Boards are reconstituted and new mayors elected and still, nothing happens.

I could go on about the SuperPac ads which innundated our district for the special election which sent Gabby's handpicked candidate to Washington while delivering a decisive defeat to his Tea Party oppponent.  In the aftermath of the election, no one was heard to call him a Republican.  Some on the radio called him a Tea Party Republican, but most just used the TP part. 

The winning Democrat went to Washington, got sworn in, and immediately voted against his party by agreeing to allow Border Ptarol vehicles to pursue illegal crossers on federally protected lands.  It's a nuanced issue; when Park Rangers are afraid to use the provided-on-site-as-part-of-their-compensation housing because it's too dangerous and there is no protection then my concern for endangered species smaller than humankind seems less important.  Congressman Barber's constituents include those Park Rangers as well as all of us cactus-huggers who resist mining and development and bright-lights-at-night.  It's a fine line to walk; one that requires thought and balance. I admire his courage in voting his conscience.

And yet, as I read the article in the paper this morning I found myself murmuring "He's running for re-election already... that vote is for the ranchers...."

Am I too cynical?  Am I looking at the dark side?  Is there hope?  I'm just not seeing much good out there, nor, does it seem, did I ever.  Sigh.......


  1. Poor grammar bugs the heck out of me. Especially when it's by someone we are entrusting with our well-being (i.e. a congressperson). You would think someone would have looked over those newsletters. It's a poor reflection on the man and it shows he had no respect for his constituents. I may be cynical too, but I feel politicians think we are all stupid. And sorry to say this, there are some really unintelligent people out there. How can you explain people voting against their own self-interests?

    For example, there are people that vote Republican that are not wealthy and yet they cannot see that the Republican party does not care one ioata about the common person. They care about big-business and the 1%.

    Call me cynical too. But I do hope there is hope for this country and we don't vote in people that are not looking out for us.

    There is good out there, it just gets over-shadowed by the bad. Don't lose hope though.

    Megan xxx

  2. Not too cynical, maybe not cynical enough. I have been working with elected officials for the past 32 years. I'm actually amazed as I write this. Folks that would have been good, perhaps "average" I now think of as stellar. It's a sad commentary and it makes it very hard to vote in elections when I know so many of the candidates.

  3. Oh yeah, it's getting v hard to vote for anyone we even know a smidgen about because as you say, the Overton Window for smarts has moved way too far into the stupid side of the graph.

  4. Isn't Rio Nuevo the most amazing boondoggle ever? We were following the coverage last winter and their refusal to tell where the money went. The hubris is stunning. Why isn't someone in jail for this?

  5. We are all disgusted. We are all amazed. And yet it continues. Just read that Rio Nuevo didn't pay taxes for years... and the bills were in the $200-$300 range.

    We're going to Hell in a handbasket... anyone enjoying the ride?


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