Friday, June 5, 2009
How Do West Virginians Spell Pork? It's B-Y-R-D
Robert C. Byrd was born in 1917 and has been in the US Congress since 1952. He worked as a gas station attendant and grocery store clerk before being elected to the W. Virginia House of Delegates in 1946 and to the W. Va. Senate in 1951. Sometime after he was elected to the US Senate he obtained a law degree. He did have some extra-curricular activities, if not any real job experience, to inform his law-making career. F’instance, he joined the Klu Klux Klan in 1942 and was elected Grand Cyclops and then Kleagle (recruiter). It wasn’t until 1947 that he dropped out as the KKK affiliation was apparently beginning to affect his political life. During that period he made racist remarks, so vicious, that I wouldn’t print them here. Since leaving the Klan he has disavowed them and apologized over and over again.
But when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came up for a vote, Byrd filibustered against the bill for 14 straight hours! Of course, it passed with 80% Repubs and 63% Dems voting Aye. Byrd is the only Senator to have voted against the nominations of both Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, the only two African Americans to have been nominated to the court. The Dems still call Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.”
He loves animals, though. As proof he was honored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as their 2007 Person of the Year. Then he was honored by the Humane Society as a defender of animal rights and the headline was "The Prince of Pork Now Tries to Save the Hog."
Citizens Against Government Waste has an entire page called Byrd Droppings dedicated to Sen. Byrd in honor of his “fiscal incontinence.” CAGW quotes him there, "They call me 'The Pork King,' they don't know how much I enjoy it." (Sounds like our Poster Boy John Murtha.) http://www.cagw.org/site/PageServer?pagename=news_byrddroppings “After he secured $97 million in fiscal 1999, Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W. Va.) became the first person in CAGW's Congressional Pig Book history to obtain more than $1 billion in pork for his voters and contributors. So entrenched is he as a result of his enormous earmarks that he has never really had any serious opposition. He explained how career politicians think: "One man's pork is another man's job. Pork has been a good investment in West Virginia. You can look around and see what I've done." If you look around in W. VA you’ll find no less than 40 buildings and projects of all kinds named after him. He set a new standard for taxpayer-funded narcissism by convincing the West Virginia Legislature to erect a statue of himself in the state Capitol. The statue violates state law prohibiting statues of government officials until they have been dead for half a century. Rule of law? Not for entrenched career pols. [Byrd's statue is currently housed in the Capitol Rotunda, as shown in the picture, and it is said if you stand under the statue the senator's hand points directly at your pockets.]
Some other positions: He opposed the Iraq war saying that of the more than 18,000 votes he has cast as a Senator, he is proudest of his vote against the Iraq war resolution. Byrd has also voted for funding the Iraq war with a timetable for troop withdrawal. He voted against the ban on partial birth abortion, then subsequently voted for it. In February 2009 he was one of only two Democrats to vote against the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act of 2009 which provided a voting seat in the House of Representatives. These are just to fill in a quick sketch of the man.
Our point is that when a politician is in congressional politics as a career he does what he has to to stay in office –that is his goal. It is not to “serve” the country by adhering to his oath of office. He “serves” by extracting taxes from one group to serve up to another group who will contribute to his campaign or vote for him. This is vote-buying, not serving. It has been like this for so long that it is hard to remember the citizen-legislator who goes to Washington to perform a civic duty and then goes home and lives under the laws he helped to pass. (There have been a few lately, generally self term-limiters.)
When we had citizen-legislators from The Founders on until 20th century they were men of accomplishment successful at a business or profession and they applied that experience to the benefit of the country. Our Poster Children have not had real-life experience, only political experience, which means that they have no successful insights to apply to those problems that they attempt to solve through legislation. Is it any wonder that our career pols invariably exacerbate virtually every problem they address? Usually, I must add, they are trying to solve problems that they themselves have caused by their taxing and regulating. This current financial crisis is a case in point –see the posters on Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, below.