Posts Tagged “politics”
Here in Connecticut, over the last 10 years or so, we’ve had a sorry parade of public officials brought up on charges, with most of them convicted and run out of office. The current spate of corruption began in 1999 with the ouster of the corrupt state treasurer Paul Sylvester, and continued with two city mayors (Phil Giordano in Waterbury and Joe Ganim in Bridgeport), a governor (John Rowland), his chief of staff (Peter Ellef), two state senators (Ernest Newton and Lou DeLuca), along with a number of Rowland’s henchmen (Larry Alibozek et al). Have a look at some of these sad characters if you like.
The latest major scandal involves Hartford mayor Eddie Perez, who’s dealing with charges that he improperly got free work on his own home by a city contractor (most dictionaries define this as “graft” but Perez and his attorneys insist it’s normal). Perez has a sizable cadre of followers in Hartford who have advocated for him staunchly and who are keeping him in office (he’s slated for re-election later this year but there’s no doubt he will succeed). He, his attorneys, and supporters have held rallies in his defense — as if an appeal to the public somehow changes the veracity of the charges against him.
His latest deflection attempt was a prayer vigil arranged by him and stuffed by the ranks of his cadre, at the same time as a court appearance, and dutifully reported on by the Hartford Courant:
Mayor Eddie A. Perez stood outside Hartford Superior Court Tuesday morning surrounded by supporters gathered for a prayer vigil and told them: “God doesn’t give you a cross you can’t carry.”
Perez was due in court Tuesday morning for a second time as he faces criminal bribery charges, but the court date was changed at the last minute for to administrative reasons, according to his attorney, Hubert J. Santos.
Several local clergy members spoke to Perez and his supporters Tuesday. One spoke of “complete victory.” The Rev. Cornell Lewis, who organized the event, began it by saying that the weather was a good metaphor for Perez’s situation. “Cold, but the sun is shining,” he said. …
Santos filed a motion on Feb. 19 to dismiss the charges against Perez, arguing that testimony of various grand jury witnesses contradicts the evidence for the crimes with which Perez was charged. That motion is pending.
Santos said Perez will be back in court March 17.
I wonder what sort of theatrics Perez and his faithful minion Hubie Santos will arrange on that day!
This is such a transparent and pathetic maneuver that it hardly deserves mention; however, it’s common for politicians under fire to arrange these displays of religiosity. I can’t help but wonder why so many clergy — on this occasion and on so many others — are willing to involve themselves in these scandals and apparently eager to become spokesmen for these elected sociopaths. What gives? Yeah, I know the Rev Cornell Lewis never met a microphone or camera he didn’t like … he’s one of the worst attention-whores in the state … but to stand up for a crook? Why would he, or any other clergyman, cast his lot in with Perez?
P.S. The Courant has a very strange love-hate relationship with Perez; the paper has reported on all the mayor’s foibles over the years, but somehow it manages always to present him as a sympathetic character beset by troubles not of his own making; in the case of this story, the paper acted as his unpaid public-relations team! What makes this as strange as it seems is that in the case of other officials and groups, the Courant has pretty much gone after them with all guns blazing, unrepentantly and leaving no doubt as to the rephrensible nature of the folks they reported on. For instance, the paper (and its subsidiary the Hartford Advocate) has been relentless in its reporting about the Rev Stephen Foley affair (see e.g. this Advocate article) and how the archdiocese of Hartford has handled it. The Courant‘s presentation of the Perez investigation has been very different. I wonder why? Unfortunately there is no longer a reader advocate at the paper whom I can ask. Pity.
Tags: cornell lewis
, eddie perez
, hartford courtant
, hubert santos
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Led by the stalwart legions of Religious Right™ lawyers at the Alliance Defense Fund (an outfit you need to learn more about, if you haven’t already), a bunch of pastors are going to fight off the IRS rule against churches endorsing political candidates (as reported by the Washington Post):
Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.
The effort by the Arizona-based legal consortium is designed to trigger an IRS investigation that ADF lawyers would then challenge in federal court. The ultimate goal is to persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out a 54-year-old ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.
“For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church,” ADF attorney Erik Stanley said. “It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It’s not for the government to mandate the role of church in society.”
I’m disappointed in the headline. It conveys the idea that pastors are “banned” from saying anything. This is decidedly not the case. Like all Americans they have First Amendment rights to say whatever they want. No one is censoring them or “banning” them from endorsing candidates. Rather, their problem is that their churches have tax-exempt status, which binds them to the same restriction that all other tax-exempt entities must live up to, which is not to engage in politicking. So these ferocious pastors and their churches are, in fact, quite free to endorse candidates — they just have to forfeit their tax-exempt status in order to do so.
The legions of the ADF are, therefore, positing a “straw man,” one that the Post unwittingly (I think) is supporting in its choice of headline. The fact is that pastors are in no way “banned” from speaking. That they would claim so, makes them dishonest. They merely can’t campaign for political candidates and keep their churches’ tax exemption. That they would be so ardent about this shows what their true motivations are … money and power!
, tax exemption
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Lying is common in American politics. Both political parties do it, and they do it often. Political lies are especially common on the Internet, where emails and blog entries are frequently inaccurate or outright fabrications. As a committed skeptic I usually take politicians’ claims with a healthy grain of salt (hmm … not a “grain” exactly … maybe “a large truckload”!), and routinely ignore political emails telling me about the latest outrage allegedly committed by some politician or other.
Fortunately there are now tools available to set the record straight — particularly FactCheck.Org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. They claim to be non-partisan and, so far as I can tell, they are — just in the past week they’ve ruled as non-factual claims made by both the major candidates.
They have a special page devoted to political emails which — in almost all cases — are wrong or deceitful:
I’ve noticed that chain e-mails, particularly those about politics, have a lot of things in common: urgent and frightening messages; spelling errors; a tendency to blame mainstream media for not telling the real story; and false, misleading, utterly bogus, and completely off-base claims.
If there was ever a case where readers should apply a guilty-until-proven-innocent standard, this is it. We at FactCheck.org ask the public to be skeptical about politicians’ claims. With these e-mails, outright cynicism is justified. Assume all such messages are wrong, and you’ll be right most of the time.
So do yourself, and the rest of the planet, a favor and stop forwarding these outrages to everyone you know! Check them out first and discover for yourself that they’re nothing but bullshit.
Unfortunately this is advice that few Americans are willing to take, which FactCheck concedes:
It seems that no matter the facts, the desire to believe some of this stuff is just too strong.
Americans choose to believe the lies, because they want to believe the lies, and they don’t want to find out they’re not true. This is a pretty immature reason for propagating falsehood, but there you are.
If for some reason FactCheck doesn’t fill the bill for you, try PolitiFact (a service of the St Petersburg Times). Snopes is also a good place to get tall tales (not only of the political sort) checked out, too.
Update: If you must know my political and ideological affiliation, please understand that I have none. I am neither Republican nor Democrat, neither Rightist nor Leftist. Rather, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool tried-&-true Cynicalist who shuns all ideologies of every sort. Many of you will not believe that, but too bad — it’s still the truth.
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