Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Conversation between a Dem and a Repub....

E. says:

About twice a week I get another rightist diatribe from a MA pal of many years (a dentist, a dancer, and a guy I really like a lot aside from his politics), and most of them I just delete and ignore. Occasionally, I do answer them, or refer him to snopes.com to get the straight facts. If you go to the lower half of this email, you can read his latest mailing to me--a rant that makes the rounds with annoying regularity. With the help of info on snopes.com, I sent him the replythat appears just below his rant:

G sends this:
Is it the NBA or the NFL?
36 have been accused of spousal abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been accused of writing bad checks
117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses
3 have done time for assault
71, repeat 71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit
14 have been arrested on drug-related charges8 have been arrested for shoplifting
21 currently are defendants in lawsuits.
and84 have been arrested for drunk driving in the last year
Can you guess which organization this is?
Give up yet? . . Scroll down, citizen!
It's the 535 members of the United States Congress.The same group of Idiots that crank out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line.

E. replies:
G: at some point you are going to have to start thinking a bit about some of this stuff that people send you, and that you pass on as though it were gospel--and as though it were something to be taken seriously by the people you are sending such stuff to.In that last article, one hardly knows where to begin but what is surprising is that so many people willingly circulate that piece of cheap, inflammatory tripe expecting it to be taken seriously.

Note that no names or dates are mentioned, of course, so trying to match individuals with the vague charges levelled in this text would be a fruitless task (especially since the composition of Congress changes at least every two years, and the piece is undated).

In any case that effort would be pointless, for this article is nothing more than a cheap smear: Doesn't that kind of thing bother you at all?Almost every point mentions unnamed and unidentified people who are not cited as actually having done something wrong, but merely of having been "arrested" or "accused," or being a "defendant," or having been "stopped." Isn't our system supposed to be based upon the presumption that a person is innocent until proved guilty?

One can be arrested without being convicted of a crime (or even being charged with one), so the mere mention of an arrest with no other detail is meaningless.

And when did these alleged arrests of Congressmen occur? While the arrestees were serving in Congress? While they were running for office? Before they became politicians? When they were juveniles? Are these events going back thirty or fifty years?

And think about this: thirty-two arrests and no convictions should probably make us more concerned about problems with our law enforcement and legal systems than it should about the people who make up Congress, shouldn't it?

The claims that numerous Congressmen have been "accused" of various wrongdoings is even more specious. "Accused"? By whom? Journalists? Jealous rivals? Bitter ex-spouses? Childhood enemies? Muckrakers? Gossip mongers? I suspect that every single member of Congress has been "accused" of something bad at one time or another.

By what standards does an accusation become "serious" or "official" enough to merit inclusion in this list? Almost every time I won a criminal case in court some irate observer would come up (usually family or friends of the other side) to accuse me of being a blight upon humanity and a person with no moral fiber, while others would come up to compliment me on a fine job and for protecting the rights of a falsely-accused defendant. (Should those "accusations" be considered a stain on my record?)

Even the entries that contain some marginal detail are too vague to be relevant. We're told than 117 Congressmen "have bankrupted at least two businesses." What does that mean? Were all 117 personally and solely responsible for driving thriving businesses into the ground, or were they merely nominal board members of companies that went belly up? Were these businesses large companies, or the equivalent of mom-and-pop shops run out of someone's home? More importantly, is failing at business in today's volatile business environment supposed to be considered a moral failure as well as an economic one? Is being a successful businessman a prerequisite for being a legislator, or is it a sign or moral turpitude that should automatically disqualify one from office?

By the way--that article in one form or another has been circulating since at least 1998 that I am aware of--so which Congressmen are we talking about? Time to stop passing on bilge, Gerry--time to start thinking just a bit, now and then, just to give the old brain cells a workout--but be careful--if you think too much you may be accused of being a dreaded liberal.


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