Nevertheless, to honor a man convicted of seven felony counts, including illegally concealing gifts, is beyond the pale for even that often ignominious body.
A letter writer to the San Francisco Chronicle put it perfectly: “A body of elected officials so blinkered by ‘collegial’ loyalty that it offers damp-eyed kudos to a greedy, corrupt old thug like Stevens on his way to jail has a serious ethical deficit.”
Sad to say, this shabby performance was directed by Nevada’s Sen. Harry Reid, majority leader, who called Stevens a lion of the Senate.
Another senator, John McCain of Arizona, has neither ethical principles nor a sense of decency.
During a Georgia campaign for the Senate in 2002, McCain called Saxbe Chambliss disgraceful and reprehensible for maligning Sen. Max Cleland, Vietnam vet and triple amputee.
Now, six years later, McCain goes to Georgia to hail and endorse the disgraceful and reprehensible Senator Chambliss in his runoff election against Jim Martin.
The Senate has too many lowlifes like Chambliss and McCain.
Term limits fade
Term limits, which roused the vox populi a decade ago, seems to have run its course — fortunately.
It never was a good idea to impose limit terms on elected officials. Like so many supposed reforms, term limits was no reform at all.
They robbed citizens of too many good public officials with their knowledge and experience. Voters can always “term-limit the bums” at the polls.
Economists, like lawyers and judges, are some of the most conservative professionals in America. So it was amazing that the liberal Paul Krugman of the New York Times this year won the Nobel Prize in economics.
Krugman’s column sparkles amid the op-edit pages of America riddled with middle-of-the-roaders and conservatives. Paul Samuelson, another economics Nobelist, calls Krugman “the only columnist in the United States who has had it right on almost every count from the beginning.”
Walking across the University of Nevada, Reno, campus recently, I passed four students in a row with cell phones clamped to their ears. Driving home a few days later, I passed a guy riding no-hands on his bicycle, two dogs on a leash held in one hand and a cellphone held in the other.
Detestable. Cell phones have become my bête noire. They indicate hollow minds.
Hey, Barack Obama is going to be a great president! His first sports decision as president-elect is a call for college football playoffs to decide the national champion.
Oh, I hear the howls of the purists. That football has no business being played in colleges. That the season is already too long.
All too true. But sports is a reality, a big business. Championships should be decided on the field, not on paper.
Manny Ramirez, who forced the Boston Red Sox to trade him to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer, is a fine batsman but a disgusting human being.
Tim McCarver, Fox broadcaster, observed: “Some of the things he did were simply despicable, like not playing, refusing to play and forgetting what knee to limp on.”
The Sparks Tribune may be the freest newspaper in America. It prints my radical views that no other newspaper would. Indeed, my leftist positions may be too extreme for even left-wing magazines like The Nation and The Progressive.
Even the editor of the Trib, Nathan Orme, has had doubts about my column. He sent me an e-mail a couple months ago wondering if I could write about “something that does not disgrace America.”
Doubtless he was being facetious. To his great credit he never censors anything I write.
I am like Iago who says in “Othello”: “For I am nothing if not critical.” I do not find much right with America. Governments, politicians, institutions, society and mores are all wanting.
So I make no apology for my views. It is my nature. I burn fiercely at injustice. As Martin Luther said at the Diet of Worms in 1521: “Here I stand. I can do no other.”
I write to please myself, not to please anyone else. Above all, like H.L. Mencken, I write for a civilized minority. Writer James Farrell explained what he meant:
“Those who believe in and are interested in ideas and the play of the mind. Those whose taste is for books in which you find truth.”
Jake Highton teaches journalism at UNR.