Friday, January 30, 2009

Give 'Em Hell, Claire!

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

Claire McCaskill, the current occupant of Harry Truman's Senate seat, is quickly proving herself to be to be as gutsy as the Man from Independence - the man who threatened to drop an atomic bomb down Emperor Hirohito's stovepipe and fired General MacArthur. Right now she is kicking Wall Street's butt and taking names - and making me awfully proud of my Missouri heritage!

But let's back up a minute and get a sense of what it means to be a politician from the "Show Me" state.

McCaskill, a former homecoming queen at Hickman High School in Columbia, MO, (the alma mater of "Kenny Boy" Lay and Sam Walton), served as member of the Missouri House of Representatives before being elected to two terms as the first female prosecutor of Jackson County, MO (the Kansas City metro area). In 1998 she was elected to the office of Missouri State Auditor where she terrorized state, county, and city governments, and even school districts, with her thorough and sophisticated audits of their books. (When I was around twelve-years-old I met one of her predecessors in the auditor's office. At that time the job was more or less functionless and the auditor spent his days roaming around the captitol building handing out pens and emory boards with his name on them.) That was not the way McCaskill chose to handle her responsibilities. She was a lioness, and each dollar that belonged to the citizens of Missouri was one of her cubs.

John Ashcroft, a former two-term Republican governor of Missouri - and an evangelical Christian known for his piety and ability to speak in tongues - was running for his second term in the U.S. Senate in 2000. Ashcroft's opponent was Missouri's popular Democratic two-term governor, Mel Carnahan, who had served as lieutenant governor during the years that Ashcroft was governor. The blood between them was so bad that Ashcroft was afraid to leave the state while he was governor for fear that Carnahan would act in his place while he was gone, no matter how briefly.

The Senate campaign was tight and fierce. Unfortunately for the citizens of Missouri and the nation, Governor Carnahan was killed in a plane crash less than two weeks before the critical vote - too late for his name to be struck from the ballot. In a stunning upset that will be referenced in history books for generations to come, Missouri voters defeated Senator Ashcroft by electing their dead governor to replace him. Newly elected President Bush helped Ashcroft save face, at least temporarily, by appointing him Attorney General of the United States - and the rest, as they say, is history.

Mel Carnahan's widow, Jean, was appointed by interim governor, Roger Wilson, to fill the Senate vacancy that her dead husband won. Unfortunately for Missouri, she was defeated for the remainder of the term two years later by a former Congressman (and Bush mouthpiece) Jim Talent. Talent finished the term, but was himself defeated by Claire McCaskill in 2006.

Just over a year after making it to the Senate, McCaskill broke with many of her female colleagues in the world's most exclusive club by openly supporting Barack Obama in his primary bid against Hillary Clinton. Her instincts were good, and she is today a close confidante of the President.

Which brings us up to the present.

This afternoon Senator McCaskill caught everyone off guard, including the Washington press, her colleagues in the Senate, and apparently the Obama administration as well, when she submitted a bill that calls for executives of companies that have been bailed out (subsidized) by the government to have their salaries capped at $400,000 per year - the same salary that the nation's Chief Executive, President Obama, receives. She had deftly out-maneuvered the Republican apologists for the failings of big business, and staked out a prime piece of populist high ground.

In a beautiful piece of Missouri-speak, McCaskill roared that "These people are idiots! You can't use taxpayer money to pay out $18 billion in bonuses. What planet are these people on?" What planet, indeed?

McCaskill said that she had been mad for some time, watching "these guys" run their companies into the ground while holding onto their jobs and making claims for executive compensation. She said that "it just seemed unreal to me."

And the bellowing from Wall Street will be deafening. We can't cut the pay of our most talented executives. They will quit and take their skills elsewhere.

Skills? Aren't these the guys who drove the wagons over the cliff in the first place? Let them quit. Give those jobs to some state university business school graduates who would be thrilled to work for $400,000 a year. Surely they could not be as inept as the bozos that they would be replacing!

Claire, I could not be prouder of you for wading into this mess in such a decisive manner. I will send handwritten letters to your colleagues urging passage of this bill - and volunteer for any other grunt work that will help in fixing this mess. Thank you for watching out for us and our money.

Now, after you get these greedy Wall Street whores whipped into shape, maybe you could give some thought to capping the salaries of ball players who play in stadiums that were funded by taxpayers. Just a thought...


xobekim said...

You've outdone yourself, this is first class writing. I'll refrain from my rantings about Mr. No Talent.

If you think the Republicans are vocal opponents of the minimum wage you aint seen nothing yet. Their hysterics about the maximum wage are going to blow your socks off!

Pa Rock's Ramble said...

Right you are, Mike. The party of privilege gets apoplectic about any assistance to the poor, but corporate welfare has never stoked their ire. It's time for that to change.