Firing The Lugar

In our neighboring state to the west, Indiana voters have decided that Senator Richard Lugar has served long enough.  The networks are calling his primary race and have concluded that he will lose to fellow Republican Richard Mourdock.

I don’t blame Indiana voters for giving the 80-year-old Lugar the boot.  He has served in the Senate for 36 years — six terms in all — which means he has been in the Senate since Jimmy Carter was President and I was in college.  Can anyone identify any great legislative accomplishments or extraordinary statesmanlike achievements by Lugar during that 36-year period?  I’d say he has served long enough.

I’m not sure that term limits are the answer, but I see no value in having legislators serve in Congress for more than a third of a century.  They inevitably focus more on what people are saying in Washington, D.C. than what their constituents are saying back home.  In Lugar’s case, he hadn’t even lived in Indiana since 1977.  How could he possibly reflect the views and values of Indiana voters under such circumstances?

Lugar’s loss my just be another sign of a strong anti-incumbent mood in the heartland this election year.  American voters seem to be fed up with career politicians who have sat ineffectively by while the country has moved off on the wrong track.  When that happens, the logical recourse is to throw the bums out.

A Great New Villain In The Game

I thought nobody could surpass Joffrey Baratheon in the despised villain category.  I can’t think of anybody I’d rather see get hit in the side of the face with a well-thrown cow pattie (as happened, deliciously, last episode).  But boy — Theon Greyjoy (very convincingly played by Alfie Allen on HBO’s fabulous series Game of Thrones) is giving Joffrey a run for his money.

Theon’s got a lot of flaws.  He’s a misogynist who treats every woman like a scullery maid — even his sister.  For some odd reason, he has a very exalted opinion of himself, even though he hasn’t accomplished anything.  He’s really kind of an idiot, too.  He’s got bad teeth.  And, even in a time when baths were few and far between, he always seems to be especially soiled.  If you could smell him, you’d expect him to reek.

But the chief fault in this very imperfect man is his stunning ingratitude.  Years ago, the Greyjoys rose up against the crown and were defeated by the Starks.  Theon’s father swore an oath to the late Ned Stark — and gave Stark his young son Theon as a kind of hostage.  The Starks accepted Theon, made him part of the family, and raised him with their own children.  After Ned is beheaded thanks to the insufferable Joffrey Baratheon and the kingdoms go to war, does Theon help the Starks avenge Ned’s death?  Nope!  He goes home, sides with the squirrelly father who gave him away years ago and has made no effort to reestablish contact since, and captures Winterfell while the Starks are in the field against the true enemy.  And he ineptly beheads one of the chief Stark deputies while doing so.  What a tool!

In short, you’d be hard-pressed to come up with a more despicable ingrate than Theon Greyjoy.  Off with his head!

Adverse To Austerity

Elections have occurred in Greece, France, and Italy in the past few days, and voters have cast their ballots against the austerity measures that were imposed to try to put a brake on the European debt crisis and, in Greece and France, have thrown out the governments that agreed to those measures.

In France, the flamboyant Nikolas Sarkozy was replaced by a Socialist, Francois Hollande, who says he seeks an alternative to austerity and vows to increase taxes and spending.  In Greece, voters deserted the parties that had dominated the political landscape for decades and splintered their support among a broad range of parties, including the disturbingly neo-Nazi “Golden Dawn”.  The same trends were seen in local elections in Italy.

No one should be surprised by these results.  Austerity is hard; Europeans are soft.  They’ve become accustomed to rich benefits, lots of vacation time, a short work week, and generous pensions that allow them to retire at an early age.  The problem is that their lifestyle has been financed by debt, and now people are only willing to lend them more if they agree to actions that will bring their fiscal house in order.  The fact that Greek voters and French voters don’t like the austerity doesn’t change that result.  Why would you want to lend money to someone who hasn’t shown the responsibility or willpower necessary to pay you back?

This likely means that the Eurozone concept will fail.  Appeals for continental unity only go so far, and hardworking and thrifty German and Dutch voters aren’t going to support the unrestrained spending of the Greek and Italian and Portuguese governments forever.  The Euro will end as a unified currency, the responsible northern European countries will return to their highly valued local currencies, and the southern European countries will slink back to their devalued and debased drachmas and lire, look around for new saps to loan them money with no hope of being repaid, and find there are no takers.  At that point, the current days of “austerity” might begin to look pretty good, in retrospect.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere for America.