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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Sweet Land of Subsidy

I'm a bit behind the curve on my blog writing, but I just have to eventually weigh in on anything where politics and baseball intersect.

Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), who is thankfully not my Representative in Congress, made some outrageous remarks regarding the prospective ownership of the Washington Nationals, ans was joined by Rep. John Sweeney (R-NY.) They
were both rightly taken to task for doing so
by Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins.

These two sentences are the crux of the outrage:

Isn't it strange that rival bidder Fred Malek, the head of the Washington Baseball club, just happens to be a very big GOP fundraiser? And isn't it strange that, in a telephone interview, Davis went out of his way to praise Malek's bid?

Davis doesn't bother to hide his agenda. He says straight out that baseball needs to cultivate some good will on Capitol Hill at the moment, given the steroid investigations, and that selling the team to billionaire Soros, a critic of President Bush and a massive financial supporter of liberal causes, would anger him.

As for the "convicted criminal" who would "tarnish the name of MLB owners"... well, he's spoken up for Watergate figure Fred Malek, not to mention that while Soros was convicted of insider trading (in France), Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is a convicted criminal in this country. If the concern is "foreign" ownership of the National Pastime, well, Soros' stake in the bid by local businessman Jonathan Ledecky is probably smaller than the one Japaense video-game giant Nintendo holds in the Seattle Mariners. As for tarnishing the name of Major League Baseball owners, well you can write your own punchline. It can involve one or more of the following: convicted criminal, serial manager firer, and all around jackass George Steinbrenner; double-dealing Marlins owner (and former Expos owner) Jeffrey Loria, wannabe-Nazi former Reds owner Marge Schott; tobacco fund-looting, franchise-blocking Orioles owner Peter Angelos; former Dodgers sort-of-owner and all around purveyor of trash television and questionable journalism Rupert Murdoch; and super-sleazy former Marlins owner Wayne Huizenga.

Note also that Davis and Sweeney are not just any two random Republicans or even two random Republican elected officials; they both happen to be Republican Congressmen who sit on a committee with a lot of power over what DC does with its money.

The odd thing is that "Let him pay for it," the attitude expressed by Rep. Sweeney is my attitude as well, no matter whether "him" is George Soros or Fred Malek or anyone else. I would prefer that District taxpayers (being a former District taxpayer myself) not have to pay for this stadium. But not because the owner happens to be someone that a couple of GOP Congresscritters happen not to like. That way lies kleptocracy.

As far as anyone knows, Davis and Sweeney were all in favor of public subsidies - from someone else's tax dollars to boot - for the Nationals' stadium until it was made known that George Soros was a potential beneficiary. My guess is that there are people on the other side who would think in the exact same terms if we were talking about a major Republican party benefactor. In my mind it all emphasizes some of the dangers of crony capitalism or any form of corporate welfare.

It's all of a piece of how arrogant and power-drunk the current Republican majority in Congress has gotten. This same principle is behind the "K Street Project" that Tom DeLay and company are trying to use to push associations into only hiring Republicans.
Only a decade ago, this crowd swept into office on a reformist message; I suspected it was a sham the whole time, and they didn't take long to prove me right. It took the Democratic majority in Congress four decades to get as ossified as they were by the time they were tossed in 1994, and they got nowhere near this.


At 10:20 PM, Blogger Jason said...

Did you see this re: Kelo v. New London?

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Answer Guy said...

Yeah, it's pretty funny.

The ironic thing is that all the negative publicity _Kelo_ has gotten is going make it, I think, tougher to sell the notion of eminent domain to the public, which in turn is going to make it harder for local or state governments to use it.


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