Dereliction of duty: the Arlen Specter story
Cold, Hard Football Facts for May 14, 2008
The first thing you should know about Sen. Arlen Specter is that he has lived a life of great devotion to the United States.
The Pennsylvania Republican was born humbly 78 years ago in true American fashion, to immigrant parents who escaped the hellhole of the future Soviet Union just a few years before the Russian Revolution. The Senator's working-class father, Harry, proved his devotion to his adopted homeland as a humble private in the U.S. Army during World War I, and was wounded by shrapnel in the Argonne Forest. The Senator himself followed in his father's military footsteps, and served in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Specter has repeatedly voted for a ban on burning the American flag – a position widely supported by veterans and those who favor a robust U.S. military.
Specter has also been sent to Congress five times by his constituents in the Keystone State, making him one of the senior members of America's upper house. And even well into retirement age, he votes more often than almost all of his peers, missing just 8 of 566 votes (1.4 percent) during the current Congress, according to numerous political sources, including the Washington Post.
Compare Specter's voting record to those of our three leading presidential candidates, all fellow members of the Senate, who have combined to miss 741 of 1,698 votes (43.6 percent) over the same period.
He even made an impressive contribution to 20th-century political pop culture. Specter was an attorney for the Warren Commission, which – for the kiddies at home – was the nation's official investigation into the assassination of President Kennedy. According to numerous accounts, Specter is widely considered the key author of the "lone gunman" and "magic bullet" theories still shrouded in so much controversy.
Specter has lived a patriotic life, with obvious contributions and sacrifices on behalf of his nation as airman, servant and elected official.
Yet these past services merely serve to shine a glaring spotlight on his curious, determined and indefensible foray into the trivial realm of sports soap opera that is Spygate. Something is amiss in the state of Pennsylvania, folks.
Specter jumped on the story months ago, when it was alleged that the Patriots filmed Rams practice before Super Bowl XXXVI. This allegation was found to be false earlier this week.
But the Senator has determined not to let the story die. He announced yesterday, after the NFL tried to close the book on Spygate, that he hopes to launch a federal investigation into, get this, a football team, the Patriots specifically. And he intends to put your tax dollars to work not to uncover any crimes or federal offenses, mind you (as was the case in baseball's Mitchell Report), but merely because a team broke some league rules and he's not satisfied with the hefty punishment already meted out.
We would humbly suggest – screw that, we angrily insist – that the Senator, one of the most important, powerful people in the nation, has more important things to do. And we insist that his determination to dive into the politics of pigskin amounts to nothing less than a dereliction of duty, one that deservedly brings great shame and ridicule upon an otherwise honorable life of service.
But the Cold, Hard Football Facts are here to serve the nation, too, and intend to play a contstructive role in the national debate. Therefore, because Specter is so clearly out to lunch, we've put together a list of national crises that should merit more attention from the Senator and his colleagues. Clearly, he's unaware of these issues, or he would not spend a single second concerned about some football videotape.
1. Defending the U.S. from the ChiCom invasion
The Chinese Communists – the "ChiComs" in popular political parlance – are in the midst of one of the great massive military build ups in history. In fact, it's the singular under-reported national security story since the end of the Cold War, perhaps because communists, in the eyes of many members of the modern media elite, are not a threat, but a collection of warm, cuddly panda bears in need of a big hug and some Olympic Games. (Political "pundits," it seems, suffer the same selective eye for a story as the pigskin "pundits.")
The national security community holds a different view, however. So, too, should Sen. Specter.
A recent Department of Defense report on China highlights a country in the midst of rapid military mobilization that includes "the most active ballistic missile program in the world." Old-fashioned cloak-and-dagger subterfuge, however, remains China's most persistent weapon. The list of Chinese agents busted in the U.S. is larger than Bill Belichick's video library and there may be thousands of ChiCom spies working in the U.S. at this very moment. The same DoD report says that China is the "leading espionage threat to the United States" and that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has launched more than 400 investigations into the "illicit export of U.S. arms and technologies to China."
Even our allies are under attack. The German government recently reported that its computer systems are under "daily" intrusion by China. And, of course, our democratic ally of Taiwan is in the crosshairs of much of China's growing military hardware.
Any rational person would conclude that the Senator should spend more time concerned about ChiComs stealing American military secrets and less time concerned about football coaches stealing their opponents signals.
2. Battling terrorists
In case folks like the Senator have forgotten, the United States remains a juicy target for Muslim fundamentalists, whose Neanderthalic values stand in sharp contrast to those Specter and his father have defended in the past. The Senator himself, along with his colleagues, may even have been directly targeted by Muslim fundamentalists: remember, United Flight 93, before it was brought down in the woods of Specter's Pennsylvania, may have been aiming for the Capitol Building.
Sadly, every second Specter spends worried about Spygate is one second he doesn't spend worried about protecting your family from another 9/11. This threat should keep him up with ulcers each night. Instead, he's worried about what Matt Walsh taped, and when did he tape it.
3. Preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons
High on the list of radical nutbags who should keep the Senator busy during his sleepless nights and 24 hours-a-day of work is Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
This is the guy who believes the U.S. is the great Satan and publicly denies the Holocaust. He has vowed to wipe Israel off the map. Most human rights organizations have decried his lack of tolerance for political discourse within his own country. He openly supports terrorism against even his own people. He is also killing your fellow Americans as we speak, either directly or indirectly through Iranian funding, equipment and agents in Iraq.
Oh, and he's building the bomb as Specter builds a case against a football coach.
Sure, there are folks out there who believe if we have the bomb, then everybody should have the bomb. It's a pleasant little philisophical argument. It's also national suicide and not a policy you would expect a U.S. Senator to support.
Yet every second Specter spends worried about Spygate is one second closer Iran gets to developing a nuclear arsenal and then launching a Third-World nuclear arms race among the tinpot dictators and terrorists of the Middle East and Africa.
Nice job, Senator.
4. Developing energy independence
We don't care what form of energy you prefer – ethanol, hybrid power, nuclear power, wind power, Flinstonian bipedal power, or good old-fashioned fossil fuels. One thing all seem to agree upon is the need for the U.S. to reduce its dependence upon foreign sources of energy.
Sadly, we've moved sharply in the opposite direction under Specter's watchful eye in Congress. According to most reports, back in 1980, when Specter was first voted into the Senate, the U.S. produced more than 3 billion barrels of oil. The U.S. continues to possess some of the world's largest oil reserves. Yet last year, the U.S. produced less than 2 billion barrels of oil – among the lowest levels of the past 50 years. This decline is compounded by the fact that the nation's population has doubled over the past 50 years.
Of course, oil is only one source of energy. Many other potential sources exist to fuel the global economy, of which the United States is the primary engine. But our efforts to harvest and develop these other sources remain virtually non-existent.
As a result, the nation remains hopelessly dependent upon the whim of oil-producing tyrants (Hugo Chavez) and terrorists (Ahmadinejad) around the globe.
As one of just 100 members of the nation's upper house, as one of the most powerful people in the nation, Specter (along with his colleagues) is largely to blame for this catastrophic failure to shore up the walls of our national defenses. Instead, he prefers to go on the offensive against a football coach who, according to most military observers, poses no threat to our national interests.
Why is Specter neglecting his duties?
It's sad to see such a great American fall to such lowly depths, sullying himself among the rock-bottom of society inhabited by the likes of folks who publish and read football websites. In fact, in light of his past services, Specter's quest into sports trivia is virtually impossible to comprehend.
Conspiracy theories abound. Comcast, the Pennsylvania-based media company widely considered a key Specter supporter, is locked in an ugly battle with NFL. Specter, meanwhile, has openly professed his passion for the Philadelphia Eagles, a team that lost a bitterly contested battle with the Patriots, the team at the center of Spygate and his ire, in Super Bowl XXXIX back in 2005.
The Cold, Hard Football Facts as of yet subscribe to none of these theories for want of evidence. At this point, they're all merely speculation.
In fact, we would go so far as to insist that Specter's instinct may in fact be correct! It's quite likely that there's more to the "official" story given to us by the NFL and that the league has squashed damning evidence against the Patriots – and perhaps against other teams – in an effort to get past this controversy. All this may be true.
But given the threats posed by a rapidly changing geopolitical world, given Specter's responsibilities as one of just 100 members of the first democratically elected Senate since the days of the Roman Republic 2,000 years ago, Specter's interest in internal sports politics amounts to a flagrant dereliction of duty, a willful neglect of the national interests.
It's a historically inexplicable "Hello, McFly?!" moment, like Rommel sharing birthday cake with his wife while the Allied invaders overrun his defenses in Normandy; or crazy Nero playing the fiddle while Rome burns.
It's time for the Senator to come to his senses. Otherwise, his foray into internal pigskin politics merely smears an otherwise noble career.
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