Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Trials and machinations

This is a short post on a long winded topic: Where to try terrorists. This has become yet another political football to be kicked back and forth by the 2 parties. Cheney says all military tribunals. Biden says not so fast and so on.

Well, here is the real answer, based on that oft ignored document - the US Constitution and surrounding law and court decisions. It is a matter of where and by whom they are arrested.

1) If they were arrested on a battlefield by the military, then it is a military tribunal.

2) If they were arrested in the United States by civilian law enforcement, then they get a civilian trial.

In other words, KSM gets a military tribunal. Our military arrested him on the battlefield. He is indeed an enemy combatant.

On the other hand, the "underwear bomber" gets a civilian trial. He was arrested in Detroit (still part of the US last time I checked) by the FBI.

All of the noise and blather beyond that simple definition is just that - politicizing the courts and national security to score electoral points. Like it or not, that is how our Constitution works. Perhaps if Cheney, Biden, Holder and the rest of the clowns who pretend to be leaders took a minute to read the document they swore to uphold and defend, they would know this, too.

Missing the point

Senator Evan Bayh is leaving Congress. He is the rare politician in that he was honest about why. None of this "spending more time with the family" nonsense. Senators only work 3 or 4 days a week and only 40 or so weeks a year. Time with family is the convenient and untouchable excuse. Most leave because they are running from an ethics problem or will lose for reelection. Bayh had neither of those problems.

No, Senator Bayh had the decency to be honest. He made it very clear - he does not like working in Congress anymore. It has become an unpleasant and dysfunctional workplace. The insane partisanship has made it in ineffective and fairly useless body. And Bayh said so. What makes this all the more significant is that he comes from a family of public servants.

Even though he was clear in his remarks on announcing he would not run, neither side chose to actually listen to him. Within hours, both sides were loading up the flaming spitballs of hate. The GOP celebrated, even though Bayh is a legitimate moderate who has repeatedly chosen the people over the party line. All they could see was another chance to launch broadsides at the Democrats.

Democrats, never missing an opportunity to join in the stupidity, immediately blamed Republicans for their obstructionist tactics. All they could see was another opportunity to blame their inaction on someone else.

Neither side reacted to or dealt with Bayh's blunt and honest indictment of a Congress gone very, very bad. Neither side even mentioned the flat out failure of the Congress to do anything about anything.

So one more good Senator leaves and tries to make a point about the problems and instead of listening, both sides retreat to their safe havens of partisan bickering. So much easier to blab away than actually do anything. After all, doing something might cause someone, somewhere to react poorly, and if nothing else, Congress is all about popularity and looking good while doing nothing.

On the other side of the Capitol, longtime Representative Lincoln Diaz-Balart is also leaving. And he said why, too. Same reasons. And the same reactions.

If the Congress were employees of any company anywhere on earth, they would have been fired long ago for failing to do their jobs. Well, come November, we the employers can and should do just that. Fire the lot of them. They have failed and continue to fail.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What happens when the lights go on?

What happens when you turn on the lights in the kitchen late at night? The bugs go scurrying for cover. That is what happens.

And that is what is happening right now in Congress. Obama issues an invitation to both sides to sit down and seriously look at health insurance reform. He specifically invites the Republicans in Congress, while softly condemning the Pelosi gang for shutting them out. Sounds good, right?

Both sides immediately welcomed and condemned. The Democrats, apparently still incapable of responsible leadership immediately proclaimed they were not going to change anything. The GOP immediately demanded a fresh start to the process, scrapping even those things that both sides already agreed on.

In other words, the lovely folks that have pretty much trashed Congress through their excesses and abuses immediately accepted the call to bipartisan negotiation by condemning it to fail.

To be fair, the so-called "leadership" in the House of Representatives (Pelosi and Hoyer) did indeed shut Republican Representatives out of the process. This does give the GOP the right to be suspicious of Pelosi and company. However, they should have jumped at the opportunity to publicly propose their ideas. Sadly, that was not the reaction.

Then both sides in Congress reacted to the C-SPAN idea. Reacted poorly. Minority Leader John Boehner wants to know if he is walking into a trap, asking simply stupid questions like, "How big is the room?" and "Who else will be there?" and actually suggesting that he might not attend based on who else attends. He also decried the cameras as some kind of stunt. This is the same guy that just 2 weeks ago was screaming about the lack of transparency.

The Democrats? Well, they have made it clear that they have no intention of actually cooperating. They have made it clear that they are not going to change anything. And they definitely do not want the cameras to see just how they operate. I also suspect they do not want to have to defy the President of the United States in an open forum. After all, they might have to take responsibility for the mess they have created.

So, to the original question of what happens when the lights go on? What happens is the roaches run for cover. And, in this case, the roaches are Congress.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Word Games and Empty Apologies

The use of an unfortunate term to describe the developmentally challenged by Rahm Emanuel has now become a full blown food fight. Palin (rightfully, I might add) calls out a 3 month old incident on her Facebook page and that becomes a cause celebre for the right. Emanuel apologizes. And then apologizes again. And again. Apologies not accepted. The storm rolls on, pushing actual issues to the wayside.

But wait, it seems many on the right also use the same unfortunate and inappropriate term. Are they called out? Nope. Except by the left, that feels compelled to engage in a schoolyard game of "My dad is bigger than your Dad."

And while this battle over words roils on, the issues that real, actual Americans without personal assistants and such continue to watch in growing disgust with the inability of their government to get anything meaningful done.

To make it worse, demanded apologies are now rejected as insincere. Somehow, the apology has become more important in Washington than actions, deeds or intentions. Apparently, "I'm sorry," now absolves everything from adultery to slurs to corruption to stealing. Those 2 abused and overused words outweigh the actual deeds of the people speaking them.

let's take a look at some of them. Bill Clinton is probably most to blame for the apology circus. Clinton, Sanford, Edwards, Ensign, Craig. All assumed "I'm sorry I hurt my family," would take care of the little matter of adultery. And, oddly, the same folks that would not countenance this most egregious of all misdeeds in their own lives, accept this falsehood as long as it is politically expedient.

Same for breaking the law. How many elected officials apologize for getting caught? Whether it is drunk driving, stealing, corruption, tax evasion, shooting someone (yes, I mean Cheney) or any other violation of the law, apparently, "I'm sorry," now counts more than actual penalty under law.

Well, in my opinion, it does not. Words are meaningless without deeds to match. Case in point is John Edwards vs Mark Sanford. Edwards has apologized over and over, assuming that would take care of it. Apparently not. The revelations continue as does the disgrace. Which is as it should be. Edwards is reprehensible man who apparently has no shame and no actual measurable ethics.

Yet, at the same time, Governor Sanford, who used public money to help his little tryst, and lied to his staff and constituents is granted a pass on all of that by means of a weak and insincere apology. How do I know it to be insincere? Because on the same day, he defended his actions, refused to step down and actually had the audacity to call the thing a partisan attack.

Which brings us back to Emanuel. Yes, he used an unfortunate word. Yes, he used it as an insult. But should he resign? Over that? Should this 3 month old incident be the political firestorm that it is? No. However, it does provide excellent cover for both sides to conceal their ongoing incompetence and unwillingness to do their jobs.

How totally convenient for the Congress to be able to pontificate on this ludicrous matter instead of explaining why they got a pay raise when most Americans lost pay and pension value. How absolutely wonderful for the spitballers on both sides to have this to yell about rather than being forced to deal with substance.

And that is the reality behind almost every side issue and apology demand. Distraction. Diversion. Better to hide behind the endless apology game than step up and take a stand on any real issue. that might actually take courage and courage is in amazingly short supply in DC these days.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A note on the media

In the interest of being very clear, I want to make sure that it is understood that, while I find most of the media complicit in the decline of representative government, I also respect and defend their absolute right to say whatever they want. One of the things that makes America the great nation it should be are our freedoms. This includes a free unfettered press (which this blog proudly admits to now being part of), regardless of how unbalanced or slanted they are.

The Constitution makes no qualification for the exercise of free speech, expression or the press. In fact, it is intentionally written that way.

Elected officials, while maintaining those same rights, have a duty and obligation that the media does not. Simply put, we do not elect the media, nor are they expected to govern. Unlike the elected charlatans, he media takes no oath to preserve, protect and defend. Nor should they have to. They are responsible to their employers and only their employers.

So while it is fun to rail against the New York Times, Fox or MSNBC, the truth is they have zero requirement to be fair or balanced. They are not even obligated to be honest. And we are not obligated to watch/read them.

We are however bound by the decisions Congress makes, with no regard to how those decisions are made. And therein lies the difference. Hannity or Olbermann make no law, enforce no regulation and levy no taxes. They just talk. While we are required by the corrupted Congress to pay the taxes and follow the laws, we are under no such obligation to watch or read the assorted media.

Please keep that in mind when reading these posts and those on other opinion blogs and web sites. The press is free and needs to remain so, even now, when it appears to all that slanted and selective reporting is the order of the day. They have that right and that right needs to be defended. At the same time, we the suffering people have the right to change the channel.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Blind ideology - always a bad idea.

Picking through today's news and political droppings, it was hard to miss the raw display of blind ideology being put on by the Senate Armed Services Committee. The hearing was on the somewhat goofy "Don't ask, don't tell" policy inflicted on our armed forces. And I do mean inflicted.

Why that word? Well, in a nutshell, that policy tells those men and women that want to serve and happen to be gay that they are going to have to lie in order to defend truth, justice and the American way. We would be better served by returning to the outright ban (something I do not personally endorse) since it at least left honesty as an option.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs told the committee that he felt it was time to remove the policy. He made it clear it was a personal opinion, but he also left little doubt. This opened the door for a display of nonsense the likes of which had not been seen since the Finance Committee hearing that same day.

Needless to say, Republicans opposed the idea in lockstep. They cited tattoos, fraternization and sexual activity. And, needless to say, Democrats embraced the idea without a clue as to what or why, citing civilian precedent. Both sides simply scurried to their respective partisan comfort zones and stayed there.

Republicans used the very overused "not when there is all this stuff going on," excuse and Democrats used the equally overused "everyone can do everything." Both are simply wrong and both are staying with the blind ideology that seems to rule the day.

I remain baffled as to why we would want to discourage any American from joining the military and defending our freedoms. I would think we would welcome them. One would hope that our elected leaders might want to set aside their poll driven, molded opinions and simply applaud those brave men and women willing to put on the uniform and serve our nation.

Senator McCain, who I respect immensely for his service to this nation both in and out of uniform - was perhaps the most disappointing. 4 years ago, McCain said he would listen to the leaders of our military when they came to him and said it was time to change the policy. Yesterday, he scolded Admiral Mullen for asking that the policy be changed. So what happened? Simple. Blind ideology overcame simple honesty.

At the same time, Senator McCaskill, who has never shown what I would call appropriate respect for our military commanders suddenly lauded them. So what happened? Again blind ideology overcame honesty.

Of course, that won't happen. Why? Because they actually don't care that much about our military or those courageous young men and women wanting to defend us. Nope. They actually aren't going to listen to the same military leaders that each side demands that the other side listen to. Because, when the hearing is over, they get to call their donors and favored reporters and boast about the stand they took.

Because all any of those Senators cares about is the next interview or the next fund raiser or the next election. Not one of them expressed an interest in hearing from the actual military members. Not one wanted to examine the record of service. Not one.

To them, it is not about the members of our military - the best in the world - who are actually willing to fight and put their lives on the line. It is not about what is best for the nation. It is not even about the will of the people. It is about getting reelected. It is about making sure party dogma is adhered to.

It was just another session of flaming spitballs, courtesy of the US Senate.

(note - I am not going to bother with the whole party label and state when naming members of Congress. They no longer represent anyone and both parties are equally corrupt and dishonest.)

Hello. Welcome to the middle.

I have been putting my comments on other blogs and boards for some time and finally decided to create my own blog so others could chime in.

The title - "It Is Not a Game!" - is my reply to every politician from every party at every level. These so-called leaders no longer represent us. They no longer care about us. They are all about winning points and scoring victories for the sake if scoring victories. It is no longer about actually governing, and has not been for a long time. At least GOP chairman Steele had the chutzpah to actually call it a game in his blog title on the Republican party web site.

Regardless, they are playing this like a game, the media reports it like a game, the pundocracy hypercharges the rhetoric and we the people - well, we just lose.

Look at the current political landscape. Both major parties - and their media pundit toadies - spend all day every day nitpicking each other over syntax, perceived slights, actual slights, poor word selection, personal issues and on and on. What is missing from this? Well, the issues are missing.

Pick any topic. Any one. Then examine the debate. Are we hearing real issues? Nope. Just highly charged rhetoric from both sides, accusing the other side of being the problem. No longer do these false leaders bother with actual governance. All they care about is winning the next cycle.

They spend all of their time flinging what I have come to call 'flaming spitballs of hate,' at each other with no purpose other than to cause damage.

And before the Democrats take any comfort that I am pointing to the current Republican tactic of obstruction, I remind them that they are just as bad. They were the obstructors until a few years ago. In fact, if you rewind the tape to 2005, Republicans were saying what Democrats are saying today and Democrats are saying what the GOP was saying. It is as if they simply swapped talking points while handing over the majority leadership posts.

Trivia rules the day now. Obama dissed Vegas. Ooh. The Republic may fail. Palin dissed Health Insurance reform. Ooh. The Republic may fail. Cantor says cut taxes to solve everything. Pelosi says spend money except on defense to solve everything. Maddow says "tea-baggers" more often than she says her name. Hannity just shouts "Socialist" every 2 minutes. Olbermann calls everyone within sight a racist. Beck uses Nazi imagery. And Blitzer....well he is still working with that giant iPad screen and his 922 member panels.

Pick any issue. Any one. Try to get facts out. It won't happen. Sure, it may start as a discussion of the issue, but it will end as yet another pointless spitball contest.

And therein lies the problem. Not the giant banks or the labor unions. The problem is that our government is failing us. And quickly. By their engagement in this nonsensical name calling contest, they marginalize their sworn duty to us and perpetuate problems that could be solved.

Just yesterday Senators Dodd and Shelby finally found the excuse they needed to kill any financial services reform. Until yesterday, they remained in their carefully choreographed illusion of disagreement on the issue. Then Paul Volcker suggested some fairly obvious and needed reforms which they seized on like dogs on a meat truck as an excuse to fulfill their lobbyist masters' demands that no rules be changed. Until yesterday, it was flaming spitballs as usual. Dodd wanting regulation, Shelby saying regulation is bad and so on.

Well here is something neither of those 2 will tell you. We have regulations and supposedly a regulator. What we did not have, do not have and will not have until the current Congress is replaced in total is the will to actually regulate.

This applies to every single issue currently being swatted around like a puck in the final game of the Stanley Cup.

Sadly, it is not a game. It is governance. A responsibility, a duty and a service. At least it is supposed to be.