Suing the President and Other Nonsense

Let’s see, the Republicans are going to sue the President because he delayed the implementation of the employer mandate, which they were in favor of delaying. But a law is a law, right? Except it is settled law that this is within his prerogative and, there is no harm, so no basis for a law suit. You know, those frivolous law suits Republicans hate so much. Oh, and when President Bush delayed the implementation of Medicare Part B, well that is different, right? Anybody see a problem here of dysfunctional Republicans which leads to dysfunctional government?

Oh, and this is a boon for Democrats because they are raising money on this issue? Who cares about the money? Actually it is kind of sad that money is what elections are about. What is really important is the question of whether people will finally wake up and vote. It is sad that this kind of nonsense is the only way people get motivated to exercise their right to change what we are doing.

Meanwhile in the never ending IRS “scandal”, the Republicans have found an email where Lois Lerner, the IRS official that took the 5th, referred to the crazies and assholes in the Republican Party to a friend in a work email, and further, referred to the “whacko wing” of the Republican Party and conservative radio shows. All very true, but highly inappropriate for a government official for sure. So Republicans are using this as proof that she discriminated against conservatives.

Let’s try to stay focused here. They also went after liberal groups, and NO ONE WAS DENIED TAX EXEMPT STATUS. And none of them should have gotten tax exempt status, Republicans or Democrats, because all these organizations are political organizations trying to hide their donors, not avoid paying taxes because the amount is minuscule. The law is clear even if the administrative implementation rule muddied the waters. So once again, where was the harm?

Or asked another way, where are the jobs? Where is the legislation to raise the minimum wage, invest in our infrastructure, solve immigration, or fix the VA? It is tied up in Republicans suing the President and inventing scandals. They have to do that because in order to stay in office they can’t be seen as helping government work. Think about that. John Boehner said:

We will debate and pass the resolution authorizing the lawsuit openly, transparently and in regular order. At the same time, we will also continue to add to the list of more than 50 House-passed jobs bills currently awaiting action in the Democratic-controlled Senate. … I believe this path is the right one to defend our institution and preserve the Constitution, while continuing to focus on the American people’s top priority — helping our private sector create more American jobs.

Forty some odd of those bills awaiting Democratic action are for repealing Obamacare. Name a bill they passed to create jobs, like infrastructure spending, Are you starting to see where the problem is? Vote you morons!

So What Do We Expect?

I was watching TV while I was working out and I saw a promo for the new spinoff from NCIS in New Orleans, where the lead character throws a suspect brutally up against a wall. Name a show where you do not see some form of police brutality depicted as being tough with the bad guys. Trouble is the bad guy is the cop. Just ask Eric Garner who died the other day in New York at the hands of this kind of treatment.

This was between breaks on the show the Dome where one character says I know X killed my girl friend and I am going to see him suffer. There you have it, justice on TV. And we are surprised at police brutality and mob thinking when our entertainment pushes this kind of simple minded justice which is really police brutality and revenge as justice. So when did respect for the rights of others and human decency become a sign of weakness? We have come a long way baby!

When Did Boldface Obvious Lying Become Normal Political Dialogue?

The other day John Boehner said the following to the American people:

I believe the president’s actions in a number of areas — including job-destroying energy regulations, releasing the “Taliban 5″ from Guantanamo without notice and waiving the work requirements in welfare — exceed his constitutional authority.

Well the job destroying energy regulations will only destroy jobs in the coal industry while it will create many more jobs in alternate energy. Released to day was a study showing the failure to act on climate change could cost us $150 billion a year. The release of the Gitmo 5 was very probably not illegal (Vox). But here comes the real lie: “Waiving the work requirements in welfare”.

It’s a total outright lie and nothing more. Romney raised this is the election and it was debunked then. So why are leaders of the Republican Party lying to the American public (think death panels, climate change doesn’t exist, Mexicans with calfs the size of cantaloups, disease ridden children at the boarder, Obamacare is not working, or debt out of control)? Because it works.

I pay attention to the news. I read several newspapers and read informative blogs (not shrieking liberal or conservative ones), and fact check many things. I know when they are lying or lying by omission. Do you think the average voter knows when they are lying. The answer is no. They hear random stuff and if it is not debunked before their eyes, it becomes fact. It is why we have the Tea Party and so many misinformed Americans. How did we get here?

The answer sadly is 24/7 news that is so focused on bringing you the latest news that there is no fact checking. You are getting unfiltered garbage packaged as entertainment. Reporters don’t come prepared to the party. The just come armed with the latest talking points. I like to say we spend more time on politics than issues, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Instead of being more informed, the average citizen who doesn’t have the time or inclination to look deeply into the news, is badly mislead.

If you look around us we are surround by an almost surreal amount of crazies that have gotten into power. They say things that are patently false, cruel, disenfranchising, and they are the mainstream. It is because the news doesn’t filter what they say and give us a fact check on the spot. Until we fix that, and ask them how they can lie so boldly to our face when they make these outrageous statements, we are just going to sink further into the pit of ignorance.

A Quiet Monday

Not much to say as things never seem to change. I listened to one woman defended Palestinians while the host of the news show tried to ask if launching rockets on Israel was not a war crime. It was a who hit the other one first argument we get from siblings that really makes no difference, they both have to give up hitting. So as long as we have these defenses of which side is more egregious, nothing changes. The only solution is to forget all that nonsense and past mayhem, and decide on what tomorrow will look like. As long as they are about settling scores, it is wasted time.

I see where the Senate has a short term bill to solve the VA crisis. Short term is a problem in itself, and I don’t know what they agreed on where the money is going to come from, which of course is the real issue. Both sides know this one is a no brainer, but that still doesn’t solve the issue of no new taxes and no net change in spending and revenues. That is the real political issue.

ISIS apparently is gaining favor in Europe and specifically in the Netherlands with immigrant Middle Easterners. They are taking up the anti-semantic sword and I think that we have been down this road in WWII. I would have to say that hate speech maybe grounds to deport these new immigrants who bring their hate and ignorance to Europe. They want us to be tolerant of their intolerance.

Apparently the Europeans may be willing to finally step up to the plate on real meaningful sanctions against Russia. I think maybe the downing of Flight 17 and the Russians further incursions into Ukraine may have woken them up. Let’s see how long their resolve lasts if it starts to hurt their pocket book.

Meanwhile in Washington land, the “we are not taking impeachment off the table, but we are pressing ahead with suing him Republicans” are not making sense. Since President Obama has used the Executive Order fewer than most presidents and their buddy George Bush did all kinds of EOs, they look a little threadbare here except for their faithful, ignorant of the facts, supporters.

So nothing really happening today. SSDD (Same shit, different day).

Another Sunday Morning Mistake: Meet the Press

So I am up in my office while it is still cool, and not too smoky (the Sand fire is dumping smoke and ash on my vineyard), and I turn on Meet the Press and immediately understand why America is such a mess these days.

Earlier in the day I had read the NYT editorial on legalizing marijuana which I totally agreed with, like no duh. So Meet the Press takes on this topic and what I heard were people so out of touch with the reality of America, it was almost scary. No it is not a gateway drug anymore than alcohol or cigarettes are, and with less severe health effects.

One panelist did not want her son to have access. Huh? He and every other kid out there have access now and we are clueless about what is in it, much less how it drives other criminal activity. At least if its legal, we can regulate it, limit the sale to minors, and turn it into a revenue source. What I heard was why America can do nothing new. They seemed to be oblivious to the problems their prohibition causes, or the fact that it is entirely fruitless. But let’s just keep doing it anyway because … ?

Because we are afraid of change even if what we are doing is not working. It is the very definition of conservative and this “bipartisan” panel shows how far to the right we have drifted (and why nothing works anymore).

Just an Observation

We have “revolution” breaking out everywhere, ISIS in Iraq, Hamas in Gaza, the war in Syria, the fighting militants in Libya, the separatists in Ukraine, gang warfare in Central America, and the Muslim radicals in Africa. It makes one consider the following:

  • Do revolutionaries do anything but destroy? They all seem to want to tear down the civilization that has been so carefully crafted. Are there revolutionaries out there that want to build something besides anarchy?
  • Arming revolutionaries, say as we did against the Russians in Afghanistan and the ones in Libya, apparently has some major blow back. May want to think about whether just raising the stakes by arming the guys you think are on your side is a good idea (John McCain)

Just thinking about these things while looking at a world that seems to be on fire and enjoying apparently the rare peace and quiet of a Sunday morning that we are so lucky to have. Of course we have our own anarchists in the Republican Party that is trying to tear our government down because, well they hate government. Maybe we had better wake up.

Some Final Words on the Never Ending War in the Holy Land

I am sure something will happen to make me want to comment, but let’s face it, this has gone on my whole life and I am 68, and nothing ever changes. Here is what we do know: There are good people making good arguments about whose at fault on both sides of the problem. So it is irrelevant. Like South Africa, you have to forgive and move on if you want a solution. That seems to be anathema to religious and Middle Eastern culture and so it goes on and on.

The fix is simple. Read our Declaration of Independence with its declaration that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Palestinians and Jews, women and children, are all part of all men. So we need a solution that enforces that self-evident truth. Forget religious or historical claims, a solution is about a better world for our children. Until they can do this, you can just turn off the news. It is a rerun.

I Wonder What They Have on Him

When President Obama ran for the office, he was the defender of our rights and government over reach. Now he seems to be their handmaiden. One can take the view that as a candidate he did not have the responsibility of keeping us safe and the circumstances of office muted his views. I think that is too easy an answer and is an indictment of no there, there.

What got me thinking about this was an article today in the New York Times about how the CIA has brought in George Tenet to help them prepare their response to counter the Senate findings on torture and its effectiveness. Meanwhile the White House has dragged their feet on releasing the report and seems to be letting the CIA have a free reign in redacting the report:

But some Senate Democrats are seething about how long it has taken to declassify the document, what they see as Mr. Obama’s inattention to the process, and the role played by Mr. McDonough, who is personally coordinating the redaction of the document and has a close relationship with Mr. Brennan, who served in the White House as Mr. Obama’s counterterrorism adviser during the president’s first term.

Instead of leading on this issue the President has been in charge of damage control whether it is the torture by the CIA or the spying by the NSA. From his let’s not look backward, to his promise of more transparency in the drone war and not providing it, he has been in the damage control mode, not in the leadership role.

There is something missing here. Whether it is the refugees on the border, the economy, or his approach to foreign affairs, they all seem to be crises to tamp down, not focal points for real leadership to lead the nation in new directions. He seems to look for “compromise” solutions that sweep the root issues under the rug so we can get on with fund raising. Like a cease fire in Gaza, it stops the carnage, but does nothing to prevent the next carnage.

Part of it, I believe, is the difference between a manager and a leader. President Obama has always been the manager, not the leader, That is why I describe him as having no there, there. At the bottom line he finds comfort in what makes everyone happy, not in a principled stance. Dr. Stephen Covey, in the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People describes the differentiation of managers and leaders:

He talks about a group, an organization, committed to swathing a path through the jungle. In this organization, he identifies three roles – the machete-wielding worker, the manager and the leader.

While the worker is cutting down the undergrowth, the manager is behind the action making sure the worker is well supported – sharpening machetes, providing training, nutrition, strength building, you could even imagine this manager providing supportive words of encouragement… “Great slash! A couple more like that and you’ll be up for hacker of the year!”

The leader is perched atop a tall tree ensuring direction, and if necessary, yelling “Wrong jungle!” (Nevin)

President Obama has been missing in action yelling Wrong jungle!. From our “let’s not look back, but forward” on torture, to his pivot on the economy from jobs to the debt to assuage the Republicans, he has been the manger directing the hacking, and not the leader taking in the big picture and redirecting the effort.

So when you look at President Obama’s approval ratings, I think they reflect this basic fact. Conservatives are crazy and they hate him no matter what, but liberals like myself are also sorely disappointed in him because whether the Republicans block his every move or not, he has not climbed that tree and screamed at the top of his lungs, Wrong Jungle! None of us have a sense of his vision* for the country and his total reversal on secrecy and transparency are frightening. It almost as if they have something on him to keep him in check. I wish it were that simple.

*Note: One can argue that he has in fact given us great speeches about his vision. That is true, but when it comes to his actions, what really counts, we see disturbing trends whether it is the “Grand Compromise”, his transparency on drone strikes, or his seeming willingness to strike down the law protecting children at the border to get a compromise with Republicans. There is no there, there.

Two Really Irreverent Things on a Friday Afternoon

WARNING! IRREVERENT RANTING

Apparently they are rioting in the West Bank in their “Day of Rage” over the invasion by the Israelis in Gaza. So what does rioting and destruction of your own home territory say about you? Oh, and it is all guys in the street. I just love the whole culture.

And it was okay for your brothers, Hamas, to launch indiscriminate rockets on the Israelis (a war crime) , but when they bring the battle to you, well it is outrageous? But wait, the closing of the borders was cruel and must be reopened. So does that mean you innocent Palestinians will no longer tolerate Hamas’s war on all Jews across those borders? The answer to that kind of raises the whole question of how much of an innocent victim you are.

Meanwhile back in this country there is a big push to say thank you to our “heroes”. This really gets my dandruff up. First of all most of us are NOT heroes. We did our job. Calling everyone who serves a hero waters down the real meaning of hero, and there are heroes out there.

Second, if you want to say thank you, fund the VA and accept the fact that your taxes have to go up to pay for these wars everybody thought was such a good idea and could pay for it by buying more stuff at the mall. Don’t assuage your conscience by saying thank you because you sent a bunch of kids (or somebody else’s kids) to do your dirty work that you could not be bothered with and do not want to pay for.

And from one old crabby veteran, I don’t want or need your thank you. What I need you to do is realize that you have a responsibility to see that veterans are taken care of when they return. At that you have failed miserably and continue to look for some Republican free ride with a happy face and a thank you. Piss off.

Time to open some wine.

The Stupid Things People Say that Perpetuates the Problem

I was listening to a report about how Congress is about to leave town and they have yet to solve the VA funding problem after all the chest beating about how our veterans deserve better.  A representative of a veteran’s group was pointing out this was not a partisan issue and Congress just needs to provide the required additional funds to solve this problem.  Note how Congress is blamed, not Republicans, who refuse to fund it except by gouging some other needed program.  These guys and gals who represent various good causes are afraid to name names because then they themselves become partisan and the other side won’t talk to them.  Instead they become pawns of the false impression that both sides do it.

In case you haven’t noticed, breathing is a partisan issue.  Infrastructure improvements, dealing with the impacts of global warming, the immigration problem, you name it and it all comes down to government action and additional spending and the Republicans hate both.  That is about as partisan as it gets.  I would bet if you took the amount of money needed to fund the VA to get the services required to keep our promise and raise taxes accordingly to fund it, as we should have done to pay for those stupid wars, it would be a popular winner.  But when you can promise to raise no taxes as a right passage to the Halls of Republicanism, it is not going to happen.  Immigration reform and raising the minimum wage are all wildly popular, but they are not going to happen because it flies in the face of Republican theology.

And all of it is not going to happen, not because of partisan bickering, but because Republicans don’t believe in it.  There are no negotiations because what we have learned is that Republicans don’t compromise unless that compromise is the other side totally caving in to the Republican position.  So quit saying stupid things like it is not a partisan issue and that Congress needs to get together and find the money.  That is not the issue.  The issue is that Republicans hate government and would be happy if the VA (a government medical program) fails.  If you don’t get that by now, well, I just give up.  Keep voting for those fools as our government grinds to a halt.