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Posts Tagged ‘Government’

If there is one thing that today’s U.S. government excels at, it is obfuscation. Take, for example the current fiasco known as sequestration. The ordinary citizen might be forgiven if he thought that this was something like castration. Actually, he would be pretty close. However, for the United States, it might be even worse. 

I suppose its a tip off when politicians hide behind words derived from Latin that have migrated into old English law. By the time the word gets to America by way of the Roman and British empires, the U.S. politicians can make the word mean anything they want it to mean. It’s sort of like the words in Alice in Wonderland

The Latin word sequester, which is the root for sequestration, simply means a depositary, i.e. a person with whom you store something of value. So, you might surmise that when the government sequesters something, they are putting it aside for safekeeping. However, in today’s U.S. government-speak it means taking away money from lots of necessary or vital programs in order to cause so much suffering to the people, that the weakest part of the government will cry, “UNCLE!!” and give up, and the other part of the government will have its way. Clever, isn’t it?

One might have thought that President Obama, good guy that he is, would have acted as Superman and said, “Not only no, but HELL NO!” But he didn’t. Instead, he grinned like the Chesire cat and signed the Sequestration Legislation into law, thus setting in motion a series of gut wrenching, job killing , government spending cuts that helps no one. Then he gaily went about fiddling while Republican Senators and Representatives heads should have exploded (figuratively), like what happened to the invading Martians in the classic movie, Mars Attacks. (Still one of my favorite movies, and I have no idea why. But I do like the song.)

Unfortunately, the heads of the Republicans did not actually explode because their brains are protected by being in thrall to the “Tea Party” fanatics (no relation whatsoever to the heroes of the real Boston Tea Party) who seem to make up the core of today’s Republican Party – at least the intellectual wing of the Party. Clearly, the entire Republican Party has drunk the Kool-Aid, and it is that which apparently prevents their heads from exploding.

Even so, it seems that President Obama has failed to notice this lack of exploding heads amongst the Republican brotherhood who are meanwhile doing their very best Alfred E. Neuman “What me worry?” impression, i.e. they are doing nothing. 

While America burns.

OK. I know. I get it. They’re not really that stupid, are they? No, of course not. What’s really happening is that they are all playing a giant game of chicken, you know, like when two teenagers get in their cars and drive towards each other at 100 miles per hour and then we get to see who is chicken when one of them turns away in order to avoid a horrific, head-exploding, collision. The thing that I worry about is that I’m not sure that either Obama or the Republicans have the brains, or the maturity, of a hormone-saturated teenage boy, or for that matter even the brains of a hormone-saturated teenage bull.

This, of course, could be very bad news for the country. But who cares? After all, the members of Congress are mostly millionaires and you can be sure the U.S. Lobbyist Core in Washington will see to it that they are well taken care of, no matter what. And Obama? What does he care if massive layoffs go into effect and the nation goes into an economic death spiral and people start fleeing the country for the good jobs in Mexico? After all, won’t that solve the illegal immigration problem? As they say, “it’s an ill wind that blows nobody good.”

So maybe Nero had the right idea, when Rome burns, go with the flow. Don’t worry be happy. See! That’s why Obama actually signed the law ordering the massive budget cuts! It’s the Roman way: first you sequester, then you burn the city down, then you fiddle while Rome burns. 

Except for one little thing. Sequester doesn’t mean “cut”. It doesn’t mean slash the budget. It means to set something aside in a safe place until a dispute is settled.

Wait a minute, maybe I’m just taking this thing way too seriously? Maybe we should all be more like the President and the Republicans.

Maybe we should just do like Nero did after he finished fiddling: go to bed and take a nice sequester. Then, we’ll all feel better in the morning…

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Today, South Carolina voters will decide who they think should be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. Recent polls indicate that he is currently in the lead – and South Carolina has a history of picking the eventual Republican Presidential candidate! Let’s suppose Newt not only wins the primary but also becomes the Republican Party candidate and eventually becomes President. Should we care? Would he really be all that different from Barack Obama, a man who is perhaps the greatest disappointment to liberals in recent history? After all, didn’t Obama appoint Geithner and Summers as his principal financial people, and weren’t they part of the team that caused the financial catastrophe under Bush? Didn’t Obama just sign legislation that says American citizens can be imprisoned by the Army without trial indefinitely because someone suspects they might be guilty of a crime? Hasn’t Obama pretty much followed the Republican agenda of George Bush? So – what difference would it make if a Republican named Gingrich became President? Wouldn’t it just be more of the same – no real change no matter who we vote for?

No. This time it would be different. Gingrich would lead us down a path to Hell with no return. I’m not talking about his lack of morality because he is now on wife #3. Sure, he lacks the morality of most American citizens with regard to sexuality and loyalty to one another. But maybe his wife switching wasn’t just due to an over active libido. Maybe he just has a habit of making really bad decisions – like if you buy a car that was made in France, for example. OK. I admit it. Being on wife #3 and probably on the lookout for wife #4 is a bad sign. It’s a sign that says he has an issue with loyalty, or maybe he has an insatiable sex drive, or maybe he doesn’t choose the right person for the job most of the time. Something like that, maybe. True, these are all disturbing thoughts and should be taken into consideration.

However, there is something even more disturbing about this Newt (what an amazingly appropriate name – sorry, I just have to say it…).  It is the things he says that makes me wonder if he has ever studied history, and if so, was if the Cliff’s Notes version in college? It seems as if he has missed entire segments of the past and the lessons learned from a vast amount of human suffering. Even worse, he is blind to his own ignorance, spouting off in puffed up grandiosity, holding forth like he is Pythagoras or Socrates himself as he talks about abolishing the child labor laws. Either Newt doesn’t know why we have these laws, or he thinks that the American population is as ignorant as he seems to be. The simple fact is this: the laws were a necessity to protect children, as young as 7 or 8 years old, or even younger, from working endless hours in mills full of dangerous dust and grime. Children worked with the large knitting and other machines because their small fingers could fit into parts of the machines that adults could not reach. Children worked in these mills – similar to the ‘dark Satanic mills” of England, famously referred to by William Blake in his poem, Jerusalem – until about a century ago when people with far more intelligence that Newt Gingrich outlawed this abuse of defenseless children in both England and the United States.

Now, this extraordinarily ignorant and selfish man wants to be President of the United States. And the people of South Carolina seem likely to vote for him. Are the people of South Carolina as incredibly dumb as Newt thinks they are? We shall soon find out. And if he is right, we may well next learn something about the intelligence of the average American. After all, they voted for George Bush, probably the stupidest man to ever be President (so far) – a man who nearly destroyed the country with his insane financial policies. Could Newt be more dangerous than W? Yes, because he truly believes in the exploitation of innocent children and cares nothing for their welfare or safety.

He is a real and present danger to the next generation of Americans: the small and innocent children of the land. And there is nothing more dangerous to America than that.

 

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Perhaps it was inevitable. After all, even the greatest of empires such as the Roman Empire or the British Empire – upon whose lands the sun never set – eventually collapsed. Their laws, values, and customs disintegrated as the people of the empire no longer cared enough to fight for them – as their ancestors had. Now the United States of America, an unacknowledged empire, but one nonetheless, is beginning to crumble, bit by bit. The barbarians are at the gates, held back only by a mostly mercenary army, lured into military service by steady wages, health and education benefits, college education benefits, and the promise of a secure, paid retirement. Meanwhile, the common people lead their lives as consumers of industrial agriculture, imported energy, and the goods of foreign lands. It is not the America envisioned by its founders; indeed, it is far from it. Gone are the citizen soldiers, the Minutemen. Gone are the self-sufficient family farms. Gone is the town meeting form of government where the citizens of a town met and agreed upon the town’s budget (except for a few anachronisms in New England). Now, an insidious erosion of American justice is underway, and as in the corruption of our economic system, the transformation of our military into a paid professional force, and export of American jobs to overseas sources of cheap labor and materials, the American people once again simply turn over on their sofas and click their remotes to see what is on the other channels.

However, this time it is different. This time, changes are happening that can undermine the very foundation of America and its ideals. The nation is threatened, not from external enemies, but from within. It didn’t begin today or yesterday. It started in earnest perhaps with the administration of George W Bush, although its roots go back at least to Ronald Reagan and the insidious replacement of pension plans with 401k accounts. It was the attacks on 9/11 that opened the doors of opportunity for Bush and Cheney, certainly the most despicable people to ever lead our government. Using the excuse of the necessities of war Bush and Cheney obliterated the rights of citizens to have private conversations without the government eavesdropping on their every word without a court order. Using the excuse that the country was in dire danger – more so that the threats that had come in a previous era  from Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan – Bush and Cheney developed a consistent policy of torturing prisoners, and in doing so became neo-Nazis themselves. These two individuals, entirely bereft of America’s sacred ideals, established a policy of indefinite confinement without trial for suspected terrorists, i.e. people who the U.S. government thought might be guilty – but for whom they had no proof of guilt. It was not a reasonable or sane policy. It is a senseless, literally insane policy, worthy only of a scene from Alice in Wonderland, “Sentence first – verdict afterwards!”

When President Obama campaigned for the Presidency of the United States he promised to end the indefinite detection of suspected terrorists in Cuba and have civilian trails for these people in the United States. They would be found guilty or innocent based upon American justice. However, it seems that it became apparent that virtually none of these people would be found guilty in an American court because their was insufficient evidence to prove their guilt. Under the rules of American justice they would have to be set free. So, like George Bush, Obama agreed to indefinite imprisonment and military trials for these people in Cuba. So much for the promises of Barack Obama.

Now, President Obama has signed into law a new act of a seditious Congress that will eliminate more rights of American citizens. This law will allow the detention, by the military, of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists. No proof required. No rights of the citizen to a fair trial by his peers. No resort to the system of American justice. Instead, we citizens of the United States of America can be imprisoned without trial indefinitely by our own military. It will happen simply by having some official say, “I think he’s a terrorist.” We are witnessing the fall of the American Empire, we are seeing the rotting from within – a cancer on the Presidency, a corruption of the Congress, and a Supreme Court that has become nothing more than the begging servant of industry. And what do we do? We turn aside, grab a can of beer, and see what else is on TV.

We are no different from the empires of Rome and Greece and Egypt and Great Britain and so many more. These all had one thing in common. The people stopped believing in their ideals, the empires collapsed from within, and the barbarians tore down the gates of the cities while a complacent people drank wine and watched the circus.

It is a sad day for America.

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Imagine it is September 11, 2001 all over again, except this time you are one of the passengers on United Airlines flight 93, bound for San Francisco out of Newark, New Jersey.  Except for luck, fate, timing, call it what you wish, it could have been any of us on that plane on that day.  The plane had already been hijacked and the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon had already been hit by other hijacked aircraft.  What if it had been you on United 93 and you knew about the other hijackings and the destruction of the World Trade Center and the attack on the Pentagon? What would you do? Would you have decided to make an all out attack on the hijackers, storm the cockpit, and try to take over control of the plane, knowing that it must certainly be destined to smash into another major American landmark?

Not everyone would take that action.  Many would have remained in their seats, hoping, praying for something to save them. Some would have just entered a trance-like state, denying the reality of the entire situation, assuring themselves that it must be a dream from which they would awaken.  Others might even hold out hope that they could bargain with their captors, maybe make a deal – who knows?  But the passengers on United 93 didn’t try to avoid a confrontation.   They knew that the people who had taken control of the plane were ruthless murderers. They knew that their plane was going to be used as a weapon against other Americans. They decided that they were not going to let that happen.

We all know the result of their decision.  They rammed in the door of the cockpit and fought hand to hand with the terrorists for the control of the plane.  The violent struggle continued until the terrorists lost control of the aircraft and it plunged to the ground in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Everyone on board perished. It is now known that the most likely target for United 93 was the U.S. Capitol building.  If the passengers had not intervened our Capitol – the symbol of our democracy – would have been reduced to rubble and many more Americans on the ground would have died.

Here is the question: do the brave passengers on United 93 deserve any posthumous recognition for their bravery from the U.S. government? Should they be awarded posthumous medals, similar to the Medal of Honor that is reserved for military people?  Surely their bravery and their deed of saving the U.S. Capitol is comparable to the bravery and deeds of many who have been awarded the Medal of Honor, isn’t it?

So far, the only recognition these brave heroes of United 93 have been awarded is a Hollywood movie called United 93.  There are government awards available to heroes such as these. There is the highest honor that can be awarded by the U.S. President: the Presidential Medal of Freedom award, perhaps it would be an appropriate medal that could be awarded to recognize their gallant deed. But it hasn’t been. The most recent recipients of this award for “service to country” was CIA Director George Tenat in 2004.  Before that it was Jean MacArthur in 1988, she was the second wife of General Douglas MacArthur. Before that the Medal had been awarded in 1984 to Whittaker Chambers, a former communist spy who eventually testified against Alger Hiss. So far neither President Bush nor President Obama has deemed the heroic passengers of United 93 worthy of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Well, what about the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest award that Congress can award? The most recent recipient of this award was Arnold Palmer on Sept 30, 2009.  Other recent winners of this award have been Neil Armstrong, Edward Brooke III, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Dr. Michael Debakey.  Congress did take  up the question of awarding their medal to the passengers of United 93, but, in their collective wisdom, they ultimately decided that the passengers on United 93 did not deserve such an august honor from them.

Recently, the National Park Service broke ground for a memorial to the people who died on United 93. It’s a simple memorial, a bit reminiscent of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington DC, sort of half-underground with a low wall. So that’s it? That’s what happens in this country when ordinary civilians show extraordinary courage and save the nation’s Capitol from certain destruction? They get a low wall in the ground in Shanksville, PA? Meanwhile, George Tenat gets the Presidential Medal of Freedom and Arnold Palmer gets the Congressional Gold Medal?

I have only one question for President Obama (because the Congress is beyond hope): Mr. President, when will you correct this egregious oversight?

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