Posts Tagged ‘congress’

Is there any politician or CEO left in this country who will accept responsibility when things go wrong? When President Obama introduced the Bergdahl  family in the Rose Garden, it was all about how he was responsible for bringing Bowe home safely. Now that Congress is getting its hackles up, the President appears to be shying away from responsibility and keeping his mouth shut. When General Motors announced the recall of the various Chevy cars, one of which had already caused 13 deaths because of a faulty ignition switch, who was blamed? Seems to me that not one of the sons of bitches who were in power when those cars were produced had the balls to step forward and say that it was their responsibility. It took new CEO, Mary Bara to accept the bitch slaps that GM was receiving on all fronts…and she did. Now that GM has released its report that has already lead to the firing of fifteen individuals – with more to follow, I’ll bet – Congress is blaming Bara for not reporting all of GM’s failures. Congress is still the old boys’ network and any chance they have to take a shot at someone other than one of their own, they go at it both barrels.

Years ago, I was throwing a tennis ball against a brick wall that was part of Holy Family School in my hometown. At one point I missed; the ball struck and broke a window. To use an often overlooked phrase, “I was scared shitless.”  Heck, I was still in elementary school…and it wasn’t Holy Family. I ran home and told my mother – Dad was at work – what had happened. Her solution was simple. “You march right back there; find the nun who’s in charge; tell her what happened and that it was an accident; then you tell her that you, not your Dad and I, but you will pay for the damage somehow. Now go.” Me, alone, off to see the top penguin. Since I didn’t know much about nuns, only horror stories told by those who went to Holy Family, I was terrified. The school was about a hundred yards up the street. It was like the Green Mile; I felt I was marching to certain death by crucifixion. See, I still remember some of this stuff. Anyway, the school door was locked so I had to go to ‘the nun’s house’ next door. I was greeted pleasantly enough and asked for the “head nun.” Things get kind of blurry after that except for one thing; the mother superior spoke to me gently and thanked me for coming forward. There was no ruler across the knuckles; they didn’t pull out a couple of boards and some nails; no one told me that I had committed a sin that would prevent me from going to Heaven. They were nice. I remember that I had to erase blackboards after school, but I don’t remember for how long. I also remember the relief I felt as I walked home. I was kind of proud that I told someone I had done something bad and had been forgiven. I’m not even certain I knew what the word, “responsibility,” meant. Today, I can look back and say, “Yeah, I accepted responsibility.” The lesson must have stuck because I believe firmly that I should accept responsibility for my actions, good or bad. It’s a code I’ve tried to live by all of my life, but I think that it was my mother who instilled that into me when she sent me back to Holy Family on my own. Can you imagine the majority of today’s parents doing that? I’ll let you picture in your own mind how today’s mothers would handle that situation.

It seems to me that everyone rushes forward to accept praise and will even exaggerate a bit to overemphasize the word, “I.” However, if the shit hits the fan, those same people revert to their old “duck and cover” drill and hide until the air is clear. Did President Obama personally bring home Sergeant Bergdahl? Of course he didn’t. Who knows how long negotiations were taking place to free the sergeant? Who knows if any Americans were involved in the negotiations? Chuck Hegel might have initiated the negotiations by speaking with people in Qatar, but I don’t know. I’m certain, however, that it was a team effort to free Bergdahl. Was he on the verge of being killed? Who knows? Who cares? “No man left behind” is not some rah, rah bullshit; it’s a code and a damned good one. We had to give up five bad guys to get him? So what? I have no idea why the hell we’re still in Afghanistan in the first place. Look at Iraq. It’s already falling back into the hands of those we oppose. Are we supposed to send our troops back so more Americans can die? We damned well better not or I’ll lead the march on Washington. These people are primitives. Let them have their 2,500 years of stupidity. They’re wrong, but I’m not willing to give up one more American life to show them just how wrong they are. If they wish to remain in the Stone Age, fine; let’s cut off all aid and tell them to get along on their own. Perhaps that, in and of itself, will be enough to force us to give up our dependence on foreign oil or whatever the hell the Iraqis and Afghanis are giving us. If our own Muslim population starts to complain, ship them back where they came from. If you’re in America, act like an American. If you want to help your country, get your ass back there and help them that way. I am just plain tired of this nonsense.

Repeat after me: “If something good happens and I did it alone, I’ll keep my mouth shut. If something good happens and my team was responsible, I’ll praise my team…all of my team. If something bad happens and I’m responsible, I will step forward, admit my error, and take whatever punishment is due. I will do all of these things because I am a responsible person. I don’t need to give myself accolades, only those who did the grunt work.” You can leave out the last sentence if you wish. In fact, you may wish to rewrite the entire credo; just remember it’s never ‘I’ when something succeeds; there is always a ‘we’ somewhere in the mix. As for the failure, sure, it could also be a team effort, but if you were top dog, accept the blame and move on. End of sermon.

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You’re going to have to forgive an old man if he misinterprets some of the horse manure that floats from the halls of Congress into the media below…or is it “onto” the media below. It really doesn’t matter a whole hell of a lot, but it seems to me that Congress is supposed to enact legislation for the benefit of its constituency; you know, the people who elected them. I don’t know where it says that they are supposed to go looking for ways to mess up an incumbent administration or cast aspersions on the Office of the President…keep an eye open, sure, but not beat a dead horse until the entire animal smells like what’s comin’ outta the south end.

The US mission in Benghazi was attacked by a group of who-knows-who [wink, wink] on September 11, 2012. The attack was fatal and killed a number of people. There were insufficient resources to defend the mission. That is the fault of US intelligence. That those resources weren’t there is the fault of US intelligence and the military not working together. That no one in the US Department of State or in any US intelligence agency OR any US military organization OR in any branch of government didn’t believe there would be an attack on the US somewhere in the world on the anniversary of the World Trade Center attack is sheer idiocy. Every mission, embassy, military post on foreign soil, and tourist who is travelling on September 11th of any year, should be prepare to be treated as a target. Anyone not considering this deserves whatever happens to them. What the hell has to happen for people to wake up to the fact that America is at war on its own soil as well as abroad.

The Republican House of Representatives is dissatisfied with how the Benghazi attack (a) could possibly take place in beloved Libya; (b) who should take the blame for the attack…not the attackers themselves, mind you, but who is to blame from the American side; (c) has been falsely described by the White House according to House Speaker John Boehner. To get to the bottom of all of this, Speaker Boehner is appointing a “select” committee to “… investigate the 2012 Benghazi attacks, accusing the Obama White House of “misleading the American people” by withholding emails on Benghazi – emails that only just surfaced this week despite a 2013 subpoena.” According to the New York Daily News, Speaker Boehner stated, “This dismissiveness and evasion requires us to elevate the investigation to a new level. I intend for this select committee to have robust authority, and I will expect it to work quickly to get answers for the American people and the families of the victims.” Hey, Jack, the American people know what happened and the families of the victims don’t require constant reminders that they don’t have a loved one anymore. Build a goddamned bridge and get over it.

On the basis of Mr. Boehner’s House controlled half of the Congress, perhaps Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada, should appoint a select committee to determine who is responsible for the erroneous information that precipitated our invasion of Iraq. Perhaps the Senator could subpoena then Secretary of State Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice to testify where all of those wonderful and fraudulent photographs came from that “definitely” showed Iraq with weapons of mass destruction. We might have bring former President George Bush and his string-puller, Dick Cheney to the Halls of the Senate to tell us why 4,487 American soldiers died in a war that was (a) unnecessary; (b) a personal vendetta on the part of George Bush; and, (c) a bold faced lie.

Speaker Boehner is being led around by the nose by his aggressive Tea Party Republicrats. He has fallen in line with a group of crazies who will do anything, use any reason, and tell any lie to discredit the incumbent administration in order to gain an edge in the 2016 elections. Is the Obama administration withholding some information about Benghazi? Wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Did the Bush administration openly lie about the weapons of mass destruction that preceded the invasion of Iraq? Without question they did.

Benghazi is now a footnote in the history of the United States. We have not learned from it. We will probably be just as complacent on September 11th 2014 and then wonder why a mission, an embassy, a military outpost or fort was attacked. And leaders from the minority party will blame the leaders of the majority party and more horse shit will fly around the Halls of Congress. Meanwhile, important legislation will languish in some committee or other because either Speaker Boehner or Majority Leader Reid believes it will give brownie points to the opposition. Is this any way to run a nation? The idea of a two-party system [try to forget about the Tea Party for just a moment here, puh-leze] of government is wonderful. It’s wonderful as long as the two parties understand that their role is to move the country ahead in pursuit of goals that will help the nation. It doesn’t matter which party wins as long as the nation benefits as a whole.

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That remarkable educational phenomenon called “tenure” serves as a protective cloak around good as well as bad teachers. Its original purpose of protecting academics from royal families was a good one, but it really has outlived its usefulness. Today, once you achieve tenure, no matter the level at which you teach, you have achieved job security. It really doesn’t matter whether or not you stay current in your field; you’ve got a job for life, barring criminal prosecution or immoral behavior of course. It’s not unlike Congress in that regard, well except for the morals part. That doesn’t seem to matter a great deal in Washington…or in many other states for that matter. If you can convince your constituency, i.e., the students and administrators, as well as the voters, that you are trying – a word open to wide interpretation – you will be renewed or reelected on a regular basis. The only difference between the two systems is that the great American public will scream for your resignation if you are a poor teacher, but they couldn’t care less if you’re a poor Congressman or Senator…or so it seems.

            Why we tolerate the nonsense that passes for a legislative body in Washington is far beyond my understanding. My forbearance of their actions is at an end. As Mark Twain wrote, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress.” This will mark the one hundredth anniversary of Twain’s death. If he thought things were bad back in the 19th Century, can you possibly imagine what he would have had to say about today’s group of imbeciles? His quote, “Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself,” is so apropos when discussing the current august body of idiots as to be laughable as well as very, very frightening.

            The Legislative branch of our government is broken, perhaps beyond all repair. The Executive branch continues to function but in diminished capacity because it is only one-third of the body charged with running the affairs of a nation of over 300 million people. It is also largely dependent on the Legislative branch doing its job correctly and with some degree of alacrity. The Judicial branch seems to have hunkered down to wait out the storm. Oh, wait, they, too, are in tenured positions and can, therefore, be complacent without fear of consequence.

            We cannot dissolve Congress; only Congress can do that, and to those of you who believe that to be possible in the foreseeable millennia, then perhaps we should talk about some bridges I have for sale in various parts of the country. No, Congress has spiraled downward into a group of squabbling children who will accomplish nothing on behalf of the people of this country as long as a two-party system remains. It appears that belonging to a political party, be it Republican or Democratic, is far more important to members of Congress than working together for the good of the public they were elected to represent.

            Recently, Evan Bayh, the former Governor of Indiana and a United States Senator for the past 11 years, announced that he will retire from the Senate at the end of his current term. He cites the inability of members of Congress to work together as one of the reasons for his departure. In an editorial piece in The New York Times, Bayh says that, “What is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest. In a time of national peril, with our problems compounding, we must remember that more unites us as Americans than divides us.” Republicans will respond by hoping that they can gain one more seat in the Senate. Democrats will feel that Bayh is deserting them in a time of need. That’s the kind of thinking that goes on in the halls of Congress today. It’s shameful, but we have only ourselves to blame for letting this kind of thinking take control over our lives as citizens.

            Just who are these people who are supposedly representing us in Washington? Well, the legislative branch of our government was formed in accordance with Article I of the Constitution.  The House of Representatives is comprised of 435 members, elected based on the population of the states. The Senate consists of two people from each state, adding another 100 to the group. When you read Article I, it’s rather specific on what Congress can and cannot do. Yes, they have the power to approve or disapprove Presidential appointments, and yes, they can impeach a president. They can “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” They certainly seem to have screwed up with the last group and I’m not altogether certain they’ve done a very good job with the first.

            Congress costs the American taxpayer too much money to support itself for what it actually gives back to the public it is supposed to serve. Recently, I read, and it was rendered somewhat in jest, a proposal to reduce Congress. It called for House members to be cut from 435 to 218 and for the Senate to be reduced by half. The proposal went on to suggest that over the next eight years, Congressional staff should be cut by 25%, and it outlined the cost savings to the American public. By doing this, we would also be supporting the statement by the late anthropologist, Dr. Margaret Mead, who said, “A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Perhaps a smaller Congress would be better able to function in unity, eliminate bureaucratic and political nonsense, and help to begin to move this nation back into a leadership position it has lost by proclaiming much too loudly that it is a world leader…this, while the rest of the world laughs.

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