April 30th, 2013
So maybe they didn't break an actual record, but it was the fastest Congress has moved to accomplish anything since 2009. Last week, much to the amazement of budget chicken hawks, the sequester brought forth an actual consequence: flight delays.
The FAA, in order to stay within new budget guidelines brought about by a piece of intentionally stupid legislation (so stupid in fact that the whole point of it was to be as stupid as possible so that Congress would never allow it to be enacted), furloughed air traffic controllers causing inconvenience to people who apparently prefer deficits to inconvenience. Within days Congress passed legislation and the President signed it.
March 24th, 2013
Apparently someone cares, otherwise CNN Headline News (now know by the moniker HLN) would not have dedicated all of their air time to this one story.
Once upon a time Headline News cared about actual news. Then came the success of Nancy Grace. Since then it has been a steady march towards turning a channel dedicated to news into a channel dedicated to trash.
The trash was once quarantined to the evening hours but has now infested most of the afternoon. I've noticed that even Morning Express, the only program on HLN that I can stomach, heavily promotes the other 20 hours of trash laden programming.
Oh, but people watch! People would also watch if the anchors and reporters were all nude models. People would watch if HLN broadcast train wrecks on a continuous loop. People would watch if HLN focused solely on outrageous, hateful propaganda and the politics of character assassination. People would watch HLN in great numbers if all the air time was given over to Maury Povich or reality TV.
February 20th, 2013
Next week's national agenda includes panic and hand-wringing over sequestration, featuring non-stop coverage of all the horrors and calamities that await us on March 2. I need to go ahead and warn all of you that pundits will be pronouncing blame on various parties, so if that kind of thing makes you queasy you may want to keep your TV, radio, computer, record player, toaster oven, and smart phone in the quiet and tranquil off position.
I'm sure there are those who think that an artificial deadline for random and mindless budget cuts is just exactly how a civilized, modern nation should handle its affairs. And who knows, maybe that is the best we can expect from our Government nowadays.
December 27th, 2012
Watching Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell exchange verbal jabs with one another on the floor of the Senate today just reaffirmed for me how petty and dysfunctional Congress has become. In a few days, thanks to an absurd artificial deadline born of the above mentioned dysfunction, American citizens face tax increases and austerity.
Any bill put up for a vote in the House offering approximately what President Obama is asking for will pass, as most of the Democrats and enough Republicans will support it to overcome the no votes of most Republicans. However, the consequences of doing so could be that Boehner loses the speakership. Last week's embarrassing failure of Speaker Boehner's plan 'B' was a clear signal that a substantial number of Republicans are not going to vote yes on any 'balanced' approach.
December 21st, 2012
This week in a press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin voiced support for a measure passed by the Russian Parliament which would outlaw adoption of Russian children by U.S. parents.
The popularity of the bill in Russia is due to a few well publicized cases of child abuse and as retaliation for the Magnitsky bill that banned certain Russians from entering the United States.
The individuals targeted by the bill were believed to be involved in the death of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian attorney who was arrested after making allegations of massive fraud in the Russian government and who subsequently died in police custody.
This situation reminds me of an old American proverb I recall from my youth: Russia sucks.
December 16th, 2012
On January 1st, taxes are going up on everyone. All Congress has to do to make this happen is what Congress does best: nothing.
The President has made it clear that as part of any deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, tax rates must go up on upper income earners. Because of the approaching deadline, Speaker Boehner doesn't really have much of a hand to play. If taxes go up on everyone, Democrats will be able to play their favorite tune (you know, the one about Republicans representing the wealthy to the exclusion of everyone else) louder and prouder than ever before, and on a continuous loop for years to come. Furthermore, those automatic budget cuts will be cutting some stuff Republicans like. Whoever came up with such a ridiculous idea for this artificial deadline anyway?
Nevertheless, in order to get to a compromise and allow Republicans to save face, here is what I propose:
December 14th, 2012
I've always defended the right to bear arms. My defense has been along the lines that the constitution gives citizens the right to own a weapon. In the DC Handgun case, for example, I was in complete agreement with the majority opinion. The language of the second amendment is the language of the second amendment and the meaning is very clear.
After the killings today at a Connecticut Elementary School, I no longer think the issue should be the interpretation of the second amendment. Rather, the question we should be asking now is should citizens have a right to own a weapon.
(image credit wikimedia: memorial of Virginia Tech massacre victims)
November 16th, 2012
The fighting between Israel and Hamas continues today. Reports say that a ground invasion of Palestinian territory by Israel is very likely.
Rockets have hit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and Israel continues it's assault on what it calls terrorist targets. Civilian causalities on both sides have been reported in the media and it does not appear that hostilities will end soon.
(image credit wikimedia, from 2008 rocket attack)
October 30th, 2012
For review, I pulled headlines from Reuters news service each day starting September 11, 2012 and ending September 17, 2012. The purpose of this exercise is to add context to the current debate and discussions of the attack in Libya. I found several interesting tidbits looking back on the information we were getting from the press. For one, look at the early description by officials of the attackers as militants and contrast that with Obama's press secretary's statement a full three days later. My inline comments on the news reports are italicized. Image on the front page is of protestors attempting to scale the embassy wall in Yemen.
Egyptians angry at film scale U.S. embassy walls
|Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag and burned it during a protest over what they said was a film being produced in the United States that insulted Prophet Mohammad.|
|Gunmen attacked U.S. consulate offices in Libya's eastern city of Benghazi on Tuesday, and fought with security forces in protest against a U.S. film they say is blasphemous, a security official said.|
|“There are fierce clashes between the Libyan army and an armed militia outside the U.S. consulate,” said Abdel-Monen Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya's Supreme Security Committee.|
September 30th, 2012
Here is the scenario: you're a Democrat and you want Obama to win really bad. You know that Mr. Smith down the block is a hardcore Republican, and judging by that and the Obama Joker sign in his yard is a Mitt Romney man all the way. It's not nearly enough for you that your vote should only count once, so you leave early on the morning of November 6th to beat Mr. Smith to the polls. When the poll worker asks you for your name you answer, “Yes, I'm Mr. Smith”. The poll worker finds your name on a printout, marks you off, and you're in business. You vote for Obama. Later that day you return, yet the poll workers do not recognize you. Being the clever devil you are, you've removed the “I Voted” sticker from your shirt. You vote again as yourself, another vote for Obama.