Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Fear and Loathing In the Nation's Capitol and Across the Country

In September of 2009, Representative Joe Wilson, R-SC, was famously condemned for daring to call out "You lie!" to President Obama as the president addressed a Joint Session of Congress.  Was it a violation of proper decorum?  Probably.  Was Representative Wilson speaking truth to power?  You bet he was.

During the 2010 State of the Union address, in violation of all protocol, President Obama condemned the members of the United States Supreme Court for their decision in the Citizens United case.  Justice Samuel Alito was seen to mutter "Not True", and with near uniformity across the Donkey side of the Politisphere there was outrage that a mere Justice would so disrespect The President in public.

So what can be expected when President Donald J. Trump steps to the lectern on the evening of February 28, 2017, at 9:00 PM EST?

To suggest that members of the Democrat party have less than positive sentiments regarding Trump would be a phenomenal understatement.  Based upon their clear history of respect for propriety and decorum though, would it not be reasonable to expect them to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the dignity of Senators and Representatives participating in a Presidential Address to Congress?

One can certainly hope.  This particular One certainly does.

Being hopeful is not the same as being confident.  The public activities of the Opposition in this country since the evening of November 8, 2016, make it abundantly clear crude, vulgar and violent self expression as a method of communicating political dissent are deemed reasonable and acceptable to a certain segment of the populace.  As good politicians, it can be expected that those under the leadership of Senator Schumer and Representative Pelosi will be tempted to do anything they believe they can get away with in attempts to solidify support among the unruly mob that is the vocal face of their base these days.

Many Democrat members of Congress will be inviting illegal aliens, Muslim immigrants, and other minority constituencies to attend the address.  Is there perhaps more than a little bit of hope these guests will relieve Democrats of the need to conduct their own Joe Wilson attack against acceptable behavior?  Then these Senators and Representatives will be able to shrug their shoulders in sadness and muse solemnly in front of the cameras how can one possibly condemn the spontaneously erupting passion of a public feeling personally threatened by a man and his minions who is supposed to be the President of All The United States of America, but is instead actively against their own Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness?

Should such outbursts take place, Democrats would do well to remember that if a can of kerosene is poured over a pile of brush and then a match tossed on top, it is not the wood that is at fault for the fire.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Press: WTF?

So, The Press had it's feelings hurt last week when CNN, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Time, Politico and others were excluded from a gaggle in Sean Spicer's office at the White House.  Never mind the pool representatives, the "big three" broadcast networks and others were included; the Real News outlets didn't get to go on the date, while others they derided as being something less than legitimate journalistic endeavors were allowed in.

Mainstream media needs to be a bit careful there.  Deriding their "lessers" in such a manner dangerously close to defining those competitors as "fake news".  Is it really safe to go there?

While they were busy bawling their eyes out over this existential threat to the First Amendment (even though it isn't), a much more disturbing comment was made by a MSNBC anchor.  Despite the fact this comment directly assaults the credibility of a free press, the majority of the Mediacracy who define themselves as the Guardians of Democracy ignored it as though they were farting in church after covering the baked bean festival and desperately praying no one would notice or at the very least not trace it back to them.

Mika Brezezinski cut loose with the ultimate That Which Must Not Ever Be Uttered truth bomb as far as the press is concerned: "[Trump] is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job,"

The general silence from the mainstream media was deafening, and speaks volumes. That which you refuse to condemn, you tacitly condone.

The less than divine Ms. B later compounded her error by claiming not to have said what any casual listener to the videotape can clearly hear her say.  Criticizing the promulgation of false facts by making up false facts is far from a winning tactic.  

No child, when caught with his arm elbow-deep in the cookie jar, has ever been successful at convincing Mom that he doesn't even know where the cookie jar is.  Or what cookies are.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Town Hall 2017: Flashback to 2009

So, you're a Republican Representative or Senator in 2017 and all you want to do is hold a Town Hall meeting.  Press the flesh.  Sell yourself.  Reassure your constituents they are the only reason you get out of bed in the morning.

And instead showing you proper deference and respect, instead of conducting themselves with due decorum, whole swaths of the hoi polloi only want to shout you down and express their frustration that Donald J. Trump is President of the United States.

Man (or woman, as the case may be), that must really suck.

In fact, just about this time eight years ago the tables were reversed.  Hordes of Tea Party supporters and other rational minded Americans showed up at primarily Democrat sponsored Town Halls to express their outrage at the health care plan that was taking shape and eventually shoved through with zero support from the Republican side of the aisle.  Some of you may well have participated in those protests.  Many no doubt applauded Americans exercising their First Amendment rights to give their servants in Washington a piece of their mind.

Servants?  That's right, servants.  Too quickly, elected officials from the United States Capitol all the way down to the smallest Town Council seem to forget they are public servants, not exalted lords and ladies bestowed with wisdom beyond the ken of the masses.

Remember that:  You, Senator, and you, Representative, are a public servant sent to Washington to serve the best interests of your constituents and your country.  Not to get re-elected.  Not to enrich yourself beyond your wildest childhood mud-hut imaginings.  Not to line up a "job" with a think tank or Fortune 50 company.  Your job description is Servant.

So serve.  Don't run and hide.  Don't complain that folks showing up at the Town Halls you host are mean or unruly.  It has happened before, and it will happen again.  Right now, it is happening to you.  Suck it up, Buttercup.

There are fair and very reasonable steps you can take to maintain some degree of order.  You represent a very specific district or state.  When you hold a meeting open to your constituents it is very reasonable to exclude those who do not reside within your district or state.  Require photo identification indicating a residential address within the borders of your area of representation in order to gain access to the meeting.  This will eliminate many of the concerns that have been raised about protesters being brought in from distant points to disrupt your proceedings.  If you are the Representative from Wyoming there is no reason you should entertain residents of Chicago, or Los Angeles, or New York.  They have their own representatives and should raise their concerns in those appropriate venues.

Once you have exercised proper and reasonable gate control though, stand up and be an adult.  Those folks are your constituents, whether they voted for you or not.  You are obligated to represent all of them, not just the ones who make you feel good.  You can't do that of you won't grant them a fair hearing.  Once you have heard them out, know who you are.  Own your positions and explain your actions.  Be patient.  You may be shouted down or derided.  Steadfastly explain your positions and motivations between the outbursts.  You may not change any minds, and you certainly won't enjoy many of the insults directed at you.  At least you won't be labeled a coward, too unprincipled or afraid to face those you are charged with effectively representing.

You're the one who signed up for politics.  If you wanted soothing you could have taken on an easier career such as high school teacher for delinquent students or battlefield sapper.  And if you still aren't happy, were you aware you aren't required to run for re-election or even serve out the entirety of your current term?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Anti-2A Crowd: Please Pick a Side

Assault Weapons Are Not Protected By the Second Amendment, Appeals Court Rules

On February 21, 2017, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the assault weapons ban imposed by the state of Maryland passed Constitutional muster.  In part, a passage was cited from the 2008 Heller v. District of Columbia decision allowing governments to regulate weapons similar in design and function to those issued to the military, itself a highly questionable interpretation.

For years, one of the loudest arguments offered by those who oppose the notion that mere Citizens have a right to keep and bear arms for their own private lawful purposes was that the Second Amendment was adopted to provide for the creation of what is today recognized as the National Guard.  State level organized military units, not individuals concerned with protecting themselves and their property from individuals or governments unlawfully intending harm.

So which is it, Anti-2A Crowd: Does the amendment only refer to the creation of a State Militia (military), or does it permit private citizens to bear arms, just not scary ones?  The argument that "yeah, you can have guns but not guns that might prove effective in a crisis" seems to blur your message just a bit.

The language of the amendment itself seems relatively unambiguous.
     "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and        bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Shall not be infringed.  Period.  End of amendment.  No invisible ink, no secret decoder ring required, no list of entirely subjective and arbitrary list of exceptions included.

"Shall not be infringed" does not appear to offer a tremendous amount of wiggle room.  "Arms" does not impose a limit on size, features or lethal capacity.  While I cannot imagine a scenario in which I could possibly want or need to possess a nuclear weapon, as an uninfringable right I should be able to do so as long as I command the resources and the desire to acquire one.  Through the years there have been neighbors who I would be uncomfortable with having access to a sling shot.  Regardless, my discomfort does not negate their rights.  Preemptively punishing (restricting) someone for a non-specific act they might conceivably commit at some undefined future point in time is an undeniable infringement, and a denial of the concepts of freedom and personal accountability the United States Constitution enshrines.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pepsi, No Coke!

So, you have a job in the Executive branch of the federal government.  Good for you!

Guess what?  Your boss is the duly confirmed Secretary of your agency, and your Chief Operating Officer is President Donald J. Trump.  Your marching orders come from these individuals, and they do in fact get to define the objectives of your job.

You do not have the privilege of defining your own "mission".  Your organization's mission is what your bosses say it is, and your priorities need to be what they define them as being.  If you find you do not agree with the defined objectives of your job, just like any other employee in any other business in the country you are free to leave.  You are not free to stay in place and wage guerrilla war against the chosen path your "business" has embarked upon.

In the Real World, as opposed to the Fantasy Island many entitled government employees believe themselves to inhabit, anyone who accepts a job at the Pepsi Factory is obliged to further the mission of producing and distributing Pepsi.  They are not required to drink Pepsi, or even like Pepsi, but when wearing the uniform they need to do everything they can to make Pepsi the number one product on the planet.  When they change out of their work clothes at the end of the day they are more than welcome to swing by the convenience store, pick up a six pack of Coke,  and drink away their sorrows in the glow of TV Land emanating from their television sets.  First thing next morning, it's back to "Rah! Rah! Pepsi!!"

If they can't handle that, then they are honor bound to leave their job at Pepsi and find something else to do they can feel good about.

You, federal employee, have that same obligation.  The voters have spoken, and if you cannot abide their choice you must as a manner of honor and integrity get out of the way.  If you can grit your teeth, do all that is asked of you as it is asked of you to the very best of your ability then you are welcome to hang in there.  Who knows, you might even get a new set of leaders in four years, or eight years, or whenever who might better suit your ideals.  Bully!  Until then, keep your nose to the grindstone doing as you are asked by your rightful leaders, or let your feet hit the streets and find the life that is better suited to who you are.