Saturday, May 23, 2015

Why I Hate Day-to-Day Politics in Three Easy Pieces

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but long time readers will have seen me say that I view following politics like cleaning the cat's litter box.  It's a dirty, nasty, disgusting job, but if you don't do it, it only gets more disgusting.  Which is where we are now, as a nation.  (and, seriously, I love cats as much as anyone, but I guar-an-damn-tee you that the guy who invented chemical warfare had a litter box in house for inspiration) 

I present three easy examples in the news from the last couple of days in no particular order.  Three stories that make me say, to borrow a phrase from the Crusades, "Kill them all and let God sort them out".

1.  Alcee Hastings Wants a Pay Raise.  

US Representative from Miami and pretty much continuous criminal Alcee Hastings says Congress needs a pay raise.  Before running for congress, Hastings was a judge.  He was convicted of soliciting bribes in 1989, impeached, and kicked out of his office.  After some time (presumably to learn better criminal skills) he ran again and has been a fixture in office ever since.  He has a constant barrage of allegations of criminal or unethical behavior against him, ranging from nepotism to sexual harassment, but he keeps getting re-elected because his Gerrymandered district in south Florida will always vote for anyone with a D after their name.  In his 2012 election, he won 85 to 15% over an NPA opponent

Hastings apparently feels the $174,000 a year he makes (legally on the books) is clearly inadequate.
"Members deserve to be paid, staff deserves to be paid and the cost of living here is causing serious problems for people who are not wealthy to serve in this institution," said Rep. Alcee Hastings during a Monday Rules Committee hearing on the upcoming year's legislative branch appropriations bill, according to Roll Call.
Leave it to Washington criminals to grow the government, causing the cost of living in DC to go up as all those new DC workers try to live there, and then say they need to take more of our money to pay for the cost increases they created.

2.  Two Party Names, One Ruling Class.

Perhaps you caught the headline on Drudge today that last night the Stupid Party gave more powers to Obama.   In what universe does "give more powers to Obama" sound even remotely like a good idea?  I don't know if you know the details on this Trans Pacific Partnership agreement that the president keeps pushing, but in case you haven't read it ... OK, that was a lie.  You can't know details and you can't have read it because the actual text is a classified document.  To follow the "even a broken clock is right twice a day" principle, I'm going to quote Elizabeth Freakin' Warren (!):
“In the past few weeks the public has heard a lot about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive trade deal the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other countries. The public has heard from supporters that it is the most progressive trade deal in history, a deal that will benefit working families and small businesses. And they’ve heard it will only tilt the field in favor of multinational corporations and leave workers and everyone else behind. The public has heard a lot but in all that time they’ve never actually seen the deal itself. In fact, the press hasn’t seen the deal, economists haven’t seen the deal, legal experts haven’t seen the deal, most everyone in America hasn’t seen the deal. Why? because the administration has classified the deal making it illegal for any of those people to read it.
(side note - if you've gotten emails from GOA or NAGR (I forget which one it was) saying the TPP is going to gut gun rights, they haven't read it either.)

So the Stupid Party acted to give the president more power to work on the TPP and other agreements with the same countries on his own.  Since he already has his pen and his phone, I'm not sure why they felt they needed to formalize their bending over, but they did.  It's a strange alliance.  The president is pushing the treaty hard and alienating all his usual allies: the unions, the anti-corporate crowd, and the socialists - like Elizabeth Warren.  Instead, he's allying with the major corporate donors in what is virtually certainly going to be a trade agreement filled to the brim with more cronyism. 
In perhaps the most unusual alliance in the debate, Obama’s trade agenda will soon rest largely in the hands of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who was the Republicans’ 2012 vice presidential nominee.

Now chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Ryan is leading the push to secure as many votes as possible from the Republican side of the aisle for Obama’s fast-track authorities on trade deals. He has been working with Boehner’s leadership team convening meetings with Republicans to educate the dozens of junior lawmakers who have never considered a trade deal like the potential Pacific Rim pact.
Two party names, same money-grubbing ruling class.

3.  Is it Principles or Pimping? 

Rand Paul made a very public mini-filibuster of the renewal of the PATRIOT act, talking for 10 1/2 or 11 hours.  I'm a little mixed on this because I'm against the NSA "Giant Sucking Sound" approach to this sort of intelligence.  I think targeted listening, like any other police investigation, is a much better approach rather than just collecting every bit of data criss-crossing the country and crunching it to find keywords.  We do have a 4th amendment in this country; whether it's completely dead or still on life-support, I'm not 100% sure.  Killing the PATRIOT act might well help it start breathing again.  (By the way, anyone who has not read James Bamford's "The Puzzle Palace" history/biography of the NSA really should.  It explains much about why they like to work the way they do.)

The thing about this one that gets it into my simple three examples is that while I respect Rand Paul, and might even vote for him in the primary, I got a fundraising email from him every few hours for three or four days.  Or so it seemed. 

My problem with this comes down to whether he was fighting the PATRIOT act because he's truly  opposed to it, or because he (or his advisors) think the people he wants to appeal to are opposed to it.  Was the filibuster only done because they thought that we will be more likely to contribute to his campaign if he runs the filibuster?  Was it just a glorified (and pretty much completely free) campaign commercial? 
Politics.  It's like cleaning the litter box. 


  1. I could easily be wrong, but my understanding of the alert the GOA emailed to me and other membrs did _not_say gun control was written into the TPP. They stated that the TPP was "secret", with the text hidden from all but a few.

    What I understood was that the "fast track" mechanism would _allow_ Obama - and his successor - to write gun control into the TPP, now or at a later date, with Congress unable (and certainly unwilling) to change or repeal anything written into the TPP.

    I may be wrong about this also, but I believe the NDAA is even worse than the Patriot Act. I haven't paid sufficient attention to guess whether Rand Paul is sincere or grandstanding.

    Hopefully he isn't a Netanyahu, who says - just before the elections in Israel - that he will never permit the "Palestinians" to have their own state, then immediately does an about-face and says he supports a two-state "solution". Lying, sack-of-shite politician (butI repeat myself).

  2. What scares me is that once the two parties are sitting there voting each other "secret" powers, we have lost a number of key protections, not the least of which is separation of powers.

    Once they are openly colluding, we have set the stage for a ruling class that is in office for life. Instead of a President, a King.

    We are seeing a recreation of the fall of the Roman Republic. History, it seems, DOES repeat itself.

  3. "Secret"!! Sounds like Russia in the late 40's and 50's under Stalin. Why is a trade pact of allthngs "secret"?? Why wouldn't it be a public discussion after all we live in a constitutional republic not a dictatorship. Why wouldn't a handful of honest congressmen (that's all we have; a handful) speak up and tell us about what is in this trade deal? Where are the whistleblowers when you really need them? The silent majority are not just silent they are comatose. This is it! I don't mean to be all conspirital and scare mongering but we are witnessing the intentional destruction of the greatest country in the world in all of history. Boehner is a deal making self involved politician at a time when we need a statesman. We need a real grass roots uprising, a real tea party and maybe even some really, really tough rhetoric. What we are getting is theater from the left and propaganda from the media. We are circling the drain and most of us either don't care or don't know.

  4. Reg - that's my point about the GOA spam. They don't know that the ability to add gun control is in the TPP. As for their other statement, "...would _allow_ Obama - and his successor - to write gun control into the TPP, now or at a later date..." - when isn't that 100% true? Any president, and especially this one who has shown over and over again that he's willing to do it, can write executive orders and do a ton of damage before it makes the Supreme Court. Remember, before the case can get to the SCOTUS, plaintiffs have to show they've personally been damaged by the ruling. How long will that take? Two years?

    Do you think this guy, or some worse successor, might write an EO and say, "so sue me"?

    It's not news. They're using this to try to scare everyone into giving them money, which has become the essence of politics.

    And Divemedic is right. I actually think we have the "Ruling Class for Life" right now. Look at how long corrupt politicians stay in office - like good old Alcee Hastings. This election nonsense we go through all the time? It's just a friendly game to see who gets to be the sit in the big chair while encouraging fundraising. The only rivalry between the two parties is to see who gets more money and power.

  5. I may have misunderstood how "fast track" works, but the impression I got was that it was more binding than an executive order. That it made the TPP so open-ended that it would give Obama carte blanche to insert anything he wished - but would _legally_ be unassailable.

    The actual text of the TPP being withheld from the public, the TPP could be _said_ to contain nearly anything, and we the people would have no recourse, other than disobedience.

    I realize the GOA asks for donations when it sends one of these alerts through the mail, but they are far and few between compared to the NRA and SAF (and I presume the "new" JPFO/SAF hybrid, but I have ignored that group). I get fairly frequent alerts via email, with no request for money, just a request to contact my representatives or an agency that has a comment period.

    The TPP is well worthy of an alert, because the text is being kept secret from the citizens of this country. Even Obamacare was available for reading, if you had the patience and the stomach. And the only check against the Executive branch - Congress - is being run by lying scum who should be hanging from DC lampposts.

    Anyway, it sounded to me as if it was the fast track mechanism that was the danger, even more than the TPP itself. I was completely unaware of either before GOA sent the snail mailing to me, so I thank them for that.

    You'll be able to color me un-surprised if 2016 comes and some false flag event prevents even the fiction of an election. Or perhaps the Obamination will simply declare that "so many people" have begged him to become a "benevolent dictator" that he has decided to do his civic duty and accept the position.