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Friday, October 18, 2013

President Closes Normandy, GOP Shames its Memory

The minesweepers at Normandy Beach knew that they were all going to die. As they approached the shore, tearful and terrified, they knew that they would likely never see the men in those boats again, much less their families and friends back home. They didn't even have the luxury of sending a message home through a buddy that lived, because every last one of them expected to die on that beach. And what's more, they didn't have any guarantee that their deaths wouldn't be in vain and that Hitler wouldn't win despite their efforts.

So why did they do it? What inspired men to walk, even run into certain death? They did it because the mission mattered. They did it because country mattered. And they did it because they believed that the message they were sending was more important than their lives.

What message was that, you ask? That message was simple: the world will not sit idly by while a tyrant lives.

I thought about this notion quite a bit during the recent government shutdown. Why? Well, most of us who align with the Right agree that government is too big, too bloated, and needs to be drastically reduced. We agree that further extensions of the debt ceiling, if they are to be allowed at all, should be tempered with reductions in spending and reform of entitlement programs. We agree that the ACA is anything but affordable and should be repealed, dismantled, defunded, or taken out back and shot.

You would think, then, when people within the party stood up against these things they would have been cheered, yes? You would think that men of principle would be lauded for their backbone and courage, right?

No. People ON THEIR OWN SIDE lined up to throw them under the bus. Members of the GOP basically pulled up to Normandy in the rafts and either refused to get out or got halfway up the beach and turned back because "well, we knew it wasn't going to work anyway."

Well, guess what, guys? We'll never know if it would have worked. We'll never know because of you. And there's a pretty good chance that it could have worked, if you had had the stones to put country first. There's a pretty good chance that the President would have made himself look like more of an ass with each day the shutdown dragged on, because that's what narcissists do under pressure. The narrative got better for the proponents of small government every day the shutdown continued, and you guys sold it out for a $2 billion Kentucky kickback and the right to be called "cooperative" by the most dishonest and divisive President in American history.

And you know what's *awesome*? Some of you are the same ones who argued that the President should have sent help to Benghazi even if he didn't know for sure that it would arrive in time to make a difference.

Well, congratulations, guys. You made a difference. You sat down on your butts halfway up Normandy Beach and surrendered when the going got tough. I hope you give up as easily in the coming primaries. Pansies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Open Letter to Barack Obama

Dear Mr. President,

It appears that you don’t like to be challenged. And I understand that. Really. I am a parent, and I have spent time serving in the military. Having your authority challenged sucks. But good parents, good military leaders, and yes, even good Presidents, all have one thing in common: the ability to recognize failure and then to discontinue the actions that perpetuate it. Since you have surrounded yourself with an echo-chamber of yes-men and a complicit media, I can see how it would be difficult for you to see the failures with which your administration is wrought. And since you seem to have forgotten, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that I am still your boss. And as such, I do not like having my authority challenged.

I do not need you to tell me what kind of healthcare is best for my children. I am an autonomous, thinking human being who is capable of bearing the responsibilities that come with making my own choices. Whether I pay for insurance or pay up front for medical care is neither your choice nor is it your business. It is my responsibility, and I do not give it to you.

I do not need you to tell me how to best defend my home and my family. I assert my God-given and Second Amendment protected right to bear arms and to defend my home as I see fit. I assume the responsibility to train myself and my family to properly use any weapon I choose to keep in my home. I assume the responsibility to never do anything as stupid as firing a shotgun through my front door. That is my right, and I will not give it to you.

I do not need your wife to tell me what foods are best for my family. I do not need her to lecture me about salt content and how allowing restaurants to serve it is increasing obesity nationwide. I don’t need her to count calories for my children, should they ever be unfortunate enough to step foot in a public school in order to use anything other than the playground. You will not usurp my authority in regards to the bodies of my children.

On that note: I do not need you to educate my children. I prefer to teach history as it happened so that we can learn from our mistakes rather than attempting to legislate our mistakes out of existence. I prefer to teach “science” as what it is – a process by which pieces of the ultimate Truth can be discovered – rather than the truth by which one can measure all things. You will not usurp my authority in regards to the minds of my children.

I do not need you to teach my children tolerance. From family and the Bible, they will learn that loving people does not mean accepting all behaviors they exhibit. They will learn that disapproving of an action is not the same as hating a person or group of people. And they will stand for what is right when challenged instead of shouting obscenities at those who disagree. You will not usurp my authority in regards to the souls of my children.

The President of the United States has long been looked at as the most powerful man in the world. And before American Presidents started bowing to foreign dictators, erasing “red lines,” and apologizing us out of our position, perhaps that was true. But even back then, the President had to answer to the power from whence his was derived: the people. I am the people, Mr. President. I will not be silenced. I will not be subdued. And I will not stand for further usurpations of my power.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Who Needs Vocabulary When There are Choom-Gangs?

Dear Mr. President,
After today's press conference, I think I have finally figured out what our problem is. It all goes back to your college years - or possibly earlier. Your incorrect use of several key terms makes it clear that while you were experimenting with drugs and discussing Marxist theory, you missed a few essential vocabulary lessons. But don't worry, I can help you with that.

Today you said that you were "willing to negotiate," but only after Republicans give you everything you want.

You seem to be under the impression that "negotiate" means that you get to dictate and everyone else must capitulate, but that is not the case. "Negotiate" means you all sit together and each side makes concessions until an agreement is met. You don't have to like it. But you do have to do it.

You told the House of Representatives that they couldn't "pick and choose what to fund."

This is a little bit more complicated, so pay attention: the Constitution (I can get you a free copy if you need to brush up) gives the House of Representatives alone the power to appropriate funds. Colloquially, they have "the power of the purse." Which means that they get to decide how much money goes where, and they don't have to consult you or the Senate prior to doing so. Y'all are perfectly within your rights to throw a tantrum if you don't like their choices, but those choices are theirs all the same.

You also seem to have trouble with the word "fair," but I think that one may actually require its own dedicated lesson.

Don't thank me - I'm just glad I could help.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Government Mandated Broccoli

Broccoli is good for you. It provides nutrients, vitamins and fiber. It tastes great with sour cream dip. Without it, beef with broccoli is just beef. (which is also excellent, but not the same.)

People who eat broccoli (along with other vegetables) as part of a healthy diet are less likely to be obese or have weight related illnesses.

In order to promote a healthy society, the federal government should be allowed to mandate the purchase of broccoli (and other vegetables).

Does that sound right to you? If not, you are against the Affordable Care Act - because it is effectively the same thing. In fact, Justice Ginsburg used a similar argument to state her case for upholding the ACA when it was under review.

If that sounds ok, then I have another scenario for you:

Congress passes a law. They use a few parliamentary tricks to force it through, but at the end of the day it does pass.

The Supreme Court upholds the law, but only after they change a fundamental part of it - making it no longer the same law that Congress passed.

After the law leaves the Supreme Court, the President takes his red pen to it. He arbitrarily changes a few provisions, adjusts whom the law will affect, and exempts some of his friends from following the law at all.

Do you have a problem with that? 

If so, you just sided with the House Republicans.* Yeah, I said it. It is both their prerogative and their responsibility to prevent the President from unilaterally changing and unequally applying the law - even if you agree that it is the settled law of the land. Not that this should be a party issue at all at this point - Stopping further implementation of what amounts to a redistributive tax thinly veiled as "health insurance" should simply be about equal treatment and fairness. And this law, as it is currently being perverted and applied is (if possible) more unequal and more unfair than it was when it was written.

*Also, I'd like to clear up a little misconception: the Republicans did not decide to shut down the government. No one decided to shut down the government. There was no vote to shut down the government. What Republicans did was fund the entire government except for the ACA. The Senate voted down said funding - at least four times - and the President promised to veto those funding measures if they made it through the Senate.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

President "Save Only One Child" Kills the Amber Alert...For the Children

There were people who expected Barack Obama to be the Presidential equivalent of the Second Coming. (And probably a few who thought he might be the actual Second Coming.) They called him things like "the post-racial President," which presumably meant more than "a President with a different racial identity than all those who came before him." They thought he would bring the end to partisan bickering and sniping, and usher in an era of peace, prosperity, international cooperation, and an unemployment rate under 5%.

There were people who believed that Barack Obama really was in it "for the children." Even though he voted against the "Born Alive Act." More than once. Even though he referred to an unplanned pregnancy as a "punishment." There were even people who, after all of that, believed Barack Obama when he said, "If we can even save one child, we have a responsibility to act."

In a surprising twist of irony, it has taken a shutdown of the government to bring some transparency to the Administration that has claimed transparency since it's beginning.

Over the last few days, the shutdown has forced the closing of several departments of the federal government, the shuttering of National Parks and monuments, and the indefinite furlough of thousands of federal workers. What has been illuminating is which departments have borne the bulk of the weight of the shutdown.

Take the national monuments, for example: many of them are open air structures that require little (if any) maintenance or staff. The money being spent to barricade them and prevent citizens from visiting is more than would ever be spent in keeping them up. Some of the campgrounds and other services on federal land even exist solely as revenue sources for the federal government. Paying to have them closed off not only costs taxpayer money for guards and barricades, but stops the influx of rent monies from these entities.

Civilian chaplains who contract their service to the military have been furloughed, and been threatened with arrest should they perform mass on a volunteer basis. ESPN service to deployed troops has also been suspended.

And now President "save only one child" has allowed the Justice Department to shut down the Amber Alert. Apparently responsibility can be suspended when you're fighting with Republicans.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Don't Look at that National Monument!

All over the country and around the world, land owned by the United States is being shut down. Barricades are being erected, signs placed, and in some cases, guards stationed. Places like the World War II Memorial made news the first day of the shutdown, but also included were the Omaha Beach Memorial graveyard in France, as well as all National Parks and monuments in the continental United States.

Now, parks and monuments have been closed during previous shutdowns, but this shutdown is decidedly different. This is the first time that open air memorials have been closed. I'll say that again: Open air memorials are closed. Rafting companies are cancelling tours because the rivers they raft (although not their start or end points) run through federal land.

Now, I understand closing a monument like the Statue of Liberty because the government doesn't have enough money to pay guards, maintenance crews, and tour guides. I understand closing the Liberty Island Ferry because the government doesn't have enough money to pay the ferry ticket takers, engineer, and crew.

But that's not what President Obama has done. What he has done is effectively said, "Screw all of you, you can't even stand on the mainland and LOOK at the Statue of Liberty. And if you try, I'm going to hire people to keep you from doing so! Because...ah...we have no money..ah...Republicans..."

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

To the Cowards in Congress...

First, I would like to thank those of you who served in the Armed Forces for your service to this country. America owes you a debt of gratitude for your willingness to leave family, friends, and the comforts of home in order to ensure that those comforts are attainable to those who remain behind. As a veteran myself, I know that honor does not only belong to those who see battle – but also to those who miss birthday parties, ballet recitals, or the birth of a child in order to safeguard the lives and natural rights of others – many of whom they will never meet.

But there is a dignity earned by those who look war in the face and return home to everyday life. There is a respect that they deserve above and beyond just the simple recognition of their existence. And there is a code that is honored among veterans that when you meet a brother-in-arms, you thank him for sharing your burden with a nod, a handshake, a simple “thank you,” or a tear. That code was violated today by the National Park Service at the direction of the White House, and no one challenged that office.

Veterans of World War II stepped off their Honor Flight with the expectation of visiting the World War II Memorial, many for the first time in their lives, and nearly all of them for the last time. Knowing about the shutdown, the group called ahead to request an exception and be allowed to see the memorial anyway – a request that was denied, again, by the White House. Imagine their surprise when, upon arrival, they learned that the open air memorial – which has remained open through previous government shutdowns – was barricaded. After denying special permission for their visit, furloughed NPS workers were called back to work to prevent a few men in their 80’s from paying tribute to their friends and brothers-in-arms. I’m sure that you are aware that several members of Congress helped the group get around the NPS workers and ensured that their visit was allowed. But that’s not my point.

My point is that no one – in either party - stood on the House or Senate Floor and said, “No, Sir!” No one demanded that pettiness be set aside in order to pay respects to men who deserve not only our respect, but our admiration and thanks as well. No one pointed out just how childish and disrespectful it was to use those men as pawns in a political game, and no one had the guts to call on the rest of Congress to override the President for doing it.

Your political party does not matter. Your position on the current government shutdown does not matter. You, whether or not you are a veteran of the Armed Services, should know how reprehensible an act it is to trivialize the service of others. And you should be willing to stand up and call out anyone who does that, regardless of party or position. Refusal to do so amounts to little more than cowardice.