Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Not My Fault!

 This effort has already been accepted by and will be going up on the website of  the Toledo Free Press here, but I couldn't resist posting it here for no other reason than the ability to put in this YouTube video clip from "The Blues Brothers", a 1980 movie that was filmed nearby my old neighborhood in the Chicago area.

"No, I didn't. Honest... I ran out of gas. I... I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locust. It wasn't my fault. I swear to God!"
- 'Joliet' Jake Blues ("The Blues Brothers")

Enough news cycles have now passed that a mostly disconnected public has lost interest in the hype of the Government Shutdown and manufactured threat of the Default. If you doubt me, ask how many realize that since last Thursday when the agreement was signed, the limit was raised, and the floodgates were opened; that government debt jumped by the rather amazing amount of $500 billion.

Now some might consider this selective inattention on the part of the electorate astonishing, others are impressed by the government's apparent ability to stop time where spending was concerned right before we purportedly reached our previous limit instead. Still others might point to the dubious (and now clearly proven fraudulent) claim made back in September by the President (and shared by Neil Irwin of the Washington Post): "Because it's called raising the debt ceiling, I think a lot of Americans think it's raising our debt. It is not raising our debt. This does not add a dime to our debt." (Really?) What I find miraculous however, is the lack of blame that's been attached to anyone involved with the situation.

I'm not talking about Democrats (or the mainstream media) blaming the Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate for the shutdown. That's little more than the expected and rather tired rhetoric used to gear up the fundraising efforts of the base running up to the 2014 election. Nor am I talking about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who years ago talked about the Republicans being "the party of no" but has recently taking up that mantle upon himself in refusing to look at anything from the House of which he disapproves. Then again, why should they be held accountable when no one either recently or currently in office (elected or appointed) appears to be responsible for anything that's happened in their areas of responsibility?

Four US citizens, including an Ambassador, were killed in Benghazi; and a year later, no one's to blame. In spite of previous attacks that occurred and the fact that the compound in Benghazi was known to be indefensible; nothing was done to correct it. In spite of the fact that we have fast-deployment teams stationed around the world, none of them were deployed (or even put on standby alert).  In spite of the fact that the safety of US sovereign territory and the diplomatic staff is the direct responsibility of the Departments of State and Defense, no one has been called out, held to blame, or in any way punished. Hillary Clinton (State) and Leon Panetta (Defense) were in fact lauded for the performance of their duties when they finally resigned, in spite of having this glaring failure of leadership occur on their watch.

NSA is clearly out of control with the electronic eavesdropping not only on unfriendly foreign governments and terrorists threats, but on friendly governments and citizens in this country as well. Only the most broad and unconstitutional interpretations of the Patriot Act permit anything close to such spying. Only the most naive and low-information citizens can believe that the massive data storage facilities currently being built in Utah will not be used to retain data that the government is Constitutionally not permitted to obtain without a specific warrant. Yet no consequences appear to the forthcoming for the Director of the NSA (Gen. Keith Alexander), or for the current or former Secretary of Defense (Chuck Hagel and Leon Panetta, respectively) ostensibly in charge of this illegal data collection and its center.

As for spying on us, look no further than the IRS, destined to be the new watchdogs of our private healthcare information. The only thing lower than their approval ratings appear to be the ethics of their operating policies. It must be apparent to all but the sight-impaired that managers were either dictating policy or creating a pervasive atmosphere that sought to restrict the free speech rights of political foes of the President. Lois Lerner, an apparent key player in the illegal effort to obtain such information from these Tea Party Groups and an even more illegal effort to share it with the Federal Election Commission; was allowed to retire and begin collecting her pension however, after an almost smug claim to her own Constitutional right of a 5th Amendment privilege.  Ms. Lerner simply admitted her innocence before a Congressional Committee, and rode off into the sunset with her saddlebags full of cash. 
As for the current situation with the Affordable Care Act and its implementation, what can one say? Oh sure the website is an over-priced nightmare that cost too much. (The fact that there seems to be a margin of error of $200 million for what it cost, in spite of its epic failure, might be a giveaway as to future cost expectations.) But regardless of whether it's $400 million or $600 million for the failure that it's become, we still don't know what a working site will finally cost. Speaking of cost, we were told that premium costs would go down, but according to the Heritage Foundation, they've gone up in at least 45 of 50 states.  They have to in fact go up in fact, since unless you live in the heavily regulated states of NY or CA, the plan you were told you could keep by the President will not be one that you can in fact retain. It's all but impossible that an existing plan anywhere else will meet new (and still being written) ACA regulations, and that you will be required to take an approved and more expensive plan with higher rates and deductibles that does.  As for HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, what can one say other than the President continues to have the greatest confidence in her (which is government speak for "you're doomed").

Is this incompetence or malice? I don't know and I don't care. What I do care about however, is that everyone elected or appointed to a position in DC lately seems to be pulling a 'Joliet Jake'. Managers and Department heads at the IRS, HHS, State, NSA, and Defense are retained, promoted, or allowed to retire with full pensions in spite of the illegal activity committed or the epic failures under their leadership. Incumbent legislators in the House and Senate who've consistently failed to produce a budget, run up the debt, and sloughed their regulatory responsibilities off to a faceless bureaucracy, are nevertheless re-elected with comfortable majorities. The Constitution that all these with power and privilege vow to protect and defend is no longer treated as the rule of law that limits and binds the government, but instead 'more of guideline' to be followed or ignored at personal whim.

More than any time in this country's history, Washington DC has become not only a 'logic-free zone', but a 'consequence-free territory' for those who live or work in it. 

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