Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 26, 2013

The horrific Boston Marathon Bombing has many in the media calling for the death penalty for the surviving accused perpetrator. Obviously now is as good a time as any for us to think about the death penalty itself. Meanwhile there are now six Democratic senators retiring from the Senate making 2014 a very important year. And finally, Congress has found a way to circumvent the impact of sequestration so that there won’t be flight delays – but what about everything else?

No Matter What You Call It

The arrest and arraignment of suspected Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has occasioned the call for the death penalty. Elected officials, media commentators and public opinion seems be frighteningly disposed to put this man to death.

So now is a good time to remember that the United States is one of the few remaining countries to engage in government-sanctioned murder. There are over 140 countries that have outlawed capital punishment, but by clinging to this bit of bloody justice this country joins countries like China, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan in equating death with justice.

The irony of those who would deny women the right to choose whether or not have an abortion calling themselves “pro-life” while they call for the state to murder someone or simply stand by without protest is exponentially ironic. This society should be better than this.
Killing someone because they committed a crime does not sound like justice. It sounds like revenge.

More Drama on the Way

This past week Montana Senator Max Baucus announced that he will not run for reelection in 2014. That makes six – count them – 6 Democratic senate seats that will be vacant in the 2014 election. If the Teapublicans were to run the table and keep all of their vacant and incumbent seats and peel off the six Democratic seats they will have the majority in the Senate.

If that happens President Obama will be left with learning to become ambidextrous with his veto pen – as he will have little else to do. If you think that the Teapublicans have been negative and obstructionist over the last 5 ½ years, I am sure we haven’t seen the Teapublicans at their tantrum worst if they obtain the majority in the House and the Senate.
While November 4, 2014 seems like it is a long way away, it really isn’t. Circle that date on your calendar now and get ready to vote like your life depends on it…..because in reality it does.

Selective Strangulation

When sequestration kicked in at the beginning of March there was immediate concern that the federal government would immediately grind to a halt. That this did not happen was seen by delusional Teapublicans as proving that the draconian budget cuts imposed by this monstrous, self-imposed suicide mechanism called sequestration weren’t really that bad.

Thoughtful observers have always known that sequestration began the slow strangulation of the federal, state and local governments. The impact has not been immediate but there are already longer lines at veterans’ hospitals, staff cuts in social service agencies and law enforcement agencies are sending their officers home.

This past week the Federal Aviation Agency began furloughing air traffic controllers and that has led to excruciating flight delays across the country. And miraculously, because of the inconvenience to (mostly) business travelers and potential damage to the profits in the airline industry, Congress has acted to restore funding to the FAA that will allow air traffic controllers to work without interruption.

But don’t you wonder why the veterans awaiting critical care, children requiring vital social services and law enforcement agencies that protect us all aren’t as much as priority.

And meanwhile the governmental structure of the United States slowly succumbs to this slow strangulation called sequestration.

Have a great weekend!

Point of View Columns

The Song of Solomon

The Bible may not offer all answers to all questions, but it does offer some interesting insights. This past Sunday the priest at the Catholic Church that I attend gave a sermon which referred to King Solomon and the gift of wisdom that had been granted to him. A clear illustration of that wisdom was his resolution of the dispute between two women as to who was the actual mother of a small infant.

You will recall that King Solomon, after listening to the arguments of the two women claiming to be the child’s mother, offered a very simple solution – cut the baby in half. One contender immediately agreed to this horrific solution while the other woman, appalled beyond imagination immediately gave up her cause, granting the child to her opponent rather than risk harm to the baby in question.

In his infinite wisdom, King Solomon declared that the woman who agreed to cutting the baby in half was the impostor. His impeccable reasoning was that the true mother of the child would rather give up the child than see it harmed in any way.

And that brings us to the latest debt ceiling/budget debate. Every respected economist, every respectable business commentator and every serious financial publication has stated in the clearest possible terms that the harm of an August 2nd fiscal default by the United States government would result in a horrific impact on the global economy, on the American economy and on the lives and livelihoods of the American people.

In the event of such a default, which would be the first in the 222 year history of this country, the international marketplace would be destabilized, causing incalculable damage to the economy of countries around the world. In the event of a default the American economy, already wobbly and barely breathing the fresh air of distant recovery, would suffer setbacks ranging from higher interest rates to increased unemployment as businesses would lose much needed access to capital for their business operations.

Sadly, the American people would suffer as well. Employees of government contractors would be unpaid and furloughed, if not dismissed. Elderly citizens and children would risk missing meals and necessary medical care.

The Federal Aviation Administration is already shut down in 35 states because Congress could not overcome G.O.Tea Party obstinacy and phony fiscal pledges. As this column is being written 4000 FAA workers have been laid off and hundreds of millions of dollars of airport infrastructure repairs have been halted. Now multiply this madness throughout the entire governmental apparatus and you begin to see the potential for financial and social Armageddon.

The G.O.Tea Party has made a profession out of pseudo-patriotism. But it takes more than singing the national anthem and wearing an American flag pin to be a patriot. The cavalier fashion in which the Tea Party stalwarts and their partners in foolishness have dealt with this self-induced budget crisis is alarming and incredibly dangerous.

Just as King Solomon uncovered the phony mother by threatening to harm the child she claimed to be hers, the G.O.Tea Party is showing itself to be the fake patriots by embracing the disaster that looms over this country and its people.

The truth is that the G.O.Tea Party has no philosophy and no principle to which its followers adhere except the overwhelming desire to bring about the defeat of President Obama. There is no argument regarding fiscal probity that would support allowing the federal government to default. When Ronald Reagan, the G.O.Tea Party deity, was president, the debt ceiling was raised 18 times in a little less than 8 years! Indeed, it was President Reagan who said that allowing the United States to default would be “unthinkable”.

But now the inmates have taken over the asylum and are threatening to blow it up. The no new taxes pledge of the Tea Partiers is a fake fig leaf to cover their naked desire to fatally damage the presidency of Barack Obama. That the G.O.Tea Party would damage this country for decades to come in their frothing ambition to unseat the President of the United States is shameful and should be labeled for what it is – treasonous.

How ironic it is that Representative Michelle Bachmann, the head of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress once suggested that Barack Obama should be investigated for his “un-American views”. It turns out that the real traitors wear Tea Party hats and wave American flags to distract us from their real mission – the defeat of Barack Obama even at the risk of wrecking this country’s economy.