Monday, February 18, 2013

Why is The United States Congress on a Week Long Vacation

Monday, February 18th, 2013 
(Presidents Day)

My Dear America:

Here we are again, My Dear Country.   

We are once again poised at the top of another Republican created Fiscal Cliff wondering if this may, indeed, be the big one, the big Kahuna that puts us all in the poorhouse and finally completely knocks the underpinnings out from under the increasingly weakened structure of Democracy in the United States of America.


It is an ugly sounding name and each day and time that we hear it as it comes closer and closer it becomes uglier and more frightening.  What is it?  When is it coming?  What can we do about it.  

It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are being governed by a Congress full of irresponsible Stupid Lunatics.  No, they are not all Stupid and Lunatics. But the Stupid Lunatics, while they have not completely taken over the Asylum, yet, seem to be increasingly willing to do whatever it takes to destroy, or at least damage the United States Government.  

Why are these wild men and women able to wreak havoc on our country, America?

The simple answer is that we let them do whatever they want, without consequences.  These maniacs in the House and Senate have been running amok for years and tearing this country apart and "We The People" have let them trample our rights and freedoms with little reaction from the more responsible members of our society.  

We have had elections in recent years.  Some of them have been stolen out from under us by tactics that would have seemed harsh and unlawful even in the USSR in it's heyday.  Certainly the Bush Family and Friends stole the election for George W. in 2000.  Karl Rove and Republican Secretaries of State in key Republican controlled states helped George W. keep his incredibly expensive warmongering lunatic policies in office once again in 2004.  Since then somehow or other, primarily due to the force of his personality, Barack Obama has been elected twice, once in 2008 and also in 2012.  

It seems to have made no difference at all, however, to the Republicans in Congress that we have had these past two Presidential Elections.  It seems as though the Radical Right Wing Republicans in Congress have had no message from the 2008 and 2012 Elections other than that they should in 2013 step up their irresponsible game.  

It is increasingly clear as we prepare to go over a Fiscal Cliff, possibly far worse than the one at the beginning of the year, that many Republicans, especially Tea Party Republicans don't give a damn about what is good or right for you, America, and are increasingly looking to dismantle, if not destroy, your Federal Government.

The truth is that we are very lucky that the Republicans, even with their fortunes spent to kill the Obama Presidency, were not able to do so.  Thank God, and the Constitution for that.  Obama's victory should have been a lesson for the Republican Lunatic Fringe that it was time to stop the Madness.  Clearly the Lunatics have not gotten that message and some of the things that are going on in the Republican party are mind shattering.

For instance, the ruthless Character Assassination of Secretary of Defense Nominee, Chuck Hagel, in his Senate Confirmation Hearings were clearly unnecessary and although he will be confirmed, he will be confirmed as a weakened leader of the Defense Department at a time when we need strong leadership in that role.  In the case of Chuck Hagel the Guilty Culprits were not Lunatics but instead were Senators who formerly (and in John Mccain's case still) counted Chuck Hagel as a friend.  The other main Senate culprit, Lindsey Graham, who along with John McCain demanded answers on 4 dead US Diplomats and their protectors in Benghazi, have prior to their present week long vacation from their Senate duties, held up the release of Hagel's name to the entire Senate for a Confirmation vote for no good reason.

In the meantime, these two Senators who claim to be concerned about National Security, allow the Defense Department, to be without a permanent leader for a week while one of the most dangerous worlds we have ever known  continues to spin out of any reasonable control in many spots all over the globe.  Both Graham and McCain have already indicated that when the Senate returns after their week long vacation they will vote to allow Chuck Hagel's full Senate vote to proceed provided that they don't find any more verbal ammunition to fire at their former Senate colleague and "friend."

Meanwhile the madness continues seemingly unabated not only in America but around the world, in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Lybia, Egypt, Pakistan, Mali and elsewhere.  It certainly would be more responsible to have had Senators McCain and Graham helping to get through former Republican Senator Hagel, instead of doing what they did before in killing what was a responsible choice for Secretary of State, Susan Rice, because of their obsessive and vindictive concentration on Benghazi.  While Certainly what happened at Benghazi was a matter of legitimate concern, so are all of the other matters of legitimate concern all over the world.

It is way past time for all of us who live in America to get involved in what is happening in our country and to let our elected leaders know what we want, no demand that they do.  Governmental Leadership in America should not be left to the Tea Party and other members of the Right Wing Lunatic Fringe.  

We need to get on our computers and E Mail our Representatives.  We need to call them.  We need to sign petitions.  We need to get involved in our local Democratic and/or Republican Parties and stay involved on local government and even run for office if the chance presents itself.  We need to get involved now or the Lunatic Fringe will continue to put the screws to Progressives
everywhere.  Lastly, I would recommend that those of us who can, commit some time and effort to get involved with Common Cause, the Peoples Lobby, sign their petitions as well as petitions from other sites and groups, get involved also with organizations like or other Progressive Organizations which are taking stands in which you believe.

If we don't do this, citizens, we may live to regret it, or our children and grandchildren may live to regret our failure to take actions.  The time is always now for taking action and it is always good to realize that real Freedom is not always Free.  We have gotten used to it being that way but we can lose our Freedoms very quickly, or even more likely, We can lose our Freedoms gradually, seemingly without our noticing until, it is too late.

Have a wonderful time Congress on your week's vacation before Sequestering puts America over the Cliff and on the skids once more.  

I have one question for you, however.

What are you on Vacation From?  Certainly it is not from work.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The State of the Union is Still Strong

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

My Dear America:

It is one day after the State of The Union Address by President Obama before Congress, The Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Guests of the Politicians and the Televised American Public.

Once again, just like every time he has done it and other Presidents have done it, President Obama made the Grand Entrance to the Senate smiling, shaking any hand that moved, exchanging short conversations and looking every bit the part of The President of the United States.  

Anyone watching this speech by the President with its frequent standing ovations (even occasionally by the Republicans) would have to think that this apparent Lovefest is indicative of a form or Government with no problems whatsoever within itself or with regard to any other part of the world.  

Certainly that assessment is far from the truth of how things are in the United States Government but it is nice to know that on State of the Union Night every year our politicians can dress up in their Sunday Best and act like sensible, responsible, caring and bright individuals.  

To me, being old enough to remember the old days, it seems odd that in the past few decades the Congress has had the audacity not to give standing ovations many times over to the opposite party leader, namely the President.  I don't know when this started.  I think it was sometime in the 80's or more likely in the 90's when the Newt Gingrich Gang of Phoneys were hounding President Clinton like he was an escaped prisoner from and Arkansas chain gang.

Those were ugly times.  Maybe not as ugly as these days but even in those ugly days Newt and his extreme crew of Conservatives in name only took breaks from their madness on State of the Union Night when Bill Clinton came to the Senate podium.  The same Republican's who hounded Bill Clinton daily to the point of impeachment, were also waiting on State of The Union Night to hopefully be seen with and have their picture taken with the President.  It was a thoroughly bizarre state of affairs, when you think of it 

This year's State of the Union message echoed the many before it in pronouncing that "The State of the Union is Strong."  I have never heard in my long lifetime any President who announced on State of the Union Night that "The State of the Union is not strong" and I doubt that I or anyone else will ever hear those words spoken at the State of the Union Address.

President Obama was in prime campaign oratory mode as he stood at the podium on Tuesday night.  Behind him were Joe Biden looking a bit older and worn out than he has looked for awhile  (Lets hope he is in good health) and John Boner looking smug and unready to stand and cheer for the President's success.

The President had a good deal to say to the gathering of legislators and others listening to him.  He proposed legislation that he said would not increase the debt but would improve things in a number of areas, among them creating more jobs and training programs to prepare workers for those jobs.  The President also talked about immigration and especially praised those Republicans in Congress who seem to be actually trying to work with Democrats to do something about providing answers to problems involving both illegal and legal immigration.  The President also proposed an increase in the minimum wage to 9 dollars an hour.  Another proposal dealt with providing Pre School programs for every young American who might take advantage of it.  

Lastly, the President pointed out the guests in the balcony and on the floor who were victims of gun violence including the parents of the young student from Chicago killed a week after performing at the President's inauguration, former Representative Gabby Giffords and Newtown parents.  

One more issue that the President pointed out as he introduced  guests was a 101 year old woman from Florida who, despite having to wait almost all day to vote, was encouraged and cheered by those who waited with her when she put on her "I Voted" sticker.  The President reminded Americans just how lucky we are to be able to vote in our country and asked Congress to do what they could to protect the right to vote in every one of the United States of America. 

The President got well deserved applause as he finished his speech with "God Bless The United States."  He was treated like a Rock Star after the speech with many Congressmen and Women asking him to sign their copies of the speech.

The President had carried on the tradition in a manner he and we could be proud of.  He had once again shown Americans and individuals in other countries that truly the State of the United States of America continued to be strong.  

Certainly we have tremendous problems in our country but compared to many other countries in the world whose citizens have no rights to free speech or voting or other human rights we are once again reminded that America is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the rest.

American Presidents, despite what is going on in their Presidencies, in their parties, in their country, have always shown up on State of the Union Night in fine spirits, glad handing their constituents and their enemies alike and showing the world what you, America, are all about.

One sour note, or actually two sour notes about last nights State of the Union Address is that it was followed by two (Although I only saw one) Republican Responses.  One by Marco Rubio and one by Rand Paul.  

To be honest, Marco Rubio's speech was fairly well delivered but totally inappropriate to the topics that the President discussed.  

Although I don't really like to advocate for a lack of free speech I genuinely feel that the time has come to take a good long look at whether or not it is appropriate to have a Republican or Democratic response to the President's State of the Union Address.  

It's the State of The Union Address not just some campaign speech.  

How about, at least on this one night, advocating for that "Union" concept and putting away the daggers and disrespect for the President by the party that is not in the White House.

Somewhere, on another network that I wasn't watching, Senator Rand Paul also had a response that I am sure was less than positive toward the President's speech and agenda.

I was happy that CBS and MSNBC didn't carry Paul's speech.  If Rubio's speech was unnecessary and divisive, certainly Rand Paul's speech had to be truly unnecessary and on my part, unwelcome.

I salute those Presidents of the Television age who have given us so many Great State of the Union Addresses including Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon (Yes, even Tricky Dick looked good at the State of the Union Speeches), Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and, of course, Barack Obama.

We are lucky to have had these Presidents and all those who came before them (with the possible exception of Richard Nixon and George W Bush) showing up yearly and reassuring us time after time that "the State of the Union is strong."

Lets keep it strong and keep up the great Presidential speeches while giving thought to putting away the partisan rhetoric afterwards by the opposition party, whoever they might be, Republican or Democrat.

Also it might be a good idea for our leaders to recognize that maybe a little more "Union" might be a good thing to strive for all across the board.  Maybe with a little bit more "Union" we could actually accomplish what we need to accomplish in an increasingly dangerous and complex world.

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The (Character) Assassination Of Chuck Hagel

February 5th, 2013

My Dear America:

During his recent testimony before the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee former Senator Chuck Hagel might very well have wished that he was back in Vietnam where he and his buddies stuck together and his enemies  were easier to figure out than those seated in front of him in the Senate Hearing Room while he was in the Hot Seat.  

Although I did not see Hagel's full testimony before the Committee, what I did see made me realize that I did not want to see the entire testimony and responses.  Clearly anyone feeling as though it is still possible to be your own man in today's Republican Party should watch this ugly spectacle in which a thoroughly decent man and obviously a man who is a Republican through and through was the victim of an Epic Character Assassination seemingly because he had the nerve to occasionally misspeak about the influence of the "Jewish Lobby" or gays in the Military.  

Although Hagel took full responsibility for his verbal gaffes, the Foreign Relations Committee's Republican Members seemed to want far more than an apology from the Ex Senator from Nebraska.  They seemed to all want their individual pounds of flesh from the Obama Nominee for United States Defense Secretary.

Clearly one of the odder and most victimizing exchanges between a Committee Member and the Defense Department Nominee took place between Senator John McCain and his former friend, Chuck Hagel.  McCain's Grandstanding seemed to have no limits and although Hagel tried to reason with McCain nothing seemed to be able to satisfy McCain outside of an admission by Hagel that he had been wrong about his criticism of the "The Surge" in Iraq.  Although Hagel refused to admit that he had been wrong McCain's brutal interrogation of Hagel clearly must have seemed like an incredible betrayal by McCain by one Vietnam Vet to another.

The reason for McCain, as well as countless other Republican Chicken Hawks piling on the first Vietnam War Infantryman ever to be nominated to be Defense Secretary is clear, at least to me.  

We are living in an age in which Republicans are no longer allowed to have a mind of their own and express thoughts of their own.  Hagel saw what was coming in the Republican Party and decided to get out before "The Invasion of the Mind Snatchers" got him too, as it seems to have gotten McCain and many others.

Chuck Hagel is a Republican through and through in nearly every way.  He is a self made businessman who voted for nearly everything proposed by George Bush with the exception of the Prescription Drug Program addendum to the Social Security System.

Hagel has always been independent and unpredictable, however.  In 2008 Chuck Hagel made the unprecedented move of, along with Independent and former Republican New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, supporting and even campaigning for Democratic U.S. House of Representatives Member and former Navy Admiral, Joe Sestak, for Pennsylvania Senator in his fight against first of all, Turncoat Republican turned Democrat, Arlen Specter, who Sestak beat in the Democratic Primary.  Unfortunately Sestak then narrowly lost to Republican Right Wing Firebrand, Pat Toomey in the General Election.

Chuck Hagel has stepped out of the Right Wing Republican line only occasionally but enough times to show that he is someone who clearly thinks for himself and is unappreciative of others making his decisions for him.  

It seems clear that Hagel will in the end be approved by the Congress to take his place at the Defense Department and if he does Republicans should be happy that one of their own, despite being flawed by common sense, is in line to make decisions that they will more than likely be in agreement with.  

But what Governor Bobby Jindal has labeled "The Stupid Party" seems to have completely lost its mind and continues to rush off trying to beat into submission, not only Progressives, but also members of their own party who have the nerve to refuse to be stupid.

I hope, but do not anticipate, that the Republican Party will come to its senses soon and start doing what they should have been doing for the last four years, which is governing and helping to prop up rather than destroy and disrespect The United States of America and its government representatives.

We are living in an increasingly dangerous world and if the Republicans were not stupid they would start at least pretending to show the world that we, indeed, have a United Government and can function most times like we are not a nation of Clowns and Nincompoops. 

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher