Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. Senate

Just Trying to Get By…

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As the blog title says, the mood around Chez Caffrey tonight is exactly that: trying to get by.

I can’t ignore the stresses in the world. They bother me. And I can do so little about them.

For example, I hate it that the people in Hong Kong, who are protesting for democracy, are not being backed up by the United States in word or deed. (I don’t want the U.S. to go to war with China. But this is a situation where diplomacy might’ve done some good. Yet the Congress, as well as the President, remains for the most part eerily silent.)

I also am unhappy by much of what I’ve seen and heard regarding the impeachment inquiry in the U.S. Congress. Everything I’ve read (and I have read the entire 300-page report put out by the Congress yesterday) shows that President Trump seems to believe that Presidents are like Kings, and can do whatever they like. I can’t abide that. And I don’t understand why others can.

Mind, I believe in the rule of law. If the Senate, which probably will get the impeachment from the House sooner or later (the House hasn’t taken a vote yet), refuses to carefully ponder the evidence, I will be extremely unhappy. And if they do what Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) has already said he will and refuse to even read the evidence, that will make me furious.

These people are not being paid to duck the evidence. They are being paid to do what is in the best interests of the country.

Not their party. The country.

Anyway, I mention all of this because it does weigh on my mind. And I can do so little about it.

What I can do, mind, is write about it. (Which you see, for what good it does.) I can register people to vote when my health is strong enough. I can also weigh the evidence, when it fully comes out, in my own mind, with my own knowledge of the U.S. Constitution, and decide for myself what I’d do if I were in the Senate.

(Hint, hint: I do not believe in party over country. I believe in what John McCain did. Country over party. Or as John Quincy Adams said, “Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone.”)

Mind, if the evidence ultimately isn’t there, then it’s not. (Though it’s hard to believe right now there won’t be enough evidence to show that. And if you doubt me, go read that report and put “Obama” in there instead of Trump. Would you think this behavior is OK then? But I digress.)

The evidence should be heard, should be weighed, should be measured…and if the folks in the Senate who are apparently blinded by Donald Trump’s cult of personality can’t figure out that what the current president has done will be used as a measuring stick for all presidents to follow, then they are idiots. (And should be voted out of office forthwith.)

Anyway, I see all this, and wonder what in the Hell the point is. There’s so little I can affect. And it bothers me.

But all I can do, from day to day, is be my best self.

(And so should you, even though it may seem completely pointless to try.)

So, I’ll keep on trying to get by. And as I do that, I’ll continue to work on my writing, my editing, my music, and whatever other abilities I have that can do some people some good somewhere…as that’s all I know how to do.

——

P.S. We still do live in a free society. I am grateful for this. I am able to say what I feel, in a way I feel is right, and not be hauled off to jail for doing so.

May it continue ever so.

‘This is a Disaster:’ Federal Government Shuts Down

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What a mess.

The federal government has been shut down, all because the Congressional Republicans wanted to defund the Affordable Care Act (popularly known as “Obamacare”).  The Rs did not get their wish as the ACA was funded anyway . . . but the government is still shut down until further notice.

Does this make any sense to you?  Because it surely doesn’t make any to me.

“But Barb,” I can hear you saying now.  “You’re a political junkie.  Surely you knew this was coming, so why are you so bemused?”

I did know this was coming, yes.  But I don’t understand why anyone — especially a cool political operator like Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) — would want to shut down the United States government.  Because, as Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) said on Rachel Maddow’s Monday evening late night show at 11 p.m. CDT, “This is a disaster.”

Now, Schakowsky was talking specifically about the people who will be “furloughed” due to the Congress’s overall inaction tonight — many of them making less than $30,000 per year.  Those are the people who do not have the resources to withstand even a day without pay, much less weeks or months . . . and the knowledge that the current Republican leadership has absolutely no endgame in progress (that is, any way to avoid doing what they’ve just done) makes this even worse.

“But Barb,” again you say.  “The Republicans do not like Obamacare and are standing on principle.  Isn’t that a good thing?”

Um, no, it isn’t.

Obamacare was funded anyway.  So the people who aren’t going to get paid now that the government has been officially shut down are the lower wage workers Rep. Schakowsky mentioned, right along with people who work in the federal park system (shut down), much of NASA (shut down), much of the Department of Defense (yes, the active duty military will be paid, thank goodness, but the civilian analysts helping to analyze threats have all been effectively laid off for no good reason, something Boehner and his compatriots among the Rs had to know), and many, many more.

All of this gets even worse, folks, when you consider that Congress will still be paid even though most of the rest of the government is shut down.  And that is not just wrong — it’s completely and utterly hypocritical.**

All night long, I’ve tried to understand why the Republicans — supposedly the party that wants to “keep the United States safe” — would want to cause this catastrophe.  Because it’s obvious that shutting down the government is likely to harm national security.

But then again, I suppose the Rs weren’t satisfied with simply harming the people just trying to get by — those G-1 and G-2 workers out there who have been indefinitely “furloughed” (meaning: sent home without pay).

So, why did all this happen, anyway?  Was there any rhyme or reason to it whatsoever?  Or is this all the equivalent of the political theatre of the absurd?

The pundits, whether they’re on MSNBC, Fox News, CNN, or some other station, all seem to blame the radical right-wing Tea Party Representatives right along with freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) for the current government shutdown.  (Fox News is complimentary toward these people, while the others are all condemnatory.  But the person mostly being named as being the prime mover here is, for better or for worse, Senator Cruz.)

To my mind, though, the one person who is responsible beyond a shadow of a doubt is Speaker Boehner.  Boehner’s been in the U.S. House of Reps. since 1990, which means Boehner saw what happened the last time the government shut down.  At that point, Newt Gingrich (R-GA) was the Speaker of the House, and things did not go favorably for him or his party due to Gingrich’s insistence on shutting down the government to get his own way.

Speaker Boehner knows better than this.  He has to know better than this.  But for whatever reason, he either couldn’t get his Republican caucus to listen to him, or he just didn’t care to set them straight.##

So here’s where we stand at this hour: The federal government has shut down.  The low-wage workers will be hurt badly by this, the defense contractors will be hurt badly by this, NASA will be hurt badly by this . . . and the Congress will still get paid for their overall intransigence.

It’s at times like this that I truly wonder about the state of American democracy.  Seriously.

———

Notes:

**Before anyone says it, I am aware that the Rs wanted to level the playing field and make sure that everyone in the Congress, the White House, and elsewhere in the government that’s currently exempted from the ACA would have to abide by the same rules as everyone else.  I agree that this makes sense, and had the House tried to talk about this earlier this year — long before now — I’d have been happy to entertain the idea.

Now, though?  What sense does it make?

##I’m not enamored by the way the Congressional Democrats have acted, either.  But the Ds in the House have no real power, while the Ds in the Senate have at least tried to do their jobs, as they’ve been trying to get the House to come to the bargaining table since late March or early April.  The R-driven House refused to do so, which is why I blame them far, far more than the Ds.